Marcos, who was with me when the cops caught us [and in my opinion, the sole reason we were nabbed. who stops in the middle of a police chase to smoke a fucking cigarette?], had been taken to a room for questioning, leaving me in the holding area, handcuffed to a bar. There wasn’t much to look at in the room. One wall had the bench I sat on and the door to the room Marcos was being questioned behind, the opposite wall had the bench the two winos sat on and a door from the entrance hall, one wall was bare save two windows high up near the ceiling, and there wasn’t really another wall, at least not one symmetric to the others. What was instead there was a counter with bulletproof glass in front of it. At least I think it was bulletproof. It looked it. There were square windows in the glass, so someone could take your personal effects from the booking officers. Behind the glass was a huge office with many desks, behind most of these desk sat cops.
One of the winos hissed at me but I ignored it. Then he hissed again and I looked up. He was old and his face was puffy and when he smiled it cracked and wrinkled like someone was trying to squeeze it closed. When he spoke I could smell his warm breath, it was so sweet I almost choked. –Hey young buck, he wheezed, do me a favor. I thought for a second, staring at him. But ultimately I was drunk and my adrenaline was still growling so I shrugged my shoulders and said, –What?
-You see that bag there behind the counter? I looked and saw it, sitting on the other side of the glass. It was a canvass duffle bag, so dirty and black it looked like they had dug it up from coal. I nodded. –Reach in that bag and get the beers in there. There are three, keep one for yourself. I sat back and stared at him then looked at the bag and then looked at the door on the wall. –You want me to reach behind that glass in front of all these cops? You’re crazy. I leaned back, dismissive. The winos started laughing, just then the door opened and two cops came in with another guy.
He was probably in his mid 20’s, which meant he was about ten years older than me at the time. He had dark brown hair slicked all the way back and wore a baggy leather jacket and jeans. He looked at all of us for a second, then stared at the floor. They sat him next to me but kept both of his hands cuffed, then they passed an envelope with his personal effects to a lady cop behind the glass. Once they left he turned to me. –Whatchu in here for? He had a Spanish accent. He looked nervous and scared, like he was about to cry. –We started a riot on the train, I said, and it was the truth too, -what are you here for? He nodded towards the door the cops had just left from, -They caught me dealing in the park. I shrugged my shoulders and smiled as if to say, looks like we’re stuck in the same boat buddy, but he didn’t smile back.
-So you gonna do that for me kid? They aint gonna find out, they aint even lookin! The wino gestured towards the rows of desk behind the glass. All the cops were hunched over them, not paying attention to us or anybody else. Some were on the phone, some were typing, some just sat staring at the pieces of paper in front of them. The Spanish guy next to me said something I didn’t catch so I turned back around. –I need you to do something for me, he said. He was serious, so I didn’t smile; I just looked at him and waited. –I need you to reach into my inside pocket and take out what’s in there. Then put it in the rip that’s at the bottom. He stood up and I looked at his coat. –Unzip it, he said, then he looked at the door and back to me nervously then he looked at the door again. I unzipped his coat and pulled out what was in the inside pocket, a huge stack of money, a few thousand dollars at least, folded into a rubber band. Then a small baggy of white powder. I put it into the rip at the bottom of his coat. -Push it all the way in, he urged. I pushed it deeper, till it was lost in the lining. –Thanks. He sat back down.
-Come on man! Aint nobody gonna see you! The winos still wanted their beers. I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. –All right, watch the door for me. I was being insane, it was a moment of madness, and the sunlight and the florescent bulbs burned the room into white blur. I leaned from the bench and stretched my arm behind the glass. A police officer walked from his desk to another. I reached into the bag and felt clothes and plastic and maybe a handheld radio. Another police officer turned his chair to talk to someone across the room. My hands felt the bottles; I slid the necks between my fingers and pulled them cautiously from behind the counter. An officer hung up the phone and continued looking down at his desk. I rolled the bottles one by one along the floor to the winos and they made a tinny clicking sound the whole way but no one noticed.
-Hot damn! one of them said, you alright boy! I sat back feeling pleased. The Spanish guy just looked at the floor as if we weren’t even there and seeing him made me stop smiling and sit back against the wall. I thought about what I would say to the cops when they questioned me. I wondered what Marcos was saying. One of the winos opened their beer and lifted it up in salute before taking a swig and then sliding it into his pocket. The other threw his head back and chugged it all at once. The sun must have sunk somewhere behind the hills because by the time the cops opened the door there were shadows all over the walls around us. True story.