25

I took off my shirt and threw it in the trash. Bummer. Izods are good shirts. Luckily, I had a T-shirt on underneath

He looked at my T-shirt. “Dwayne,” Chulo said, “let me get this straight: You wore a T-shirt under your polo shirt.”

“Well, yeah. Luckily.”

“You were getting dressed this morning, and you said to yourself, ‘Self, I should wear a T-shirt under my new Izod just in case a fat bishop bleeds all over me.’ Is that right?”

“Leave me alone, man.”

I strongly suggested he clean up the stairs before we both went to jail, which he actually set about to do. I locked the box office and took over listening at the back door. I could see why he had his ear pressed up against it; it was pretty thick, and I couldn’t hear a thing.

The door opened up front. Mr. Ferris walked in. I all but ran back up.

“Dwayne, what are you doing?”

“Oh, nothing, Mr. Ferris. Just checking the door. I thought that maybe Juan might have left it unlocked. It’s good, though.”

The boss unbuttoned his coat. “Did Officer Penna come and get that envelope?”

“Yeah, a little while ago.”

“Good.”

“Where is Juan?”

“He’s cleaning up downstairs. Some customer made a real mess. The usual.”

“No doubt.”

Mr. Ferris asked about business and if there were any problems. I said still slow and no. Chulo came back up, and as he rounded the corner down the hall, the sight of the boss standing there made him lurch as if hit by a snowball.

“Heard you had quite the mess, Juan.”

Chulo looked at me, looked at Mr. Ferris, looked at me, and, looking back at Mr. Ferris, said, “Yeah.”

“Well, everything looks under control here. Call me if anything—” He looked in the corner where the big rat was standing on his haunches. “Juan, I thought I told you to get rid of the rats.”

“I tried, Mr. Ferris. This one put up a good fight.”

Ferris picked up the broom Chulo had leaned in the corner a lifetime ago and took a swing at the rodent. The rat ran in front of us and under the box office door. I would never have guessed he would fit. Ferris fished his keys out and unlocked of door, broom at the ready. There was the rat standing on top of the tarp-covered dead bishop. Ferris entered the box office practically tiptoeing, as if sneaking up on the beast who was staring at him, whiskers wiggling. Ferris took a mighty swing and missed by a mile. The rat disappeared into some invisible hole in the far corner.

“That little monster,” Mr. Ferris said, shaking his head. “What’s this?” He poked at the tarp with the broom.

“It’s just some trash I need to take out, Mr. Ferris,” Chulo said, both of us leaning in the office door.

“Why is it in the box office? Why is it wrapped in a tarp?” He poked at it some more, and again and then again. He handed the broom to Chulo, who could do nothing but take it from him. Ferris leaned over, pulled on the ropes, and peeled back the tarp. He recoiled in horror and stumbled back against the shelves, tape head cleaner bottles bouncing off the floor, pink dildo bouncing off his head.

Mr. Ferris spun to face us. “What did you do?! You killed an old man!?”

“No, no! We didn’t kill him, Mr. Ferris. Really!” I said, holding my hands out as if pleading.

“He killed himself by accident!” Chulo yelled, moving closer.

“Stay back!” Mr. Ferris held his hand out like a traffic cop.

We had him cornered in the office, and the big guy’s eyes were darting around for an escape route.

“No, man, it’s cool,” Chulo pleaded.

“It—I mean, he—is a bishop,” I said. “That’s what Chulo says!”

Ferris still stood wide-eyed, signaling halt, but at least he looked at me. “What? You mean his name is bishop?”

“No, that’s his job. You know, Catholic,” Chulo said.

“You’re telling me there’s a dead Catholic bishop on my office floor?”

We both nodded.

“And he killed himself.”

We nodded again. We told Mr. Ferris everything. The big thump. The stairs. The cardboard. Officer Penna. Everything. Well, we did leave out the joint part.

