No such luck. I’m going to jail for vandalism and destruction of private property. On Thanksgiving Day. Officer Drama wouldn’t even let me close the top on my new convertible.
The back of most patrol cars is Spartan to the say the least. I suppose experience and the endless repetition offered up to the criminally inclined vis-à-vis, “Cops,” has allowed everyone a chance to rethink the placement of soft upholstery between a criminal’s ass and something hard and metal. This is the price of my pathetic crime in the eyes of Officer Drama, the crime of needing to know, of needing to scratch a mental itch: sitting with my wrists handcuffed behind my back on hardened plastic inside of a rolling steel cage piloted by one of the dumbest sons-a-bitches ever to fall out of the back of a turnip truck. Serves me right being a member of the right-hand side of the bell-shaped curve; minorities of any stripe are trouble to Officer Drama and his employers. The bastard probably thinks I’m some kind of a communist, which would be a promotion over the terrorist these people have been conditioned to believe anyone with brown skin caught being economically desperate is supposed to be. A white criminal can only be a communist or, god help us all, a socialist. Little does Officer D know that with every slide across the back of this plastic seat and into the opposite-side car door, I’m becoming an anarchist. I want this jackasses’ job and I want his entire department whittled down until it is just ten hungry, angry criminals and a revolver with only one bullet chambered.
The strip searches at city and again at county offer up a chance to be entertaining while being humiliated and laughed at by people too ignorant to be entrusted with the responsibility of driving a patrol car. A whiff of cold metal, concrete and sweaty human cattle hangs stagnant in a corner of hell where the cries of the mentally deranged and the congenitally furious coalesce into a promise to work at the local animal shelter – if only I could get back home.
“You can pull your pants back up now, convict,” a husky voice to my rear commanded.
“Got a smoke? I usually smoke afterward.”
“Not this time you don’t, boy.” He looked down his long nose at me, estimating my seriousness. He could have been LBJ’s younger brother, possibly a son. Anything is possible in a State that names whole towns after its favorite mass-murderers. “Maybe later.” He paused and directed me down the hall. “Pick you up a jump suit, some jellies and a towel for later.”
So much for my one phone call, I thought. Aunt Gracie will think I’m such a flake. Maybe I am. I have trouble letting go of things that don’t seem to fit together correctly – smoothly. If it’s a scab, I’ll pick at it until it feels flush with the skin around it; if it’s a knot in a fence picket, I’ll pop it out and patch it with putty. Then I’ll end up sanding down the whole goddamn row of fence pickets just to make them match the one offending piece of wood. There has to be symmetry and smoothness in my experience of life, or it feels complicated and prone to offering up splinters to old folks and children too young to know to be flexible in their expectations. That’s the job slot I always seem to fill when I think I’m not paying attention: splinter police. And these club-swinging assholes think I’m in here because I broke the law of the land. No, I did not. I broke their law, the law that says I can’t do their job better than they do. Rule number one is that no one can do their job better than they do. When this rule is broken, refer to rule number one. Somewhere around the third or fourth ass-whipping – or screaming, saliva-spewing rant — most people just walk away and leave these morons to their fate.
But not me.
Simplicity and symmetry have to win no matter how long the battle takes. Truth may not require my meager defense of its character, but I’ll be goddamned if I’ll let some dim-witted, corn-fed short-eared jackass intimidate people into accepting that death is life, life is death; therefore, we all need to buy the crap they’re peddling at the moment. It never ends with just one little turd bobbing, floating aimlessly in the communal punchbowl; these malignant turd merchants aren’t satisfied until absolutely everyone at the party is in diapers and smearing shit all over each other. “See how well I’m covered,” the cocktail satellite exclaims, hardly able to contain her joy. “My husband could die tomorrow and I’ll have acres and acres of excrement to roll and play in for the rest of my life!”
“You know,” her friend moves in to share a gem of wisdom to her glee-stricken friend. No matter that either has ever amounted to more than an acquaintance in their ridiculously shortened lifespans. “If a person played their cards right…they could keep everyone they love and cherish covered in dung for centuries.” The tone of voice, the raise of the eyebrow – all as much signs of seriousness as of the surreal.
Big thoughts. Big, big ideas. I access the Infinite while seated on cold concrete staring from behind black iron bars. I blather on and on until, all at once, I surpass Gramsci and Galileo to arrive back at the Whole where the deranged are wedded with the gifted, surrounding the mediocre on all sides. With nowhere left to run or hide, the mediocre and the mundane explode in a furious rebellion against facts that will not change no matter how we parse and contort meaning and word, content and label. We think the Mediocre look stupid and ignorant, but it is us who are marched to the ovens. They tell us we are only learning to cook, or that we’re being de-loused, but the Angry Mob has long since decided that only in conformity will there ever be comfort. Only in our sorrow will their joy ever be permissible; only in stunning hypocrisy will they allow the integrity of Truth to prevail.
And this they believe as surely as I sit here in a prison surrounded by their suspicions, their fears, all made manifest in iron. Ideas were fluid, once, until they became mundane and boring in the opinion of the unrepresented majority. Tautology proves their case at 1 and k, there is no need for k plus one more. Facts are mere opinions to those who insist on absolute freedom at liberty’s expense.
“Time to shower, convict,” the guard barked as he swung open my cell door.
[to be continued]