Category Archives: Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 13

caipi-377960_1280

It wasn’t exactly an out of body experience, but all the same, I sat back and watched as firefighters pulled my hide out of the deflated wreckage of Princess Paulina’s bouncy castle. Bryant came next, flipping out like a madman.
“I want this man arrested!” he hollered. “He’s out of control! I was just out for a breath of fresh air when this psychopath assaulted me and threw me off the side of a building, without so much as a…”
I watched as I gave the jerk a right cross, knocking him out. The remnants of the bouncy house broke his fall as well as mine. At that moment, I hadn’t considered the fact that knocking down that worm would bring me down with him.
Jeffries rushed over and undid the cuffs. Rosie followed, taking me by the hand, leading me away from the scene as cameras snapped away.
In my chair, I watched as Rosie led me past one of many finely coiffed, neatly pressed reporters on the scene. He looked into his camera. “I’m Alexander Guadalupe-Daniels and I’m on the scene at the Museum of Historic Antiquity, where renegade straw cop Mack Smasher just kidnapped a random, helpless, hardworking lobbyist and hurled him off the side of this building that holds some of our country’s most prized treasures. Public opinion on Smasher is that he’s a disgrace to the uniform and…”
Wham! I laughed and laughed as I saw my fist connect with the fool’s face. I grabbed Captain Braddock’s remote control and paused it just in time to capture a frame in which one of the reporter’s capped teeth went flying.
“Smasher!” Braddock said.
“Hold on, boss,” I said. “Let me run it back again. I want to see that prick get cold-cocked one more time.”
“I’ll have no more of your monkey shines, Smasher!” Braddock said.
“You ever notice that all of these reporters are whiter than snow yet they all have a Hispanic surname hyphenated onto their white bread last name?” I asked. “Seems like cultural appropriation if you ask me.”
“Cut the crap, Smasher!” Braddock said as he held up a stack of papers. “I just finished the fiftieth page, turkey. How do you like that?”
“What?” I asked as I grabbed the stack and poured through it. Every line had words written on it. “How did you do that? It’s only been a couple hours.”
“I told you,” Braddock said. “I’m the best of the best. Meanwhile, you’re the worst of the worst. What the hell are you doing? Kidnapping lobbyists, throwing them off buildings, punching out reporters.”
“I didn’t do that,” I protested.
My boss pointed to frozen frame on his TV.
“OK,” I said. “I did that last one. But that lobbyist walked himself out onto that ledge. He refused to leave it. I saved his life!”
“Yeah, well,” Braddock said. “You should have left the shithead out there until he fell off from exhaustion.”
“And you wouldn’t be chewing my ass out in that scenario?” I asked.
“Of course, I would,” Braddock said. “You do shit and I chew your ass out over it. Someone’s gotta keep your ass in check, Smasher. Speaking of checks…”
“Let me guess,” I said. “The mayor called.”
“You’re damn right he did,” Braddock said. Your ass just bounced a big, fat check and now I’m expected to pick up the tab. Smasher, the mayor’s head is so far up my ass that he just farted in my mouth and the smell was not pleasant.”
“It wasn’t?” I asked.
“Not one bit,” Braddock set. “It had a hint of skunk with undertones of onion and rotten tuna fish salad. Disgusting. And all that’s in my mouth and this paperwork? That’s the mouthwash.”
“Come on, sir,” I said. “It is not.”
“Oh, you’re damn right it is, Smasher,” Braddock said. “I’m going to swish this paper around, let it burn away at my oral rot, then spit it out and when I’m finished, you’ll be long gone.”
“Sir,” I said. “In my defense, I was asked to help on this one.”
“Bullshit,” Braddock said. “Don’t you lie to me, Smasher. You lie to me I will reach up into the heavens, pull down the spear of Aries and I will chop off your stupid head with it.”
“You can’t really chop anything off with a spear, sir,” I said. “They’re usually operated with a thrusting motion.”
“Enough gobbedly gook from your diseased sewer hole!” Braddock said. “Jeffries called me.”
“He did?” I asked.
“Oh yeah,” Braddock said. “You know what he said?”
“That he likes to wear women’s undergarments?” I asked.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Braddock said. “But screw you, bigot. It’s 2019. The man can wear any kind of underbritches he damn well pleases.”
“I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.”
“Jeffries said he had the whole scene under control,” Braddock said. “That the perp was about to voluntarily come inside when you waltzed onto the scene, threw your weight around, took over and tossed that shithead over the side, laughing all the while like you were having a grand old time!”
“Sir,” I said. “That is so far from the truth.”
“Neal Jeffries is a decorated department veteran,” Braddock said. “And a company man who knows how to take orders and not give any guff to his superiors. You, on the other hand, are a fart trapped deep inside a boll weevil’s asshole, just waiting to come out so you can impress the world for two seconds with your incorrigible stink until you fade away into the bleak, nothingness you deserve.”
“That book club is really paying off, sir,” I said.
“Are you calling Jeffries a liar?” Braddock asked.
“I am,” I said.
“You?” Braddock said. “A weak, sniveling, puss filled boil growing inside the urethra of a horny toad that’s been left out to die of thirst on a steamy rock, boiling under the crushing oppression of the hot, desert sun? I’m supposed to take your word against Neal Jeffries? Son, I would gladly karate chop your dick off and feed it to the devil himself if, by some sort of mysterious, predetermined arrangement, I would be able to trade you for Jeffries. Believe me. I would do it in a heartbeat.”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said. “He’s lying. I’m not.”
Braddock turned to his paperwork. He mumbled away as he wrote. “Offending officer lies like a rug, recklessly puts his life and the lives of others in danger and his uncouth, obnoxious behavior is probably just him trying to compensate for a tiny Irish penis.”
“My penis is gargantuan!” I said.
“Sexually harassed his commanding officer with inappropriate talk of his penis size,” Braddock mumbled as he scribbled away.
“I’m not even Irish!” I snapped.
The old man moved his pen. “Racist against Irish people. Told me in a direct quote that he wants to throat punch every red-headed bastard who would dare cross his path.”
“I never said that!”
The pen kept moving. “Contradicts his superior constantly.”
I stood up. “Whatever,” I said. “Let’s just both stick to what we’re best at, boss.”
Braddock looked up. “What’s that?”
“I’ll go save the world…”
I lowered my shades. “…and you keep that chair warm.”
“Wow,” Braddock said.
“Yeah?” I asked. “Good?”
“It gave me chills,” Braddock said.
“It did?” I asked.
“No,” Braddock said. “Now get the hell outta my office and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
I entered the hallway. Rosie was waiting for me. “How far has he gotten?”
“Fifty pages,” I said.
“Damn,” Rosie said. “He works fast.”
“He does,” I said. “But he’s still got ten thousand to go. I’ll be fine. Your boyfriend won’t be when I kick his ass.”
“My boyfriend?” Rosie asked.
“Jeffries,” I said.
“He’s not my…”
“Yeah,” I said. “I saw the way you looked at him.”
“I didn’t look at him in any particular way,” Rosie said.
“Who cares?” Smasher said.
“It sounds like you do,” Rosie said.
“I don’t,” I said. “But he’ll care when he’s picking his teeth out of my boot heel.”
“And why is he going to be doing that?” Rosie asked.
“He lied to the captain,” I said. “Told him the whole thing today was my fault.”
“He did?” Rosie asked.
“He did.”
Rosie stopped. “Smasher, this is simple. I was there. I’ll just go back and tell the captain…”
“No,” I said. “Women handle things by tattling. Men handle things with their fists. Next time I see that douchebag, I’m going to beat his face like it owes me money.”
Speak of the devil, Rosie and I bumped into Jeffries outside as he was heading up the steps.
“Jeffries!” I shouted. “You wang chomping shit flinger!”
The lieuntenant laughed. “Have a good time with el Capitan, Smasher?”
“You know I didn’t,” I said. “How could you deceive that old fart like that?”
“Easy,” Jeffries said. “Everyone loves me. Everyone hates you.”
“What?” I asked. “That can’t be true.”
Suddenly, a random man on the sidewalk pointed at me. “Hey everyone! Look! It’s Mack Smasher, the renegade straw cop that everyone hates!”
I grimaced.
“Come on, everyone!” the random man cried. “Let’s all boo and hiss at him to show our displeasure in his misdeeds!”
Jeffries smiled. “I have to admit, it’s nice to be out of your shadow, Smasher. Everyone loved you for years. Everyone cheered and applauded when you beat the shit out of hoodlums but now that you’re going nuts over straws…”
“I saved your ass back there!” I said. “That guy never would have gotten down from that ledge safe had it not been for me!”
“Yeah,” Jeffries said. “But you screwed me over with Mo-Mo and I owed you one.”
“So,” I said. “Are we even?”
“Not by a long shot,” Jeffries said. “You see, Mack. When you screw people over, the screw is obvious. You punch people in the face. Shoot them in the head. Blow their shit up. I, on the other hand, know how to play the game.”
“The game?” I asked.
“Law enforcement is all one great, big game,” Jeffries said. “Shake a hand here. Kiss an ass there. And when there’s a dirty job around, get the filthiest cop to do it so you can keep your hands clean. I knew there was no way that imbecile was coming off that ledge without a cop willing to bring him down and better you than me.”
I clenched my hand into a fist. “Why, I oughta…”
Rosie pulled me away. “Come on, Smasher.”
I relented, for my partner’s sake. We walked away.
“Hey, Rosie!” Jeffries called out.
Rosie looked back. “Yeah?”
“Scrape this barnacle off before he gets so fat he drowns you, will ya?”
Rosie looked ahead. “Goodbye, Neal.”

Advertisements

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 12

caipi-377960_1280

Inside an empty office on the top floor of the museum, I opened a window and stuck my head out.  A cool breeze hit my face.  I looked down.  Two fire trucks pulled up.  The firemen poured out, all hustling and bustling.  From this vantage point, they looked like ants.

I turned my head right and looked at Bryant.  He was shuddering.  There was a chill in the air, his coat was flimsy and the pajamas he wore underneath weren’t helping much.

“Hey,” I said.  “Buddy.”

Bryant recoiled in terror when he realized I was there.  He flattened his back against the stone wall of the building, his feet holding a precarious grip on the ledge.  “Who are you?  Don’t come any closer!”

“Yeah, no worries,” I said.  “I’d rather stay in here where it’s nice and warm than freeze my ass out there if it’s all the same.”

The jumper nodded.  “OK then.”

Bryant and I were quiet for a time.  He was petrified, refusing to look down.  Me?  All I could do was look down but then again, my body was secure.

“You a cop?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “Well, for at least another week or two.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bryant asked.

“Let’s just say my boss doesn’t like the cut of my jib,” I said.  “Well, deep down, I’m not entirely sure he feels that way.  But he’s got bosses who don’t like me and they’ve got bosses who don’t like me and you know how the game is played.  Everyone’s gotta do what they gotta do.”

“It’s a dog fuck dog world out there,” Bryant said.

“Yeah,” I said as I pulled out a cigarette and lit it.  “And we’re all just trying to not be the last bitch poodle.”

I puffed on the cig.  “Damn, I wish Rosie was up here.  That would have been a good line to pull down my shades on.”

“Huh?” Bryant asked.

“Nothing,” I said.  “You smoke?”

“Not usually,” Bryant said.  “Up until recently, my body was a temple but now?  Yeah, sure, why not?”

I nodded.  I pulled another cigarette out of the pack, lit it, then ever so carefully, reached my arm out the window.  Suddenly, I thought better of that move and pulled my arm back.

“Not for nothing, Kevin,” I said.  “But this is a little trust building exercise.  You grab my arm and try to pull me out there and throw me out this building and I’ll take you down with me.”

“I won’t,” Bryant said.  “Honestly, I’m starting to consider the possibility that this whole thing might have been ill-advised.”

I reached my arm out.  Bryant reached down and grabbed the smoke without taking his eyes off the world ahead of him.

“You think?” I asked as I pulled my arm back.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “I’m sorry.  I just needed someone to pay attention.  I need those straws, man.”

“I know,” I said.

“I don’t think you do,” Bryant said.  “Someone introduces something into your life that you need, that you gotta have and then one day, boom, it’s all gone.  Shit, if I could find that cop who destroyed Wisenheimer’s, I’d give him a piece of my mind.”

I sighed.  “I heard he’s a good fellow.”

“No,” Bryant said.  “On the news, they’re saying he drove a bulldozer through the joint then started juggling lit sticks of dynamite around while soccer moms and little babies were watching.”

“You can’t trust what you see on the news anymore, pal,” I said.  “Haven’t you heard of the term, ‘fake news?’”

“Fake news?” Bryant asked.  “No.  All journalists are wise, seasoned professionals and the fruit of their labors is unassailable.  Why, to even think of criticizing them is to assault the freedom of speech.”

“Whatever,” I said.  “I’m sure that cop had his reasons.”

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “Well, he fucked up my life.  I need those Wisenheimer straws and I can’t get them.  I tracked down some of the employees who worked there.  They didn’t have any.  They threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contact them again.  I contacted some customers.  They didn’t have any either.  They too threatened to kick me in the nuts if I ever contacted them again.”

I puffed on my cigarette.

“I called the corporate office,” Bryant said.  “They said they couldn’t help me and that if I called again, they’d send a lawyer to kick me in the nuts.”

“I’m beginning to sense a pattern here,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant replied.  “That the world’s happy to have you as long as you don’t cause trouble but oh boy, have one little problem and everyone will just gang up on you and threaten your nuts with bodily harm.”

“Something like that,” I said.

Bryant took a drag on his cigarette.  “Aww, listen to me.  Going on and on like my problems are everyone else’s fault.  I admit it.  It’s crazy.  Straws.  What a silly thing to be addicted to.”

“It’s not that silly,” I said.

Bryant ignored my comment.  “I tried to stop.  I tried to stay away.  But all I could think about, morning, noon and night was straws, straws and more straws.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “You and your fellow addicts, of which I’m sure there are more out there, are blameless in this.  You didn’t sign up to…”

“My wife can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue,” Bryant said.  “And my girlfriend can fit an entire cucumber up her…”

“OK,” I said.  “No one likes a braggart.”

“True,” Bryant replied.

“Plus,” I said.  “I’m sure that lifestyle isn’t easy.  Having to keep those broads from finding out about each other.”

“Not at all,” Bryant said.  “Amber and Brandy are best of friends.”

“You’re shitting me,” I said.

“I shit you not,” Bryant said.  “They hang out all the time.  We have three ways every Sunday, go on vacations as a threesome.  They send each other Christmas cards.”

I laughed.  “Damn it, Kevin.”

“What?”

“I’m so jealous I’m liable to throw you off this ledge myself,” I said.

Bryant smiled.

“There,” I said.  “A sign you don’t want to die.  Now, will you please come inside and bring this foolish spectacle to a conclusion?”

“No,” Bryant said.  “It’s all over.”

“What’s over?” I asked.  “Nothing is over.”

“I’m all washed up,” Bryant said.  “I got nothing.”

“You’re richer than a sultan!” I said.

“All smoke and mirrors,” Bryant said.  “There’s no such thing a free pussy, man.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.  “I field so many calls from my ex-wives’ army of crooked lawyers that I’d hire a secretary to answer them if I could afford one.”

“Every man dreams of scoring that primo snatch-o-la,” Bryant said.  “But you got any idea what you gotta do to keep it?”

“I can imagine,” I said.

“Trips,” Bryant said.  “Private jets.  The best hotels.  Gifts. Clothes.  Diamonds.  Jewelry.  They expect you to take care of their every little need.  Hire servants to follow them around and clean up after them.  And these broads?  They don’t know anything about the value of money.  They ask you for something and they expect you to pull it out of your ass like a magician.  Brandy wanted a pet puma, for Christ’s sake.  Do you know how much it costs to take care of a puma?”

“A lot?” I asked.

“The vet bills alone are staggering,” Bryant said.  “And the titty enlargening surgeries?  Don’t even get me started.”

“Worth it?”

“Yes,” Bryant said.

“I prefer big naturals,” I said.

“Oh,” Bryant said.  “I got a guy in Guadalajara.  Off the books.  Black market stuff.  Not exactly approved by the American Medical Association, if you catch my drift.   I don’t know how he does it but he can make a titty feel like it’s the pillow that God himself would just to rest his head on.”

“That sounds amazing,” I said.

“Yeah,” Bryant said.  “But expensive.  I’ve been living life large on credit for as long as I can remember.  Now that my income’s gone, it will all go bust.  I’ll be crushed under a mountain of dead.  They’ll take my houses, my cars.  I’ll have to file for bankruptcy.  The babes will leave and I’ll be all alone.”

“Now, now,” I said.  “Don’t get all down in the dumps, yet, buster.  You never know.  If your women love you enough, they might just stick around and…”

Bryant and I cracked up together.

“Oh, who am I kidding?”  I asked.

Bryant laughed.  “Thanks.  I needed that.”

“Kevin,” I said.  “None of this was your fault.  Now, I’m not going to bog you down in the details, but you need to trust me.  You are an unwitting pawn in a vast, underground conspiracy, one that, until recently, involved adding trace amounts of highly addictive cocaine to straws that were being dealt under the table at Wisenheimers.”

“Wait,” Bryant said.  “Coke?”

“Yes,” I said.  “As part of an illegal experiment to study the effects of cocaine laced straws on humans.  It’s all part of a conspiracy to force mankind to suck on straws until the end of time.”

“You’re telling me I’m a coke-head?” Bryant asked.

“Looks that way,” I said.

Bryant cheered.  “Yes!”

“I’ve never seen someone so happy to find out they’re hooked on the Columbian snot powder,” I said.

“This is great,” Bryant said.  “Every rich asshole in a fifty-mile radius is hooked on one drug or another!  It’s a right of passage.  It’s to be expected.  Hell, if anything, you’re considered a weirdo if you’re rich and you don’t get hooked on something.  When everyone thought I was offering to suck dick for straws, they thought I was insane, but now that I can tell everyone it was the coke inside the straws that I was after all along, I can get my life back!  My boss and my women will welcome me back with open arms, I’ll do a couple weeks in rehab and…”

“Yeah,” I said.  “That’s great.  Hey, listen man, if you could hold off on the celebration until after you’ve come inside…”

Bryant composed himself.  “Right.”

We both went silent.

“Hey, man?” Bryant asked.

“Yeah?”

“How do I get down from here?”  Bryant asked.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Bryant pushed his back against the wall so hard it was as if he was trying to push himself through the building.  “I can’t move, man!  I’m too scared!”

“Oh, come on!”  I looked below.  The firefighters had pulled out a giant piece of plastic that was large, pink, and deflated.

I pressed the call button on my radio.  “Hey, Jeffries, what’s going on down there? Over.”

My radio squawked.  “We’re putting up an inflatable device that will, we hope, break your fall if, God forbid, a fall happens.  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “You think it will?  Over.”

“I don’t know,” Jeffries said.  “If I had to bet, probably not, but it’s a department rule that in a situation like this, there has to be one.  Over.”

I scoffed.  “Well, thank the department for me.  Over.”

Squawk.  “I don’t think the department cares about you per se, Smasher.  It’s just an insurance thing.  The department’s policy and you know, factoring in the actuarial tables and so forth, it’s just cheaper to inflate the damn thing.  It’s complicated.  Don’t ask me to explain it.  Over.”

I saw one firefighter hook up an air compressor to a hose attached to the pink piece of plastic.  Like a marshmallow, it grew and grew.

