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Joe Urso

TWO STORIES

THE COLOSSEUM

SUMMA VITA


THE COLOSSEUM 

     Returned with interest in a monthly check throughout the length of my life, it is natural to expect an investment in The University of Twenty Thousand Dollars a year should see black otherwise what’s the point.  Education for an education’s sake might have been well and good for ancient Rome, but that was then, this is now.  I know, nothing was guaranteed in the fine print.  However, as my mother reminds me on occasion,  I didn’t need to spend that kind of money to become an Investigative Journalist.  With a few lessons from The University of Experience It For Yourself, an indefinite amount of paying my dues, plus fifty bucks, I could have walked a few blocks down from the great campus one morning and published my articles with The Whoers.  The news would have flown around town quicker than the time it takes to burn the dollars of that four year investment in a trash can on a street corner while singing doo wop.  My words would have landed in the ears of 40% of The City’s male population between the hours of 12 and 5 pm, then reach their wives and significant others during evening conversation.  I must, at the very least, have a case for fraud, but I’m not a litigious kind of guy; I prefer to handle my own revenge.  So today my articles are published on a Syrian web journal for English speaking readers - Mamoun’s International News. 

Not to worry, I have the feeling I’ll be publishable in The Middle East for as long as The Pox Americana spreads itself over The World like butter in a frying pan. That too might, perhaps, last the length of my life.

     I treasure three award winning photos snapped during the Vietnam War to remind me  why I spent that $80,000.  First, the picture of the naked girl running up a dirt road after she was assaulted by napalm bombs.  Second, the photo of a White G.I., his head wrapped from a battle wound, in the arms of a Black G.I.  Then there was that photo of the Buddhist monk in the middle of the street.

     A picture of one Rebel defying The Mob can speak a thousand words.

     My plan was to write about the momentous world events in such a way that my articles would have the same effect on paper as those pictures had as photos.  But that was then, this is now.  Now I see the words people speak, the stories they write, the pictures they take, have all become redundant.  The way to change peoples’ minds is to singe their asses first.  Don’t take my word for it; take the word of that Buddhist monk.  There must be pictures of it around for you to look at, thousands of pictures speaking thousands of words, stashed on hundreds of thousands of files, hiding inside millions of computers.

     I was online listening to the news trying to book a flight to San Francisco. 

I decided to begin the footwork on a story about the increase of American anti- French sentiment.  My working title: “Selective Memory Strikes Again - Who Remembers Lafayette and Yorktown.”  Before I could click for a ticket, my ear caught a report about a woman on The West Coast who is commemorating her experience as a Rape Victim by holding a sky diving fund raiser.  The event will, I quote: “Support Victims and raise public awareness for the passing of tougher State and National Sex Offender Laws.  Local and regional politicians and action groups will be present.  There will be plenty of food and lots of fun too.”  At first I thought perhaps it’s a pitch for a new sitcom: The Twilight Zone meets Monty Python.  No such luck.  Then I asked myself why would anyone commemorate the moment she or he became a Sex Crime Victim.  That’s right, he.  Hey, you never know.

     I decided this event called for a little investigative journalism.  I’ll be fair; I’ll ooze professional objectivity.  Off the record,  I’ll let you in on my secret; I’m The President for United Underdogs of The World, or the UUW, oriental chapter.  “Good and Evil mean nothing to Us” is our motto.  Whoever is on the bottom is our only concern.  The big foot up the little man’s, or woman’s, backside is the only story we’re after.                           

Somebody has to do this job because Underdogs aren’t allowed to join community action groups.  Underdogs have no voice, no vote.  Underdogs stand alone and are roundly kicked when they’re down and out or bark too loud, especially when they wake the neighbors out of a deep sleep. 

     What’s in it for me?  Those of us who feed on the meat of human suffering may, or may not, have been someone else’s meal ticket in the past, so now, well,  remember I’m not a litigious kind of guy.  You get the picture.  Besides, it’s job security at its finest.  The only problem that dogs me as President of the UUW is the annual census report.   Underdogs live in the least desirable neighborhoods, caged up in some shelter for Branded Beings, or on the lam.  Not to worry, I have a contact with a Local Underdog Catcher.

     Kenny and I were friends in high school.  He graduated, joined the Marines, saw the world.  I hit the streets.  Kenny came back,  married, kids, and rejoined the military under the guise of State Parole.  I never returned from the streets, married not on your nelly, kids yeah right, and Kenny and I are still friends.

–Surprised!  Listen to this John: I had a call last week from a woman who said a Sex Offender just moved three doors down from her daughter’s school. 

A concerned mother right.  I asked her what she would like me to do about it.  “Get him out of there,” she said.  “Where to?  How many doors down would suit you?” I asked.  What a pain in the ass!  Sometimes I wish I were back. . .ah hell. I’m getting old.  She went on and on and on yada yada yada.  “You’re suppose to protect Families not expose them to possible danger.  Don’t you know what These People are capable of.  If something happens to my daughter I’ll sue you!  What did you say your name was?  How do you spell that?”  This is what I put up with.  Not expose them to danger.  Christ, try not breathing see if you like that any better.  Am I surprised.  Hell, they’ve organized one in this state.

     The magic words I was waiting to hear.  I should have known a walk around my own neighborhood would deliver the goods.  Anyway, I dislike points of departure and traveling far from home.  If only Columbus felt the same.

