The Mayor of Woodland Hills Is Arrested

Bleach-blonde with a tanned glow and unnaturally long fingernails, Cordelia D. glared at the police through gold-rimmed sunglasses; she’d just left “Diva” salon, walking out the door to “Love ya, babe,” “Be good, beautiful,” and so forth—goodwill earned through years of bi-monthly installments of crisp $100 dollar bills—and now her new-model powder-blue Mercedes was trapped, boxed in by a bunch of cop cars; lights activated, but eerily, sirens off.

Still, there were plenty of police sounds: numbered codes in clipped voices chirped through walkie-talkies mixing with the normal sing-song of birds, the woosh-woosh of Boulevard traffic, and chorus of neighborhood gardeners. With bug-shades, headphones over their ears, and blowers strapped to their backs, the gardeners fought an endless battle with Woodland Hills’s biggest selling point, toweringly old tall trees, blowing and blowing, but the leaves just came back.

5 cop cars were on Providence Street, a long, winding, quintessentially South Los Angeles street. Blurring the line between commercial and residential, it sat a block from the ever-present rumble of vehicular traffic on Ventura, and as a result the muffled din of cars was a constant white-noise to the street’s handful of small businesses, St. Mark’s Church of the Holy Redeemer, several single family homes sporadically spread about, and, the 25 or so down-and-out residents whose apartments faced the rear of the facetiously named “Vistas on Ventura” apartments.

“What the hell!?,” Cordelia said to a fat, bemused cop named Archibald Bledsoe scratching his belly.

Leaning against his squad car, fingering his substantial paunch, Bledsoe—his colleagues called him “Baldy” due to his first name, but also his shiny bald-headed-anti-coiffure—was taking in the early morning sun; ubiquitous, it was a pleasant presence until a climate-change-charged noontime saw its transformation into a glaring, white-hot, orange-red-headed monster.

“The Mayor got himself arrested,” Baldy said. Spitting and shaking his bulbous head, he pointed at the intersection near St. Mark’s, a few blocks down from Diva—near “Best Buddy Collision.”

There, next to a large black metal sign in front of the church broadcasting a rotating series of inspirational, devotional messages, a normally wheel-chair-bound man—his legs blown off in service to his country, a man with leathery sunburnt skin and stringy, silver-black hair—a man known by everyone on the Boulevard including the police as the “Mayor of Woodland Hills” was indeed, getting arrested.

“I’m telling you that cart belongs to me, damn it!,” said The Mayor to a stony-faced and muscular Black police officer; the cop had just lifted The Mayor out of his wheelchair depositing him roughly on the scuffed faux-leather backseat of a cruiser—its door open in the bike lane.

“Don’t care” the cop said, and his expression of nonchalance showed he meant it as he bent his massive frame and reached across the seat, pulling the seatbelt strap across The Mayor’s torso, buckling him in.

“But it’s mine. I earned it, I’m telling you: They friggin’ gave it to me!”

“Listen ‘Mayor,’” it was the Black cop’s partner talking, a white female in her 30s with a business-like brown ponytail, wearing black leather gloves to complement her uniform. She leaned over the door-jamb and hissed: “shut up already and save it for your public defender.”

“Don’t talk to me like that. Don’t frickin’ talk to me like that,” said The Mayor, gnashing his teeth and pulling at his seatbelt. “I was defending this country before your father’s sperm birthed the fascist embryo from which you spawned, Ms. Bride of Frankenstein.”

“Sir, Mr. Mayor, I don’t give a damn what they call you,” said the Black cop sternly, his back still furled like a stegosaurus, “you better shut up and move your arm; let me shut this car door, before I shut it on you.”

“But that’s his cart! He didn’t steal it!,” screamed a sullen, wet-eyed old woman with silver-grey hair; sheepishly, she was on her hands and knees on the sidewalk in front of St. Mark’s amidst her strewn belongings; a rag-tag collection of possessions which until a few moments earlier had been contained in a nearby and now overturned shopping cart. They included: blankets, clothes, foodstuffs, a battered (but maybe not broken) clock radio, an umbrella, books, magazines, and a framed photo of a smiling young woman, a spitting—albeit much younger—image of the silver-grey-haired woman. The glass of the picture frame had a jagged crack running down its middle.

“Whole Foods. You see?,” said the Black cop. And louder again, “Whole Foods,” incredulously pointing at the label on the shopping cart laying on its side—on the sidewalk in front of St. Mark’s—next to the squad car. With his other hand he slammed the door on The Mayor who just managed to get his hand inside.

“Yeah, it says ‘Whole Foods.’ So you can read. I’ll give you that much, albeit small words,” spat the silver-haired woman; getting up, she synchronistically eyed the police warily together with all of her stuff. “Let me tell you something you don’t know, Brainiac—the manager at Whole Foods gave that cart to him. That’s right. You check with them. Whole Foods gave The Mayor the cart ‘cause he earned it. And The Mayor—well he gave it to me, he gifted it to me. Because he knew I needed it. I’m an old woman, can’t you see that!”

“Listen, lady,” the white female cop said, “you’re lucky we’re not locking you up, too. Receiving stolen goods. You basically just confessed.”

Down the street as the sun began to rise higher now, and with it the temperature on the street, Cordelia D. stomped her foot, scuffing the fine leather of her boot on the sidewalk next to “Art Star,” a new trendy studio in Woodland Hills where, on weekends, Cordelia sometimes honed her artistic instincts with a glass of wine.

Baldy muttered “10-4” into his walkie-talkie, burped, and smiled at Cordelia. Scratching his belly thoughtfully, he glanced at the rotating-message in front of St. Mark’s as the black-and-white carrying a visibly angry Mayor of Woodland Hills, now with its sirens activated, rolled by; it said: “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

Stephen Cooper is a former D.C. public defender who worked as an assistant federal public defender in Alabama between 2012 and 2015. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives in Woodland Hills, California.