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August 25, 2023 by Harvey
Again, a story from Eric Stringer, my strainge-fiction persona…
Y’know, I ain’t sure how it happened, really.
I swear, Bobby and me was just talkin’ when some lady screamed. ‘Least it sounded like a lady. But I didn’t see her or nothin’.
Anyways, that screamin’, that made me look around right quick. So I did.
An’ I stared ‘cause I couldn’t believe it myself. Some maniac’s bearin’ down on me in a big ol’ truck. A truck! Here, y’know?
An’ I yelled, “Hey, what the hell?” y’know? Which completely chapped Bobby’s backside ‘cause he was right in the middle of a story about him and Jolene Murphy.
Yeah yeah, Bobby.
Robert? I guess. I always known him as Bobby. You know, since the old days when we was kids in school.
An’ Bobby, see, his best stories are about that time with Jolene Murphy, y’know? An’ I don’t like missin’ one’a them ‘cause Bobby, he’s pretty good at tellin’ stories. I mean, I was there, you know, but Bobby’s stories are the best. ‘Specially ones about him an’ women. An’ ‘specially ones about him an’ Jolene.
Hey, you don’t happen’a know Jolene, do you? ‘Cause, you know, I don’t wanna say anything about you people. I got Irish friends too, y’know. I don’t wanna say somethin’ you might take the wrong way.
No? Okay then.
So like I said, I looked around and yelled.
But the guy, he kept comin’, y’know? An’ he was leanin’ up in the seat, sort’a. You know.
Okay. Well, leanin’ up in the seat an’ kind’a back, y’know? Only it took me a second to notice, ‘cause when I looked around, all I could see at first was the front’a the truck.
It was huge. Like one’a them 250s or 350s or somethin’. Yeah, Ford I think. Yeah, ‘cause it had that little blue thing in the front. You know, like a long circle. An’ it had Ford in it.
An’ then I guess my eyes jumped upwards or somethin’ an’—
What? The grill? I’m tellin’ you this thing about what this guy done, an’ you wanna know about the grill?
Okay, okay. The grill was chrome. Prob’ly plastic, you know. ‘Cause that’s what they make ‘em out of now, but it was colored chrome. I mean, I couldn’t swear in court it was chrome or plastic unless I got to tap it with a fingernail or a quarter or somethin’.
But anyways, it was chrome colored. Okay?
So then my eyes kind’a—
What? Oh, the color of the truck. Right. Hey, wasn’t you listenin’? The thing was bearin’ down on me! I just now told you all I could see was the front at first, right?
Oh, the hood. Yeah yeah, okay. The hood is on the front, sort of. Yeah, I think the hood was white.
What? Whaddya mean, regular white or pearlized? I don’t know from pearlized. What’s pearlized, y’know? It was white, that’s all. Just white. Well, except for the bugs stuck on the front of it. You know.
Hey, what kind’a luck you gotta have to be one bug outta billions’a bugs an’ get stuck on the front of a truck, eh? That’d be a rough way to go, am I right?
An that’s what that guy was tryin’a do to me too, I guess. I guess he was tryin’a make me a bug.
Hey, you ain’t gonna wanna know what kind’a bugs was stuck on there are you? Or if they got wings an’ all that?
No? Good. ‘Cause I wasn’t payin’ that close attention.
Hey, c’mon. I’m just screwin’ with you, man. I knew you didn’t wanna know nothin’ about the bugs an’ all that.
But I tell you what. I was smart, I wouldn’a seen nothin’ ‘cause I’d’a been movin’ too fast to notice, y’know what I mean?
No? Hey, you ever had a truck bearin’ down on you, you’d know what I mean. You’d know then all right.
Bumper? Seriously? You’re askin’ me did the guy have a bumper? ‘Course he had a bumper. All trucks got bumpers, right?
Well, yeah. Okay, he had a bumper. Well, the truck, you know. The truck had a bumper. Prob’ly it had one’a them black strips across it, you know. Long ways in the middle.
Do I know for sure?
Whaddaya mean, did I see it or didn’t I see it? I been tryin’a tell you, haven’t I? You gonna do your job an’ nail this guy, or what?
Yeah, okay, okay. You know, whatever. The truck had a black strip, long ways on the bumper, a’right? Prob’ly more comfortable for whoever he was gonna bump off. Get it? Bumper? Bump off?
Aw c’mon. That was funny.
Sure it was.
Well, you know. Not for me at the time, but in general that was funny.
What? What kind’a headlights? Whaddo I know from headlights? It had headlights, okay? A’course it had headlights.
