Sig dramatically threw himself into the seat at his desk. He let out a deep sigh and muttered “that went well. It could have been worse, at least.” All of the paperwork stared at him expectantly. Moving it around in circles with the palms of his hands, a shiny corner of color with a white border appeared. It was a picture of Chrissy and him at one particular New Year’s Eve party. For all the fighting, she could look as sweet as an angel for the camera. He was also thankful that picture was taken before the second bottle of champagne was drained and she was singing David Allen Coe‘s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” for the sixth time in a row.
“Hey, Wachiewski!” A doughy-eared, ox of a man peeked around the corner with a bright, beaming smile. “Why don’t Polacks eat pickles?”
Sig dropped the photo, stared ruefully at his desk lamp, and muttered “this day gets better and better.” Slowly turning to the aspiring comic, he replied, “I don’t know, Pauly. Why don’t Polacks eat pickles?”
“’Cause they can’t fit their head in the jar.” Sucking in as much enjoyment as he could handle, he let out his signature horse laugh. Sig sighed with resignation. After all, everyone plays the fool sometimes.
“What’s wrong? Can’t take a joke? Come on now. Where’s your sense of humor? All’s fair in love and jokes.” Pauly’s 6′ 2″ frame was looming over Sig’s desk like a docking zeppelin.
“Oh, is that right?” An oaken voice interrupted amateur hour. “Got any good ones for me?” Behind the big mook stood Sgt. Darius King, a stout, barrel-chested black man from Montgomery, Alabama.
“Heyyy, uh, Sarge. I… I don’t know what you mean.” The look on Pauly’s face was enough to know he had no idea where this was going.
“Got any good jokes for me? I could always use a good laugh.”
“Oh! OK, two guys walk into a bar…”
“Not that kind of joke.” Darius interrupted
“Oh, well, uh…”
“OK, Pauly, let’s rephrase that. Do you have any jokes about me?”
“No, Sarge, I’d never make fun of you!” sputtered Doherty.
“Really?” King’s brows arched high on his forehead. “You mean to tell me that a white, Irish cop can’t think of one, measly, little black joke?”
The trap was sprung. Pauly had walked right into it, and his eyes widened like a deer.
“No! NO! I wouldn… I’d… no!”
“Pauly,” Darius was using paternal tones now. He was a father of four and husband to Clara, the best baker the force has ever witnessed. Sig would make a habit of finding ingenious ways to swipe more than one of her blueberry muffins from the break room. “Tell me a black joke.” With a light touch, Sgt. King straightened Pauly’s collar.
Doherty’s face went beet red, and his eyes shut as if to finally moderate the things coming out of his mouth.
“A, uh, a black man and a w-w-white man start running in a race…” Who would have thought this big braggart of a man would now be a quivering mess?
“Pauly, is that really the way you talk around your white buddies?” Darius wheedled. It was getting painful to watch, but Sig held fast to his desk chair.
“No,” Pauly whimpered.
“Tell the real joke.” The sergeant’s body was contorted, almost like the coils of a snake, threatening to inflict some type of punishment if he didn’t get what he wanted. Beads of sweat broke on Pauly’s brow and he continued.
“A nigger and a white guy start running a race. Who will win?” Doherty was now a shadow of his former self.
Darius straightened up in surprise and flared his nostrils, obviously to play up the stereotype. “That’s a good question, Pauly. I don’t know. Who wins?”
“Th… the… the white guy.”
“Oh, really?! Now, why… is… that?” Darius always had a fondness for Samuel L. Jackson. It couldn’t be hidden by a planet at this point.
“B…b…because the nigger had to stop half-way and spray paint ‘motherfucker’ on the wall.” Pauly was now on the verge of tears. Insulting the sergeant was nuts, but with a joke like this?
Satisfied, Darius gave Pauly a big smile and a rich laugh. A slight nod of the head produced, “that’s funny, Pauly… but I’ve already heard that one before. Don’t quit your day job.” With that, the sergeant lightly slapped Doherty on the cheek a couple of times and walked over to the break room. Pauly fell in a nearby chair like a deflated balloon. His face gave off so much heat that it warmed his hands as he sat buried in them.
Now that the show was over, Sig got up and sprinted to the break room. There he saw Darius casually mixing the chunks of powdered creamer into his coffee. “Hey,” Sig felt the need to say something, “thanks, uh, thanks for sticking up for me back there.”
King’s head shifted back slightly to give him the appearance of a double chin. “Standing up for you? Hell no. I just wanted to watch his white ass squirm.” With a chortle, the sergeant set out on a course for his desk. He, unlike Sig, actually kept up on his paperwork.
Back at his desk, Sig started to have a fit “Now! Now! Nownownownow!” That was code for, “I need to get this done. Where do I start?” Sorting out the disheveled papers on the desk, he stuffed the large McTaterTot from breakfast that morning into his mouth. Proceeding to keep half of it out like a golden-fried tongue, he banged the stack of papers on the desktop to straighten them out.
“SIG!” Benelli walked up to the desk at a brisk pace, “we’ve got a murder in Old Town. They think it might be connected to the case. We’ve got to go!” Sig blinked at her, wide-eyed, with the wafer in the same position it had been for a while. “Get that thing out of your mouth, and let’s go!” She never thought any of his antics were funny. How depressing.
© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved