Posts Tagged ‘Violence’

The Baltimore Riots are over. Freddie Gray is still dead, obviously. A half dozen officers have been charged in relation to the killing, but their subsequent convictions remain to be seen. The folks from Baltimore didn’t even give the justice system a chance to fail, like those in Ferguson did, they just assumed it was broken and started throwing rocks.

Hell, why not? After all, rock chucking and fire setting has been the traditional response of minority communities to an equally longstanding police tradition of targeting said communities with violence…and usually getting away with it. This tradition spans a half century at least. Not that cops weren’t killing poor black folk prior to the sixties, but it wasn’t really until the sixties that people began to respond by rioting and looting. Up until this time, somehow, being shot by the police wasn’t the black community’s biggest problem.

imageIn the 1960s, Americans did more rioting than any other decade, four to five times more in fact, than the thirties, when people were as broke and hungry and abused as ever. In 1964, a New York police lieutenant shot and killed a fifteen year old Harlem kid in front of his friends. A shit storm ensued, on the spot, and the rioting crowd swelled to more than 4000. For four days, angry citizens threw rocks, set fires, attacked the police station and, of course, looted stores…all to no avail. The police lieutenant remained in the clear. Irregardless, similar riots occurred that year in Pennsylvania, Chicago and New Jersey, initiating a 51 year old cultural trend which has yet to have any real impact on the problem, but has retained its position as the black community’s go-to response in such matters.

Not that someone, somewhere, consciously plans these actions as a response…like I said…it’s a cultural trend. Riots tend to happen in clusters, at least with regards to cause, and the clusters typically span across a few decades. In the first couple decades of the 1900s, the thing was for a big gang of whites to get together and murder blacks. Racial attacks, like those in Tulsa and Rosewood, left hundreds dead. The other thing was for primarily white union members to violently suppress others’ opportunities for the same contracts. After the 1927 Herrin massacre, when rioting strikers looted gun stores and shot down a bunch of black strike breakers in cold blood, the focus of labor riots shifted to workers rights for a decade or so. Racial riots shifted in nature as well, decreasing in levels of violence and intensity, and for the first time, minority groups became the willing participants of melees like the Zoot Suit Riots, instead of the victims they had been in the past. Things then quieted in the fifties…the calm before the storm.

The sixties were indeed a perfect storm, a convergence of unrest so varied that the parties involved fed off one another and mustered a collective momentum not seen since the American Revolution. “There was madness in every direction,” wrote Hunter Thompson, “you could strike sparks anywhere.” For some reason, in the 1960s, a lot of Americans decided that they deserved to be treated equally and they took it to the fucking streets. If the blacks were rioting about being victimized by white cops, why shouldn’t drag queens riot too? After all, by the sixties, a black guy at least had a perceived right to walk down a sidewalk without being arrested simply for being black.

imageNot so for drag queens. While homosexuality in general was frowned upon and in fact legally punishable, it was sometimes hard to prove. Crossdressing, on the other hand, was also illegal and very easy to prove. During a customary raid on a gay bar, “suspicious ladies” would be led into the restroom by a female officer who would check for penises. Offenders would then be arrested. I’m not kidding…that’s the power of the American tax dollar as hard at work as ever…Stop-and-Frisk meets TSA. So on one particularly balmy 1969 New York night, the patrons of a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, decided to fight back.

After refusing to consent to a penis search, several people were arrested. As they were being led to police cars, a crowd gathered outside. Witnesses reported an arrestee pleading for bystanders to intervene. And then, after suggesting that the cops be paid off on the spot, someone threw a penny. And then another. And another. And then a rock. And then it was on. A hailstorm of foreign objects rained down on the police officers, who were forced back inside the bar for their own safety…or driven into the bar like cattle…take your pick. Outside, a surge of entitled gay rage spread throughout the crowd. Participants have expressed a collective feeling of having had enough. Things had to change, and it all had to start somewhere.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the mob had gotten to the officers cornered in the bar…your guess is as good as mine. Not that they didn’t try, mind you. Multiple accounts indicate one or more alleged drag queens ripping a parking meter out of the sidewalk and then using it, siege style, as a battering ram against the buildings entrance. Unsuccessful, they attempted another classic siege strategy, setting the building on fire. Remember, these weren’t Roman centurions. Or common street thugs. These were dudes in dresses with size twelve star-spangled pumps who’d probably never hurt anyone before in their entire lives.

And they beat the shit out of those cops. Another witness recollected a drag queen straddling a prone policeman, cowgirl style, while (s)he thrashed him mercilessly with with one of those big assed shoes. And it wasn’t just the cross dressers bashing white devil cops with their purses…though the imagery is almost too awesome not to dwell on…but the vast majority of New York’s gay community. Just as the police eventually managed to summon assistance, home phones all over Greenwich Village rung off the hook.

imageShit got wild. The city had to send in their tactical riot squad to extract the officers trapped inside the Stonewall. The gays rallied enough reinforcements to sustain a full length Broadway style kick line while still managing to overturn cars, light fires and chuck rocks. I have yet to figure out what could possibly be contained within a transvestite’s purse to make it heavy enough to smash a police cruiser’s windshield.

By sunup on Saturday, the violence had stopped and the crowds had dispersed. But it didn’t last. Saturday night’s rioting was described by some as being even more intense and violent than Friday’s, although accounts vary. Nighttime clashes with police continued through the middle of the next week, and then the fighting was over. The gays went back to their lives and the police went back to oppressing them. It wasn’t long before Inspector Seymore Pine was raiding gay bars again, despite the fact he’d barely escaped the Stonewall Inn alive.

But while laws hadn’t changed, attitudes had. The gay community found that in order to riot about their right to be gay, they had to come out of the closet into the light of police cruisers and paddy wagons set ablaze. I’m a clinical sociopath – I know what masks and closets feel like – and I also know how liberating it feels to let your nature shine in the bright light of a fire you intentionally set. It feels fucking good. And for the gays, it took, so as the fires went out and the day broke, they discovered the sun feels even better.

New York City saw it’s first gay publications and the community began to associate on another level, that of activism. The conflagrations, it seemed, hadn’t gone out entirely, but had activated secondary fires in the hearts and minds of the homosexual collective. By the next June, they organized a march in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots. News had spread, it seemed, as had the metaphorical flames, and marches were held in a number of U.S. cities. It’s 2015, and this month, they’ll be marching again. Betcha didn’t know that’s where Pride parades came from, did you?

The black community just had their latest parade as well. It was in Baltimore this time, but instead of commemorating the beginning of a rather successful movement, or even the previous riots in Baltimore, it was just the same old noise. From Harlem to Watts, L.A. In 1992, Ferguson, Baltimore…nothing changes but the names. The significance of the community’s rage against the institution, however justified, is ultimately lost in the lawlessness that inevitably takes control, so much so that when Bill O’Reilly pointed out how dem colored folk need to do some policing of themselves, he kind of had a point.

imageThe gays understood this. For them, Stonewall was nothing more than a rallying point, a catalyst that drew the community together and brought the issues out into the light. When the fires went out and the sun rose, they began to organize, and then to move forward. I dare say that the effectiveness of the gay rights movement has far surpassed that of the civil rights movement. A big part of this, I think, is a level of cohesiveness that the black community has never attained. Close they’ve come, but never enough so for a cigar.

I’ve always framed the civil rights movement through the Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm…that is…non-violent resistance vs. resistance by any means necessary. Both have their place, both are useful, even necessary…but they can’t work independently of one another. Non-violence means nothing if one has never experienced violence just as violence itself loses significance when there is no foreseeable hope of peace. Resistance is a school of thought unto itself and in order to be successful it must be inclusive of all approaches. The very notion of a Martin vs. Malcolm paradigm demonstrates an internal conflict which dooms the movement from its inception and therein lies the lack of cohesiveness.

