Pawn Takes King Part 8

Donnie's dreams were interrupted rudely by a tap on the driverside window. Donnie felt bright light flaring against his closed eyelids. Oh no. This could only mean one thing. Donnie rose to a sitting position, and was face to face with the police officer.
    Donnie hurriedly rolled down the crank windows. The incessant chirping of crickets spills into the cabs silence.
    "License and Registration please," the cops asks blandly. Donnie feels flustered. Gus had all that information and he was passed out in back. Was it illegal to live in your car? Apparently Donnie and Gus would both find out.
    "I--it's not my vehicle," Donnie stammers. The cop frowns.
"Then whose is it?" the officer asks sternly. There is a thump from the back of the Blazer and the cops light snaps towards that direction.
    "Who else is with you here?" the cop asks sternly. Donnie is in a panic. No longer asleep, he vividly remembers all the illegal drugs he carries in his pockets currently. If the cop searches him, it's game over.
    "Please exit the vehicle, sir" the cop says while taking a step back. He puts a hand lightly onto his service pistol, and unsnaps the holster. Dread bleeds inside Donnie, pouring into every crevice of his being. Smokey's name was all over those prescription bottles. Donnie had never even bothered to dispose of them, a fact which he contributed to his coma-like drug daze.
    Donnie's feet feel like 80 pound weights as he swings them out onto the pavement. He moves slowly, hoping the pill bottles in his hooded sweatshirt will not shake and rattle, thus drawing attention. Gus distracts the cop sufficiently to keep all focus on him. The tailgate swings down with a loud boom. Gus' snorting and heavy breathing convey his struggle to exit. The cops light is blinding to the recently awakened transient man. Gus holds one hand up to shield his eyes, the other grasps a cigarette between two fingers.
    "How can I help you, officer?" Gus says with a sleep-thickened voice.
    "Yes, you can start by giving me your license and registration." the cop says.
    Gus nods and squints against the cop cruiser's huge fog light. The cherries of the squad car swirl lazily, lighting everything rhythmically. Having located his wallet, Gus hands over his ID.
    "This isn't revoked, or anything if I check, is it?" The cop says, waving the plastic drivers license in his hand. Gus assures him it's all kosher.
    The cop indeed checks, along with Gus' criminal background. Everything comes back clean. Donnie and Gus stand leaning against the tailgate and holding their breath.
    The cop returns, handing Gus back his license.
    "Are you guys camping out, or what? Did you do some drinking tonight, and decided to sleep it off?"
    "I swear to you, officer, I haven't had a drop this evening," Gus says emphatically, "I'm wiling to take a breathalyzer, too."
    The cop turns towards Donnie, who hasn't said nary a word, and currently looks deathly pale.
    "What about you?" the cops asks Donnie, "what's your name?"
    "You had anything to drink tonight, Donnie?"
    "No, sir"
    "I'd like for you to take a breathalyzer for me, okay?"
    "No problem, officer."
    Donnie sidles as lightly as he can. He can feel the pills shift in their containers. To him, it seems incredibly loud. It was like the Telltale Heart. The Telltale Pills.
    Donnie blows into the contraption, which whistles audibly with his breath. It's like a strange carnival guessing game, or something. Guess your intoxication. If you win, it's freedom, if you lose, jailtime. But Donnie had not drank anything either.
His stress was geared more toward the illegal Oxy-Contin on his person.
    The cop checks the readout on the breathalyzer. He switches it off once the reading is noted.
    "Tell me what you two are doing out here." The cop says. It is not a question, but a command.
    Donnie shrugs. His mind works fastest when he is in trouble, or near risk. He debated lying to the cop, but it was probably just easiest to fess up to what must be already apparent.
    "We're both homeless," Donnie says in a hushed voice. The cop leans forward to hear better.
    "Homeless?" he says, somewhat surprised, "you're just a kid. How old are you?"
    "I'm gonna be 20 here in a few weeks," Donnie says.
    The cop scoffs and shakes his head in disbelief. "19 years old, and running around wild on the streets? Are you in trouble, son?"
    Donnie is taken aback by this forthright question. The cop had a vague sense of what motivated those to desperate choices. Donnie considered for a brief millisecond. Perhaps he could tell the cop everything, not just about being a bum, but EVERYTHING. Donnie could slap those pill bottles down on the squad car and surrender.
    But he didn't.
    "I got in a fight with my mother, and she kicked me out." Donnie lies.
    "Fight? What kinda fight? Did you get physical?" the cop inquires.
    "No, me and her boyfriend don't get along. We had shouting matches, that's it. My mom got sick of it, and I left to prevent any other trouble."
    "What's your last name?"
    "Grieves. Donald Grieves. What's yours?"
    "I'm officer Burrish. Let me have your ID for a second. Stay here for now. Don't go anywhere."
    Donnie's throat tightens up. The cop obviously was going to do a background check. Donnie had no record, at least not yet. Something told him that being homeless would bring him into constant contact with the police.
    What was most ironic was that although Donnie couldn't touch his supply of opiates, he wanted nothing more than to pop one down his gullet right now. He could deal with the cop no problem then. He would be a champ.
    "Okay, here's your license back," officer Burrish says calmly, "if I wanted to be a dick, I could give you both tickets for loitering, or something like that. There's always an excuse."
    Donnie's breath catches. Here it comes. More doom thrown Donnie's way.
    "But my advice to both you knuckleheads is to get with one of the homeless shelters around here. There's been a string of robberies lately. It's not safe. Times are desperate, and there's lots of crazy stuff going on nowadays."
    "The shelters are getting pretty full," Gus comments, "I looked into it some. There's a month-long back log just to get seen for an interview with them."
    "Well, get on the list then," Burrish says bluntly, "I don't want to see either of you two jokers get hurt out here."
    Donnie is flabbergasted. This cop was actually a cool dude. Donnie began to look at officer Burrish as a person, not just a figure of authority, something flat and dull. Burrish's grey eyes were sharpened not by suspicion, but by sympathy. Donnie could see various gray hairs sprouting up through Officer Burrish's chestnut colored hair. There was a wedding ring on Burrish's hand. It glinted in the light of the maglight like the pulse of a marriage. Donnie realized Burrish had a family that would be devastated if he was gunned down, or injured in the line of duty.
    Gus tries to get on Burrish's good side, so he asks about the robberies. Burrish does not have much to divulge, other than to say they have their suspects. He asks about a guy named Jessie Baxter. It is Donnie's first utterance of the name. Donnie said he didn't know the dude, which was true at the time. But Donnie and Jessie would soon be on speaking terms soon enough. Burrish stated his suspicions that Jessie was relocating from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City, to dodge some of the heat from police.
    "One other thing, son," Burrish says, as he pauses by his open squad-car door. Donnie freezes. Now the hammer would fall.
    "Your fly is down." Burrish says. He gets back into his car, kills the sirens, and flips a U-turn outta there. Donnie hoped he would never have to face Burrish when he had his gun drawn. But Donnie still did not refuse the possibility he might commit crimes.


Uploaded 10/01/2012
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