Routine Traffic Violation

Mike looked at his hands. Goddamn nails—the blister still there. Why didn't I go to the Rite Aid instead of the Krogers? Naomani had needed the milk and Honey Smacks for the kids on Saturday. He had wanted to get back to watch the game. And now here he was with this cracker son of bitch. Best not to even listen, really. This fucker just the kind of bird you need to keep your eyes lowered toward. Just keep it straight and narrow. Or else you's in a whole wax of trouble. He hadn't even remembered to pick up the Neosporin and bandaids. Stupid son of a bitch. Whole damn reason and there you go.

"So, Mr. Mike, you see why I had to stop you."

"Yes, Sir," he said, but he didn't. Just fucking bullshit. The game's already started. It's on account of the Piggly Wiggly shutting down. Those extra blocks. Could have just walked over to the Piggly Wiggly.

"So am I gonna find whatnot when I run your license?"

"No, Sir."

"I better not."

And then that thing happened. That bell which cannot be un-rung. That moment when the air snaps into a kind of rumbling hush.

"Cause if I find out you been niggering me down, you ain't gonna walk away from this."

It made Mike look at him. He didn't mean to do it, but he couldn't help himself.

"What you looking at, Mr. Mike?"

"Nothing, Sir."

"Just 'cause you sir me, that don't mean shit."

"Yes, Officer."

"Get out the car."

"But I ain't done nothing."

"Fucking get out the car."

"But . . . "

"I determine if you done something wrong or not and get out the fucking car."

Mike sat there for 10 seconds longer. The idea of the game. He could almost taste it. In his chair with a beer. Naomani in the other room talking on the phone with Angela. Making some spicy wings.

"Get out the car—now."

"It's just a busted tail light . . . "

"What did I say, you in charge now? You insolent fuck?"

Mike wanted to tell him to fuck off, but it was way past that. And something in him said, run. Just run. Maybe you can just run away. Mike stood up out of the car.

"That's right. Good choice. You may not be such a dumb fucker after-all. Don't be playing that with me . . . "

And then Mike's feet had a mind of their own. One, two, three—the strides weren't big enough. Into the trees. Away. Faster. Get your knees up. Spicy wings. The game. Naomani. Slater and Tess and Snuggles. They'll be here tomorrow. Just run.

Tat. When the first shot rang through the air and popped into his back, it burned (like a bullet should). Tat. But the next one hurt. Tat, tat, tat. Those three that rang into his side and arm felt like metal burning through his flesh. His liver. His left floating ribs, shattered. And somehow Mike felt his feet still taking him forward. Like the bandaids and the spicy wings were still within his grasp. Tat. Tat. Tat. It wasn't until that 8th shot that he felt his knees buckle. His heart beat pounding in its final baneful plea. It didn't take long, maybe 13 seconds from first to last shot. His face hit the ground and the smell of Tide detergent on his shirtsleeve and gravel came up into his nostrils. Mike didn't feel the officer place the taser into his hand. He was already late to the game and dead by then.