He finally put down his stop hand, which had to have been getting tired anyway. “If you’re bullshitting me—“

“Really, that’s the whole story, sir,” I said.

24

Chulo rubbed his head and then said as if struck by a great idea, “Let’s put him in the box office.”

“What? No way!”

“Where else?”

“You think I’m going to work the rest of the day with this dead white guy next to me?” I waved my arms about.

“Got a better idea? Besides, amigo, it’s just until the van leaves.” Chulo seemed surprisingly together, more than I was, or at least felt.

I looked at him. And looked. And looked. “Okay, fine.”

I grabbed two handfuls of tarp and began pulling. Chulo grabbed two handfuls of tarp as well and began sort of pushing.

I muttered, “‘A man of the cloth,’ he says. ‘Respect.’ ‘Doesn’t deserve this,’ he says. I don’t deserve this.”

“Man, don’t mutter. It’s rude,” Chulo said.

“Rude is dragging this poor, fat white guy around.”

We got to the box office, and I unlocked it, swinging the door open. I blocked it with my foot and starting dragging. We got him in.

“Whew!” Chulo said. “Okay, now I’ll keep an eye on that van.” Chulo stood at the end of the hall and pressed his ear against the door, hoping to hear the van start up.

I lit up a smoke and went around to the customer side of my bulletproof glass. Nope, couldn’t see him—the bishop was under the counter enough to be obscured from view. I unlocked the front door, ready for business. I went back in the box office, closed the door, and stepped over his holiness to my box office window. I looked at my watch. It was three thirty. Just an hour before I was happily studying, and now I was stoned out of my mind with a dead guy on the floor next to me. Great. Just great.

A young Asian guy wearing a slicker and carrying a backpack came in. “One, please.”

“Which theater?”

“Which do you think?”

I gave him my best don’t-mess-with-me stare. “Straight?”

“No. Guess again.”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. He paid and headed down the hall. He paused, like someone encountering a crazy man, as he got closer to Chulo with his ear pressed to the back door. He went around the corner and down the stairs. About thirty seconds later, he came rushing back down the hall to me behind my glass.

“Hey, man, did you know there’s blood all over down there?”

“Where?” For the briefest second, I didn’t know what he was talking about.

“Downstairs! A puddle of blood on the floor at the bottom of the stairs and blood streaked on the steps all the way up!”

“Yeah, man. Someone bumped his head. We’ll get that cleaned up.” I bellowed down the hall, “Hey, Chulo!”

“Not now, man!” he yelled back. “I think I hear the cops coming!” He was so focused on the back door, he must not have noticed the customer.

“Hey,” the Asian customer said, pointing at my chest. “Do you know you have blood all over your Izod shirt?”

“Oh, yeah. Forgot about that. Papercut.” I yelled down the hall again, “Hey, come on, Chulo!”

“I said not now, man! We’ll never get the body out of here if the fuzz don’t leave soon.”

I looked at the Asian guy.

He looked at me. “Hey, tell you what. Never mind, okay?” he said, and out the door to the street he went.

He’s going to get a cop! I thought.

“Chulo!” I yelled, “We got trouble!”

All I wanted to do was become an architect. Was that asking too much? I started considering what laws had been broken. I suppose there are laws about moving dead bodies in porno theaters, or anywhere else for that matter. Wait, would they think we killed him? Silly me, the cops never take young black men or Chicanos and lock them up unjustly. Never, couldn’t happen.

We were screwed.

I told Chulo all about it.

“Dang,” he said. “Still, the guy didn’t actually see anything. Was he going to the American or the Adonis?”

I told him the Adonis.

“Then we are gold, amigo. He’s not going to tell anyone he was here. No way.”

Seemed like wishful thinking, but there wasn’t anything we could do at that point but wish, so what the hell. For sure, I had to do something about my shirt. I pulled my shirt out and inspected it—the blood had smeared into a Rorschach test, but it hadn’t soaked through.

“Do you think it might clean up with vinegar?” I asked.

