Part III - El Otro Lado

Chapter 13

Next Slice

“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food” 

- Raymond Chandler

 

Captain Yarborough is drooling for a bacon blue cheeseburger at the Burger Blues booth. Tired of the sushi shit down the road. Way too gay for a cop, even a suspended one. The burgers here are grass-fed, but whatever. Plain Jane for me. He sees the lieutenant’s vehicle pulling onto the stone access road beside the market under the bridge. Nothing plain about this Jane. His buds say a lot of vagetarians hang out here. His civvies are already soaked with sweat, especially around his thick neck. He unbuttons his shirt halfway down. This should be fun, he thinks, as four Blue Jays do him a flyby.

 

Holmquist exits her car, her eyes immediately scanning the crowd for the mysterious caller. “Is serious,” she recalls and switches her radio to the off position. There is a bounce in her stride. She catches herself walking on her toes under her black hard shoes. Rising above, being her Saturday resolution. She spots a woman across the next row of food vendors flipping her dirty blond hair to one side. Just like Kiley. Sharon’s heart stings, and she takes a first step in her direction. Tears will stay in the well today; she reminds herself reversing her step. But water gathers in puddles in her eyelids anyway. In the refraction, Sharon sees her Blue Jay friends flying low under the bridge, follows their path, and she disappears into the crowd. That’s what Skye would do.

 

Yarborough spots a woman crouching behind Jennie’s Family Jams and Jellies. She’s wearing a red coat, hands in her pockets, in the heat of summer. One of them homeless criminal types looking for a freebie, he thinks, wondering if God has punished her for whoring. She shifts position and retrieves a shiny object from her pocket. Suspicious he thinks, as his adrenaline begins an upward climb. May have to be the off-duty hero, he thinks, imagining the lieutenant is distracted elsewhere scoping the market for butch nature girls.

 

***

 

The brothers come out from behind the funnel cake vendor over-acting a “walk and talk” heading toward the Farm Fresh booth. They stop short at an artist hawking mosaics he made from colored guitar picks.

 

“Pick one,” the artist says.

 

They roll their eyes at his loser pun. But they do like the mosaic of the Dark Side of the Moon album cover. They wipe the powdered sugar off their hands, leaving white streaks on their shorts and fondle the mosaic by the frame made of braided guitar strings.

 

“Way cool. Dad loves the Floyd,” the older brother suggests, mimicking a toke from a joint while the other beatboxes cash register sounds mimicking the Money song.

 

“Money, it's a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a – make a dash,” sings the older finishing with a big grin, displaying teeth calked with cake.

 

Walking ahead they discuss buying the art for Dad after they “acquire” a few bucks. They stop just a few yards away from Farm Fresh, licking the remaining sweetness off their fingers one by one. Good lickin’s easy pickin’s, pointing with sticky hands at the bucket of bills. The younger one blows his cheeks up, pops his belly out, and holds his arms out like a barrel.

 

“We could so do this behind the chunky one. No one will ever see.”

 

***

 

Masuyo steps across the front of Jennie’s Family Jams and Jellies knocking a jar off the table with the tail of her red coat. Invisibly fast, her palm is below the falling jam before it can hit the ground while her eyes simultaneously follow the boys. Without looking, she places the jar back on the table from behind her back, while concealing her shiny weapon against her chest. Jennie turns to her mom assisting her in the booth. “You see that?” she says, stashing that particular jar under the booth, hoping she can levitate it herself later.

 

Yarborough’s adrenalin kicks up another notch watching little red riding hood. He’ll be back in the precinct in no time. The Lord has opened the door. “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days, Ephesians 5:16,” he whispers, breathing faster. He imagines his ex-wife, rising from the back pew, taking her place beside him once again. "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord," embracing his favorite book of the Bible. The off-duty captain tightens his belt.

 

Masuyo, eyes on the brothers, begins her approach, gradually picking up speed as she closes in, her red coat flying behind.  I got change, she thinks, I got big change. Her pinpoint focus beaming on the hater brothers that think they can fuck with her, like her trophy husband.

 

The brothers step in close to the booth, and the beatboxing stops. The younger one, with both hands, rubs his index fingers and thumbs together. The older one slaps him on the back of the head and nods towards the bucket, their eyes steadying on the cash.

 

***

 

Jay’s eyes are on the watermelon. She reminds herself she must pay attention to signs, like the dark seed, and that while evil often manifests itself in the world, good still overcomes. 

 

“It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil,” Jay preaches to Val without looking up. “That’s Henry David Thoreau,” she says, waving her hand, signaling that she won’t be eating that particular slice.

 

Ricardo’s eyes are fixed on Jay. Her back drenched with sweat, her large frame obscures most of the Farm Fresh booth. “El otro lado,” he whispers. From the outside of his trousers, he feels for the watermelon lip balm still in his pocket hoping she will remember him as he approaches her from behind. Willis’s grip grows tight on his shoulder, stopping his progress.

 

Willis’s eyes close, as he lifts his radio, “Is serious,” he says.

 

Lieutenant Holmquist’s radio belches loud and clear, “Is serious,” as the four Blue Jays perch themselves atop the Farm Fresh booth. Today is the day to be open. To listen, to birds and broke radios.

 

Masuyo approaches the boys, raising her two-pronged divot tool in her stride, as they close in on the bucket of cash next to Jay. Yarborough sees Holmquist nearing the booth, but figures he can get there first, embracing the opportunity the Lord has given him. Overcoming the weight of his beef and beer belly he makes a run for Masuyo, love handles bouncing over his tight belt.

 

Lieutenant Holmquist spots Yarborough running toward the Farm Fresh booth and recognizes Masuyo from her visits to the sushi cafe. Surprised to see her not counting leaves, she is thinking; maybe today she is rising above too.

 

Yarborough here on suspension can only mean trouble. The Blue Jays are sounding their alarm perched atop the booth, Holmquist gets the message, wipes the remaining Kiley-tears and makes a dash toward Yarborough and Masuyo.

 

The boys turn from the cash bounty in the commotion and see the blur of Masuyo’s red coat. Yarborough closes in on Masuyo before she strikes and wraps his bulky arms around her shoulders to take her down.

 

Masuyo rolls her eyes and slips down and out. She executes a swift turn and swings her leg behind his knees. His head smacks the cement, and in an instant, Masuyo is straddling his belly, the divot tool at his throat. She presses in with Masato-like precision, slicing out two puddles of blood under each fork. In seconds, Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist grabs Masuyo under her arms and swirls her around, inadvertently landing her in the arms of one Ricardo “The Rock” De Los Rios. Ricardo holds Masuyo off the ground, her legs kicking the air. Willis gently removes the weapon from Masuyo’s hands.

 

Jay, startled, raises her arms palms up. “So much negative energy,” she announces, shrugging her shoulders, with a long surrendering sigh. Val in a panic drops the red watermelon knife in Jay’s palm and calls 911. Behind her, the brothers make off with a bucket of cash resuming their Pink Floyd Money song beatbox duet.

 

Yarbrough, scared and out of breath is flat on the ground, eyes wide, and fingers around his bloody throat. Sharon descends, one knee to the ground next to Yarborough examining his superficial wounds. Satisfied that he is not critical she pokes her finger in his forehead.

 

“Your tax dollars at work, asshole,” she says. 

 

 

© 2015, 2016, 2017 by LEAP Collaborative & Jim Alabiso