Jinks met her in the lineup at Midtown North.
He slouched, trying not to look like the straw-haired juggler who’d stalled the mark while Benny the Dip snagged his fat money clip. But Jinks was that guy. Skinny, soft, girlish. Which explained why the dishwater blonde with the knit cap pulled over her ears stood next to him in front of the measurements on the wall.
“Look straight ahead,” said Moretti, the beefy red-faced Special Fraud dick.
The rest of the lineup consisted of two skinny cops and a homeless dude whose farts smelled like Chinese takeout.
Her eyes were the color of cornflower. Like in the 64 pack of Crayolas with the pencil sharpener in back, Jinks thought. She kneaded her hands and breathed through her mouth, fluttered her eyelids like two sparrows in a birdbath.
“Hey,” he whispered.
She stared straight ahead.
“Hey. ” Louder. She turned a half inch. He grinned. “What’s your name?”
“Shut up over there!”
“We’re gonna get in trouble!” she hissed.
“No we won’t. Tell me yer name. Ow!”
The elbow came from the cop on his left, who had a mole on his schnoz.
Jinks saw it and gaped. “Holy moly. That’s some mole. Does it have its own badge?”
“It has its own gun. Keep talkin’, smart-ass.”
“Shaddap, Jinks!” Moretti marched over. He had a fuzzy black mustache, with a life of its own, the angrier he got. “You see that big mirror? Look at it. The broad’s pretty face is in it.” He yanked Jinks up straight. “And quit slouching.”
Moretti marched back to the mirror. “Number one, step forward and say,”– he looked at the sheet of paper in his hand–“Whoa, you stepped on my balls… Broseph.“
The cop at the far end did so, in a bored monotone.
“Number two. Step forward and repeat.”
Two was the old homeless dude. He squinted at the mirror, like a captain reading the sea.
“That dude mooned the cops in Bethesda fountain,” Jinks whispered.
“No way,” she said.
“Step forward and say the lines!”
“Yup. People took photos. Kids started mooning back. It was an apostrophe.”
“I think you mean catastrophe.”
“There was plenty of ass, but no cats.” he said.
“Don’t make me come up there!” Moretti hollered. “Say the lines!”
The homeless dude cleared a bucket of phlegm from his throat. “Quit busting my balls… Joseph!”
“It’s Whoa, you stepped on my balls, Broseph,” Moretti said.
“I’m a thespian, I’ll have you know,” the old man said. “I’ve played Mamlet.”
“Hamlet,” Moley muttered.
“No,” the old man said. “Mam-let.”
“Pretty sure it’s Hamlet, duder,” Jinks said. “Or omelet. If you’re hungry.”
“Shaddap!” Moretti hollered. His mustache wriggled like a caterpillar navigating a twig.
“No,” he repeated. “it was Mamlet. The melancholy Dane as interpreted by David Mamet. Shall I give you lines?”
“That sounds awesome, dude.”
Moley nose the Cop smacked Jinks on the back of the head.
“Ow! Not cool, man! The mirror people know you’re the fuzz, now.”
“See? Trouble!” the girl said.
The old man raised his hand and shouted, “Neither a borrower… or a lender be! Always be… closing!”
“Who says fuzz anymore?” Moley smirked.
“I meant it ironically.”
“I’ll iron your friggin’ head,” Moley said. “My kid juggles at the Rennaissance Faire. With the wenches and the turkey legs. You disrespect the art.”
“Cameloooot!!!” the old man sang, switching to Robert Goulet. He turned around and waved the seat of his patched baggy pants at the mirror.
“You can juggle?” the girl said. “Maybe you can juggle soap in the shower. The way this is going.”
“Settle down up there! Let’s get this over with.” Moretti crumpled the paper in his hands, banged on the mirror. “Just point the kid out already!”
“Can I just say my lines and get processed?” she sighed, slouching. She wore striped leggings with tiny holes in the knees. Fingerless gloves.
“Go for coffee with me,” Jinks said.
“In Rikers or the Tombs?” she said. “Maybe you can juggle your nuts.”
“Two balls is easy. I can juggle eight.”
“Find three friends,” she said.
“Shut it! You’re polluting the lineup,” Moley nose cop said.
“He’s polluting the lineup,” Jinks said, pointing to the old man’s bare ass. The other cop tried to tug the bum’s pants up without touching his incredibly hairy butt cheeks. Moley went to assist.
Moretti’s caterpillar mustache looked like it was being chased by hungry grackles. “Get a uniform in here with a Taser!”
“Ew. It looks like he’s hiding a squirrel in there,” Sue said.
“He hardly needs pants,” said Jinks.
An pear-shaped beat cop marched in, halted. Hypnotized by the behind of the singing bum, who had segued to Sinatra.
“What is a man, what has he got,” the homeless fellow sang. He was quite the tenor. “If not himself, then he has naught!“
Moretti waved him over. “Do you see that man’s ass?”
“Well… restrain it!”
“I’m gonna call you sunflower, is that okay?” Jinks told her.
“The record shows, I took the blows!“
“That’s the ugliest flower I can think of,” she said. “Good move.”
“You’re tall and uh, yellow hair, brown eyes,” he said. “And your shell’s hard to crack.”
She chuckled and shook her head.
“Shut up!” Moretti said.
“And did it myy—“
The pear shaped cop shot the homeless guy in the ass with his Taser. One barb hit him in the jewels, judging by the sudden rise in pitch. “WAYYY!!!!” He let loose a tremendous basso fart and ran headfirst into the wall.
“Aw,” Moley said, waving his hand in the air. “Aw. That’s vile.”
“You tased him, bro!”
“I meant that ironically.”
Two more uniforms marched in, and took Jinks and the Sunflower girl by the arm, leading them to holding.
“I don’t think you know what that means,” Sue said.
“Shut up,” her cop said.
“Yeah?” Jinks said. “Maybe I was being sarcastic.”
“Shut up,” his cop said.
“I don’t think you know what that means, either.”
“You’re probably right. You wanna tell me the diff over a mochachino?”
“Maybe,” she said. “What’s your name?”
“Shut the hell up,” both cops said.
“Jinks,” he said.
She laughed. “You guys owe him a Coke.”
The hall came to a tee and they were lead in different directions.
“No, Jinks is my name!”
She laughed. “You are a jinx, Jinks! My name’s Sue.”
“Was your Dad a lawyer?”
“Shut it,” the cop said, leading him to holding.
“Sue me,” Jinks laughed. He hoped Benny bailed him out before she hit the street.
This was for the Flash Fiction Friday cue “Happy” and is about as happy a story as you’ll get from me. I went over, it’s about 1100 words, and the characters Jinks and Sue are two I’m developing for a lighthearted caper sometime in the future, titled … Hijinx Ensue. Like the play on words there? I won’t go for so much of an O.Henry vibe in the novel, I don’t think. I just like the idea of two stupid street thieves in New York getting into trouble.
© 2011 Thomas Pluck