• Holly Watson


"And then the priest said, 'Hey, you want to go screw that kid?'" Smitty cackled and bellowed, splitting into hysterical laughter over his abhorrently offensive joke, while the rest of us at the table across from him watched him with our brows furrowed and wearing otherwise disgusted expressions. But still, on Smitty went, hooting and howling, like a goddamned fool.

His overflowing gut rippled and jiggled and undulated each time he croaked aloud. I caught myself shaking my head in repulsion, my upper lip wrinkled as I loathingly stared at the disaster ahead of me. He must not have realized it, but it would have been so easy for me to jump across this table straight at his throat and quiet him. Perhaps he felt invincible, for it felt so to me. My head turned side-to-side in time to the music over the speakers from the jukebox that Gary had put on to muffle out the brazen insolence displayed by Smitty.

Twyla sat to my right and she must've heard my eyeroll because she turned to face me, lifted her left hand to conceal her expression and exhaled a chuckle under her breath and barely was there a smile across her narrow lips. All I had to say was, "mmhmm," and raise my eyebrows and we had said all that was necessary, then I slurped from my melted ice and the last remnants of my cocktail. Either Smitty didn't notice our blatantly apparent disgust or he just didn't care. I believed it was the latter. Smitty set out to entertain only himself, to indulge in whatever he desired, no matter who was exploited in the process.

Beside Twyla Galea-Sousa sat Chaz, though Charles was his Christian name: Charles Nelson. He wasn't offended by Smitty, just annoyed by his obnoxiousness. Smitty sat between Chaz, my partner of over a year, and myself, a 27-year-old proud African American woman - half anyway, on my dad's side. Chaz, on the other hand, was a 60-something highly decorated police officer, nearly to retirement, though I doubted he would ever truly retire because the man was a severe workaholic. His work ethic was lacking, but he spent every waking hour of his life in a patrol car or at his desk. I'd even heard a rumor from Garrett, that Chaz was offered early retirement and he declined so vehemently that he likely would've just worked for free. Maybe he was a fellow who needed a sense of purpose.

Sutton Davis sat on the other side of Twyla. He was the quiet one with the flaxen curls and I didn't know him very well, though Twyla had once told me he was involved in a shooting of an obviously unarmed civilian, a young black woman named Atlas Breaux, disturbing her sleep with a home invasion. Sutton and four other off-duty cops weren't even suspended for bursting into the paramedic's house in the Rosendale neighborhood to our east and blowing a woman's brains out all over the wall behind her. They were returning fire when they were fired upon by her boyfriend, Paul Taylor. Mr. Taylor was subsequently arrested for raising a gun to five officers who were all dressed in civilian clothes, not even in uniform, and they claimed to have been conducting a no-knock raid to capture drug traffickers, but neither of the house's residents were linked to drug trafficking. It was an act of cowardice on the officers' part, for these two individuals had no history or link to drug traffickers whatsoever. So that, along with his beta-personality laugh every time Smitty spoke, with every crack of his whit, Sutton guffawed with his loud, goofy laugh. He did everything but bow down and kiss Smitty's feet. He was only good for doing the bidding of the alphas like Smitty and Chaz.

"And he just ran smack into the stalled car, and he was going so fast he flew over the car's roof and landed on his back onto the hood. And I damn-near died laughing." Smitty loved being slathered with attention and he was exceptionally fond of drawing pleasure from other people's misfortunes. Oppression was his preferred flavor; he poured it into his coffee each morning, spread it on his toast, and drank from its teat as he condescended his peers.

Smitty was a powder keg ready to blow. I knew the type; I could see it in his eyes: a fiery anger that not even he could control entirely. I once saw him with one of his girlfriends several months earlier (because he may have been an infinite pile of shit, but the man was beautiful), and I was curious if he was abusive. I knew he was definitely racist, sexist, and homophobic, much like the other ultra-conservatives in Western Pennsylvania, but what all else he was, was yet a mystery to me.

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