9 Two Against the Night

        I push the bills into the slot one at a time. They feed perfect. I hope my luck has changed. You get 3 credits for $1, 7 for $2, and 20 for $5. Twenty credits is a long time standing and searching. It’s a great deal, but many of your songs will play without you as you focus on the selection and repeat. I always search for the artist, then select from find, scroll to the song I want, and select if available and within my credits, if not try again. The machine suggests the next song, but if you’re not interested, you have to start over. I am an average speller, and if the machine doesn’t find an artist, I know to check my spelling and repeat. Twenty songs is too much screen time; the process bores me. I want to sit, drink, and listen, and not think about the future. One of the drawbacks of this digital jukebox is that you have to know what you want, and even then, it may not be available. One dollar is two few; by the time you’ve found and chosen, half of your songs have played without you.

        In 7 song spurts, being the DJ is ok, but 20 are too damn tedious. I guess I am shallow when it comes down to it. I like the control and to hear what I want, but I don’t mind listening to something different. I know what I like, but I don’t have time to spend on it as a pursuit. I have a standard range, which I add to when I here something new, and I often wonder if, the other patrons don’t get tired of seeing me. I’ve never heard any complaints, besides I am not in here often. I only know two drinkers who come the Buddha on a regular basis.

        Following James Brown, I choose some pop jazz, Trombone Shorty, Hurricane (2-credits.) I search and find the Beasty Boys. I choose Neck-bone (1-credit,) not hiphop, but more trip-hop, an instrumental off one of their lesser-known albums, The Sound from Way-out; it’s more trippy. I’ve been chastised for playing too much jazz, so I choose Prince, Raspberry Beret (1-credit.) After Prince I go further back, China Girl (1-credit,) Iggy Pop not David Bowie. I don’t know if this song is politically correct or not. I like and Marcus has never moaned about it. Once upon a time, I use to play Rage Against the Machine. It is banned; fuck the police and other lyrics offend the occasional crowd.

        Two credits to spend, the first song is still playing. I would like to follow up with something African, Hugh Maskela, Fela Kuti, or both; I’ve never searched for them on this jukebox before. If not, maybe Donald Fagan, the Night Fly, or Steely Dan works next? I enter a search query with my right hand and I feel a hard shove to my back.

        “Hey Dick! What the fuck are you doing in here?”

        I look right over my shoulder, left and back. Three gentlemen surround me. I think they are cops. I say nothing and return to my search when I get a nudge from the other side.

        “Buddy, we don’t like your kind in here now.”

        I try to ignore them again. Marcus is standing across from us behind the bar. He is between a rock and a hard place. This establishment can’t afford to go on the alleged “no drink” city list. His hands grip the edge of his side of the bar.

        “Are you deaf, PRICK?” The third man standing behind me chimes-in.

        I sigh then take a deep breath. I turn around, my back to jukebox. “I come in here all the time. What’s the problem?”

        The one facing me is the stoutest. I size up all three and calculate my chances in a three to one with these thugs. The one on my right is blocking the door. Standing in the center of the aisle, he can swivel either way, and his gut is a brick wall. The one the left is the smallest and youngest. He’s glaring at me, but not convincingly. He’s the weakest, but the less effective route. These three know what they are doing. Everyone else is staring at us as Neckbone plays. The middle one reaches out to touch or grab my shirt collar.

        “HEY, HEY, come one guys. Can’t you take that somewhere else?” Marcus slams a dice cup on the bar.

        The middle thug drops his hand and glares at me. “Hear the man? Why don’t you take your pansy ass out of here.” He says and puffs up his chest.

        “Man, I don’t want any trouble.” I answer.

        “Then go, Dick,” the kid says and moves closer to me.

        “I’ve still got credits and a drink at the bar.” I say. I stand my ground, but drop my hands to the side and slouch my posture in submission.

        “We’ll…”

        “KNOCK IF OFF,” a woman’s voice yells just off to the left of the group. It’s Lieutenant Cochran.

        “L-T,” the leaders steps back and turns his head to her. “This guy stinks.”

       “He’s provoking me.” The fat policeman relaxes.

        “His music sucks,” the third one, says.

        “COME ON, knock if off.” She says and pulls me over to the bar. “Here finish your drink. I’ll owe you for the credits.” She picks up my glass and hands it to me.

        Mark is scowling at all of us. He has pulled a SF Giants bat out from behind the bars and turning it over and over in his hands. I look at the three cops, and the detective, and salute them with my glass. I knock it back and sit back on the bar. She picks up the remaining bills on next to my water glass.

        “No. Those are for Marcus.” I say and she hands them to him. He relaxes and lets the business end of the bat fall back behind the bar. Marcus smiles and nods his head.

        The three policemen back off further, but continue to focus on me. Emily grabs my arm as her purse makes its way to her from hand-to-hand along the bar. “

        “I’ll escort you out,” she says.