“Friend,” I said.  “I’m going to need you to develop some steel in your shorts.  Think about how you’re going to rebuild your life, how cooler your chicks will think you are when they find out you’re a coke-head.”

“Man,” Bryant said.  “They’ll think I’m so cool.  I bet they’d even let me get a second sidepiece.”

“That’s the spirit,” I said.  “Now, very slowly, and very carefully, without taking your foot off the ledge, start inching your way toward me.”

Bryant closed his eyes and shook his head.  “No, no, no, man.  I can’t!”

“Kevin,” I said.  “Your new life awaits you through this window.  Come on, now!”

The addict shrieked like a little girl.  “I can’t do it!

“Damn it,” I said.

“Maybe if I had one of those straws,” Bryant said.  “They made me feel brave, you know?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Like I could do anything,” Bryant said.  “Like I was invincible.  Say, you don’t happen to have one of those straws on you, do you?”

“Not on me, no,” I said.

“You sure?” Bryant said.  “I might be willing to suck your…”

“That’s not happening,” I said.

My radio squawked.  “Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “What’s happening?  Over.”

I pressed my button.  “He’s pussying out.  Over.”

“I’m not pussying out!” Bryant shouted.  “I just need a straw!  You hear that, people?!  Get me a straw and you can drop your pants, make full use of my soft lips and supple mouth and when you’re done, feel free to leave my face looking like a frozen yogurt truck exploded in my general vicinity!  I don’t care!  Just get me a straw!”

Squawk.  “Smasher.  It’s Rosie.  Maybe I should just go back to the station and get him one of Humberto’s straws. Over.”

Bryant perked up.  “What’s that now?”

I thought about my partner’s proposition.  “No.  I’m not going to help the Illumistrawti turn people into straw addicts.  That’s letting the Strawman win.  Over.”

“The Strawman?” Bryant asked.  “Who’s the Strawman?  Does he enjoy a good pickle smooch, because I’ll do it, man.  I swear.  I will smooch every peen from here to Philly and back again if it will get me a straw.”

“Has that offer even worked on anyone yet?” I asked.

“Not as such, no,” Bryant answered.  “But you know how it is.  You get what you put out into the world and I’ve been putting out plenty off offers to gargle sausage for straws, so sooner or later…”

“Enough,” I said.  “I’m coming out there.”

“Don’t you dare!”  Bryant shouted.  “If you do, I’ll…I’ll…”

“Jump?” I asked.  “Give me a break, cupcake.  If you had the guts to throw yourself off a building, you would have done it by now.”

I crawled out onto the ledge.  I inched my way towards Kevin.  I reached out my hand.

“Take it.”

Bryant shook his head.  “No.  I can’t.”

“What are you going to do?”  I asked.  “Stay out here for the rest of your life?”

“If I have to.”

I pressed the button on my radio.  “Jeffries!  Is that thing up yet?  Over.”

“It’s up,” Jeffries said.  “Over.”

I looked down.  The height messed with my sense of balance, but I kept it together.  The sight I saw filled me with rage – the plastic had been inflated to form a pink bouncy house.  Scrawled across the top in purple letters were the words, “Princess Paulina’s Bouncy Castle.”  It had bouncy spires, bouncy minarets, the works.

Button press. “Are you shitting me?!”

Squawk. “No,” Jeffries said.  “Sorry.  Best we could do on short notice.  It seems stable enough.  It should hold.  Probably.  Over.”

Button press. “Probably?”

“I don’t know, Smasher,” Jeffries said.  “I don’t think this novelty inflatable children’s party attraction has been tested to see if it can take a body after a ten-story drop.  Over.”

“Oh,” I said to myself.  “Fuck me.”

“Man!” Bryan shouted.  “Am I getting a straw or what?”

“To hell with this,” I said.  I pulled out my cuffs.  I cuffed one side around my wrist.  I grabbed the idiot’s wrist and cuffed it.

“What are you doing?” Bryant asked.

“You’re a big man, Kevin?” I asked.

“Not at all!” Bryant said.

“You want to die?” I asked.

“Not anymore!”  Bryant shouted.  “If we’re being honest, I didn’t want to before.  I just wanted someone to pay attention to me.”

“Well,” I said as I looked out to all the news cameras pointed our way, as well as all the cell phones being operated by bystanders.  “You’re going to get your wish, dickhead.  Everyone’s going to know your name now.”

“No!”  Bryant said.  “Wait!”

“Three,” I said.

“Stop!”

“Two,” I said.

“Please!”

“You coming in?” I asked.

“Just give me a minute!”

“Sorry.  You’re all out of time.  One!”

 

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 11

caipi-377960_1280

“Get back! Everybody just get back or I’ll jump!  I swear to God I will!”

The Museum of Historic Antiquity was ten stories tall.  It didn’t provide the highest drop in the city but still, a fall from that height would easily turn a body into a pile of goo.

The jumper looked like a hobo.  Unshaven.  Bushy hair.  A hole-filled jacket that looked like it came out of the good will box.

Rosie, Jeffries and I observed the situation.

“Remain calm, sir,” Jeffries said into a bullhorn.  “Please do not jump.”

“I’m going to jump!” the jumper said.  “Do you want that?”

“No, sir,” Jeffries said.  “Nobody wants that.  If you could just relax, take a deep breath and…”

“Oh, fuck that noise,” I said as I yanked the bullhorn out of Jeffries’ hand and held it up to my mouth.  “You gonna jump or what?!  I haven’t got all day, so do it already!  What’s going on in that squirrel brain of yours?  You think your so special?  You think you’re so unique? You think anyone down here really gives a soft, buttery piece of possum shit if you…”

Jeffries wrestled the bullhorn out of my hand.  He spoke into again.  “Sorry, sir.  We’re experiencing some technical difficulties but rest assured, the situation is under control.”

“It better be!”  the jumper shouted.  “Because if it isn’t, then I’m gonna jump!”

“Who cares?” I muttered.

“Smasher, you’re going to get that man killed with that attitude,” Jeffries said.

“Whatever,” I said.  “You called me.  You don’t want me, I’m gone.  I got better things to do.”

Jeffries grabbed my sleeve.  “Hang on.”

The lieutenant pulled out a file.  He flipped a few pages until he showed me a photo of a clean shaven man wearing a suit.  “Ken Bryant.  Just a week ago, he was a powerful lobbyist, compensated to the tune of $900,000 a year plus perks and bennies.  We’re talking luxury houses, hot cars, hot women.  Hell, this guy had a supermodel wife with big fake tits and a mistress on the side with a pair of bigger, faker tits.”

“Goddamn,” I said as I looked up at the jumper.  “Respect.”

“I know,” Jeffries said.  “That’s the American Dream, right there.”

Rosie shook her head.  “But is it, though?”

He takes his sidepiece to Wisenheimer’s on New Year’s Eve.

“Cheap fuck,” I said.

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “I assume he didn’t get as high as he did by wasting money.  Anyway, since then, according to what we’re told from both women, is that he’s become, well, like you.”

“Like me?” I asked.

“Obsessed with straws,” Jeffries said.  “Can’t stop talking about them.”

I pulled out a pair of binoculars and used them to focus on Bryant’s face.  His eyes were red.  He looked strung out, like he hadn’t slept for days.  Little drops of drool poured out of his mouth.

“I need straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Get me a straw, now!”

“This isn’t like me,” I said.  “This is something else.”

I handed Rosie the binoculars.  She looked at the jumper through them.

“Oh yeah,” Rosie said.  “That’s the coke straws doing their work, alright.”

“Coke straws?” Jeffries asked.

“Straws laced with highly addictive, trace amounts of cocaine were being doled out on the sly at Wisenheimer’s,” I explained.

“You’re shitting me,” Jeffries said as he looked to Rosie, as though my word wasn’t good enough.  “Is he shitting me?”

“No shits here,” Rosie replied.

“You’re telling me all your straw bullshit is real?” Jeffries asked.

“As real as the dumb look on your face,” I said.

The lieutenant’s jaw dropped.  “Son of a…”

I patted Jeffries on the shoulder.  “It’s ok, buddy.  One day, if you wish real hard, you might just become a real cop, like me.”

“Whatever,” Jeffries said.  “No time to measure dicks, Smasher.”

“You’d lose,” I said.

“I would not,” Jeffries said.  “You want to do it right now?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “Did you bring two tape measures?”

“We could use the same tape measure,” Jeffries replied.

“That’d be unsanitary,” I said.  “And also, both tape measures would be for me.  I might even need a third and…”

Rosie interjected.  “Gentlemen, if we could focus.”

“Right,” I said.  “What’s he doing up there?”

“Wife and mistress both report that after he went to Wisenheimer’s, he started acting crazy, babbling on and about straws, how he needed them, had to have them,” Jeffries.  “Now that you’ve filled in the blanks, it sounds like classic addiction.”

“Oh, the booger sugar will get you,” I said.  “Even when taken orally.”

“He stopped sleeping,” Jeffries said.  “Stopped eating.  Stopped reporting to work.  Got fired and didn’t care.  He just sat around Wisenheimer’s, ordering drink after drink, going on and on to anyone who would listen about how much he loved the straws.”

Bryant cupped his hands around his mouth, creating a makeshift bullhorn.  “I will suck the dick of anyone who will give me a Wisenheimer’s straw.  You hear me, world?  You got a straw from Wisenheimer’s and I will drop to my knees and polish your skin flute until it’s nice and shiny!”

I looked at Rosie.  “Looks like it isn’t limited to rats after all.”

“Conclusive proof, I’d say,” Rosie added.

“Rats?” Jeffries asked.

“Long story,” I said.  “What’s his end game?”

“When he showed up to Wisenheimer’s today and found out you’d burned it down…”

“Correction,” I said.  “A fight caused by the clandestine Illumistrawti hitmen in the employ of the Strawman led to it being burned down.”

“Nothing you ever say makes sense to me, Smasher,” Jeffries said.

“It’s cool,” I said.  “Stay ignorant.  Life will be easier for you, that way.  Continue.”

“He says he’ll jump if we don’t get him a straw from Wisenheimer’s,” Jeffries said.  “We searched the wreckage.  Asked around town.  Nothing.  We aren’t going to be able to comply with this guy’s request and he looks like he’s serious about jumping.”

I looked up at the jumper.

“I am so, totally serious about jumping right now!” the jumper cried.  “You guys don’t even know!”

“What’s the plan?” I asked.

Jeffries looked around, reluctant to speak.

“What?” I asked.

“Um,” Jeffries said.  “That you go out on that ledge and try to talk some sense into him?”

“Me?” I asked.

“Well, why the hell not, Smasher?” Jeffries asked.  “You live and breathe this cowboy shit, don’t you?”

“When it’s going to break open a case, yeah,” I said.  “Not to save the life of some yuppy butt monkey who was…wait, what the hell was he lobbying for anyway?”

Jeffries flipped through the file.  “The International Association of Pesky Telemarketers.  He fought for laws that would allow fly by night companies to call you during dinner and try to sell you socks, novelty goods, assorted anal creams…”

“Oh, screw this guy!” I said as I seized the bullhorn and pressed it up to my lips.  “Jump!  Jump!”

Jeffries took the bullhorn away.  “Smasher, knock it off!  Now, I called you down here to do what you do best.”

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“Crazy,” Jeffries said.  “Because you’d have to be a loon to go up there with that dingbat.”

“Straws!” Bryant shouted.  “Drop your pants!  Give me your dicks!  I’ll suck them off in a line like they’re all part of one big, long, fleshy xylophone as long as I get my straws!”

“You going up there or what?” Jeffries said.

“Fine,” I said.

“You’ll need to go unarmed,” Jeffries said.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked.

“It’s the only way he’ll trust you,” Jeffries said.

I rolled my eyes.   I took off my jacket and to my chagrin, my holster, which contained both Thunder and Lightning, and handed it all to Rosie.  I then pulled my .38 out of my boot and gave that to my partner as well.

“Anything else?” Rosie asked.

I dug into my pockets and my switchblade, my brass knuckles, and a compact pistol, all of which went to Rosie.

“Wow,” Rosie said.  “Is that it?”

“Yeah,” I said as I walked toward the building.  “Wait.”

I stopped.  I reached down the back of my pants, fished my hand around inside my underwear, then pulled out a grenade.

“Holy shit!” Rosie said.

“Relax,” I said.  “You act like you’ve never seen a grenade before.”

“You mean to tell me I was riding around next to that thing this entire time?” Rosie asked.

“It’s perfectly safe,” I said.  “It’s my good luck charm.  I’ve been carrying it for years and I haven’t needed to throw it yet.  As long as the pin stays in it, it’s just a harmless paperweight.  Here.”

Rosie refused it.  “I’m not taking that.”

I turned to Jeffries.  “Neal, I’m trusting you with my ass grenade.  If this goes FUBAR, please find it a good home.”

A tiny tear trickled out of Jeffries’ eye.  He sniffed as he accepted the explosive device.

“What?” I asked.  “You wussing out on me?”

“No,” Jeffries said.  “It’s just, you know.  Allergies.  You’ll be fine, Smasher.  You’ll be coming back to accept this ass grenade yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said as I headed for the building.  “Just keep it safe.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 10

caipi-377960_1280

We sat in traffic.  Rosie was on the phone with her mom, asking how her son, Jeremy, was.  I didn’t hear the other end, but I could tell the gist of the conversation was that the elder Mrs. Quan was displeased that Rosie had been working all night, since the straw law division was supposed to be an easy job.  Damn it.  No one respected the danger of straws.  Still, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat responsible for Rosie’s family strife.

I stared at the bumper of a fancy little hybrid.  The driver looked like a typical poser douche.  Balding head with a pony tail.  Probably blew himself every night just to thank himself for saving the earth, never once giving any thought into how replacing gas with electricity to power a car is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  What a dingus.

Rosie hanged up her phone.  She joined me in staring at the hybrid’s bumper.

“What you did back there was stupid,” I said.  “Appreciated, but stupid.”

Rosie fiddled with the radio dial.  “Like I said, I’ve never abandoned a partner yet.  I came close to recommending you be put on sick leave for a psych eval, but now that it seems you were right…”

“Seems?” I asked.

“OK,” Rosie said.  “You were right.”

“I accept your apology,” I said.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Rosie replied.  “Your methods still leave something to be desired.”

“My methods get the job done,” I said.

“Good, old-fashioned police work gets the job done slower but with less media scrutiny,” Rosie said.  “And with more of a chance of a successful conviction.  Subpoenas. Warrants.  Due process.  Ever hear of these things, Smasher?”

“Vaguely,” I said.  “Maybe I heard about them on some dumb cop show, but I’ll tell you, jamming Thunder in a guy’s face until he talks is a lot faster.”

“And a surefire way to get us both fired,” Rosie replied.

“Listen,” I said.  “I admire your loyalty but why don’t you take a walk, kid?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Split,” I said.  “Take a hike.  Scram.”

“What are you getting at?” Rosie asked.

“Go to the library and check out a book about straws,” I said.  “Go to city hall and review the permits for every restaurant.  Hell, just go home and spend some time with your kid.  Anyone asks, I’ll cover for you.  I’ll say you were out doing important straw related research while I was doing the next thing that will get my mug all over the news.”

“Maybe don’t do things that will get you all over the news?” Rosie asked.

“Don’t try to change me baby,” I said.  “Mack Smasher will always be Mack Smasher.”

“Whatever,” Rosie said.

“It’ll be the best of both worlds,” I said.  “At the end of all this, you’ll be able to say you didn’t quit on a partner and you’ll still be out of the fray when shit goes down.”

“I’ve never been afraid of shit going down, Smasher,” Rosie said.  “I’d just rather not get my head blown off or my ass fired by the captain because you can’t keep your cool.”

I dropped my shades over my eyes.  “Oh, I’m cool baby.  I’m ice cold.  It’s the world that’s way too hot.”

“Ugh,” Rosie said.  “Please stop doing that.”

“Doing what?” I asked.

My phone rang.  I looked at the screen.  Jeffries.

I answered the phone.  “Fat Freddy’s Handjob Parlor.  How many can I put you down for?”

“Hilarious, Smasher,” Jeffries replied.

“You want them with lube or extra dry?” I inquired.

“Save it,” Jeffries said.  “Smasher, I loathe calling you.”

“Then you probably shouldn’t have,” I said.

“There’s a situation,” Jeffries said.  “It calls for…well, a man such as yourself, who is willing to uh…”

I groaned.  “My unconventional methods that everyone bitches about until they are needed and then they would like to ask me to use my unconventional methods?”

“Bingo.”

“Go jerk yourself off, Jeffries,” I said.  “After the crap you gave me about Mo-Mo the Clam?  No thanks.”

“That was entirely different,” Jeffries said.

“Was it?” I asked.

“Time is of the essence,” Jeffries said.  “A man’s life is at stake and I can’t believe I’m saying this but uh…”

“What?” I asked.

“Your uh…expertise…”

I could tell the lieutenant was using the word “expertise” in a sarcastic manner.  “Your expertise when it comes to straws may, God help me, be useful here.

I laughed.  “So, I’m not the straw nut anymore?”

“Oh, you still are,” Jeffries said.  “Most definitely.  I heard Braddock began filling out your walking papers and I’ve got a bottle of champagne on ice, ready to pop the cork when he’s done but until then, are you in or out on this?”

I grumbled.  “Fine.  For whoever’s life is at stake, though. Not for you, prick.”

“I’ll text you the address.”

I looked the hybrid bumper.  “Screw this.”  I turned on my lights and siren. I had installed into my sweet ride myself.  I nudged myself out into the breakdown lane and hit the gas.

“What’s up?” Rosie asked.

“Jeffries,” I said.  “Suddenly my unconventional methods and knowledge of straws are in vogue.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop -Chapter 9

caipi-377960_1280

“Smasher!  You dirty, mold infested parasite growing on the inside of a cow’s rectum!  You have screwed me over for the last time!  You got any idea the extent of the mess you made?  No, you don’t, do you?  The only one Mack Smasher ever thinks about is Mack Smasher, right?  Well, listen up, shit for brains, and listen good.  You better get your head out of your ass and get it into the game before I do my best impression of a Rockette and kick your damn balls so far up your body that you choke to death on them.  Am I clear?”

I’d taken Captain Braddock’s abuse all night and into morning, sitting there in his office, my face covered in the man’s spittle and donut crumbs.  I would have been pissed at him had I not realized I was causing the old man’s health to deteriorate.  He was about 40 pounds overweight, red-faced and sweaty, and breathing heavily.  A vein popped out of his forehead every time he yelled and it looked like it was about to pop any second.

“Crystal, sir, but if I could just…”

“But, nothing!”  Braddock slammed his fist down on his desk, causing all his paper and knick knacks to fall all over the place.  “Smasher, you couldn’t possible fathom the dilly of a pickle you’ve got me in.  You think the Mayor is a fan of your antics?  Beating citizens up, pulling guns on them, letting a major criminal go and now destruction of a family restaurant with a cartoon mascot?  You’re all over the news and the people want to know what the department is allowing you to be a one-man wrecking crew, wreaking havoc all over the city!  You think the mayor likes this kind of bad publicity?”

“No.”

“You’re damn right!  You know, uh…the mayor’s head is so far up my ass…shit, I’m tired.”

Captain Braddock took a deep breath.  He twisted open a prescription bottle, pulled out three pills, popped them, then chased it down with some water from a plastic bottle.  “Damn it, smasher, you’ve got me poppin’ my blood pressure meds like they’re M and M’s!”