–Look at it this way Kenny -- it’s not like Nam where you couldn’t see The Enemy in the jungle or among the friendly faces on the streets of Saigon.  Over here, you know who and where The Enemy is because The Police will tell you  who and where they are.

–“Over here, over here!”

–Hell of a time for a song.

–You know the tune from WWI -- “And The Yanks are coming.”

–It’s “Over There” pal.

–No.  I think it’s over here now.          

     A silence sat between us for that apocalyptic minute when the mind doesn’t recognize the body containing it.  So I traveled with my mind, wandering into the world of a branded Sex Offender,  wondering what it’s like to be a fox in the forest on Bloodhound Day.  So what if prison isn’t enough for these Tree Jumpers; they should have thought of the consequences, and their Victims, first.    So what if they’re clocked by The Authorities for the rest of their lives.  So what  so what so what who’s complaining.   And finally, so what if living doesn’t quite consider consequences, or Victims,  when it’s doing its thing. 

–This is off the record John:  I think this Sex Offender Registry is a bunch of crap as do most of my colleagues.  Get this -- within twenty four hours of The Sex Offender Registry becoming Law, the DCJS office in The City was flooded with hundreds of phone calls from men - most of whom never received a speeding ticket in their lives let alone a felony conviction - inquiring whether or not they were on The List.  Square business.  Can you believe it.  Lettermen could have used it in his monologue that night.

     The Twilight Zone has met Monty Python.

--So tell me brother how do you put your better judgment to sleep?

--Mortgage payments and the kids’ college tuition are big time motivators for what I put up with nowadays.  What else can I do?     

     Once upon a time, Caesar Augustus upgraded the Roman Family because he knew The Street.  Daily, The Street makes a man with a family shake in his boots.  Weekly, the concrete sidewalks command  him from his front door to earn a living and stand in line.  Once a year, the freshly paved roads hiding ancient cobblestones underneath  remind  him to fork over those taxes.  And every generation or two,   the noise of The Street convinces him to open a blind eye to an occasional pogrom or two.  The life worth living that was always his hope - a life without all The Bullies of The World - has turned into a senior moment.  I wanted to tell Kenny to take a stand, put his life, and the lives of his posterity, on the line.  I wanted to tell him to take a look at the emperor’s new clothes, but why should I pick on a friend.  I let it go.  If I ever hear he’s been smashing windows, burning books, forcing people from their homes, and rounding up the usual suspects, I’ll be back to put a bullet in his head.  That’s what a friend would do.

– So Kenny where did you say this local sky-diving thingy is being held?

–Damn John I would have told you.  You never did trust anyone.  Can’t say I blame you.  On the q.t., I hope you ruffle some feathers.  I’m tired of hearing These People complain about what might happen to them.  You’d think they were living in a country where making a dollar a day is middle class, picking the corn out of your bowel movement is high cuisine, and watching your children starve substitutes for T.V.  Christ!

     He suddenly jumped to his feet, opened the door of his office, looked down the hall both ways, shut the door, then sat down before lowering his voice:

–Fuckin’ cry babies the whole lot of them.  I’ve had it up to here with their bullshit.

–How did you find out about this sky diving thingy?

–Heard about it from one of my ex-parolees, a Sex Offender.

–You mean ex-Sex Offender no?  As in ex-Cop, ex-Judge, ex-President.

--Don’t waste your brains cells attempting to figure this one out; I tried and my hair turned gray, my feet became flat, and my heart’s not in this anymore.  You and I don’t make the rules.

–We’re suppose to be making the rules Kenny,  that’s  the point. 

–So did you come here for a scoop or to discuss the constitution?

–Scoop away brother.                                                             

–He calls me up last week all worked up about this thing and stuttering like a fool.  Poor guy always stutters when he’s under a lot of stress. . .

     Kenny continued the big scoop, but all I heard was the drone of his spiel until I stopped listening to a word he was saying. 
In Ancient Rome, citizens filled The Colosseum to watch convicted criminals served a la substitute and drool over gladiators killing.  Safe in their seats, the Citizens, pulsing with anticipation, pissed on their togas in secret delight while  peaking into the arena to see the other guy’s blood spill.  Devotees of the Egyptian God Osiris waited to see if the new Hebrew God would winch away his faithful Believers.  Fathers brought their unruly sons to watch lions eat criminals who violated the virginity of Roman Law.  All Offenders were prosecuted to the fullest extent of The Colosseum unless coins were rattled.  So what if 2,000 years later there’s nothing new under The Sun God, The Innocent  are still swept away with The Guilty, and seating in The Colosseum is booked into the next generation. So what so what so what who’s complaining.  Reminds me of a poem.

The Story of Rory Who Never Fought Back

              There once was a boy named Rory who never fought back.
              He decided on this course while serving ten and a half.  
              At night in his cell he dreamed of Citizens enraged,
              Of Cops boxing his ears, of Judges condemning him to a cage,
              The Mob’s eyes gazing while his were over glazed.
              And Rory regularly got the shit kicked out of him
              Dragged over the floor of the prison’s gym.   

               Rory knew punishment comes a-callin after you sin
              The Winners say that’s the way The World spins.
              So when the punishment didn’t stop and the Cops huffed at his door
              Because the Law said he might, just might, commit a crime once more.
              Rory wondered -- Is there anyone in The Mob who might offend?
              Perhaps one of Them will sin again?
              So goes the story of Rory who never fought back.           