Before Stonewall, the gay rights movement was, well, still in the closet. Associations like Mattachine and the Daughters of Bilitis were established in the fifties and advocated for the rights of gays, but encouraged members to assimilate into straight society. Their strategy was to gain ground by convincing the mass culture that they were no different. A Mattachine march on the White House went unnoticed, in fact, because it was just a dozen or so dudes in suits walking up and down the sidewalk. A couple of years after Stonewall, there were over a thousand, and everyone noticed them.

Frank Kameny, the MLK of the gay rights movement, was critical of the Stonewall riots, as well as the sudden outing and publicization afterward. He later regretted his initial opinion, however, when he realized that even with his twenty years of work, it wasn’t until after Stonewall that he was able to garner the necessary public support to be the first openly gay candidate on a Congressional ballot. Kameny and the old schoolers had indeed assimilated, but it was not within the culture which they had expected. It suddenly became apparent that they didn’t have nearly as much in common with mainstream white America as they did with a handful of rock chunking transvestites.

For the last century and a half, black people have faced the same dilemma, at least with regards to their identity and position within America’s social food chain. The Martins preach assimilation and love while the Malcolms demand resistance against oppression. Both sides pretend to want to understand one another and work together…but ultimately, the push and pull they exert prevents any sort of unified black identity from ever really emerging. And identity is what it’s really all about, in the end.

“Ya wanna know how we screwed up in the beginning,” asked hip hop activist KRS-ONE in his song Higher Level. “We accepted our oppressor’s religion.”

It’s an excellent point. Why in the world, I wonder, would a people with a history of being enslaved subscribe to the very religion used to morally justify the wrongs inflicted upon them? When an imprisoned Paul met a runaway slave names Onesimus, he instructed the man to return to his master. When he decided this didn’t make him a big enough asshole, he wrote his Letter to the Ephesians, wherein chapter 6 admonishes slaves to be obedient to their masters as to their Lord Jesus Christ. Really now, Paul, really now.

So for me, with an outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to take a guy like Martin Luther King seriously. It’s even harder to stomach Baltimore mega church pastor Jamal Bryant, who, throughout the Ferguson and Baltimore protests, urged the community to calm down, drop the stones, stop setting fires and looting items that corporate white insurance companies would ultimately be paying for…to settle down and be, well, good ol’ friendly American negroes.

How would Stonewall have turned out if that one drag queen suddenly dropped the parking meter and proclaimed: “Settle down boys and girls, and remember that these policemen have rights too…now get on home now…and let these nice boys go back to institutionally molesting our entire culture!”

See what I mean?

imageSo by the time the Baltimore riots were winding down, the black community was getting two barrels of advice to settle down and straighten up. Besides Bryant’s calls for nonviolent protest and peace, local gang leaders joined in as well, yep, the same guys who make the cops trigger happy and scared to begin with. The big question is, should the black community be listening to either party? Are religious leaders who propagate the same religion used to justify slavery thinking in terms of what is best for the people? Something tells me that Jamal Bryant, in his casual business attire, his downhome southern preacher affect and his 7500 strong flock of income producing sheep, has very little in common with those marginalized and murdered by the police culture. And as for the gang leaders, they are at least as bad, if not worse, than the nightstick toting police who beat their asses. Neither non-violent passive resistance, nor the white Jesus, nor black tar heroin will correct what is wrong.

But you can’t tell that shit to America, black or white. Americans are too busy singing praises of Baltimore’s own dragon lady and house nigga extraordinaire, Toya Graham. Graham claimed international fame after attacking her brick lobbing 16 year old son in front of news cameras. I’m sure you’ve seen it…it’s all over youtube. What really struck me was the public’s reaction, as well as that of local government, which was overwhelmingly positive. In any other context, a mother shown on live TV to be striking her teenaged son on or around his head while screaming profanity at him would be labeled a child abuser and likely prosecuted. It suddenly becomes acceptable however, and even praiseworthy in this situation. But the kid wasn’t looting or stealing or selling drugs or even back talking his mom…he was chunking rocks with his friends, all in support of one particular friend whom he claimed had been beaten by policemen.

imageOf course, Graham was praised by everyone from those old wrinkled bags on the View to Baltimore’s own police commissioner. “Good job Toya,” they all seem to say. “Way to use violence to instill the values of assimilation, submission and tolerance of abuse into the next generation.” Her pastor, none other than the aforementioned Jamal Bryant, also spoke warmly of her actions, as did the ghost of MLK.

The ghost of another “Milk,” on the other hand, probably sees it a little differently. Harvey Milk (first openly gay politician in office…and the first of such to be assassinated…and the second cause of the second series of flamboyantly gay riots) came out of the Stonewall era. He wasn’t militant or violent and he wasn’t nationalistically homosexual. What he was, was part of a very small demographic of American people who decided they weren’t going to fucking take it in the ass anymore, metaphorically speaking at least.

This demographic, though small, included a wide range of differences…from men who like men, to women who like women, to drag queens and whatever the hell you call women with mustaches and workboots, pretty much everything 1969 America regarded as sexually deviant, except perhaps the pedophiles and dudes who like to screw wet tree stumps. The diversity of the movement didn’t stop there either; differences based on race and ethnicity, socioeconomics, the same shit we all argue about-these differences were deemed secondary and sidelined in favor of the larger picture. And to show for it, they have a strong movement that has only gained in momentum. And they also have the Pride parades, their equivalent of the American Independence Day.

It’s hard to say if that is a reality the black community will ever be able to attain, but my magic eight ball says they won’t. The situation has been as it is for too long and the people involved, sadly, are trapped-unable to stop snapping at the bait. A free meal from a burning CVS is no different from the false hope offered by Jamal Bryant and his hoes and his precious white Jesus…one way tickets on a train with no real destination in sight, that is, save the mirage of equality and the fallacious notion that our country is built upon it.

And ain’t that just the awful, bloody truth of it all?

“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

image

“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

“Hey,” said my best friend through the phone, “I just wanted to let you know I had to kill the rooster today.”

image

A Golden Polish Rooster

“How bad did he mess you up,” I chuckled, surprised it had taken so long. I’d given him the rooster, a Golden Polish, and some hens around a year ago, when he decided to take up the hobby. “He didn’t get your eyes did he?”

“That son of a bitch…” he went on, telling a story that anyone who has ever raised chickens can certainly relate to. It was one of those hell spawn roosters, a shining speckled brute with a spiked hair do and the attitude to match. He’d come to live in terror of his rooster, never naming the bastard for fear of offending it and provoking more of its vicious attacks. It was the kind of rooster that would intentionally roll eggs to the edge of the coop, then lie in wait around the corner, or scooch down on the roof just above. Anyone stupid enough to fall for this ploy deserved the raping that would no doubt ensue. You’d be surprised, by the way, just how big a chicken dick really is.

imageMark said that when the feathered demon jumped out from behind the wall, that it had that look in it’s eye and he didn’t want to know how big a rooster cock is anymore than you do. It had charged him several times, flailing, jumping, spurring, all at head height, all in his face. If you’ve ever been subject to a full size, full scale rooster attack, it’s damned scary…and some roosters don’t play. This was one of those roosters and it didn’t respond to anything but violence, and then, only a little. The basic tactic, with a rooster like that, is to stun it with a broom for long enough to get your eggs and get the hell out of the pen.

And it’s all about preemptive strikes. Don’t be afraid to plot out the best way to sneak up on him and hit him with a tennis racket because you better believe he’s thinking the same thoughts about you. Make no mistake, some roosters are flat out terrorists, controlling their flock and access to it by the most vicious means available. The only thing that stops them from crucifying and burning their enemies, which include anything not a hen, is their lack of opposable thumbs, or fingers…plus the fact that chickens are stupid. Well that’s three things. So sue me. The point is, fair’s fair and I’ve never been afraid to sneak up behind one and punt it like a football, at least, not after it tried to kill me. And rape me. And rob me.

They rob you, by the way, for the same reason they rape you. It’s all about power and control. And fear.

imageMy best friend hit his rooster in the head with a metal pipe. He said it wobbled a bit, something like Foghorn Leghorn after the dog hit him with a cast iron skillet, and then fell over, dead as a door nail. Or dead as a damned raping flogging rooster that got hit with a steel pipe. Take your pick.

