Constable Harley O’Shea strolled around Lloyd the bartender’s small apartment above The Village Fig. He bent his thick neck from side to side to leer into nooks, crannies, corners, cubbies. He pulled out a pair of reading glasses and leaned in close to a dusty wooden cabinet of clutter. “You sure do have a lot of stuff, Lloyd. What gives?”
“I like things,” Lloyd answered. “I don’t have many friends, but I have plenty of interests. Is there a law against that?”
Constable O’Shea took note of Lloyd’s attempt at sarcasm. “No.” He pointed to a door off the living room, darkness in the cracked opening. “Is that your bathroom?”
“Yes,” Lloyd answered as politely as he could, but his patience was already wearing thin. He stood behind the constable as the lawman worked his plump body through the doorway of the bathroom and switched on the light. The constable pulled the shower curtain aside to look inside the tub. “What’s with all the different kinds of shampoo, Lloyd? Hell, you don’t even have that much hair.”
“I like to experiment with different brands, fragrances and cleansing styles. I don’t understand what shampoo has to do with…”
Constable O’ Shea raised a hand the size of a thick bone-in porkchop to silence him. “Interference with my investigation isn’t a good idea, Lloyd. Trust me on that one.” He turned and bent with a groan and opened the cabinet beneath the sink. He retrieved a small flashlight from his utility belt and illuminated the dim space. “Am I going to find any feminine products down here?” he asked.
“No!” Lloyd protested. “That’s preposterous.”
“What about boner pills or condoms or latex gloves? Huh?”
“Oh, good grief, Harley! I’m not a swinger.”
The constable stood and there was an audible popping sound that came from his overtaxed joints. Once erect, he reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a blue cloth bandana and wiped at his brow. “Whew. It’ so damn hot in here, Lloyd. Why don’t you go open a window.”
Lloyd did what he was told, and when he returned, he found that the constable had migrated to his bedroom. When he walked in, Harley was inspecting the closet. “You’re kind of light in the fashion department, Lloyd. Why’s that?”
“I don’t want to have to trouble myself with too many clothing decisions on a daily basis,” Lloyd answered.
“Like Einstein, huh?”
“Something like that.”
“What’s in the shoeboxes?”
“Aw, come on, Lloyd. No one uses shoeboxes for shoes. What you got in them? Dope? Naughty pictures? Laughing gas for pre-coitus huffing?”
Lloyd sighed with frustration. “If you want to know so bad, just look.”
The constable grinned and worked to remove the lids from the tops of three shoe boxes… Nothing but shoes, shoes, and shoes.
“I told you.”
“What about the dildoes and the vibrators? Under the bed?”
Lloyd was insulted. “No! I don’t have those kinds of things!”
But Harley ignored him and had already gotten down on the floor and was training his small flashlight under the bed. “Jesus, Lloyd. Do you ever clean? You’ve got enough wootzoolas down here to build a bear.”
“I suppose some dust is reason to arrest me, too?” Lloyd snapped.
The constable got to his knees and looked up at him. “You’re being too far lighthearted about this, Lloyd.” He wagged a fat finger at him. “But you might want to take this a bit more seriously. I’ll find something.” He stood all the way up at the foot of the bed and proceeded to loosen his gun belt and undo his pants. He let them fall to around his ankles and then stepped out of them.
“What the hell are you doing?” Lloyd said, now growing furious and more confused.
“Investigating,” Harley said, and he proceeded to climb up onto the bed. He stood as tall as he could, somewhat struggling to keep his balance on the soft mattress. Then he took a giant leap and violently bellyflopped into the sheets. There was the sound of something cracking and the bed comically collapsed as if they had time shifted to an old Laurel and Hardy film.
“What the fuck!” Lloyd screamed.
But Harley ignored him as he buried his face into the bedding and inhaled deeper than the deepest depths of space. “Ahh hah!” the constable bellowed. “I’m catching the scent of my own wife’s delicious ass!”
Lloyd grew red in the face and fisted his own head in uncontrollable anger. “Get out! Get out now before I call up the real cops!”
Harley rolled out of the bed and thumped onto the floor like sack of potatoes. He struggled to get up, but when he finally did, he scooped up his pants and put himself back together. He sniffled, dabbed at his head with his blue cloth bandana and tried to fix his wispy hair back into place with a hand. He looked around at the mess he created. “Wow. Geez, Lloyd. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I was just trying to be thorough in my investigation.”
Lloyd’s pointer finger shook at the end of his outstretched arm. He spoke through clenched, grinding teeth. “Get the hell out of my apartment.”
“Okay, Lloyd. It appears I went a bit overboard here. Things really got out of hand. I realize that now.”
“A bit? A bit!?”
“I’m sorry, Lloyd. It’s just that… Damn it all.” He sighed with a soul full of sadness. “I know Mary is up to something. I thought I had you pegged. It appears I was mistaken.”
“You sure as hell were, Harley. Very mistaken.”
The constable bowed his head in shame and walked out of the bedroom and toward the front door. Lloyd rushed after him. “What about my bed?”
“Oh,” Harley said, and he scratched at his honeydew melon-like head. “I’ll send over a new one as soon as I can. No charge to you, of course. I’ll ding the ding-a-ling taxpayers.” He tried to laugh.
But Lloyd found no humor in any of it. “When?”
“Soon, Lloyd. Soon.” Harley pulled the door open and went out.
Lloyd stood for a moment in shocked silence. He eventually sighed, a calming breath in and out, and put a hand to his forehead and scrunched his face as if he had a terrible headache. Which he in fact now did. Then he heard the muffled, soft voice coming from behind the door of a small closet in the kitchen. A closet the constable had overlooked. Lloyd went to the nearly invisible door and tugged it open. The constable’s wife, Mary O’Shea herself, came tumbling out and fell into the bartender’s arms.
TO BE CONTINUED