Melissa is killing me tonight. She’s practically whimpering, trying to get me to pay attention to her. It’s pathetic. I take a lady out for a civilized drink on a Tuesday night and this is the thanks I get. I try to remind myself that she’s fucking hot as fuck and that I’m lucky I’m the one she’s fucking, but it’s tough when she’s whining about whatever it is she’s whining about, her classes, her roommate, lord knows what the fuck else. All this whining is making her look downright unattractive. I wish she’d just go home. She’s on her period and doesn’t want to fuck, anyway.
I can’t sit still. I’ve got a bug in me. I order two more gin and tonics, bring them back to the table and take a look around the bar. In the past half hour the place has really begun to fill up. There aren’t any seats left and between the music and the crowd, it’s getting tough to hear the lady’s bitching. Thank Christ. I finish my drink, head to the bathroom, take a piss and swallow my last Valium. I’d really like to get some coke, but I’m busted. I’m hoping the pills and the drinks will keep the coke itch at bay. Back at our table I see Melissa hasn’t taken more than a sip of her drink. She’s ready to leave she says.
“But you’ve barely touched your drink!” I say. She whines some more about not being in the mood to drink, about wanting to go home and relax, watch a movie. You can be sure as shit relaxing doesn’t mean fucking. I grab her drink and suck on the mixer slash straw dealie. No reason to waste a perfectly good cocktail. I finish her drink in about 30 seconds and just as I’m about to accede and take her home, I see Mitch come through the door. Thank fuck!
It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen Mitch, an old friend of mine from back in Boston. He’s one of the ten or so Mass-holes that moved to the City for college last year. I’m just thanking Christ an excuse not to go home has arrived. I’m hit with a pleasant wave of unsteadiness, the result of downing that last drink so quickly. I grab onto to Melissa’s chair as we shoot the shit with Mitch. Not 2 minutes goes by though, before Melissa asks if I’m ready to leave.
“You know what honey? Why I don’t put you in a cab. I think I’m gonna hang out for a few here.” Her eyes shoot daggers, but I’m resolved. A better option has made itself available. I’m sticking to my guns.
“No that’s alright,” she pouts. “I’ll stay and then we can go home together.” She’s forcing my hand.
“Listen baby. You aren’t feeling well and I want to talk to Mitch. Let’s just get you into a taxi.”
“Who says I’m not feeling well?” She pulls me close. “I just want to go home and snuggle.” Ugh. This is exactly what I don’t want to do with my evening.
I’m done soft peddling this shit. “Baby, I’m staying.” Melissa scowls. She pulls her coat off the chair. I resist the urge to placate her. “Here let me help you get a cab.” I turn to Mitch, “Don’t move. I’ll be right back.”
Melissa shoves her way through the crowd, steps into the cold and is off the curb without looking back. She shouts “Taxi!” and holds her arm up in the air. A yellow cab stops almost immediately. “Hey baby, I’ll be home in a little bit!” I yell after her. It sounds as insincere as it feels.
“Don’t bother,” she says over her shoulder. And with that, the car door slams shut. The cab is off, heading uptown in the thick stream of Third Avenue traffic. I wait by the curb for a second to see if she turns to look back at me through the window. Predictably, she does not. I’m free. This little exchange will cost me a bunch of work to try and get back in her good graces tomorrow, but for tonight I’m free. Melissa may be as hot as they come but in the end, who gives a shit. There are always girls somewhere nearby.
Back in the bar I empty my pockets onto the table in front of an indifferent Mitch. I produce six dollars, four subway tokens, an unaccounted for Valium and a bunch of receipts. Not a recipe for a night on the town. The drug fiend also known as Mitch spots the little blue pill, “what’s that?” he asks.
“I’ll give you this Valium if you loan me twenty bucks.” I know it’s a stretch to ask this fuckhead for money, but I might as well try.
“Dude, you know better,” he says. “How about I buy you a whiskey.” I push the pill across the table. He swallows it dry and gets up to buy a round. I catch the eye of a little red head two tables over and I shoot her a smile before she blushes and turns away. I am thoroughly vindicated in my decision to stay.
Two drinks and a pitcher of beer later, the bar is packed. The redhead, her name is Jenny, is sitting on my lap and her friend Val is politely ignoring Mitch’s attempts to become better acquainted. Judging by her expression it’s clear that her patience is wearing thin. She’s barely touched her drink. She’s probably just sticking around to babysit Jenny, making sure I don’t take the dumb co-ed home, cut her up and serve her to the homeless. Smart move. I’m getting good and drunk.
