This guy Nate was convinced I was a cop. Didn’t matter what my brother said, he just kept coming back to it. “I know that dude’s a cop. This guy a cop?” I hate cops but I didn’t care what he thought of me. He was a loser and all I wanted to do was die. I’d been dragged to this shitty garage apartment against my will because I’d been thinking about killing myself and Chris wouldn’t let me stay at the house alone and if I couldn’t have my way I wasn’t going to let Chris have his so I just sat there, silent, nursing my beer on the couch by myself.
Sometimes people would try to talk to me and I wouldn’t say shit and they finally all decided to pretend like I wasn’t real, or like I was a cum stain on the couch, just an annoyance that was preventing them from sitting down and getting comfortable or playing Wii but that no one was willing to do anything about.
I didn’t know Nate. It wasn’t his house. No one was even really doing anything that illegal. Someone had been smoking a joint earlier but that’s it, so I didn’t even know why he cared. There was nothing about me that said cop. I didn’t have cop hair or a stupid cop face. I was sloppy and scruffy and slouchy. I was dead on the inside but not in that cop way. I was the least cop-looking dude you could imagine.
The one thing I guess was my pen. I had this pen I carried around. It was made of steel and had this hard nub on one end that was supposed to be hard enough to smash a car windshield like in case you ever drove off a bridge and had to climb out of your car and swim to the surface and didn’t have time to roll your window down. As if you would have time to fumble around for and locate your emergency exit pen. I’d taken it out of my pocket and was just sort of absentmindedly fucking around with it and it probably did sort of look like a cop pen. Nate kept alluding to it, saying “What the fuck is up with that pen? Why does he even have a pen?” Sometimes you just do something for no reason, the downside being that people like Nate are likely to ascribe their own weird-ass reasons to it.
I hated these guys, I hated this garage apartment. Being in it, with them, it made me want to kill myself even more than usual. So maybe that’s what he picked up on. Maybe he had just enough self-awareness to know there was something about him that made people want to kill themselves but not enough to try to figure out what it was and excise it from his personality.
“Yo Chris what’s up with this guy. He acts like a cop.”
“That’s my brother. Like I said. He’s in college.”
I almost corrected him but I didn’t want to break my vow of silence. Chris loved me. He was a good brother. He’d said that bit about me being in college just from force of habit and then he realized it wasn’t true, and I could tell he was about to say “Or, well, he was in college, but,” and he caught himself. He wouldn’t be likely to say anything that reflected badly on me on a normal night, let alone one where he thought I was suicidal. It didn’t matter. I still don’t think it was fair for them to kick me out of school but who really gives a shit. This world has bigger problems. I sat in the president’s office and let him lecture me about academic integrity and I said “I know how much you pay your grad students and adjuncts so suck my dick.” It was the coolest thing I’ve ever said. Probably the only cool thing. All I had done was sell a few essays to help pay for my tuition, I probably could have been reinstated if I’d kept my mouth shut but fuck it.
This was all so long ago.
There was a table in the center of the room where they were all gathered, huddled around it planning out their Taco Bell order as if they were planning a heist. They didn’t ask if I wanted anything. Nate went out to get the food even though he was drunk and high and he made it back without killing anyone somehow and the first thing he said was “I see the cop’s still here.” It was like there was a spell that made these people, everyone but Nate, not see me or acknowledge my existence, to the point where if Nate talked about me they couldn’t even hear him.
They ate their Taco Bell. I sat in my spot. Every now and then I would sneak away to grab a beer. One time I heard someone say “Man where’d all the beer go?” I was a beer ghost.
“D., you ready? D.?” Chris had to help me stand up. I had got hammered. I had just sat there getting hammered at a turtle’s pace, never downing anything, just a constant moderate intake.
Nate got in my face one more time, asking me if I was a cop. “Yo man” he said, “what’s your problem anyway? If you’re a cop you gotta tell me. It’s the law.”
Chris said I wasn’t there to start trouble, to just give me some space, I was having a rough time and I just needed a little space. He said, “Bro his girlfriend just died, just give him a break okay.” He tried to whisper it but I heard. I’d asked him not to tell anyone about her.
Nate said “Dude’s a fucking cop, I know it. I can’t believe you brought a fucking cop here.”
Finally I spoke up. I leaned in and made my voice all hard and gravelly, like I was Batman, and said “I know what you did you sick fuck. I’m gonna put you away for a long time.”
I had got the idea from a PG Wodehouse book called Big Money. Great book. One of the characters goes up to a stranger and says “I know what you did” with the hope that they’d done something bad enough to be scared by him saying that and pay up for his silence. He was lucky enough that the random person he accused was actually a criminal. All I did back then was sit around and read novels. It was kind of nice really. I mean everything else was bad but that part was nice. Drove Chris crazy because he wanted me to work so I could pay rent but I rather liked being useless and unproductive. Anyway the “you sick fuck” part was an ad lib. I don’t think PG Wodehouse would have said that. I shouldn’t have said anything, of course. My mom said I was possessed, there was a devil inside me that just took over sometimes and made me say stupid shit. Like telling a paranoid shitbag at a shitty house party I was gonna put him away for a long time.
“You’re not gonna do shit,” he said. You could tell he wanted to sound calm but he was also kind of shook.
I pulled out my bigass metal pen and waved it in front of his face and said “I’ve got it all on here. I’ve got this whole night on video.”
I was being facetious, the way I do even though I know better. People don’t get it. They never pick up on it.
“Fuck,” he said, all worked up. “I fucking knew it. Shit shit fuck.”
He started pacing around the living room, pulling at his hair. Honestly I think he was having a panic attack. He muttered “Where’s my fucking gun?” and Chris grabbed my shoulder and dragged me out of the house and to his car.
“You shouldn’t fuck with people like that,” he said after he pulled out of the driveway. He didn’t have anything else to say. He just put on a 311 CD and turned the volume up.
Maybe I should feel bad about what happened, what I said, because we found out the next day that Nate killed himself. Chris was pretty pissed about it until it came out the cops had found a ton of porn, the very bad kind, on his computer, so no I don’t feel bad. Of all the things I regret, being responsible for the death of a pedo/child molester is not one of them.
What sucks though is after that everyone thought I really was a cop.