“What the fuck are you talking about? Vinegar? Who are you? What’s her name…that newspaper lady…”

“Heloise. ‘Hints from Heloise;’ it’s a good column.”

“Aye yi yi.”

23

He looked at me, trying to see if I was lying. I tried my hardest not to look stoned, just staring back. Being a black man in America, I was used to The Man staring at me. He pulled open the door, tore off my sign, crumpled it up, and threw it on the floor.

“Do you have something for me, boy?”

Boy. What year is this? Damned cracker. I went back in the box office, pulled the envelope out of the spot I had hidden it, walked back in the hall, and handed it to him. He tucked it in his belt under his jacket.

“Blood.”

“What?”

“What’s the blood about?” He pointed at my formerly new Izod shirt.

I had forgotten all about that. “Bloody nose.”

He looked at me. I looked back. He looked at my shirt. “That’s one hell of a bloody nose.” He looked around suspiciously, looked back, gave me the ol’ skunk-eye, and finally turned to leave. Just before he got to the door, Chulo came down the stairs holding a balled-up tarp. Distracted by fighting with the unruly tarp, Chulo was to the bottom of the stairs before he noticed the ugly pig by the door. He froze.

Penna stopped. He looked at me. “I thought you said the other guy called in sick?”

“He did. This is the painter. He doesn’t speak a word of English.”

The cop stared. He turned to Chulo. “Is that so, boy? Se habla English?”

Si, senior. EngLEESH spake good I.”

Penna stared some more at both of us. We stared back. He hit the bar on the door and started out. “Don’t forget to unlock this now.”

“Thank you, Officer.”

Gracias, hijo de mil putas.”

The cop froze. “What did he say?”

“How would I know?” I said.

He eyeballed us one last time. Finally, he went back into the wet. We both unclenched our asses.

“Damn!” I said.

“That was close, amigo,” Chulo said.

“What did you say to him?”

“Thank you, son of a thousand bitches.”

I checked the door. It was still locked. Good. I crushed out my cigarette on the floor.

“Hey, man!” Chulo said.

“Screw it. Okay, Chulo, daytime or no daytime, let’s just get this done.”

We went back down the hall, spreading the tarp out between us as we went. When we got to the bishop, we threw it over him, rolled his bloated form back and forth, and struggled to work the tarp underneath. Next, we took the rope and tied it around the big muslin bundle so his arm or something wouldn’t pop out by mistake. We each grabbed a handful of fabric and slid him along the floor to the end of the hall and the back door. I used the key to unlock the heavy metal emergency exit door. It stuck a bit, and I shouldered it open. It slammed into the passenger side of a police van.

“Shit!” I said, grabbing the door and closing it with a slam.

¡Me cago en la hostia! What are we going to do?”

“Damn! Do you think anyone saw us?” I said, breathing like I had just climbed Mount Everest.

“I don’t know, man. I didn’t see anyone in the van. I think the fuzz just parked it there. They do that sometimes.”

We stood and listened. We didn’t hear a thing. “What do we do?” I asked.

“Maybe wait a while and try again later,” Chulo said.

I pointed at the bundle of bishop. “And leave Moby Dick lying here, in plain sight?”

“You can’t tell what it is. It looks like we’re throwing out a bunch of junk wrapped in that old tarp,” Chulo said.

“What if someone checks?”

“Why would anyone check?”

I rubbed my head. “What if someone wants to go to the Adonis? He’s more than a little in the way.”

We silently considered our limited options. Then, “Amigo, what do you mean, Moby Dick? Like the bar?”

I looked at him. “No, the great white whale, in the book.” He stared back. “You never heard of the book, Moby Dick?”

“No, man. What is it?”

“Damn. I guess Central let you down after all.”

Culero, we can’t all be eggheads.”

We stood there. I had nothing. Chulo had nothing. We should do something, but it was tough to say what.

Chulo snapped his finger. “I know, let’s put him in the mop closet.”