     How should I dress for a Crime Victim Party?  Formal?  Casual?  In disguise?

Or like the college kids today the boys looking like plumbers and the girls dressed like medieval peasants.  You do understand one must fit in and not stand out when a Mob comes to town. 

     The Coordinator of The Sex Crime Victims Event - or SCVE - and her many Assistants graced the entrance to Calvary County Fairgrounds, handing out programs detailing the day’s event.  The intro on the program read:

     “Welcome to the first annual Sex Crime Victims Event.  Sky diving professionals from the military and private diving clubs will perform.  Music is scheduled throughout the day.  National and Local action groups located underneath The Big Tent invite you to come in and meet with them.  Food, drink, and craft vendors are also located on the grounds.  Fireworks at night.  Designated drivers from local cab companies are available.  All are welcomed.”                          

     All?

     It’s time for you to consider I may be one of Them.  It’s possible; I have enough skeletons in my closet to crowd a graveyard.  How about you?  Can you relate to that?  Wait a second stop right there – never snitch on yourself.  Best to hide behind your clothes and crouch in your closet warm and safe.    Only a Polar Bear stands isolated on the cold, clear, looking-glass of a receding Arctic ice sheet, roaring in the face of his Hunters. 

     I hung my press card over my chest and did not queue up at the entrance gate.  Surveying the landscape, I gauged the arriving Mob.  Everyone was dressed in their  Saturday picnic in the park attire, and that weekend glow seemed to spread over each person’s face like the smile on Howdy Doody.  Well, almost everyone.

     Observing The Show, I heard a voice carried on the wind sounding like the fury of a blind man, a cry that can’t see itself so it isn’t afraid of the ears it disturbs.  A staccato speech hurled itself at The Mob, punched well protected body parts, and sliced ears like only a Stutterer could do.

     “When our prison time is over we are we stttt-til being pu-pu pu-punished!  Why are laws being written that say we must be pu-punished until the day we die?  Stand up for sss-topping injustice by standing up for the ssssss-civil rights of Victims and Offenders.  Write your State Legissss-lator. . .”

     Bingo Kenny’s man.  I cringed trying to fit my feet in his shoes -- nope,  too small.  You have to confess it takes a big pair of balls to stand up to The Mob.  Let me see. . .nope.  The Stutterer was undergoing a self-redeeming exorcism.  As his words targeting The Mob inflicted mean glances, whispers of disapproval, looks of shock, and many no looks at all, The Stutterer grew fearless.  The stuttering stopped.  Only I knew perhaps he was innocent of the crime he was convicted of.  Hiding this knowledge as I mind-melded with The Mob, his actions made sense to me; only The Guilty hide.  Innocence is out there.  Innocence is.  But he was revealing himself to people who are prisoners of The Street, and that was a mistake.

     Food vending vans cultivated the dirt inside the fairgrounds.  Makeshift bleachers assembled in the round perfumed the atmosphere with a comfy, cozy, amphitheater scent.  Red awnings slung over the top two rows of each bleacher protected the upper seated people from the glare of the sun.  A placard placed on top of a fake columned archway reminded The Mob why they were there:

     “Proceeds from all ticket purchases and a percentage of the vending profits will go to our Local Rape Crisis Centers, The Sex Crime Victims Civil Litigation Fund, and The Organization of Lobbyists for Tougher Sex Crime Laws.  Thank you.  The staff of SCVE.”

     On a stage festooned with red, white, and blue bunting, a carnival-like spinning wheel bogarted the floor space next to a locked box rapidly filling up with raffle ticket stubs.  Waiting for their cues, a State Legislator and other Vips cliqued and clacked on the middle of the stage.  Entering the fairgrounds, The Mob grouped and gaggled around the bleachers and in front of the stage.  Introductions commenced, and speeches waiting in breast pockets buzzed with electricity - the words hardly restraining themselves from jumping off the paper - dying to be heard.                                                     

     “Fellow Citizens of this great State of ours, we are here to support The Sex Crime Victims. . .”

     My feet were planted twenty feet from the rim of the stage.  The beating sun beat the hell out of time as the worn out cadence of a politician’s plea choked the air I was trying to breathe.  My overweight eyeballs were doing push ups as The Opposition’s rebuttal woke me out of what could have been uninterrupted sleep.

     “Why are you demanding extra-judicial punishment after prison time is served?  Support transitional counseling programs instead of life-long registration on a Sex Offender Registry.  Don’t celebrate punishment, celebrate the healing of criminal behavior.  Write your other Legislator.”–Oh we’re gonna write him all right buddy.                   

–I bet he’s a pedophile.  Gets a chance to lust after all the kids here.                                             

–Begging for the mercy he never showed his Victim.  Victims probably.  You know what those people are like.

     Extra-judicial punishment - sorry, can’t tell ya what it means.  Let me look it up on my foreign translator. . .here it is: “To hell with habeas corpus.”   There you go.  Well, it certainly rings a familiar bell and calls for a certain salute:  Judges without robes but sporting the latest in black cap fashion/Monthly visits to the local police precinct/Private information announced on line for everyone’s viewing pleasure/ Identification photos and a DNA sample on file with The State Government/Travel permits mandatory/ Licensing jobs prohibited/ Higher education off limits/ Certain neighborhoods verboten.   WE will watch THEM for YOUR protection.  God will sort out The Good Guys from The Bad Guys at the sound of the last bell.  Sorry about that long List, but I don’t make the rules.

