Monday, December 15, 2014

A Beating in Suburbia - Part One: Jack's Story

Jack had just moved to Suburbia when he was severely beaten by local police for no reason at all, paralyzing him from the waist down. 

By Katrina Dubin Ardely | Contributing Editor for Cajoling Tone Magazine

We, the fraternal order of police
Sometimes must go to war to keep the peace.
–"Fraternally Yours," traditional Suburbia, USA police force theme song

Sipping from a plastic cup, standing on the sidewalk minding his own business, Jack was surprised to see the police officer walking toward him. Like so many others, he had moved to Suburbia to settle into a quieter life, to be surrounded by its idyllic mountains and preserved forests, to live as one small cog in a safe and essentially self-governed community. His surprise turned to anguish when the officer, whom we’ll call Sergeant Drewer, proceeded to beat him within an inch of his life. Jack will never walk again.

Better think twice before you break a law
‘Cause we’re not nice and we like to guffaw.
"Fraternally Yours"

Most of Jack’s friends were devastated when they learned of the tragic beating he suffered at the hands of Officer Drewer. "I don’t know exactly what happened that night, but it could have been avoided," said one friend whom we’ll call Joe. He went on to say, "Police brutality in this town is ritualized. New cops have to bludgeon a random person as part of their initiation to the force." Another friend, previously unaware that Jack can no longer walk or that the police had anything to do with it, spoke under the condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation. He said, "Are you sure Jack is paralyzed? Because I saw him last night at our weekly pick up basketball game. I think he had like fifteen points and eight to ten rebounds."

We don’t care what you think you might’ve done
Because each one of us always carries a gun.
"Fraternally Yours"

In a seemingly peaceful, bucolic town like Suburbia, it’s sad to discover that people secretly live in fear of those sworn to protect and serve. Speaking with another of Jack’s friends, longtime resident Earl White, this fear was evident. "I don’t think the police beat up Jack at all. I heard a couple of random guys jumped him that night – they broke his nose and he had a few bumps and bruises, but he survived and is doing fine." When pressed, Earl stuck with his story, his certainty perhaps scariest of all. The omnipresent, silent pressure exerted by Suburbia police pushes people to deny truths, twist reality to quell their fears, reinforce a false feeling of safety.

At Jack's request, because of his own understandable fears, we have not attempted to contact Sergeant Drewer. When we spoke with the chief of police, he declined to comment.

"I’ll never stop having nightmares and never feel safe," said Jack. "All because of that one night when I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Monday, December 1, 2014

Come Back (by Cara Long)

He asks you who your father is and you look at him, but say nothing. You do this because although you recognize his words, you do not know who he is, you do not know what “father” is or is not, you do not know where you are.

You turn on your internal controls and try not to panic (which you are very close to doing). You clear your throat and cross one leg over the other. He – the man, this man – is now looking at you very intently. Finally, you say, “Does it matter?”

The man sighs. He says, “Look, I know you’re probably scared.” You look away from him. He knows nothing, but you will not tell him that he knows nothing because you have a sense that saying this will make him talk more. You have to get away. That is what you know for certain. You ask him if you can talk later, you say that you are tired. The man nods and stands up. He says, “I want you to think about things so you can talk about them.” Then he leaves.

You look out the window, the one he had been blocking when he sat across from you.

You see things you have seen before and they tell you nothing. You are awash in panic - you know now that you have most likely always been here, in this place, and that the man, he will come back for you.

(Cara Long lives and works in New York State. Her first collection of short stories, Partly Gone, was published in June 2014 through Unsolicited Press. A Greek translation was published by Strange Days Books.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Place to Spill

This is the last stop. This is where the spill will happen, and its shell will go to the dark place.

It shuffles slightly forward and backward, side to side, from time to time. It travels from box to bin, cardboard to plastic. Sometimes it gets thrown onto the floor. It anticipates that moment of true movement when it rises above the others just before the spill, but things do not always go as expected. Pockets lock it in and transport it to a new bin, another place to spill, and it just waits to see what happens next.

photo by sugarpacketchad