Dan's shoulders slumped and his head fell limply to one side as the cop approached him. He sighed and said -- to no one, "You've got to be kidding me."
Well, maybe the cop wasn't heading toward him, maybe the guy was actually heading -- nope. Right for Dan. Of course. And the cop wore a mighty impressive scowl as he closed the gap between them too; it was as if he was physically incapable of smiling -- or showing any other kind of human emotion, for that matter. Why was it that every cop Dan had ever seen had the body of a wrestler and the jaw of a cinder block?
The cop stopped in front of Dan and looked him over -- probably in search of a concealed weapon, Dan thought. Dan was a tall guy, and the cop only had an inch on him there, but easily outweighed him by sixty pounds.
Sixty pounds of taut, angry muscle. Pointed right at me. Yaay!
The cop spoke, and his voice was unexpectedly soft. Dan half-expected the guy to scream at him like R. Lee Ermey's Gunnery Sargent Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, but his tone was calm, measured. His eyes inspected every inch of Dan's figure, but finally engaged his eyes with a more than a hint of concern, "Are you all right, sir?"
Dan tried brushing off his tantrum with a laugh, "Yes! Yes I am. I'm sorry about that, officer. I lost my cool a little bit there."
He (not unexpectedly) did not return Dan's lighthearted banter. Instead he nodded grimly and said, "Yes you did."
There was a moment of awkward silence. The cop stared at Dan, apparently waiting for some kind of explanation, while Dan returned the cop's look and wondered if it would be okay to retrieve his bag from its final resting place against the half-wall by the exit. Eventually the cop's eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly and he asked, "Would you mind telling me exactly why you just hurled your $100.00 briefcase at an empty wall?"
"It's an attache."
The cop's eyes squeezed into a full-fledged squint, "What?"
Dan pointed, "My bag is an attache, not a briefcase. You see, the difference between the two is--"
"I don't care."
Suddenly Dan was five years old again, and his only thought was to apologize, "I won't do it again."
"I didn't ask you that. What I want to know is: are you having some sort of mental breakdown?"
"No. It was just," and before Dan could curb his runaway lips, insanity's gospel spewed forth from them, much to Dan's horror, "he started it."
Dan didn't slap his hand over his mouth to stop the verbal sewage leak, but his eyes did bulge with guilt. In his head, Dan wondered if, when convicted and sent upstate, his nurse would be named "Ratched."
Now the cop was getting more interested in Dan. A thin film of sweat shone just above the man's shirt collar as adrenaline pumped through his blood and his blood pressure elevated just a tic. He leaned forward and asked, slowly, "WHO did you throw the bag at?"
There was more than a fine patina of sweat at Dan's neckline. It poured from his skin like some twisted Wham-O summer toy and soaked through the armpits of his shirt and into his nice new coat, "No one. I'm not crazy, I just.. you see, cops make me nervous!"
It was supposed to be an offhand comment, but the cop's posture grew more rigid by each passing moment, and Dan tried his hardest not to look like a criminal. A nervous chirp of laughter escaped his mouth and he ran his hand through his hair -- and through the glob of bird droppings in his hair.
"Ahh, Goddamn it!"
By now the cop was leaning forward intently, like a running back about to explode through the hole for a first down. The only thing he hadn't yet done was reach for his gun.
Dan dropped to his knees and raised his hands to the heavens, "I don't have Tourette's, I swear!"
"I never said you did."
"A bird crapped on my head, so I got pissed and flung my bag at him! I'm late for an important job interview, but now I have to go with crap all over me!"
The cop's eyebrows raised. My, this was getting interesting! He turned to look over his shoulder at the gull which casually sat atop the wall above the attache. It looked back at the cop and cocked its head to one side, as if growing impatient.
The cop looked back at Dan, and asked, "Do you normally throw things at pigeons with the intent to injure?"
"It wasn't a pigeon, it was a gull," Dan said, but inside his head he screamed at himself, OH MY GOD! DON'T CORRECT HIM! Just nod and try to look sane!
The cop was a statue as he responded, "Uh-huh."
"I'm under some stress."
For the first time a glimpse of humor twinkled in the cop's eyes, "No kidding?"
Dan pointed at the bird and said, "Besides, he started it."
And inside his head, his own voice admonished, Shut up shut up shut up!