“Cap,” I said.  “I’m no pharmacist but that probably isn’t a good thing to do.”

The captain wagged his finger in my face.  “Shut up!  Now, where the hell was I?”

“The mayor’s head up your ass.”

“Right!” Captain Braddock said.  “Smasher, the mayor’s head is so far up my ass that I don’t even have to shave anymore.  Whenever the hairs on my face start to grow, the mayor’s hand just pops out of my mouth with a safety razor and scrapes them off!”

“I am truly sorry that you’re taking so much heat, boss.”

Braddock pounded his fist again.  “You’re sorry?”

“Yes.”

“You’re goddamn right you’re sorry!  You’re the sorriest excuse for an officer of the law I’ve ever seen!  You’re so sorry I can’t stand to look at you!”

Braddock grabbed a remote control and turned on a tv that hanged on his office wall.  A news reporter appeared.  “Chaos in Foggy Bottom as D.C. straw cop Mack Smasher blows up a family restaurant, leaving this once popular eatery incinerated.  I’m Cammy Calhoun-Mariposa with the latest on Mack Smasher’s reign of terror.”

The captain flipped the channel.  Another reporter.  This one a man.  “I’m Martin Anderson-Hernandez and I’m on the scene where D.C. straw cop Mack Smasher just single handedly and without anyone else involved, burnt a restaurant that was adored by local children to the ground.”

“Look at this shit,” Braddock said as he switched channels.  “You’re everywhere!”

Yet, another reporter.  “Tales of Mack Smasher’s violent, unorthodox methods of straw law enforcement have been all over social media as of late.  Just before he literally dumped ten gallons of gasoline all over Golly Gopher’s home, set it ablaze, then urinated on the ashes…”

I looked at the captain.  “They’re lying.”

“Shut up!”  Braddock said.

The reporter continued.  “…he held a teenage barista at gunpoint, all over a straw.”

Cellphone video of my interaction with Liam played.  At the particular moment in question, I was yelling at the kid.  “Where’d you get the straws, you little puke?”

“That was taken out of context,” I said to the captain.

“You are bending over my world and rawdogging it into oblivion, Smasher,” the captain replied as he switched the channel.  Monica Blather and Jim Claymore were at it again.

“Jim, you red meat stuffed, conservative mouth breather from flyover country, I don’t care what you say.  Straws will be the death of us all.  They are contributing to global warming, which is entirely man made.  Every time a man farts, or sneezes, or fills his car with gas or doesn’t separate his trash from his recyclables or yes, even when he uses a plastic drinking straw, the entire temperature of the world goes up another point and before you know it, we’ll all be incinerated.”

“Monica,” Jim replied.  “You horse faced old crone, constantly up on this program, bitching and moaning about your abortion rights as if a baby could ever grow inside your gangrenous uterus, don’t sit there and whine to me about global warming, as if that’s even a real thing.  Straws, plastic materials, oil, gas, they’re all made from dead dinosaurs, dummy, and if there’s anything that’s more organic and natural than a dead brontosaurus carcass, simmering in the earth for thousands of years until it liquifies enough to create the mother’s milk that fuels our economy, I’d like to see it.  I really would.”

“I hope Mack Smasher shoots you and all of your ilk in the face!” Monica cried.

“Oh, there you go with the hypocrisy!”  Jim retorted.  “Just last week you were complaining that guns are too violent and need to be confiscated from law abiding citizens who just want to use their stockpiles of semi-automatic rifles to hunt deer and ward off intruders.”

“That’s absolutely correct,” Monica said.  “Get rid of all the guns and the world will be filled with peace and harmony.  It is an undeniable fact that before guns were invented, there was no violence in the world whatsoever.”

“And the week before that you were crying a river about cops,” Jim said.

“Yes!”  Monica said.  “Racist brutes who sit around dreaming up new ways to torture minorities all day long!”

“But now you’re happy that a rogue cop is running around town, sticking a gun in the face of anyone who sips on a straw?” Jim asked.

“Yes, and I hope he does it forever!  Police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!”  Monica replied.

Braddock switched the TV off.  “Boy, I must have done some heinous shit in a previous life to deserve you fucking me up in this one, Smasher.  I don’t know what I was.  A bloodthirsty pirate.  A homicidal mad man.  A goddamn slave owner.  Who knows?  All I know is it’s obvious to me that I did something wrong that pissed off God and now, you are my punishment – a cruel, twisted punishment worse than anything ever dreamed up in Dante’s Inferno designed to torment me for the rest of my days.

“Past lives?” I asked.  “Dante’s Inferno?  Jeeze, boss, is it me or are these chew out sessions getting a little more high-brow?”

“It’s not you,” Braddock said.  “I’ve been reading more.  Joined a book club.  It meets Thursday nights.  There are fancy old ladies and tea and scones.  It’s delightful, but that’s none of your damn business, Smasher.  Now you clean the shit out of your ears and listen to me.  We are straw cops.  We pass out pamphlets.  We issue fines.  We work, at most, one hour at of every eight-hour day and then we collect an easy paycheck.  That’s it.  That’s all we do.”

“So, my partner keeps telling me,” I said.

“She’s a smart woman,” Braddock said.  “You should listen to her.”

“Rosie’s great,” I said.  “She had my back tonight.  Wish I could say the same about you.”

Had my esteemed superior been a cartoon bull, steam would have shot out of his nose.  “You don’t think I got your back?”

“No,” I said.

Braddock stood up and leaned over the desk.  “Smasher, you miserable, festering boil on a giraffe’s nutsack, all I ever do is stand up for you!”

It was time for the classic angry captain vs. insubordinate detective showdown.  I stood up.  I leaned over the desk.  My boss and eye engaged in an ultra-manly staring contest.  The rules were a bit different than the traditional variety.  We continued to fling insults at one another and mock each other’s integrity as our eyes remained locked in visual combat.

“Bullshit!” I said.  “You stand up for me?  You’re one glazed donut away from not being able to stand up at all, you fat walrus!”

“Did you just call me a fat walrus?!”  Braddock asked.

“I did!  What are you going to do about it?”

“Smasher, if there weren’t fair labor practice laws, I would kick your dick off and drop it down my garbage disposal!”

“I’d like to see you try!” I said.  “Aww, you brass types are all alike.  Sitting in your fancy chairs and your safe little offices, pushing papers and barking orders, acting like you’re all big and tough when in reality, none of you have walked a beat in years.”

Braddock rested his hands on his girthy hips.  “Is that so?”

“It is!” I said.  “The department must get a special deal on commanding officers because you’re all exactly the same.  You love to shit on me just to save your ass from getting shit on by whoever’s above you, but deep down, you hope I keep doing what I do because you know I’m the only cop around here who gets results…and you know if you were any kind of man, you’d be out there doing it with me.”

“You’re wrong, Smasher!”  Braddock said.  “I abhor what you do!  I polled all the other captains in the department the results were unanimous.  They all said if you were under their command, they would have scraped you off their shoes like the fetid pile of doggie doo doo that you are.”

“Hypocritical pricks!” I said.  “Everyone loved me up till a week ago.”

“Of course, they did, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “No one gave a shit when you pulled a gun on some lowlife pimp, or a degenerate dope pusher.  You want to smack real criminals around?  Be my guest.  Transfer to another division and beat the snot out of the dregs of humanity all day and everyone will be without a single shit to give.  But here, in the straw law enforcement division, we have standards…”

I laughed at that comment.  I didn’t see any standards at all.

The captain doubled down.  “We have standards!  And if you press a gun against the head of a boy working the damn coffee machine, shits will be given, Smasher!  Of that, I assure you!  Multiple shits will be given.”

Braddock clutched his chest and eased his copious bottom back in his chair.  “Up your ass with a gallon of gas, Smasher!  You’ve got my heart moving like a congo line at the Copacobana.”

I took my seat.  “Maybe you ought to just let handle things and go play a round of golf, old timer.”

“Oh, eat a buffet line of dicks, Smasher!”  Braddock said.  “Spare me your crap about my age.  I was out there busting heads before you were even a sperm in your daddy’s balls.”

“I doubt dinosaurs committed many crimes,” I said.

The boss pinched his thumb and forefinger together.  “You are this close to me blowing my stack, Smasher and I swear to God, Thor, Jesus, Apollo, Buddha and St. Jerome that if you make me blow my stack, I will cover you from head to toe in the lava of my righteous indignation until you burn to a crisp!”

“Whoa,” I said.  “Easy there, big fella.”

The captain was about to throw more abuse my when Rosie walked in, carrying Humberto’s briefcase.

“Quan!” Braddock grumbled.  “Where the hell have you been?  When I tell my officers to get their asses to my office pronto, then I mean on the double, ASAP!”

Rosie laid the briefcase down on the table.  “Sir, I’m sorry, but I just came from the crime lab and…”

“Save it!” Braddock said.  “Quan, all night long, Smasher’s been filling my ears full of all kinds of malarkey, nonsensical ramblings about the Strawman this and the Illumistrawti that.  Strawmageddon and a covert plot to force every beverage user on earth to drink out of a straw.  I know Smasher’s batshit cuckoo crazy bananas but I want to hear it from you.  Out of the two of you, you seem like the one with your head on straight, so tell me, do you believe in this crap?”

My partner looked to me, then to the captain.  To me.  The captain.  She did this back and forth for ten seconds at least.  “Well…”

“Just give it to me straight, Detective,” Braddock said.  “If Smasher’s on to something, then I’ll cut him some slack but if not, whoa boy, am I going to fire his ass out of a cannon.”

“I’d love to see you try,” I said.

“Oh, you’ll see it,” Braddock said.  “Don’t you worry about that.”

The captain returned his gaze to Rosie.  “Well?”

Rosie took a deep breath.  “Sir, here’s the thing, up until tonight, I too shared your opinion that Smasher was, um, batshit cuckoo crazy bananas, or however you put it.  But now…”

My partner clacked open the briefcase.  It was filled with straws and pieces of paper.  Each piece was loaded with handwritten notes and mathematical equations.  “It’s all right here, sir,” Rosie said.  “Research from Humberto Gonzalez.  Between this information and the story Smasher repeated to me after the explosion, it is evident that Humberto was being forced by someone…”

“The Illumistrawti,” I said.

“Apparently,” Rosie said before continuing.  “He was being forced to deal plastic straws to Wisenheimer’s customers on the downlow.  He then kept detailed notes on how these customers reacted.  When they returned for more straws, how often they wanted straws, what mood they were in, how irritable or excited they were, and so on.”

Braddock made a face that looked like he’d just smelled a bad fart.  Oh, how badly he wanted to bust my ass only for Rosie to swoop in and cover my cheeks.  “That’s some weird ass shit, but who cares?  Is it illegal to give out straws and write down what they do with them?”

I threw up my hands in exasperation.  “Uh…hello!  There’s a straw ban!!!”

“On which there is a grace period, pecker head!”  Braddock said.  “Your dead contact wouldn’t have been in trouble until July 1 and even then he would’ve just gotten a fine.  Now stick a sock in your suck hole, numb nuts.  Adults are talking.  Please, Quan.  Continue.”

“You are right, sir,” Rosie said.  “The act of dealing straws and recording the results is odd, but not, on its own, illegal at this time.”

“Booyah!” Braddock shouted.  “Bend over, Smasher, ‘cuz you just got your ass rawdogged, long and deep!”

“Hold on a minute,” I said.  “There’s gotta be more to this.”

“There is,” Rosie said.  “The straws.”

“What about them?” Braddock asked.

“The boys in the crime lab analyzed them,” Rosie said.  “They’ve been laced with trace amounts of cocaine.”

I slammed my fist on Braddock’s desk.  “I knew it!”

“You’re shitting me,” Braddock said.

“I shit you not,” Rosie replied.  “When these straws enter the mouth, the moisture from a customer’s saliva triggers a chemical reaction that causes cocaine to enter the blood stream via the tongue.  It’s tasteless, odorless, the customer wouldn’t even know something’s up until he returns to his straw dealer, Jonesing for more.”

“Strung out straw junkies?” Braddock asked.  “Is that the line of horse manure you’re peddling to me, Quan?”

“I’m afraid so, sir,” Rosie said.

“This all sounds like theoretical shit,” Braddock said.

“Not at all, sir,” Rosie said.  “I watched the crime lab techs conduct their own conclusive experiments.”

Braddock shook his head.  “Which consisted of?”

Rosie squirmed in her seat, not relishing the duty to answer her superior’s question.  “Um, mostly letting one rat lick a tainted straw until he emitted a series of squeaks which were interpreted to mean that he um…was willing to suck the other lab rat’s dick in exchange for another straw lick, sir.”

“Goddamn it.”  Braddock leaned back in his seat.  He looked as though a bus had just run him over.  “I can’t believe it.”

“Oh yeah,” I said.  “Believe it and booyah yourself, baby!”

“Narcotics,” Braddock said.  “Criminal conspiracy.  Assassination.  We aren’t equipped to handle this.  I am not equipped to handle this.”

“Relax,” I said.

“No,” Braddock said.  “We’ve got to hand this case off to someone else.”

“There’s no one to hand it off to,” I protested.  “If the straw ball’s in our court, then we’ve got to dribble it to the hole.”

“Don’t sit there with your smug face and tell me what hole to stick my ball in, Smasher!” Braddock said.  “Damn you!  By the trident of Poseidon, I damn you for all eternity for bringing this case to my doorstep!”

“OK,” I said.  “Let’s dial it back.  Now you’re getting a little emotional…”

“Emotional my ass!” Braddock said.  “The way this department has treated me all these years and now, with one month left until my retirement, you just had to go poking your nose where it didn’t belong, didn’t you, Smasher?”

“I did my job,” Smasher said.  “I’m tired of all this bullshit about pamphlets and fines.  A good straw cop investigates any and all straw crimes that come his way, consequences be damned. I’d never be able to sleep at night, knowing that the good people of this district are slowly being turned into vile cokeheads, willing to suck dick just for the chance to suck on another straw.”

Rosie raised her hand.  “Actually, we’ve only confirmed a willing to suck dick for a coke infused straw in lab rats.  We aren’t sure if it brings out the willingness to uh, perform fellatio, in humans.”

“Assume first and ask questions later, Rosie,” I said.  “That’s the number one rule of law enforcement.”

“It isn’t,” Rosie said.  “It really isn’t.”

“If we don’t act now, our nation’s capitol will be filled with cocaine addled chode smokers,” I said.

Rosie grin.  “So, just another day that ends in Y?”

My partner looked around the room, searching for laughs.  None were to be found.  “Nobody?  OK then.”

“This is huge, boss,” I said.

“I know it is,” Braddock said.  “But the timing couldn’t be worse.  Damn it, Smasher.  In February, I’m going to be a free man.  I just put a down payment on a condo in Boca Raton and my wife and I are going to drive down there the second I walk out of this building for good.”

“Aww,” Rosie said.  “Sir, that’s sweet.”

“I know it is.”  Braddock opened up a desk drawer.  He rummaged through it for a minute, making all sorts of clanking sounds, until he produced a bronze urn.  He set it down on the desk.

Rosie and I both looked like a couple of deer caught in the headlights.

“Go on,” Braddock said.

“Uh,” I said.  “Go on what?”

“Explain to my wife why you felt it was necessary to fuck up the perfect, do-nothing job and go get our division embroiled in a vast conspiracy full of intrigue, mystery and murder most foul, a caper that sounds so dangerous that it is most certainly going to get her husband killed before his retirement!”

I looked at the urn.  “So…uh…Mrs. Braddock, see…the thing is…”

I looked at my boss.  “Sir, none of this is going to blow back on you.”

“The hell it isn’t!”  Braddock shouted.  “The mayor’s head is already so far up my ass that my proctologist called to say he can’t give me a colonoscopy because it’s way too crowded back there!”

“And that’s all I need you to do,” I said.  “Run interference with the grand high muckety mucks, the political hacks and bottom feeders who lick their fingers and stick them up high to see which way the wind is blowing, and I’ll take care of the rest.”

Braddock rubbed his bloodshot eyes.  “Pamphlets.  Fines.  Seemed like a good way to spend what little time I had left.”

My boss stared at the urn.  “Aww, hell.  After Marlene died ten years ago, all I had left was the hope that one day I’d get to go down to the Sunshine state and spread my beloved’s ashes all over the parking lot of the Uncle Cornpone’s T-Bone Steak Shack that we spend the majority of our honeymoon fornicating in, within the confines of my Gremlin.”

Rosie appeared puzzled.  “The little monsters that break things when you aren’t looking?”

“It was a car!”  Braddock said.

“A tiny one,” I replied.  “How did you even…”

“We were young and limber,” Braddock said.  “People were fitter then.  Long before they invented pizza crust stuffed with bacon and hot fudge sauce and other pieces of pizza and what have you.  Oh, I’d never be able to rock Marlene’s world in that Gremlin today, but I can at least return her to the place where our life together as man and wife began.”

“Again, sir,” Rosie said.  “That’s sweet.”

“Yeah, well,” Braddock said.  “It would have been nice, but now Dipshit McGee is gonna get us all killed.  Damn it.  What a fitting end to a shitty career.”

“Mine?” I asked.

“Oh, hell,” Braddock said.  “Everyone thought you were the cream in the coffee until you went and lost your damn mind over the straw ban, Smasher.  No, I’m talking about mine.  Forty years ago, I was just a young, fresh faced rookie, straight out of the academy, walking the beat on my first day on the job.  The sky was sunny, the birds were singing, and I was oh so happy until…”

Braddock cradled his head in his hands.  “The incident,” he murmured.

I adjusted my neck collar.  “I uh…never wanted to ask but I heard rumors.”

“What incident?” Rosie asked.

“Best to leave it be,” I advised.

“No,” Braddock said as he lifted his head up.  “Quan, you deserve to know who you’re working for so, here it goes.”

The captain pulled out a paper bag.  He hyperventilated into it, breathing it open and closed, open and closed.  When he removed the bag from his face, he blurted it out.  “I shot a kid in the face.”

Rosie clasped her hand over her mouth.  “Oh my God.”

I shrugged.  “Who hasn’t?”

Rosie then looked at me.  “Oh my God!”

“Aww,” Braddock said.  “The skies were clear with 99.9 percent perfect visibility, but what they don’t tell you in the academy is it’s that .01 percent that will get you.”

“Does it though?” Rosie asked.

“I walked past a child’s birthday party,” Braddock said.  “The kid had a plastic toy.  A replica from some silly cartoon show about space.”

“Huh,” Rosie said.  “Well, I suppose if you were to look at that at the wrong angle…”

“It was pink and purple,” Braddock said.  “With green and yellow flashing lights and it made a ‘zappitty zap’ sound whenever the kid squeezed the trigger.”

“Jesus Christ,” Rosie muttered.

“Boss,” I said.  “Stop beating yourself up.  You were only doing your job.  The public at large has no idea the pressure an officer of the law is under, how you have to make life and death decisions in a split second.”

“I know,” Braddock said.  “It’s just, ever since that day, I lie awake thinking about how that whole scene played out.  The giant, handwritten banner that the boy’s mother had made, saying, “Attention Police: My Son is Playing with a Toy Gun.  Please Don’t Shoot Him!’  The boy’s mother running up to me and spending a full fifteen minutes explaining to me how the kid’s gun was a fake that she had bought from a toy store.  All the other parents and family members coming up to me, spending another twenty minutes backing up the mother’s story.  How I took the toy out of the kid’s hand, examined it, concluded that it was a toy, then put it back in his hand.  In retrospect, I can see how these were all warning signs, red flags screaming out at me to not shoot the boy.”