We dragged him down the hall, halfway to the box office. Chulo opened the closet door.

“Man, there’s no way he’s fitting in there,” I said. It was five sizes too small for the ex-holy man.

22

“Paint?”

“Yup. Paint. That’s what we are doing in the basement, painting it red.”

I shut up. Seemed like a good moment to not say one word more than necessary. He shrugged, turned, hit the panic bar, and exited onto the street. I breathed once more and ran back to the top of the stairs. I didn’t see Chulo. I yelled down, “You okay, brother?”

“Yeah, man.” He had gotten off the fat man and was pacing back and forth.

I went down as far as the corpse. “Should we give it another try?”

“No way, amigo. I about killed myself. I think I have a plan.” Chulo pulled over a big piece of cardboard that had been sitting with a bunch of wood and stuff for no real reason. “Let’s get him on this, take some rope, and pull him up the stairs.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Don’t be so negative, college boy. Look how well he slid down on his own. It’ll be just like pulling a sled up a hill in the winter.”

“You went sledding in the winter?”

“Sure.”

“In the snow?”

“No, in the mud. Of course in the snow.”

“I thought you grew up in Mexico?”

“No. Minneapolis. Southside.”

“Southside?”

“Yeah. I went to Central High. My abuelo moved here from New Mexico during the Depression.”

I stared at him.

“What?” he said.

“What’s up with all the amigo this and abuelo that?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Everyone expects me to know Spanish, so I took it in high school.”

I laughed and laughed.

He looked a little mad. “What’s so funny?”

“Maybe I should learn Swahili.”

“Funny man. Let’s get this done, okay?”

We laid the cardboard down at the bottom of the stairs and rather unceremoniously rolled and slid the bishop down the last steps facedown onto the cardboard. So far, so good. Chulo ran to the first floor and got a pile of rope from the mop closet, and we tied it around the bishop’s chest and shoulders. I went upstairs with the end of the rope and pulled as Chulo got the cardboard started on the first step. He walked on the bishop to get by and then ran up the stairs.

We both pulled.

“Heave!”

“Ho!”

And the bishop slid up a step.

“Heave!”

“Ho!”

And another step. And another and another. It was actually working. It wasn’t easy, not at all, but it was working. Finally, the big cadaver topped the steps and slid onto the floor. We dropped down exhausted.

“Chulo, I have to hand it to you. I really didn’t think we could do it.”

“You have to trust me, brotha.”

“Central High must have paid off after all.”

We sat on the floor, sweat dripping. The dead and increasingly cold carcass was now upstairs, around the corner from the hall. If anyone came down from the American, they still wouldn’t see him. That was good.

“What next?” I said.

“I think there’s a painter’s tarp on the second floor. Maybe we can wrap him in it and put him out back for now.”

Seemed like a terrible idea, but again, I didn’t have a better plan. We got up, and Chulo ran upstairs. I went back to the box office for a cigarette. I needed one bad. I opened the door, grabbed the pack of menthols and my lighter off the counter inside, went back, and leaned against the hall wall. I lit one up.

THUMP THUMP THUMP!

Someone pounded on the front door.

THUMP THUMP THUMP!

Answer it? No way.

THUMP THUMP THUMP!

Just then, a customer from upstairs, this little skinny college student-y dude, came down the stairs and headed to the door.

“Don’t open that, man!”

Too late. Yelling after him only freaked him out, and he went for the door even sooner. The moment after he went out, Officer Penna stood in the doorway. At least six-six and ugly as can be, he took off his plastic-covered cop hat and shook the rain off. At first, I almost panicked that he could see the bishop, but I knew he couldn’t from up front. Now if only he would stay up front and not go snooping around.

“Why is the door locked?” He snapped the corners of his poncho, sending water on the floor.

I held my right hand up with my smoke. “I ran to get a pack of cigarettes, but now I’m back.”

“Where’s your helper? Ferris always has two on. Why didn’t the other guy watch the shop?”

“He called in sick.”