     The Stutterer was in the ring, ropa doping, waiting to throw an upper cut.  The Mob was punch drunk, looking for anyone to beat up; I placed my bet with The Mob.  Hey, a fella needs some tax-free cash once in awhile.  I followed The Mob into the huge, circus-like tent as they buzzed past The Stutterer.   I had to approach him much closer now, but it felt like he was the one approaching me.  From the look of him, I couldn’t see, hear, or smell any unrelenting evil emanating from his pores. 

Seems to me I’ve seen that face thousands of times before. 

     Once inside the tent, the tinglies of anticipation worked me over.  The public service booths  were staggered between more food vendors hawking one piece of fried dough at $2 a pop, a slice of pizza for $3, a cup of lemonade hit the till at $4.

Big, bright, printed banners bordered the tops of each booth - fifty booths each with a banner, 40 bucks for a printer cartridge times the cost of paper equals. . . don’t mind me just speculating on whether or not I want to go into the computer printer and paper business or start peddling lemonade.  

 

                                WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

                                     MEN AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT

                                   LAWYERS FOR SEX CRIME VICTIMS

                                          We’ll make them pay after prison

             HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AGAINST HALLWAY GROPING

                                       MOMS AGAINST MOLESTATION

The heat was thick in the air.  If you happened to look close enough at a member of The Mob, you would see perspiration leaking out of skin pores, the women sweating as much as the men.

–Now kids this is why I am always warning you about–

--I bet that creep won’t come in any further.  I’m surprised someone hasn’t smacked him yet.                    

                      GAY TEENS AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT   

–There Honey why don’t you go check out that booth.  You see, I told you you’d be represented here.  Take your time, your father and I will catch up with you later.  Here’s some money Sweety be careful.

     It was theatre a la mode.  The actors twined together like tapeworms in an intestine. 

                      UNITED FORENSIC PROFESSIONALS UNLIMITED           

                        We uncover the evidence that uncovers the Offenders

                                      THE HOLLY WALLY WEBSITE

                        Making America’s neighborhoods Sex Offender Free

                                      Do you know who lives on your block?

              THE CAUCUS OF LEGISLATORS FOR LIFE IMPRISONMENT

                               Our motto: “Leopards Never Change Their Spots”       

                                     We’ll incarcerate Sex Offenders for Life

–You see.  I said you should have voted for my guy. Your man wanted  counseling programs.  Can you please get your son before he knocks that sign down.

–Yes Dear.                  

  LOCAL CARPENTERS’ UNION # 69 - COMMUNITY POLICE OUTREACH

                       Building your homes and Protecting your neighborhoods

     Lifting off my sunglasses, I noticed two familiar faces; Mark and his sister sharing space in the same booth.  I never remember her name.  Moving toward them, I made eye contact.  They gave me their backs, fussed about in the booth, then suddenly walked out in opposite directions.  I returned  my sunglasses to their rightful position and didn’t think much about it.  Revealing my eyes for a repeat performance, I identified another Spectre.  He was even wearing the ring.   That made three: Carpenter, Cop, and a former Classmate. 

–Good afternoon!  This is Jim Janus reporting live from Calvary County Fairgrounds on this sunny afternoon which is turning out a huuuge crowd for the very first annual–

     I felt like a Time Traveler stalled inside an Hieronymus Bosch painting entitled “Peasants Partying on Good Friday.”

–With me now are Mr. and Mrs. _____ whose daughter–        

     Upstaging Jim, the husband thrust his face an inch from the mic and began to orate like Cicero The Slumlord denouncing Julius Caesar on the floor of The Roman Senate.

–And if The State lets HIM out before WE think he got what he deserves–

     Beads of sweat began sneaking down Hubby’s forehead.

     –we will sue in Civil Court.

     To sue or not to sue.                                   

     My resurrected left eyeball took direct aim at  Jim and winked.  The transformation in his face was immediate.

–Well Mr.___ . . .let’s assume he will eventually be released.  Statistics  show Sex Offenders. . .huh, sorry, excuse me for a moment. 

     If sweat could speak a thousand words I’d pay a buck a drop to read the message.  I melted back into The Mob. 

             THE ASSOCIATION OF SEX OFFENDER INVESTIGATORS

     For a second, I thought these guys and gals were Offenders who became Cops.  Na.  Can’t be.  I was on a roll.  Two more doors to open.

–Hello there!  I see you and your brother are joining in on a little community service.  Good for you.  Haven’t seen you since -- well, it’s been a long time.  Seems like yesterday when you and Mark use to babysit me.  And whadda ya know, imagine, Mark one of the city’s finest now.  Be seeing you.

     It seems to me our missing link is the original wireless connection of high speed, unfiltered pain each of us will inflict on others, equally on ourselves, when our behaviors fail us from time to time.

     Mark stood on the grassy boulevard separating the two rows of booths stretching the length inside the tent. 

While his eyes monitored The Stutterer, his right hand groped his nightstick.  Wearing his supervising look, he supervised himself over to a booth.

                     THE CONSORTIUM OF PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES

                                           AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT    

     Well well well.  Why not ask a pyromaniac why that Buddhist monk chose self-immolation.  Then again, maybe a pyromaniac would know.

