Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Ballad of Tom N’ Jim (III)

In Transition

Over the next few days he found himself in flux, like a fish caught in a tidal wave. He was vaguely aware of passing through a lot of different locations, sitting in front of a lot of different people, answering a lot of different questions about things that he couldn’t connect to himself or his life. But he couldn’t control it. He was shipped from place to place, person to person like a package no one wanted to open.

He had only vague memories of the hospital, drifting into and out of consciousness to find new tubes sticking out of him, gauze put on and removed from his face, nurses in brightly colored scrubs checking his fluids and attaching new IVs from time to time. He would have thought his recovery was fast, though he had no idea of how much time was passing. It might’ve all been a few hours, it might’ve been days. He was getting more sleep than he’d gotten in longer than he could remember and his mind had lost the skill of making sense of the waking landscape around him.

He almost wished they’d stop drugging him so he could try to get a grip on the reality he was drifting in and out of, but then again he probably wasn’t missing anything that worthwhile. He wasn’t concerned enough to really expend the effort until the same cops he’d seen before showed up and started asking questions about his car, the lot they’d found him in, the drugs they’d found in his blood. Having virtually no idea what they were talking about he had few answers to give. But cops never like it when you don’t answer their questions.

He was discharged into police custody, taken to the station. They wanted to book him on a number of charges, told him he’d be going to jail for attempted robbery, destruction of public property, possession of narcotics. They told him he’d steered his car into an armored truck right after a pick up, thus why his car was totaled. He disagreed with them. They told him he’d had a stash of crack on the back seat of the car where they found him, he said no. They said he’d cost the city thousands of dollars. He accused them of making up stories, said he’d been at home, asleep.

It wasn’t that he was trying to be a smart ass, he wasn’t stupid. It was just that the story they were telling him wasn’t his. He didn’t do stuff like that. Ever. Even in his sleepless, drug-induced haze his mind hadn’t come up with ideas like robbery, and no one was stupid enough to think they’d be able to break into an armored truck by running their Sedan into it. The story they were telling didn’t make sense, and he refused to acknowledge it as reality.

Cops deal with denial, lies, manipulation, and excuses. They sniff those tools of the trade out like hungry dogs, wagging their tails when they smell it. But when a guy comes in refusing to acknowledge reality as reality- not because he’s using those tools but because he honestly doesn’t believe you, they smell something else. And they don’t like that smell. So as soon as some one posed the idea that maybe the guy wasn’t stupid or lying, maybe he really was just crazy, the cops dropped him like a hot pan.

No one told him where he was going, explained why he was no longer being held, told him what the next step in the process would be. As soon as they’d ‘figured him out’ they acted like Americans in front of an illegal alien who doesn’t speak the language- having conversation just out of ear shot which obviously involved him without actually acknowledging his existence.

He found himself in the back of a van watching the urban landscape grow more industrialized and less populated. He would’ve asked where he was being driven but he figured the driver wouldn’t offer any more information than the people in the station had. So instead he sat, watched the concrete give way to gravel, then dirt, then eventually grass and trees. He watched it with the detachment of a person looking out at the landscape of a place they knew they wouldn’t go and didn’t care enough to wonder where he’d end up.


  1. So, not the Tom Sawyer and Jim I was expecting...

  2. Sorry to disappoint, but Mark Twain I ain't. Then again, I don't think you'd like him as much if I were, so it's a good thing.


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