Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Long, Slow Arm of the Law

Here's a good reason to always take your reading glasses and not to hand your bill to your buddy to fill out the tip and the total.  Math skills in America are terrible.  

"I don't like math.  It's boring."

I don't go to my mail basket often. All my bills are on autopay and nobody writes letters anymore. C.C. sent me a postcard from Texas which was fun. But mostly I get ads for burial plots and funeral homes. Sometimes cruises. Many fliers. I'm not really interested in the mail most days. But the basket was getting full, so yesterday I decided I had to take a look.

Uh-oh.  There were two--not one, but two--letters from the State Attorney's Office.  My heart was in my throat.  What had I done?  Shit.  Could be anything.  Paternity?  Slander using a nom de plume?  Hell, there are cameras everywhere now.  The Boulevard is full of them.  Trespassing?  Drunkenly pissing in public?  Battery?  Maybe a lawsuit of some kind?  I put the two envelopes aside and dealt with the rest of the mail first.  I wanted to get my business in order before I decided to jump off a bridge.  

"I am reviewing a criminal complaint to determine whether to file formal criminal charges against. . . ."

Who was this?  I didn't know the name.  

"If you suffered personal physical or psychological injury as a result of this crime, you may be entitled to benefits including lost wages, medical expenses, mental health counseling, or in the case of persons over the age of 60, reimbursement for property loss."

Man, was I confused.  Had I been abused?  Earlier in the day, I had read this:

I opened the second envelope.  Same thing, different name.  A man and a woman.  Ooooh.  This must be about my stolen cameras!  Old Detective Decker had filed his report and it was snaking its way through the slow arm of the law.  O.K. then.  

There was a telephone number I was asked to call, but I was wary.  Was this a trick?  Was this a set up so they could get me on something?  Well. . . what could I do?  

"State Attorney's Office."  

"Hi. . . um. . . I got a letter that, um. . . told me to call this number."

I gave him the case numbers.  Did I want to press charges?  Oh, yes sir, you bet I did.  

They'd get on it next week, whatever that means.  

Before I called the State Attorney's Office, though, I had Googled both of the names.  Holy shit. . . the fellow had a rap sheet going back to 2014, and he was only 29.  Drugs.  Theft.  I couldn't tell if any of the arrests had ended in convictions.  Just last month, he was arrested on a misdemeanor charge.  "Case Closed" it said.  Was there a conviction?  

I doubted that any of the charges stuck.  

The gal had no rap sheet, but she did have a FaceBook page.  A true floozy.  

I don't have any real expectations that I will ever get anything out of this, but I was so relieved that I wasn't the one in trouble, I decided to celebrate with an afternoon coffee and headed to the cafe.  

"Cafe con leche?" the counter girl asked.

Well now.  This was a different server than the one who asked "Large mimosa?" on Sunday.  Mr Rain Man, I guess.  I'm not invisible, maybe, but what?  The girls at the old sushi bar knew me but my buddy said they just did it for the money.  Later on, however, they asked me out.  I ended up dating one and a half of them, if you remember the tale, but I'm not the same fellow now.  I've admitted to myself that girls aren't interested in me anymore.  Still, that little glimmer of hope burns in the heart while the brain is guessing, "Here comes that old guy with the cheap Chinese shorts and the limp."

I don't know, but somehow it seems nice.  At least they are not calling the cops on me.  

I was in a pretty good mood when I got to my mother's, but that changed quickly.  She wasn't feeling well.  In her words, "I just fell apart again."  She has a cardiology appointment on Monday.  Good, I said.  Then I tried to explain to her what she needs to tell the doctor.  It's a long and boring story I won't tell, but she will not admit to fucking up her BP meds and I got loud, she got sullen, and we quarreled.  

"Fine," I said. . . "I'm out.  Tell them whatever you want.  I'm done."

I was instantly sorry.  We sat quiet for a few minutes, then I told her about Elder Abuse Awareness Day and we chuckled.  

"The people across the street were over today and they said your son is so nice."

"Now you can tell them about the abuse you have to endure."

We got out of it fine, but. . . .

Friday.  I like to go out to eat on Fridays, but I'd been eating out all week, so I decided I would have to cook.  Roasted vegetables and tofu.  There would be a lot of cleaning and chopping.  I thought about going  to the absinthe bar for a cocktail, but decided against that, too.  I stopped at the grocery store and bought a multitude of things.  I walked the aisles slowly trying to remember what I needed.  I was in no hurry.  I looked at everything.  It was fun.  

But when I got home, I didn't want to do it.  I didn't want to clean and chop all the vegetables and put the pieces that were leftover in containers, and I didn't want to go outside and dick around with the grill.  What I did want to do was make a Campari and gin.  And I did.  The cat was at the door, so I went out to feed her.  It was damp and hot.  I didn't want to sit with her while she ate, so I came back in the house and sat on the cool leather couch.  I picked up the attorney's letters and read them again.  And I started thinking.  I had a girl once who was an attorney.  She used to win all her cases.  She was smart, but she said that too many attorney's were sloppy or lazy and made mistakes that she capitalized on.  They missed filing dates or filed incorrectly, dumb things that were very avoidable.  She would work at the dining room table with one foot on the floor and the other tucked under her.  She'd read something, then bite her lip and start typing.  When she stopped, she always leaned forward, closer to the screen, to read what she had just written.  Then she'd look at a document and bite her lip while she thought and then start typing again.  I loved watching that.  Sometimes, not often, she would ask me if she could read something to me.  I was always flattered, though I knew nothing that could really help.  It was the reading aloud, of course, to hear it.  Once in a great while I might suggest an edit to a phrase that wasn't quite concise enough, and she would smile and say yea and make a change.  But she didn't really need my help.  She was a good writer.  I used to edit for another female attorney briefly, and though she wrote volumes every day, she couldn't really write.  I've read other attorney's writings, too.  Oh, my. . . I always wondered how such tortured, broken language could be considered legal.  But my girl was always spot on.  

Whenever she would finish, she'd slap the computer shut, smile, and say, "Let's have a drink."  

A nice memory, but maybe not on a solitary Friday night.  It was getting late, and now I really didn't want to cook, so I chopped up some tofu and soaked it in teriyaki sauce before throwing it into the pan on the stove.  Then I took out an Annie Chun's noodle bowl, added water and the little packet of spices, and heated it up in the microwave.  In mere moments the tofu was paired in a big white bowl with the "Japanese style" noodle soup.  I poured a big glass of citrusy New Zealand Sav blanc.  Now this. . . this was living.  

All week I'd been saying I just wanted to stay home and read rather than go out, but a Friday night after all is something different.  I'd be in bed just as people were readying themselves for a night out.  Whatever.  I didn't want to read.  I didn't want to watch television.  I didn't want to work on photos for the surf series.  

"People don't know what they want," C.C. said when we were at lunch not long ago.  "They only know what they don't want."

"The trouble with people is that they don't know what they want," said my dead ex-friend Brando.  

I knew what I didn't want, sure.  I also knew what I wanted.  But knowing wasn't going to help me.  Nope.  No sir.  Not this night.  

I'd just have to succor myself that I wasn't the one in trouble with the long, slow arm of the law.  

Have you ever heard this one?  Ha!

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