Yeah, I know: It's Dan's turn to bump Frank. He had dibs on it and everything. He'll just have to bump me instead. Look at it this way: now he doesn't even have to wait till noon.
o on Sunday nights after church, Darlene and I like to stop by the Starbucks at Sepulveda and Nordhoff. It's not the finest neighborhood in the Valley, but that's the only Starbucks between church and home that's open so late at night.
It's also in the heart of the district Pecadillo patrols, and he's working nights. I mentioned to him last week that we were there, and he solemnly instructed me never to go there at night again. "People get shot in that neighborhood and cars get carjacked all the time," he said.
"Right," I scoffed. "I used to do street evangelism in Chicago in the 1970s in some of the toughest neighborhoods on the North Side. I can handle myself. Besides, I'm just going through the drive-through. I don't even get out of the car."
"Don't do it," he said with finality. "I'm serious."
Sunday night, I knew I would be staying up late. Our board meeting was Monday morning, and I still had some last-minute preparation to do. I wanted a Venti® drip with extra cream.
So after the evening service, when I turned left out of the church parking lot (toward Sepulveda, instead of toward the Hollywood Freeway), Darlene asked, "Where are you going?"
"But Pecadillo said not to go there any more," she said, aghast that I would be so foolhardy.
"Who's the dad in the family?" I asked.
I got my coffee and headed north on Sepulveda, toward the 405 freeway. Within two blocks, a black-and-white LAPD cruiser suddenly came from behind, pulled alongside me, slowed suddenly to match my speed, and honked angrily.
I don't care who you are, that's unsettling. I instantly was overwhelmed with guilt and fear, trying to think what law I might have broken. Then the cop rolled his window down, and it was Pecadillo, frowning and pointing at me angrily. I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to pull over or not. His lights weren't flashing, so I kept going, trying to look nonchalant.
To my profound relief, he turned at the next corner and drove away.
I called him Monday, hoping to laugh it off. He wasn't smiling yet.
"Dude," he said. "I told you not to go there. I'm serious. If I see you there at night again, I'm hitting the lights and pulling you over. If you have so much as a burned out tail light, I'll write you up. Stay away from that neighborhood at night."
I feel like a little kid again.
And not in a good way.