Chapter 5: Any Given Sunday
TJ stumbled back through the cluttered store, taking in heady gulps of musty leather smell and dusty blued metals from the old helmets and gear. He delicately probed the bump on the back of his neck, a confused babe in the woods look on his face as he got closer to the counter.
The old man hadn’t moved and he looked like a waxwork in a some morbid museum of people not doing much. His feet up on his desk taking wheezing laboured breathes as he stared at a dog eared issue of guns and bullets.
TJ felt a little light headed, out of breath, he felt in a lot of ways like he just woke up. Which is closer to the truth than he’d like. So much ‘stuff’ had been going on he just got swept a long and didn’t think about food or sleep or any basic processes like that. Where had he been, how long had he been asleep? The mugginess was catching up to him, a ringing in his head, a dry pain behind the eyes, the coming nausea of a pressure headache.
He reached the counter and through a series of short pained breathes he said “Hey old man.” He squeezed his eyes shut and put his palm flat over one eye and breathed out.
The old man responded with a rustling of laminated paper and TJ took that as a sign to go on.
“You seen any girls around erm?” He said trailing off, not sure how that sounded.
The old man peeled down a corner of his of magazine and stared glassy eyed at TJ with an eyebrow raised. He put the corner back and went back to pretending TJ was an elaborate effort of taxidermy.
TJ cleared his throat and leaned in a little closer. “I’m looking for a girl with green hair, has she come through here?”
“Green hair?” The old man said without moving, a rye rise of an octave in his voice. “Hmm.” He russled his magazine again and said “She came in just after you, she’s over by the archery surplies and hunting gear, can’t miss her.” He laughed and went back to being a waxwork,
TJ instantly felt hot, she was here the whole time, he swallowed and felt it burn going down. He was cold and he could feel it on his arms inside his coat and on the back of his neck. He froze and then like a mechanical toy started to turn his head. Failing to look subtle he turned his whole torso over towards the right side of the store. Rebel and American flags lined the walls. Racked up were various bows and cheap looking crossbows. Life size deer targets hanging from the ceiling like polystyrene trophies looking at nothing.
Standing there was a person in a large puffy pink winter coat, a bob of short green hair poked over the top of a high collar. She looked like she was shouldering a crossbow, trying to feel the weight. The store was pretty much empty. TJ couldn’t see Jimmy anymore and it seemed like there were a few stragglers milling around browsing memorabilia.
His legs shook as they probed the floor. The felt and moved like they were connected by puppet strings, floating shakily above the ground. Pulling TJ along like he was magnetized.
He couldn’t take his eyes off her back and as he got closer it was if his eyes got tunnel vision, shrinking back into his skull. The closer he got the further his eyes reeled back in his skull. Until finally like they were on elastic they snapped back and he was a too close, depth perception completely out the window he almost fell on her. He shifted a little too much weight and bumped into her gently. He could smell a sickly sweet smell and then and he got a mouth full of goose down elbow hitting him in the mouth as she turned around suddenly. The winter fabric scraping against his teeth. Hitting him with a dull thud flat in the centre of his face knocking him off balance and filling his eyes with tears.
She didn’t react right away, until he said “Oh, err, sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
“Didn’t mean to what?” A nasaly voice said. The girl in the large coat turned around and TJ caught his breath, readying his mind and heart to see a ghost in the flesh.
…There was a lot of flesh, a lot more flesh than he remembered, in fact.
“Are you, Sunday?”
“Who did you say?”
He caught his breathe, his vision focusing on the girl in front of him, dotting all over her like a horny pingpong ball. She was at least foot shorter than Sunday and maybe two feet wider. Her coat open, stretching out a black t-shirt that read ‘This is what a feminist looks like’. Her round belly stuck out at the bottom of her shirt. A choked wink of a belly button piercing disappeared and reimerged as she breathed like a cat playing with a bird trying to escape.
The hair was right but the fringe was cropped at a weird angle making her look like a page boy or a sci-fi prostitute. Odd piercing donned her flabby face. A series of gawdy rings in her ears and a small tunnel in one. A lip ring and an eyebrow piercing that looked as if her fat face was trying to push it out to make her look less like the lead singer of a nineties nu metal band.
Of course she wore a pair of rhinestoned glasses spiked corners in a fifties style. Upon looking at them he couldn’t tell whether they actually had lenses in them or not. Her face was round and fuzzy and pale like a peach dipped in bleach. A little shadowing above her lips which could have been a thin moustache.
Her breathing was audibly laboured, whether or not she felt flustered or that was just normal was hard to say. “What are you looking at asshole?” She sputtered with a slight lisp. “You never seen a gorgeous woman before? Gotta get all handsy, that’s sexual harassment!”
