“Did you hear what happened to Sebastiano?” Chimo, one of the waiters at Café Machiavelli asks me.
“No,” I reply. “What?”
“The cops busted down his door last night.”
I look over at Sebastiano. He’s loading a plastic rack filled with dirty glasses into the dishwasher. He looks very tired.
“What would the cops want with Sebastiano?” I ask. “He’s harmless.”
“The cops raided the wrong apartment,” Chimo says.
“They went all SWAT and shit,” Chimo says. “Sebastiano told me he was on the ground with a machine gun in his face.”
‘So what did the cops do when the realized they got the wrong apartment?”
“They said they were sorry and they’d replace the door.”
I have the greatest respect for police officers. But if they erroneously assaulted my apartment at three in the morning brandishing semi-automatic weapons, I’d be pissed. A simple “Sorry” wouldn’t cut it. I’d want money.
“Tell Sebastiano to get a lawyer and sue.”
“Are you kidding?” Chimo says. “He’s illegal.”
“He should still call someone.”
“Sebastiano’s just happy he’s not getting deported. He thought it was La Migra coming through the door. Turns out they were looking for a drug dealer.”
“I’m sure that drug dealer’s long gone now.”
“That’s a shame,” I say. “Sebastiano’s a nice guy. I feel bad that happened to him.”
“That sort of shit happens in the hood,” Chimo says.
“Maybe,” I said. “But the FBI once knocked on my parent’s door in the lily white suburbs. Turns out the neighbors renting the house across the street were drug dealers too.”
“Yeah. They disappeared in the middle of the night. Guess they caught wind the Feds were coming.’
“Even suburbia’s not safe,” Chimo says. “Gee, my illusions are shattered.”
“You know how many meth labs are in suburbia?,” I say. “Tons of them. And in places with good schools too.”
“Anglos like to pretend that shit doesn’t happen near them,” Chimo says.
“Until the labs blow up,” I reply.
“There goes the neighborhood.”
“You said it.”
“Well,” Chimo says, glancing at the clock. “Let me see if I can push another bottle of Pinot Gringo on table twelve.”
A few minutes later, I walk over to Sebastiano and pat him on the arm.
“Sorry man.” I say. “I heard you had a tough time last night.’
“Fucking drug dealers,” Sebastiano says. “I hate them.”
I’m sort of humbled. I thought Sebastiano would be mad at the cops. He’s mad at the criminals instead. Maybe he’s got his priorities straight. Who knows?
“The cops fix your door yet?” I ask.
The super,” Sebastiano says. “He take care of it.”
“No, thank God.”
Later that night I arrive home, dog tired. As I fumble with my key in the lock, I smell the overwhelming scent of potpourri wafting out of from under my neighbor’s door. They’re nice enough ladies– but maybe they’re using the herbed scent to cover up the crystal meth lab they’ve got going in the kitchen. Maybe the cops will raid my apartment by mistake. I smile to myself. I’m tired. And when I get tired I get slightly paranoid. Then again my pharmacy makes me show a license and sign a ledger when I buy cold medicine. What a world we live in.
I let myself into my apartment. Buster’s not home and my roommate’s out for the night. I shower, change into some comfortable clothes, and fix myself a vodka and tonic. Drink in hand, I go into the living room, power up the stereo, and slip in a favorite CD. Suddenly the sound of Bob Dylan singing fills the apartment.
Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
I smile. The forty year old lyrics are as fresh as ever.
Look out kid
You’re gonna get hit
But users, cheaters
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin’ for a new fool
Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters
I take a long pull from my drink. Man, Bob Dylan was right about a lot of things.