(Art by spoon+fork.)
When I staggered into work two days later Howard took a look at me and said, “You just lucked out big time.”
“Why? I’m not late. Am I?”
“No, cops just left! The Dotbusters came here last night and put posters all over the place!”
“Jesus! Are the Angrywalls all right?”
“I don’t think they’re hurt. Just some property damage. The guy was pretty pissed off, yelling at the cops and all. Like that’s gonna help, Apu.”
“I’m going to see if they’re OK.”
I put on a pot of coffee before leaving for the motel office. When I got closer to the door, I saw two fliers wheat-pasted to the glass that both read: “Go Back to India Smelly Curry Motherfuckers — the Dotbusters.”
The office was empty, but I heard some grating sounds coming from the stairwell. I found Mrs. Angrywall there, working with a butter knife on the fliers.
“Bloody cowards, all of them!” she yelled, her voice sounding huge and ethereal in the stairwell’s spiraling chamber. “They put most of them in here where people in the street couldn’t see them. They only had enough balls to put two up on the office door before running away!”
“Maybe you should get those two in the front first.”
“No! I want to keep them up! I want everyone to know that this is a business run by dots! And that we smell!”
“Where’s your husband?”
“He went down to the police station to harass them some more. They had the nerve to blame us for not staffing our office 24 hours a day!”
“I’m going to get a knife and clean off the front doors.”
I left anyway and came back with a rusty old spatula I found under the hamburger stand’s sink.
Mrs. Angrywall sailed out with her finger pointed at my throat.
“Put that down! Don’t touch that front door!”
“I have to get those fliers off!”
“Why do you need to get them off of there so badly? You people put them up!”
“Don’t blame me, man!”
“Well there isn’t a chance in hell that someone black did it! Only a white man would have the entitlement to tell us to get out of his country!”
“How do you know?”
“Well, anyway, there’s no point in leaving it like this. If you let them vandalize your office, they win and they’ll be back to do something worse.”
“Don’t you dare! You. . .you. . .motherfucker!”
I was shocked at her outburst and loosened my grip on the spatula. She ripped it out of my hand and winged it. We listened to it clatter on the concrete.
We both turned to the door.
“Why us, Sean? Of all the hotels, of all the Indians in this entire state, why us!”
“Because you were here and they saw you.”
“Can’t they tell by the way this place looks that we haven’t got money? Why don’t they go after the big hotels and the rich Indians who are prospering on the Jersey shore?”
“These Dotbusters, I bet they’re like high-school kids and they’re not too bright. And the better hotels probably have an office open 24 hours with staff walking around.”
“You’re probably right,” Mrs. Angrywall said. Then she ran her hands through her hair and shifted her feet. “You don’t happen to have any idea who did this, do you?”
“I really don’t know.” But Howard might, I thought.
She turned and walked away.