Tater Sack

I don’t think I can live here no more. Not in this town, not in this state, maybe nowhere on this fair planet. Not after what I seen yesterday. It’s after last call and it’s like the barman says, I don’t care where you haul your ass off to, but you ain’t staying here. Don’t know where I’d go or what I’d do with myself. And ain’t that the bitch of it. They got it to where there’s nowhere to go and nothing you might think of doing with yourself that’d make a cunthair’s worth of difference, pardon the expression. I’ve got about enough saved up to board a hound bound for Florida and then lay up a week in a motel. Ideas I got none of. Last I heard they got the razor wire on the border fence facing in; maybe things are better down below. At this point I’d be dumbstruck at nothing.

Let me start by saying I’ve been around. I served two tours in whateverthefuckistan, and I’ve seen shit. Bad shit. Done it too. I’ve had the devil in my heart and my hands have done his bidding. But by God I pushed him out and kept clear of him. There’s things I’m ashamed of, things I wish every day I could undo and unsee and unhear. None of it holds a candle to what happened over here yesterday, though. Nothing I’d as rather not have seen, nothing that makes me more ashamed of my kind and my godforsaken country. I mean every jot of that and I am not taking His name in vain. I know it for a certainty you wouldn’t care to debate that we forsook His grace, not if you’d seen what I did.

José was a neighbor. Lived across the yard. Nice enough guy, too. Usually had a nod and a wink and a word for everyone. I don’t know if I’d call him upstanding, and that’s not just owing to the fact he got laid out in an early grave. Upstanding’s the word they use for the captain of the football team or an aldermen or fine fellows of that type. There were just too many troubles weighing down on José to call him upstanding. He had trouble making alimony on time, trouble holding down a job, trouble putting down the bottle at night, trouble getting up in the morning. He served too, and I know what he was going through having been there myself. Point is, he’s the kind of guy whose loss won’t put a wrinkle on the brow of any of the kindly folks lining the oak down at City Hall. Other point being, he was a decent enough guy, a real guy, the kind that never gave other folks any trouble. Not once, if you except his ex-wife.

I guess whoever called in him being on the roof will say that was trouble enough. You asked me, nobody deserves being done for the way they did for him. Nobody, of course, except for them that did for him that way. Those scoundrels’d be strung up to a man, and with their sons rounded up to watch too if we hadn’t forsook God’s grace these years ago. Of course, God’s grace outshines your pay grade if you’re happy with what we’ve got here today.

The thing about this story is that there is no story. No rhyme or reason I can get my head to compass. Just an all-out eruption of wickedness. Or maybe that’s going too far. Maybe it’s just the type of thing they’ve got rigged up to happen these days. So it’s five o’clock or so in the afternoon when José clambers through the hatch onto the roof to hoist a couple tallboys. He’d done it a few times before, and though Timmons the building manager said it was a code violation nobody ever thought to call in the polices. Until yesterday. He was up there hollering at the sky this time so I guess that was why whoever it was dialed it in. They could’ve just yelled up at him to pipe the hell down, but there are tasks in life that require a backbone.

By the time the polices showed up he was reeling back and forth up there, sunfried and more than half in the bag. I’d bet good money he was on some kind of VA mind-bender cocktail too.

I’ve got a warrant outstanding, so when the polices rolled in I stayed in behind drawn shades. The first thing they did instead of talk to him, like could you kindly get your ass down as you’re disturbing the peace, was to set up a perimeter. Like they were dealing with some active shooter or hostage situation. All of a sudden you had all these fools walking around in helmets and battle gear acting tough. Can anyone tell me what for? All they had to do was issue a citation and be on their way. If fucking that. I couldn’t hear too much of the back and forth since building A was downwind of my unit, but I’m pretty sure he started in giving them hell when they threatened to bring him in for knocking back a cold one on his own rooftop. I guess that’s what you’d expect any free person to do, but were not exactly in Kansas anymore. I grabbed a sympathy brew and resumed my position behind the gap in the shades to see what I else could see.

I did not have long to wait. After a lull, a special PD rig with a bucket crane rolled up. It crashed into the building while it was maneuvering into position. One of José’s tallboys rolled off the roof and at least two of the shitheels in uniform wheeled with their guns drawn when it hit. I’d have given them ample cause to draw right there if I’d of known what they were about to do. I’d of just picked ‘em off one by one and let God sort out the details.

Anyway. After that it was really simple and really fast. Really shitty too. No story to tell but the scene itself. Bear in mind it’s a scorching August day in the desert. You’ve got these gun-toting shits strutting around the lot. They’re ducking into the climate-controlled personnel carrier every few minutes to cool off in their battle gear. They look to want action, and once the bucket crane is ready a couple of them hop in and ride up. They straddle-crawl the roof ridge frog-man style like it’s Omaha Beach. Seeing the bogies approach, José drops his beer. This puts a real scare in the half-trained bozos waiting below with their guns out like stiff pricks. Then he scoots down toward the ledge and executes an ugly-looking jump onto the second floor fire escape landing. I’d give it a 2 out of 10. At that point the thugswarm is all over him. At least two of them draw their tasers and unload to make sure he won’t fight back.

Which if you asked me maybe that’s what killed him right there, since I never saw him make another move. Once the charge’d fried him up one side and down the other some new fists got into the fray and pummeled him to a fare thee well. The beating continued as this fat bastard in a Darth Vader outfit lumbered over to choke him from behind. After a while there were no two ways about it: the life had ebbed out of him. He just lay there like a bag of cement with five guys sitting on it. Talk about your dog pile. When they drug him off the landing down the stairs they had a bastard for every limb and one bastard to spare. But none would lift a finger to support his head. It just hung free, limp and dead, left to conk down on every step as they drug him down like he was nothing but a sack of potatoes.

They had him laid out on the blacktop and were standing over his body all puffed up like it was something to be proud of. I have never felt more ashamed of anything in my life.

Like I said, I don’t think I can live here. There may be a warrant hanging over me, but I’ll chance it. I honestly don’t care where I go, long as it’s away. Chances are slim I’ll find God’s grace out on the road, but anything’s better than hanging my head and saying I’m content to live in a city where you can get away with what they did just because you wear the metal.

Tater Sack

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