“—Wino! You’ll never guess what’s going on around the block!” said Argus, who had left moments earlier on a beer run. The clatter of shopping carts I could hear in the background told me he was at the nearby grocery store’s pay phone.
“You’re right, since I’m not a fan of guessing games,” I replied. “Why don’t you just fill me in?”
“Well, I’m not too clear on what’s goin’ on down here, but it seems pretty serious! The SWAT team is outside the apartment building on the corner! And whoa!—two news vans just rolled up!”
“—This city has a SWAT team!?”
“Apparently. There are like, four or five guys with M-16s pointed at one of the balconies. You and Stogey should get down here and have a look! I have a feeling shells will be bouncing on the pavement before long!”
“Okay, we’ll be right over!” I said, hanging up the phone.
The building in question is like no other in the neighborhood. It’s like the Dark Tower in The Lord of the Rings, and ominously looms over the surrounding wasteland of projects and low-income housing. Unlike our walled, Shire-like community, which has the scent of fresh grass clippings and barbeque in the summer months, the apartment building is surrounded by drabness. The grass is brown even in the most fertile months, and the curb always seems to be lined with busted television sets, shards of linoleum and urine-stained mattresses.
“Stogey—feel like going for a walk?” I asked in a way that wasn’t really asking.
(Stogey Nightclub—fellow roommate, drunkard, and lay-about.)
“Where are we going?” he groaned from the other couch, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“No time for chit-chat!” I declared, standing up and accidentally knocking a few empties to the floor.
“That was Argus on the horn—some shit’s goin’ down at the apartment building, and if we don’t hurry we’re going to miss it!” I grabbed my Kodak Fun-Saver and crammed it in my pocket, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than someone else’s misfortune. But I suppose everyone’s like that to a degree.
We then departed, making sure to lock the door behind us. In a few moments we arrived at the apartment and weaved our way through the flashing cruisers to where Argus stood, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
“Check it out!” he pointed. “These cops aren’t fuckin’ around!”
On the adjacent sidewalk a row of police officers leaned against their vehicles, pointing their weapons at a balcony two floors up. The porch was charmingly decorated in green, yellow and black, but there was no one to be seen.
Close by, a cameraman for a local news affiliate jogged about, trying to get a shot of his own.
“Maybe he can tell us what’s going on?” Stogey wondered aloud.
It was a good idea.
“Hey, Cameraman!” I shouted, successfully getting him to look in our direction. “What’s all the hubbub?”
“Gee, I don’t really know, fellas! I’m just here because somebody called the SWAT team!”
A blank stare.
“No shit? We’re here because someone called the SWAT team too! You’ve been a big help, jackass!”
Just then, there was another voice. “If you wanna know what happened, I can tell you,” it said.
Behind us there stood a snot-nosed kid of about eleven or twelve.
“You know what’s going on?” Argus asked.
“Yup, I saw the whole thing!” the brat announced. “A few minutes ago these two guys wearing red bandanas on their heads hopped out of a car carrying guns, and they ran up into the building! Then, when I heard the sirens, I saw them run out one of the back stairwells and into the field!”
“Thanks for the bulletin, kid,” said Argus. “Now get the fuck out of here.”
As we all snickered at Argus’ comment, there was a commotion across the street.
“Quit resisting, dirt bag!" shouted one of the cops.
“Yo, man! I aint resisting, yo! Getcho hands off me!”
It was one of the bandana-wearing young men, and he was being led to the cruisers with his hands bound behind his back. His dark blue jeans, which were far too large for his sinewy frame, had fallen to his ankles. This may have occurred when the officers tackled him, or perhaps, because his hands were no longer free, his pants simply dropped because he was no longer able to hike them up. In any event, the thug’s comic waddle did little to amuse the authorities.
“If you don’t stop resisting, we’re going to give you a dose of the Air Taser!” screamed one of the officers.
“Shee-it, man—I aint resistin’!” said the cuffed hooligan.
“Okay, I’ve had it with your belligerent attitude, motherfucker!” said one of the cops, pointing a gray box at the young man. Then, propelled by a blast of compressed nitrogen, two wire-tailed probes fired into the cuffed man’s chest. The other officers were quick to relinquish their grasps.
“Let’s see if 50,000 volts can teach you some manners!” the cop said with a smile.
He then pressed a button and the device emitted a steady pulse of electricity.
The man in the red bandana gyrated like a palsy sufferer. It was evident that he had lost control of his bodily functions, since urine and feces fell from his boxers and into his pants. What a terrible embarrassment this must be for him, I thought, snapping a picture or two with my camera.
“Uh-Oh, Spaghetti-Ohs!” yelled Stogey. We then laughed uproariously, along with all those who watched from their balconies. The offender was soon tossed into the back seat of one of the cruisers
“Smell that, fellas?” said Argus, breathing deeply through his nose. “That’s the unmistakable smell of justice!”
“Smells more like fried bologna,” Stogey suggested, pinching a cheap, Indian reservation cigarette from the empty box of playing cards he carries them about in.
I shook my head.
“I just think this neighborhood’s degradation is downright shocking!”