“They definitely were,” Rosie said.

“Hindsight is twenty-twenty, boss,” I said.  “Every cop has at least one bad call that he spends his life replaying in his head, kicking himself for not doing better but you know what?  When the shit goes down, we don’t have the luxury of that level of clarity, do we?”

“We do not,” Braddock said.

“You just have to shoot blindly, empty your clip and hope for the best,”  I said.

Braddock nodded.  “That you do.”

“Wait,” Rosie said.  “I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to do at all.”

The captain and I ignored Rosie’s protests.  Frankly, she was being rather annoying at that moment.  Blah, blah, blah, “cops shouldn’t shoot kids” bleeding heart bullshit.  You know how it is.

“Still,” Braddock said.  “I have to admit that when I left the party, got into my squad car, radioed into the station, asked if anyone could confirm that there was such a toy space gun, got an answer from multiple officers that such a space gun existed, I probably shouldn’t have returned to the party and shot that kid in the face.”

Rosie slapped her forehead.  “Mother of God.”

“What?” I asked.  “And take the risk that toy space gun wasn’t a Ruger Warhawk in disguise?  Pbbht, ok, if you want to be a pussy, then by all means, walk away.”

“I shot that kid in the face, my first day on the job,” Braddock said.  “And I’ve had to live with that pain every day, ever since.  That mother balling her eyes out, shouting at me, ‘No, wait, stop!  Please look at my receipt from the toy store indicating I bought a toy space gun that matches the description of the one my son is holding!’  I’ll second guess myself until the day I die, but I was so hoping to do it on a boat, sailing through that clear, blue Florida water, nothing but a fishing rod in one hand, a cold beer in the other, the thoughts of that boy’s father screaming, ‘Please don’t shoot my son, sir!  What if I just take the toy space gun and bust it up with a hammer?’ and me replying, ‘No, I’m sorry, but after two and a half hours of deliberations, I can’t take that chance!’ running through my mind.”

“Sir,” Rosie said.  “Not to be rude but how are you still even on the force?”

“Oh, it was a different time back then, Quan,” Braddock said.  “A cop had to shoot a dozen kids in the face at least before people started asking questions.  Personally, I shot thirteen kids in the face before I got into trouble.”

“Wait,” Rosie said.  “The kid you shot in the face on your first day wasn’t the one that got you into trouble?”

“No,” Braddock explained.  “After that kid, I shot twelve more kids at twelve separate birthdays, each one holding the same plastic toy space gun.  All shot right in the face.”

Rosie squinted at the captain.  “It’s just, you know…”

“Oh great,” I said.  “Another liberal pantywaist here to shit on our boys in blue.”

“I’m not shitting on anyone,” Rosie said.  “It’s just, after the first kid you shot…”

“In the face,” Braddock said.  “Yes?”

“Right,” Rosie said.  “After the first one, wouldn’t there have been a voice in your head that screamed out, ‘Hey! Stop shooting kids in the face!’”

“I did hear such a voice,” Braddock said.

“And?” Rosie asked.

“I ignored it completely,” Braddock said.

“As any good cop would,” I said.

Braddock and I bumped fists.  Rosie appeared ill.

“I repeat my question,” Rosie said.  “How do you still have a job?”

“Well,” Braddock said.  “Today, if you shoot a kid in the face over a toy space gun, it’ll be a madhouse.  An absolute madhouse.  The media, the mayor, your commanding officer, they’ll all throw a disco party right up your ass.”

“What a messed-up world,” I said.

“Tell me about it,” Braddock said.  “But back in my day, the concern wasn’t so much that you’d shoot another kid in the face but that you might be so worried about the last kid you shot in the face that you’d become to much of a sissy to ever pull out your gun to shoot anyone ever again, out of some bizarre, misguided fear that you’d shoot another kid in the face.”

“I’d call that fear very guided,” Rosie said.

“I told my captain at the time he had nothing to worry about,” Braddock said.  “That I’d be more than willing to risk shooting more kids in the face if that’s what it would take to make sure actual, degenerate criminals got shot in the face, but he wouldn’t have it.  ‘Braddock,’ he said.  ‘I’m benching you in the evidence room, because I know how this old story goes.  Today, you’ll be afraid to shoot a kid in the face. Tomorrow, you’ll be afraid to shoot a nun in the face.  The day after that, you’ll be afraid to shoot a little old lady on her way to choir practice in the face.  You’ll be so afraid that you might shoot the wrong person in the face that you’ll never risk drawing your gun to shoot a bad guy in the face ever again.’  From there on, I was stuck in the evidence room, the records room, hell, after that building I never got another assignment that took me out of this building.  Just a bunch of bullshit jobs like this one that would never require me to pull my gun because the brass suffered from the delusional fear that I was afraid to risk shooting kids in the face.”

“Shit,” I said.  “That’s extreme.”

“I’ll say,” Braddock said.  “And I don’t care what my boss then or any boss I’ve had since then says.”

Braddock reached down to his belt and whipped out his old-school revolver.  “I don’t care if I have to shoot a thousand kids in the face, I’ll do it just to shoot one real, honest-to-God perp in the face any day, any time.”

“You got a bad rap, boss,” I said.

“Damn straight,” Braddock said as he holstered his weapon.

Rosie looked like she was full of question.  “I…just…but how…and the…I can’t even.”

“I was unfairly railroaded by this department for four decades, Smasher,” Braddock said.

“That you were,” Braddock said.

“But was he?” Rosie asked.

“This department owes me,” Braddock said.  “And I’ll be damned if I go down without the pension I am owed just so you can play the hero in some sort of straw related melodrama movie of the week tripe.”

“Let me off the leash, boss,” I said.  “And you’ll go down as a hero.”

“I don’t care how I go down, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “Just as long as I go down to Florida, dump my old lady in a steak house parking lot, and then fish and drink until I’m good and dead.”

“Boss,” I said.  “I swear to you that I will not do anything to jeopardize your career.”

“You already have!” Braddock said.  “Your hi-jinx has the mayor rethinking the whole damn straw law!  He’s going to meet with the city council to talk about nixing the thing altogether!”

Now, Rosie was mad.  “Damn it, Smasher!”

“’Damn it, Smasher’ is right,” Braddock said.  The old man pulled a giant stack of paper work out of his desk drawer.  “You’ve left me no choice.”

“What is that?” I asked.

“The mountain of paper work I’ll have to fill out just to get your union to not fight it when I fire your dumb ass!” Braddock answered.

“Ha!” I said.  “Bless the union!”

“That’s just to start,” Braddock said as he pulled out six more stacks, piling his desk high.

I laughed.  “You’ll never get all that filled out!”

“Oh, you don’t think so?” Braddock asked.

“I know so!” I said.

“What you don’t know could fill an airplane hangar, you miserable toilet bug,” Braddock said.  “What you’re forgetting is that I’ve spent my entire career pushing paper, so a pile like this doesn’t faze me in the slightest.  If anything, it gets my dick rock hard!”

“First time since the Reagan administration, I’d wager,” I said.

“Go on,” Braddock said.  “Keep making your jokes, Smasher.  Keeping running around town with your tail between your legs, violating every rule on the book, shitting on every procedure, pissing off every politician.  The second I finish this pile, you’re done.  Gone.  Outta here.  Bye bye.  Sayanora.  See you later.”

“Not if I finger the Strawman first,” I noted.

“I’m the best in the biz when it comes to ridiculously long government forms, Smasher,” Braddock said.  “I’ll have your ass roasting on a spit before your finger gets anywhere near this cockamamie Strawman, if there even is such a person.”

I could tell it caused her great internal distress, but Rosie stuck up for me just the same.  “Sir, though I do agree with your assessment that Smasher is a toilet bug, he did bumble his way into a legit case here.  And though I share your desire to hold onto this job and do my time quietly until pension time comes, I can’t ignore major crimes that are unfolding before my very eyes.”

“Sure, you can,” Braddock said.  “It’s easy.  Just grab a chair, take a nap, and when you wake up, you’ll be that much closer to retirement.  I’ve been doing it four decades, and you can too.”

Rosie rolled her eyes.  “When you put it like that…”

“Make a decision, Quan,” Braddock said.  “It’s either your pension or this dick cheeseburger with extra turd fries of a partner of yours.  Look, do I care that some madman is handing out cocaine laced straws that will turn the general public at large into coke crazed nard gobblers?”

“Again,” Rosie said.  “That’s only been confirmed in rats.”

“Whatever,” Braddock said.  “Do I care about it?  Sure.  Do I care more about sitting my fat ass on that fishing boat with my retirement check rolling in on time every month?  You bet.  Do I want to keep the mayor’s head out of my ass for the next month until I can leave this world of shit behind?  You’re darn tootin.’”

“Sir,” Rosie said.  “Up until tonight, I was ready to take the easy way myself, but now…”

“Keep taking it, Quan,” Braddock said.  “Say the word and I’ll transfer you to meter maid duty.  Keep an eye out for double parkers for the next couple weeks until I can get this stack of papers filled out and then when Smasher’s gone, I’ll get you transferred back.  By then, I’ll be ready to walk out the door and you know what?  I’ll even leave behind a letter recommending you as the next captain of the straw law enforcement division.  Think of it, Quan.  You’re a young woman.  Three decades of showing up at 10, playing solitaire on your computer until noon, taking three hour martini lunches, occasionally passing out a pamphlet or a fine to some dickhead who didn’t get the pamphlet, all reimbursed at a captain’s pay and when you retire?  You’ll retire on a captain’s pension.”

I could tell the little hamster inside Rosie’s brain wheel was running at warp speed.

“But if Smasher goes down,” Braddock said.  “He’s likely to bring you down with him.  You want to choose loyalty to your partner over lifelong financial security, be my guest, but personally, I’d sell this prick out of a plug nickel.”

“Your vote of confidence is appreciated, sir,” I said.

“Stifle yourself, gas bag,” Braddock replied.  “Personally, Quan, I’d take my offer rather than risk losing my job and ending up as some mall cop in the middle of Buttfuck, Nowhere, but that’s just me.”

Rosie’s head looked like it was going to explode from all the pressure.

“Well, Quan,” Braddock said, “What’s it going to be?”

Rosie looked at me, then the captain.  Me, then the captain.

“I…I’ve never abandoned a partner yet, sir.”

“Very well,” Braddock said.  “You just a dumb move, Quan.”

“I regret it immediately, sir,” Rosie said.

“You should,” Braddock said.  “I’ll do my best to keep your ass meat out of the frying pan but if push comes to shove and the mayor wants your ass on a plate, then make no mistake about it.  I will immediately start a new stack of paperwork to get rid of you.”

“You’re tough but fair, sir,” Rosie said.

“And you,” Braddock said as he pointed at me.  “You’re a loose cannon, Smasher.  Your ass is writing checks this department could not possibly ever cash and if you think for one damn minute that my ass is going to underwrite the overdraft on your ass, then you are sorely mistaken.”

“I’d never dream of making your ass my ass’s banker, sir,” I said.

“I should hope not,” Braddock said.  “You’re both dismissed.”

Rosie and I stood up.  Braddock grabbed a pen, clicked it, and went to work on the stack of papers that, if filed, would seal my fate.  The old man mumbled to himself as he filled in the blanks.  “Name of Offending Officer?  Mack Smasher.  Offense Committed: Hmm, let’s see.  Best to me vague.  Underhanded hi-jinx, duplicitous tomfoolery and chicanery in the first degree.”

As Rosie and I walked out of the room, Braddock called for me without lifting his head from the papers.  “Smasher?”

“Yeah, boss?”

“You put the Strawman on ice and sway public opinion to your side by the time I dot my last I and cross my last T, and I will run this whole mess through the shredder and forget I ever dreamed of getting rid of you.”

“Thanks, boss.”  I said.  “You old softy, you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Braddock said.  “Get the hell outta here, for Christ’s sake.  The mayor’s head is so far up my ass that I can’t sneeze without him popping out of my nose to sing an operatic concerto.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 8

caipi-377960_1280

As I walked out into the restaurant, Humberto’s words echoed through my soul.  “A strawsassin always has back-up.”

              I walked slowly, studying the face of each customer as I walked by.  Everyone looked like a dopey loser with a face full of fattening chow.  The idea that one of these morons could be a hired killer seemed unlikely and yet, Humberto knew his stuff.

I reached our table.  Rosie was on her third chimichanga cheese stick.  “Smasher!  Where’d you go?  While you were gone, someone ate all your…oh, OK.  Fine.  It was me.”

I grabbed Rosie’s arm.  “Get up.”

“God,” Rosie said.  “Don’t shit a brick.  I will buy you another plate of cheese sticks, alright?  It’s no big deal.”

“We need to move,” I said.

By the look on Rosie’s face, I could tell she realized we weren’t talking about heat lamp warmed piehole stuffers.  “What’s wrong?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Not at all.”

“Will you this one time?”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes.”

Rosie stood and walked with me.  I looked around.  I could still hear Humberto, and not because he was still monologuing in the bathroom.  By now, I was sure he was gone, but his words were not forgotten.  “There are bloodthirsty killers intermixed with the customers.  They’ve got to great lengths to hide their identities.  Any person out there on the restaurant floor could be a homicidal maniac.”

My partner and I walked past families celebrating birthdays.  College kids avoiding their homework with drinks and potato skins.  Old and young alike, having a good time being entertained by that insipid jackass in the Golly Gopher costume.

As we neared the exit, my Shaolin training kicked in.  A cold chill ran up my spine. I stopped in my tracks.  To my left, I clocked a fat bearded bartender, running the same dirty dishrag across the nice, clean bar over and over again.  He didn’t do anything else.  He just eyeballed me and worked that rag.

To my right, a young family appeared to be enjoying a night out.  They were all decked out in their best finery.  I suspected Mom might have been some type of kept woman, her ensemble looking like it had taken time to put together.  Nothing a working woman could have whipped up on a minute’s notice, that’s for sure.  Dad looked like a professor.  Tweed coat.  Patches on the elbows. Mom was feeding baby a jar of strained carrots she’d pulled out of her purse, her own plate of barbecued chicken, ribs, and pulled pork going uneaten.

“Come on, sweetheart,” Mom said as she moved the spoon towards the baby’s mouth.  “Here comes the airplane into the hangar.”

“Rosie,” I said.

“Yeah?”

Dad cracked open a newspaper.  The Washington Telegraph-Dispatch.  He shook his head disapprovingly as he summarized the news for the missus.  “Can you believe it, honey?  Those nitwits in Congress raised the interest rates again!”

“Sorry to hear that dear,” Mom cooed.

“Get down,” I said to my partner.

“What?” Rosie asked.

I walked up to a round table, where a frumpy, overweight, middle-aged couple sat.  Both silently stuffed their faces, using food to fill the hole caused by the unrelentingly depressing fact that they were going to have to stare at each other until the end of time, because both knew full well that at this late stage of the game, neither would be able to do better.

I kicked over their table.

“Hey!” the middle-aged man shouted.

I drew Thunder and pointed it at the man.  “Run.”

The middle-aged couple did as they were told.  I grabbed Rosie and pulled her behind the table, which was now flipped on its side.  It didn’t provide cover from all angles, but it was the best I was able to do at the moment.

I shrugged off my leather jacket.  There I was now, my rippling pecs poking through my tight black t-shirt.  I drew Lightning.  She was made out of silver so pure that she’d make a vampire hiss.

I pointed Thunder at the barkeep.  I pointed Lightning at the young family.  I looked into the barkeep’s eyes with my left eye.  I looked into Mom and Dad’s eyes with my right.  Yes, this was uncomfortable and yes, I went cross-eyed for a second.

I lowered my sunglasses over my heads.  “Put on your dancing shoes, kids, because Satan is ready to samba.”

Customers freaked out.  Dishes clattered to the floor as they ran for the exit.  Rosie poked up head up.  “Smasher, what the hell are you doing?”

She looked over to the young family.  “I’m so sorry.  He gets like this sometimes.”

On my left, the barkeep put down his rag.  He cracked the muscles in his neck.  On my right, Dad put down his paper and Mom put down her spoon.  The parents cracked their knuckles.

“You ready to boogie?” I asked the barkeep.

“All over your face like America’s 1990s era sweetheart, Paul Abdul, bitch,” the barkeep replied.

I turned to Mom and Dad. “You two ready to waltz?”

“Like fucking Fred Astaire,” Dad said.

“And fucking Ginger Rogers,” Mom added.

I cocked the hammers of both gats.  “Good, but just so you all know…”

Rosie pulled her Glock.  “Smasher…what’s going on?”

I hate it when my snappy lines are interrupted.  “…it’ll be you three that will be singing…in the blood.”

At this point, you should imagine shit going down in slow motion.  After all, that’s what I did at the time, because as you’ll recall, I always have that sweet little mind’s eye trick in my back pocket.  It really helps to perform a number of vital movements in rapid secession when every second counts and the slightest mistake can get you killed.

Like a ninja, I fell backward, firing hot lead at my assailants on opposite sides of the room.  The barkeep reached under the counter and pulled out a tactical shotgun, a real nasty looking one too.  Pistol grip with extra storage for red shells on the side.  It was something a pro would use, not some lame ass booze jockey just trying to protect himself from a stick-up.

Dad pulled an Uzi out of that tweed coat of his and I’ll be damned if that thing didn’t spit bullets with the swift precision of a laser beam.  With only a second to think, I noticed that the dipshit in the Golly Gopher costume was lunging about in a panic, unsure where to run.  I grabbed him around the neck and hid behind his massive furry girth, allowing the costume to absorb the blast.

Mom whipped a 99mm out of her purse and squeezed off a few bursts my way.  Golly accepted those too.

Blam!  Blam!  Blam!  The barkeep was tearing the room apart with his shot gun.  Dishes and glasses exploding with each blast.  I pivoted and moved Golly toward the bar, letting that fat bastard take all that heat.

As the trio of hired guns reloaded, I pulled off Golly’s head to check on the costume’s occupant.  Yeesh.  The man inside was uglier than the character.  Patchy red hair and warts all over his face.

“How did you know the costume would be able to take all those bullets?!” the man asked.

“Oh, right!” I said.  “I did know that!  Because, you know, science and ballistics and trajectories and shit.”

“Oh, hell no!” the mascot man cried as he bolted out the door.  “Daddy’s tux shop, here I come!”

“Damn it,” I said as I grabbed an empty table.  I set it in its side, its legs facing the bar.  Rosie’s table faced the young family.  Together, my partner and I huddled between the table legs.

“I just lost my human shield,” I said.

“You just lost your mind!” Rosie said.  “Are you kidding me?  Starting a shootout in a crowded public place?”

“Me?” I asked as I raised Thunder over the side of my table and fired blindly in the direction of the bar.  “They started it!”

“Be careful!” Rosie said.  “There are kids in here!”

“Well,” I said.  “We all gotta grow up sometime.”

The barkeep’s gunshots rattled my table.  Mom and Dad’s bullets pressed into Rosie’s table, showing it was only a matter of time before our makeshift covers would bust apart, leaving us with our asses in the wind.

“Back to back?” I asked.

Rosie nodded.  “Back to back.”

“You got another?”  I asked.

“No,” Rosie said.

“Why the hell not?”  I asked.

“Because I’m a straw cop,” Rosie said.

