Fifteen.

 Joe Plays Cop

One morning, we got high behind the Bingo Hall near the Giant. Edie pinched weed from her mom’s stash, and Half Pint rolled it into a joint. Joe wasn’t there yet, so we smoked a little more. Before long, we were too stoned to go to school. So we decided to go to Loch Raven Dam.

Mom called it “Spring Fever,” and I had it bad. Every spring, as soon as it got warm I couldn’t focus on anything but being outside. And smoking weed just made it worse. The last place I wanted to be in spring, while stoned, was in school. There was only one thing I thought about more than being outside in spring.

Thank God for girls. If they weren’t at school, I wouldn’t have been either. And the warmer it got, the less they wore. It was the sweetest torture. I called it lifting myself up by the boob strap: an invisible steel cable that locked my eyes, mind and boner on their bodies. The cable was just long enough to keep my thoughts captive at night and just strong enough to get me out of bed the next morning.

Some days I only went to school because of  Lisa’s Jordache jeans, or Jenny’s lacrosse skirt, or Crystal’s…ah, Crystal,…such a good girl,…so pure,…so sweet,…a church girl,…so kind to everyone, and gentle…She did well in school and was always nice to me…God she had great tits…

“Mann, pass the fucking joint.” Edie reached over and took it from my hand. “Quit spacing and pass it, Geez. Always daydreaming.” She hit it and passed it back.

“How the Hell are we going to get to the dam?”

“Fisher,” Edie said. “He has a car. He’s not in school anymore.”

“Cool.” I said, taking a hit and passing it to Half Pint.

Fisher lived in an old stone house across Goucher Blvd. It backed up to a golf course and Glenmount apartments. It was hidden on a tree-filled hill with a small stream along the bottom and a bridged driveway that kept it secluded from nearby stores.

We cut through the shopping center and up Goucher to Fisher’s. When we passed the bookstore Edie stopped. “Shh. I hear sirens.”

“I don’t hear anything. You’re just stoned.”

“Fuck you. Listen.”

I put my hand to my ear, mocking her. Then I did hear sirens. A bunch of sirens. Getting louder. Coming toward us. I looked at Edie. She looked at me. We both looked at Half Pint. His eyes bugged and he screamed “Holy shit” and took off down the street past Fisher’s house and into Glenmount apartments. We watched him splash through the stream, trip and fall, drop his books, snag his foot, climb the hill on the other side, rip his pants, drop his books again, and finally disappear behind the apartments. All the while screaming what sounded like “Holy shit” over and over.

Edie and I shrugged at each other, then looked back at Half Pint’s escape route, then shrugged at each other again.

We were completely straight now, victims of the buzz kill that came from police sirens. As soon as we saw the lights flashing off the wall, we knew we were busted. We leaned against the wall and waited for them to arrive. Seconds later they banked the bend and closed in on us, unmarked cop in front with four cruisers behind. We shrugged again. Edie raised an eyebrow. We were just getting high and ditching school. What was the big deal? We laughed as the cops approached. Then we watched bewildered as they sped by and we saw Joe hunched behind the wheel of the unmarked car in front. He blew the horn and waved to us. We waved back, dumbfounded. He was laughing and slapping the wheel and having a good ole time as they turned the corner at Taylor and disappeared.

Joe pled guilty to joyriding and got community service. The judge considered juvy but opted for PBJ: probation before judgment. He said that since Joe liked police cars so much he had the perfect service for him: washing cruisers every day after school.

It only took an hour for Joe to get sick of washing cars. And it only took a day to realize he couldn’t do it straight, another day to realize he shouldn’t bring weed to the police station. He was ripped and listening to Zeppelin on his boom box, polishing a cruiser when another pulled in next to him. He was so high he didn’t notice anything until he heard growling and barking nearby. He turned to find a K-9 just inches from his face, head stuck out the window of the cruiser, sniffing at him and barking like crazy. Joe jumped back and searched an escape. The only option was to jump the back fence and hope no one saw him, or maybe, at least, throw the weed over and grab it later.

