I found the policeman the very next time I went to Las Vegas. He was standing in front of a weary apartment building not far from the casino where we first met. Talking with a middle-aged woman in teeshirt and jeans, he tapped a little notepad against his leg. A squad car was just pulling up behind his motorcycle.
It was an August afternoon so hot the air came at me like a wall of fire. It must be awfully hot inside his helmet. Maybe he’s got a fan in there—some way to keep his head cool.
Two officers got out of the car and joined the conversation. I watched from the shade of an oleander hedge that trapped dusty cobwebs and garbage against the building. They nodded at something the woman said and went in. I was tempted to follow, but didn’t want to lose sight of my purpose.
As she spoke the woman looked my way and gasped. She ran toward me and reached right past me, laughing. She took hold of something wedged between the oleander and the wall, and tugged it out. It was a red vinyl case—a pizza delivery bag. It was worn and empty, but didn’t appear to have been there long.
She brought it over to the officer, who seemed just as amazed behind his shiny black sunglasses. She tried to hand it to him, but he told her to drop it on the sidewalk. He hurried to the storage compartment of his motorcycle and took out a large plastic bag and a pair of blue gloves, which he put on. Only then did he pick up the pizza delivery case. He managed to fit it into the bag, and put it on the seat of his bike. I ventured out of the hedge and he glanced at me before lifting his pad to write something in it.
The other two officers returned from the apartment building. Between them was a soft-faced man—bearded, but young. The exposed skin of his face was blushed to bright pink. From the waist up he was wearing a pizza delivery uniform. Below his waist, he wore a light green towel, which he fingered nervously when he saw the woman. She laughed again and said, “Bring it back when you can. No rush.”
He mumbled thanks, gripped the towel, hobbled to his car and drove away.
The two officers put the bagged pizza case in their car and stayed to chat for a bit, borrowing the notepad and laughing gently at comments I couldn’t hear. The motorcycle policeman glanced around and spotted me again. This time, his expression changed.
He nodded farewell to the group and took back his notepad, but they were all leaving. There were no more reasons to stay out in the relentless heat.
I waited where I was, treading air, as he walked toward me. He stopped and put his fists on his hips, his pad still in one hand. Slowly, he extended his free hand, pulled it back uncertainly, then extended it again. I alighted on two of his still-gloved fingers and regarded the emblem on his helmet—a golden sun.