I pulled a .38 I kept strapped to my ankle and handed it to Rosie.  “Newsflash, baby.  Straw cops gotta be strapped.”

As you picture this next part, you should think of your favorite kickass rock and roll song.  Something between 1980 and 1992, because rock just fell apart after that.  Disagree?  Tweet my book’s self-publishing guru, Bookshelf Q. Battler @bookshelfbattle and chew his ear off then, why don’t you?  Don’t tweet me, because I’ll put your complaints in my circular file.

Back to the action.  Rosie and I stood up, taking our positions in a mini-phalanx.  I aimed at the barkeep.  She aimed at Mom and Dad.  Two humans.  Four guns.  What a rush.

I shot out the glasses hanging over the bar, sending a torrential pouring of shards down on the barkeep’s head.  Rosie matched Mom and Dad shot for shot.  No one landed a direct hit and miraculously, everyone managed to duck in the nick of time.

Customers ran out the front door.

“Shoot the baby,” I said.

“What?” Rosie asked.

“Shoot the baby!” I shouted.

“What?” Rosie repeated.

“Damn it!” I said.  “Switch!”

Rosie and I turned.  She hugged her arms around my mid-section and opened fire on the bartender.  I hugged my arms around Rosie’s waist and opened fire on…that damn baby.

Kaboom!  The baby exploded into a massive fireball, causing Mom and Dad to jump for cover.

“You just shot a baby!” Rosie snapped.

“That wasn’t a baby!” I said.

The barkeep cocked his gun.  I scored a hit in his shoulder, sending him down for what I hoped would be the count.  No such luck.  He sprang to his feet, ditched the gun, and grabbed a liquor bottle.  He twisted off the top, and stuffed his dirty rag down the neck.

The restaurant was devoid of all innocent bystanders now.  Mom and Dad pointed their guns at us.  Rosie and I pointed back.  It was a standoff and we all traded glares, waiting to see who would break the impromptu détente by pulling their trigger first.

Dad did it first.  Click!  Mom next.  Click!  Rosie followed.  Click, click!  Then me.  Click, click!

“Oh, come on!” Dad said as he spiked his Uzi on the floor.

“You just can’t get enough ammo anymore,” I said.

“Fucking anti-gun lobby,” Mom said.  “They’re making it harder and harder to  have a shoot-out in a crowded space anymore.”

“Bloody ridiculous,” Dad said.

“You’re British?” I asked.

“Yes, mate,” Dad answered.  “I was using my American accent earlier.  Did you take me for a Yank?”

“I did,” I said.  “You’re very good.”

“Thank you,” Dad said.  “You’re too kind.”

I reached into my pocket, pulled out two sets of brass knuckles and placed them over my fingers.  Dad whipped out a pair of nunchuks.  Mom unfurled a collapsible baton.

“Oh, come on!” Rosie said.  “You all have melee weapons!”

“Come on, yourself, Rosie,” I said.  “You’ve really got to come prepared.”

Rosie stomped her foot.  “I…am…a…straw…cop!”

I looked at Mom and Dad.  I pulled out a switchblade and pushed the button, releasing the sharp end.  “Do you mind?”

“Not at all,” Mom said.

“It’s only fair,” Dad added.

I handed Rosie the blade.

“I hate you, Smasher,” Rosie said.

“I know.”

The four of us paced about in the middle of the room.  At the bar, the fat guy was busy making Molotov cocktails.  He had at least six or seven of them sitting on the counter and was working on another one.

Dad came at me, nunchuku blazing.  I launched myself into the air and utilized a roundhouse kick to connect my foot with his face.  Mom took a swing at Rosie with the baton.  Instinctively, but rather uselessly, my partner sliced and diced the air in front of her.

“Bah!” Rosie said as she hacked away, aimlessly.  “Get back, bitch!”

More nunchuk swings.  I dodged them, then came charging at Dad with a bicycle kick that connected one-foot blow after the next with the killer’s face, knocking him out cold.

“This is some seriously messed up, racist as hell, cultural appropriation bullshit,” Rosie said.  “There’s an Asian in the room and yet the only one who knows karate is the white guy.”

“It’s kung-fu,” I said as I deflected Mom’s baton thrusts with my forearms.  “And honestly, I feel like it would be more racist if the only person in the room to know martial arts was the Asian.”

Rosie picked up a beer bottle.  “You’ve got me there.”

“I mean,” I said.  “It’s not like you all train to fight in the ways of the ancient ones, do you?”

“No,” Rosie said as she smashed the bottle over Mom’s head, sending her to the floor, unconscious.  “Sometimes less involved methods are more effective.”

“You’re dead!”

The barkeep had ten Molotovs burning and ready to throw.  “You hear me?  You’re both dead!”

He hurled one.  He smashed a few feet in front of us, exploding and consuming its blast radius.  He threw another.  It landed far from us, exploding.

“Shit,” I said.  “This guy could throw for the Cubs.”

Rosie looked at me.  “Let’s bounce.”

I nodded.  We ran for the door.  As we did, I reached out and caught one of the hurled Molotovs.  I aimed it at the bar, where the rest of the deadly concoctions stood.  I threw it, then ran with Rosie out the door into the parking lot.

We dashed behind a parked car just in time to miss the fire and debris that shot out of the front of the building, tearing the once delightful family restaurant apart.

Rosie caught her breath.  “How did make those clowns?”

“Easy,” I said.  “No bartender making minimum wage plus tips cares enough to keep his bar that clean.  No mother who dresses like she’s that rich would be feeding her own baby.  She’d have a nanny to do that shit and dear old Dad?  Who the hell has cracked open a newspaper made out of actual newsprint since 2008?  Bunch of lousy amateurs.”

“But the baby!”  Rosie said.  “You shot a baby on a hunch!”

“It wasn’t a hunch,” I said.

“Then how did you know?”

At that exact moment, a tiny sphere the size of baseball dropped out of the sky, landing at our feet.  It was the baby’s head.  I picked it up and shook it in Rosie’s face.  The eyes popped out on springs.

“Ma…ma,” the baby said in a robot voice that was slowly breaking down.  “Ma…ma…no…ma…ma…why…did you…program me to feel pain?”

The baby’s head shook rapidly.  I threw it over my shoulder, avoiding the explosion.

“Elementary, my dear Rosie,” I said.  “No couple that attractive would have a baby that ugly.”

My partner and I rested our heads against the car.

“Smasher?”

“Yeah?”

“What if the baby had been adopted?”

I shrugged my shoulders.  “Sometimes a straw cop’s just gotta go with his gut.”

Woo, woo, woo!  Sirens and flashing lights.  Three cruisers and a SWAT van pulled up.  A tactical team poured out the back.  Uniformed cops jumped out of their cars.  All pointed guns at us.  Rosie and I put our hands up.

Seconds later, an unmarked black sedan pulled up.  Out of it stepped none other than one Lt. Jeffries.

“Smasher,” the lieutenant said.  “I should have known.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 7

caipi-377960_1280

The sound of the lock to the men’s restroom snapping shut was disturbing to me.  I’d never made a habit of hanging out with dudes in public restrooms and wasn’t about to now.  I had a reputation as a snatch magnet to uphold, and I wasn’t about to tarnish it for anyone.

“So, Mr. Smasher,” Humberto said.  “I see like Alice, you’ve chased the white rabbit, but are you prepared to find out just how deep the rabbit hole goes?”

“Umm,” I said.  “Is that an invitation to learn more about a conspiracy or a thinly veiled sexual innuendo?”

“It can be either,” Humberto said.  “Your choice.”

I coughed into my fist.  “Uh…the former, please.”

“P’shaw,” Humberto said.  “Typical outdated cis male.  Never willing to step outside your pre-conceived box and live a little.”

“My box is just fine, palooka,” I said.  “How’d you know my name?”

“Please,” the waiter replied.  “Your gorgeous face is all over the news, as well as social media.  Why, you’re Mack Smasher, who is, depending on who you ask, a menace to society who is going to kill us all over straws or save the world from straws, depending on whether you ask your fans or your detractors.”

“I have those?”

“Of course,” Humberto said.  “Dear me, you must get yourself connected online more.”

“In my experience, the Internet is just a breeding ground for weirdoes and perverts,” I said.

“Eh, you have a point there,” Humberto said.  “Still, you should check it out from time to time.  You’d be surprised to learn how many supporters you have out there.  In fact, you have one in here.”

“I could tell,” I said.  “Your hatred of straws is as genuine as mine, and that’s a feeling that’s hard to manufacture out of whole cloth, no matter how much cheap Chinese kid labor you acquire for three cents a day.”

Humberto took my hand.  I don’t think he meant it as a gay gesture but rather, as one of sincerity.  At any rate, it felt very gay.  I didn’t want to chance it, so I retracted my hand.

“They’ve found me,” Humberto said.

“Who?” I asked.

Humberto lifted the sleeve of his bicep to reveal his tattoo.  It consisted of two bendy straws, the tops bent at perfect angles.  In the middle, they crossed in an X.  A skull with vacant eyes appeared between them.

“What in the…”

“Please,” Humberto said.  “Relax, sir.”

“You’re…one of them aren’t you?”  I asked.  “Shit, I thought I’d seen all the symbols of all the pro-straw gangs in history but that’s a new one.  Is this a trap?”

“No,” Humberto said.  “Mr. Smasher, I swear to you, on the grave of my dear, darling, long lost Rodrigo, that I am your ally.  Yes, I was once an adherent to the terrible tenets of straw fascism, but I swear to you I am a changed man.  To quote the immortal words of Amazing Grace, I once was lost, but now, I am found and I like where I am, as a proud member of the underground anti-straw movement, though I must admit, I am much quieter about it than you are.”

“What is that?” I asked, pointing at the tattoo.

“You don’t know?” Humberto asked, a look of great shock on his face.

“No.”

“Dios mio!” Humberto exclaimed.  “Aw, my former cohorts are craftier than I thought, if they evaded detection by even the great renegade straw cop, Mack Smasher, all this time.”

“Start making some sense, fella,” I said.  “Because the longer we stand in this shitter, the longer people outside are going to assume we’re in here fuckin,’ and I can’t have that.”

Humberto calmed down.  “I respect your old-fashioned allegiance to misguided gender norms.  I scoff at it, but I respect it.  Mr. Smasher, this is the sign of…”

The waiter looked around.  Seeing no on was watching, he finished the sentence.  “…the Illumistrawti!”

“The Illumistrawti?” I asked.

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “Oh!  Be careful in invoking their ghastly name, for they have operatives everywhere, even in this very restaurant.  They watch me at all times.”

“Who are they?” I asked.

“Who…who are they you ask?”  Humberto slapped the back of his palm against his forehead, looking as though he might feint at any moment.  “And here I thought you were the world’s greatest detective of straw crime!”

“I am.”

“Yes, well,” Humberto said.  “It’s like there are many of them, are there?  So, it’s not like there’s a high bar for you to pass, but you’ll do.  Smasher, haven’t you studied straw history?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m some geek of the street,” I said.  “I’ve been researching the history of straws for as long as I can remember.  Hell, I’m even in the process of constructing a time machine that would allow me to travel back to the 1800s and punch world class inventor Marvin Stone in the face until he agrees to not seek the patent on the world’s first mass production ready drinking straw.”

Humberto erupted in laughter.  “Ha!  Smasher, you ignoramus!  You think this hellscape we’re living in all starts with Marvin Stone and wait.  Really?  You made a time machine?”

“It’s mostly just a toaster oven that I connected to a tablet computer at the moment,” I said.  “It’s in a rudimentary stage but I’m getting there.”

“Ah,” Humberto said.  “Well, straws date way, way way, before Stone’s time.  Sure, he may have figured out a way to get them in the hands of the masses, but since caveman times, man has been torn between drinking directly from a container of water or to employ the use of a tube as a middleman between container and mouth.”

“It makes no sense,” I said.

“I know, right?” Humberto asked.

“Why add that extra step?” I asked.

“It’s ridiculous,” Humberto said.  “And yet, early man would fight over this all the time.  Some cavemen would say it’s perfectly fine to lift the hollowed-out rock serving as a bowl to hold water and tip it right into your mouth.  Others would say that’s disgusting for multiple people to put their mouths all over the rock bowl and to reduce the possibility of transmitting germs and diseases, they should use hollowed out twigs, rolled up leaves, or even pieces of bamboo to deliver the water from bowl to mouth.”

“Absurd,” I said.  “They could just wash the bowl between uses.”

“Exactly!”  Humberto said.  “Ah, but as time went on, straw related disagreements cursed the earth.  Historians wrote this fact out of the history books, but in truth, all wars since the beginning of time have been over straws.”

“In my gut I always knew that,” I said.  “Goddamn crooked historians.”

“By the late 1930s, a new pro-straw movement swept through Germany,” Humberto said.  “While Adolf Hitler sought to transform the world into one, giant dictatorship beholden the terrifying vision of an all-white master race, his lesser known cousin, Rudolf Spitler, lead a band of pro-straw zealots who marched through Europe, knee-capping anyone who refused to drink with a straw.”

“The Strawzis,” I said.  “I know of them.  They marched under the banner of the strawstika.”

“A disturbing symbol indeed,” Humberto.  “And those who gathered in secret to exercise their God given right to sip directly from a cup without an unnecessary interloquitor were hunted down and executed by the Strawzi party’s villainous enforcement wing, the villainous gestrawpo.”

“Bastards,” I said.  “I hope they’re all rotting in hell.”

“Of that, there can be no doubt,” Humberto said.  “After the war, a new pro-straw movement began, this one in Sicily.  They called themselves the Strawfia and soon they had infiltrated every aspect of American life, from politics to business to sports and entertainment, they spread the tentacles of their corruption, strangling every last dollar they could out of the system and using it to pay off politicians who gladly passed laws that allowed restaurants to flood the world with straws.  Bah, you hear debates about limiting the number of guns a man can buy, but nary a word on how many straws a single individual is allowed to acquire.  Why, thanks to the Strawfia, you can waltz right into a Fatty Burger, grab a handful of straws and the police won’t even show up at your door to strip search you and ask you a thousand questions.”

“That makes me want to puke,” I said.  “But you’re not telling me anything I don’t know.”

“Then let’s get to the last twenty years’ worth of developments in straw crime,” Humberto said.  “The knowledge of which seems to have eluded you.”

“I’m aware straw crime has never stopped,” I said.  “I just don’t understand it’s latest organizational format.”

“Few do,” Humberto said.  “And that is the genius of the Strawman.”

“The Strawman?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Is that when you get into a debate with somebody about whether tax rates should be raised or lowered.  You take a stance for lowering them and your opponent bypasses your argument and counters with an accusation that you’re a chicken fucker instead, so then to the untrained observer, it looks like your opponent has won because you’re up there, trying to prove your innocence of chicken fuckery rather than get into the substance of the actual topic of the debate?”

“No,” Humberto said.  “You’re thinking of a strawman argument.  Please, do not confuse that with the Strawman.”

“I’ve heard rumors of his existence,” I said.  “I thought he was just a myth, a ghost, a boogeyman that straw haters like myself tell to children to keep their lips on the cup and away from straws.”

“No,” Humberto said.  “He is very much real.  In the early 2000s, he brought the Strawfia to heel.  One by one, he waged civil war against the lesser straw gangs.  The Order of the Straw.  The Strawng Armers.  M-SIP 45. The Four Horsemen of the Strawpocalypse.  One by one their leadership either bent a knee and joined the Illumistrawti or suffered death by the Strawman’s hand.”

“Who is he?” I asked.  “I must know.”

“No one knows,” Humberto said.  “Few have seen his face and lived to tell the tale.  Those who have are his most trusted subordinates, die-hard straw lovers who would give their lives willingly just to see a world where everyone sucks.”

“If that’s the symbol of the Illumistrawti,” I said, pointing to Humberto’s bicep.  “And you’re no longer with them, why haven’t you had that removed by now?”

“It comes in handy,” Humberto said.  “I now consider myself a one-man warrior in the anti-straw movement.  In the past, I worked my way into Illumistrawti cells across the country, ingratiating myself to them before I help them meet their much-deserved demise.  In recent years, I have slowed my pace, opting instead to take up the mantle of a humble waiter, moving from restaurant to restaurant, convincing managers across the country to swap out plastic straws for paper before moving on my way.”

“Blech,” I said.  “Straw porn.”

“Yes, I know it’s straw porn,” Humberto said.  “But this is war, Smasher, and we must do whatever we can to get plastic out of the mouths babes and onto the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

“Why’d you join such a lousy band of assholes in the first place?” I asked.

“I was young,” Humberto said.  “Stupid and naïve.  My sister died from a deadlier than average strain of influenza.  Her doctor lectured my parents that if only they had gotten our family’s precious little one hooked on straws early, she would have lived, free from the germs that grow on communally used glasses, despite being run through the dishwasher regularly.”

“Germs that can outlive a run through the dishwasher?” I asked.  “Give me a break.”

“Yes, well,” Humberto said.  “What did I know?  I was young and unaware of the powerful influence the pro-straw forces had over the medical profession.  Immediately, I sought out my local chapter of M-SIP 45 in Guadalajara.  I joined and after a grueling initiation process, I was smuggling trucks full of untaxed, tariff circumventing straws over the border into the United States and selling them to restaurants at bargain basement, cutthroat rates.  Thanks to bandejos like me, it became cheaper and easier than ever for the food service industry to flood the market with plastic, choking our rivers and streams and worse, putting the life of every man, woman and child in mortal peril.”

“May God have mercy on your soul,” I said.

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “I pray that he will, for I am a reformed man.”

“What was your come to Jesus moment?” I asked.

“After getting shot in a straw deal gone bad, I realized that life was short,” Humberto said.  “I proposed to my longtime lover, Rodrigo, a jaw droppingly handsome specimen of masculinity, who was literally capable of cracking walnuts between his tushy cheeks.  Oh, and what a delightful heiney it was!  How the many nights I spend making sweet love to it brought me so much joy and pleasure beyond any possible stretch of the imagination, and also, let me tell you…”

“Let’s fast forward through this part,” I said.

“Very well, troglodyte,” Humberto said. “During our wedding reception, Rodrigo, now my husband, ordered his usual cocktail of cranberry juice and vodka.  Throughout the evening, he sipped on it with one of those little straws, you know, the ones that are so teeny they can double as both a straw and a swizzle stick?”

“Death traps if I ever saw one,” I replied.

“Indeed,” Humberto said.  “Poor Rodrigo.  He was such a prolific sucker.  One of the many reasons why I married him, but as you said, you don’t want to hear about that in any great detail.”

“I don’t.”

“Oh, you sad, sexually repressed little man,” Humberto said.  “I weep for you but moving on, Rodrigo sucked on his little straw so hard that it became lodged deep inside his lung, cutting off his air supply.  He turned blue, suffocated instantly, and my life was shattered.  I never enjoyed a man ass ever again.”

“You went celibate?”

“Don’t be silly,” Humberto said.  “I didn’t say that.  I just said I stopped enjoying it.”

“I’m sorry, Humberto,” I said.  “I can’t say enough for the sake of my machismo that I am the furthest thing away from gay, so I can’t imagine what it must be like for one gay dude to lose the gay dude that he loves, but if its any consolation, I’ve lost over a dozen or so ex-wives so I too know the pain of loss.”

“My goodness!” Humberto said.  “All your past wives died?”

“No,” I said.  “They just wished me dead on the way out the door.”