Speaking of skillets, that’s where his rooster was headed when I talked to him. He’d already plucked it and singed off most of the little hairs. There’d been a good sized chicken under all those feathers and I informed him that it would be one of the best dinners he’d ever had. It comes pretty close to being a free meal (which tastes awesome on its own) when you kill a chicken like that but moreso, there is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that tastes better than eating a thing that you deeply and truly hate.

Trust me.

When I was a kid, chickens were not enough for my parents. Nope, my folks took up registered Brahma cattle raising as a “hobby.” They said it built character for me and kept me out of trouble. They were half right…it’s hard to go cause trouble when you’re mired to your waist in mud and cow flops…as in physically impossible.

There was one cow out of the lot, the used cow that came from a commercial farm impregnated with a possessed halfwit calf, the evil cow, the one with that same look in her eye…her name was Snowflake. And that monster bitch hated me. After being chased, butted, pushed through barbed wire and electric fences, I came to hate her too. So when it came her time, when Mom and Pops finally hated her as much as I did, they loaded her in the trailer. Destination: butcher shop.

image

A Brahma heifer with “that look.”

In retrospect, my parents probably thought it was cute as they watched me, from afar, saying my goodbyes to the condemned prisoner. I was saying my goodbyes, all right… I told that cow they were going to take her to a warehouse, perhaps the same warehouse where Lethal Weapon was filmed, and Gary Busey was going to hang her from a chain. They were going to drip water on her and shock her teats with a car battery. Then, Mel Gibson was going to choke her to death with his sweaty Mad Max crotch maneuver.

Take that evil cow…how do you like them apples?

About a week later, Snowflake returned to us. It was Saturday afternoon when two big beefy guys showed up in a refrigerated delivery truck. With two sets of hand trucks, they proceeded to re home the demon cow, forty paper wrapped one pound packages at a time, in our downstairs freezer. They’d moved about half a cow when they had to take a break so Pops and I could hit up Sears for an additional stand up freezer. You’d be surprised how much beef comes out of a cow.

You’d also be surprised how good she tasted. Granted, she was a grass fed animal and, besides tormenting me, she’d never worked a day in her life, so she’d be tasty either way. But as tender and marbled as her ghost was, it was my intense hatred for that animal as an individual that really made the little flavor explosions on my tongue go pop. The wide white scar on my right palm, still prominent three decades later, that came from being shoved and bullied through a barbed wire fence made her dead, seared and pecan encrusted flesh taste like…victory. Victory, with a side of Appalachia blood-feud vengeance.

Like I said, nothing tastes so spectacular as the thing that you hated when it was alive.

After Mark’s call, I found myself wishing his chicken dinner wasn’t a three hour drive away. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a despised and persecuted piece of fowl, longer still since I’ve eaten any sort of fowl at all. And I miss it. But, once you’ve snatched an attacking rooster out of mid air and promptly twisted it’s head off before plucking, cooking and eating it, good old American factory farmed chickens just don’t cut it anymore.

Not that they ever really did, for that matter. If you’ve even driven past a commercial chicken operation, and the wind is right, you smell death and decay. Yep. That’s what those long, narrow, low topped buildings are and that smell is exactly what it smells like it is. Nothing that comes from that can taste good. Or be good.

image

Battery hens…or…where your eggs come from

Most commercially raised chickens spend their entire lives in boxes large enough only to contain a motionless chicken. They’re usually genetically modified, growing rapidly and spending significant portions of their short lives in tightly confined pain. Overcrowding leads to rampant disease, which leads to massive doses of antibiotics which, well, leads to even worse disease. Chicken labeled “free range” isn’t much better. The chickens have about the same amount of space, just without the cages, so in addition to all the other existing problems, free range chickens can add fighting into the mix. Think I’m jiving you? Look it up.

In America, the birds we raise and eat enjoy few, if any, legal protections, aside from those that prohibit bloodsports like cockfighting. Legislation such as the Humane Slaughter Act does not cover fowl. So when I make a joke about executing a rooster, South American style, with a machete, I’m only half joking. The fact is, if I want, I can throw a dozen or so chickens in a barrel of boiling water and mass scald them to death because it’s cleaner than chopping off a live head and easier to pluck them while the blood drains. Besides, it’s totally legal.

If I desire to perform live vivisections and bizarre biological experiments on my chickens, that’s also, basically, legal. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, nor do I intend to, for that matter. I’ve just never been able to bring myself to hate an animal enough to torture one just for the sake of it…or even to make a quick buck…and that’s really what it boils down to. A baby chick, ordered through the mail, costs about a buck. By the time it’s big enough to eat, I’ve had four to six dollars in it. That doesn’t count the time it would take to pluck, butcher, clean and package it in fancy plastic wrapping. Or transport it to a grocery, either. I’ve had, said and done, about twice the amount of investment in one chicken as Tyson or Purdue, and I guaran-fucking-tee you they’re still clearing a substantial profit, even when you walk out of the market with a four dollar frozen pullet from the clearance shelf.

At the local farmers market, a medium-large bird, dressed and ready for the roasting pan, comes out to about twenty five bucks. A high price indeed, it’s one I’m not really willing to pay, nor is most of the rest of the country, especially not when several manufactured chickens can be procured for the same cost. A lot of the people who buy these chickens could care less if their dinner was tortured or abused or poisoned. A farm animal, to a large segment of America, is an abstract concept, something that can’t be related to because most Americans will never meet a cow or a chicken up close.

image

Free Range chickens are worth the extra $$$.

For every car-jacking face-raping son of a bitch rooster, there are a dozen hens who like to have their feathers itched after eating grapes and worms from your fingers. Live creatures with unique personalities. People sort of realize this, I think, and marketers draw on classic and recognizable barnyard imagery when choosing advertising buzzwords like Farm Fresh, Cage Free, Free Range, take your pick. They don’t really mean anything, except that you’re going to pay a little more for basically the same bird.

Vegetarian-fed is my favorite marketing term. In order for egg shells to be sufficiently strong, chickens require additional calcium, usually in the form of bone meal or crushed oyster shells…not vegetarian. Chickens that are truly free ranged eat a diet pretty high in bugs and worms…also not vegetarian. The vegetarian-fed claims are basically a reaction (or an offhanded admission) to the revelation that commercial chickens are often fed other chickens, dead chickens, diseased chickens, leftover bits that can’t be sold. Efficiency at its best…

image

One of my Cochin hens talking to the Vizsla

My chickens like cole slaw and macaroni and cheese. And lots of grapes. They like to sit in tiny nests for days at a time, trying to hatch eggs I’ve already snagged. They also like to run loose in the yard, digging holes, eating bugs and shitting on everything. And I mean everything. They’ll coo at you when they want something and they’ll come when you call them. Chicken keeping, at its essence, is a symbiotic relationship between two species where both sides bear a responsibility to the other as well as an opportunity to benefit from the experience.

When a big rooster violates this relationship by trying to blind you with his spurs, it’s entirely appropriate to baptize his ass into glory with the head ringing end of a garden spade. And then you eat the old hateful thing for dinner. What happens, though, when man starts to systematically violate the animal, to treat it as though it’s hated, even when all the animal has ever done is hold up its end of the deal? One man gets paid and the other gets fed…and the chicken gets fucked…that’s what happens. And I think that’s sad.

So, as a personal rule, I choose to only eat chickens who have been righteously hated and killed in self defense. That, unfortunately, means I don’t get to eat chicken often, not ever, really, and that’s ok. It’s a small price to not have to pay to not be complicit in what amounts to legalized systematic abuse, hateful treatment for the sake of profit instead of hate itself.

It’s ok to hate a rooster when it hates you first just like it’s ok to knock it’s head off when it tries to kill you. Like I said, the hatred, a natural phenomenon of the man-bird relationship paradigm, simply makes a Southern-style home fried chicken dinner that much more spectacular. Or anything else, for that matter.