“What no, I just thought you were someone else.” TJ sputtered trying to get to his feet.
That seemed to piss her off more, she looked flustered, what he at first thought was a joke was becoming more and more real and absurd. She tossed her round body around, her unhinged breasts flopping around like lumpy bags of wet flour as she called out to thin air. “Is that sexual harassment?” She turned looking for an answer “Is that sexual harassment?” She said again.
TJ had no idea what was going on, out of nowhere, another girl emerged from out of his field of vision. A black girl with braided hair and one side shaved said “What the fuck?”
“This rapist, just sexually assaulted me in broad dayling”
“No- I didn’t” TJ croaked.
“Are you calling her a liar?” A voice said from around his head. A woman with long purple hair and a bull nose ring said. Her face pale and plain without makeup, thick sculpted eyebrows.
TJ felt completely overwhelmed, like he’d somehow walked into one of those dreams where you’re at the school dance and you forgot to wear pants. “I err- no.”
“Because that’s really shitty, not believing a victim of sexual assault.” Another voice said. A girl with short boyish blonde hair, tattoos on her neck stretching out from a black tank top emerged from behind the ham planet with green hair..
“I’m sorry, I guess” TJ stuttered. “I thought you were someone else”. TJ tried to get up but a hand off balanced him and kept him from rising.
“Oh, you hear that girls, he’s sorry.” The anonymous fatgirl said. He was suddenly yanked off the ground and felt a strange disconnected feeling. As if he was a ragdoll someone was getting ready to toss down a flight of stairs. He tried to turn his head and catch glimpses of the giant that had hold of him by the collar. But any attempt to get a look at his assailant resulted in a sharp correction. Tightening of the two huge arms that had wrapped under his armpits and locked behind his head lifting him off the ground like a scarecrow.
“Jimmy” TJ called out, his voice sounding like the whine of a kitten trapped in a basement.
His legs unconnected to the ground gave such a profound feeling of helplessness. He started to think about his bladder and if peeing himself was an option. Maybe this was like a bear attack and if he crapped his pants they’d leave him alone. He couldn’t stop staring at the ground like he missed it, it was a scuffed green linoleum. His eyes took on a fisheye lens quality and the fat one with green hair entered it and looking up into his face.
“Should we do it here?” One of the voices said.
“No, we’ll take him round back” The fat girl said.
Jerry swallowed hot bile as his ulcer was acting up. Kept on down US 93 past the army navy store off the main road turning left onto 19th street past the cowgirl coffee diner. He took a right on baker avenue and he rubbed his eyes as he saw a purple cat walking hand in hand with a sparkly white unicorn walking on two legs. He kept driving following them around the cab until he rounded the corner on flathead avenue. “Freaks” he said under his breath as the White fish police department came into full view.
The building looked more like a cosy resort hotel spa than a police station, it was series of interconnected buildings with dark grey rooves. The building itself was a warm salmon brick, it looked brand new but had a synthetic kind of Christmas village feel. Like someone saw the Bavarian village style and wanted to copy it in spackle.
The entrance was done in a brick and stone style with pillars supporting an awning. The front lot was shovelled for snow with a few skinny spruce trees shivering in neat rows. Twilight was upon them so the building was lit up like a Christmas postcard. Every light was on including the Victorian style lamps that dotted the parking lot.
Jerry pulled up his cruiser into his spot which was of course even closer to the entrance than the disabled spot. He peeled his fat sweaty back out of the drivers seat and slammed the door shut.
He then strolled through a set of automatic doors, breathing in the warm air of the lobby. The lobby too was brightly lit and a little christmasy. Small Christmas trees dotted in corners bare of any decoration as of yet.
The chief approached the main reception desk. He leaned on the counter leered at the receptionist. A busty Latina woman with blonde highlights in a light pink blouse behind a high desk surrounded by bullet proof glass.
“Hey Maria, any calls?” He said leaning on the desk smiling not even pretending to not be looking at her tits.
“Hey chief, I got a little problem, I need your advice on.” Two guys in uniform pounced on him, the red headed guy jumping up as if he’d been waiting the whole time like a little eager puppy. There was a smaller guy with short light brown hair next to him poised as if about to repeat everything the redhead was gonna say to add effect.
“Yeah that’s great Ricky, hey Bobby.” He said as he threw his car keys to the little guy with the light brown hair. The kid caught the keys and looked at them in puzzled silence, a beaky sort of nose crinkled up as if he was about to say something but the chief cut him off. “Be a good kid and clean out the trunk of my car, some vagrant resisted arrest and I had to pop a cap in his ass, you know how it is. Take him on down to the morgue and clean the trunk of my car, there’s a good kid.” He said as he messed up the kid’s hair and pushed him towards the door. The clean cut kid didn’t say a thing he walked towards the door looking back with his neat hair in a mess. Looking sort sickened but still not saying anything as he walked out to the car. “Oh Bobby” The chief called “Take him through the back”.
