China Lights

Savannah: Part VII

Well, back when I was about y’all’s age, I went out riding with some friends of mine. They were playing around and swerving a little bit in an old Caprice and we caught the attention of some cop. The guy runs us down and pulls us over and really starts hassling us. We were in the white part of town in the middle of the night, and this guy wasn’t going to just leave us be. Officer Brian Nelson. If I ever see him out of uniform I’ll kill the son of a bitch. Well, the copper started searching through the car, and when he got to the trunk one of the dumbasses I was with had a couple grams of cocaine in there. He sure as hell wasn’t sharing with me, but I had to take the fall for it along with everybody else. They don’t plea bargain with black men in Calaveras County. So I sat there in the pen for ten years paying for a crime I didn’t commit. When I got out, nobody would hire an ex con. I already had a dishonorable discharge on my record for ditching during the Korean conflict. As far as most folks is concerned, I’m a dead man. I have been since the day I got caught in that nasty ole car.”
“That is one hell of a story.” Dave was impressed. These were the kind of stories he liked to hear. Pete, on the other hand, was squirming. He whispered something to me.
“You mean we’re sitting here with an ex con? You know he as a gun or something on him,” Pete whispered feverishly.
“You know you’re sitting with three ex-cons, don’t you Pete?”
“What?! You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’m afraid not. I’m assault with a deadly weapon, Dave is possession with the intent to sell. You get along with us fine. Where did you think I met Dave?”
Dave was ready to split, now that he’d gotten his story. “Hey, it was nice meeting you Keith. We’ve got to be going. I think we’re going to try sleeping on the beach tonight. It ought to be real nice this time of night.”
“You guys mind if I tag along?”
“Well, hell no man. We’ve got an extra seat and plenty of groceries. Come on with us then.” Dave and Keith started walking to the car. Pete and I were walking in the back of the group, and Pete was about to freak out. This silly college kid didn’t know what he was getting into. Joy riding is not quite as simple as he thought it would be?drive to Savannah, see the sights, sleep in a hot girl’s soft dorm bed or a nice warm hotel, drive home. It’s not like that.
Pete leaned over to me again with fire in his breath. He had a few things to set straight. “Hell no. That guy isn’t coming in the car with us. There’s no way.”
“It’s my car Pete. I say he’s coming.”
“Well I think that’s bullshit. There’s no way I’m riding in your little car with that nigger fresh out of prison.”
“Hey now. You watch your mouth. I never took you for a damned racist, but it appears I was mistaken. I don’t want to ever hear those words out of your mouth again.
“Keith’s a good guy, and you’ll see that. God forbid you’re ever down on your luck. I hope the folks look at you like some white mongrel piece of shit for that. It’s karma Pete, and you’ve got a hell of a load coming to you.”
“Damn it, I’m too good for this shit. You hear me? I’m too good for this. People like me don’t sleep in parks and get drunk with bums on the beach at five in the morning. No. There’s no way. That guy’s not coming with us.”
“Dave?” Ole’ Dave had to hear this one.
“Pete, tell Dave and Keith what you just told me.”
“Wha? What the hell are you doing?” Pete was pale as an ale and about to piss himself.
“Pete says he’s too good for us. He says he’s not coming with us. How d’ya like that?” Pete was about to get beat down and I think he knew it was coming. “He called us a couple of bums, and he had the balls to call Keith a nigger.”
“Oh, a nigger huh? Little pretty boy white faggot. I got your nigger. I got your nigger right here.” Keith was a very passionate man. Pete was wrong though. He didn’t carry a gun, only a knife.

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