Three years ago, when my fiancé and I were vacationing at the Outer Banks, we were suddenly attacked by a massive swarm of black biting flies. We were outnumbered, overwhelmed, panicking from one painful attack after another, and running like hell for the car. Once inside, safe from the nasty little bastards, our breathing slowed and our heart rates approached normal. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my bicep as one bit into me. Too busy feasting upon my blood to notice he was being snatched by his little wing, he found himself staring into my eyes, legs wiggling and wings buzzing, it was his turn to panic. Fair is fair, and I don’t care what you say, that parasitic little beast knew it.

Wanna know how that hateful little blood sucking black fly tasted? Just like it sounds…delicious.

 

http://www.murdercroweatcrow.wordpress.com

 

A small sprinkling of snow entered my car as I rolled down the window.

“What’s wrong officer?”

“You seem lost,” he answered after a few seconds, knowing damn well that didn’t constitute probable cause to execute a traffic stop. “Can I see your license and registration?”

Getting lost on Beech Mountain is not at all uncommon. Once off the main road, it becomes a maze…a spiderweb…of identical dirt roads, miles of them weaving through the trees and bending around the mountainsides. The roads focus around a half-assed ski resort, reminiscent of Hot Tub Time Machine, and a golf club.

“I’m not,” I answered, gathering my documents. “I’m headed to check out the electrical system on a house my friend might buy and he gave me bad directions. I was headed back up to the top of the mountain to try and call.”

Cell service is spotty and unavailable for most of the 3000 houses that line the windy narrow passages, only 10% of which are occupied year round, and it’s patrolled by an eight man staff of externally sourced police, some from the same region as most of the property owners, south Florida.

“Do you have anything in the car that you shouldn’t,” he asked next, “drugs, weapons, anything like that?”

This is rural North Carolina. Appalachia. Resort town. Rednecks with shotguns and OxyContin crazed hillbillies are as common as tourists in Landcruisers…

“Nope,” I answered, “just electrical tools and trash.”

…just as common as guys who do electrical work and favors for their friends on snowy Tuesday afternoons.

“Do you mind if I have a look inside?”

Whooooooaaaa…the locally sourced police didn’t usually act this way.

“I do mind,” I answered. “I haven’t done anything and I have things to do.”

image

Arrest photo of the actual cop…er…ex cop…

“If you don’t consent Mr. Brennar,” he said, “I’ll have to call the county K-9 unit. You might be here awhile.”

I chose my words carefully, considering factors such as his ethnic and regional heritage, the number of witnesses, his ultimate willingness to push the issue and most of all, the fact that I, for once, was innocent and simply being harassed. He was about to discover that I was, indeed, his huckleberry.

“You go ahead and do that,” I said, stone-faced, “and when I’m done suing you for illegal search, you’ll be back to pruning palm trees in South Beach. I’m a decorated veteran and if you want to violate my rights, you’re going to have to make that call.”

“Wait right here sir,” he responded, his voice quivering in anger.

He stomped back through the snow to his cruiser like the spoiled little shit that he was, angrier than a child denied dessert before the due process of dinner.

The officer ran my information, in vain, before returning and sending me on my way. Nothing more was said of the search, nor of my rude and racially insensitive remarks. I bid him a good afternoon before abandoning my friend’s house prospect and heading home.

imageThat shit wouldn’t have worked out in my favor if I’d have pulled it on the same guy in Metro Dade. In Miami, if I’d have implied he was a Tin Starred Landscaper, he’d have called an army of assholes just like him and they’d have dragged me from my car to the curb. After being Tased and maced, I’d be pseudo raped by a dogpile of angry blue men, each getting their licks in, one indistinguishable from the next, even with multiple angled helicopter footage. I might even be killed. And that’s considered preferential white guy treatment.

If I’d have been black or Hispanic, they’d have just killed me, maybe without even pulling me over, as their dash cams recorded them screaming at me to drop the knife. A box cutter would later be found in my tool bag, locked in the trunk. But, as it was, I drove home feeling pleased with myself for such a tiny victory against the heavy handed oppression that seems so prevalent in the big city police departments. For once, I’d succeeded in emasculating a tiny piece of the authoritarian culture, and it warmed my cold Grinchly heart.

The point of the story is not to pat myself on the back for racially insulting a pushy cop (I’ve done plenty of patting already, trust me), but that the encounter went just as it should have, anywhere in the country, regardless of the racial element. The officer, after blatantly ignoring his constitutional obligation to establish probable cause before pulling me, attempted to intimidate me into submitting to a further violation of my rights. His behavior, and its potential for affecting me in an emasculating way was returned in kind, tit for tat, certainly not rewarded. I, on the other hand, experienced a psychological reward, a wonderful mix of chemical endorphins, and it probably makes me more likely to act the same way again.

So it’s probably good that I live in a little town like South Park where I can get away with bullying a bitch-assed city-mouse cop…as opposed to somewhere like New York City…where a guy might find himself being cop-raped with a toilet plunger. To death. Talk about emasculation…

…and speaking of rape…

imageI suspect the psychological implications of being dominated and brutalized by those in authority might be very much akin to those of being ass ravaged by a mob of big soapy meat daggers in a cold, dark prison shower. In each situation, feelings of powerlessness and dehumanization are easily inflicted through detention/immobilization and reinforced, often enough, through pain. While one might not be able to relate to the actual experiences of being detained and beaten any more than being cornholed inside out by a pack of Aryan brothers, it’s more understandable, in these graphic terms, the sort of feelings that might result.

And that really only applies to the survivors of police bullying and brutality. Last night, I spent the better part of two hours watching YouTube videos of unarmed civilians being shot and killed by American policemen. I spent this time wide eyed, intently watching as though I’d bet money on the outcomes, watching sometimes handcuffed people bleeding to death in the streets, with no clip being repeated save one, that of five heavily armed New Mexico cops firing on a homeless goofball who was camping in the desert. After gassing and shooting him multiple times with assault rifles, they fired beanbags into his motionless body and argued about who was going to secure his four inch knife and get the cuffs on him. He died shortly thereafter and not a cop lost a job. Incidentally, the victim just happened to be white.

It’s not just the black men who are gunned down and beaten, although they certainly constitute the majority, but it’s people of all races and backgrounds who make up the larger cultural subgroup of the disaffected. They’re often poor, mentally unstable, unemployed or homeless, sometimes drunks or addicts, but the common thread is a lack of an ability and the financial means to stand up against overreaching authority. For every dead Sunday school teacher with fifteen bullet holes in her car and an angry community demanding accountability, there are a dozen, or more, socially disadvantaged minorities with holes in their bodies where holes don’t belong. We never hear about those people because they often have no one to speak for them and even if, it turns out that most people simply do not care.

It must be a sobering thought, likely one nestled in the forefront of the consciousness of America’s disaffected city dwellers and for minority groups in general. Sobering, that is, to realize on some level that the value of one’s very right to exist rests upon the whims of a police subculture which not only assesses them at a lower value than those who have the means to defend themselves, but actually targets them because of this weakness.

And it seems to only get worse.

image

GITMO in Chi-town?

A Guardian article claimed recently that the Chicago P.D. have been operating a “black site” for a number of years, sort of a way station between apprehension and booking where off camera interviews have been allegedly conducted and these interviews were described as being both coercive and abusive in nature. The police denied it, of course, but I also remember a fair amount of denial when it came to accountability regarding the goings on at Abu Gharib and GITMO. It’s only natural, after all, when you’re asked about systematically violating people’s human rights, to deny everything.

In the end, denial only carries you so far. Sooner than later, reality pulls up with a past due bill and a collector who looks like Jason Voorhees with a head full of PCP. If you’re lucky, at least. When the CIA was beating and torturing people, essentially raping away the masculinity and self respect of people like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leaders of ISIS, we’d all like to think they “misunderestimated” the outcome of those interrogation sessions, but who knows…it’s not like it’s the first time humiliation and brutality sparked the flame of violence and hatred in a man’s heart.

imageWhat we can all safely assume, is that if you spend your time turning fellow prison inmates into your own personal sex dolls, one day, eventually, you’re going to get stabbed in the neck with a fucking toothbrush. That’s just how it is and it’s just as true when it comes to other forms of physical and emotional emasculation. The more a man is subjected to such abuses, the further he has to go to find balance again, to feel strong and to stop feeling raped.

