Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fire Alarms And The Imp Of The Perverse

Nobody is readier for crime than a kid just graduated from school who is single, unemployed and drunk. Being drunk is key. Whenever you get drunk, you revert to the special reality of drunkenness, and all the thoughts and feelings you had the last time you were drunk return to you as though they had never left you. And those thoughts and feelings for me were grim. I had serial killer aspirations in those days which only emerged at three A.M. I used to carry around a miniature samurai sword that my sister had brought back for me from her year as an exchange student in Tokyo. Slightly less than four inches long, it was nonetheless shiny and curved, and even had its own little scabbard. I actually intended to use this pathetically diminutive would-be "murder weapon" on my victims. Laugh as they might... The thing about wandering around drunk at three A.M. in the lawn-covered outback of the suburbs is that victims are not readily available. I must confess that I was too kindhearted to kill anyone anyway. So I ditched the sword, and took out my frustrations on fire alarms instead. I would pull them and run away. Once I got a quarter mile off, I would slow my stride and listen for the sound of approaching fire engines, something that always sent chills up my perverse little spine. I know I was being a bad boy, but I couldn't help myself. If I couldn't be some dick-swinging King Kong of a psychopath, I could still play "The Imp of The Perverse". You've read Poe, right? If you haven't, do so. Poe's Imp was an icky little guy who couldn't help himself, who (as I remember it anyway) combined the commission of a crime with his own confession of it, as though the two were one and the same. In any case, I kept this up for a few weeks in the summer after college, inconveniencing the fire departments of Middlesex County to the tune of (adjusting for inflation) thousands of dollars a pop. Then one evening, after I'd jerked my last fire alarm into its orgasm of urgency, I was walking away from the main road, towards the woods and the train tracks and the sleepy bungalows. A police cruiser slid on by, shark-like with vigilance. I bolted on reflex. I hid in the woods beside the railroad tracks, flat on my stomach. The police shone a light on me and ordered me to come out. I did. I wished I hadn't. A six-foot-eight Italian cop with hornrim glasses and a nose like an eggplant asked me what I was doing out so late, timing his questions with raps of his billy club on my wrists. "Hitchhikin', huh? Huh? Lookin' to get picked up? Huh? Ronald J. Queerbait..." I was a handsome kid, so I guess I kinda looked like a gay hustler. Anyway, this big Bully-of-The-State and his Silent Bob of a partner (the "good cop" as played by a mute) handcuffed me and took me to the County Jail. They took my shoe-laces, my belt, and my glasses so I wouldn't have any tools to commit suicide with and threw me in a pea-green cell the size of a closet (and not a walk-in one at that). To keep me company while I spent the rest of the night awake, they sent down some young moron of a rookie to whom I confessed my "societal rebelliousness", which he imperfectly reiterated, with many errors, at my court appearance the next morning. I stood there in the docket, my glasses busted, dog shit on the soles of my hiking boots, my eyes swimming for lack of sleep. I rolled those eyes at the rookie's inaccuracies, but held my tongue. They hit me with a $100 fine and kept my crime off the books (or so they said). I borrowed the money from my girlfriend (claiming it was a down payment for a room I was going to rent), my right wrist stayed numb for the next two weeks (at least they didn't cut off my alarm-pulling hand, Saudi Arabian-style), and that was it. Nobody ever knew about it, till now...

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