        “Wait, my cards.” I turn back to pick them up and the youngest already has them in a jumble in his hands. He forces them into my arms.

        The door guard moves aside as Lt. Cochran pulls me along through the door. I don’t look back, and we walk arm in arm up Jackson. We stop about half way, and I shuffle the cards back into a deck. Emily drops my arm as push them into my coat pocket.

        “What the fuck was that about?” I ask her.

        “I would ask you the same thing, but Sergeant Samson has a lot of friends. He was an arms trainer for awhile and raised a generation of men.” She says about her previous partner who got his hand cut off from an undisclosed weapon in the Marina two months ago. “It’ll take time, but they all know who you are.”

        “I had nothing to do with that.” I add.

        She grabs my arm and continues up Jackson. “I know, but they blame you. You’re the easiest target, and they don’t have all the facts.” She says and snuggles up closer. “I miss him.”

        “Sorry. I miss Genie.” I hold on tighter. ” I hate what happened to her. Bullshit politics.”

        “Yes. It’s a cluster fuck all around.” She says.

        “You kept your stripes.” I shove off her grasp. “She’s dead.”

        She pulls him back, “It’ll never be the same.” She kisses him on the cheek. “I’ll always be under their thumb.”

        “Better than under their boot,” I say and stop. I look into her eyes and kiss her on the mouth. They pause at Stockton. Late night employees, a teenager or two-passed curfew, there are fewer locals out on Chinatown’s primary high street. Her tongue is hungry.

        “Isn’t your apartment in North Beach?” She asks.

        “Yes. I can’t take you there. Too many open files and I am expecting a visitor later tonight.”

        “Hook-up?”

        “No, no. Genie’s sister is coming into town to collect her belongings.” Seven answers as they stop for the crosswalk at Columbus.

        Emily reaches her arm around his neck and pulls his mouth to hers. Her tongue is not taking no for an answer. Her other arm pulls his body close and she grinds his chest with hers.

        “Par. (hiccup) par., pardon me.” A listing local bumps into Seven’s back. He’s carrying a paper sack and sigs from it before proceeding around them. “You…you…get a room.” He crosses Stockton.

        “I don’t need much time.” Cochran says. She stares into his eyes and exhales. The tip of her tongue rounds the full orbit of her lips.

        “No.” Seven says. “What about your place?” They cross Columbus and walk towards Washington Square. Seven wraps his arm around her shoulder, and Cochran puts her hand in his left back pocket.

        She pauses at the Square and drops her grip. Facing him, she shakes her head, “no, I can’t been seen with you in my building.”

        “Yeah. What the fuck are we doing?” Seven turns N. E. away from her into the 3-acre park. A walkway encircles it, and as he passes in front of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Emily catches his arm and pulls him around. She pulls his head down and pillages his mouth with her tongue. Seven clothes his eyes, and slowly pushes away. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He breaks the embrace, but she still has her arm around her neck.

        Lt. Cochran spins him around wtih her other hand and forces him down on a bench beside two giant oaks. “Don’t resist.” she says softly in his ear. Seven knows better, and he wonders if she is armed? “I just want to talk to you for a moment.”

        Seven remains relaxed and she releases her grip. He sits down on the bench and Emily sits next to him. “What the hell is the matter with you, Lieutenant?”

        “Drop the Lieutenant shit.” She barks quietly. “I don’t want to wake the neighbors.”

        “Okay.” Seven shrugs. “What do you want to talk about?”

        “Okay,” she exhales, “we didn’t end on the greatest terms, and after that fucking monster or whatever, I realized some things.”

        “Yeah?” he shakes his head, “Pigs in the Emerald City suck?”

        “Sams was, still is a good man. I thought that thing was going to kill us both.”

        “Blah, Blah, Genie’s DEAD. What the hell do you want from me?” Seven snarls.

        “I’m sorry. It wasn’t my idea to hide the truth. But you’ve got to understand, I had to do what I thought was best. Best for you, best for me, best for the city and everyone involved. No one would have believed our story, NO ONE.” She grabs both his arms at the elbow. “They wanted to blame you too, but I wouldn’t go along with it.”

        “Funny. You came out smelling like a rose.” He adds.

        “No. You don’t understand. This is it for me. I can’t go any further in the organization.”

        “What a sacrifice, a Lieutenant Inspector can’t become a captain, a chief, the chief of police. I’ll bet you kept your fucking pension.” His jaws quiver.

        “Come on Seven, that’s a long time from now and anything can happen. I could be out with the next Chief.” She says and pulls her purse from around her back. “I wanted to give you this back.” She hands him an unloaded 9mm Glock, and his permit. The chamber is held open with a plastic zip tie from it down through the handle and back.

        “Genie’s dead, and you think I want this,” he grabs the gun by the barrel. “What? Are you supposed to shoot me now? The patsy attacks you in the park and you shoot him at point blank with his own gun?”

        “Seven,” she releases it and begins to weep. “No. No plan. No patsy. Try to understand.” Tears are flowing down her cheeks. “I had no choice.” She reaches back into her purse looking for something. “Damn it.”

