I sat up on Sa’afia’s bed, watching her swallow the last of her tea. I’d drunk mine, but she’d been talking about Ana’s father and the cops. It explained why the cops hated him, and that they were, as I’d thought, trying to get at him through his daughter. She finished her tea and her story, and put the cup down. She said, at last, “So?”
Eventually I said, “Thank you. That’s incredibly helpful.”
“But what do you think?”
Sa’afia gave me the full eye-roll. “Don’t make me wonder what I even see in you. What do you think about Ana’s tama?”
I looked at the sheets between us.
“Y’know, I thought I was cynical but I’m actually shocked. I mean, the cops here, they can be fascists. No, they are fascists, literally. They’ll frame people if they think they’re guilty but they can’t prove it. They’ll bash up protestors just on principle. And they’ll beat up suspects if they can’t get a conviction, just to punish them. Like that.”
Sa’afia nodded patiently.
“But y’know, I didn’t really think the cops – . No, I don’t mean ‘cops’, and I don’t mean LA cops; I just mean, the guys in this precinct, that’s all. I didn’t think when they break the law it’d be over money.”
“You think money’s trivial, don’t you?”
“Oh, look, I know it’s not. I wouldn’t be a parole officer if they didn’t pay me.” Sa’afia glanced at me. She was thinking that I could do something that paid better. It was true, but she let it pass.“But yeah, the local cops, they’ll never be friends of mine. But I know them a bit. They’re fascists, but if you’d asked me, seriously, I’d have said they weren’t corrupt. I’m just surprised they threw away so much self-respect for so … little. That’s all.”
Sa’afia said, “Oh, bless.” She reached over and touched my mouth. “I hope you’re not so naive you’ll just get Ana in worse trouble now. She’s not going to be happy with me anyway, that I’ve told you about this.”
Sa’afia looked at me. “Maybe. You might know some things. Maybe. So what were you saying about my belly button?”