Joe backed away slowly, but the further he got the more the dog barked. When Joe neared the fence, the dog jumped out the open window and gave chase. Joe picked up a stick and shook it. The dog lunged and Joe swung as hard as he could. He hit it in the head and the dog dropped dead, just slapped over dead.

Joe looked down at the dog blood on his boot and the cracked stick lying next to it. He looked over at the lump of dead dog, then at the empty cruiser: the realization unfolded quickly, the plan just as quickly.

Joe knew that there was only one thing to do. Get rid of the evidence. Killing a cop’s dog was like killing a cop. They didn’t like that shit. He had to get rid of it, get it out of there and bury it somewhere. But there was no way he could carry it past the front gate, and he couldn’t get it over the back fence by himself.

“Hello? Who is this? Who? I can’t hear you.” I was ready to hang up. I thought it was a prank call. “Who? Joe? Why are you whispering?”

By the time I got to the back corner of the police station, I was winded and I thought my chest would explode. I hate running. I walked the fence until I got to the dumpster. I didn’t see Joe anywhere. But I saw the pool of blood.

“Joe. Joe,” I called in a loud whisper from behind a nearby tree. “Joe.”

He peeked out from behind the dumpster. “Mann. Over here.” He looked around to make sure no one noticed.

“What’s up?” I looked around too but I didn’t see anything besides that pool of blood. Joe looked around again, then he backed out dragging something from behind the dumpster. It looked like a rolled up carpet. When he got clear of the dumpster I could see that it actually was a rolled up carpet and there was something in it.

“What’s that?” I pointed at something furry hanging from the roll. It looked like a wet mop leaving a bloody trail.

“Fucking tail.” Joe reached back and tucked it in. “It’s a dog. A dead dog. A dead fucking police dog.” He explained as he dragged the roll closer to the fence, “The fucking thing attacked me.” He stopped and looked up at me. “I need a hand. We gotta get this thing outta here.”

I scaled the fence and grabbed the other end of the roll. We dragged it to the base of the fence. “How we going to do this?”

“I’ll climb up first and pull the front part with me. You push from the bottom. I figure that’s the only way.”

“Sounds good,” I replied.

Joe grabbed the carpet and started to climb. I inched the bulk closer to the base as he climbed. When the roll cleared the ground I supported it in my hands. Joe was halfway up the fence. His plan was working. He kept climbing. I pushed the bulk higher until it was shoulder level. I balanced the end on my shoulder and started to climb. About half way up I shifted the roll for balance and it came unrolled. The dead dog spilled out the bottom, ass first onto my head, his bloody tail hanging in my face.

“Joe. Joe, help.”

He looked down and saw the dog on my head.

“Joe.” I could feel blood oozing down the back of my neck and into my shirt. Joe straddled the barbed wire and pulled frantically at the carpet. It just kept unrolling like an endless handkerchief from a clown’s pocket, making the matted carcass spin on my forehead. Joe kept pulling the carpet up to him. When he finally reached the end and realized the dead dog was not in it, he looked down to see the dog laying on me, laying on the ground.

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” he said shaking his head and climbing halfway down the fence. He reached and grabbed the mangled carcass with one hand and heaved it up onto the top of the fence. It hung there, partially balanced and partially snared on the barbed wire.

Joe and I climbed back up and straddled the barbed wire, using the carpet as a saddle. “Now what?” I asked looking down the back side of the fence.

“How about this?” He flipped the dog over the top of the fence and it landed with a flop.

I looked down at the carcass wedged against the base of the fence. At first it made me queasy, but then I figured what the fuck, it was dead. “That’ll work.” Joe shrugged and we both climbed down.

We carried the dog into the woods nearby and dug a shallow grave with a trash can lid. I said a prayer as Joe threw the dog in the pit and covered it.