–What a bore.  What’s he up to now?  Just not the place for his protest.  I mean, you’d think this would be the last place he would want to spend an afternoon.  I wish someone would shut him up.

     Police Officer Mark rejoined his sister.  I had no inclination to meet and greet him, but I wanted him to see me.  He did, and winking was out of the question.  He began to tug his hat over his forehead, touch his badge as if he were making sure it was still there, feel his nightstick, lose his patience.  Then the invading rhythms of The Stutterer’s protest blitzkrieged their way into Mark’s ears.  His face turned red, and dare I say, his brain cells began to boil.   

–Okay pal time’s up.  You’ve had your say now pack it up and call it a day.

     “I have a right to be here like anyone else.  Here’s my ticket.  I have a right to protest this event.”

–But not to disturb.  Now let’s go.

     Knowledge of advanced math is not part of the job description of a Rebel.  

The Stutterer - like all Revolutionaries once they get the wind in their sails -  forgot to factor in the do not disturb clause, the seminal characteristic of acceptable citizenship and tolerable injustice.  On the other hand, The Law of The Land is about as just as the people who control it; that makes it about as perfect as The Law of The Street.  Sounds about right to me.  After all, you can’t have the one without the other.   

     The Stutterer refused to move.  It happens; the intransigence of The Rebel is  the miscalculation of The Oppressor.  There’s a time to bend over and a time to stand up/ a time to moo with The Mob and a time to shout by yourself/ a time to take it and a time to stop taking it/ a time to live in peace and a time to fight for your peace of mind.  The Desperate Man can’t be bothered with reason when the bell tolls, summoning the act of defiance that will change his operatic life quicker than a red light turning green.  Suspending himself from time, he ascends from the Earth  like a God and looks down on the rest of us scurrying in the dirt like ants at a picnic.  Mark arm locked The Stutterer and attempted to push him out of his sight; that was his miscalculation.  Twisting Mark around, The Stutterer traded places with him and pushed him toward The Mob with a kick in the ass.  With his legs spread in a good day to die stance, the spit shooting from his mouth,  

The Stutterer gave The Mob his back, bent over, and pushed down his pants.

     “You Fascist Bastards have already taken my DNA!  Come on and fu-“

     You get the picture.

–That’s it Officer call for back-up.  Put him down.  Take him away.  Thank God for Cops right folks.  Let’s give ‘em a hand.

     Guess who mooed with The Mob.  So sue me.  When in Rome.  Also, let’s not forget I could be hiding too.  I decided someone had to help The Stutterer achieve ecstasy; all Rebels and Saints are masochists you know.  The Show was becoming all too painful and too funny.  Still, I have to thank him.  He enlivened what would have been a stale monthly assignment.  And The Stutterer should thank The Mob.  He climbed his cross.  He is now worthy of everlasting life.

     I watched my ripped up raffle ticket stub float to the ground as The Stutterer descended back to Earth in a pair of handcuffs.  Marthas, Johns, Little Marthas and Little Johnnies gathered in a circle around him.  Their blank faces matched the meaning of the sudden silence in the arena.  The Stutterer was put down and led away out of their sight, but The Mob will see him again.  The Mob needs The Stutterer, and The Colosseum needs The Mob.     

 

 


 

SUMMA VITA

    Click

–Suave pal how bout asking first.

–I heard you were an idealist - no one asks permission anymore baby.  You should be honored; I have chosen you for the first photo on my new camera phone.  Top of the line baby look.  Wait and see next year they’ll be smaller, thinner, and will wipe my ass for me.

     He’d like that wouldn’t he Isidore Pestotito trying to steal my soul the editor’s personal assistant child of The Age of The Computer overall pain in the ass.  Guys like him put the love of The Devil in me as soon as I saw him at the airport got the nervies started to think of ways to knock him off he looks just like that kid who spit in my face I was a paperboy easy target back in the days whenever I see The Bastard I’m time traveling wiping saliva off my face and sharpening my knife.  Better go along let him lead might need him later.  Well there’s always an upside isn’t there Izzy arraigned this assignment scheduled my itinerary even rented this row house identical to all the others in this back street neighborhood of Madrid.  Better keep four eyes on him remember Ma’s warning on Friday nights “piero a lopo.”  No proper English for her just freedom of speech follows freedom of thought “if you have to do the right thing go do it don’t worry about the sum-a-na-bitches with their thumbs up their asses.”  My mother what a sword for a tongue cutting up and clearing away all who stood in her way to hell with political correctness didn’t Goebbels institute the fad.

     Here we are the house whitewashed same as the others but sits back a bit from the street like a neighborhood church.  Lawn uncut lovely front garden once upon a time two red rose bushes running wild up their trestles sentinels guarding the front door.  Sanctum Corpus the body’s temple every home a castle  last refuge from a world gone ga-ga.  Entering The Holy of Holies.

–Jesus Christ!

     Christ.  The Creator rest your soul the house has your body life has taken its toll.  Well this is a church the last church left standing with a corpse sitting at the altar.  Izzy’s right arm miming the number one hit on The Vatican’s top of the pops faster than Paganini on the violin.  Always pass through a portal with respect and awe never know who’s inside.  No more respect and awe out there.  No more mysteries. Nihil Sacrare.

     Click Click Click.  Buzz.