Back when I was a squirrely little third grader, I thrashed a classmate, mercilessly, in the bathroom after recess one day. They sent me home for fighting, of course, but allowed me to return after hearing the truth from my mom. Not one to tattle, I’d neglected to mention to the principal that right before I beat him stupid, the other kid had been intentionally pissing on me. Nor was I one to relish an ass beating from my pops, so I’d told my mom the truth. And then she smelled it on my jeans and my red Chuck Taylors. It was exonerating for me; the other kid stayed suspended. That was ’86…or maybe ’87.

Times has done gone and changed on us.

By the time I graduated high school in the mid nineties, corporal punishment and a student’s assumed right to defend himself from bullies were a thing of the past. My response, as appropriate and effective as it had been, was to be tolerated no more. In the new century, I’d likely have faced criminal charges for seizing that mealy mouthed bastard by the throat and playing “Ring Them Bells” on his skull.

Today, children are allowed only a little leeway when it comes to preventing bodily harm, just as adults are, but as a general rule, we’re expected to tattle, to file reports, ultimately to defer our own protection to others. That’s all well and good…it’s just fine to tell the teacher after it happens…but it doesn’t do anything to stop some degenerate pre teen from whipping out his weasel and watering you like a houseplant in the first place.

Between the schoolyard and the streets of adulthood, things don’t change much. Bullies continue to rob, rape and urinate on decent folk, and the expectation remains to defer protection to others, in particular, the police. Again, that’s all well and good, but what happens when the policemen are the ones with their anteaters out splattering warm urine on anyone close enough to get hit and too poor to do anything about it? Who do you tattle to?

imageSomeone, at some point, thought it was a good idea to complain to the federal government, who responded by promptly by issuing surplus military hardware to any cornpone breadbox bunch of keystone cops with the space to store it. City police departments, seemingly, have gone without armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles for so long they forgot how much they needed them. That’s sort of like me tattling on the bully, only to come to school the next day and find him wearing a Kevlar Hall Monitor vest and a Skorpion machine pistol, with the principal helping him aim his little piss rocket towards the smaller children.

Sort of…you get the point…at least if you’ve lived somewhere like Ferguson you do.

I know where you think I’m headed with this…to the mattresses no doubt. The clinical sociopath is about to suggest we start locking and loading on the Big Blue Dick, that the two cops shot in Ferguson, the other two in Los Angeles, that it’s been a long time coming and the poor should rise up against the oppressive white devil swinery… That sort of shit, right?

Sorry to disappoint, but that just ain’t the case. Not that I’m against fair play, mind you. On the contrary, I vehemently disagree with peaceful protesting, turning the other cheek, all that worthless crap, especially when the other side is squirting tear gas into a crowd of the same people who pay their salaries. But, I’d be encouraging people like Eric Garner or the two Columbine boys, and that doesn’t solve anything. My solution, simply put, is easier, and lies in the future generations.

In the same ways our children have learned to trust those with power to protect their rights, they can relearn to trust themselves. We can teach our children that, as the larger social collective, they hold the true power to redefine our culture. They can learn that the things we protect and hold dear, the materialistic trappings we are so afraid to lose, mean nothing when you’re being beaten or raped or murdered…mean nothing when your brother or neighbor is experiencing the same. Through our children, we can reestablish our social identity as one which simply will not tolerate a bully culture, much less pay its salary.

Indeed. The answer doesn’t involve conferences and legislation anymore than it does Molotov cocktails and lynchings of murderous asshole police. The place to fix bully problems is in the third grade, on the level plane of boy’s bathroom floor tiles, with a dad-taught right cross and a punishing series of left jabs, all empowered by a fundamental understanding that not being suspended for fighting is infinitely less important than not being urinated on.

Before I was a veteran, I was a veteran.

During the 1980’s, a series of wars and skirmishes broke out across the Appalachian region of North Carolina. These engagements went largely ignored by the news and popular media, who instead chose to focus on the conflict between Afghanistan and the drunken cockfight formerly known as the Soviet Union.

imageBy December of 1979, the people of Afghanistan were openly revolting against a series of newly enacted socialist peasant raping reforms and the leaders appealed to their sugar daddies, the Soviets for military support. The Soviets responded by mobilizing airborne brigades and sprinkling Red Army paratroopers all over the Afghan countryside. On December 27th, Soviet troops reached Kabul and the special forces promptly paid a visit to the president bearing a message from the closest thing the communists had to Santa, General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. It was a swift execution, Dirty South Style, on his knees with two in his head.

On the other side of the globe, an invasion of another sort was taking shape. In 1981, as the Soviet “intervention” was gaining serious momentum, a secret meeting was convened in New York. One of the men in attendance was Archie Goodwin, a well known author of, well, comics. Goodwin was charged with creating a public face for the impending invasion, as well as writing what amounted to a manifesto calling for the overthrow of the worlds governments and their subjugation to “Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world.” image

The invasion, although eventually reaching an international scope, began in the United States heartland. The news of the impending attack was heard solely by America’s youth, who were suddenly faced with the reality of what it means to become a man in America. And they began to arm themselves. Hushed calls were made from design studios to corporate board rooms. Sweaty hands shook firmly before dialing China and lining up ordinance production.

Little boys in North Carolina, meanwhile, were making lists and submitting them to their Secretary of Armaments, Santa Clause. Beginning on Christmas of 1982, the young American patriots began to amass troops. The small, localized militias grew slowly, with neighborhood warlords graduating to generals as troop strength swelled.

The overall resulting military collaborative became the cultural phenomenon collectively referred to as “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.” Hasbro, an American company with manufacturing facilities in China, began to extensively produce weaponry and the 3 3/4″ plastic men the young generals needed to combat the dreaded Cobra Commander and his shock troops.image Back in Afghanistan, the Soviet occupation wasn’t going so well. The Afghan Army was expected to do most of the front line fighting but apparently when it came to killing their own people in support of a doctrine that directly contradicted their belief structure, they turned out to be squeamish. Roughly half raised a black flag and joined the revolt. The rest, mostly, just hung around and talked shit, waiting for the next paycheck and often, doing more harm than good. More and more, the Soviets were finding it necessary to use their own troops in direct combat, something they’d hoped to avoid.

The mujahideen, Afghanistan’s rag tag conglomerate of a resistance, proved to be much more effective than Soviet command had predicted. Able to attack without warning and then disappear back into the populace, conventional military attacks against the mujahideen were obviously ineffective. This resulted in a tactical shift, and the Soviets began to view the Afghan countryside as what amounted to the mujahideen’s supply lines, resulting in the implementation of scorched earth strategies. As the civilian body count climbed, the Afghan clergy issued a decree, or fatwa, labeling the atheist-socialist controlled invasion as an attack on Islam as a whole and declared it the duty of all Muslims to join or at least contribute to the effort against the Russians.

image

Soviet AK-47, preferred weapon of Clint Eastwood’s enemies and Cobra troopers

The mujahideen army grew exponentially, peaking out in excess of 200,000 fighters, many of whom were called Afghan Arabs, foreigners who had heard the cry for help and came to kick in. Such an influx of personnel required armament, much as the G.I. Joe armies back in North Carolina. The American adults, along with those of Saudi Arabia and a few others, began to funnel cash and weapons into the mujahideen using Pakistan as their primary conduit. For the first few years, Afghanistan’s foreign support network contracted with independent arms traffickers and provided the resistance exclusively with Eastern Bloc ordinance procured from China, Czechoslovakia and even the Soviets themselves.

