Conduct Unbecoming, Part Three:

Central City Books Police Car-by-jason-dent-QDTFZCo1Z3g-unsplash

Bayonne sat near the front door at a table next to a window with a good view of the parking lot and street, and every thirty minutes or so the lights of a plow passed on Hill Avenue. More than eight inches of snow had fallen outside. The sidewalk had disappeared long ago, and a ridge of powder peppered with gravel separated the store fronts from the street.

Bungartz sat across the table from Bayonne, lit a new cigarette off the butt of an old, and stamped the old into the overflowing ashtray at the center of the table.

Harrington had fed coins into the juke box, and the small crowd sang along with Elvis on “Suspicious Minds.” In the voice of the people, the chorus grew in volume, and the verses devolved into indecipherability.

Harrington had talked Connie, the waitress, into taking a few shots, and she hung on his arm while he sang. She was an attractive woman, a bit weathered from spending her adult life in a smoke-filled bar, but her blue jeans fit well and hinted at the possibility of youthful vigor. Bayonne understood why Harrington had been drawn to her, and everyone had been drawn to Harrington.

Bungartz leaned forward. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, will this never end?”

“If I weren’t working, I’d have a cocktail in my hand and a song in my heart.”

“They’re killing this song. We should arrest them all for murder.”

“I think you have a suspicious mind.”

Shaw sat in a booth on the far side of the room and watched the party with a glass of wine in his hand. Bayonne thought he saw the man tap a finger to the drum beat, but he couldn’t be sure.

Bayonne asked, “What do you think of Shaw?”

“I think he’s probably right.”

“About men like him and men like Harrington?”

“That seems to be the way of the world.”

The juke clicked over to Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” a more manageable melody.

“What type of men are we?”

“I’m not sure about you, but I’m a man whose shift is supposed to end in an hour.”

“When was the last time you punched out on time?”

Bungartz snubbed out his half-smoked cigarette. “You want to try to roust this joker?”

Bayonne glanced toward the party to discover a man in jeans and a sweatshirt doing the twist on the bar. The bartender ran a bottle of Jägermeister over a row of shot glasses. Lindsey Wallace and her surgeon husband necked in one of the booths, and Alex Tannenbaum stood in the corner with his back to the room, swaying. It took Bayonne a moment to realize what he was doing.

“Is that indecent exposure?”

“I can’t tell from this angle. Where’s Harrington?”

Bayonne surveyed the room. “He was just here?”

“Where’s the waitress?”

“Connie? Shit.”

Bayonne and Bungartz stood and walked toward the back hallway. Bayonne poked his head into the lady’s room and found a man worshipping the porcelain god. Bungartz checked the men’s and found a man and a woman, both topless, both struggling with their belts, and both wearing wedding rings. Neither were Harrington or Connie. Bungartz paused, and the pair stopped disrobing and gave the officer their attention.

“Are you married to each other?”

They nodded.

“Carry on then.” Bayonne tipped an imaginary hat toward them and closed the door. 

Bungartz discovered Bayonne in the hallway. “You find anything?”

“Nope.”

“Me neither.”

Together, they moved toward the kitchen.

Bungartz pushed the door open, and they discovered Harrington, his pants around his ankles, toddling toward the waitress. Connie, fully clothed except for the look of naked shock on her face, backed away from the politician’s pecker.

“Eddie,” she said, “I think you should pull your pants up. I don’t think you’re in any condition to do what you want to do.”

Harrington wiggled his hips and said, “Come on, baby. Don’t you think I’m sexy?”

Harrington lunged forward to catch her in his arms, but she sidestepped his attempt, and he toppled to the floor. 

“Oh, honey.” Connie covered her mouth as she laughed. 

Harrington tried to push himself up off the floor, but he couldn’t get his feet beneath him with his pants bunched around his ankles. He only succeeded in extending his ass toward the two officers. The waitress watched him for a moment, smiled, shook her head, and checked her pockets for a smoke.

Bayonne held out his pack. She took one, and he lit it for her. 

Bungartz asked, “You want us to arrest him for…any of a number of things?”

Connie said, “You think he’ll win the election?”

“Not if we arrest him.”

“He seemed so confident, so powerful. Now look at him.”

Bayonne lit his own cigarette. “From this angle, he could be anybody.”

Harrington had stopped squirming and laid face down, breathing heavily. He mumbled something several times and began to cry.

Bayonne flicked ash on the floor. “What did he say?”

Connie said, “I think he said he was sorry.”

Bungartz asked, “Sorry for being naked or being an asshole?”

Connie shrugged. “He wasn’t that specific.”

“What are you doing, Edward?” Shaw appeared like a bad rash, pushed the officers aside, and tried to be as discreet as possible as he helped Harrington stand and dress. 

“Officers,” Shaw said, “Perhaps we should bring Mr. Harrington back to the Davenport.”

Bungartz shrugged. “Seems like the party just got started.”

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