     Proposition:

     The camera phone has to go.  Should I teach him a lesson?                  

                                                          

I’m getting too old for this Mighty Mouse shit besides this is Life living to its fullest the climatic ending in the longest running hit on The West End why break my leg if the curtain is gonna close anyway.  Wait get the magnifying glass read the fine print on the play’s program “Welcome to your life so you thought it was your own to live as you like.”  I am just a player at a roulette table emptying my pockets on the big bet waiting and watching then an Izzy sticks a hand on the wheel.  Vita Interruptus.

–Don’t look at me like that I didn’t know.  Hey wait a minute - The Bank told me the previous owner defaulted on the mortgage.  They never checked to see. . .holy shit they’re on the racks now!  To hell with ETA, bullets, bombs, and drugs, this will make big headlines.  You and me John we’ll get these Bank Bastards.

     Buzzz.  Click Click.  Buzzzz.

     The Real Devil has invaded someone’s Holy of Holies slithering around on sacred ground tempting me with his mobile phone promising me fame.  Man does not live on fame alone.  Next couple of minutes I’ll have to rebuke or join him.  The Nazarene should have pushed him off the mountain and saved me the trouble. Slow him down make nicey for now.

–Put up the camera for a second Izzy.  Suave pal.                    

                                                          

     I can feel his vibes he’s not gonna let this one r.i.p.  Caveat Humanus revenge is a dish best eaten cold wait I’ll have him over a barrel.  Let’s see how much bite  after the bark.

–So we call The Police first.

–Of course of course we are going to call The Police baby but first I take some photos and call The Boss.  Oh baby he will cream his pants. 

     I’m surrounded escape is not an option I’ll spook his ass one of Sun-Tzu’s rules know your enemies’ strengths and weaknesses through secret agents.  Preferably disposable ones. 

–So what’s the deal between The Boss and The Bank?

–What’s the deal are you joking?  When was the last time you took a breath.  Fuck The Banks.  The Boss has been waiting for–

     So Izzy sees a chance to please The Boss that’s the real deal with fighting a powerful enemy innocents go down from the flak unpoetic justice.  We’ll see about that.  Tip lightly I might hoist myself on my own petard.  Tip lightly.  John and Jane Q Public might want to sneak peek Izzy’s pictures might even  pay a price for the pleasure vox populi safely staring down suffering happening on someone else’s watch.  Camera phones cancel critical thinking.   Tip lightly.                                                        

 

Watching less painful than participating for citizen voyeurs. Tip lightly.  Look what happened to The Nazarene he should have tipped lightly.  Izzy and The Boss war on two fronts I have no reserves wait for The Russian winter lip lightly too and launch a surprise attack.

     Izzy the cockaroach.  Cockroaches are super insects an indestructible species what do you say to that Mr. Darwin Mr. Jung says they’re a symbol of primeval fear you spot one you sweat at the thought of sharing bed sheets.  You can step on a cockroach that just before death sound  crack/smoosh but wait a few seconds there goes its twin brother one hundred fertile sisters several hundred cousins scurrying out of the dark corners of your closet stepping over their brother’s carcass paying him and you no mind. 

     Proposition:

     With feet bigger than the ones we plant on cockroaches human beings step on each other too crack/smoosh.  Evolution redux  from one cruelty to another now any disrespect is doable even to the dead. 

     Therefore:

     No need to wonder why wonder when the youngest and the brightest configure how to cash in off someone else’s carcass.                                              

 

     Conclusion:

     Veni vidi vici then what.  If how you live matters how you die does too or vice versa.

     Will I die well long line of mourners at my wake not likely how bout long line of flies most likely.  Alone.  Alone at last.  Hell of a consolation prize for all harassed husbands and stifled wives out there.  He/she who laughs last laughs alone.

–Damn these little shits!

–Tsh tsh you silly man what do you expect butterflies.

     Caveat combatant the battle commences I’m wheedling my way into his not so good graces.  If all goes to plan the one left standing who cared the least for his own skin wins.

–So John we call The Boss.

–Izzy Izzy suave pal.

–Suave my ass you don’t fool me you want The Police around you about as much as I want these flies around me.  Obviously this person knew no one.  Now the world will know this person think on that. 

     Alone in this world the human condition par excellence change that  there goes the earth off its axis by 23 degrees.  Who will defend my right to be alone doesn’t matter how big your social network in the end we sit in our favorite chair remembering old photos.  Alone in this world independent and free scurrying around town like a mouse who won’t be around tomorrow.  Never ask from whom the mouse is running from it is running away from thee.  Time to give him the upper hand so I can take it away from him later.  To weaken someone you must strengthen him first this line’s not mine either.

–Take another look baby; not only did The Bank Bastards take the home but they took the last breath too.  I’m not the journalist here but I’m the one seeing the story.  You know it’s the right thing to do.  And know this too - if you don’t write this story someone else will and that someone else is right here in my new smart ass phone. 

     That was one hell of an opening salvo I’m hit medic medic.  A Crusader strung out on righteousness is in my face feeding me his version of The Word of Man until I convert.  I’ll take apostasy instead salvation is for the dead.

–That’s right baby it’s gonna be done with or without you.  Capeesh.

     Wait I have another option switch sides why not it was done during The Middle Ages.