“Not exactly the same thing, Mr. Smasher, but your attempt to empathize is appreciated.”

The waiter stood up on his tippy toes, moved aside one of the flimsy ceiling tiles, and pulled down a stashed briefcase.

“What is this?” I asked.

“I lied to you earlier,” Humberto said.  “Plastic straws were given out in this restaurant.  I ashamed to say, by me.”

“Humberto!” I said.  “How could you?”

“The Illumistrawti is a difficult organization to leave,” the waiter said.  “Once their claws are in your flesh, they will never let go.  They tracked me down last week and forced me to deal these vile straws and track the results.”

“The results?” I asked.

“Yes,” Humberto said as he passed me the briefcase.  “After the past few days of watching your anti-straw exploits on television, I had been trying to work up the courage to seek you out, tell you my story and turn over this evidence, but alas, I was so cowardly.  But when I saw you walk through my door, I knew fate had brought us together.”

“Ahem,” I said.  “In a purely Platonic sense.”

“Right.”

“Just two straw haters on a mission,” I added.

“I’m not trying to get up your ass, Mr. Smasher!”

“Cool,” I said.  “Just making sure.”

As Humberto nudged me toward the door, I felt a cold breeze whisk through the bathroom.

“Sir,” Humberto said.  “I must beg you to take your leave now.  The Strawman’s agents are everywhere, always waiting, always watching.  If they learn I talked to you, my life will be…ACK!”

My new acquaintance fell to the ground, writing in pain.  He slapped his neck, then held it up – a tiny wad of wet paper.

“Egads!  A poisoned spitball!  This must be the work of…a strawsassin!:

Almost as if on cue, I looked up to the window on the other side of the bathroom.  It had been opened.  On that dark winter’s evening, I could only make out a pair of eyes and, you guessed it, a straw that was slowly moving back as the mysterious murderer pulled his head away, disappearing into the darkness.

I dropped to my knees and grabbed the waiter’s hand.  “Humberto!  What can I do?”

Humberto clutched his chest and gasped for air.  “Nothing!  Strawsassins coat their spitballs with a powerful, toxic chemical that works quickly, shutting down all bodily functions before the victim meets with a most unenviable demise!  Oh, the pain!  The horror!  The horror of it all, I say!”

I pulled out my phone.  “Hang on, pal.  I’ll call an ambulance and get you fixed up in no time.”

“No!” Humberto cried.  He choked and sputtered.  “It’s too late!  I am a goner.  Ah, fi on thee, fate, cruel mistress that you are, for we must all face death sooner or later and yet we are never prepared to do so as death is such a foreign concept to us, life being all that we know.”

I squeezed Humberto’s hand.  It’s important to me that you understand that I did this in a strictly, non-gay way.  It’s something I’d do for anyone who was about to kick the bucket, so don’t go getting any funny ideas about Mack Smasher being light in the loafers, see?

“Mr. Smasher!  Please, you must do something for me!  It is, my last request.”

“Anything.  Name it.”

“You must…fellate me!”

“Um…what?”

“There’s no time to argue, man!” Humberto said.  “I beg of you, take out my manhood and give it a good shine, so that I may know the love of a man one more time before I die.”

“Dude,” I said.  “Come on.”

“Oh, Mr. Smasher!” Humberto said.  “I know behind your gruff exterior lies the beating heart of a kind man.  Surely, you would not deny the last wish of a man who is about to shove off into the void that is the great unknown.”

“Damn it.”  Ever so slowly, I reached my hand towards Humberto’s belt buckle.

The dying man laughed.  “Bah!  I got you!”

My face turned red.  “You did not!”

“I totally…argh…ugh…I totally got you, man!”

“No, you didn’t,” I said.

“I did so!  You were going to blow me!”

“I was not,” I protested.  “You just had a little schmutz on your pants.  I was trying to brush it off for you.”

“Whatever,”  Humberto said.  “But seriously, Smasher, you must do something for me.”

“If it’s got anything to do with your dick, I’m leaving you to croak on this cold tiled floor all by your lonesome,” I said.

“No!” Humberto said.  “This request has nothing to do with my penis.  Smasher, you must take the briefcase.  Inside it, there is evidence that you can use to bring down the Strawman.  I wish I had more time to explain but I can feel the poison doing its work.”

I looked at my watch.  “Are you sure there’s no time for an ambulance?”

“No,” Humberto said.  “As I told you, the poison is fast acting.”

“It doesn’t seem like it,” I said.

“Well, I assure you, it is,” Humberto said.

We traded confused looks in silence for a while.  Finally, Humberto spoke up again.  “Have you got any games on your phone?  Sweetie Smash perhaps?  Or maybe a movie?  Something to pass the time?”

“Oh,” I said. “I don’t know.  I don’t like to drain my battery unnecessarily.”

Humberto raised his hand.  “That is very wise of you.”

“I mean, I’m not trying to be a dick or anything,” I said.

“I don’t think you are a dick,” Humberto said.  “You are being very responsible.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “It’s just, you know, when you’re out and about, you never know when you’ll get to plug your phone in again and in the meantime, something unexpected could happen and you need help but your battery’s gone and…”

“Say no more,” Humberto said.

“This is nuts,” I said.  “I’m calling 911.”

“No!” Humberto said.  “Too late!  I am…gone!”

Humberto grabbed his chest and convulsed, his entire body shaking as though he’d just been electrocuted.  His eyes rolled into the back of his head.  He went silent.

“Oh, Humberto,” I said as I stood up.  “I hardly knew you, but your death saddens me so.  We could have been great friends, you and I, fighting straw crime and sharing our hatred for straws while hanging out and doing friendly and only friendly activities.  Nothing gay.  Oh well.  Goodnight, sweet prince.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

GASP!  Humberto lifted his head up and caught his second wind.  “Mr. Smasher!  I almost forgot.  I have one more thing to tell you!”

“What is it, Humberto?” I asked. “You can tell me anything.”

The goner curled his finger towards himself.  “I am so weak.  Come closer.”

I knelt down.

“Closer.”

I moved closer.

“Closer, still.”

I did as requested until the dying man whispered into my ear.  “Kiss me, you fool!”

“Blech!” I said as I lifted my head.

Humberto laughed himself silly.  “I got you again!”

“You did not!  Jesus Christ, will you let me call you an ambulance?”

“No!” Humberto shouted.  “How many times must I tell you in no uncertain terms that there is simply no time to save my life and therefore a call to the paramedics would be nothing more than a futile, meaningless gesture?  Why, I’ll tell you there’s no time now, and if you ask me again I will give you the same answer.  I just don’t know how much time I have to spend telling you that, Mr. Smasher.  I really don’t.  Why, in the immortal words of Charlemagne, King of the Franks and the Lombards, a better monarch the world has not yet seen…”

I grabbed Humberto’s hand.  “Forget the quote.  Just save your strength.”

Humberto spat a heaping helping of blood right in my face.  I closed my eyes, choking back my disgust.

“Oh,” Humberto said.  “I’m terribly sorry.  I had no control over that.  I’m dying you see.”

“I understand,” I said.  “You had something to tell me?”

“Oh, yes,” Humberto said.  “Please, if you are ever in Anacostia, my apartment is 118 Frederick Street.”

I released Humberto’s hand.  I pulled out a notepad and a pen and jotted the information down.  “118 Frederick Street.  Got it.”

“Tell my roommate Raul…”

“Your roommate Raul,” I repeated as I scribbled away.

“To feed Mrs. Fluffy.”

Confused, I scratched my head.  “You want me to track down your roommate and ask him to feed your cat?”

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble,” Humberto said.

“And that’s all?”

“Yes.”

“Raul doesn’t have a special hard drive or an important clue to give me?” I asked.

“No,” Humberto said.  “He is a nice man but very simple.  He does not get involved in such matters.  Just tell him to feed my cat.”

“Do I really need to?”

“Why wouldn’t you?” Humberto asked.  “I feed my cat all the time.  If I’m not there, then she will not get fed.”

“Do you think that’s true though?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.  “I mean, Raul is probably a smart enough guy.  You don’t come home.  The cat meows.  He puts two and two together, realizes the cat is hungry and he opens up a can of cat food.”

“Right,” Humberto said.

“I’m not trying to shirk responsibility or anything,” I said.  “I just think you might be selling Raul short.”

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “I suppose I am.  Yes, Raul is more than capable of taking care of Mrs. Fluffy.  I’m sorry I bothered you with that.  Goodbye, Smasher.”

“Oh,” I said.  “This is it now?”

Humberto released a weapons grade fart.  The stench singed my nosehairs.

“Yes, this is it,” Humberto said.  “My apologies for the flatulence.”

“That’s OK,” I said.

“Goodbye, cruel world!”

Humberto’s head hit the floor.  He convulsed some more and then was quiet.

I stood up.  “Shit, that strawsassin has a hell of a head start, but I bet if I go right now.”

Humberto was up again. “Mr. Smasher!”

“Aw, what now?” I asked.

“Well, hello to you too, Mr. Snippy Pants!” Humberto said.  “What, is my death keeping you from something?”

“Yes!” I said.  “I’m trying to avenge you!”

“Oh,” Humberto said.  “Yes, I suppose I would like vengeance very much.  Although, I’d rather you not kill a man for the sake of killing him, as if that would somehow make my death any less tragic.  It wouldn’t.  If you do kill the strawsassin, do it so that no more victims fall to the fury of his fast-acting spitball of doom.”

I looked at my watch.  “Buddy, it’s been like fifteen minutes.”

Humberto reached out his hand.  “Come down here.”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “You’re not going to try to trick me into sucking your dick are you?”

“What?” Humberto said with a smile.  “No!”

“Are you going to ask me to kiss you?”

“No!”

“Alright, then.”

I crouched by the man who I wasn’t even sure was dying anymore and took his hand.

“There is something very important I left out,” Humberto said.  “You must investigate the Ajax Restaurant Supply Company!”

“Ajax?” I asked.  “What about them?”

“Their factory in Baltimore!”  Humberto said.  “It’s where the Strawman plots the impending…Strawmageddon!”

“I knew those bastards at Ajax were dirty!” I said.  “Wait, what’s Strawmageddon?”

Humberto barfed another batch of blood all over my face.

“Ugh,” Humberto said.  “Again, I’m so sorry.”

I closed my eyes, calmed myself down, then opened them.  “It’s fine.”

“I’ve lost all control of my body, Mr. Smasher,” Humberto said.  “I don’t know what’s going on.  I’m so afraid, so petrified!  Is there life after death?  Was life just a big waste, a meaningless exercise in existential masturbation, acquiring all types of memories that in the end are useless because they simply fade away into a black pit of despair?  Or, is there a heaven, a happy place where one knows only joy and never again feels pain?  A place where all our dreams come true and…BLARG!”

More blood.  On my face.

“Wow,” Humberto said.  “Three times.”

“It’s fine,” I said.

“I know you’re trying to cut me some slack because I’m dying but man, that’s gross,” Humberto said.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said.  “Humberto, focus.  What is Strawmageddon?”

“Strawmageddon?” Humberto asked.

“Yes!  What is it?”

“Strawmageddon is the end of days for straw haters,” Humberto said.  “It is an event that will arrive soon and when it rears its hideous head, the straw will reign supreme and all will be forced to bow down and pledge their allegiance to the straw, forced to suck upon it forever and ever and ever.  I am so glad I am dying imminently so I do not have to see that day come.”

“What day is it?”  I asked.  “How will it be brought about?  How can I stop it?”

Humberto said.  “All very important questions, to which I have the answers but alas, there is no time for me to give you the answers you so desperately need because I can feel the cold hand of the grim reaper on my shoulder now.  I shall drift off into nothingness any second now.”

“Not for nothing,” I said.  “But I really think you should have led off with Strawmageddon.”

“You’re right,” Humberto said.

“Maybe you could have forgotten all that shit about the cat,” I said.

“Exactly,” Humberto said.  “I’m such a dummy sometimes.  Oh well.  What can you do?  Oh, and Mr. Smasher?”

“Yes?”

“On your way out, do be very careful,” Humberto said.  “For I must warn you, a strawsassin always has back-up.”

“You mean?”

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “There are bloodthirsty killers intermixed with the customers.  They’ve got to great lengths to hide their identities.  Any person out there on the restaurant floor could be a homicidal maniac.”

“Do you know who I should look out for?”  I asked.

“I do,” Humberto said.  “But I…”

“Have no time because you’re dying,” I said.

“Precisely,” Humberto said.  “Oh, and Mr. Smasher?”

“What now?”

“No,” Humberto said.  “If you’re going to get short with me.”

“I’m not being short,” I said.  “It’s just, this is a lot of information coming at me all at once.”

“I understand,” Humberto said.  “Just be aware that the Strawman is also a master of disguise.  Over the years, he has taken many forms.  He is no stranger to plastic surgery and has stolen the identities of paupers and politicians alike.  You should trust no one, for when you least suspect it, the Strawman will strike!”

“Holy shit,” I said.  “That little tidbit just made my butthole pucker.”

“As it should,” Humberto said.  “Because, for all you know, the Strawman could be thousands of miles away on the other side of the earth, or he could be your best friend or worst enemy.  Why, he could even be one of your colleagues on the police force.  He could be your partner!”

“Mother of God!” I said.  “No, wait, my partner’s a woman.”

“Do you think a little inconvenience like cutting of a dick and sewing on a snootch would slow the Strawman down?” Humberto asked.  “He’s swapped out his privates thousands of times!”

“Yikes,” I said.  “That’s gotta hurt.”

“I just wish I had the time to tell you more,” Humberto said.

“It seems like you’ve got nothing but time now,” I said.  “Are you sure that spitball was poisonous?”

“I’m positive,” Humberto said.

We remained silent for a bit, until Humberto piped up.  “So, do you have a deck of cards on you?  Maybe we could play a couple rounds of gin rummy until I bite the big one.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “I’ve never been much of a gambler.”

“That’s fine,” Humberto said as his face turned blue.  “I must bid you adieu.”

“Goodbye, Humberto.”

Humberto’s head hit the floor.  He crossed his eyes, stuck out his tongue, and gasped one last breath.

“Finally,” I said.  I moved to the door, but…

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow!” Humberto’s head was up and he was hamming it up again.  “Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time!”

“Humberto,” I said.  “Look, I love you man.  You’re the best friend I never had, but I’ve got shit to do.”

“Oh!” Humberto said.  “I’m so sorry if my death is inconvenient for you, Smasher!”

“It’s not that,” I said.  “It’s just that I’ve got shit to do and I don’t have time to listen to you recite Game of Thrones!”

              “What?” Humberto asked.  “You think I’d allow my last words to be some pretentious hipster bullshit from that titty infested, pay cable, pornographic version of Lord of the Rings?  I’m reciting Shakespeare, man!”

I sighed.  “Fine.  Do what you gotta do.”

“Where was I?

“The last recorded syllable of time.”

“Oh,” Humberto said.  “Right.  And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out, out, brief candle!  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

“That was great,” I said.

“Was it?” Humberto asked.

“I’m no theater critic,” I said.  “But I couldn’t have done any better.”

“Thank you, Mr. Smasher.”

“Please, call me Mack.”

“OK,” Humberto said.  “Goodbye, Mack.”

Humberto’s head hit the floor.  His eyes crossed.  He stuck out his tongue.  His farts bellowed.  He coughed blood in my face a fourth time.

I stood up.  I washed my face in the sink.  Dried myself with some paper towels.  I grabbed the briefcase.  I unlocked the door, put my hand on the knob and was about to turn it, when…

“To be, or not to be, that is the question!  Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or…”

“Nope,” I said as I walked out.  “You’re on your own.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 6

caipi-377960_1280

I despised places like Wisenheimer’s with the passion of a thousand red hot fiery suns, each one burning on and on until the end of all eternity.  Each piece of crap nailed to the wall was another affront to my keen sense of style.  If my internalized rage was a solar flare, it was about to go full supernova.  I’m sure all these words make perfect scientific sense and if you think they don’t, then most likely you’re wrong, so my condolences, but it sucks to be you.

Speaking of sucking, Rosie was losing a battle with a paper straw.  The first few sips of her raspberry soda water went just fine, but half-way through, her tube was limper than the dingus of a 90-year old man after a prostrate surgery gone horribly wrong.

“Paper straws,” Rosie said as she pulled a little wad of errant paper off of her tongue.  “Why even bother? Blech.”

“Paper straws,” I said.  “Washable metal straws.  They’re all the same to me.  Straight up straw porn, plain and simple.”

“Straw porn?”  Rosie asked.

“What does a man do when he watches porn other than to get off on something he wishes he had but will most likely achieve?” Mack asked.  “That’s what I assume anyway.  I don’t watch porn.  Don’t need to.  I get more pussy than a catnip factory.  I try to remind myself that not every man is as accomplished a cocksman as I am, so I sympathize with the plight of the porn watcher.  Now I suppose I’ll have to learn to sympathize with you lesser folk who cling to your plastic straws, desperately trying to replace them with poor facsimiles that will only give you a brief, fleeting sense of happiness until you blow your wad in your proverbial gym sock, leaving you to return to reality, more depressed than you were before.”

“I don’t understand you at all,” Rosie said.

“Few do,” Mack Smasher said.  “It’s a blessing…and a curse.”

“All I know is between the words, pussy, porn, cocksman and the added bonus of you telling me that I’m lesser than you, I could just call it a day, call up my lawyer tomorrow, sue the department for an easy million and never have to surround myself with aging, middle-aged, musclebound bores like yourself ever again.”

I tipped back a stein full of frosty brew.  “You won’t.”

“How do you know?”  Rosie asked.

“You’re a company woman,” I explained.  “I can read it all over you, like a cheap dime store novel trying to be the next best seller.  You crave the approval of authority and worse, you yearn to be that authority yourself.  You know getting there is hard, so you’re happy to settle for being an authority within a division that people would actually have to shit more just to find a shit to give about it.”

Rosie stirred her paper straw around and around inside her drink until it melted completely.  She sneered at the wet paper and pushed her glass away.  “Is it that obvious?”

“I’m sensing some sort of inherited sense of duty,” I said.  “Someone made you this way.  Come from a long line of cops, do you?”

“What?” Rosie asked.  “No, I’m…ugh!  Fine, yes.  My father and grandfather.  Both San Francisco PD.”

“You’re a long way from home little lady.”

“Thought I’d try for the FBI,” Rosie said.  “D.C. police got me first.  The first few years on the beat left me feeling comfortable, so I forgot all about the Feds.  But then I got promoted to detective and all the comfort went away.”

“Good story,” Smasher said.  “I give it about a three.  You wouldn’t pass a lie detector with it, though.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Let me take out my red pen and draw a big, fat X over that nonsense,” I said.  “Now let me replace it with all you ever wanted to do was make your old man proud.  You knew the only way to do that was to become a cop, but if you stayed in San Fran, you’d always be living in Daddy’s shadow.  Ergo, you put three thousand miles between you and him and now, you can call him once in a while, tell him tales of your daring do and since he’s got no contacts in the district, he’ll have to take you at your word because he’s got no way to check up on you.”

“Maybe,” Rosie said.  “OK, yes.”

“But nothing you do ever impressed him,” I said.  “Yakuza encounters and drug cartel busts be damned.”

“Possibly.”

“You never really wanted to be a cop so now that you’ve wised up to the fact that you could should cancer curing, AIDs reducing pills out of your ass and his response would be a tepid, ‘meh,’ you gave up moved onto the straw beat,” I said.