The Pakistani government, heavily influenced by Saudi Arabian Wahhabi Islam, disbursed the armaments disproportionately, basing their issuance not only upon the prospective faction’s potential for sending Rooskies to be judged by Allah, but their level of commitment to hardline ultra conservative Islamic principles as well. Nothing about warfare, it seems, is ever fair and things were no different back in the mountains of North Carolina.

image

G.I. Joe Headquarters

My sixth birthday signified my entrance into the global G.I. Joe battlefield. Since the war had begun, I’d engaged in daily after school battles in my friend Wyatt’s basement. Wyatt commanded the neighborhood’s only true G.I. Joe stronghold, the massive Headquarters play set he’d gotten for Christmas. Again and again, the open topped plastic fortress was bombarded by the likes of HISS tanks, Fang helicopters and the dreaded Hydrofoil. Each time, we were able to repel the attacks using the fort’s laser cannons, removable missiles and Wyatt’s brigade of tanks and trucks, all maintained in the service bay.

As often occurs in such guerrilla style commands, infighting broke out. Wyatt, while a highly capable leader on the basement battlefield, was a poor politician and proved ineffective at maintaining cohesiveness amongst the lieutenants who’d joined from around the neighborhood. We all began to personally arm ourselves and the intense battles pitting the G.I. Joe forces against those of Cobra became interspersed with sectarian cap gun violence in the back yard. The infighting nostalgically culminated in our first real casualty, when a kid named Heath stepped on an old land mine in the back woods, driving a three inch rusty nail through his foot. Although a resulting ceasefire refocused resources on the war against Cobra, the damage was effectively done. As the hype around G.I. Joe grew, our small coalition factionalized and in the fall of 1984, I began to stockpile ordinance of my own.

The Silver Mirage motorcycle was the first thing I acquired. It was awesome to behold, a magnificently flimsy, unsteerable thing of a sidecar equipped motorbike, broken in the package even. It was the first tool of war that was mine. I’d suddenly become my own boss and sweet Jesus it felt good. I wanted more. My small yet successful engagements with Cobra outposts such as the Bunker, as well a few against a new enemy known as the Transformers instilled within me a strong resolve as a military leader and tactician, thus I began pleading with the Congressional Parental Undersecretary to authorize an increase in the household defense budget.

imageLater in 1984, as I was planning a series of waterborne creek assaults on a backyard Cobra cave complex, my father burst in with a VHS tape containing information that “everyone” needed to see. The Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan had expanded to America and it was time to open our eyes. The tape was a newly released copy of the John Milius film, Red Dawn.

Eyes wide, I was engrossed with the concept of American children rising up against the Cobra-like invaders and I instantly identified with them. From my parents living room, I witnessed Hollywood destroy previous records for depiction of on screen violence and loved every blood soaked minute of it. I wasn’t the only one of my generation who suddenly became aware of the Communist invasion, and it also began to play out in the back yards and playgrounds, running concurrently to that of the battles against the Transformers and Cobra: The Enemy. But, despite even the bloodiest fighting against the commie forces, the war against Cobra still managed to intensify in some sectors as generals like Wyatt added elements such as the fucking U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier to his arsenal.

image

Official toy of the Spoiled Bastard

Unequitable distribution of war resources often led to jealous sectarian clashes, with well funded warlords such as Wyatt being accused by rival factions of back room talks or flat out collusion with the communists and thus militarily engaged in conventional cap gun and motorized squirt gun combat. The truth is, we could have, and maybe should have used nukes against guys like Wyatt but found ourselves concerned with global fallout. That is to say, no one kicked his ass for being a stuck up spoiled prick because he’d have told his commie mother and there’d have been hell to pay.

Back in Afghanistan, the Soviets were starting to pay like that. As money and manpower flowed freely into the mujahideen’s ranks, their effectiveness as a fighting force against the invaders increased. Victories against the Soviets prompted further tactical shifts. Soviet offensives became more brutal, incorporating heavy aerial bombardment of civilians and militia alike, as well as the use of chemical weapons.

During the heaviest fighting of the mid eighties, when troop strengths were the greatest, a young Saudi jihadi with a degree in economics created a splinter faction using money inherited from his billionaire father. His name was Osama bin Laden and his group was the forerunner of Al Qaeda. Between his own cash and some outside help, Maktab al-Khidimat, became a notable contributor to the resistance. Bin Laden himself began to gain notoriety of his own following the Battle of Jaji.

image

Hamster not included.

On the Carolina front lines, my own army had grown dramatically. In addition to a small fleet of assorted armored vehicles, planes and helicopters, Santa found my war efforts and ideology worthy enough to provide me with the Mobile Command Center. The MHC changed the war against Cobra altogether. It was a rolling, three-story, unfolding monstrosity that took a team of technical experts until New Years to assemble. It contained a repair bay, missile command, brig and on the top level, there was a trap door large enough to accommodate a marauding yet very confused hamster as it swooshed down an eighteen inch escape slide. Cobra simply couldn’t compete with heavy, mobile firepower like that, not even by weaponizing giant hamsters.

In 1985, mainstream America finally became aware of the true scope of the Cobra invasion when Sunbow Entertainment produced a 95 episode series of animated documentaries about the conflict. Weapons sales soared and plastic man recruitment was at an all time high.

The fighting was also the heaviest during this period (1985-86), and many of the G.I Joe generals began to show their true colors. While some welcomed outside factions such as the Transformers, many generals were distrustful of the giant robots and felt there was “more than meets the eye” going on. As a result, Transformers and their leaders were more often than not targeted for persecution and or elimination.

Heavier ordinance, of the Chinese pyrotechnic sort, was becoming widely available to anyone brave enough to cross the border into South Carolina and obtain it, and its use soon became widespread. In a struggle for neighborhood supremacy, some despotic fartknockers committed what accounted to genocide against Transformers and other minority groups including M.A.S.K., The Masters of the Universe and those Voltron cat things. The only thing more devastating than using an M-80 to destroy a disloyal Joe soldier is using six of them to blow Optimus Prime into more pieces than that crying kid who owned it could ever realistically pick up. My Little Ponies were slaughtered wholesale and melted down into something that actually sort of looked like soap.

Indeed, playground warfare had evolved significantly since the days of beheading Barbies in windows and door jams or simply using stones to drive those snug scrawny bitches up to their necks in the cold, red North Carolina clay. By the end of ’86, even those of us commanding the most modest armies had become drunk on our own power, and this arrogant aggression soon spilled over into our ongoing war against occupying Soviet forces. The first real hard shots sounded like the ultra realistic rob-a-liquor-store-with-it cap guns we were all packing, but as it turns out, Wyatt had introduced South Carolina bottle rockets into the fray and was in fact firing them towards our position.

image

The Stinger, a gift from Allah and whitey

About the same time, a new weapon was introduced into the arsenal of the mujahideen, not entirely dissimilar from a bottle rocket, called the Stinger missile. Afghan fighters were being butchered, at this point, by the Soviet use of areal bombardment and attacks by heavily armed helicopter gunships.

The west, apparently as tired of fucking around as Wyatt was, just gave a whole bunch of the Stingers, shoulder fired, laser guided and capable of dropping an aircraft from 6 km away, to the Pakistanis. Pakistan, of course, did their best to arm those who were most committed to mad dog Islamist policies, like bin Laden and the assholes who would become the Taliban a decade later. Many Stingers, however, found their way into the hands of fighters commanded by Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Massoud was an old hand in the war. A native Afghan, he’d been one of the subversives who’d bristled under the Soviet thumb since even before the invasion. He commanded a large contingent of rebels in northern Afghanistan, where most of the heavy fighting took place. The Stinger missiles were the wind that turned the tide for the Afghans, giving them a much needed edge against the superior Soviet air power that had been driving them further and further towards defeat. Massoud’s men, with the precision of surgeons, used these wonderful American toys to drill new assholes in the Russian hardware, as well as the Russians themselves.

image

“Yes we can.”