                                                           

Who am I to assume cadavers don’t want to be celebrities he/she might not have wanted my help might have wanted to die to spite the world isn’t that all we have to do in this life stay white and die that’s the tactic he should have used might have flipped me from the getgo but noooo he had to push up on me push up on me like some Crusader convinced he owns the map to Heaven.  Me a knight in white with a red cross on my shield  how bout a crescent not on your nelly.

–Izzy if I didn’t know better I’d say you were trying to push up on me.

–Push up?

–Make me an offer I can’t refuse.

     Sir Izzy The Twitter deadly dark good looks slim hungry in the eyes and yes suave a bit too suave nudge nudge know what I mean.  I can smell the final confrontation coming its hanging in the air like humidity I’m watching it grow without guidelines.  Think first think it through the only thing he’s said worth a dime if I can still think I can take this anywhere I want to.

     Proposition:

     No one is as fearsome as they seem. 

     Conclusion:

     If someone is pushing up on you it’s because they are just as afraid as you.

     Resolution:

     Do not push back just make him believe you will. 

     That’s it got it only fear him who doesn’t try to make you afraid everyone else will shit the bed when push comes to shove.  

–Ah yes I see.  Push up - I like it I like it.  So baby we call The Boss; I will now confide in you.  True I am looking out for myself but-

--But for once The Boss might just kiss your ass instead.  I understand.  Who doesn’t want to get off their knees and get a-head right baby.

–Watch out this is about biz-a-ness!  I was told you are the journalist with a reputation for giving the finger to The Authorities, The Champion of The Voiceless.  Well here’s your chance in spades paaal!  I’m giving El Cid the sword and the cross and you expect me to believe you want to join a monastery instead.  Hah!

     There’s an option retreat rest rethink play the sidelines watch the game pray The Winners are The Good Guys.  Wait a minute El Cid fought for the crescent too now there’s a man who knew first hand all Head Honchos wipe their asses with their fingers the side you’re on doesn’t matter what you do does if you miss the mark try again The Creator isn’t keeping score.  The Scorekeeping God twin of The Crusader God cousins to The Town Crier God if ever I heard a bunch of crap.  Hang on what if there is a  Scorekeeping God keeping score on what we don’t do oh yes there’s the rub inaction the privilege of all good citizens the street opium of the masses.  Caveat Spectator the play includes the audience  Krapp’s Last Tape too choose not to get involved and you’re still sinning that’s why everyone on the planet is a Sinner.   

     Thus spake Zarathustra sin is sitting on the sidelines.  Whatever happened to those knights in shining armor one Head Honcho against the other Head Honcho one corpse to count now that takes a pair of balls but noooo The Head Honchos today send someone else’s kid into war counting corpses safer than risking their  own balls in the big show.  The lust and cowardice of untouchable politicians mixed with the hunger and courage of touchable youth grows poppies in Flanders’ Fields.  Fear moves the world it dupes brains into believing in mere mortals it  scares helpless mice at the sound of a pin dropping it gases up commuters scurrying to work on Monday to get a paycheck on Friday.  Enough of this philosophical crap where’s Lamont Cranston when you need him.

     Click Click.  Buzzzzz.  Click Click.  Buzzzzzzzz.                          

 

     He’s deleting old photos probably of his father snapping away constitutionally emptying his weapon reloading bullets what a creep he deserves to be pilloried for a week oh for the good ole days.  Suave baby suave let him think he’s pitching not catching.  You gotta tango with The Devil before you stiff him for the last dance.  Duplicitas Invincibilis. 

–You’re right Izzy it’s a done deal with or without me.  Take your time I’ll have a look round. 

     Patience patience give him the rope he’ll do the deed himself easy enough lying always is telling the truth there’s the kick in the ass it can land you in the joint for ten years for something you didn’t do why bother when the world is saturated with liars the bastards what’s a fella suppose to do poo poo pee doo.  When in Rome out-Roman The Romans. 

     Lamont Cranston was reincarnated a few weeks ago 11 pm a wet misty night I was in my apartment on the third floor heard a noise in the street it wasn’t God. 

Four teenagers hanging around the parked cars yelling shouting not giving a rats’ ass about the old couple on the first floor trying to sleep  the baby on the second counting sheep.  One of them had a gun a pretend gun with real killer noise pointing it at his friends pulling the trigger murdering a silent night must be a new game Let’s Play Hoodlum replaces Hide-n-Seek.  Before you know it as if there was a God right out of the fog underneath a street light appears The Shadow in his SUV retaking the street he pulled a real gun shouting “put it down.”  He took the toy away from the kiddies and vanished back into the fog and the night silent night de-evolution all quiet on the western front.  Oh for the good ole days when radio ruled and a man could coo-che-coo-che-coo a baby’s cheek and never worry about getting arrested.  Gotta teach a kid the difference between respect and disrespect instead of whateverrrrr.

     Look at him The Big Shithead dodging The Little Shitheads snapping away like a paparazzo in heat like attracts like. The Little Shitheads pay me no mind.   Pictures everywhere propped up inside bookcases decorating this long white shelf running around the mellow yellow walls enthroning the chair in the center of the room.  Which one male or female hiding in frames come out come out wherever you are.  When our carcasses rot all truths are self-evident what sits in that chair is pure human equality evolution at its end game.  Six of one a bunch of flies or a gang of family members eating away your remains like the rats on Iwo my father was there in ‘53 so were the rats took them eight years to finish the job my mother dined on them in air raid tunnels hiding from The Nazis thank God for rats.

