Skid out. Conversation with a cop. At home with Sylvie. Lightning balls over the Sound.
A hard rain falling, still blocks from Val’s Club, through the red light at the Seneca exit coming off the freeway, spin out of control and slide into a flooded work zone, taking out an orange CAUTION sign, and the engine dead, and I push to the nearest curb out of the water, not quite clearing the lane, hog’s tail sticking out. I try to kick the engine over a couple of times before surrendering to the waterlogged fact. I reach into the saddle bag for my briefcase, thinking I can run the rest of the way to Val’s Club, and wake up to a blue and red light show and a uniform walking toward me. License and registration, please. The young fuzz looked to be under twenty-one. More fate. A ’56 Buick 6 full of sailors speeds past. Fuzzball gives them a glance but doesn’t seem interested, repeats, license and registration, please. Very polite, very determined. The fuzz is super starched, but getting wet. And there’s now a backup examining my bent license plate. What seems to be the problem, officer? I mean, I’m sort of in a hurry here. Very late for a very important meeting with some very influential people, if you know what I mean. License and registration, please. But what’s happened is, the city needs to clean the crap out of its storm drains. What’s happened is, I’ve asked you for your license and registration. Yes, sir, I say, deciding a little compliance might soften the starch. You Charles Murphy? Yes, sir, though as unsure as ever, but decide not to get into that with him at this point, my collection of identifications. Tie Your Own Trailer Park, Mt. Si Road. Is that your current address? Yes, I say, thinking, one of too many. You know, Mr. Murphy, here in Seattle, we like to think of stopping at red lights as the law, and not merely a suggestion. Ray is a veteran Seattle PD detective. We were in the Army together, buddies in Vietnam. Sounds cliché, but true story, so I’m using it to get out of a jam. I was a clerk typist. Ray was a grunt promoted to sergeant, result of his optimistic volunteerism, otherwise known as MF crazy. But he credits me with saving his life out on a walk for a late evening smoke one night. I suspected Ray of being a god even then, before I knew much about the gods, just the stories Mom raised me on. Ray saved my life one too many times. He kept throwing me in and pulling me back out. Slowly over the ensuing years I began to realize that the gods make mistakes. A clerk typist just doesn’t see that much action, get into that many fire fights. Anyway, Ray’s out in the rain tailing the fuzz newbie in a training exercise, and while he doesn’t save my life this time, I am let go, as the saying goes, with a warning. Back home on the upper balcony with Sylvie and a bottle of Pinot Noir chasing one of Pinot Grigio and we’re playing a game of whiffle ball with lightning balls made on Sylvie’s magic cop spindle trying to hit the islands in the Sound. The rain falls and falls as thick as the Anything Goes chowder Sylvie whipped up for a simple evening of sitting out and bouncing lightning balls skipping like rocks across the Sound.