Legal Drugs

Prompt: Law


Dear Wednesday,

I wonder what the world would be like if there were laws that penalized or even incarcerated liars?

Think of anti-vaxxers, who put the world (yes, the world) in jeopardy of preventable disease pandemics. Or YouTube conspiracy theorists who bully the innocent and terrorize the gullible. Or policy-makers who claim devotion to bettering the human condition while taking bribes to do the opposite. Or a big fat Orange Foolius who lies multiple times daily and renders a entire nation laughable, harmful, and ineffectual all at once.

And he doesn’t even cross his tiny fingers.

…Quick, a diversion! Like you and the entire population of the Universe, I am sick to death of you-know-who. So may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, more or less related to today’s prompt, “law”?

cartoon divorce

cartoon higher court

cartoon legal drugs


Peace, love, and good health,

~~FP

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Chips

Prompt: Thanks

the finger bandaged

Leep sharpened the steak knife for quite some time, as he knew it could be more difficult slicing through raw meat than cooked, and his fingers were definitely raw.

He didn’t intend to saw through the bone; no that would be stupid, and very difficult, not to mention unnecessary. This might all be unnecessary if old Anthony Gizmodo hadn’t been scooped up off the street, from his usual spot on the bus stop bench in front of the liquor store, and taken to some kind of government rehab. He couldn’t find out where they took him and Hannah, the liquor store manager, who usually was pretty well-informed, didn’t know either.

So Leep would have to take himself off to emergency.

He’d been tracking Theresa, Anthony’s daughter, for a few nights now and knew her shifts and that she was working long hours in Emergency. It was risky just turning up. She could be on a break, or busy defibrillating someone, or stocking the shelves with thin rubber gloves and vomit trays, or injecting antidotes for illegal drugs. Really, he hoped she was well-paid for this work. Leep himself was ok with blood but not with anything of any texture coming out of eyes, ears or mouths. Those kinds of things made him queasy. He had a nice chilled bottle of Red Racer IPA to calm his nerves, and positioned the middle finger of his left hand on the bamboo cutting board.

Ok, who knew so many blood vessels and nerve endings were located on the ends of fingers?

He only cut a small piece, just the very tip, and debated whether to put it in a baggie and take it to Emergency with him, but it truly looked too flimsy to be successfully reattached so Leep disposed of it in the can under the sink. This injury should be just severe enough that he lingered in Emergency, but not so severe that they’d keep him there. He got a towel and a bag of frozen peas— holy hell, it hurt!— and made his way to the car.

Theresa, with great authority and purpose, pulled back the curtain that surrounded the bed where Leep sat perched, his hand still encased in the peas and towel. She hadn’t looked him in the eye yet. But how serendipitous that it was she who was assigned to bed number 4 in the emergency ward! Leep smiled inwardly— sometimes the chips (he imagined poker chips) fell his way. Not often, but sometimes.

“Leep,” she said, “is that you?”

Exactly what she’d said in the parking lot when Leep mugged her, that night two weeks ago. Then he’d responded “No” and stole all her cash.

This time he said, “Yes, I cut my finger.”

She examined it, dabbed at it with some liquid on a cotton ball that hurt but didn’t sting at all, then bandaged it up. All very deftly, efficiently, and while not completely ignoring Leep’s grunts and winces from the pain. Holy hell.

All the while they conversed in low tones.

“I was sure it was you in the parking lot,” Theresa said.

“What parking lot?” asked Leep.

“I needed that money to pay for my son’s school trip.”

“What happened to it?”

“You wore the same jacket and jeans the night we took my father home.”

“How is old Anthony?”

Theresa smelled equally of white gardenia and disinfectant. It was actually rather comforting. She didn’t wear a white uniform and white oxfords but instead a pink polyester short-sleeved pant suit and white Adidas running shoes.

“He’s not doing well in rehab,” said Theresa.

“No,” said Leep. “I’d like to go see him though.” He held his left hand up in the air, propped at the elbow as Theresa had instructed, with his wounded middle finger extended. It was not the message Leep intended. Perhaps Theresa had endured other symbolic though unintended insults before.

Theresa didn’t respond, and instead disappeared into the hubbub of Emergency, closing the curtains firmly behind her.

Was she calling the police? That would not be a good thing. Chips were falling his way tonight though. They were tumbling through the air and landing in giant mounds at his feet. So perhaps she would find him convincing, genuine, if a bit gormless; the details of the robbery might be fading. Leep was not the kind of man to rob the daughter of the closest thing to a friend that Leep had. Was he?

