Tony stares out the front window of the beat-up Toyota. He watches the Tuna enter the building. The Tuna turns and waves. Tony shifts into drive, heads up the alley coming to a full stop before he turns onto Second Avenue. He drives to the stop sign, signals a right turn and turns onto Riverside Drive. Halfway down the block flashing red and blue lights appear in Tony’s rearview mirror. Tony signals he’s pulling over to the curb. He lowers his window and puts his hands at ten and two on the steering wheel.
A tall, muscular cop stands off Tony’s left shoulder. The cop says, “Appreciate you putting your hands in the position without me telling you what to do.”
Tony says, “I support the blue.”
The cop says, “You sucking up or are you sincere?”
Tony’s not sure what sincere means. He knows what sucking up means and it’s not good. He says, “I’ve never been more sincere in my life.”
The cop shines a flashlight on the backseat, then he shines it through driver’s side window toward the passenger seat. The cop says, “What’s in that large brown, Dollar Store paper bag?”
Tony says, “Nothing, yet. I use it to toss trash in it. My car don’t look like much, but I like to keep it clean. The chicks like a clean car.”
The cop says, “What are you doing out at this time of the morning? You coming home from a bar? Have you been drinking? Do I smell weed?”
Tony keeps his eyes straight ahead, “I couldn’t sleep because my brain was nerdus. I don’t do drugs. I had a meatball sub about eleven. The meatballs were loaded with garlic. Does garlic smell like weed?”
The cop says, “You mean nervous? No, garlic doesn’t smell like weed. You smoking garlic. I don’t think that’s illegal.”
Tony says, “Maybe?”
“You don’t know if you are smoking garlic? I’d know if I was smoking garlic. What’s making you nervous? Lots of nervous people drink. You been drinking?” asks the cop.
“I don’t smoke. I don’t drink when I’m nerdus. Driving calms me down. I know drinking and diving don’t mix. When I drink, I like the cheap beer. It is better than the fancy beers and has a better head of foam,” says Tony.
The cop says, “You mean driving?”
Tony says, “No, I mean diving. My buddy Sal Barone got loaded one day. Sal is like twenty or fifty pounds overweight, I can never get it straight. He’s got a gut on him like one of those giant blandas.”
“Do you mean panda?” asks the cop.
“They got a big butt on them too? I saw a blanda on the Discovery channel. They don’t move much. They’re just like Sal. He likes to sit and eat and drink and occasionally dive. His specialty is the cannonball. He don’t know no other dive. That’s why he’s good at it. When he hits the water, he makes a giant wave and soaks everybody sitting at the tables near the pool.”
“What’s this got to do with drinking and diving?” asks the cop starting to wonder why he stopped this guy.
“Sal goes on the springboard. He jumps up and down two or three times to get the biggest spring then he takes off like a rocket. When he was out over the pool, he looks down into the pool and sees that the pool got no water in it. They was resealing the pool. Sal lands on the bottom of the pool and breaks both legs. That’s why you don’t drink and dive. But, I wasn’t about to go diving. I got other problems and I can show you if you let me take my hands of the wheel.”
The cop says, “How is your friend? Are his legs okay?”
Tony says, “What friend? I got lots of them.”
The cop changes the subject, “You can take your hands off the wheel, but move slowly and no funny business.”
Tony reaches into his right pants pocket, he pulls out his rosary beads. He holds the rosary up for the cop to see. “My mom told me I got to pray the rosary every day for a vacation. The problem is, I don’t want no vacation. See what I’m saying?”
The cop says, “You mean vocation not vacation, right?”
Tony says, “They’re the same thing, right?”
The cop feels a migraine coming on. He moves a bit closer. “Why are you wearing a fedora and fake eyeglasses with a fake nose attached?”
Tony says, “I don’t want Father Pat to see me. If he sees me praying the rosary, he’ll really think I want a vacation and turn up the heat. He might ask me to go to confession, but I don’t want to go to confession unless I have a lawyer with me to tell me my rights. It says so in the Constipation.”
The cop says, “You mean the Constitution?”
Tony says, “The Constitution is that old ship in the harbor where tourists go. Is that what you are talking about?”
The cop says, “Drive carefully. I hope you make a good choice about your vacation.” The cop thinks I must be going nuts, I’m sounding like this fool.
Tony signals his intention to pull out from the curb. He drives to the end of the block, signals a right turn, checks his rearview mirror to see if the cop is following him. When he’s sure he’s in the clear he drives to the alley and turns down the alley. The Tuna and Nick are standing next to a dumpster in the middle of the alley.
Tony pulls to a stop next to the Tuna and Nick, Tuna opens the passenger side door, “Where you been. We’ve been out her five, ten minutes.”
“Yah,” says Nick getting into the rear seat.
“I got stopped by a cop,” says Tony.
“How’d it go,” says the Tuna.
“No problem. I did what you told me to do and showed him the rosary and told him I was praying about a vacation,” says Tony.
“You mean vocation,” says the Tuna.
“That’s what the cop said,” says Tony.
“Get us out of here,” says the Tuna.