21

“What are we going to do?” I said, scratching my head, surveying the situation.

“Maybe you can pick him up, Dwayne.”

“Pick him up! Look at him.” The cat weighed like three hundred pounds if he weighed an ounce. “How can I pick him up?”

“You know, like how people become superhuman with adrenaline when it’s an emergency.”

I looked at Chulo like he was as nuts as he was. “He’s not in a burning car, and I’m not trying to rescue him.”

“Try picking up his shoulders, and I’ll get his legs.”

I took his trench coat and buttoned the middle button so it wouldn’t flop all over the place, then I grabbed him under his arms. He had sweaty pits. I lifted with my legs, doing my best deadlift, so to speak. I grunted. The soundtrack behind the entrance door grunted. I got his upper body off the ground, but just barely. I grunted again. The movie grunted again even louder. Chulo, meanwhile, put one of the bishop’s legs under each of his arms and heaved. We moved him one step and then…and then…nothing. That was all we had.

“Oh, man, set him down, set him down,” Chulo said. We let go, and the bishop dropped back on the stairs and slid two steps down. Net gain, negative one step.

“Oh, man, Chulo, this isn’t going to work.”

“Sure it is, amigo. It’s just that he’s lying backward, head down. Let’s get him all the way down the stairs and spin him around so we can carry him up headfirst. We’ll have better leverage.”

“Damn, man. Okay. We’ll give it a try.” I picked up his shoulders again and pulled. That was easier, gravity and all. He slid and bumped down the final three steps onto the dusty, bloody floor.

Chulo followed him down. “Okay, that’s progress.”

“Progress? By my count, that’s a negative four steps we carried him up.”

He looked at me. “‘Negative four?’ Chump, you are like the black super-nerd. Hell, you’d be a nerd even if you were Asian.”

Like I hadn’t heard that before. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s get this over with.”

I got under the bishop’s arms and peeled his limp body off the floor. Chulo wedged the holy man’s legs under his arms again and heaved. We had all of him off the floor, except his considerable ass, which remained flat on the ground. I led the way, backing up to the stairs, shuffling along. I got to the stairs and took the first step. Then another. And now his butt was at the bottom step. This is going to get a lot harder, I thought. I pulled.

“Come on, Chulo, lift!”

“I’m lifting! I’m lifting!”

His holiness’s ass bumped up the first step. And then another. And another. The movie grunting reached a literal climax, adding just the right music to our work. I sweated like it was the twenty-fourth mile of a marathon, and Chulo looked like he might die, his face all red, his mouth fixed in a grimace. We fought him all the way to just below the top.

“Hey, is anyone here?”

Startled, I fell over backward onto the steps and let go of the bishop. I thought for sure Chulo was a goner, crushed under two tons of great white whale. But instead, he let go at just the right moment and fell forward onto the corpse, riding it down the stairs backward, trench coat working like a sled, as the bishop slid and bumped down to exactly where we found him in the first place.

“Hello! Anyone?”

I scrambled backward, once again in kind of a crab walk, up the stairs. I got to my feet at the top and went around the corner into the hall. Ahead, by the front door, was that chump married guy in the suit from earlier.

“Hey, man. How can I help you?” I tried not to sound winded.

The dude looked concerned. “I didn’t see anyone, so I was worried you were robbed and dead or something.”

“No, man. Just doing some work downstairs.”

“Say, you should know, there’s this blind guy up there—“

“Yeah?”

“He’s masturbating.”

“No shit.” Who’d imagine?

“Yeah, yeah, nothing new, but he’s doing it while standing up asking people to describe what’s going on in the movie. He says, ‘because I’m blind.’”

“Thanks for the heads-up, man. I’ll look into it.”

He looked me up and down. “Do you know you have blood all over your shirt?”

I pulled my nice new Izod shirt out to look at it. Right in the middle, the size of a hubcap, was a big, round blood spot. “Paint.”