 

Searching frame to frame say hello be seeing you.

     Buzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Click.

–The Boss is going to cream in his pants when he sees these.

     Shut him out pretend he’s the one in the chair focus on the pictures the story of a life from childhood to that last breath still here fossilized in the air that I breathe.  That must be her she’s everywhere savoir faire young  proudly poised styling with her friends.  This one I like revealing just her face and a bit of neck the rest unrevealing behind a tree in a park a life frozen in a frame outlived the body  over there.

–So John what do you think which one - you know.

–Who can say for sure Izzy.  Who can say.

     Tip lightly keep looking keep lying to liberate the truth.  There she is again a shy little girl must be eighty years ago barefoot her black hair already long wait a minute the chair long gray hair that’s the way it is pieces of you remain.  We inhale atoms a million years old exhale atoms someone else will breathe in another million.  Over there a teenager looking like she owns the world some things never change never change living and dying never change.  Incognito next to Izzy a mature woman about to discover the world is too cheap to own.                           

 

There a mother and wife her arms stretched round her family trying to hold onto a moment you never want to become a memory.  Oh yes this one I’ll remember never will forget it like Goya’s painting peasant about to be shot arms erectus crux looking at death instead of closing your eyes who’s taking the picture.  This one a bit more recent alone at last.  That one looks like it was taken during the civil war her face vacant like a corpse time is circular.  Ready or not the camera flashes the soul escapes outed and naked free from its restraints like Michelangelo’s David busting out of its marble slab.  Oh yes this is her wonder who she’s staring at  her carcass stares at me.

     Buzz.

–That’s it no more room.  No problemo I got plenty to choose from.  Hey where are you going have a look at these first.

–I’ll be back in a minute need to find the john.

     I feel closer to her photos than to Cousin It over there a closeness beyond blood and bones the closeness between Billy and me took a decade to get him to perch on my finger well why not Billy who’s to say a bird doesn’t deserve a memory  do ya think The Creator has a black list  I don’t think so the love of my life is a parakeet who’s keeping score.

Billy in the cage sidestepping away then back looking through me like Cortazar’s axolotl bars don’t separate hearts.  What kind of human being would I be if I let Izzy keep his camera shit on a memory and pawn his pictures for a profit.

     I’ll say this about love sometimes you show it by shutting up and sitting your ass down.  That homophobe from the new testament had two things right love bears all things endures all things endure endure like photos in frames trees in parks a child’s memory that old man in my neighborhood walking his dog everyday  his hand shakes on the leash that’s life.  Will I be doing something good I’m not a good man I just can’t stomach anyone who buzzes around me like a fly around a meal life eats life. 

     All these photos it’s like the Louvre in here.  Her face aging accepting  her destiny what is destiny watching who you love die before you.  Look at her carcass back to the photos back to her carcass by the grace of death.  My life passing by proxy going going gone soon enough should I fear dying if I’ll never know when I’m dead.  Tell me time is circular maybe I’m dead already hanging out in a Spanish translation of Sartre’s hell.  I don’t believe in a linear universe where everyone’s a Sinner the line to walk is too straight and narrow even The Nazarene said if you’re standing at the beginning you already know the end so take that Mr. Pope poo poo pee doo.  Here she is there she was here am I can see what she’s done with her life who will see what I have done with mine.  Who will save the world me or  the ant who   builds a hill in a day my vote goes to the ant enough of these thoughts on the road to Damascus.

     Proposition:

     Maybe I don’t really care about saving what’s left of her life.

     Conclusion:

     Maybe I care more about saving what’s left of mine.

     Resolution:

     Six of one.

     I care next to nothing about the creature jumping around me swinging at flies snapping away oh yes it’s a personal beef at this point I can’t let go of myself I can’t let it rest I’m so tired of selfish bastards the ant has more respect for life.  Illegitimi non carborondum they  live a pretend life vita simulatus a love affair with themselves is anyone on this planet important enough to be selfish and free.  Leave your castle for some human contact you’ll see them prowling the streets night of the living dead their hands wrapped around a wheel or a cell phone the ant builds a hill in a day hello it’s me you’re dead already just hanging around town waiting for your corpse to rot.

–Hey what do you know I got one picture left.  Stand by the chair baby and I’ll-

     Holy mackerel Andy the neuv on that guy that’s a last straw if ever there was one.  Time to pull a Churchill do a deal with The Devil stop this new genus of homo sapiens. 

–Picture the headlines - with pictures: “Bank evicts” - let’s call it an old man - “who dies in his chair.  Corpse left to rot.”  Oh yes The Boss will take me to the ball.  Come on John d’Arc you’re brooding again we’ll have none of that.  Nothing you can do now for. . .you know. 

     I’ve had all I can stands I can’t stands no more here it is beat the shit out of the phone that would be useless can’t stop evolution can we progress marches on rightee-o.  Perhaps I’ll accuse Miss Thing of inappropriate touching while he had me cornered in this house for the past 35 minutes his reputation and career  for his phone done deal I’d say.  Popeye is dead have to go with The Lie face it kid like you face yourself in the mirror every morning it’s the world you live in God is alive but The Truth is dead.  Only The Devil and The Lie can save The World today.  Only The Devil and The Lie have a vested interest in its survival.   

                                                           THE END