“What do you want, Merrick?” I stopped in front of him.
“Hello to you too, Kip.”
I crossed my arms. “I’m working. I don’t bother you when you’re working.”
“Well… of course not.” His laugh was derisive. “I have a real job.”
I knew it was a comment designed to annoy me, so I didn’t want to show him he’d succeeded. I was sick and tired of Merrick pretending that my job was a joke, but knew that if I engaged with him it would only bring him pleasure. “You’re such a funny guy.”
His smile widened. “I agree.”
“Again, what do you want?” I asked through clenched teeth.
He stepped around me and walked to the sidewalk. “I just happened to be driving by, and I couldn’t help but notice that you’re parked in front of a fire hydrant.”
“No, I’m not.” Frowning, I joined him.
“Then what do you call that?” He wiggled his fingers toward the bushes near my truck.
“What are you talking about? You’re pointing at plants.”
He sighed. “Look closer, Kip.”
“You’re just trying to hassle me. There’s no hydrant here.” As I spoke, I pushed aside the shrubbery. My stomach sank at the sight of a yellow hydrant buried among the foliage. “Well, I… I… Nobody would have seen that.”
“I saw it.”
Heat rushed into my face. “How could you have possibly seen that?”
He shrugged. “It must have been the angle.”
“It’s invisible to the naked eye. You already knew it was there, didn’t you?”
“How I knew about the hydrant isn’t important. The point is you can’t park there.”
I scowled. “The city should trim back that plant.” I waved toward the overgrown star jasmine. “The hydrant is completely grown over.”
He clucked his tongue. “Whether that’s true or not, I should write you a ticket.”
“You broke the law, Kip.”
I squinted at him, anger nipping at me. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Nah. I’m just trying to protect our fine city.”
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