“Hey, you can sit next to us if you want? You don’t have to sit way over there.” Her voice is luscious beauty, but as she lights my cigarette, I notice that she sure as hell isn’t. Her friend, buried in a dark-blue hood sitting in the shade of a sunny day, seems much more interesting.

“Sure, why not?” I close my book and take the seat away from the out-going girl, decide to take my chances and go ahead and sit right next to the mystery girl. Meredith, who moves like a girl I once knew and talks just as slowly, introduces herself immediately, accompanied by a limp handshake. Her mirrored sunglasses and pale skin complete the "recluse" look that she is undoubtedly not going for. She is on disability from Explosives Inc.

“Explosives, huh? For blowing up people, or for blowing up buildings?” I ask as if her answer doesn’t make the least bit of difference to me.

“Uh, um, it is primarily for military usage.”

“What do you think about that? The question is vague on purpose.”

She hesitates, “It’s cool, It’s a job.” Enough said.

On disability cause she visibly has the shakes, she is taking a medication of an unknown name. “The only thing I know is that it makes my toes, fingers, and mouth go numb.” That would explain the slow speech.

“Well, I’m going now," says the unattractive Philipino girl who first invited me to sit down, having actually never said a word to me after that. Within seconds, a cute, uppity counterpart to Meredith’s mellowness sits in the vacant seat.

“And I really don’t know where Neil is or why he wants to see me. And I have six hundred dollars now and can only spend twenty-three. All the rest is going to bills.”

As the newcomer takes a seat, Meredith replies, “That’s life.

“Yeah, it is. And you know, I still like it. I mean sure, I’m poor as fuck, but what are you gonna do? Hey have you seen Janet today?” Up to this point the twenty something redhead with chubby cheeks has yet to acknowledge my presence, which pleases me.

Meredith, who I have come to think of as a friendly vampire lurking in the background darkness of life, responds to the redhead, “Yeah, she’s in her van sleeping, the curtains are closed.”

“Don’t wanna wake her when the curtains are closed. I swear the last time I tried that I almost got a knife wound in the gut. I even knocked the secret code on her window before I opened it and everything.”

“Tell me about it," another man, tall in body but boyish in his face, walks up to the small metal table outside the local coffee shop. He is caring a beaten up Burger King bag, full of burgers left over from last night. He has only slept half an hour in the last twenty-four, but doesn’t do speed. “I think I am the only one who knows how to get Janet up. Anyone, else, and she’ll take the knife to them without opening her eyes.”

“And who is Janet?” I ask just to keep the conversation going.

“She, well, she used to sleep in her van. That one right there.” Meredith points with her index finger across the small parking lot to a fading gray, windowless van. “But, she is sleeping in it today as well.”

And a lull, a comfortable one.

“Oh, uh, I’m stupid. Where are my manners?” Meredith’s deep hum of a voice breaks the silence, “Ben, these are my friends; Jenny and Sammy.” Nice-to-meet-yous and such spread across the table and return.

“So. Jenny, What do you do?”

“Oh, I work at Mervyn’s. It’s a shit job, really. I am the ‘creative director’ for the whole store. Yeah, I know, it sounds exotic but I get paid shit and all I do is set up the displays. You know, should I put glasses with orange stripes or neon blue squares in the window display? Meanwhile everyone treats me like the store bitch and I can’t say no, or else I’ll lose my job. So I work twice as hard as anyone else.”

“Hey man, you a cop?” A tall guy with long dark hair, a darker goatee and thin, green hippie shades is standing behind Jenny.

“What?” I spit out with sincere incredulity.

“I said, are you a cop?”

Between laughs I look at him through a haze of green and respond, “Naw man, I ain’t a cop. But hey, why do you ask?”

Ignoring my question entirely, “You sure? You know if you a cop the law says you gotta tell me right now.”

“I know, I ain’t a cop. Way to stay on your toes, though.” Side note, if you ever want someone to keep talking, compliment them. Black Jesus, as I later find out his friends call him, takes the bait.

“Yeah man, you just can’t trust anybody these days. One time I sat down at a table with some of my friends, and we start talking about this huge nug that was in my dream. It was like this big and weighed like five pounds.”

He makes his left hand into a fist.

“Crazy dream.”

“Tell me about it. Anyway, within minutes this guy at another table leans over and puts me in handcuffs. Just for talking about it!”

“You fucking kidding me? He can’t do that. You had nothing on you, right?”

“Nothin'.”

“And he was Fairfield PD?”

“Yep. But, I mean, it worked out. After hassling me about ‘I know you got the dope man,’ and ‘hey buddy where the dope at,’ he let me go.” Black Jesus does a perfect impression of Sean Connery as the pestering cop. I don’t think he means it to be Sean Connery, so I leave the subject alone.

His name, incidentally, was given to him by a friend, who was pissed-off one day because Black Jesus wouldn’t give him a cigarette. His friend screamed at him, “You are such a stingy bitch. You like to parade around all day like you this kind-hearted, love the world mutha fucka, but you as tight as your momma’s asshole. You think you Jesus, but I think your a Black Jesus.” The name stuck. Black Jesus isn’t black. Go figure.

