Monday, January 12, 2004

Waiting For A Policeman Day!

Mrs. Elizabeth Roundtree sits beside her husband on the front porch of his newly rented Los Angeles home at 2:45 in the morning. There’s a cigarette between her fingertips. Her husband’s fingertips are empty.

"I shouldn’t take this as a sign right?" she asks her husband.

The street is the emptiest they’ve ever seen it. Car lights travel towards them once every million years, driving slowly. Letting them hope for far too long that this is it, the police are finally here. They’ll take our statements. They’ll crack wise about there being no chance in hell of ever finding the guys who did this. They’ll get a call on their radio about "a 327 in progress" or some other number that stands for a far more exciting crime than a burglary. And they’ll rush off pining for gunplay.

"It's kind of lucky," says Daniel Prekop, Mrs. Elizabeth Roundtree's husband. "We needed something to talk about."

Elizabeth says that she feels "violated." Daniel says that his "whole life was on that computer." Elizabeth says that she's "surprised they didn't take the VCR." Daniel says that they must have been able to tell it was a "piece of crap." Elizabeth and Daniel laugh loud enough to drown out the word that's screaming through both of their heads. "Suitcases."

"Good thing we shipped your books ahead," says Daniel.

"'DOS For Dummies' is waiting safe and sound for me to arrive," says Elizabeth. "I wanna go inside for a second but I don't wanna put out my cigarette. Cool?"

She's already standing, ready to go in. Daniel smiles up at her; smoke where you wanna. Tonight is all about lawlessness. The hem of her dress is at his mouth. She always had real long legs.

They haven't had sex. Not since she moved in. But she walks around in her underwear and a tee shirt and his dick gets hard every ten seconds. He's been masturbating into the toilet twice, sometimes three times a day so they can continue to lay in bed together without him sliding his legs around on the sheets.

The day she moved in, Daniel put a folded bed sheet on the couch. It's still there, still folded. Even the burglars didn't disturb it. They want to share the bed. They want to fall asleep together and wake up together and they don't want to have to talk about it. It would be the saddest thing in the world to enter her these days.

Inside Elizabeth's kicked some picture frames and broken glass to make a clean circle on the rug where she can sit Indian style. She wishes it were messier. The way a house looks when someone's searching for stolen diamonds or microchips. Torn up chair cushions. Smashed open grandfather clocks.

Here, all she gets is some wires dangling where electronics were attached. Some tumbled knick-knacks. Muddy footprints and the aforementioned broken glass. A drinking glass that got knocked from the mantle. Just an accident. Sorry 'bout that. Love, The Burglars.

This stuff is all his so she can't break it. Two months ago it was still in their apartment. It was theirs. But now it's his, it's what he took. She can't sweep everything from atop the folding table, lift the table by two of its legs and swing it against the wall, toss it through the picture window. Even though they used to use it as a breakfast table. Now it's his desk.

She has to settle for this mess. It's good enough. It's comforting to sit amidst disarray. The air is good. It would be better if the burglars had been kind enough to piss on something. But she's breathing better tonight. She might even sleep without taking a pill.

"Bless this mess," she says out loud. She leans her head out beyond her calves and lets a wad of spit dribble from her lips into a little dark puddle on the carpet.

"Honey," Daniel calls. The policeman is here.

Daniel's on the lawn talking to him when she comes to the door. The policeman's black. Daniel's white. The policeman has a notepad in his hand. Daniel has Elizabeth's pack of cigarettes in his. She wants one.

"My computer. Um, the TV. My printer too. Two suitcases."


Elizabeth takes the cigarettes from Daniel's hand and decides to enjoy herself. "I'm going to New York in the morning."

"In the suitcases? Just clothes?"

The smile Daniel gives his wife asks her what game she's going to play. He tells the policeman, "And three thousand dollars cash."

Elizabeth lets fly a belly laugh.

"Three thousand."

"I didn't want to forget it," says Elizabeth, taking a deep breath. "So I rolled it up and put it in the suitcase. There was also a um…" She lights a cigarette and drags deeply, Daniel knows, to keep from laughing in the policeman's face. "There was also a hair dryer. In the other suitcase."

"What time'd you get home?"

"Around 12:30," says Daniel.

"Where were you?"

"Dinner. At Mao Palace in the Valley."

"It was a special occasion," Elizabeth says, dragging from the cigarette.

"What's the occasion?"

Daniel's eyes beg her to stop. "Her um…Her New York trip. Tomorrow."

"Your name ma'am?" The policeman has by now decided to spend as little time as he can with these two people.

Daniel can see Elizabeth is holding back gale force laughter. Standing side-by-side with Daniel and talking to people has been troublesome for Elizabeth of late. "Mrs. Elizabeth Roundtree," she says.

"Mr. Roundtree, has your house been burglarized before?"

Elizabeth takes five steps away from Daniel and stands facing a bush. Daniel now has a very big grin on his face. "My name isn't Roundtree. It's Daniel Prekop."

"Your wife kept her name?"

"Yes," Daniel says. Tonight might be the last night he can see her laugh. "And she'll keep on keeping it too."

Elizabeth laughs so hard she's doubled over, coughing into the bush. Daniel watches her, smiling at her, keeping his eyes away from the policeman who has placed his hand on his nightstick.

"Go in the house. Drink some water," Daniel shouts at his wife. She runs inside.

The policeman waits. "Sorry," says Daniel. "We're getting divorced. She's moving to New York."

The policeman lowers his eyes to his notepad and writes something. Daniel peers over the pad to see what he's writing, but he can't make it out. When the policeman stops writing, he gives Daniel a card with a number to call and then drives away.

Inside Elizabeth lay in bed with a lit cigarette in her hand, resting on her forehead. She's done laughing. Daniel gets in bed beside her. He won't need to masturbate tonight. He's not going to get hard. Tonight's a special occasion.

"My money," Elizabeth says.

"I can take out five hundred tomorrow. I'll write you a check for more."

"But that's your money."

Daniel's hands are on his belly. "I don't need it. Pay me back if you want."

She puts her cigarette out in a beer bottle by the bed. She rolls over to face him, folding her hands in the space between them. "I will. I think I'm supposed to."

The light's still on. They're going to stay up. Only five hours left before they leave for the airport.

Happy Waiting For A Policeman Day!