“Excuse me…who are you?” I asked, attempting to sound as casual as possible. Though you might be overdoing it with the slight drawl…what are you gonna say next? Are you gonna extend the offer ‘to be his huckleberry’?
The grey-haired gentleman (who appeared to be the spokesman of the group) reached into an inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a leather holder. He flipped it open to reveal a badge. “I’m sorry…I should have introduced us. We’re Mayor Dwek’s protection detail for tonight, and as part of our job, we need to inspect your home prior to her arrival. You know…in order to ensure her safety.” He placed the badge back into his jacket. “With your permission, of course.”
Hmmm…I sure hope that Rhonda put the sativa back into the cabinet before they got here… “Absolutely,” I replied, opening the door wider and raising my free hand to welcome our new guests. “My home is certainly open to Little Peru’s finest. Come on in, gentlemen. Feel free to look around.”
The charismatic police officer turned back to his comrades. “All right, boys, you know the drill.” As his brothers-in-arms began to permeate my abode, he placed himself squarely before me and Rhonda in the midst of our spacious living room and its view of the Manhattan skyline. Well, less spacious at the moment, with all these chairs that we brought out of storage for everyone. Sometimes I wonder where we got all this crap… Even though he wasn’t of any imposing height, his composure and disposition seemed to have stature on their own. His almost-silver mane was complemented well by a goatee of gunmetal grey, and despite the thick blue-collar Jersey accent, he conducted himself with all the grandeur and poise of a Victorian butler. “Sir…ma’am…I’m Officer Linares, and I apologize for our intrusion. I hope that everything goes well for you and your building during Her Honor’s visit. After we’re done with this brief sweep around your home, we’ll get out of the way and just be flies on the wall for the rest of the night.”
“Not a problem,” Rhonda said mellifluously, being the warmest possible of any hostess. “You and your fellow officers should make yourselves at home. Can I get you anything? Or anything for one of your boys? Or maybe something from the catering sent by the mayor?” She motioned towards our dining table, which was struggling under the weight of our edible horde. Despite being the centerpiece of the table, it was receiving less attention than a cooked turkey at an immigrants’ Thanksgiving dinner. (Or, as those in Little Peru called that holiday, Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias…it’s no wonder that the Spanish speak so quickly. They have twice as much to say in the same amount of time.)
As the other officers quickly moved throughout the various rooms of our condo, Officer Linares kept his focus on the two of us. “Very kind of you, ma’am, but we’re fine for now.” He looked past us, observing a quick motion of one of his brethren. “We’re good? That’s great. Okay, it looks like we’re all in the clear.” He reported quickly and quietly to a microphone in the lapel of his jacket before speaking to us both again. “So, it’s almost showtime, since the Mayor and her aides are now getting out of the car downstairs; she’ll be up in a minute. So, we’ll now get out of your hair. Sir…ma’am…thank you for your cooperation.”
Rhonda shook his hand. “And thank you for your service, Officer Linares. Mind if I close those doors to the other rooms that you opened? It’s a little drafty here in the living room, and with those doors closed, we’ll be able to warm up this room faster.”
Officer Linares nodded, petting our cat Flukeman as he rubbed his tuxedo body against the bodyguard’s leg. One tuxedo, one suit…a perfect match. “Absolutely, ma’am, go right ahead.”
As Rhonda walked away to shut the doors of the various adjoining rooms, I begrudgingly attempted to fulfill the social obligation where a conversation can’t just die on its own, especially when it has only a few more moments to live. “So…like Rhonda was saying, if you or any of your men need something, just let us know…”
Even though he was still kneeling down and petting Flukeman, I was still able to hear and decipher his mumbled response. “…Anal sex with machetes.”
“Well,” I answered, after a moment of consideration. “I’m glad that you feel comfortable enough to ask, but I’m gonna have to decline that request…that won’t be on the menu for tonight.”
Chuckling, he stood up and looked up at me. “That’s funny…sorry, that’s the handle for this guy on the Internet who keeps making threats towards Mayor Dwek: AnalSexWithMachetes. We haven’t been able to track him down just yet. He’s been a major headache for us, and if we could get a hold of him, this protection detail would become a whole lot less stressful…”
A new visitor was announced via another loud knock on my door, and before I could move a muscle, Officer Linares moved towards the door and opened it for me. I’ll be a fly on the wall…my ass…more like a smooth-talking motherfucker on the wall…
The mayor’s paladin opened the door, and after the entrance of several people with plastic smiles (likely aides with the aspirations of taking the place of their boss and willing to stab each other to get it), I finally recognized the lady of the hour as she stepped into my domain: Mayor Dwek. To my surprise, she was much taller than I had expected, and though she didn’t look that different from the poster, those ubiquitous images didn’t do her justice. From both her body language and facial expressions, her physical presence gave a strong matriarchal presence that couldn’t be conveyed in a two-dimensional form, much like a great live band who never sounds convincing on any recording. Without needing any prompt by her aides, she walked to both me and Rhonda, who was now standing again by my side.
“Hello, I’m Mayor Dwek. Thank you for welcoming us into your home,” she said, gripping my hand firmly but looking towards Rhonda. “I’ll do whatever I can to remedy your situation. Hopefully, we can fix this problem together.” As she walked to one of the many chairs situated in the middle of the room, I started to close the door…only to observe a foot blocking the door’s base from the outside. It was then that a familiar face poked its head through the narrow gap of the door frame.
“Raymond?” I spurted in evident confusion. “What are you doing here?”
Our property manager Raymond Vitalona pushed the door open slowly, placing a hand over his heart. “God bless you, sir…I apologize profusely if I never told you beforehand. I didn’t tell you that I was one of the Mayor’s aides?”
Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.