What? Round or square? You’re screwin’ with me now, right? Gettin’ me back for—
No? They make ‘em square now? You gotta be bullshittin’ me.
Yeah, you know. They might’a been square. I don’t know. Prob’ly they were round though.
No, I don’t know for sure. I told you that.
Look, you ain’t gotta like me, but if you do your job you gotta help me, right?
I wasn’t payin’ attention to the headlights or the bumper or the hood, y’know? An’ I only noticed the grill ‘cause I thought I was gonna be wearin’ it for a shirt.
Jacked up? The truck?
No, it wasn’t jacked up. It was on all four wheels an’ it was bearin’ down on me, a’right? Hey, earth to detective. You in there or what?
Oh, you mean like lifts? So you mean was it raised up. Why didn’t you say so?
Yeah, y’know. Come to think of it, maybe it was raised up some like that. ‘Cause the bumper, it would’a been at about my belt. Yeah, that’s why I said I might be gonna wear the grill as a shirt, see.
Okay, so the grill was chrome colored an’ the hood was white an’ bug colored an’ maybe the truck was higher up than some other trucks, y’know? So what? Look, is that it? Can I go now? ‘Cause I wanna get back to Bobby an’ that story he was tellin’ about—
Oh. Yeah. After I tell you about the driver. Right. Hey, I forgot.
Like I was sayin’, Bobby was tellin’ a story, y’know? An’ I think he was just gettin’ to the juicy part. Which I remember, ‘cause it was sweet. But I still like to hear Bobby tell it.
But then I heard the broad screamin’ an’ I turned around, see. An’ that’s when I seen the guy in the truck. Okay? You with me now?
Okay, so the guy was kind’a leanin’ up. Like he wasn’t sittin’ on the seat like people do when they’re drivin’, y’know?
He was kind’a leanin’ up an’—
No, he wasn’t leanin’ forward. Like I said, he was leanin’ up. Up! You know, like up off the seat. Like he was pushin’ his feet hard against the floor or somethin’.
Oh. Yeah, I guess he could’a been pushin’ hard on the gas pedal. That makes sense. Hey, that might’a been it. It definitely wasn’t pushed against the brake, eh? I’ll tell you that for sure. Guy was outta his mind, the way he was comin’ at me.
Anyways, it was like his butt was up off the seat, y’know? An’ he had both hands on the steering wheel, up on top, see. I could tell that too, ‘cause I seen his fingers an’ his knuckles.
Yeah, they was white. Like strained white, right? You know what I mean.
Hey, maybe his knuckles was pearlized, eh? Pearlized. I think maybe you made that up just to screw with me.
Yeah, well, that would’a been a good one. But I still kind’a think maybe you did. Hey, I got a dictionary back in the apartment, y’know? So we’ll see.
The guy? What guy?
Oh, yeah yeah. The guy in the truck.
Well, he had blonde hair, see.
‘Cause he wasn’t wearin’ no hat. That’s how I could see.
Yeah. So he had blonde hair an’ it was cut real short on top. You know, flat. Yeah, like a flat top. An’ he had on a t-shirt, I think. Just a white one, you know, like us normal people wear for a undershirt. An’ he—
What? No, no it had sleeves, but just real short, right? Like on a t-shirt. See, that’s why I said he was wearin’ a t-shirt.
Yeah, I guess maybe I’m gettin’ smart. But I guess one of us got to.
Whaddyou mean, whaddo I mean? C’mon, that was a stupid question, did it have sleeves. All t-shirts got sleeves unless the guy cuts ‘em off, right? An’ then that ain’t a t-shirt no more.
They call that like a wife-beater or somethin’ like that.
Yeah, I know it’s stupid, but I didn’t make it up. I’m just tellin’ you that’s just what they call ‘em.
Hey, wait a minute. Why you tellin’ me somethin’s stupid, eh? You’re a cop, right?
Okay then, detective. Whatever. The point is, cops ain’t supposed to go around tellin’ people things are stupid, right? You just ask questions. An’ then if the other guy says somethin’ stupid, you just ignore it. You don’t go around tellin’ a guy somethin’s stupid. That’s like Cop 101 or somethin’.
Yeah, right. Oh, maybe you was out that day, eh?
See? Now you’re crackin’ wise. Cops ain’t supposed to be crackin’ wise either.
Yeah, okay. Whatever. An’ whatever back at you.
So where was I?
Yeah, I know I was standin’ over there with Bobby. That ain’t what I meant an’ you know it. I meant where was I in the story?
What story? The story about the guy in the truck was bearin’ down on me an’ all that.
What story! You gotta lotta nerve, you know that? You drag me through all this stuff about the grill an’ the color of the hood and was the truck jacked up an’ all that, an’ the whole time you wasn’t even listenin’. What is it witchu? You get a free day from the asylum or somethin’?
