"Worthy, come to the front."
I was poised to rescue Molly from the newspaper columnist. The guy had been a store fixture for years, buying tunes, prowling after the girls. From Carey to Trina to Mary to Missy to Kristi to Sarah to Molly. Aged nineteen to twenty one. He was definitely old guy at the club, but like many males, he never recognized time's sorry effects.
Molly smiled while he blabbered on about an underground group. He valiantly tried to appear current, trendy even, but he was middle aged. And aging. I was about to assign her a task when Mandy's request was announced. I shot Molly an apology, she winked back. The geezer posed no challenge, she was being charitable to him.
Joe and Mandy were staring out the front windows. Next to them was Jamel, the WEA rep.
"Thought you'd want to see this," Joe advised. "Case we need to call a replacement in tonight."
"Is that what I think it is?" Mandy asked softly.
Across the parking lot, a police cruiser had parked directly in front of a pack of employee cars. Two uniformed officers were outside. As was the second evening manager, spread-eagled against her white Honda. Busted.
"Damnit," I muttered. I started walking.
"Where you going?" asked Joe.
"I'm heading out, Dude," I shrugged and went towards the drama.
I hurried outside, not to argue or intervene, just to make sure this didn't escalate into ugliness. And I didn't want her to be alone.
One cop frisked Stacey, while the other rummaged through her trunk.
I identified myself, then donned my laid back, Southern California drawl. "Hey, man, what's going on?"
"Looks like I'm going to jail."
"Aww, Dude ... bummer ... What happened?"
"Caught smoking a joint."
Stacey had been toking in her car, floating up before clocking in. The patrol car had been searching for a car thief. For Stacey, this was bad luck, wrong place - wrong time.
"Really?" I sounded disappointed. "Reefer? That was all?"
She nodded. Very calm, no argument, no confrontation. Meanwhile, she jotted down phone numbers for me: Her Mom, lawyer, roommates, friends, anyone who might be able to help her.
Nothing was said for 2 - 4 minutes. The officers were all business, and spoke quietly with each other. They'd confiscated a pipe and small baggie of buds.
Then I smiled at the older cop. "Can't we ... just ... let this slide?"
"Not my call, sir. It's his collar," he nodded to the younger cop.
"Understand me," the younger guy said, "we have a problem here."
He continued to rifle through the back seat.
"Not so much the possession, which is an infraction, at best ... "
No one spoke.
"There's a problem, when someone has to get high before they go to work."
The older cop and I exchanged looks.
"Alright. Tell you what. I want this pot dispersed. And I don't want to ever catch you out here smoking. Understand?"
He placed the baggie in her hands. She dumped the waddy clump onto the pavement. "Like that?"
"Dispersed," he said flatly.
"I don't understand."
She stared at the ground. Did she think she'd be able to come back two hours later. Where was her brain? Four minutes earlier, she was heading downtown. The officer showed leniency, only she was bungling it. More likely than not, she was numb. She'd shut down emotionally.
"Like this." I stepped on four fingers of buds, dragged my foot across the asphalt and turned it into oregano. One more swipe, green dust.
"Guys ... thank you so much," I said.
"Yeah, thanks," she finally said.
The cops said nothing. The senior man finally gestured me away.
"C'mon, let's go." I touched her shoulder and we walked towards the store.