20

“We’re going to get ourselves in trouble.” Totally fucking nuts.

“We can’t let him die like that.”

“Get real. You’re just stoned. We got to call the fuzz.” Absolutely unbelievably cracked.

A young white guy, college student type, came in the door. He unzipped his windbreaker, wiped his feet, and said, “Can I have one ticket to the gay theater?”

Chulo and I stood shoulder to shoulder in front of him in the lobby. “No. Not right now,” I said.

“It’s flooded,” Chulo said.

“Yeah, all the rain,” I said.

“Totally uninhabitable,” Chulo said.

“Go to the straight theater,” I said.

“Straight theater?” He looked heartbroken.

“On the house, man,” I said.

“Yeah, amigo, don’t worry. There are a lot of hacer a pelo y pluma guys up there right now.” Chulo winked.

“What’s that mean?”

“Fun-loving guys,” I said.

He smiled, thanked us, started upstairs, stopped, and came back down. “Can I get a bottle of Rush?”

“No sweat, man.” I unlocked the box office, went in, and passed him a little bottle of “tape head cleaner” for an outrageous twelve-fifty. He went on his way upstairs.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Chulo started in again. “Come on, Dwayne. It’s not right for a bishop to die like that. He’s a respected man in the community. Everyone knows priests can’t be gay. What would it mean if it turned out that not only a priest was gay, but a bishop? Think about it.”

“I don’t know, man,” I said, coming back out of the box office again. I couldn’t believe I would ever listen to Chulo. Maybe I was just too stoned, but it was a sad case. Poor guy devotes himself to the church his whole life, only to go out in what must be the most embarrassing way possible.

“All I’m saying is let’s get him out of the gay theater,” Chulo said. “That’s all. We can figure out what to do after that.”

I couldn’t believe that was our best a plan, but I didn’t have a better idea. “All right. Okay. Let’s do it.” Yeah, definitely too stoned.

I got a sheet of paper and a marker and scribbled, “Be back in fifteen minutes.” I taped it to the outside of the door and locked up. Customers could still get out with the push bar, but new customers couldn’t get in. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do if a customer from upstairs came down at the wrong moment.

There wasn’t much light in the stairwell (probably would have been grounds for the bishop’s relatives to sue), and downstairs it looked like a scene out of a horror movie, added to by the soundtrack of either Hot Rods or The Boys of Company B from behind the “auditorium” door, noises that reminded me of a pack of drunk hyenas. His big old carcass lay there. We got almost to the bottom, me in the lead and the bishop blocking the way.

“I think we need to go around him so we can get underneath to lift him up.” Which was easy for me to say, but hard to do.

The stairs were really narrow—too narrow for any building code, yet another cause for a suit—and the carcass filled it up. I tried to balance myself with my palms to the ceiling and wedge a foot between the bishop and the wall while reaching way down a good four steps with my other foot. It didn’t work. My foot caught on the bishop, and I fell flat on top of the corpse, face to face with his un-blinking-ness. I screamed and half-rolled, half-scrambled clumsily off him. I finally blessedly fell onto the murderous concrete floor in a heap.

“Damn!”

“Quiet down, amigo,” Chulo whisper-yelled.

“You be quiet. I just fell face first on a fat dead white man.” I got to my feet. My hands felt warm. I looked down, and both palms were covered in blood. “Shit. Look at me!” I didn’t know what to do, so I leaned over and wiped my hands on the bishop. Yet more indignities for His Worshipfulness.

I looked up at Chulo on the stairs, standing above the bishop. “Well, come on, tough guy,” I said.

“I can’t step over him. No way.” Chulo was like five-five, and me six-one, and I couldn’t get around him.

19

THREE

WE ENJOYED A GOOD FORTY-FIVE MINUTES OF UNINTERRUPTED BLITZED sitting in the box office playing catch with a well-lubed dildo when Chulo and I heard a strange thumping noise.

“It sounded like it came from downstairs,” I said.

“I hope it’s not the AC, amigo.”

