Previously: After trying for weeks to find a disappeared neighbor, a mustachioed gay man who could dance the tango named Alyosha, a team of neighbors who formed a peculiar posse decided to go to their local precinct. Detective Bruce said he’d take on the case. He found a picture instantly, and a different kind of search began.
Meeting Two: The Precinct, 120 West 82nd Street
For the second meeting with Detective Bruce, a week after the first, the entire team decided to come. None of them had ever been inside the precinct before. “Law & Order” hadn’t started yet – it was the mid 80s – and there was an exotic fascination with what the police actually do. Every single one of them dressed for the occasion, especially Pin Ball, the requisite Drag Queen, who chose, for his first ever police visit, to become Cher. He had one of those black wigs where hair looks nothing like hair. His false eyelashes extended outwards into the universe. When he saw Detective Bruce, a large can-do man who had been a Black Panther once, when Detective Bruce saw him, they both smiled a certain smile. Maybe after the case was solved.
They were all in a room the police called The Lounge. The Lounge was a green that isn’t really green. Fluroescent lights buzzed loudly. The chairs and couches were a plastic that didn’t even pretend to be leather and the only decoration was a What To Do If Someone Chokes poster. Three machines filled with potato chips and Cokes were side by side along one wall. They looked well used.
“We’re not going to do this forever,” Detective Bruce began. Charles, wearing a polka-dot bow tie he’d found on the street – he believed it had never been worn – Charles spontaneously stood up and clapped.
“We’ve made some progress over here,” he said. “Here’s a poster we xeroxed for you all to put everywhere you can in this neighborhood. Our sources tell us he didn’t go far.”
“Can you share your sources with us?” Mrs. Israel, dressed again in her official navy suit, hoped she looked a little like a police officer herself. She was carrying a clip board, and now, she’d attached her pen to the top with a string. Sometimes she thought of herself as clever. “In case we do this again,” she added.
“Never, and never,” said Detective Bruce.
“Can you tell us why not?” Naomi asked. “We’re in the precinct to learn from you how finding missing persons happens. Who knows. Maybe we can be of some real assistance.”
“Don’t flatter yourselves,” Bruce replied, but he looked at them with more kindness than his words indicated. “You’ve got an assignment for today. I’m going to give you each a stack of twenty of these flyers. I put Naomi and Eve’s phone number on the flyer. Blanket the neighborhood. Use the good Scotch tape. I’m giving you each a roll. You don’t want them to fall off the walls. Go to the laundromats. Go to the liquor stores. Go to everyplace you can. Someone’s seen him. He isn’t far away. With missing people, everyone wants to help. Get started,” he said. “We’re not going to do this forever.
“We will meet in a week. Any questions?” he asked.
“Yes. How do you feel about Tina Turner?” Pin Ball asked, smiling.
Esther Cohen posts a poem a day at esthercohen.com.