Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 10 of 64

The triumph was fading, fast replaced by anger. “What’s wrong with you? Do you always have to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? I just beat off those three assholes without raising a hand, and all you want to do is criticize? Christ, OK, next time we can hand over our wallets. Maybe they’ll want a little rape, too—should I go along with that? You just tell me what the rules are, and I’ll be sure and obey them.”

“You fucking pig! Where the fuck do you get off raising your voice to me? And don’t you ever joke about rape. It’s not even slightly funny, you arrogant fucking prick.”

Art’s triumph deflated. “Jesus,” he said, “Jesus, Linda, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize how scared you must have been—”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve been mugged a dozen times. I hand over my wallet, cancel my cards, go to my insurer. No one’s ever hurt me. I wasn’t the least bit scared until you opened up your big goddamned mouth.”

“Sorry, sorry. Sorry about the rape crack. I was just trying to make a point. I didn’t know—” He wanted to say, I didn’t know you’d been raped, but thought better of it—“it was so…personal for you—”

“Oh, Christ. Just because I don’t want to joke about rape, you think I’m some kind of victim, that I’ve been raped”—Art grimaced—“well, I haven’t, shithead. But it’s not something you should be using as a goddamned example in one of your stupid points. Rape is serious.”

The cops arrived then, two of them on scooters, looking like meter maids. Art and Linda glared at each other for a moment, then forced smiles at the cops, who had dismounted and shed their helmets. They were young men, in their twenties, and to Art, they looked like kids playing dress up.

“Evening sir, miss,” one said. “I’m PC McGivens and this is PC DeMoss. You called emergency services?” McGivens had his comm out and it was pointed at them, slurping in their identity on police override.

“Yes,” Art said. “But it’s OK now. They took off. One of them left his wallet behind.” He bent and picked it up and made to hand it to PC DeMoss, who was closer. The cop ignored it.

“Please sir, put that down. We’ll gather the evidence.”

Art lowered it to the ground, felt himself blushing. His hands were shaking now, whether from embarrassment, triumph or hurt he couldn’t say. He held up his now-empty palms in a gesture of surrender.

“Step over here, please, sir,” PC McGivens said, and led him off a short ways, while PC Blaylock closed on Linda.

“Now, sir,” McGivens said, in a businesslike way, “please tell me exactly what happened.”

So Art did, tastefully omitting the meat-parlor where the evening’s festivities had begun. He started to get into it, to evangelize his fast-thinking bravery with the phone. McGivens obliged him with a little grin.

“Very good. Now, again, please, sir?”

“I’m sorry?” Art said.

“Can you repeat it, please? Procedure.”


“Can’t really say, sir. It’s procedure.”

Art thought about arguing, but managed to control the impulse. The man was a cop, he was a foreigner—albeit a thoroughly documented one—and what would it cost? He’d probably left something out anyway.

He retold the story from the top, speaking slowly and clearly. PC McGivens aimed his comm Artwards, and tapped out the occasional note as Art spoke.

“Thank you sir. Now, once more, please?”

Art blew out an exasperated sigh. His feet hurt, and his bladder was swollen with drink. “You’re joking.”

“No sir, I’m afraid not. Procedure.”

“But it’s stupid! The guys who tried to mug us are long gone, I’ve given you their descriptions, you have their identification—” But they didn’t, not yet. The wallet still lay where Art had dropped it.

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