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Normally, being face-down, ass-up, and waiting to be hand-cuffed would be a welcome Friday night activity.

Too bad it’s Tuesday, and an actual officer of the law is the one doing the cuffing.

Before all the commotion, I’d just fallen into an amazing tranquil lull of relaxation. I barely smoke weed anymore, so I can typically get pretty high off a hit or two, but Fozzie’s water bong has a nasty, dark, film of resin on the inside of the base, which means he barely cleans the thing. I needed four hard hits to get any sensation. A part of me wonders if I’m inhaling black mold instead of marijuana.

Though his couch is probably coated with more disgusting fluids than a motel comforter, I’m sprawled out with my hands clasped behind my head. If I allowed myself to think about how much shit has been spilled and jacked onto this dirty-ass piece of furniture, I’d never even come over, let alone lay on it. But Fozzie’s my oldest friend, and sometimes you suck it up and forget about housekeeping habits for people you love.

Fozzie, or Franklin Thomas the Fourth, which is how our teacher introduced him when he joined our class midway through our third-grade year, sits on the floor sorting packets and counting cash.

“When are you going to stop selling that shit, Foz?” I ask.

“When North Carolina legalizes it,” he responds, holding up a thick stack of bills. “Wanna spread it out on my bed and roll around in it?”

“Nah, we did that last Tuesday,” I tease.

For the record, I have never rolled around in drug money. I may have done it after being paid in cash for the first major back piece I tattooed, but it was totally a joke.

I really wish he’d stop selling weed, but I know he needs the money to make ends meet while his band, Drowned World, carves their place in the music scene. I’ve offered to loan him cash on multiple occasions, but he always turns me down. Stupid male ego shit. Thankfully, they’re climbing the charts fast and getting recognized by more people every day, so he should be able to leave his dealing days behind soon.

I’m not hating on it, because I totally get the hustle. I almost resorted to selling weed back when I first left my parent’s house. But as much as I wanted to piss them off at the time, I knew I’d ruin their reputation if I got busted for something like that and I just couldn’t have that on my conscious. I believe in karma. If I do something shitty, it’ll comeback around.

“If you need to use the bathroom, use the one upstairs, okay?” He lifts his head, a shock of bleach blond hair falls, covering one eye. The rest of his head is shaved, except a patch on top that’s usually bleached, gelled, and sprayed to stay in place.

“Got it.” I don’t think anything about his request. Fozzie lives with two other guys —and none of them take any steps to keep any of their rooms clean. The bathrooms, especially, are always disgusting.

The electronic, 80’s vibe of Missio’s “Rad Drugz” fills the air, slowly bringing me to another level of relaxation. I’ve almost fallen into a wonderfully hazy state of mind when a booming bang on the door startles me out of my dazed haze. A muffled, male voice announcing himself as “the police” calls for us to open the door.

Everything is a blur from there. Probably because my mind immediately switched from a luxurious, relaxed state to ultra-paranoid within seconds.

“Fuck!” Fozzie jumps to his feet, kicking the bags of weed under the couch before heading to the door. He glances at me over his shoulder, waiting as I shove the bong between two couch cushions and tug an afghan over it before he opens the door.

Here I am, sweat beading on my forehead, heart beating faster than a teenage boy with a nudie magazine, and mentally freaking the fuck out, while Fozzie stands in the door frame calm as a Hindu cow. He doesn’t seem surprised or phased by the police’s appearance.

“Franklin Thomas?” Asks a tall officer with a pocked face and a massive neck. 

“That’s me.”

“The Harris Teeter on Providence was robbed earlier today. Know anything about that?”

If Fozzie has any idea what the cop is talking about, I can’t tell because his face is his standard mix of boredom and disinterest.

“Mind if we take a look around?”

He shrugs. A shorter, rounder officer carrying a metal cage pushes past Buff Cop and starts looking around the living room. He heads into the kitchen first, then hurries to the bathroom Fozzie told me not to go in.

“They’re in here!” he yells.

What’s in there? And why does this dude have a fucking cage?

Buff Cop sighs and makes a spinning motion with his finger and Fozzie turns around. “Hands behind your back.”

My friend shoots me a sheepish, semi-apologetic grin. There’s not a shred of remorse in his expression, so he obviously knew he would get caught. But what the hell did he do?

“You’re under arrest for theft,” Buff Cop says, securing the handcuffs. He immediately begins reciting the Miranda warning.

Theft? What did he need so badly that he had to steal it? He knows I’ll always help him out.

Suddenly, Short Cop emerges from the bathroom and rushes out holding a dripping cage filled with lobsters as far away from his body as possible—out of the range of any pinchers.

Lobsters? Why the fuck would Fozzie steal live lobsters?

The next events happen so fast, I’m bumbling like a wingless bee. Glints of light bounce off guns and badges. I scowl at Fozzie, silently cursing him as I stand bent over the back of the couch, while Buff Cop’s rough, calloused hands secure cold cuffs against my wrists.

“Why am I under arrest?” I ask. “I didn’t steal anything.”

“You’re not under arrest. You’re being detained,” he explains as if that makes it clear. I’ve never been arrested—or detained—before, so the jargon is lost on me.

“So I’m guilty by association?” I twist my neck, trying to look at the officer.

“Didn’t say you were, ma’am. Since you’re here with the stolen items, we’re going to take you in for questioning.” He tugs my hands to straighten me and guides me toward the door.

“But, I—” I begin.

“Stop talking, Em,” Fozzie snaps.

The cop sneers at him. “Sounds like someone who’s been arrested before.”

“I’ve never been arrested,” he says. “My father is a lawyer.”

Say what? Fozzie’s dad is a lawyer? How did I not know that after all these years?

Being led to a police car in handcuffs for a crime I had nothing to do with isn’t even the cruelest part of the scenario. It’s the local TV news crews outside, videoing the entire thing. An aggressive reporter shoves a microphone in Fozzie’s face saying something about lobsters and the local grocery store.

Truth be told, being on TV has been a dream of mine since I started tattooing when I was fourteen. I’d love to be recognized nationally—even internationally—for my artwork.

I never thought the very first breaking-news story I’d be in would have anything to do being an accidental accomplice to a crime my animal-activist best friend committed. Evidently (as I would find out later), Fozzie stole lobsters from the neighborhood grocery store and stored them in his tub until he could take them to the coast and set them free.

I’m vegan—which loosely means I don’t consume or use any animal products. I’ve done multiple days where I donate portions of my earnings to animal welfare organizations. I speak out for animal rights and against abuse, but I’m not a crazy, break-the-law kind of activist.

I didn’t realize Fozzie was.

Instead of being featured for my skill as a tattoo artist, anyone watching the eleven o’ clock news tonight will see my scrawny ass being led to the patrol car for a bullshit crime I didn’t even know Fozzie committed.

I should be embarrassed, but honestly, I really don’t care how my name gets out there as long as it gets out there.

Short cop places a pudgy paw on my head, guiding me toward the backseat of the patrol car. Before I’m tucked inside, I turn my head, giving the reporters a mega-watt smile.

Bad publicity is still publicity, bitches.


Material Girls 3

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