Archive for the ‘Post 9.1’ Category

Saturday, March 31, 8:40 a.m.

“I never stole Jack’s car,” Leo says. “It was all a big misunderstanding.”

Had I not recently stolen/borrowed Jack’s car without permission myself, I would have a lot less sympathy for this former Washingtonian newspaper intern, Leo Krakowski. His tale of misuse at the perpetually hungover hands of Jack O’Lies sounds plausible, however.

Two years ago, after abandoning his battered Saab in the parking lot of the 3 Coins lounge the night before to avoid a third DUI, Jack inappropriately ordered fresh-faced journalism student Leo to go fetch it. He instructed young Leo to move it all of two blocks to the Washingtonian parking lot so that it wouldn’t get towed. After weeks of aggravation from Mr. O’Lies, Leo decided to exact his revenge by taking the Saab on a little joyride.

He drove Jack’s car around Seattle from nine in the morning until noon, blasting the radio and feeling free…until he was pulled over on Interstate 5 by three state troopers. The Saab had been involved in two DUIs. It had been reported stolen hours ago. Leo was dressed in his juvenile delinquent uniform of black trench coat and blacker sunglasses.

“And, okay, so maybe it was closer to five o’clock,” Leo says. “Or maybe six. Anyway, the cops agreed to call Jack’s editor to, like, confirm that he’d given me permission to drive his car. It wasn’t that hack from that pathetic reservation weekly—this guy was old school, had been at the Washingtonian for, like, thirty-two years. He told them that, yes, I was an intern there. And yes, Jack had asked me to move his car and gave me the keys and all. The cops had the car towed back to the Washingtonian parking lot, Jack’s editor got him to agree not to press charges against me, and I got fired on the spot.”

Leo radiates unresolved bitterness.

“The state troopers handcuffed me in front of all the evening commuters crawling along at, like, three miles an hour. Locked me in the back of a puke-smelling patrol car for forty-five minutes. I almost ended up a felon because of that miserable a-hole. He ruined my career!” Leo says.

This little bastard with the ruined career makes more money than I do.

I limit myself to grunting, “Ah. I see,” which seems to satisfy him.

“So that’s why I keep tabs on him,” Leo says. “If he ever does anything wrong, I’m so gonna break that story. So when I saw you and him go to that bar by his work last week, I followed you.”

“It’s a restaurant,” I say.

“Whatever,” Leo says. “Then he got in your car, so I took a chance and guessed you were taking him home. I jumped a bus to Ballard and actually beat you there.”

“I don’t navigate well in Seattle,” I say defensively. “What happened after I dropped him off? He doesn’t remember.”

Leo smirks.

“He went into that bar by his house. He drank. And drank, and then drank. And then, do you know what he did? He drank. But around one in the morning, he went outside.”

Leo suddenly shudders, hugging his knees to his thin chest. He looks about ten years old.

“I’m not sure what happened exactly,” he says. “I heard shouting. I found Jack out in the alley behind the bar. He’s a hell of a lot stronger than he looks. He’d gotten…him down on the ground and was punching him.”

“Who?” I say.

“Him,” Leo says. “Mr. Spine.”

Supine: on the spine.

“I didn’t know what to do. I pulled out my phone and took a couple pictures real quick—click, click, click. Jack went all deer in the headlights and ran.

Deer in the headlights

Leo shuts his eyes, gripping his knees tighter.

“I helped him up. Mr. Spine. He was grateful.”

“Who is he?” I say.

Leo opens his eyes and shakes his head slowly.

“Don’t find out,” he says.