“Don’t worry, Sallie.”
Ethan reached over and touched Sal’s arm. “They just want to scare us.”
“They’re doing a fucking good job,” said Sal. Ethan breathed a sigh of relief; he knew Sal was okay for now.
“Hey, shut up back there,” yelled the gorilla in gray.
A few minutes after they got to the station, another officer led them into a small windowless room, empty except for large green metal desk and three black dented folding chairs. “Empty your pockets on the desk. Where were you boys going in such a damn hurry?”
“Cape Cod,” Sal stuttered, his whole body shaking, “we’re on vacation from school.”
The Lieutenant rifled through their wallets. He examined the little scraps of notepaper that Ethan kept in his wallet—ideas for songs that he would scribble down. The cop scratched his head. They both waited silently.
The room was small and stifling. Through a window in the metal door Ethan watched an off-duty cop talking with a young, pretty secretary. The secretary was wearing a short green plaid skirt and a white blouse. Her straight, blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail, her eyes were soft blue and crinkled when she smiled. The cop was young and good-looking too, with jet black hair that was almost normal length. It was all very casual and summery and flirty.
Ethan longed to be back in that world — the world on the other side of the locked door. The Sargent moved forward, his chair settling on the floor, his elbows planted on the cold table. He turned to Ethan, then tilted his head toward the two talking outside.
“That’s there is Mandy you’re lookin at fella. She’s our part time secretary here. Pretty thing ain’t she? ‘Bout your age, I guess.” A crooked smiled crossed his face. “They’re probably discussin’ the upcoming Fourth of July shindig. Big thing around these parts. You boys wouldn’t be carrying any Fireworks in that auto back there would ya’?”
“Or Marijuana?” He turned to Sal. You a pot smoker son?”
Sal shook his head.
He turned back to Ethan and looked at the unfolded scraps of paper. “Ya’ two must be smokin’ something to be writin’ this nonsense.”
The Trooper turned his attention back to the young secretary.
“Ain’t it just a killer? One minute you’re riding in a car with your buddies, singing and talking and laughing – and the next minute you’re being held prisoner. And there you are, behind that ole locked door, listening to some guy talk up a real cutie—just like you might if you had the chance. Why he ain’t even as good lookin’ as you, is he now?”
“I don’t know,” said Ethan.
“I guess maybe you do, though I can’t see why any girl would be interested in someone with hair like you got.” The cop stood up. “You look like a fucking girl. Maybe you like boys better, that it?”
“No. I like girls.”
“You college kids are too much. You think you own the whole God-damn world. You got it so damn easy. They should make ya spend a little time in the Army before you get to lollygag on campus all day and suck titty all night.” He stopped short, as if an idea just hit him hard. “You both registered for the draft?”
“Yes sir,” they both said in unison.
“It’d make men outta ya, that’s for sure.” He slapped his giant paw on the table, and stood up.
“Okay you guys, this is your lucky day. I’m gonna let you go.”
“What about Jake?” asked Sal.
The Sargent took a thick stack of forms from the side table and started doing his paperwork. The papers were an inch thick, with three sets of yellow, white and blue paper. He worked for a full five minutes, diligently signing sheets and crossing things out, then he turned his attention back to the two boys.
“He won’t be joining you and you can’t see him.”
He got up, put on his hat and carefully placed the leather strap under his giant chin.
“I’m personally taking you over to the next town, where you can catch a bus home, or wherever you’re going. But if I see you hitch-hiking anywhere in my territory, I will arrest you, and I will get your parents to come up and get you boys the fuck out of here.”
He gave Ethan back his wallet but held on to Sal’s.
“And I may be mistaken, but I’d imagine that would piss them off. Coming all the way from,” he looked at Sal’s license, “Floral Park, Looong Island.” He stretched the words out in his bad attempt at a Jewish accent. Then he smiled. Finally, the cop handed Sal his wallet.
Ten minutes later Sal and Ethan were in back of the cruiser driving toward downtown Cranston. When they reached the entrance of the Bus Depot, the big man got out of the front seat and opened the back door.
They bolted to the sidewalk as the burly man threw their bags onto the curb, got back inside and drove off without another word. Ethan grabbed both bags, both guitars, and Sal. He pulled his buddy across the street and stuck his thumb out.
“Fuck them,” Ethan said. Sal stood by unable to speak; the acid had finally kicked in.