“So who wants to go score some blow?” I query the table. Val’s face becomes a mask of hardened disdain as Jenny shouts, “I do!” Mitch smiles. I wasn’t asking for his benefit. I assumed he’d be along for the ride.
“Jenny!? Seriously? On a Tuesday? We’ve got classes tomorrow,” Val says.
“So, you can’t be out all night doing blow. Save it for the weekend, if you have to do it. And no offense guys, but we don’t know you.” She says. I don’t fault her. True enough.
“What’s a little coke between friends?” Mitch adds.
“Maybe another night. Actually, we’ve gotta jam before this one passes out. C’mon Jenny, let’s go.” Val says getting up from the table.
“What are you? My mother” Jenny says. Despite her protestations though she’s dutifully putting on her jacket, so I’m surprised when she leans over and sticks her tongue in my mouth. I recover and pull her down on top of me. I kiss her like my life depends on it, because it kind of does. Even if these chicks aren’t gonna come blow lines with us we need some cash. Jenny is very much the last chance hotel in this scenario. Val eventually pulls Jenny off of me.
“That was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.”
“Absolutely!” I say. She pulls a matchbook and a pen from her pocketbook. She writes down her number and hands it to me. “Great. Hey listen. I kind of have an awkward question though, before you go.”
“What’s that?” God this chick is terminally perky. Exhausting.
“I lost my bankcard yesterday and this guy,” I wave my thumb in Mitch’s direction, “is terminally broke. Can I borrow a few bucks till the weekend?” I catch Val rolling her eyes. Despite Val, I know I’m a good liar. I didn’t even think up the bankcard thing beforehand. I’m lucky in that it comes naturally.
“Oh…” she says as she digs deeper into her bag. “Sure.” I let out a big sigh, relieved. She produces her wallet. “I only have like $12 bucks, but here you go…” She hands over the cash.
“Val,” I say, “any chance you can part with 8 bucks? I need 20. I swear I’m good for it.” I don’t like the grin spreading across her face.
Val clearly has my number. “Nope. Sorry boys.” With that she turns and pulls Jenny away from the table, who turns back blowing kisses and waving as she’s pulled through the crowd toward the door.
Fuck. I face Mitch across the table. “So how much have you got? Please tell me you’ve got 8 bucks?”
“Sorry dude. You called it. I’m busted,” he says. “Let’s just get another pitcher with what you’ve got left.”
I collapse my head on the table. “Ugh. It’s just not my night!” I shove the money at him. “You go.”
As I pour the last drops from the pitcher, I notice that the crew of fat chicks at the next table has gotten up and moved. They are in deep. They’re drunk and shouting in conversation with the table full of losers opposite us. “Yo. Check it out.” I say and nod toward the pile of jackets stacked on the bench beside Mitch.
He turns, looks down and then back up at me. “Oh, come on man. That’s cold.” I’m heartened that I don’t have to spell it out for him.
“Seriously. It’s not a big deal. They’re students. Their fucking Daddies will buy them new ones tomorrow. Don’t be such a pussy.” I say.
“I don’t steal from people. Stealing from a store, that’s one thing, but…”
“We can unload them easy on Astor place and then go get some blow.” The mention of coke clicks. I can see it.
“I don’t know, dude.” The gears in his head are turning.
“Shut up! You know I’m right.” And then low, “Look. We’re leaving. Just put that jacket on underneath yours. I’ll do the same.”
He looks over at the coats again. It’s meant to be. A petite little leather jacket lined with zebra fur is laid out perfectly beside him. All he has to do is slip his arm into it. He drains his mug of beer and does it. With one arm in the jacket he pulls the coat onto his back and then quickly puts his on, on top of it. “Switch places.” I hiss and I shove him off of the bench, my heavy fireman’s jacket in hand. Instead of sitting back down in my place, he makes for the door.
I take a last look over at the group next door and nothing’s changed. They’re deep in conversation. They look like us; rich and white. Fuck them. I pull the next jacket in the pile across the bench and throw my coat over it. Then I fold the two jackets over my forearm and split.
I get that shoplifting rush as I push my way through the crowd. I turn and take a last look just before I head out the door. No one seems to be following us. Fucking perfect.
Out on the sidewalk it’s crowded as it’s still early. It’s not even 11 o’clock yet. When Mitch sees me come out the door he takes off running, heading South. I jog after him. After we’ve gone a block and a half I shout up at him. “Yo! Nobody’s coming, dude. Hold up!” He turns. He’s got the wild eyes. He’s spooked.
