Monday, July 31, 2006
Shoot the Freak
Sean wanted to wait on the roof of Nathan's, which made no sense really. He could see the street from there but not the Boardwalk and the Boardwalk was where I needed him or at least wanted him. David wanted to be up in the top of the Shore Theater. He said he'd have the sniper rifles and could take out an elephant on the waterline, which, true or not, again was offering nothing for me. I told him he just wanted to check out the old building – which I did too except, abandoned for twenty years or thirty even and who the fuck knew what you'd find in there and perhaps have to deal with.
We sat in the back of Nathan's patio eating dogs and drinking 64 ounce beers, disguised to the summer crowd as nobody in particular, the best kind of disguise but one few cops can master, and debating these issues of what at least I considered life and death, waiting for the other guys to arrive. The dogs weren't sitting right, I was way too keyed, and neither was the beer, really, I couldn't afford to be too sloppy, so I was chain-smoking and picking through the smaller slightly burnt fries and staring at the table. Between drags I was letting the salt air sooth me.
The buy was supposed to happen in front of the Shoot the Freak game on the Boardwalk, the two of us mixing in the crowd watching and casually swapping backpacks and doing quick content checks. My pack had five grand in recorded serial number bills. His was expected to be filled with untraceable weaponry. I'd spent more than three weeks setting this up, and if it went right this would be major, especially if these guys could track him back to his real connection. But it could also go way wrong, and I had fought for five days to pull this off in a crowd in daylight. I wasn't ready to admit it to anyone, but dark empty streets were starting to scare me.
It was time to do other things. Time to go be a regular cop, riding around in a regular car, answering regular 911 calls, dealing with regular shit. They had sucked me right out of the academy for this. They thought I looked young, looked not much like a cop. I seemed, one boss said, to have a "situational view of morality" that he found useful. And they offered me flexibility and a lack of uniforms and, yes, special kinds of adrenalin rushes and self-understood heroism. I was a kid, of course I signed right on. It had taken me too long to figure it out, much longer, my current lieutenant told me, than he had expected.
Still. OK. We saw the van cruise by on Surf Avenue. Sean whispered that he'd be right on top of the old bathhouse. David that he'd be on the roof of the gift shop next door, and that, absolutely, two guys would be close by on the Boardwalk. I smiled, dropped my cigarette. The breeze kicked for a moment filling my head with the immense quiet of the ocean. I pulled my Mets cap way down over my eyes and slid the pack from my lap to my back. Then vanished from the table and headed around Nathan's and up toward the beach. Crossing myself momentarily. Accepting that this could always be "it," but pretty sure it wasn't likely to be.
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol