Robert's primal scream
[ fiction - february 04 ]
Picture a wild man on the loose, like Godzilla unleashed on Cleveland, Ohio. Picture King Kong climbing the Empire State Building, with a woman in one hand, and a jet airplane in the other. Well, that's how I feel.
I walk into this town, like the wild man of Borneo, and it is a decent, sleepy little town, with stop signs on every corner, with drug stores, and a bank. But the minute the citizens see me enter town, they hide their daughters in their bedrooms, and whip out the chastity belts. There is a THING out there, George, and it just hitchhiked into our neighbourhood. It is ugly, and wears long, dirty hair and a big old beard. It is stalking every living thing within a block, breathing fire, and spewing out foam.
Martha, do something, call the police. Call the fire department. Oops, there it just went around the corner.
I am walking around, hungry and tired, looking for a place to sleep, looking for food. I guess I smell, I guess I look foul. I am a homeless person, so watch out. Wild man on the loose.
There is a flurry of phone calls, to 911. Everyone is concerned. Something has just emerged from the swamp, and it is a nasty.
Meanwhile, I am harmless. I won't rape anybody. I won't steal anything. I am just a street person, looking for a place to rest my bones.
The cops are on the watch, however. They need to crucify someone, they have an itch for a crucifixion, and they are going to scratch it! They need to beat up on someone. And I would do the trick.
What a weird little town. Everyone looks scared, as they see me approach. People are peeping out their windows, and immediately closing the blinds, as soon as I look back.
You would think I am not human, somehow. The creature from the Black Lagoon. And I know the citizens have been watching those science fiction movies, and reading the articles in the local paper about mother stabbers and father rapers, mother rapers and father stabbers. That is where they get their information.
But justice always triumphs. The local police are there to defend the citizens. They will protect the citizens against Saddam Hussein, and Fidel Castro, and Ho Chi Minh, and Milosevic, and Noriega against all the bad guys and demons Out There.
But I am not the dictator of a small country, or even of a large country. I have never tortured anyone, extorted money off anyone, taxed anyone, or had anyone arrested. I let the government do all those things.
I am just a homeless person, and I am Jesus, about to get crucified. The cops are getting ready to nail me.
Here they come, the Keystone Cops, and they come whipping around the corner, in their batmobile, and they stop right beside me, along the sidewalk. "Get in, kid!"
And I am escorted out of town. They drive me to the city limits, and tell me to start walking.
Friendly sort of town, they were. I have seen worse. I guess I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in. But the town's integrity got protected. And no one got hurt. The scapegoat is sent off into the wilderness.
I wipe my nose on my right hand, and keep on walking. It is 15 or 20 miles to the next town.
Written with the financial assistance of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.