He slows down to a fast walk. “Did you get one?” he asks.
“Yeah. Yeah man. It’s cool. Calm down. We’re in the clear.”
“I just want to get some distance from the place, ya know?” he says.
“What did you get? Check the pockets.” I say, pulling the leather jacket from under the coat in my arms, and pat down the pockets. I feel a pack of cigarettes and pull out a third of a pack of Marlboro Lights. Too bad I don’t smoke. I’ve always hated the smell. “Hey,” I shout. “It’s your lucky night,” Mitch turns and I toss him the smokes. He lights one and pockets the pack. “Sweet,” he says.
In the opposite pocket I feel a promising lump. I reach inside and sure enough it’s a small wallet. I thumb through it and BINGO there’s 2 crisp folded up $20 bills. Maybe there is a god after all. There’s also a Citibank card and a NYU student ID. I pocket the wallet and hold up the money. “Check it out, my man!”
Mitch smiles broadly. Our heist has paid off. He holds up the zebra fur coat and checks the pockets. One comes up empty. Another produces a pack of gum. He begins checking some of the smaller zippered pockets. Just then a big black dude walking north passes us and spins around. He shouts, “Hey! That’s my jacket!”
Suddenly a few steps behind us the tall, light-skinned black dude is walking in lockstep with us. He’s rangy, but he’s tough looking too. He’s got a cold look in his bulging eyes, the look of desperation. “That’s my mother fucking jacket! Get back here mother fucker!” I notice he’s got some little bits of paper stuck in his short Afro. Mitch flips and starts running – flat out – again. I’ve got no choice but to run too. The black dude however has other plans. He overtakes me effortlessly and puts a hand on Mitch’s shoulder, spinning him around.
“Get your hands off me!” Mitch shouts.
“Then give me my mother fucking jacket! Get back here, bitch! I ain’t joking!”
“Get the fuck out of here!” I shout. “These coats are ours.” People passing by are turning to watch. The dude turns from Mitch to face me. A calm, first thing first demeanor comes over him as he approaches. “Is that right?” he says. “Then what the fuck are you doing with MY MOTHERFUCKING JACKET? Maybe we get a motherfucking policeman over here and talk to him about that, huh? You can just ‘splain to him what you doing with my fucking jacket.” I back up. He looks like he’s gonna take a swing at me. He’s fucking big.
“Let’s do that!” I shout. I’m surprised at how loud I say it. “Let’s get a cop!”
Mitch bolts again, but within about 6 steps the dude is on him and has pulled the zebra fur leather out of his hands. Without much of a struggle, I should add.
He maintains his calm aura of menace as he walks back towards me. “Now just hand over that one there and we can both be on our way,” he says. There are 3 or 4 people stopped on the sidewalk watching us now.
“Get the fuck out of here!” I shout.
“Soon as you hand over my jacket, bitch.” He reaches inside his pocket and produces a switchblade that magically clicks open. The knife is like an extension of him, he moves it so fluidly. It’s enormous; the blade is 8 or 9 inches long. Its not one of those Times Square, Chinese jobs either. The way the blade locks into place, its size and the weight in his hand as he waves it in front of me make that clear. Fuck. The streetlight glints off of it like it’s magic. He moves it from one hand to the other and back again. It’s mesmerizing. I consider running again, but we’re past that. He’s too fast. Too big.
“You’ve got the one. Just get out of here. Let me keep this one!” I sound like a 10-year-old boy. I’m not sure, but my voice might have cracked.
Mitch shouts, “Trevor! Just give it to him!”
“Listen to your friend motherfucker, ‘fore you get cut,” he’s so calm. I’m out of my league here.
“Trevor! Don’t be an idiot.” I’m going to kill Mitch after this.
I don’t resist when the dude pulls the jacket from my hand. And then he’s off with the flow of pedestrian traffic, like he was never there. The people watching us, one by one lose interest and wander off.
“You fucking idiot!” Mitch says, “that dude was gonna gut you! You got the money. What’s your problem?”
Instinctively I slap him across the face, kind of losing the will halfway through my swing. “The problem is those were our coats, you fucking pussy.” I yell at him. I know I’m really just chastising myself though.
“Fuck you!” he squeals, not sounding like half the bitch I was 10 seconds ago. He shakes it off. “Come on! Let’s get out of here.”
He’s right. At least we still have the 40 bucks. And who knows. Maybe we can even crack the pin number on the ATM card. At the next corner we head East.