As 1986 began to lean towards 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev assumed effective control of the U.S.S.R. and announced, much as Obama did, that the Red Army would soon be returning to the mother Russia. Although at great cost, the Afghan and Arab mujahideen conglomerate had succeeded at driving out the great and powerful Soviet war machine. Contrary to popular western theorists, the Golan-Globus contrived character of Rambo had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

The victory was the product of a home field advantage, surgically applied firepower and a whole hell of a lot of religious, self-righteous indignation. Unfortunately, as the cease fires set in and the Russians prepared for withdrawal, the commanders of the mujahideen armies realized that a power vacuum was developing in Kabul and began to view each other not as allies, but as rivals.

image

Cobra Commander…a snake?!

The North Carolina battlegrounds were evolving as well. By 1987, Cobra seemed pretty well done for. Cobra Commander had gone to the North Pole and been turned into a snake by weird mutants (WTF??). Most of us simply didn’t buy the official story. Around the NC campfires, the theory was that Serpentor had assassinated Cobra Commander on the shitter and gone on to turn Cobra into a live Miami drag show comprising elements of Shakespearean thespianism and down home Tijuana livestock lovin.’

Hasbro began reissuing old equipment, repainted and rebranded, a shiny example of the military industrial complex at its most money-grubbing pathetic best. Without Cobra Commander, the once powerful G.I. Joe armies fell into decline. Repairs ceased and the thundering war machine slowed to a crawl, a weekday after school rerun.

The decline resulted, as in Kabul, in a vacuum, but ours was resource based. As armies of plastic men took up less space in war budgets, more funds became available for the same resistance leaders to focus towards the ongoing struggle against the communist occupation of the playgrounds and increasingly, against each other. Arms makers like Hasbro and Mattel fell away from prominence and were slowly replaced by the likes of Crosman and Daisy. Christmas weapons shipments changed shape. Instead of large square packages filled with unassembled plastic bits, we began unwrapping long rectangular boxes containing the 4th grade equivalent to the Stinger missile.

By spring of 1988, the Great North Carolina BB Gun Wars had begun. The Soviet menace was losing face and strength in the eyes of the world. It showed in our battles against them on the playground, which became fewer and fewer. The Soviets were withdrawing, much as they were in Afghanistan, and like any post-war army, we still needed someone to shoot at. Luckily, we still had our old rivalries from the Cobra wars and it wasn’t long before someone shot someone else in the ass with a pellet gun.

Everyone thought it was really funny, because it was, and not a week passed before new alliances were formed and we began actively engaging in open live combat. Our new weapons equalized us on the battlefield. Wyatt could bring all of the bottle rockets he wanted, but he still had to stick his head out in the open to fire them.

The Afghan mujahideen had won, sort of, against the Soviets, but their fight, just as ours, was far from over. As Soviet forces exited to they north, they paused and spent three days in the Panjshir Valley violating the ceasefire with Massoud’s army by steadily shelling and firing rockets at them. The attack, which inflicted substantial casualties was a preemptive effort (rightly so) aimed at protecting the Soviet installed puppet leader, Mohammed Najibullah, formerly the head of the Afghan secret police. Najibullah was tasked with basically continuing the same policies that lead to the war in the first place.

image

Massoud and his homies

With continued outside aid, mujahideen fighters united under Massoud and in 1992, the communist presence was eradicated from Afghanistan and hopes were high for democratic elections in the near future. In the meantime, civil war raged. By 1994, a generation of hardline Pakistani radicalized refugees returned as the Taliban. Within two years, the Paki and Saudi backed group had driven Massoud and his hopes for Afghanistan into exile and instituted their oppressive form of authority. Massoud’s forces remained loyal, later becoming known as the Northern Alliance.

A year before the Soviet evacuation, bin Laden’s modest force had gained its own autonomy. Bin Laden saw al Qaeda as sort of an Islamist jihadi version of the A-Team and declined to officially integrate himself into the Taliban. When Iraq invaded Kuwait and moved dangerously close to the Saudi border, bin Laden eagerly offered the services of his mujahideen army to his native Saudis. When they declined in favor of American intervention, bin Laden’s focus shifted and ultimately, he found his new war.

Much information exists to suggest that bin Laden’s al Qaeda was responsible for the car bomb that killed Ahmad Shah Massoud on September 9th, 2001, the first shot fired in a war that bin Laden felt the 9/11 attacks would render inevitable. The Soviets, withdrawn from the situation and destroyed from within, have offered the best perspective on what the foreseeable future of Afghanistan holds in a statement made by former Captain Tarlan Eyvazov:

“Children born in Afghanistan at the start of the war… have been brought up in war conditions, this is their way of life.”

The boys in North Carolina, like our Afghan counterparts, had succeeded in driving out the invaders. But, also like the Afghans, we found ourselves continually engaged in the throes of all out civil war. Our newly acquired pellet rifles amounted to being little more than muskets, low powered and slow to reload, but when they’re the best thing available, they’re certainly sufficient. Our fathers, who’d ultimately planted the idea in the first place were surprisingly cool with it all, but the Maternal Oversight Committees labeled the use of pellets and BBs as atrocities and war crimes, which forced the fighting out of the neighborhoods and underground, into the forests.

image

The Crosman AR-17

Hidden fortifications were quickly constructed and the evolution of our fighting became evident. Gone were the flimsy twig forts of the Soviet/Cobra wars and in their place rose cobblings fashioned from old pallets, used lumber and anything we could find that would stop an air rifle that had been pumped up 46 times. Cardboard and duct tape were adapted into crude forms of body armor and used to cover exposed patches of pellet susceptible flesh.

image

Daisy Model 45 Semiautomatic pellet gun

As the fighting again intensified, I signed a secret treaty with a collector of Cobra war relics and used the subsequent profit to purchase a CO2 powered semi automatic handgun, modeled after the Colt 1911. It complemented my Crosman AR-17, a pellet firing cousin of the M-16A1 rifle. I kept the new weapon a secret, tucked under my combat clothes in a vintage canvas shoulder holster and waited for just the right moment to deploy it. The wait wasn’t long.

The summer of 1990 was accentuated by the Battle of South Springhaven Court, the last major military engagement of my adolescence. The small cadre of fifth graders, of which I was a part, found ourselves out manned by forces loyal to Wyatt, who had slowly morphed into a tyrannical seventh grade version of Stalin himself. There were only five of us in the tiny fort and the bigger kids were unleashing timed volleys of pellets and BBs, balancing their rate of fire with reload time so we had no safe window of escape. A fourth grader named Richard suddenly screamed out that a BB had penetrated the skin just behind his ear. The shooting stopped and except for Richard’s wailing, it all grew silent. After a moment, we heard Wyatt’s voice clearly.

image

They don’t hirt THAT bad.

“You faggots better brace yourselves,” he yelled in a way reminiscent of the Soviet nerve to hand Afghanistan a bill for their invasion services. “Because we’re coming in and that little kid owes me money for my pellet that’s in his head.”

We were screwed like the pooch. The woods began to fill with thick, white smoke. The smell of South Carolina pyrotechnics filled the air. Wyatt and his men were using a smoke screen. They were going to storm our fort and fuck us up. The BB guns were ineffective in close quarters and those boys were much bigger. The mountains grew silent, save the crackling of leaves as Wyatt and his troops closed in. Our only chance was to use the same smoke as cover and we knew it.

Rifles pumped up, we assumed a triangular formation and pushed right down the center, hoping the enemy had fanned out enough to make their lines week. The older boys were too cool for protective snorkel masks and cardboard, so the first two we encountered got hit close range by the aforementioned 46 pumps, which stopped them cold. Although our rifles were empty when we encountered Wyatt and Heath, our crude body armor easily absorbed their hastily fired shots and all that was left was to get away. Wyatt and Heath, thinking us unarmed, attempted to close in for the kill.

They stopped suddenly and began to back away, however, when I whipped out the CO2 pistol. That awful fascist son of a bitch Wyatt got a look on his face like he was about to get shot sixteen times with a pellet gun.

I shot Wyatt sixteen times with that pistol, center mass, at a practically point blank range. And then we ran, reloading on the move, all the way back to the relative safety of home. It was the closest thing we could have achieved to victory, but it was ours, as we hadn’t been wedgied or beaten up, and so for the moment, it was enough. But like the Afghan kids, it had become what we knew and as Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner put it,

“G.I. Joe was my first recruiting officer.”

