The surface of the ocean looked greasy in the cloudy gray morning light and low flat rollers broke steadily on the beach. I put up the collar of my jacket against the wind, propped my sneakers on the boardwalk railing and drank my coffee.
I turned to Kota and said, "Well, it's not all bad. Is it? At least there's ocean. Right?"
Kota just looked out to sea, her white hair stirring in the wind. The way she was staring you would think she could see all the way to Europe. And with Kota... Well. Who knows what she can do?
The boardwalk timbers creaked as a golf cart rolled up behind us and stopped. Kota stood up and turned to face them.
"No dogs on the boardwalk, kid. Especially not a wolf like that." It wasn't rent-a-cops, it was real Asbury Park Police. Although just how real is that, when you get down to it?
I stood up. It's always good to show respect. At least to start with.
"Kota's a service dog," I said. Kota heard her name and looked up at me. What?
"Yeah, so what?" the cop said, "There's still no dogs."
There were two cops in the golf cart. Nothing like New York City cops. They were more like those two ex-bouncers from the old Mudd Club that used to visit Dad whenever he was holding pot.
The cop who spoke was the young one. He was driving. He probably used to be a bully in high school and went into police work to make a profession out of it.
The other cop was older. He was the one to watch out for. I forced a smile onto my face.
"I have a medical condition and Kota helps me."
"Yeah?" said the young cop, "What does the dog do? Give you mouth to mouth?" He smirked and nodded his head. Yeah, you're a riot, I thought, a real comedian. You're ready to open for a rock band, you're so funny. But I didn't say anything. If there's one thing I've learned, it's to keep my mouth shut.
The old cop turned toward me now, his big fat ass squeaking on the cracked plastic seat. He was pissed at me for making him go to the trouble of talking. His nameplate said: WARNER
"What's wrong with you?" he said. He was annoyed, like I was a gnat that wouldn't stay out of his ear.
"There's nothing wrong with me."
I thought you'd learned to keep your mouth shut.
"I have a medical condition." I smiled, trying to put butter on it for him. But he wouldn't take it.
"Well, that's tough, but there's still no dogs allowed on the boardwalk. Let's go." He jerked his head toward the street. I made myself be calm. I pictured my heart slowing down.
"I'm sorry, sir."
That's good. He'll like that. Sir.
"But according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog must be allowed to accompany its handler into any public facility, including restaurants, schools, taxis, airplanes, stores, movie theaters, concerts, sporting events, and any other public place."
"Is that so?" he said, his face flat and gray as the October sky above his bald head.
The young cop said, "Do you have some kind of papers to show this?"
I said, "According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is illegal to ask for any special identification from dog service partners." Dumb, telling a cop he's illegal.
Young cop said, "Do you think you're a lawyer, punk?" See?
"No sir, but I know my rights." I stared back at him pleasantly but steadily. Don't blink, don't blink. The young cop looked at the old cop who shook his head and stared at the ocean. They had decided something between them. I didn't think I was going to like it. Kota stirred, shifting her feet. She picks up on things.
"You can call my lawyer, Harold Neumann." I was a concerned citizen helping the police with their work. Also, I didn't want to be late for school. Not that they care all that much at my new school. "I'm sure he'll be glad to answer any questions you might have."
The old cop snorted through his moustache and said, "Harold Neumann's a civil rights pain in my ass. I'll be damned if I'm spending the morning listening to that fat bastard." He looked at me and said, "How old are you?"
"Sixteen." Only a slight exaggeration.
"What's your name?"
"Dean. Dean McCarthy."
|Dane Dehaan||as dean|
|El Wood||as gloria|