Monday, December 10, 2012
The Good Cop excerpt by Dorien Grey
In this excerpt, Dick meets Jonathan for the first time.
The Good Cop
GLB Publications (November 1, 2002)
When my eyes were able to discern more than just vague figures, I noticed a really cute, kind of skinny kid about two stools down from me, looking at me and grinning from ear to ear. I wondered at first if he knew me, then decided maybe he mistook me for somebody else. I nodded to him in a casual greeting which he apparently took as an invitation. He scooted over to the stool beside me. “How’s it goin’?” he asked, using words I’d heard somewhere just recently.
“Pretty good,” I replied, playing a little Hardesty game with myself. “You?”
“Okay,” he said brightly. “I’m horny, though. Are you horny?”
One of the things I truly do enjoy about hustlers is their subtlety. If you want beating around the bush, go somewhere else. But rather than respond as I automatically wanted to (“Hey, kid, I’m a Scorpio. Scorpios are always horny!”), I didn’t want to lead him on, so I opted for: “I just came in for a beer and a paper,” I said.
But then, not wanting the kid to think I was brushing him off—he was really cute, and hustlers do have feelings—I said: “How’s business?”
He’d lost his grin only momentarily, then immediately got it back as he showed me his right forearm which, aside from a small, apparently self-applied tattoo, sported an obviously new if not very expensive watch. “I got this the other day,” he said like a proud little kid who’d been given an unexpected present. “A john gave me a fifty dollar tip!”
I smiled. “You must be pretty good.”
"Oh, I am! You really should check it out yourself.”
I’d noticed that instead of the ubiquitous beer bottle, he had what looked like a mixed drink—coke and something, I guessed. It was nearly empty, and he raised his glass, tipped it all the way up to drain it, then set it slowly on the bar.
“What are you drinking?” I asked, then immediately realized he’d probably take it as an invitation.
“Just coke. I don’t drink.”
Well, that was certainly different, I thought.
“Want another?” I asked, rather surprising myself, since I have a long standing rule to never let myself get suckered into buying drinks for hustlers. But it was just a coke, after all, and this kid got to me, in some odd way.
“Sure,” he said, still grinning. “Thanks.”
I motioned to Bud, who nodded, reached into the cooler, scooped some ice into a glass, then filled it from the mixes tap. He brought it over and put it in front of the kid. I handed him another bill and indicated he should keep the change.
“My name’s Jonathan,” the kid said as he gestured his glass at me in thanks. “I just got here a couple weeks ago, and I sure like this town. Lots of rich guys here. Are you rich?”
I smiled again, looking at the kid in front of me and thinking for some reason of a puppy.
“No, I’m not rich.” I took another drink of my beer. “I gather you haven’t been hustling all that long?”
He took a small sip from his coke—I got the impression he wanted to make it last—and shook his head. “No, not really. Just since I got here. I’m 19 but I tell everybody I’m 21. I’ve been trying to find a regular job, but they’re really hard to find unless you’ve got a car, and hustling pays really well. Maybe I’ll just do this for a while. I had the same guy pick me up twice now, and he gave me a fifty dollar tip both times!”
I strongly suspected that Jonathan was assuming fifty dollar tips were going to be common, and that he hadn’t been selling himself long enough to find out what the life really was like for most hustlers. I didn’t envy him the learning process.
He might have been conning me, but I think I’ve been around long enough to know when someone is and when they’re not. And I didn’t really think Jonathan was. He didn’t have the usual tough-guy bravado hustlers adopt as a survival mechanism.
Give him time, my mind sighed.
“You’re serious about getting a real job?”
“Sure. But like I say, I can make a lot of money hustling. I’ve been working since I was 12. Not hustling, of course, but working. Maybe now I can take it easy for a while.”
Hardesty! Stay out of it! my mind commanded.
But Jeezus, he’s just a kid! I thought.
And you can’t save the world, my mind responded, gently.
“Well, I tell you what. There’s a diner on the ground floor of the building I work in, and I see they’ve got a sign in the window for a busboy. If you’d be interested, you could check it out.”
He grinned yet again. “Sure! I been a busboy a couple times. Maybe I will. Where’s this at?”
I gave him the address, then finished my beer.
“Well, good luck, Jonathan,” I said, extending my hand. I wasn’t really surprised to know that I sincerely meant it.
For an additional excerpt from The Good Cop, see May 19th, 2008.
To purchase, click http://www.amazon.com/The-Good-Cop-Hardesty-Mystery/dp/1879194759/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355099661&sr=8-1&keywords=the+good+cop+dorien