Gather round little children and I will tell you a tale. This story starts in the little city of Chicago, Illinois, the windy city, home of Al Capone and those awful Chicago Cubs. This is the story of little J.A. Laraque, well, honestly I was not little, neither in age or size. I was sixteen and had a pretty nice car and just wanted to celebrate our American Independence by lighting off some Chinese fireworks.
I started my morning at the same time I always did in the summer time, around four PM. After a punch bowl of Captain Crunch I decided to head out. I ran into my friend Hershel and we decided to stop at the local mom-and-pop shop to pick up nutritious goodness consisting of, Jolt Cola, Now-or-Later candies, hot and spicy Cheetos and some Slim Jims.
As we started to leave the lady behind the counter began looking at me strangely. At first I believed it was because I’m black, but this lady has known me for years. She calls me over like she was undercover doing spy work.
“You need the boom, boom?”
My eyes widened. Yes, she was Asian. Yes, her accent was strong and yes, when she said “boom, boom” my first thought was the prostitute scene from Full Metal Jacket. Before I could show her my Alabama black snake she pulled out a box of bottle rockets. I was pleasantly surprised and at the same time slightly saddened. The thought of a happy ending did sound really nice, but I guess having fireworks is a good runner up.
Having purchased about a hundred bottle rockets my friend and I headed down to the lake front. For those of you living in or near Chicago or if you love using Google Earth it was Montrose Beach on Lake Michigan. This beach was really just a bunch of large stones that lead to the water. There was a large concrete parking lot, great for setting off fireworks.
About an hour later we had gone through half of our fireworks. This was mostly because a good number of other people showed up and had much better fireworks than ours, so we spent a lot of time just watching them fire off theirs.
By now it was dark and I was ready to finish lighting the ones we had and going home when I saw a police car further down the beach with its lights on. This did not concern me because I have seen them checking for beer and drugs before, and since we had neither, I continued firing off the bottle rockets.
As I’m lighting a bottle rocket my friend starts staring behind me. I turned around to see the squad call barreling toward us at eighty miles an hour. The cop in the passenger seat gets out.
“Drop the contraband!”
I am not sure if it was my mind trying to remember what contraband was or his loud commanding voice, but I dropped the bottle rocket just as he ordered. Unfortunately, I was standing directly above my little plastic box that contained the remaining bottle rockets. No one noticed this for a few seconds until the entire box caught on fire.
The rockets’ red glare wasn’t bursting in the air; it was exploding in the box. The police office began yelling something I couldn’t understand and then pulled his gun out and pointed it at me. The bottle rockets continued to explode in the box and I was sure he was going to shoot me. My life flashed before my eyes… and it was boring.
Just as the second cop was exiting the car a bottle rocket shot out from the box. It flew directly past the fire cop causing him to jump backwards. A one in a million shot. The bottle rocket sailed inside the squad car and exploded in a colorful red, white and blue.
Something caught on fire inside. I saw the second officer grabbed what looked like his ticket book from inside the car and toss it on the ground. The first officer was pissed. He slammed me against the car and cuffed me.
We found ourselves in the back of the squad car which smelled of smoke and burnt tickets. Pulling away the officers joked about taking us down to the docks for some physical education. I wasn’t sure if they meant sex or a beating. Luckily, they just took us down to the Chicago Avenue and LaSalle Street police station.
We sat cuffed to desk for over an hour. Then they began questioning us. I never remembered being read our rights and they only wanted to know if we had any aliases. My friend told them his nickname was Salty Chocolate. It took them a few minutes before the realized it wasn’t a gang-related nickname.
With him being fourteen they called his mother and had her come and get him. As for me, since I was sixteen, they decided to make me suffer a little. Taking me to the back of the station they led me towards the holding cells. The guard asked me for my shoe laces and when I asked why he told me so I wouldn’t hang myself. I asked him if people normally hang themselves for shooting fireworks on the Fourth of July. He didn’t respond. Then I asked him could I keep them because I was way too big to hang myself with my three year old shoe laces. He said no.
After sitting in the cell for a while I really needed to drop the kids off at the pool. Since there was nobody in the cell with me or any of the adjacent cells I figured why not. The problem was there was no toilet paper. I asked the guard for some and he told me to use my socks. I told him I can’t use my socks because they are what I was going to use to hang myself. He didn’t say anything. Everyone knows you use socks when you don’t have tissue or toilet paper. This guard just wasn’t down with my comedic side and walked away. Since I wasn’t really that busy, I tried another jibe to test his sense of humor. I told him that the truth was that I usually masturbate every night around eleven PM and if I wasn’t out by then I would miss that date. No response. ‘Nuff said.
Sitting in that cell I kept getting a weird feeling that something was wrong… and by wrong I meant besides being in a holding cell for shooting fireworks on the Fourth of July, then the sunshine on my rainy day walked by. The guard handed me a baloney sandwich on white bread with no cheese or condiments. I assume the guard was trying to kill me with it because it was so dry. I told him that I didn’t need my shoe laces to hang myself I’d die of asphyxiation due to that awful sandwich.
When he opened the cell I thought that I had gone too far and now it was time for my beating. Instead he took me to a small room when a lady took my picture. A second later they lead me to a door I presumed would be the dungeon again. Instead, that door deposited me on the street. Before I could turn around, they shut and locked the door. They never even wrote down my name or took my finger-prints, but I guess I was sexy enough for their private stash of photos. I felt violated, in a tingly sort of way.
It was three in the morning and I had a long, and I mean long, walk back to my car. It was about two hours before I arrived and then I remembered why I was feeling so weird. I had the door open when the police arrested us and it was never closed.
Arriving at the parking lot I was relieved to see the car was still there. What else was there was a bum fast asleep in my back seat. Again I lucked out it was not a stabbing bum and was able to coax him from my car by offering him some of that sandwich I stuffed into my pocket.
I thought that was pretty funny and I was happy that my car was fine, that was until I was driving away. The smell of urine is distinctive and awful. That damn bum had the last laugh. After that, there was nothing to do, but go home and try to forget that horrible Fourth of July. In the morning I’d check on Hershel.
I hope my pain has brought you some pleasure and God bless America.