in the temple of the lawless

Once upon a time women dug guys in uniform. Now women love drunks who think green, preen punk, and ride British racing bikes….”


by ed markowski


I zig zagged down the litter strewn sidewalk in front of Manny’s Candy Store. I recited my T B C’s forward and sideways. I bent backward with both arms extended to touch my nose but I found my ears. Then I blew my bourbon breath into a small machine. A red needle swung north east west and south before it settled on .24.

The cop says,”Jesus Christ, triple drunk at two in the afternoon. An hour later and you might of killed one of them kids from St. Cyril’s. Them kids line up like ants for candy.” Then the cop holds out the cuffs and says,”Them kids deserve something nice after spending all day with them goddamned nuns.”

I hold out my arms. The cuffs click and lock. I tell the cop,”I didn’t know the drunk driving laws included ten speed bikes from Britain.” Manny comes out of his cavity cave with his canines clamped on a cheap cigar. Manny tells me, “I’ll hang onto the bike until you get out of jail.” Manny tells the cop,” Lock his ass up. He could’ve killed one of them kids.”

Inside the law limo I notice the cop’s gut does a lava leap to the center of the steering wheel. He’s one wide horizon. He’s carrying at least 375 on his curtain rod. He’s got a map of spider veins white watering down his nose. He’s scented Aqua Velva Blue and chili dog extra onions.

On our way to the Davison Station we’re two cowboys riding in the rush hour rodeo. “Got a job or do you just drink every day,” the cop asks.
“Yeah I do.”
“Yeah I do? What’s that mean? Drink or work?”
“I graduated from NYU with a master’s degree in Coprology. I’m a Coprologist.”
“What the fuck is Coprology?”
“Coprology’s a kissing cousin of Proctology.”
“What’s Proctology?”
“The study of products manufactured by Proctor And Gamble.”
“What the fuck does a Coprologist do?”
“Coprologists perform Coproscopies.”
“Coproscopies? That got something to do with copper?”
“Yeah, coproscopies measure the amount of radioactive refuse in copper minds.”
“Sounds dangerous.”
“It ‘s stressful officer. That’s why I start drinking at noon.”

Three steps inside the temple of the lawless, the cop takes my shoes and belt. Then he starts thumbing through my wallet. When I ask the cop what he’s looking for, he says “Drugs.” I tell him, “Well Wyatt Slurp, you’re about to find the most potent and powerful drug that exists on this ball of the bizarre and every other one that God spit out.”

He lifts a picture from the wallet. His mouth falls open. He’s already hooked. He aims the picture at me. There’s Lisa. There’s Lisa sun waxed and beach buffed. There’s Lisa, a sea slicked mermaid sucking on a Colada Straw in a coconut shell. There’s Lisa without a single thread of bikini to hide behind. The Caribbean Sea vanishes in the golden glow of her flesh. So does the sand, the sky, and the fishermen. Lisa’s nipples are sailor stars that lead to and illuminate the delirious waves of her velvet passage.

The cop whistles. The cop shakes his head. I can hear the cop’s eyes popping like popcorn. The cop fans his face with his citation book. The cop does the wet dog shimmy one more time, then the cop lets loose with both barrels, “Is she the chick you’re chucking Farley ? Man, what’s she doing duckin’ a loser like you ?”

I tell the cop, “Once upon a time women dug guys in uniform. Now women love drunks who think green, preen punk, and ride British racing bikes. I tell the cop, “Here’s the best advice I can give you. Quit your job, lose two hundred pounds, buy a British racing bike, make brandy, Budweiser, and bourbon your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you’ll become an instant gigolo.”

A pock of light flares and fades in the cop’s eyes. “You wanna make your one call now or in the morning, smart ass?”

The cuffs come off. I dial. Three rings. Five rings. Seven rings. Lisa picks up.

“Lisa, . . .”
“You’re two hours late.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Where are you?”
“At the Davison Station.”
“I’ll be locked up after this call.”
“Drunk driving again?”
“On the birthday gift you bought for Jimmy from Woody The Fence?”
“Don’t talk so loud Lisa, these phones are tapped.”
“I’m gonna buy you a tricycle with training wheels and a leash.”
“Come on Lisa.”
“That way you wont be able to leave the yard.”
“Can you come on down and bail me out baby?”
Lisa says, “We’re all in jail Bobby. Figure it out for yourself.” Her phone explodes in my left ear.

I shake my head. I tell the cop, “There’s no way out.” The cop shakes his head. The cop tells me “Sure there is.” I tell the cop, “Ok, give me the dope.” He flashes my photo of paradise. He smiles and hands me a pen. On the back of my Kodachrome cream puff I write . . .

227 Water Street South
Phone # 722 414 6722
Phone # 722 327 3381

The cop says, “Sorry about the misunderstanding. By the way, is the second number her work number?” I tell the cop, “No, the second number is my phone number. If you find a way out of that prison give me a call.” I walked through the door, bounced down the station steps and headed back to Manny’s praying every step of the way that Manny hadn’t fenced Jimmy’s birthday bike.

Originally published:
Issue Sixty-Seven
July 2013


Ed Markowski lives and writes in Auburn Hills, Michigan. More of Ed’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.


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