Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wanted: Dead or Alive

I'm not going to tell you how old I am but I was born in 1964. Okay, I just told you how old I am. I'm not very good at keeping secrets anyway. But my age plays a roll in this - so take note.

I was recently in New York City for business and I stayed over to visit with a good buddy of mine that lives out in Brooklyn. He is the same Señor Baño of past post fame so you know what kind of trouble this guy can get me into. I met the guy over 15 years ago on a dive boat in the Caribbean so we've had many adventures together. This one will be added to the list.

So, as I was saying....

It's a glorious summer day in the big city. The sun is bright and hot, the streets are bustling, even the dudes selling fake Gucci gear are smiling and having a good time. So I hop on the Q train and make the 45 minute trip out to Sheepshead Bay, out by Coney Island. I was only accosted once by a gentlemen that took a shine to my boat shoes, but that's pretty mild stuff for NYC - so the day is looking promising. We figure a day at the beach will do us good - both born with a little Caribbean soul in us - so we wander over to Brighton Beach, kick off our shoes and immediatly look for somewhere to get a beer. I look at my watch. Oh, it's only 10:30am. Okay, I can't drink all day anymore - not at my age. See above. So I settle for a Snapple and Señor Baño settles for some weird Russian drink that he can't pronounce but says tastes like a mixture of beets and pineapple juice. He offers me a taste, I graciously decline.

We lounge about like the middle age slugs we are, flinging shells into the sea, watching the pretty Jewish and Russian girls frolick in the sea, remembering past adventures in the torrid zone. There is a nice breeze and we are two guys at leisure - what could make this day better? Ah yes, beer. I look at my watch and it's noon. I smile at Señor Baño and, both being Jimmy Buffett fans, we say in unison, "It's five o'clock somewhere."

So we amble over to the concession stand at Manhattan Beach and get us a couple beers. Well, a couple turn into, well, if I'm being honest, I lost count. Did I say it was a beautiful day? And the Jewish and Russian girls looked particulary fetching that day? Anyway, the stories continue to fly and it's good to catch up my good friend. But the day eventually has to end. So off to the subway we go.

Now Señor Baño makes a fair living and I don't do too bad myself. It's not like we are short of cash or anything. But he really hates to spend more than he has to. So he comes up with a clever idea. He has an unlimited monthly pass for the subway so he'll sneak me in. Why pay $2.00 when you don't have to. For some inexplicable reason, this makes sense to me. So, like conjoined twins, we shuffle through the turnstile together, giggling like we got away with the biggest bank job ever. But as we turn the corner to go to the platform, what do we see?

Yes, you guessed it.

A transit cop.

Officer Castillo to be precise.

And he's smiling and shaking his head.

"Gentlemen, please stand against the wall over here and keep your hands out of your pockets."

And I too have to shake my head, thinking, Combes, you are 43 years old and you are jumping turnstiles. For a lousy two bucks you are gonna get a hefty fine and suffer the embarrassment of all the folks that did pay their fare as they stroll by you, looking sideways at the sun flushed (and beer flushed) dopes against the wall.

Officer Castillo asks us for our ID's and I give him my Wisconsin driver's license. He smiles again, "Wisconsin eh? Welcome to New York City Mr. Combes. You do realize that you need to pay to ride the subway don't you." And I'm instantly back in grammar school, getting caught looking over Billy Furstman's shoulder for the answer on the algebra quiz.

I look over at Señor Baño and he has his wallet out, but it looks like he's stuffed the last five years worth of receipts and cards and crap into the wallet and he can't find his ID. He curses softly under his breath, but Officer Castillo has very good ears. Probably because he hasn't been drinking beer in the sun all day. "Is there a problem sir?"

Señor Baño looks up and says, "Is this really necessary officer?" Officer Castillo cocks his head, not sure he head him right, or not sure he really said that. And I'm thinking, I'm going to jail. I'll be cuffed, hauled off to some Brooklyn jail where I will spend the night with 50 guys that have, well, drunk beer in the sun all day. I shoot my friend "the look." Calm down dude, give him you freaking ID. Don't make this worse.

Okay, my friend is a lifelong New Yorker and has never driven - doesn't own a car and doesn't have a driver's license. So he doesn't have anything with his birthdate on it. And Castillo wants to run us - make sure the beer burping/turnstile jumping dopes aren't wanted for some international art heist or something. And my friend isn't making it any easier as he has a very common last name (which will be withheld because he kill me if I told it to you.) So, Castillo concentrates on me - I'm the guy with the ID and I'm an out of towner and he can tell from my gentle sobbing that I'm truly contrite. "Where are you staying Mr. Combes?"

"A hotel in mid-town officer."

Señor Baño, ever helpful chips in, "He's a good friend of mine. He's from Wisconsin for Christ sake. People from Wisconsin never do anything wrong."

I nod like an idiot to that, trying to convince Officer Castillo that this will never happen again.

"What are you doing out here in Brooklyn Mr. Combes? It's a decent ride out here from mid-town."

Again, my friend, trying to be helpful, says, "I just told you. He's my friend, gez."

I shake my head at my friend, mouth, shut up - now! "Just visiting a friend officer. A day at the beach is all."

Officer Castillo looks at my friend and says, "And apparently a few beers at the beach too huh?"

My friend gives him the "well duh" shrug and Officer Castillo laughs to that. He hands me my ID back and says, go back through and pay the two bucks and have a nice evening.

I'm thinking that's it? He's gonna cut us loose! No jailhouse rape! No dragging a tin cup across the bars! But wait.

"I don't think this was necessary officer." Yeah, it's him again.

Officer Castillo looks at him, then looks at me, and says to me, "You two masterminds get the hell out of my station. Now."

I took the steps three at a time.


Felicia Donovan said...

Mark, you devil, you. You bad, bad man. I'll be running you in NCIC tomorrow under "Repeat Turnstile Evaders." Throw the book at the scofflaw! Mandatory scrubbing of the subway floors, I say.

Seriously, I'm glad you made it out alive to tell this wonderfully entertaining story. You gave me quite a laugh.

Nina Wright said...

Mark, I assume you will use this scene again. In your fiction next time.

The one perquisite all novelists count on: Whether it hurt or was humorous, it gets a second life on our pages.

Happy writing.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Geez, Mark. Give me your address and I'll send you 2 bucks. Better yet, send me Senior Bano's. I'll send you both 2 bucks.

If that had happened in LA, the cops would have beaten you senseless. It would have been taped, and you could have had a huge freaking law suit.

But, then again, what little underground transit we have doesn't go to the beach, so you would have driven drunk and ended up in jail with gang bangers.

I like your scenario and outcome better.

Thanks for the HUGE laugh!

Anonymous said...

One of the funniest posts I've read in a long time. As someone who rides the Melbourne trains quite a bit, I was picturing our ticket inspectors, uh, customer service representatives [yeah, BIG euphamism] doing this. You would have been handed a fine, full stop. Gotta love NY. Bano was an idiot. He would have been hurting had he taken that tone with our Samoan guys. They are HUGE!

G.M. Malliet said...

Mark, b-b-b-bad to the bone. Always knew it.

But wait until I tell you about my adventures in MySpace. You think *you're* a scofflaw?