That story is told to me by Mitch, whom I initially peg for twenty-four or twenty-five, but later learn he’s only nineteen. Mitch had brought a chair over to the table just as Black Jesus was finishing up his cop story. They appear to be friends who have know each other for a while, judging by their synchronous hand shake and the laughs from Black Jesus at the telling of his aliasorigin. Covered with blistered zits or god knows what other puss-filled facial disaster, two old, ready eyes, and a blond pony tail that must have taken years to grow, it’s easy to see why I thought Mitch was in his twenties. Actually, I soon find out that all the people surrounding me are under twenty. Me being twenty-three, I feel old for the first time of my life.

Self-pity and other dastardly things aside, Mitch was homeless for a big part of his teenage life. “You know, every night a 5-O would wake me up and tell me to move on. Well, I got to thinking.” Mitch’s sky-blue eyes light up, and smile spreads across his cracked lips. “You know, why not stay as close to the cops as possible? It seemed to me that the farther I was from the police station, the less sleep I got. If you know what I mean? So you know, I up and slept on the roof of the Fairfield Police Station for three months.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“Nope, on my honor.” His stare is serious.

“That’s crazy man. I guess it makes sense, cause why would the 5-O’s look where they are trying to take you?”

“That’s what I was thinking. So check this. There is a giant pyramid shaped skylight that looks down from the roof into a side room of the police department. One night I was up there, when I hear some of em laughin’ and talkin’ shit. Stuff like, ‘Oh, little girl, I guess you're getting no money tonight.’ Shit like that. So, I climb over all McGuyver like.”

“That show was dope man. When I was in high school I would come home everyday and watch that shit,” Meredith, still to my right, reminisces. “Hey, Ben, you need a light?”

“In fact, yes I do.” It’s probably the cigarette dangling unused from my lips that gives her the hint. As she passes a small purple lighter into my hand, Mitch, to my left, continues his story.

“So yeah, when I look down onto the room, I see three uniformed cops and one alright-looking prostitute gathered in the center. The 5-O’s start talking to each other in whispered voices and pointing at this blondie with this banging body and face like mashed potatoes. You know, finally, one of em points at her and says, “Okay, we’ll let you walk away from here, but you got to do whatever we want.”

This time it is Jenny, far off to my right, who chimes in, “You’re fuckin’ kidding Mitch. There is just no way they could get away with that.”

Uh, um, I dunno Jenny, Fairfield Police do a lot of crazy shit,” pipes up this otherwise silent kid. The youngest looking of the group, Kevin has pale skin that accents his all black attire. Rollerblades hold his feet, and an unspent bullet hangs from a chain around his neck, which he constantly fondles and examines.

“Yeah, they do. So, you know, the bitch says yes. I mean, what else is she gonna do? Go to jail? So I sit there for at least an hour an watch this bitch open up every hole of her body to these fuckin’ pigs.”

“If only you had a video camera, you’d be a millionaire right now,” I add, not wanting to question the validity of the story.

“You know, don’t think that I haven’t wished for that at least a hundred times since. They were going at it for so long that I could have easily ran down to the 7-11, picked up one of those disposable cameras, and then ran back.”

“Why didn’t you, Mitch?” Jenny again, obviously doubting his tale.

Mitch smiles as he looks at all the guys in the group, “You know, when you see three cops going at some bitch, your mind just kinda turns off.”

“I hear you,” comes out of the mouths of at least three of us.

And a lull. An erotically sickening one.

Kevin chimes in to shatter the newborn silence, “Yeah, like I said, Fairfield Police are some crazy mother fuckers. I got a story, too. Uh, um, It’s a little happier.”

“Here’s a light.” Meredith offers her purple lighter again. I’m an addict.

“Yeah, so, one day me and a couple of friends are just skating outside the Walmart downtown, when this cop roles up on us and calls us over. He gets out of the car, opens up the back door, and simply tells us to get in. Now, uh, um, I was young, like fifteen or something, and so we all just piled in. No questions asked. In silence we drive all the way outside of town and up to the dam. By the time we got there, I swear someone had shit their pants cause it fuckin’ stank.”

“Ahh, come on Kevin, we all know it was you,” Black Jesus interjects with a grin.

Shut up. Uh, um, anyway, we get to the top of the dam and it is just dark as fuck. The cop stops the car, opens the door for us, and tells us to get out. I mean, we were just scared shitless by this time. Uh, um, pun intended." We all laugh.

So, this 5-O opens up the trunk, and inside it is at least a kilo of some serious chronic, along with a couple of glass bongs and a pipe or two.”

Seized, no doubt,” I guess out loud.

“For sure. So, uh, um, he opens up one of the bags, packs this huge bowl, and we all sit there and get stoned out of our minds. We must have smoked up there for at least an hour. When the 5-O finally decides he’s finished, he puts us back, all chinese-eyed in the car and drops us off back at Walmart. And that’s that.” Once his story is finished, he resumes inspecting his bullet.

“You told me that one before. That is some crazy shit. I swear all the police in Fairfield toke. It's so boring here, what else are they gonna do?” Meredith mumbles to everyone as she lights a cigarette.

In turn, all of them, except Jenny, agree with her and admit that Kevin’s story isn’t so far fetched. My mind is blown, so I go back inside, take a piss in a clean bathroom, and order another cup of coffee.