When I get into the lobby a crowd has formed. Boyfriend has come-to and is choking girlfriend on the baroque sofa. He’s wearing white underwear only. I see Kathy. We start toward the sofa. Kathy creeps up on him and touches his shoulder. He unfurls like a snake, landing a closed-fist blow to the side of Kathy’s head.
My heart thuds.
If I thought I would have had a better chance to act, I might have hesitated, but suddenly I have boyfriend in a serious headlock. He beats on my ribcage. I slam him into the near wall and we both go to the ground. Where’s back-up? Why is everyone watching me and not helping? Where are the cops? Somehow I’ve landed on top of boyfriend. Pinning this guy is terribly awkward. Being on him is like riding a tremendous female leatherback turtle, postpartum, as she makes her instinctive dash for the sea. And he stinks. He smells like Velveeta and arm pit. My hand has already slipped into that arm pit several times and is now shiny with brine. I hear the cheap material under my own arm pit tear away from the greater garment. He’s tiring. I can feel the musculature relaxing in his back. “Where are the cops?” I yell at last, a note of terror bleeding into the question, reminding me that this has rattled me, that I made a lucky move, that this guy, had he not been so blitzed on whatever, could have seriously damaged this shuttle-driving faux monk writer.
From the corner of one fiery eyeball I see the cops. Thank God. Euphoria washes over me. It feels heroic to be found victorious in the throes of a citizen’s arrest. But then the cop roars: “Which one is it?” and my heart almost stops. I realize that we both look like criminals, I in my ragged holy man’s attire, he, shirtless and piebald with blotches, hickeys, and scratches.
“Not the monk,” someone yells. I want to reward that person. Come ye, come ye and receive your holy stipend!
The cops dive onto us. I’m eye to eye with the butt of a large hand gun. I begin to worm my way out. Doing so removes the costume. Inch by inch, I molt back into my khakis and navy polo shirt. I rise. A woman commends me as I pass. I attempt a smile but grimace instead. My mouth feels unnatural, smacked.
In the office, Kathy and I hug. I slip into the bathroom and wash my arms up to elbows, the way I’ve seen surgeons do in sitcoms. I wash my face. My eyes. My hair.
The police want to speak with me. They need a statement. I notice the officer’s cheap little pad and pen. I judge these because they are my tools of the trade. They are things no one seems to care about but I have purchased in bulk, with careful attention to color, tip size, rule, and bond. I am not so particular about anything else.
The officer jots. The pen stops working. He apologizes and scribbles in the corner to revive the ink. I want to say something. I want to rant about ballpoint pens. I want to share my frustration. But the ink returns. “There,” he says, and I proceed.
There’s a six-pack of Blue Point beer in the fridge. I always imagine myself coming home after a long night and cracking a cold one but mostly I just come home and sit in my chair for a good twenty minutes thinking. Tonight, I’m aroused by a thought. My statement: they’re going to publish it.
Next Thursday I can’t find the newspaper anywhere in Montauk. I’ve gone to Ronnie’s, the Corner Store, Martell’s, the IGA. In White’s department store the cashier says the paper doesn’t arrive until ten. I look at my watch. I can’t think of anything in the world I want to do for the next two hours.
When I get the paper I read each incident. It’s almost entirely DWI’s. I spend two seconds on each word, savoring it, trying not to read ahead. I realize the names of the offending men and women often use their middle initial. I start to lose patience and accelerate my reading. I find it. An employee of the hotel was able to restrain the man until police arrived. This can’t be right. An employee? That could be anyone. I remember the officer’s impotent plastic pen. His affectless scribbles. People don’t realize the importance of a good pen. I worry he couldn’t read his own writing. An employee of the hotel. Why can’t I get used to this? Must I drink and drive? My name isn’t here. They didn’t publish it.
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