The drunk with the car antenna hanging out of his pocket had lost his audience in the parking lot. He looked at everyone around him, saw me and started walking in my direction. He found a new target at the last moment, and veered toward the guy standing behind me.
He introduced himself. “I’m Erik Estrada with the California Highway Patrol. Do you have any warrants?”
The guy behind me wasn’t interested in this game. He darted his eyes away, and let out an irritated laugh. “No. No warrants,” he told him. But he turned away, toward another group of guys to discourage any further interrogation.
“I don’t like the way you look. I’m going to have to haul you away to San Francisco.” He took a step closer and talked into his collar, “Estrada, here. TCP/IP, over. Ten-Four.”
The guy behind him, decided he’d humor him a little bit longer, “Okay. You’ve got me. I have a warrant.”
“Alright then. Hey, I’ll let you off easy if you give me a drag of your cigarette.”
“No, man.” He still wouldn’t look at him.
“Come on?” Estrada moved a step back, shifting himself into a friendlier position. He broke character — pulled the car antenna out of his pocket.
Estrada turned back toward the parking lot and walked away.
“Fuck off, asshole,” The guy behind me grumbled loudly enough for the other guy to hear.
The antenna guy turned around and walked back over to him. “Hey. Don’t say that. I’m a nice guy. I want to be your friend.”
“Come on, man. Give me a cigarette. I’m not doing anything wrong.”
“Fuck. I’m sick of fucks like you.” He whipped off his belt and swung it around over his head. Then he backed up, leaving a belts length between him and the antenna guy, and snapped the belt at the antenna guy, looking him in the eye for the first time.
I moved to another line.
The two of them made a few more verbal rounds, before both had decided that he’d made his point. Erik Estrada left. Now first in line, I stepped back up to the window and ordered. Before taking my money, the guy who took my order rolled his eyes at the combatants and yelled a few insults in their direction.
A few guys had wandered over to talk to the guy with the belt. He was still giving it a few experimental snaps.
One of the new guys asked him, “What’s wrong with you? What do you think you’re going to do with that?”
“I know how to handle myself. I’ve used this before.” He made a few more experimental snaps.
A trio of guys in mullet wigs who I’d run seen earlier nodded hello to me and got into line behind the guy with the belt.
I walked away carrying my grease burger and chocolate grease-shake.