Rap 7

The police came by again later that night. I poured us all scotch and sodas. We talked cordially for about an hour. Once in a while we were interrupted by one of their walkie-talkies, but they ignored them and turned the volume down. Eventually they both shut them off and I put on some music. I poured another round of drinks. The lights were turned way down low. They left convinced of my innocence.

Before they left I bummed a smoke from one of them. I went out back to smoke and look at the stars. It was dark and I could hear my neighbor, Nicky, working in his yard next door.

Nicky had won his house playing slots at an Indian casino. During the day he cleaned kennels at the local dog pound. He could barely afford the property taxes. He was a man of high hopes and an indomitable spirit.

I looked over the fence. He had a work light hanging from a tree. He was pressing artificial turf on what appeared to be a flat concrete deck. An edge kept rolling up, and he kept pressing it down.

“It’s dark tonight,” I said.

“I’m building a putting green,” he said. He was hard at it, sweating. “Goddamn it!” he said, pounding the turf.

“Alright,” I said. I went back inside. When I was in the kitchen I couldn’t remember why I had come in. I got a beer from the fridge and went back outside.

Nicky was crazier than Veronica and twice as mean.

The green was being built on top of a fountain pool that had never held water. I had pissed in the fountain the night he had built it a year before, jinxing it. I looked over the fence.

“You filled in the fountain with concrete,” I said. He didn’t know I had cursed it with my juice.

“I need to learn how to golf,” he said. “There’s an opening at the pound for an assistant dog catcher, and I told my boss I could play.” The edge rolled up again. “Shit! Shit, shit, shit!”

“Alright,” I said. I was drunk and stoned when I had pissed in his fountain. I was drunk now, but wasn’t high. I went back inside. I remembered what I had forgotten earlier. I got another beer and went back outside. I handed it to Nicky. We drank. We stood silently admiring his work.

“It’s a little small,” I said.

“No,” he said. “No, no, no!”

We finished our beers in rapid silence. Then he threw his empty bottle at a wall beyond his alley fence. Glass popped and shattered, and lights came on and dogs began barking.

“Well, have a fine evening,” I said, turning and going back into the kitchen. When I was safely inside I heard Nicky yell “Fuck you!” at someone across the alley. Nicky was crazier than Veronica and twice as mean. He kept me limber when she wasn’t around.

Veronica was the love of my life, the wind beneath my wings. All of the drinking I had done that night made me want to wag it. I called her house. A strange man answered. I hung up and rolled a joint.

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