Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chapter 26 - Hank

When we crossed the border into Georgia a true feeling of wellbeing came over us. Then in Atlanta we stopped at the Dick Blick and J looked at prices of raw canvas and paint while I dug around in a little wooded area behind the place and found some ancient rusted pieces of metal for sculpture. After that we were heading toward the Starbucks when we got pulled over. I tossed the keys on the dash and left my hands on the wheel as he approached. It felt like it was all over. Our insurance had long since expired and I thought there might be a warrant in New Jersey for me...

The incident had occurred in Plainsboro when J and I were temporarily separated, while I followed my bender to its logically illogical conclusion. I was staying in our old apartment (she in Manhattan with a friend), drinking every day and selling our homemade soap at the flea markets around the area...I was in the process of being evicted for non-rent payment...One day I was walking Hank to the liquor store in a strip mall near the apartment complex. I had learned at least not to drive when in one of these lush kick modes...After I got the bottle Hank and me strolled the strip mall to the little pet store, went in and looked things over. The man who ran the place was not around but his wife was. I only had enough for a little strip of treat at the counter so I pulled the change out of my pocket and layed it down on the counter. The treat said 99cents or something and I knew I was close. I said, "Is that okay?" referring to the money. I may have been short a nickel or so. I believe I saw an nod of her head, definitely a look of disapproval at my long hair and disheveled appearance, a slitted look of hatred actually. I walked out happily, Hank with the treat in his mouth. He dropped it outside the door sniffed it and left it there. We headed back to the apartment. Halfway there a large, new pick-up cut me off at a cross walk and stopped. Here it comes, my mind said, thinking that I had been selected by some neighborhood bullies for an ass kicking, ready in my just having taken a drink frame of mind. The man from the pet store came around the back of the truck saying, "Hey. My wife said you stole some pet treats at our store."
"No I didn't," I said innocently, with a smile, thinking this guy can't be serious.
"Well that's what she said."
"Well she's lying," I said.
"My wife doesn't lie. Anyway, I don't care if you did or not at this point. Just don't ever set foot in my place of business again. Okay?"
He did some kind of cut-off thing with his hand, like a politician, as he spoke. I probably would have let it go at that if he wouldn't have stood there waiting for a response. This caused me to boil with indignation and there he stood, waiting for me to respond. So I did. Like a grizzly bear. My mind was gone. I came toward him, saw the look of terror as he ran around the back and jumped into the driver's seat. I grabbed hold of the pick-up bed and began to rock it. I felt like a beast with all the adrenalin and pent up anger at my being evicted and everything else and I growled. He chirped the tires down the road, yelling out his window, "I'm calling the cops you crazy bastard!"

I came back to my senses immediately, seeing Hank sitting there with a look of curiousity on his face. "Come on buddy!" I said and we hurried toward the apartment. We almost made it to mine when I saw the convoy of cruisers approaching. They saw me and I stood there calming Hank, talking to him, saying everything was going to be okay and not to worry as they surrounded me and got out with pistols drawn.

Thankfully one of the grounds employees was watching all this go down so as they were cuffing me and reading me my rights he offered to take Hank, barking like crazy, back to the place. I thanked him. A young hip-hop kid with a great big heart.

They set my court date and when it arrived I showed up, waited there all day for my case, but the store owner did not show so they set another. I never showed since we were on the road by then, but I did call and tell them...

The cop who pulled us over looked suprisingly young. He unsnapped his pistol as he approached. Then, right at the window Hank stuck his big head out and after hesitating at his pistol he smiled. "That's Hank," I said. "Hi Hank. The reason I stopped you is that your registration tag says 05. Could I see your license and registration and proof of insurance?"

I gave him my license and looked for the registration and expired insurance while he went back to his car and ran my license. I found my registration stuck to my social security card, all the info peeled off onto the ss card. When he came back with my license Hank stuck his head out and licked it and gently tried to take it out of his hand. "I don't think you want to eat that Hank," said the cop and we all laughed.

Thankfully there was no warrant. It certainly wouldn't look very good in jail to be asked, "What are you in for?" and have to say, "Dog treats." Nicknames are born instantly from such occurances. Unflattering nicknames like Scooby Snack...

Later, at a Flying J an hour south of our destination, J was inside using the bathroom and I got tears in my eyes looking at Hank, his eyes burning into my own with love...realizing he had been traumatized by the police arrest and in licking my ID it was his way of saying, "Please don't arrest my daddy, he's a nice guy and I love him."

We got off with a ticket for the registration being expired and I'm sure it was Hank that decided our fate in that one. That and the luck of the draw in the cop being an obvious dog lover.


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