“More or less,” Rosie said.  “You might have tapped into my subconscious reasoning but bottom line –  I did my part to make the world a better place and now I deserve to live my life.”

“With banker’s hours,” I said.

“Exactly.”

I looked at my watch.  5:01 p.m.  “Looks like that’s not happening tonight, Toots.”

I perused a menu.  Jalapeno chili croquettes.  Big beef burrito slammers.  Cheese steak onion fries.  It was a cardiologist’s worst nightmare.

“While we’re talking about bottom lines,” I said. “I know what yours is.”

“Is that so?” Rosie asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “You’d never sue the department over my alleged chauvinism.”

Alleged chauvinism?”  Rosie said.  “No, sorry pal, but proving your chauvinism is the easiest case I could ever make.”

“Chauvinism isn’t a real thing,” I said.  “It’s a made-up word, designed by flabby, blue-haired, hairy arm-pitted feminists who are pissed at the raw deal God gave them.  Too manly to make a boner twitch but too feminine to have any kind of meaningful upper body strength, so they just sit around, dumping on men, inventing words like, chauvinism and man-splaining, man-spreading and toxic masculinity, trying their best to drag real men down to their pathetic levels out of a misguided, unachievable attempt to make themselves better, rather than do perform a full assessment of what skills they do have and use them to trailblaze their own path through this rough and tumble world.”

Rosie blinked.  “O.K.  Now I’m positive I could sue.”

“You won’t.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Your old man would think less of you.”

“That’s…you’re way off and…shut up, Smasher.”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

Our waiter sashayed up to our table.  He was a total fruit.  Can I still say that?  Oh well, if you’re offended, hire Rosie’s lawyer.  He’s free because she’ll never hire him.

By the way, I’ve got nothing against homosexuals.  As far as I’m concerned, the only thing the government should be able to stop you from sucking on is a straw.  Anything else is your business and not mine.  What do I care?  More pussy left on the table is more pussy me.

All I’m saying is I can read people.  It’s a gift that only the best detectives have.  At fifty paces I can tell if you’re happy or sad, if you’re being all you can be in life, if you’re in a failing marriage, if you have a sense of self-worth, if you’re cheating on your significant other, if you forgot to pay your gas bill, if you prefer cats or dogs, if you left the stove on, if you’d rather be anywhere else but here, if you’re a Scorpio or a Pisces, if you’ve got money problems, if you’re high on crank, if you’ve ever shot a man, or any other aspects of your life, be they important or trivial.

In this particular case, I knew our waiter was a fan of cock and who can blame him because I was rather fond of mine, though I must note, mine and only mine.  Maybe it was the way he moved – graceful, like a prima ballerina.  Maybe it was his perfect posture, like he hadn’t spent his entire youth glued to a couch playing video games as most males born after 1980 have.  Or, maybe it was just the way he talked.

“Ciao, bellas!  I am Humberto and I shall be your tour guide this evening as you venture forth into the wild word of Wisenheimer’s choice cuisine.  Kisses!  Muah, muah!  Aren’t you a lovely couple?”

Rosie raised her hand.  “Oh, no, we’re not…”

I interrupted.  I’d like to say it’s a man’s prerogative, but Rosie will probably read this someday.  Oh, who am I kidding?  We both know she never will.  “A couple!  Yes, that’s what we are.  Just a couple of tourists in from uh, Omaha.  Yes.  The Midwest.  Lovely place.  Cows, corn and apple pie.  But we’ve come to see sights.  I wanted to go to Cancun but the old ball and chain insisted we come here and learn a thing or two about the good old U.S. of A.”

“Well, isn’t that lovely?” Humberto asked.  “How long have you two been together?”

“Oh,” Rosie said.  “We’re not…”

“Fifteen years,” I said.  “Now that’s hard time.  One and a half decades with the same broad would make any man head for the hills…”

I reached across the table and took Rosie’s hand.  She played along, but I could tell she wanted to blow chunks.  I have that effect on some women, but not most.  “…but I met my wittle schnookums at a pot luck dinner at an Omaha farmer’s convention and well, we’ve been attached at the hip ever since.  Isn’t that right, dear?”

Rosie looked around for the nearest exit.  “Um…right.”

“Fabulous!” Humberto said.  “And who knew that farmers had such amazing fashion sense?  Look at you sir!  You look like you just walked off the set of a 1980s action flick.  Who are you trying to channel?  Arnold Schwarzenegger?  Sly Stallone, perhaps?”

“Bruce Willis was always my favorite,” I said.  “Sure, he came into the 1980s action scene late, but when he came, he came hard.”

Humberto patted me on the shoulder.  “Story of my life, darling.”

Our waited looked at Rosie.  “And my dear, that snappy looking business lady suit is absolutely to die for.”

“Oh,” Rosie said.  “Really?  This old thing?”

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “But oh, my!  It looks like you sat on Count Chocula’s face.  Can I get you some napkins?”

“No,” Rosie said.  “I think these are permanently ruined.  There was a little accident.  My cup was open and I didn’t have a straw and, well, never mind.”

I snapped my fingers.  “Say, Humberto, what’s the deal with these paper straws?”

“Yes,” Humberto said.  “Aren’t they positively divine?”

“No, not really,” I replied.  “They’re kind of dry and then after a few sucks, they go limp.”

“I’d say that’s the story of my life too, but I’ve never had that problem, darling,” Humberto said.

I slapped the table.  “Ha!  Highbrow humor like that is just something we’re missing in Omaha, isn’t it dear?”

“Yeah,” Rosie said.  “Sure is.”

“But no,” I said.  “Seriously, you don’t have some plastic straws around here?”

Humberto clutched his chest.  “Sir!  What an outrageous statement!”

“What?” I asked.

“My friend,” Humberto said.  “You’re not from around here, so I shall forgive you, but the District of Columbia has just passed a straw ban.”

“A straw ban?” I asked, feigning ignorance.

“Precisely,” Humberto replied.  “Plastic straws are now persona non grata at any restaurant within the city limits.”

“Why in tarnation would y’all ban straws?”  I inquired.  “And by the way, I’m from Omaha, so I say words like tarnation and y’all, all the time.  Isn’t that right, honey?”

“I think so,” Rosie said.  “Yeah, sure, why not?”

“Sir, I could nibble that cute little ear of yours off all day long while I inform you of the dangers of plastic drinking straws,” Humberto said.  “Why, did you know that plastic straws are not biodegradable?”

“They aren’t?” I asked.

“Not at all,” Humberto said.  “Why, if there were ever a nuclear war, the only thing to survive would be plastic straws and cock-a-roaches.”

Funny how the world works.  I was starting to get the sense that Humberto was the only other human being in the world who hated straws as much as I did.  Ah, but fate is a cruel mistress because as much as we shared in common, Mack Smasher gives up cooter for no man.

Humberto rested his hand on my shoulder.  I was instantly concerned that he was transmitting second hand gayness to me.  I knew that was impossible and yet, I feared the worst.

“Sir,” he said.  “I can’t get too personal as I just met you, but straws are also very dangerous to humans.”

My heart fluttered.  For so long, I thought I was the only one who knew that straws were a danger to humans.  Still, I faked ignorance.  It was hard to do, given that I am the world’s foremost expert on straw related homicide, but I did it anyway.  Frankly, the performance I gave that day should have won me an aware.

“Are they now?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” Humberto replied.  “I have first-hand knowledge of this.”

Oh my God.  I did too, but I couldn’t tell him that.

“You see,” Humberto said.  “Many years ago, there was an incident.  It involved my soulmate, a dance party, a silly straw hurled about in a reckless matter and..”

 

 

The waiter choked back his tears.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  I get so emotional over this story.  Anyway, Rodrigo is no longer with us and let’s leave it at that.  I’ve said too much already.  What can I get you?”

I wanted so badly to reach out and comfort this lug – not in a gay way, mind you, for, as we all know, the only thing Mack Smasher will ever allow entry into his backdoor is a doctor’s colonoscope, and even then, I’m going to need a second opinion.

I kept up the façade.  “Wait.  So, you’re telling me I can’t get a plastic straw here?”

“Absolutely not, sir,” Humberto said.  “It would be criminal to do so and if you ask me, it’s about time.”

“Buckaroo,” I said.  “And again, I’m from Omaha, so I say things like that.  There was a little lady my wife and I met at uh…the hotel, and well, being a man of vast sexual prowess, the wife and I took her back and we had ourselves a little threesome.  I don’t mean to speak ill of my wife’s sexual abilities.  It’s not her fault that I’m so virile that no one woman could ever possibly satisfy me.  Anyway, that lady told us that this here restaurant was the best place in DC to get a plastic straw.”

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Rosie said.

“Oh, sir,” Humberto said.  “Whoever this woman was who lowered herself so disgracefully as to become your plaything was mistaken.  There have not been any plastic drinking straws in this establishment in six months.  Such a despiser of straws am I that I nagged and nagged and nagged the manager to replace plastic straws with paper ones and that, as they say, was that.”

“Come on, pal,” I said.  “My lady friend…”

“The one you brought into your marital bed because your wife is a doormat,” Humberto said.

“Right,” I said.

“I’m right here!” Rosie said.  “And I’m not a doormat!  I’m not even…”

I cut my partner off quick before she could blow our cover.  “She had a plastic cup from this restaurant with a plastic straw in it.”

“You’re sure?”  Humberto asked.

“Positive,” I answered.

“Wisenheimer logo with Golly Gopher on the front and everything?” Humberto asked.

“That’s the one,” I said.

“Strange,” Humberto said.  “I don’t know what to tell you about that other than when a cup leaves the restaurant I am powerless to stop a plastic drinking straw from entering it.”

“Hmm,” I said.

“Hmm?” Humberto asked.

“Hmm,” I said.  “Very well.  Gimmie a plate of the chimichanga cheese sticks with extra marmalade ranch sauce on the side.”

“An excellent choice, sir,” Humberto said before turning to Rosie.  “And you, ma’am?”

Rosie handed the waiter her menu.  “I lost my appetite.”

“I am so sorry to hear that,” Humberto said.  “Toodle-oo, Omaha farmers.  I shall enter your order presently.”

As soon as Humberto was gone, Rosie piped up.  “What was that?”

“We’re undercover,” I said.  “If someone’s violating the straw ban, they’re not going to fess up to a cop.”

“And Omaha farmer was the first thing to come to your mind?” Rosie asked.

“Pretty much,” I said.

“Yeah, well,” Rosie said.  “Call me your wittle schnookums again and you’ll find out where I’ll stick those chimichanga cheese sticks.”

I grinned.  “Duly noted.”

I took in the scene.  As a cop, it was crucial to take in the lay of the land and survey my surroundings.  All across the joint, there families chowing down on fat laden fried foods, doing to their best to contribute to America’s burgeoning obesity epidemic.  I didn’t agree with Michelle Obama on much, other than the fact that kids today are a bunch of little fat fucks.  The former first lady and I disagreed on approaches though.  She tried to better the kids with motherly advice and love, whereas if I’d ever been given the authority to do so, I would have marched all the little lard-buckets in the land on daily ten-mile death marches until they sweated the pounds right out of their veins.

Sorry, I meandered off-topic.  Back to the scene.  I was about to down the last of my bear when some schmuck decked out in a big, furry Golly Gopher costume stopped by our table.  Giant head.  Googly eyes. What a disgrace.

“Hey there, wise guys!” Golly said in a silly voice.  “Golly Gopher here to give you a great, good golly day!”

“Buzz off, rodent,” I replied.

“Aww,” Golly said. “Someone’s caught a case of the grumpy wumpies.  I know how to cure those!  With a golly wolly doodle doo song!  Oh, my name is Golly and I’m here to say…”

I looked into the unmoving eyes of the mascot’s head.  “Listen, imbecile. Creeps like you are a dime a dozen and during a sale you can get a gross for thirty-five cents on the barrelhead.  What’s your story?  Let me guess.  You’re a struggling actor.  Your performance in the high school play went over gangbusters so you thought you’d move to a big city, see if you can try your hand at some theater, gain some experience in a smaller acting market, earn a little scratch before you head off to Tinsel Town.  Only problem is, debasing yourself in this cartoon animal outfit is the best gig you were able to come up with.  You’d give it up in a heartbeat for a job that paid a livable wage, but you’ve gone too far now. All your high school friends live substantive lives.  Cars.  Houses.  Wives with big titties.  And you?  You’ve spent so much time in this get-up that you figure the only way to make it is to double down in the hopes that what?  Some random talent scout will wander into a D.C. family restaurant of all places? Discover you, whisk you off to Hollywood, where you’ll be in so many pictures that you’ll be able to call your father and laugh at his offer to let you take over his vacuum cleaner repair shop?  Am I getting warm?”

The mascot lowered his cartoon head.  “It’s a tuxedo rental shop.”

“Good money, man,” I said.  “Why don’t you go back home, apologize to your old man and learn the tux trade before you end up opening your back flap for two bucks a pop to any sicko with a furry fetish to saunter in?”

“That only happened one time and…hey, come on man.  Just let me sing you a song.”

I reached into my jacket and cocked Thunder’s hammer.  The distinctive sound traveled to the costumed weirdo’s ears.

“Is that a gun?”

“Wanna find out?”

“Not really,” Golly said as he walked away, his furry head hanged in shame.

“Smasher,” Rosie said.  “I’ve been wondering where I should draw the line with you and I feel like threatening Golly Gopher should be it.”

“Nonsense, doll,” I replied.  “The night is young.”

Humberto returned to the table, a plate of hot chimichanga cheese sticks in hand.  He sit them down on the table.  As he did so, I couldn’t help but notice the lines of a prominent tattoo emerging out from underneath the short sleeve that covered his supple bicep.

“Oh, how foolish of me!” Humberto said.  “I forgot your marmalade ranch sauce.  I will be back in two shakes of a bunny’s nose.”

I watched our waiter walk away toward the kitchen.  As he reached the swinging double doors, his eyes locked onto mine, the look on his face betraying a sense of urgency.  I stood up.

“Smasher?”  Rosie asked as I walked away.  “Where are you going?  Your overpriced appetizer is getting cold.”

“Don’t worry,” I said.  “I’ll be fine it’s just…sometimes a man has to get his own marmalade ranch sauce.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 5

caipi-377960_1280

I sped through the mean streets of D.C.  I owned a red 2013 AM Lion, a hard-top sports coupe that I barely fit in.  It was lousy on gas mileage and when it came to tracking down perps, it stuck out like a sore thumb.  But the payments had been made.  It was one of my few remaining prized possessions that the army of crooked lawyers dogging me on behalf of the many ex-Mrs. Smashers hadn’t managed to take away from me yet.

“Care to explain what the hell happened back there?” Rosie asked as she sipped her status symbol beverage from the cup’s rim.

“What’s to explain?” I replied.  “Kid was dirty.  Flagrantly violating the straw ban.”

“He didn’t know,” Rosie said.

“Ignorance of the law is no defense,” I said.  “Any fresh-faced police academy cadet knows that.  I’m surprised my partner doesn’t.”

“I’m fully aware of that, Smasher!  But you know goddamn well you can’t just pull on a kid over a…”

I gritted my teeth.  “Over a what?”

Rosie went silent.

“Tell me,” I said.  “Over a what?  A straw?”

“Yes,” Rosie said.  “You can’t whip out a hand cannon and hold it against a child’s head over a lousy, piddly shit, rinky dink straw!  There, I said it.  Are you happy?”

“Positively blissful,” I said.  “At least I know what I’m working with.  A hack who won’t do her job.”

Rosie glared at me.  “We hand out pamphlets!  That’s the job!”

“Maybe for you, sister,” I said. “But Mack Smasher has never half-assed anything a day in his life.  When I go in, I go full-assed or I don’t go in at all.  What’s your gripe?  You think that kid was traumatized?  I cured his stutter!”

“You caused his stutter!”

“So, you say,” I said.  “I fixed that little prick’s life.  Before he met me, he was on the fast track to shitsville.  On his way to going down on a straw rap.”

“A fine,” Rosie said.

“Today it’s a straw fine,” I said.  “Then another, and another.  Pretty soon all those fines stack up and he’s lifting weights in the yard, gobbling knob and joining the Aryan brotherhood just to keep the daily butt rapes he’ll be getting to a minimum.  You want that life for him? I don’t.  He’ll never hand out another straw again, thanks to me.”

“He’ll probably never have to work another day in his life, thanks to you,” Rosie said.  “Did you see how many cameras were on you?  Damn it, Smasher, the lawsuits will be endless.  You’re going to be on the news, again.  It’s only a matter of time before Captain Braddock comes for you and…”

Ring!  Rosie pulled out her phone and looked at the screen.  “Speak of the devil.”  She answered the call.  “Hello, sir.”

Captain Braddock, our illustrious superior in the straw law enforcement division, only had one volume – loud.  He screamed every word to an ear-splitting decibel.  I was able to hear him all the way in the driver’s seat.

“Quan!  Where the hell is Smasher?!”

Rosie looked at me.  “I…I don’t know, sir.”

“Bullshit!”  Braddock said.  “You two are all over Lifebox like a pop-up ad for hemorrhoid cream.”

“Um,” Rosie said.  “Are hemorrhoid cream ads on Lifebox, sir?”

“They are on mine!”  the captain replied.  “Shit, you do one web search on how to wipe without turning the inside of your asshole into a California wildfire and Lifebox will try to peddle ass medicine to you for the rest of your days.  But that’s neither here, nor there.  Don’t play dumb with me. I just saw you with Smasher on that video.  Is he there with you now?”

I shook my head no.

“Uh…no, sir,” Rosie said.  “Sorry, I chewed him out over that crap he pulled and he just walked off.”

“Damn it!”  the captain said.  “That no good, lousy, rotten four-flushing son of a shit eating turtle fucker is ruining my life.  You have no idea how badly he’s harshing my mellow, Quan.”

“Are you normally mellow, sir?” Rosie asked.  “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Not usually, no,” Captain Braddock said.  “But I had hoped with this new division, I’d be able to live the stress-free life I’d always dreamed of.”

“You and me both,” Rosie said.

“But Smasher’s fucking it all up like a donkey that just got his dick stuck in a cheese grater.  You got any idea how far the mayor has his head stuck up my ass?”

“Not as such, no sir.”

“The mayor’s got his head so far up my ass that when I burp I taste his toothpaste,” Captain Braddock said.  “You see that dumbass shaven ape of a partner of yours, you tell him to get his ass in to see me pronto, before I shove my foot so far up his ass, he’ll be tasting my orthopedic insert!”

“Will do, sir.”

“And Quan?”

“Yes sir?”

“You’re a good cop,” Braddock said.  “I’d hate to see you get dragged under just because you got paired up with a psycho.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, sir.”

“Damn it,” Braddock said.  “When I was hiring officers, it was either Smasher or that little geek, Janson, you know, the mouth breather from the 3rd precinct who falls asleep at his desk all day.  You think I should have picked him instead?”

“Uh,” Rosie said.  “Most assuredly, sir, but you know what the say.  Don’t cry over spilled milk and so on.”

“Watch your ass, Quan,” Braddock said.  “Goodbye.”

Rosie hung up the phone.  She took a swig of her drink.  “Smasher?”

“Yes?”

“Captain Braddock would like a word.”

I plugged my phone into my dash.  It let up.  I called for my phone’s virtual AI assistant.  “Sally?”

“Yes, Mack?” the phone replied through my car’s speaker system.

“Play my messages,” I said.

