The Guilty Party

Another true tale from the Grand Café.

“I’m telling you, I bashed his freakin’ head in!” Phil Reagan said, for perhaps the fiftieth time since he had entered the Grand Café. He was on his third Rock and Rye, had yet to take his coat off, and he was sweating profusely.

“I heard you,” Bernie said as she refilled the coolers under the bar with bottles of beer. “He was a perv, huh?”

“He has his pants down around his ankles, you’ll excuse me for sayin’, and his helmeted avenger was at full attention, if you get what I mean. I had no idea when he rolled down his window and asked for directions what he was gonna do. He wanted to get from Green Street up to the expressway, he says, so I started giving him directions.” He drained his glass, washing it down with a third of his beer.

“I gets halfway through and I got too close to the car, the guy reaches out and grabs me by my future dynasties, you hear me? Right through the car window!” His hands unconsciously gravitate toward his crotch. “He grabs my belt and tries to pull me in through the freaking car window!”

“Perhaps he wanted you to drive.” This was from David Gray, known to the patrons as Wavy Davy. He loved a good argument, almost as much as he loved scotch, but there was nothing he loved more than scotch.

“That’s just pure bull, he wanted somethin’ else!” Phil was not to be denied. “He was jacking his jukebox and tried t’get at mine, so I opened the car door and then slammed the rat fink in the face with it. He let go for a sec and then I grabbed a brick, and I smashed him with it, right in the face!”

“Your mother must be so proud.” Wavy Dave said with his usual sardonic sneer. “And did you then call an ambulance for the now-bleeding cur?”

“Ambulance, why would I call an ambu…” As the realization of what might happen to him should the pervert with his khakis around his hush puppies end up croaked for real. Prison meant gang rape, he knew, the thought now crossed his mind that he may have prevented one unwanted homoerotic advance only to put himself at the mercy of dozens of them. “Oh, sweet mother of mine.”

What if he died? The truth of the matter was that Phil had hit the guy four or five times with the brick, he was really grossed out. The guy was maybe croaked for sure. Phil drained his glass and went for the pay phone. “I better call now.”

“I wouldn’t if I were you.” Wavy Dave said. You never know, maybe they could trace the call back to here, and come around asking questions. They might ask around if anyone was tellin’ stories about cracking some pole-smoker upside the head with a brick, which you probably left lying on the street right next to the corpse, right?” The look on Phil’s face told Davy all he need to know. “So they got the physical evidence right there, all they need is a guy to pin it on.”

He looked at Phil. “If they ask, no way could I lie about it.” He drank his scotch.

Phil looked at Wavy Davy like he was a rattlesnake. “You can’t say nothin’ Davy, you can’t! I gotta wife, and kids…” He looked at Bernie, who just shook her head and went back to polishing the bottles behind the bar.

“Only way was if I wasn’t here, then I would not have to lie, so the whole distasteful moral peccadillo could be easily avoided. Regrettably, I cannot take any vacation this year; my financial situation is untenable at best.” He raised a finger to Phil. “That’s is not to say I seek any sort of bribe, that would be a sin even worse than lying to the authorities, which I simply will not do.”

“C’mon, Davy, please, I’ll do anything!”

“Anything, you say?” David Gray, former Roman Catholic priest, Doctor of Philosophy from Holy Cross, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I’m sure we can come to some sort of accommodation.”

And that is how Phil Reagan came to be the not so proud owner of a 1953 Chevy Bel-Air Power-glide with a loose transmission, four bald tires and a very leaky oil pan, and Wavy Davy Gray came to send a lovely postcard of a red and yellow sunset to his friends at the bar from his Florida vacation.

Funny thing is, nobody ever came around to ask about a guy with no pants knocked out cold in on the side of the road.

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