What’d the guy look like? Whaddyou mean, what’d the guy look like? I was tryin’a tell you what the guy looked like when you started bein’ a jerk with all the “What story” stuff an’ askin’ me if t-shirts got sleeves an’ goats got teats an’ all that. Come’a think of it I don’t know you’re a cop at all.
Yeah, or a detective. Whatever.
For all I know I died back there an’ you’re Saint Peter, tryin’a keep me from gettin’ in. C’mon man, just knock off the—
What? Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah, I can calm down.
Yeah, okay, I’ll focus. Whatever you say. You know. Hey, y’know, you got a pretty voice for a cop.
Okay, so what’d the guy look like. We’re back to that now.
Okay, he had that flat top blonde hair, like I said.
Yeah, an’ a t-shirt with sleeves. Okay? So we don’t have to go down that road again.
An’ he had on a pair’a them— whaddya call ‘em, like trousers but not really, y’know? Like dungarees or somethin’ like that.
Yeah, yeah. Blue jeans. Heh. But broads wear jeans, am I right? Men wear pants or trousers. Broads wear jeans.
But he was wearin’ them blue jeans an’ he had on a pair’a them big thick work boots, y’know?
Wait. Wait. The guy was wearin’ work boots.
How do I know that?
“Hey, how can I know that? How the hell can I know that?
“Hey, where you goin’? You gotta finish askin’ me questions, right?
“Hey, come back. Hey! Hey, officer! Hey, come back!
“C’mon, man, I was just screwin’ with you like you was screwin’ with me! Hey, c’mon man. You can’t just walk out on a active investigation, right? That’s what you call it, right? When you’re talkin’ with a witness who’s all tore up?
“Come back! Hey, come back! Can’t you see I’m hurt here? Can’t you see I’m all tore up? Hey!
The nurse touched the shoulder of the man on the bed. “Mr. Roselli? Mr. Roselli, can you hear me? It’s all right, sir. Just calm down.”
“Calm down? You say calm down? Hey, where the hell did you go? You want me to calm down, tell me where you went, eh? Where are you?
“Hey, you can’t just walk out on a guy and then tell’im’a calm down! ‘Specially when he can’t see you! Hey, c’mon back, man! Officer? Hey, c’mon back! You gotta help me! I can calm down! Hey, I’ll calm down an’ just finish tellin’ you, okay?
“Hey, I wanna get this over with anyways, right? I wanna go home an’ look up that stupid word you made up! What was it again? Pearlized?
“I don’t— Was it pearlized? Pearl eyes? Hey, was it pearl eyes?
“Hey, that Jolene, you know. Bobby said she got eyes like pearls an’ he was right. He said they’d pop. Said they’d pop like pearls, you know.
“Outta one’a them things. Outta one’a them— Whadda they call it? Whadda they call them things got pearls?
“Is that it? Hey, is that what you was talkin’ about? Is that it? Hey, is that—”
Is that what you was talkin’ about?
Was you talkin’ about that worthless little slut Jolene an’ her pearl eyes? Them things popped outta her skull like pearls’d prob’ly pop out of’a oyster.
Hey, that’s what’s got pearls, right? Oysters?
Hey, is that what you was talkin’ about?
Is that it?
The nurse looked up. “Doctor, he’s fading again.
“Doctor, he’s unresponsive. Shall I get the crash cart?
“Doctor? Sir, you know I need oral confirmation.
A long moment later, the doctor peeled off his gloves and tugged his mask down hard.
He looked at the nurse. “Yes, nurse, I know you need oral confirmation. No, don’t get the crash cart. Time of death: 6:34 p.m.” He turned to walk out of the room.
But he stopped just short of the door and turned around. He gestured toward the bed. “Do you know who that was, nurse?”
Quietly, she said, “Yes sir.”
“That punk piece of garbage was Vicente Roselli.”
“Understand, we have no secrets here. You do whatever you feel is necessary. Let your conscience be your guide.” He glanced at the man on the bed. “He and that thug friend raped and murdered my niece.” He looked at the nurse. “Do you understand?”
He glanced at the body again, then back at the nurse. “They treated her like a slab of meat. They disfigured that beautiful girl for fun. And they walked out of court on a technicality.”
He paused and looked at the man on the bed again. “I wish my brother hadn’t run you down, Mr. Roselli. I wish it had been me.”
He looked at the nurse again. “As I said, follow your conscience. I thought I was okay. But when he said her name out loud—”
He threw the gloves in the trash can and walked out.
* * * * * * *