“Wednesday, January 2 at 2:03 p.m.” Sally said.

The captain’s voice played.  “Smasher, you lowlife turd licker!  What’s this shit I’m hearing about you putting a man in the hospital over a straw?  Son of a…you know he’s in traction?  Doctors say it’ll be at least six months before he can walk again.  Our division just started and you’ve already given it a black eye!  The mayor’s got his head so far up my ass that he just popped out of my mouth and licked my eyeball like a frog! Call me.”

Sally piped up again.  “Thursday, January 3 at 12:04 p.m.”

Captain Braddock’s voice howled.  “Smasher, you bottom feeding toilet bug!  I was just one bite into my pastrami on rye when I got a call telling me you took a lead pipe to Fatty Burger’s front window and threw a metal straw dispenser at the manager’s forehead.  He’s got a concussion, you animal!  Bend me over and fuck me sideways like a two-bit hooker, why don’t you?  The mayor’s got his head so far up my ass that he just found a tumor!  He says it looks benign, but I’m going to get it checked anyway!  You can never be too careful when it comes to your health.  Call me.”

One more time for Sally.  “Monday, January 7 at 10:19 p.m.”

Captain Braddock.  “Smasher, you might think you’re hot shit but I’m warning you!  I’m the God of Hellfire and I am prepared to set your ass ablaze!  Why am I being told second-hand that you just drove your car through the front door of a Chicken Shack?  Then you got out, piled all the straw dispensers in the middle of the floor and built a bonfire?  What the fuck, Smasher?  No, as the kids say today, ‘What the actual fuck?’  They mayor’s so far up my ass he can do my dental work.  Call me.”

Back to Sally.  “Tuesday, January 8 at 2:01 p.m.”

The captain.  “Smasher, I don’t know what in the name of God and all things holy I did in a past life to deserve an ass clown like you under my command in this one, but I’m reaching for my bible and begging the Lord to forgive me so you’re reign of horseshit will end.  Neal Jeffries was just in my office, giving me the nitty gritty on how you got an international killer released just so you can find out where the straw in her cup came from?  Goddamn it, Smasher!  Are you special?  Is that what I’m dealing with?  Have you got limited mental faculties?  Do I need to pop a crash helmet on your stupid head and stick you in a rubber room where you’ll never hurt yourself or others?  Will you think about anyone other than yourself for five minutes?  The mayor’s head is so far up my ass that he is literally able to stick his arm up into my head and work my mouth like a puppet, so listen to me loud and clear, you insignificant wart on a syphilitic ferret’s testicle. Stop running amuck on our streets.  Stop doing shit that’s going to get your dumb face all over the news and stop making the department look bad!  You drop whatever you’re doing right now Smasher.  You call me and then you drag your sad, sorry ass into my office so we can have this out, right here and right now!”

“Sally?”  I asked.

“Yes, Mack?” the AI replied.

“How many more unplayed messages from Captain Braddock do I have?”

“You have 79 more messages from Captain Joseph Braddock.  Shall I play them now?”

“No,” I said, my eyes on the street.

Rosie looked out her window, watching the city life unfold before her as I drove.

“You can’t ignore your commanding officer forever,” Rosie said.  “Cops have rules.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “Cops also have a code.”

Rosie looked at me.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Twenty years,” I said.  “Ten partners.  I never once threatened to shoot any of them.  Not once.”

“Oh,” Rosie said.  “You’re going to hit me with the unwritten code bullshit?”

“The thin blue line is only as strong as its weakest link, baby,” I said.

“How many of your former partners pulled out a gun and pressed it up against a teenager’s head, Smasher?”

I thought about the question.  “None, but…”

“But nothing,” Rosie said.  “You can’t be so far gone that you don’t see what you’re doing is wrong and…wait.  Ten partners in twenty years?  Where are they now?  Transferred?”

“Dead,” I said.  “Six feet under.  Taking the long dirt nap, the eternal siesta.”

Rosie pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath.  “Jesus H….I can’t believe this.  I’m going to do die.”

“We’re all going to kick the bucket sooner or later,” I said.

“I don’t want to die over a Straw, Smasher.”

“Really?  I can’t think of a greater honor.”

Rosie sighed.  “They could write an entire psychology textbook about you.  They really could.”

We were quiet for a bit, but this time the silence felt uncomfortable.  I knew Rosie wanted to claw off my face and wipe her ass with it.  As feelings go, it was the pits, but I knew I was in the right.  From Columbus to Galileo, everyone who is trying to change the game gets pilloried, and the first cop willing to take on the straw menace was destined to have a similar fate.  Still, I held out hope that my partner would eventually come around.

Whump!  I went over a speed bump too fast.  The whole car shook and Rosie lost her grip on her cup.  That expensive designer coffee drink sprayed all over, her lap taking the brunt of the damage.

“Shit!”  Rosie shouted.  “Where’d you learn how to drive?!”

“Where I learned everything else,” I said.  “The School of Mack Smasher’s Hard Knocks.  Tuition is free but failure is costly.”

Rosie attempted to wipe the mess from her pants with her bare hands.  “Damn it!”

“Is it bad?”  I asked.

“Fucking mocha all over me…I look like I sat on Count Chocula’s face!”

My partner fumed.  I already knew what she was about to say.  Countdown.  3…2…1…

“Shit like this is why the world needs fucking straws!!!”

“Oh boy,” I said.  “Here we go.  Sure, by all means, start parroting the straw lobby’s talking points to me, why don’t you?”

“The straw lobby?”  Rosie asked.  “This is just common sense, Smasher.  When you’re in your own house, you can drink from the rim of your cup all you want but when you’re out and about, your drink needs to be covered.  You trip, stumble, someone bumps into you or your shit for brains partner has too much lead in his foot and before you know it, you’ve ruined your pants.”

“Cry me a river, doll.  You know how many pants I’ve ruined on this job? Hell, one-time a perp sliced my trousers clean off with a butterfly knife and I still chased him six blocks in my tighty-whities.”

“You can’t expect people to just walk around the city with an open beverage container,” Rosie said.  “People coughing and hacking, all those germs getting into your drink.”

“You know how many times I got sick on this job?” I asked.  “Hell, one time I took down an entire terrorist cell while I was fighting bad case of diarrhea.”

“Drinks need covers,” Rosie said.  “Otherwise, there’s nothing stopping a bird from flying overhead and taking a shit right into your mocha.”

“I never told you to throw away your cover.”

“How the hell am I supposed to drink out of a covered cup without a straw, dumbass?”

I banged a right.  I floored it.

“You cover the cup.  When you want a drink, you pop the top off, sip from the rim, then put the cover back on.”

“Oh, fuck me sideways!”  Rosie shouted.  “Why don’t I just hop on one leg, chew gum and pat my head and stomach at the same time while I’m at it?”

“If you can’t handle basic motor functions, that’s on you, sweetheart.”

“Whatever,” Rosie cried.  “The straw ban is bullshit and I don’t care who hears!  You hear that world?!  My name is Rose Elizabeth Quan!  I’m a straw law enforcement officer and even I think the straw law is bullshit!”

I hit the brakes.  My ride came to a screeching stop in the middle of traffic.  Horns honked.  Drivers behind me started screaming up a storm.  I didn’t care.  I had to confront it, right then.

“What are you doing?” Rosie asked.

“You think the straw ban is bullshit, then hop on out and hitch a ride home, sister.  Get yourself transferred to a cushy gig…”

“This WAS a cushy gig!”

“Find another,” I said.  “But if you stay in this car, it’s ride against straws or die.”

Rosie looked at the door handle.  I could tell she wanted to grab it so badly, but she didn’t.  “Fine.  Punch it.”

Mack Smasher: Renegade Straw Cop – Chapter 4

caipi-377960_1280

“Quan!” cried the teenage barista from behind the counter. “I’ve got a half-skinny, triple mocha foam whipped decaf with a mango-guava-nutmeg infusion on ice for Quan!”
“Finally,” Rosie said as she approached the counter. I joined her, surveying the scene and looking for potential threats. You’ve got to keep your head on a 360-degree swivel in my line of work. Failure to do so can be hazardous to your health.
My partner accepted the beverage, but frowned at the wrapped straw that had been offered with it.
“Oh,” Rosie said.
“Something wrong, ma’am?” the teenager asked in a squeaky, changing voice.
Rosie peaked at the lad’s name-tag. “Liam?”
“Yes.”
I looked at the straw with anger. Rage. Rosie knew me well enough by now to know all I could think about was stomping this kid’s face into hamburger meat.
Rosie flashed a badge. Liam stuck his hands straight up into the air immediately. “Oh my God! You’ve finally come for me!”
“What?” Rosie asked.
“The 9,000 hours of Croatian queef fetish porn I downloaded on my computer!” Liam said. “Oh God, oh God, oh God! Mom said it was only a matter of time before the cops busted down my door and hauled me away if I kept looking at that but I couldn’t help myself!”
The kid was a mess even before my partner got to him. Eyeliner. Really? Call me old fashioned, but the only time it is acceptable for a male to wear eyeliner is if he’s into witchcraft, or the founding member of a Boy George tribute band. At any rate, the boy’s tears made his makeup run.
That’s right. You heard me. I said the boy’s tears made HIS makeup run. Crap on a hot stick, I hate this decade. It can’t end fast enough, as far as I’m concerned.
“It’s an addiction, I tell you!” Liam shouted. “It’s not my fault! It’s an addiction!”
Customers dropped their exotic coffee preparation to take in the show. The hipsters took a break from their keyboards, thus increasing the audience.
“Oh, no,” Rosie said as she took the coffee, leaving the straw in the boy’s hand. “I’m not here for that, Liam. You’re fine.”
“Whew,” the kid said. “What a relief.”
Rosie pulled a pamphlet out of her pocket and set it down on the counter. The front cover featured a drinking straw in a cup, surrounded by a circle with a slash through the center. The title? The Straw Law and You: 101 Ways to Avoid Running Afoul of the D.C. Straw Ban.
“Is your manager here?” Rosie asked.
“Kelly?” Liam asked. “No, sorry. She’s off sick today.”
“Could you do me a favor and see that she gets this?” Rosie asked. “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the straw ban went into effect citywide January first.”
“Oh no,” Liam said. “Am I in trouble?”
“Not at all,” Rosie said. “There’s a grace period. We’re allowing restaurants and food service businesses to wind down their straw inventories, so you can keep passing them out until July 1. After that, you’ll have to go with a plastic straw alternative, or forego them altogether.”
“Wow,” Liam said. “I saw that on the news but I didn’t know it was here already.”
“Sure, you didn’t,” I grumbled.
Rosie flashed me a pissed look, letting me know she had the situation under control. I disagreed.
“Sorry,” Liam said.
“That’s alright,” Rosie said as she pulled out three more pamphlets and dropped them on the counter. “Here, share these with your co-workers. The rules might seem complicated, but you’ll get the hang of it. I’d just hate to see someone get fined over something as silly as a straw.”
Something as silly as a straw. If my soul was a tin can, Rosie’s words had just cut through it like a flaming hot knife. So many people had been duped by the anti-straw ban lobby. Even my partner, it seemed.
“OK,” Liam said.
“Very good,” Rosie said. She popped the plastic dome off her cup, then threw it in a nearby trash can. She took a sip, then licked the foam from her lips. “Mmm. You make a hell of a half-skinny, triple mocha foam whipped decaf with a mango-guava-nutmeg infusion on ice, Liam.”
“Thanks,” Liam replied. “Sorry it took so long. Our mango-guava-nutmeg infuser has been acting up lately.
“No problem,” Rosie said as she turned and walked away. “Have a nice day.”
“Hold on,” I said.
My partner faced me. “Smasher. We pass out pamphlets. We warn businesses about the straw ban until July first. We start issuing fines after that. That’s all we do.”
I lifted my shades and stared the little twerp down.
“Smasher,” Rosie said. “Come on. Let’s go. No need to complicate things.”
The boy looked at me like I was death himself, come to drag him away to the next life, long before he was ready. “Suh-suh…something wra-wra…wrong, sir?”
“You tell me, scumbag,” I said. “Why are you so nervous?”
“No…nah-nah-nah…no rah-rah…reason.”
“Really?” I asked. “What’s with the stutter, then?”
“I dah-dah…don’t know.”
“Why don’t you get the dick out of your mouth and start talking like a man before I slap it out for you?” I inquired.
Rosie lost it. “Jesus! Smasher! Let’s go!”
“Sir,” Liam said. “I’m suh-suh…sorry.”
“You’re goddamn right you’re sorry,” I said. “But you haven’t even begun to make amends.”
I took the straw out of the kid’s hand. I unwrapped it and held it an inch from my face. I studied it. Pinched it. Bent it in the middle, then straightened it out. Sniffed it. Licked it, running my tongue up and down its entire length.
“Oh yeah,” I said. “That’s genuine plastique alright.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” Rosie replied.
“Made in…China?” I took another lick. “No…definitely Taiwan.”
“We’re done here, Smasher,” Rosie said.
“How old are you, kid?” I asked. “Fifteen?”
“Sixteen.”
“Young,” I said. “Prime of your life. The world’s your oyster right now. A life full of hope and promise. Society’s non-stop no machine hasn’t run you through its ringer, crushing every dream you’ve ever had only to leave you a pathetic, quivering pile of jelly on the floor of a bus station bathroom in Hoboken, slurping on a ding dong for a ticket back to whatever burg you were gestated in.”
“That’s…um…uh-uh-uh…oddly spa-specific,” Liam said.
“I’ll say,” Rosie added.
“You think life’s a game, son?” I asked.
Liam shook his head no.
“I can’t hear you.”
“No.”
“Are you bebopping around on one great, big chess board, where in your mind, you’re the kind and we’re all just your lowly pawns that you can sacrifice at your whim?”
“No.”
I felt Rosie’s hand on my shoulder. I liked it, but not enough to cave. I chuckled, like a sad clown on the last night of the circus. “Ha…ha…ha…ha…ha.”
I stared at the kid. He stared back. Our eyes converged. Finally, I grabbed him by the collar and slammed his head down on the counter. “Where’d you get the straws?!”
“Oh, fuck no!” Rosie shouted.
That’s when the cameras came out. Hundreds of cell phones. All snapping, recording, capturing, preserving and streaming. Everyone’s an amateur Scorsese these days. I miss the old days, back when a camcorder was so big you had to hold it on your shoulder. A cop could really get away with some shit back then.
“Huh?” Liam asked.
“The straws, you little puke!” I said as I held the kid’s head flat against the counter. “Where’d they come from?”
“I dah-dah…don’t know!”
“You dah-dah don’t know?” I asked. “What kind of language is that? Do you speak English, shitheel?”
“Yes!”
“Good,” I said. “Then listen to me carefully, maggot. The next words out of your mouth had better be stutter free. I want to hear the king’s English. Flawless. Got it?”
“Yes.”
“Sir,” Liam said, instantly cured of his fear induced speech impediment. “I swear. I honestly don’t know where the straws come from. My manager handles all that.”
“You don’t know anything?” I asked.
“No. Please believe me.”
“You know more than your little pea brain thinks it knows,” I said. “Think, dipshit. You know something. Search your mind.”
“I really don’t…”
“Aw, fuck this,” I said. I reached into my holster and drew my gold-plated Desert Eagle, switched off the safety, then pressed it up against the kid’s head. “Howsabout now, Liam, my boy? Does this jog your memory?”
Rosie looked pale. “Smasher? What…are…you…doing?”
“Relax, doll,” I said. “Men are talking.”
I cocked the hammer. “This is Thunder, kid. I’ve got another one. Lightning. When you infuriate Zeus, he’s going to rattle the heavens and make it rain, capiche?”
“Yes.”
“You understand?”
“Yes.”
“Smasher,” Rosie said. “Let him go and walk away.”
“No can do,” I said. “He invited the devil when he spat in the face of straw law just now, and I’m going to teach him how to tango.”
“Please,” Liam said. “Don’t kill me.”
“You want to live long enough to see a naked woman, kid?”
“Yes.”
“Fall in love. Hold hands. Walks in the park. Get her to queef that stupid look off your face?”
“Yes.”
“Then so help me God, you start talking about what you know or I’m going to let Thunder do my talking for me, but let me warn you. He is one long winded motherfucker.”
Ever so slowly, Rosie set her drink down on the counter. She pulled the bottom of her blazer to one side, then rested her hand on the butt of her glock. “Smasher, if you hurt him…”
“I know,” I said. “You’ll pop my head like a ripe casaba. Fair enough. Kid?”
“Yeah?”
“Sing me a song,” I said.
“Arjax!” Liam said. “No! Awax?”
“Shit!” I said. “It’s those sons of bitches at Ajax Restaurant Supply Company, isn’t it?”
“Their truck stops here once a month,” Liam said. “I helped unload it three days ago. Straws, cups, napkins. That’s all I know. I swear.”
“Rat bastards!” I said. “Delivering straws during a straw ban! I ought to break down their down, douse their whole operation with gasoline, drop a lit match and force the owner of that dump, Mr. Ajax himself, to watch while his livelihood goes up in flames.”
“Smasher.”
“Then, I’ll gouge out his eyes and skull fuck him until he…”
“Smasher!”
I turned. Suddenly, the reality of all those cameras sunk in.
“You got what you wanted,” Rosie said. “Let him go.”
“Nah,” I said as I pulled out my cellphone. “Time to double down and go all in. Ready for a round of high stakes poker, kid?”
“Not really,” Liam replied.
With my free hand, I pulled up a series of photos of animals who had been injured in the wild thanks to those no good, dirty rotten straws.
I held the first photo in front of the kid’s eyes.
“No!” I said. “Do not look away! You feast your eyes on this!”
“OK,” the kid said.
“This is a bushy coated North American beaver who got impaled on a straw,” I said. “Little guy was just trying to build a damn when a straw, just like the one you tried to give my partner, floated up to the surface of the river he was in and stabbed him in heart, rupturing his aorta, leaving him there to bleed out in front of his beaver wife and five beave babies. Do you see?”
The kid nodded. “I see.”
I swiped right. “This is a baby seal. Can you fathom what it must be like, to be such an adorable little creature, swimming along when all of a sudden, a plastic stick of death flies out of the ocean, up his nose, stabbing him in the brain? You can’t, can you?”
“No.”
“Do you see?” I asked.
“I see,” the kid said.
I swiped right again. “This is an artic penguin. This fucker had just one day left until his retirement as a penguin when he decided to take a dip. You know what happened to him?”
“What?”
“The little bastard got fucked in the ass by a straw,” I said. “All you dirtbag food service workers, just shuffling along through life without a care in the world, handing out straws like they’re going out of style, oblivious to the plight of water dwelling creatures like our little penguin friend here, whose guts are being ripped apart by straws handed out like pimply faced pricks like you on a daily basis!”
Rosie gave me a final warning. “Head for the door or I’ll draw and shoot you where you stand.”
I released my grip on the kid. He backed away instantly. I switched on Thunder’s safety and holstered him. I walked toward the exit.
Rosie let go of her sidearm, then grabbed her beverage. “I’m sorry,” she said to Liam. “It’s probably inappropriate for me to grab this, but you know, it was like, eight bucks.”
As I neared the door, I heard Rosie address the crowd. “Mack Smasher, everyone. M-A-C-K…S-M-A-S-H-E-R. Direct all complaints to Captain Braddock and uh, if possible, mention I tried to stop this. Thank you! Have a nice day!”

Advertisements