No Respect


 "License and registration," I said, that damned nigger looking at me like I was dirt, him in his BMW and his Brooks Brothers suit, glancing sharply at his Rollex watch as if he didn=t have time for this, though from the smell of his breath, he=d obviously had time for a drink.

 AIs there are problem, officer?@ he asked, in a voice that asked how I dared pull him over, somebody so important as him.

 ANo problem if you do what you=re told,@ I said, signaling to Joe in the car. AWhy don=t you just step out of there.@

 Only then did I catch that look in his eye, the look trapped niggers get, as if finally understood he wasn=t going to get away pulling his attitude on me. Maybe cops in the city will take crap from his kind, but out here, a nigger is a nigger, and we like to keep them that way. I even saw a look like he might try to escape, though he knew I knew he=d never make it, not in a BMW anyway, and he slowly got out.

 ANow why don=t you tell us what your big hurry is?@ I asked as Joe came up to my side, slapping his black baton the way he always did, that nigger=s gaze following each bounce.

 AI=m late for a wedding,@ the nigger said.

 AWhere?@ I asked, having no part of his story, knowing how people made their way through our town dressed up as if to so somewhere, when they=re really thinking to rob our stores and rape our wives.

 AThe Manor,@ he said.

 AAren=t you a little out of your way?@ I asked. AThe Manor=s on the highway.@

 AI know, but I always cut through...@

 AAlways?@ I said. AYou=ve come through our town before.@

 ANow look officer,@ he said, now sounding annoyed. AI told you where I=m going and I told you that I=m late. Now if you don=t mind...@

 ABut I do mind,@ I said. AI mind so much I want you to walk a straight line for me.@

 AWhat?@ the nigger said, now getting hot. AWhy the hell should I...?@

 AI smell alcohol on your breath, and I want to see if you=re driving's impaired.@

 In his eyes, he objected, but his face sagged as he sighed.

 AAll right,@ he said. ALet=s just get this over with.@

 ASay, buddy!@ Joe barked. ADon=t take that tone with us. When my partner says walk, you walk, and you keep your Goddamn mouth shut, you hear.@

 The nigger only stared, first at Joe=s face, and then at the baton bouncing harder in Joe=s hand. That nigger swallowed and nodded, but only staggered once when he walked.

 ASatisfied?@ he asked.

 AAlmost,@ I said. AWe=ll just run a check on your car, and then you can go.@

 AA check? What for?@

 ABecause niggers don=t drive BMW=s around here,@ I said.

 ANow wait one just minute,@ he nigger said, grabbing at my arm. AI=m a successful business man and I don=t have to take crap from you!@

 ANobody=s handing your crap -- yet,@ Joe said, grinning at the nigger.

 The nigger=s eyes went wide.

 AWas that a threat?@

 AYou want it to be?@ Joe asked, poking the nigger int he stomach with the stick, poking him so hard that the nigger grunted and bowed. AThere, nigger, how about that!@

 AJoe!@ I shouted. AWhy the hell did you do that?@

 "Didn't you hear him?" Joe asked. "The uppity nigger thinks he's somebody special."

 "I'll have your badge for this," the man moaned, managing to lean back against his car.

 Joe=s face went red before he hit that nigger again, this time in the shoulder.

 "You just keep your mouth shut, nigger."

 "He's gonna complain," I groaned. "He's not like the street punks we've been pulling over up here. He'll make hell for us."

 "Will he?" Joe asked and grinned, pushing the baton up under the nigger's chin, lifting the head up. "You gonna make trouble for us, nigger?"

 The nigger only glared. People would believe him. Him and his suit and tie would make people take notice the way no one would for the others.

 "Let's let him go," I said.

 "What?" Joe howled. "And let him get away with thinking he's scared us?"

 "Joe, please!"

 But the baton rose and fell a half dozen times, bending the nigger farther and farther forward till he tumbled to the ground. I bent and felt his neck. Blood spurted from a wound on his temple.

  "Damn it, Joe," I said. "You don't know when to quit, do you?"

  Joe grinned at me. "Sure, I do. He ain't dead, is he?"

 No, he wasn't dead. But we were. One more complaint, the sergeant had said.

 "He's unconscious. But he'll talk up a storm once he wakes up."

 "He doesn't have to, you know."

 "What are you going to do, beat him to death?" I asked, straightening, the man's blood dripping down my fingers. "Let's call the paramedics."

 "No. It wouldn't be hard. I mean he could have had an accident. He was drunk and in a hurry. We could put him behind the wheel and roll the car off the road. Over where the Kelly kids went through the guard rail."

 "No," I said.

 "And what about the sergeant? Remember what he said?"

 One more complaint and he wouldn=t be able to cover it, he=d said. One more complaint and I=d lose my job, and maybe go to jail, my kids winding up on the street -- all for some fancy nigger who didn=t know when to keep his mouth shut, all because he had to take a short cut he hadn=t needed to take through our town. I stared down at that nigger on the ground, his eyes closed, but the glare of vengeance still fresh on his face. One white cop was a good as another to him.

 "All right," I said. "Do it. Just don't make any mistakes."

  Joe grinned.

 "You worry too much, pal. That's your trouble."

  I nodded as Joe pushed the body back into the Mercedes and drove off with both. I didn't hear the crash‑‑ only Joe's footsteps hurrying back down the road.

 "Done," he said, wiping his hands. "That'll teach that nigger to have a little respect for the law."


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