“Not another one chief. You can’t shoot any drifter that gives you lip.” Ricky said in a tone that sounded like a lover complaining about leaving the toilet seat up. A sort of anachronistic whining people toned out on instinct as they walked together towards the coffee machine in the lobby.
“Ah he was a white guy, aint no ‘hashtag’ movements for white drifters. If he’d been black or a woman we’d be up to our eyeballs in shit. The internet would be up our ass with a hadron collider telescope.” He said without looking up as he put a little plastic white cup under the coffee machine and pressed it on.
“The hadron collider isn’t a telescope, it’s like a big atom smasher or whatever, makes black holes or something”. Ricky said competing with the sound of the coffee machine spitting out hot black ink.
“Well why the hell would you wanna do that?” He said while walking and sipping his hot gritty coffee, cringing with every sip like it was medicine.
“I dunno, I wanted to talk to you about something”. Ricky said, with the same eagerness he had before.
“What if they start dumping trash in them holes and then we start a war with an alien race of crying indian aliens?” He said as he walked through the back offices. It was a small time cop shop, new looking but small and disorganized. Computers in rows with cops in and out of uniform tapping at old mechanical keyboards. Talking on the phone in hushed frantic shouting matches with old people talking about their cats. All in all it was a big open room with cubicles with half height walls so you could see over them and a walled office office in the corner for the chief. Lock up was of to the right, changing rooms, armory and radio rooms were down the hall futher in the heart of the building. Upstairs was mostly empty office space waiting to be renovated.
“Chief, we’ve got a problem in lock up” Ricky said.
“What kind of problem?” He said furrowing his brow sipping his coffee in the doorway of his office.
“We picked up this guy for loitering, and public indecency. He came along quietly but now he won’t let us get near him. He has no id, he wont let us get within a foot of him to print him or do any kinds of tests.” Ricky said.
The chief opened the door to his office and sat down at his desk sighing as he saw a box of donuts on his intray. Cold but still edible from this morning. He took one out and took a bite and sighed again, looking up at Ricky. “Oh you’re finished.” He said as he reclined in his seat chewing and with mouth open.
“Well I don’t know we can do, we’ve tried everything.”
“What about mace?”
“Chief we tried to, he took it off the deputy that tried it and drank the whole thing right in front of us, it was bear repellent. Comes in those big cans. Drank the whole thing and laughed. The guy is nuts.” Ricky said making a hand gesture like he was ringing a hat.
“Bean bag gun?” The chief said his elbow up on his desk taking long loving bites out of a cold Bavarian cream.
“He put Richardo in the hospital, they’ve scheduled surgery to remove a beanbag from his lower intestine tomorrow morning.” Ricky said coming around the desk.
“So you tried it once and didn’t think to try it again from further away.” The chief said looking up from his donut.
“No the whole gun is up Richardo’s ass.” He said flailing with his hands.
The chief looked up from his donut again and shrugged “You mean we only had the one?” He said with credulity as he took the last bite from the donut.
“You’re missing the point, we have to do something about this guy. We can’t let him go, he’s clearly nuts, eats nothing but raw hamburger meat and potatoes.” His voice was getting louder and more annoying now.
“What about tazers? You tried tazers?” The chief said giving Ricky the side eye as he poked around in the box again for another donut.
“It didn’t work, we tried it on him when he was sleeping. He didn’t even wake up, just rolled over and scratched himself and went back to sleep. I’m telling you there’s something off about this guy.” Ricky was worried now, his pale face was getting redder.
The chief was only partially listening as he came up with another donut, jelly with sprinkles this time, just stopping shy to look at Ricky. “Ooh you think he’s like a vampire familiar come to kill all our husky dogs and cut the phone lines. Make way for a vampire invasion.” He laughed and took a bite settling back down.”
Ricky missing the joke scratched his brow with his thumb and got thoughtful. “Now that you mention it, we are having some problems with the phones and we’re getting reports of a weird smell at that furry convention”.
“Oh jesus”. The chief sighed as he stood up from his desk hiking up his pants. “Well we either let him go or I shoot his ass through the bars and call it a suicide.”
“Oh no chief, not this again.” He licked his lips.
“He’s white right, did you get a name?” The chief narrowed his eyes.
“Err caucasian male, homeless, no shoes, bad breath, there was a name on the army jacket he was wearing but we cant be sure its his. I had it written down somewhere” He said patting himself down for his notepad. “It was Car-something.” As he finished his sentence the power went out in the entire building, plunging them into darkness.