“Didn’t sound like it.” I used a Kleenex to wipe off the pink plastic phallus, now covered in dirt from falling on the floor repeatedly.

“What does an air conditioner sound like, hijo?” Chulo said, wiping his hands on his pants.

“Not that.” I pointed with the plastic pecker. “Go check it out, will ya?”

“Me? Why me? I’m too messed up. You check it out.”

“I’m box office. You’re whatever it is you are.”

“Maintenance, projectionist, bouncer…”

“Yeah, sure. Check it out. Besides, I’m more messed up than you are.”

“All right, fine. Culero.” Chulo struggled to open the door with his hands still covered in lube. He gave up, pulled his T-shirt out, and used it like a glove. He slammed the box office door behind him, walked down the hall, and took a sharp left down the stairs.

I put the pink pecker back in its box and waited.

I didn’t have to wait long. Chulo came hustling back down the hall to my window. His eyes were bugging out like a cartoon. “It wasn’t the AC!”

“What was it?”

Amigo, it was Bishop Whelan!”

“The bishop? What about the bishop?”

“He’s dead!” he said half-whispering, half-yelling.

Had to be a hallucination. “No way! Are you sure?”

“Oh, believe me, I’m sure. Go look for yourself.”

I went out and asked Chulo to stay up front in case someone came in.

Amigo, I’m not going anywhere,” Chulo said, hands on top of his head as if being arrested.

I walked down the long hall and around the corner to the top of the stairs. I could see him, there, down at the bottom. “Bishop? Sir? Your majesty?”

I went down. The big man lay feet up, head down, splayed out on the steps, face up. I stood over him. Under his head was a perfectly round puddle of blood on the concrete floor. Oh, he was dead all right. His eyes were wide open, his mouth open, tongue sticking out, his hair matted red.

I forgot how to breathe, my mouth moving like a guppy’s but nothing coming in or going out. I stumbled backward and tripped, landing on my ass. I scrambled up the stairs on my hands and knees. At the top, I let out a loud gasp, jumped up, and ran down the hall to Chulo in the lobby. I grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Damn!”

“Damn right!”

“He must have fallen down the stairs.”

“No kidding, he fell down the stairs,” Chulo said. “Let go of me, brotha.”

I guess I squeezed him pretty hard. I let go of his shoulders and grabbed my head instead. “Oh my god. Oh my god!” I said.

“Stupid maricón. This is trouble. That’s for sure.”

We both just kind of danced in place, too much adrenaline and THC and nowhere to go.

“The bishop! What should we do?” Chulo said, slapping his forehead.

“What do you mean? We’ve got to call the police.” I turned to go back to the office and the phone.

Chulo grabbed my arm. “Dwayne, you can’t do that. He’s the bishop.”

I pulled back. “Let go of me, chump. He was the bishop. Now he’s a dead bishop. Not only that, but a dead bishop in our theater.”

Chulo suddenly talked all reasonable. “Oh, man, the scandal. Think about that, man. The bishop dies falling down the stairs of a gay porn theater. People will freak out, amigo. Not to mention, they’ll probably close us.”

“Why would they close us?”

“All the attention? Do you think it will be good attention?”

“We can’t do anything about it,” I said. But I didn’t go to the phone. He had a point.

Chulo paced around, head down. “We have to do something.”

“And what would that be?” I mean, what did Chulo think we were going to do? Drag him out of the theater and drop him in the alley in the middle of the afternoon?

“I think we should drag him out of the theater and leave him in the alley.”

“In the middle of the afternoon?”

He scratched his stubbled chin. “Good point. We’ll have to stash him until it gets dark. Then put him out behind Moby’s or something.”

“You’re crazy.” He was crazy.

“We got to, man. We need to help the bishop,” he said.

“What are you talking about? A few minutes ago it was all maricón this and maricón that. Now you’re worried about his reputation?” He was nuts.

Chulo shrugged. “It was funny before.”