        He pulls a small synthetic hand-towel from his coat and pulls her close. “Here,” he says and she looks up. He dabs her eyes and cheeks and hands her the towel.

        “What’s this?” she cries into the towel; it is made of micro-fleece and has a San Francisco Giants logo printed on it.

        “I invested in a friends promotional product.” He tells her, “you know like in the book, “never go anywhere without your towel.””

        She giggles a little betweens sobs and breaths. “Really, Seven?”

        “You can keep it. I’ve got a million of them.” He says.

        Emily grabs him by the shoulders and pulls him to her bust. “I…I love it.” She looks up as the tears subside. Her tongue dives into his mouth again, and Seven doesn’t stop her.

        The first kiss is short, but the second, their tongues take turns in each other’s mouths reaching from something larger than the moment. She shifts over and sits on his lap facing him. Seven runs his hand down the back of her coat, up and down following the ridges in her spine. Emily runs her hands through the hair on the back of his head. She breaks from the kiss and breathes into his left ear. Her breath is hot. She outlines it with the tip of her tongue and drops down onto his neck. Seven drops his shoulder, and as she caresses, kisses, and nibbles his neck, he drops down to the right cheek of her bottom and squeezes gently. Her tongue retreats and she begins to suck his neck. Seven moans.

        Emily grinds the crouch of her pants on his bulging zipper. She moans and sticks her tongue in his mouth. Sweat forms on Seven’s brow as he matches each of her thrusts. Two adults a park at night acting like high school seniors. They disengage for a moment and look into each other’s eyes. He lips are swollen and she stands up from of his lap, but never takes her eyes off of his. She unbuckles her belt, then the top button of her jeans. Seven watches intently between her hands and her eyes and he traces his lips with his tongue.

        Emily pushes the legs of her jeans down and lifts her right leg out of them. She is wearing red patent leather flats, like ballet slippers with a thicker leather soul. Her pant leg is a bell of modern width and is no resistance to her foot and shoe. Her white bikini underwear is damp and Seven licks his lips again. She pushes them down, but bends down in doing so and steps her right leg out of them. She stares down at Seven’s reaction and looks between her eyes and her triangle of desire. It glistens and Seven leans forward and embraces her uvula. He runs the tip of his tongue up one lip than down the other. He grabs both of her bare cheeks and massages them in rhythm to her breaths, one then the next, then and both. Emily moans and looks skyward, closing her eyes. She grabs the back of his head for balance and Seven French kisses her swollen velvet vagina. He rolls his tongue and penetrates her as far as his taste muscle will allow. She is pungent like ginger and Seven deeply breathes her scent. He withdraws upward feeling for her male-like preponderance. He runs the tip of his tongue up, down, and around it. He holds it in his teeth massaging it ever so lightly then dives down up it with his lips, sucking with all his arousal. Emily moans loudly and her hips slightly gyrate.

        Seven unbuckles his jeans and pants. He unzips his fly, pushes his briefs down below his balls, and pulls out his swollen throbbing penis. The bulbous head pulse in rhythm to her hips. Seven withdraws his head from between her legs and Emily looks down to his eyes. She is panting. Seven removes his coat and wraps it around her waist, tying the arms together to make a sort of kilt.

        He gently pulls her down to his lap, and Emily straddles him; her legs pass through the slats in the back of the bench. She rests the palm of her hands on the top of his shoulders. Seven holds her steady at the waist. The two stare into each other’s eyes as Seven slowly pulses his way into her. He focuses on her lips. Emily sighs. She closes her eyes as she bounces gently up and down, slowly at first, on Seven’s lap. Seven sighs and parses his lips with the tip of his tongue. He closes his eyes and increases his rhythm every five or so strokes.

        “Yes,” Emily sighs, “yes.” Her eyes are still closed and she moans a little louder. Her female anatomy lubricates and encompasses him deeper and deeper.

        Seven opens his eyes and stares at Emily’s lips as they part and she moans a slight whimper with each repetition. He increases his rate to the rhythm of her breaths. Emily exhales faster and faster; she grinds her hips against his with each breath.

        “YES,” Emily cries out. “Faster, faster, yes.” She opens herself wider and wider to his expression.

        Seven’s rhythm climbs and climbs, matching her thrusts. His inhales/exhales faster and faster, careful not push to hard and misfire their coital grip. Emily gasps and moans in crescendo to the park bench dance, and Seven follows with a loud long exhale as their movement freezes in a climatic arc, hips meeting each other for the final gasps.

        The lieutenant inspector and the private investigator wrap each other’s arms around the other. Seven buries his face in her neck as his hot breaths gradually slow down to a normal rate. Emily’s exhales slow at the same rate, but are less and less audible.

        Warm meaning envelopes the two against the dark night, as they hold on, capturing and attempting to prolong this moment of their individual release, and share each other as one being.

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