In a small juke joint off Sunset Boulevard, in the spot where Hollywood and Sunset are only a couple of blocks apart, I was drowning my sorrows in a warm mug of beer.
The air was laden with smoke and bad smells, heavy with the endless yelling and bickering of two ugly broads who were strutting their stuff for the male patrons. One of them, as it turned out, was the bartender's daughter. Missy was her name.
It was hard to tell if she worked there, or just simply helped out her old man a little. But she'd bring people their beer, every now and then, with a scowl on her face and a wise-ass retort to whatever was said. I'm sure you know the type.
I was sitting at the bar. Jack, the bartender (an older man of 60 plus years), was exchanging greetings with another guy. I overheard their conversation.
"How you been Jack? Everything alright?" the visitor asked.
"You bet! I'm feelin' good," Jack said. "I'm celubratin' tonight, cos my youngest's gettin' marry at da end o' the munth!"
He gestured at Missy with his chin.
"S'at right? She's getting married?" he asked, watching Missy working the room.
"Yup," Jack answered, "she's a' las' one too, I'm gonna give 'dis up afta' that, fo' shore! Dees ol' bones are gettin' tired..."
They nodded to eachother in silent assent, and quietly toasted with their beer mugs.
Missy kept rubbing up to me, whenever she walked by. After the third beer, she was starting to look a little better. I began to pay more attention. Finally, she returned an empty mug to the bar and stood beside me.
"So wha's your name?" she asked.
"Mick," I answered. "What's yours?"
"I'm Missy," she said, as she waved her long, oily hair around flirtilly.
She was wearing nothing more than a black bustier, sandals, and what we used to call 'fuck-me' shorts.
"Heard you're getting married," I said.
"I might," she said lazily,"haven' made up my mind, yet. 'Sides, I still have to say yes." These last words she said while she gave me one of those "it's up you, buddy!" looks. Then she went off to flirt with somebody else.
Meanwhile, I noticed this heavyset guy sitting next to me. Dark skin, "probably Mexican," I thought.
We nodded to eachother.
"How 'ya doing?" he asked.
"What's goin' on?" I replied.
"The name's Suarez," he said, offering me his hand.
"Mick," I said, as we shook hands.
"You a cop?" he asked, eyeing me suspiciously.
The question surprised me a little, because I couldn't imagine why anyone on earth would ever think I was a cop. Primarily, because I wore a head of curly hair halfway down my back.
"No, no," I said. "I'm a student."
"Oh," he said. "I am."
I nodded in appreciation, not sure what he expected me to do.
We got to talking, and he told me he'd been going to this bar for awhile. Gotten to know all the characters. You gotta know what you're up against. Eighteen years in the force, he added, and he'd never fired a round. This, he believed, was due to the fact that he was always prepared.
"You see that guy over there?" he asked me, motioning vaguely with his eyes toward the bouncer, Tony. "You can see the bulge there, under his shirt. That ain't his dick, I tell ya'. He kills."
I nodded, just going along with what he was saying. Unsure of how to respond.
Pretty soon Suarez was buying us another round, and we were talking about all kinds of things.
As most cops, he thought he had it all figured out. He knew who did what, why they did it, when they did it, and how to stop them from doing it. The reason he didn't intervene was because those people were usually "protected" by other cops. Dirty cops, it was implied.
I hadn't realized how late it was when he got up to leave. We shook hands and said good-bye. I thanked him for the beers.
As I sat there sipping my last drink, Tony, the bouncer, came up to me behind the bar and said:"Hey man, I know yur a cop, but we wanna get outta here. Ya' mind?"
I suddenly felt uncomfortable.
"What are you talking about? I'm not a cop!"
He was shaking his head, looking away while waving his hand in a dismissive gesture.
"We know yur a fuckin' cop, we know yur a cop, but we wanna fuckin' close up, so les get goin'!" he said, much more impatiently than before.
"But I'm not a cop," I insisted, frustrated and unsure of why I had to bother stressing this.
"He busted me for pros'itushon las' year!" Missy said, coming in from behind.
"You took ma' lil' gurl in for hookin'?" the bartender yelled at me.
Now I really started to feel uneasy.
"Jus' cos yur a fuckin' cop ya thin' ya can come in 'ere and do whutever ya wan'?" Tony was asking.
"I'm just gonna get the hell outta here," I mumbled, getting up without bothering to finish my beer.
"Don't you cum back 'ere, you biiitch!!!" Missy was yelling. "We don' wan' your kind roun' 'ere!
I walked out of there, then picked up my pace briefly. In fact, I may have run a little.
Just when I thought I'd found a cool little joint to hangout at.