The Heat.

by Serge Bielanko

The other night. I sit out on the front porch with Violet in my arms. I'm almost crying. I'm pretty much crying. I'm crying a little in front of the cops and I think to myself that this must be so boring and routine for them. For me: it's already Alcatraz.

Cops are big on eye contact but here today: our eyes don't meet much. I can feel Little Leader's beams shining right through my face, but I don't look at him really. He's too into being in charge for me to just hand it all over to him. I don't want to be watching him watch me be brittle .

Violet, on the other hand....oh Violet, she stares and stares. She smiles. I see the officer at the bottom of the steps when he gets Tomahawked by my baby's sweet toothless gums. He wants to wave, the kind bastard. I can feel it coming off him. I know when people wanna wave at my kid; I feel them feel. He so obviously wants to wave but I think he is embarrassed in front of Little Leader. It doesn't matter. Violet loves these guys for now: their squawky radios and their shiny badges. The guns don't register for her.

Little Leader asks me some stuff and I stagger through it the best I can. Snot is backing up in my pipes and I know if I try to answer with too many words, lava bubbles are gonna gurble out my nose. And that's when I reckon I could likely lose this little biting my tongue battle. The thing is though that these guys think I'm crying because I'm afraid to go jail or something. Afraid of the squad car, and the bright lights in the dull rooms where they finger-print you and take your photo with your hair all fucked up from bittersweet night living. They are wrong though.

I'm more sad because of all this. This bullshit. Cops in our driveway: standing next to my eggplants and bell peppers and writing things on their Cop-Pads and being somewhat gentle when I need them to be assholes. I keep kissing the very tip-top of Violet's head. It occupies me/my mind. I don't think about the impression it might be giving off at the time, but looking back, it can't hurt to be kissing a smooth-tempered baby when you're surrounded by The Heat.

Across the street I see people walking their dogs. Pushing strollers. Soft summer evening rolls up and over all the neighborhood houses and down into the yards. It oozes under the cars parked at the curbs. Robins hop though green grass picking up bugs and worm chunks. I picture some of the people across the street peering though their Venetians. I hear the flimsy aluminum bend and pop as they use their fingertips to pry them apart so they can see through and across. So they can see Over There.

Something is going on Over There, one of them will say.

Over where?, asks the other, crowding in and popping some blinds with his fingers too.

There. The people with baby. There's the husband on the chair on the porch. The cops are talking to him.

Oh yeah, I see him. Hmph. Little Bitch is all ready to cry. Look at him, you can see it from here.

Well, I'd cry too, I suppose. I wonder what he did.

Maybe he killed her?

Killed who? His wife? I doubt it. Maybe though.

He has the baby on his lap.

Oh yeah. Wave at her.

Then they go back to their dinners, their corn-on-the-cobs and bottled water.

Eventually, it all winds down. I tell the cops I don't have anywhere else to go. Any friends or family here? I tell him no. I bite into my lip and stammer and escape into Violet's wonderful hair.

I just want them to fucking leave. I want Monica to finish talking to her cop inside the house. I want her to go back to work. I want to just be me and Violet here in the air conditioning. I wanna slice some supermarket cheese off the brick in the fridge and put my daughter to sleep.

I wanna stop picturing stuff. I wanna stop thinking about lines in the sand and the price you pay. Nothing happened here that hasn't happened before. No one lost it all. No one's drunk and screeching on the front yard. There's no gauze wrapped around anyone's palm. There are no defensive knife gashes. No welts on cheeks. Nothing you can see really. Nothing much went down that the paramedics could get behind.

Even the cops seem a little dazed. Bummed. There's some paperbacks on the floor and that's it. They need shattered glass/the baby bawling/the dogs upset. All they get is some dude with glassy eyes with an angel on his lap.

Anyways life happened if that's what you're wondering. And you are.

Life happened and sometimes that means we're having pizza and beer and sometimes it means someone calls 911. Some words got jabbed into some hearts is all. Happens all the time in our rugged West. Jagged cut bone sentences. Smashed whiskey bottle phrases. Shoved hard and fast with Old Saloon Power into each others faces with just a click of our teeth.

Big Bad Feelings. With nowhere to run to baby. No place to hide.