When Theresa returned she had a small prescription pill bottle. “For the pain,” she said. “Keep it iced and elevated, if you can.”

“Thanks,” said Leep, adding: “Maybe I could go see your dad with you, next time you go.”

“I don’t think so,” said Theresa.

“I’d help pay for gas,” said Leep. “My car is getting new brakes.”

“You don’t need to pay for gas,” Theresa sighed.

“Maybe you could tell me then about that thing in the parking lot,” said Leep.

“Maybe I will,” said Theresa.

Fairy Tale Ending [Repost]

ice cream sprinkles

We sat on the sunporch, though it was after midnight. They usually didn’t arrive until after two am, but it was impossible to rest, knowing they were coming. So we didn’t rest. We gathered in skimpy clothing, because it was so very hot overnight. The men were bare chested, shiny with sweat and the women wore tank tops glued by the heat to their bodies.

We played Yahtzee. It was the only game that did not incite physical fights. It was the perfect blend of luck and skill… you could not justifiably kill a person because of the random numbers on the dice.

The children ate ice cream in the kitchen. We didn’t force them to bed at the children’s time because it could be their last hour, too. They had sprinkles to put on their ice cream, if they wanted, and chocolate milk. It would be their best last night, if that’s the way it turned out.

I went to the doorway and looked out at the night. It was so beautiful it made me miss a heartbeat; deep, intense and fragrant, with moonlight shining through the lush and tiny leaves of the trees, shimmering like light upon the water.

My parents and grandparents were dead. It was pointless to lay blame with them. They thought everything would work out. They had the optimism of deniers. They chose not to see what covered them like a blanket. They chose to be blind. They dreamed of a lush and welcoming world for their children, and lived on faith.

They were criminally wrong.

When the things came, a little earlier than 2 am, the screens held for a long time. They had no evil intent; they were trying to survive, just as we were.

It was breathlessly frightening, listening to them trying to breach the screens. At those moments I thought of my parents and grandparents who could have laid out a different path for us. They knew about beauty and caring and value and wisdom, but not about survival, not about reality.

I want to say they were misled, or lied to, or simply not aware.

But they knew. And now our children put sprinkles on their ice cream, before they died.


  • Original prompt: Screen, March 6, 2016

 

Reality vs “Reality”

Prompt: Successful

The election, the inauguration, and the President-Elect himself were all successful, if you simply choose alternative facts instead of, well, facts. (The election was successful in the face of foreign interference— the Russian hacking, and domestic interference— voter suppression laws. The inauguration was poorly attended despite alternative facts to the contrary. The President-Elect’s business record is not exemplary despite the alternative facts.)

I felt confused but there is no reason to feel that way. An “alternative fact” is a falsehood. Reality cannot be talked away. I know what I see and what I hear and despite the bombardment of obfuscation and lies I can still trust my judgement. Can you?

 


Apologies if politics seem to get in the way of story-telling. The situation is too important to overlook, however, and I simply can’t do it. Story-telling can and will resume!

A Witness

Prompt: Pretend

look-see-perceive

“Are you recording this?” asked Leep. The room was a little claustrophobic, with old grey metal filing cabinets in the corner, and an empty, unplugged water cooler, and a small square wooden table and three mismatched chairs.

Detective Spencer looked weary, with smudges around her eyes. Perhaps she’d had a long day. Leep had to work and couldn’t come in any earlier. Her hair needed a good brushing, but otherwise she was professional and trim, in a dark green shirt-dress with buttons from the neck to the hem, and a beige jacket with no buttons. With a wave of her hand, she invited Leep to take a seat.

“This is just an informal interview,” said Inspector Spencer, “just like the one we had at the factory. Should you decide to make a formal statement, we’ll document your testimony, and perhaps record it.”

“You remember me?” asked Leep.

“Of course,” said the Inspector. “A casual friend of Vincent Demarco.” She glanced at her watch. “Do you have some new information, or something you’d like to tell me?”

The chair he sat in was hard, uncushioned. He wondered if they did that on purpose, to make the person a little uncomfortable, put them on edge. It put him on edge. “I should have come in before, but I was nervous.”

“Nervous? Why?”

Leep shrugged. Inspector Spencer said nothing. She sat very still. “Anyway,” said Leep, “that night that Hootie was shot.”

“The Friday,” said Inspector Spencer.

“Right. Well I couldn’t sleep, and was watching a movie on TV, and wanted a snack, and the only place that was open was the 7-11 at the gas station on Burbank, so I went out.”

“What time was this, Leep?”

