Richard King Perkins II
My Buddy Butch Managing a Walgreen’sI made it my job to chase down shoplifters— I acted back then as if my name tag was a cop badge but now I’d just ignore themor maybe even applaud their boldness. One day a guy grabbed a bunch of perfume,threw it in a bag and bolted out the doorat a full sprint. He was a big man,maybe six three, two fiftyso I ran him down pretty quicklyin the alley behind the strip mall. We traded a few punches and insultsuntil he broke away and blindly dartedto his car waiting on the other side of Harlem Ave. I got his plate numberso eventually the police figured out who he wasand I identified him in a photo lineup. But Butch lived far away so they didn’tfeel like taking the time to go arrest him.It would have been better for him if they had. I was reading the paper about a month laterand saw Butch’s photoat the bottom of the front page. Allegedly, he had stolen a bunch of cigarettesfrom K-Mart and led police on a high speed chase which ended only when he drove into the backof a moving van and was decapitated. I’ve thought many times over the last quarter centuryabout our few minutes of interaction—how I might have helped him through his problemsinstead of berating him and hitting him and now I think even Butch would find it funnyto learn how after all this timewe’ve become such close and caring friends. Toasting a Tiny Tyrant You were a snuff addict and gin drinker,just a tiny tyrant actually— and did a stint in the loony binwhen it was still okay to call it that. One weekend,I stole you away from your caretakersbecause I loved you even in your most distant persona. I did everything I could to save you;neither of us can forgetthe surreal scenes of fury and uproar but like an actor in a bad soap operayou were actually happyto be killed off and have an end putto your daily suffering. Your death scene was scripted by a writerof questionable talent but you raised a glass to yourself anyway. Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.