"Yep. The usual, and come on, call me Sal. Gotta be in court in half an hour, so I'll have just enough time."
"You got it. A Magnifico Breakfast Burrito and steaming coffee, coming up."
It's the 'Taste My Taco,' parked along 1st Street, near Spring, Downtown. Tecate Mexicalli, proprietor. Then in red script, 'We cater Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Coming-Outs, Clam Bakes, and sundry Festivities/Blowouts/Whatevers. We're World Famous.'
Tecate ducks back into his truck. "Gonna be a fantastic day today. How'd your weekend go?"
"It was good," says Sal "No...strike that. It was...how should I say it?...Stressful."
"I'm a lawyer during the week, and a Replacement Ref for the NFL on weekends. So, it was kind of hectic."
Tecate jumps back, face in the window. He looks surprised, then angry, then hateful. "You're a...what?"
"NFL. You know. I'm one of their Replacement Referees. But no more. The strike is over."
"A replace....ment?" Tecate's face turns gray-ish. He breathes deeply, and pushes out a red plastic basket. "Sick. I feel sick. Wait...I'll get you your...coffee."
Sal looks down at the basket. This is world famous? Magnifico? Pinto Bean slush, shredded half melted cheese, in a dried cracked tortilla? And the coffee; a Styrofoam cup, two thirds full, and definitely not steamy. What?
Tecate slams the little window closed, and turns over the open sign. 'Sorry We're Closed/Cerrado.' His voice is very loud. "We're closed. "Salir de aqui. Vete."*
Sal sits on the cement wall, bites into the Burrito, and sips from the cup.
"Something's wrong?" he says. He shakes his head. Not Tecate's finest hour. Mushy and gooey and luke warm? "This coffee...tastes...uggg?" He pours it on the lawn behind the wall.
"...then this dude says he was the one who shot..."
"Objection, your honor. Hearsay..." says Sal.
"Overruled, Mr. Manila. I'll let it stand."
"...and he pulls this huge gun..."
"Objection, your honor," says Sal. "Gun? What gun. We're assuming a gun not yet in evidence."
"Overruled, Mr Manila. I'll let it stand."
Sal sees splotches and spinning black spots. The room slowly lists to the right?
"...then what did you do? Did you wiped your fingerprints off the gun?..."
"Objection, your honor," says Sal. "Prosecution is obviously leading the witness. Any first year law student knows you can't..."
"Overruled, Mr Manila. I'll let it stand."
"But, Judge Flog, how can you...?"
"Approach," says Judge Flog. "We need to talk."
So, both lawyers approach the bench.
"I had my usual Breakfast Burrito this morning, Mr Manila. Tecate told me. How could you do such a thing? A Replacement Ref?" He looks at the Prosecution's Attorney, then back at Sal. "You were making calls on the field that ruined games. You're a fraud, masquerading as a real referee. I don't know how you can show your face in public? You're a disgrace, sir." He waves his hands in the air. "That'll be all."
But, as Sal walks back to his table, his stomach wrenches, he doubles over, and falls. He bounces off the table, hits the railing, and crashes face first to the floor. Hard!
"What's going on, Mr Manila? Get up, you're wasting the courts time here." The judge raps his gavel. "That's it, Mr Manila, you're in contempt. Five days in lockup should give you time to think about what you've done." He raps his gavel. " And...I suppose...we should also call 911?"
An hour later...
Dr. Cash talks with Nurse Hussy. "If I knew who this guys was, no way he'd be admitted. My man Tecate, this morning, over breakfast, told me all about him. An NFL Replacement Ref. Such screw ups. They had no idea what they were doing. Guy deserves everything he gets. Some kind of stomach poisoning. He says he had some bad coffee. Probably should pump his stomach, but...lets give it some time. Let's let it naturally work its way out ."
Sal reaches out for the nurse. "Please, help me."
"Don't touch me," she says, jumping back. In a panic, she looks at the Doctor, then runs from the room.
The Doctor pulls up an IV stand, and throws on the IV bag. "We'll check back later. Judge Flog told us to keep you in restraints. I don't blame him. Up to me you'd still be sitting in the Paramedic Van." He leaves without looking back.
Two days later...
Hunger pangs growl like wild lions. "Somebody? Help me? I'm hungry? I'm Real Hungry."
In silence, Sal waits. And listens. Then a man in blue scrubs tiptoes in, takes down the IV, and rushes out.
"Hey," yells Sal.
There is a click at the door.
"Hey," he yells again.
And the lights go out.
"Hey, you can't do this."
And he yells into the darkness, "Oh my GOD. What have I done?"
*Get the hell away from me, slime bag.
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