The cop looked in the dumpster and noticed a picture of his wife. He had just received a complaint from the Olympic Sports store that someone had dumped bags of garbage in their dumpster. That someone was me. I’d cleaned out a few drawers of hometown memories that morning, – high school notebooks, graduation pictures, diplomas, clippings and headed into what I thought was a free-for-all dumpster tucked behind a strip mall. After I threw the bags into the dumpster I took a walk with the dog and when I returned to my car I was met by the policeman and the assistant manager of the Olympic Sports store.
I don’t remember my first words, but they conveyed innocence of my wrong-doing.
“I’m in Bridport and missed dump day! I thought these dumpsters were for the public. I live in Providence now, and, well, the dumpsters are there for everybody.”
“Not in Vermont” said the cop.
“I’m sorry” I said.
“There’s a law about that here and I thought there was a law against it in most states.”
“Not Rhode Island” I lied.,
“The fine for dumping is quite high” said the policeman. “ I suggest you take your garbage out. By the way, I know half the people in that photo. My wife is in that photo. Is that your high school class? Class of 68?”
I lied and said yes. I think it was my brother’s class.
“Oh, yes! Cindy! Haven’t seen her in ages! What’s she doing?”
“I married her forty years ago”
“Well, that is amazing, she was such a great—“
“Billy Cornell. Did you know Billy?”
“Of course! Billy was such a funny–:
“Billy is my cousin.”
“That is so funny! I think I was in Billy’s algebra—“
“Karen Costello. Right? Karen was in your class”
“Karen. I thought she moved, I don’t know, out west or”
“Karen? No Karen is still around, works with Cindy at the Court House—stenographer.”
The assistant manager folder her arms and leaned against the dumpster. She checked her watch and looked at the back door of the store. The sun was beating down hot on our heads and the dumpster smelled bad. Her eyes narrowed and studied the asphalt. I tried to meet her eyes as I charmed the cop, to let her know that I knew she’d tried to fuck me up and she wasn’t going to get away with it.
The policeman suddenly remembered the assistant manager.
“Oh, ma’am, sorry… this is just a coincidence… this woman—“ He took a postcard out of the dumpster and read the name.. “Yes, you’re Casey right? Laurie Casey?”
“Yes…right…well, I’m pretty sure Cindy must know you.”
I bull shited with the cop for another half hour. This person, that person, didn’t know any of them though some of the last names seemed familiar.
“Lambert. Johnny Lambert—was he in your class?”
The dog was getting hot next to the dumpster.
“Listen, why don’t I pay for the dumpster to be emptied. I’d be more than happy to do that…”
The assistant manager perked up and smirked.
“It costs between 400 to 600 dollars to have that dumpster dumped out. We only do it once a month, and look, it’s full and we aren’t scheduled for a pick up for another week.”
Oh God, I thought, this is bad.
The policeman pondered the problem.
“Well, that seems pretty steep. But it’s less money than what it’ll cost you to pay the fine.”
“Who do I pay?” I asked the assistant manager. She pointed to a number of the dumpster.
“You’ll have to call Carreas” She said.
“The Carreas. They’ve done well for themselves” said the policeman.
“Rodney Carreas, did you know him?”
God, I wished I did.
“I don’t think so”
“Rodney has a couple of other businesses in town… Not a bad guy, Rodney. Done well”
I got the address of Carreas Waste Management Agency and went over to see if they’d give me a break, let me pay for two garbage bags, maybe go with them when they went to pick it up, help them out.
Rodney, after my explanation, sat in front of a computer to search for the Olympic Sports contract.
”You seem busy” I said, ass kissing.
“Nope. Not busy.”
“I would think waste management would be recession safe. Everybody has garbage, always”
“Well, it’s not that simple. Think about it. Nobody is building right now. No contracts for rental dumpsters, no contracts for demolition dumpsters”
I told Rodney about the cop finding a picture of his wife in the dumpster, trying to cheer him up, offering him a comic Waste Management story he could share around the water cooler.
“Here it is” he said. “Olympic Sports. Due for pick-up on Friday. 75 dollars.”
That bitch assistant manager, trying to scare me.
I offered to split the cost with Rodney.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Rodney, eyes glued to the computer screen.
“I seen that cops wife. Her picture belongs in the trash.”