“Around 11:30, midnight? Maybe closer to midnight.” He didn’t want it to sound rehearsed, so he paused as if to think about it, and looked at his hands, which were folded on the table, and then he put his hands in his lap. He noticed he had something like freckles on the back of his hands. Tony Gizmodo had hands like that, but he was old.

“Go on,” she said.

“I walked, and took a shortcut, between the bank and that boarded-up place, the brick one,” said Leep. “I, um, heard some shouting coming from somewhere, some guy yelling. Hootie, I guess.” He looked up at Inspector Spencer. She did not smile or look encouraging. He shifted in his chair.

“And someone ran past me a minute later.”

“In the alleyway.”

“Yes, the alley. And he was in a hurry and it was pretty dark, so I didn’t get a really good look,” said Leep.

“Tell me as best you can, any details. Did he see you?”

“I’m not sure. I backed up agains the wall and he didn’t look at me exactly. Sometimes people don’t notice me,” said Leep. “I just blend in.”

“He was tall? Short?”

“A big guy,” said Leep, “in black. Bigger than me. Big shoulders and all that. In a black jacket with a hood or a scarf. I didn’t really see his face. He had a gun in his hand.”

“What kind of gun, Leep?”

Leep shrugged. “A… modern gun. Like a German gun. I don’t know much about guns.”

“Good,” said Inspector Spencer. She pushed her chair back and stood up. “I’ll get a pad and pencil, and you can write all that down, just as you told me, and we’ll transcribe it and have you sign it, ok? It won’t take long.”

“Ok,” said Leep. “So that’s it?”

“That’s it,” said the Inspector. “Unless you think of something else.”

Leep wrote out his story in his choppy, somewhat childish hand, erasing here and there so that the entire sheet of paper looked like badly executed homework, for which he’d been in trouble before. But Inspector Spencer took it away without comment, and brought him a glass of water, and fifteen minutes later he signed a printed-out copy of his statement.

“Thank you Leep. We may be in touch,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” said Leep. He would stop at the liquor store for some Czech Pilsner beer on the way home, and he would make scrambled eggs for dinner. He would watch Jeopardy!, and then that Scottish police drama, and get to bed early, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. There was something about that interview with Inspector Spencer. Did he say something wrong? She was polite but very cold towards him, not like last time. She hustled him out of the interview room and out of the station, before he could even give her some of the other details he’d made up to make the story sound more authentic.

Maybe it had been a mistake to pretend to be a witness. He’d waited days and days after Hootie’s shooting to report his encounter with a murderer. That was suspicious, he knew. If she had pushed him, he was prepared with spontaneously remembered details like, what movie he watched, the man’s cologne, and in which hand he held the gun, and even why he didn’t come to them earlier. But she didn’t ask.

Tomorrow he would tell Deborah and Lizzie about what he saw. That would be hard too, but he would put all the details, even the ones he didn’t tell Inspector Spencer, into the binder. It was part of the story.

 


Fairy Tale Ending

Prompt: Screen

ice cream sprinkles

We sat on the sunporch, though it was after midnight. They usually didn’t arrive until after two am, but it was impossible to rest, knowing they were coming. So we didn’t rest. We gathered in skimpy clothing, because it was so very hot overnight. The men were bare chested, shiny with sweat and the women wore tank tops glued by the heat to their bodies.

We played Yahtzee. It was the only game that did not incite physical fights. It was the perfect blend of luck and skill… you could not justifiably kill a person because of the random numbers on the dice.

The children ate ice cream in the kitchen. We didn’t force them to bed at the children’s time because it could be their last hour, too. They had sprinkles to put on their ice cream, if they wanted, and chocolate milk. It would be their best last night, if that’s the way it turned out.

I went to the doorway and looked out at the night. It was so beautiful it made me miss a heartbeat; deep, intense and fragrant, with moonlight shining through the lush and tiny leaves of the trees, shimmering like light upon the water.

My parents and grandparents were dead. It was pointless to lay blame with them. They thought everything would work out. They had the optimism of deniers. They chose not to see what covered them like a blanket. They chose to be blind. They dreamed of a lush and welcoming world for their children, and lived on faith.

They were criminally wrong.

When the things came, a little earlier than 2 am, the screens held for a long time. They had no evil intent; they were trying to survive, just as we were.

It was breathlessly frightening, listening to them trying to breach the screens. At those moments I thought of my parents and grandparents who could have laid out a different path for us. They knew about beauty and caring and value and wisdom, but not about survival, not about reality.

I want to say they were misled, or lied to, or simply not aware.

But they knew. And now our children put sprinkles on their ice cream, before they die.