 

*This edition’s highly offensive comic strip has been posted to Facebook.

Tommy got out of his cage again. It’s a son of a bitch to get him back behind closed doors, otherwise, I’d have written sooner.

You can hardly blame him, I suppose. Twelve years, after all, is a very long time to lock such a wild creature away, but sadly, it’s just not long enough. The truth is, Tommy can never be free. The rest of us wouldn’t be safe, plain and simple.

Tommy and I first met back in 2000, far away from home. I’d seen him around, a lot. Every place I was stationed, there he was. On each deployment, he found his way into the muster report. And when I went drinking with my boys, he was always at the bar, right in the thick of it all, the Great Instigator of Chaos. As often as we were together, I didn’t really know him that well in those days. Fact is, I never even knew his name, not until he tracked me down anyway.

When I left the service, it had been because of him. And in spite of him. Tommy was old school soldier…true a Von Clausewitz disciple. “To introduce into the philosophy of war itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity,” was one of his favorite quotes. It made sense, coming from the guy who actually seemed to find some sort of savage peace in the smell of people who’d been burned to death with incendiaries or, for lack of a better implement, napalm. Tommy loved the smell of that too, especially in the morning. Personally, I’ve never caught the scent of victory in the stuff, only raw petroleum and burnt skin. But it’s amazing what a man can get used to, especially around that guy.

Tommy knew me better than I knew myself, at least it seemed. He knew how to draw on the hate and anger inside, how to focus it into hostility, how to create chaos. In those days he brought out the worst in me and it was really too late, when I finally broke from him, because, by that time, I had become him. As my enlistment wound down, I’d grown downright dangerous to be around, and the brass was as relieved to see me go as I was to be leaving.

Mostly, I just wanted to be away from Tommy. The word most closely resembling the way he made me feel about myself is…Fear. From that feeling, I ran hard and fast, cutting a wide swathe across the southeastern United States, stopping only to refuel and reinforce the identity Tommy had imposed upon me. My journey was a haze, mostly, drenched in alcohol and brutality, a half dead and rabid pursuit of a sunset I couldn’t quite seem to catch.

It was on the night I gave up, turned right, headed north toward the wee hours of the morning, it was that night when Tommy finally caught up with me. It was pushing towards dawn, in a diner, somewhere just east of the Rockies, when a girl, a regular patron with sandy hair and a pretty smile, approached my quiet corner and asked my name.

“Tommy,” I answered without thinking, raising my eyes to make friends.

The name was random. It was the first time in a month I’d been asked, honestly, and given the fact that I was running low on cash, providing false information to potential witnesses would serve, at the least, to confuse anyone investigating anything I might end up doing.

Anything Tommy ended up doing.

In reality, it wasn’t so much the assumption of an alias as it was a christening of the part of me that really defines who I am. Deep down, in the darkest recesses of my little black heart, I know that Tommy is me. And that I am Tommy. And that it’s always been way. It’s Jason, as a matter of fact, who is really the impostor. Jason is the mask that Tommy wears out into the world. He’s a series of learned and socially acceptable behaviors. He’s the cage that Tommy lives inside.

A few weeks back, Tommy got out of his cage. And he tried to go to war.

“War is merely a continuation of politics, albeit through other means,” said Von Clausewitz. Tommy skips the politics. He’s not a talker or a manipulator and couldn’t give two shits about a treaty. He doesn’t bring logic and sensibility to the table. Tommy shows up with the box of matches. The matches and the gasoline.

The truth is, I let him out on purpose…because I needed him.

Tommy is the essence of the survival mechanism…he’s a living, breathing fight response…a last resort. When I can’t solve the problem any other way, when I can’t escape it or fix it conventionally, when I simply need it destroyed or subjugated, Tommy’s the one who handles that type of shit.

My new wife met Tommy while he was free. It wasn’t like introducing her to an old friend that I hadn’t seen since the hectic days of my youth. There wasn’t a warm reception or an embrace of a man long lost to the confines of civility. That day, he was just there, not on the porch, at the door, but inside. Inside our home. Inside of me…like an furious animal backed into a corner…lost, angst ridden and aggressive.

For the first time in over a decade, I felt like myself, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Neither could Penny. Tommy scared her, I think. Hell, he scares me, and he is me.

Tommy would never harm Penny, not directly at least. I’d actually set him free to protect her, to do a job that Jason just couldn’t do. The trouble with him is that he takes over completely. He just can’t function properly within the constraints of the mask. Tommy understands only war, ungoverned by convention or absurd moderation, unhindered by any real or constructed element of conscience. And he commits fully with a level of effectiveness that’s hard to argue with and even harder to turn off.

All he really wants is to feel normal. Behind the facade lies coiled a creature trapped between two worlds. Tommy understands only conflict and his very presence threatens peaceful existence. In these moments of stress and contention, Tommy finds the closest thing to peace he will ever experience. When the shit hits the fan, in other words, he’s on both sides of it, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Sometimes I wish the world had a place where Tommy could be himself…where he could live out his days, what very few he could have, and feel normal in his own skin. The cost of this is great, unfortunately, and the only acceptable tender is the blood and fear of those in his vicinity. Indeed, Tommy can only truly exist within the haze grey obscurity of violent conflict. Or in the shadow of the man he longs to be, a man not unlike myself. And in that shadow he shall remain, watching, waiting, just in case circumstance demands an element of surgical brutality fueled by the homicidal panic of a cornered mountain lion.

I still read Von Clausewitz every now and again, as well as Tsunetomo and even a little Miyamoto. To a point, it’s nostalgic, a crawl through the gutters and trenches of the past, a reminder of what once was and most importantly, what could very easily be again. Some of it is for perspective, for an understating of Tommy, because Tommy and I, we are the same. But mostly, mostly it’s because I just can’t let it go.

And that’s ok.

Just as long as Tommy doesn’t get loose long enough to do anything really bad…like running amok through downtown in a heavily armored bulldozer…or…hijacking a submarine filled with Peruvian cocaine…or even…using a can of industrial adhesive and a case of road flares to ignite a revolution in Nicaragua…as long as he’s under wraps, mostly, we’re good.

And if you think I’m telling you what he did while he was loose last time, then you’re crazy as shit. I already checked the statute of limitations. I’ll get back to you in 2022. In the meantime, the frenzy has subsided, the beast imprisoned and I’ll be getting back to blogging about bullshit no one cares about.

Thanks for reading.

The last thing that I killed was a dog. But don’t start hating me. Not yet at least.

I did have a good reason…

My good friend’s dog came home one day with half his shoulder peeled back. He’d been, as dogs do, fighting in the neighborhood and the dog he’d been fighting had proven himself a consistent threat. Unfettered, unneutered and untrained, that dog oversaw a loose conglomeration of mutts that gathered daily at the end of the street to chase cars and menace the neighborhood. Axel was the de facto leader of this group and he seemed to rule with an iron fist.

Axel had been a problem for some time. He’d nipped at and bitten children on several occasions. His owners refused to keep him at home, which was actually several miles away. And animal control? In the country, animal control doesn’t really exist and the sheriff’s department answers your complaint with a question:

“Do you have a gun?”

I took one look at the big, nasty flap of torn skin on the affable Lab with whom I play fetch on a near daily basis and understood what was coming. My friend, bless his soft Christian heart, just doesn’t have it in him to do what sometimes has to be done. He didn’t ask me to do it. I just did it. Call it love, possession, call it what you want…but if you fuck with one of the few people that I value, I can and will correct that behavior. Without remorse.

I remember pulling the trigger. Vividly. That kind of a killing happens, partially, in slow motion. The instant your finger wraps around the trigger, when it realizes true intent, time nearly freezes. Your heart beats in your ears. The constriction of your hand and index finger around the grip, the nanometer by nanometer movement of the trigger, it’s like time is crawling, presenting you with every opportunity to disengage from the permanence that’s coming. But it’s all a fraud…before you know it, the firing pin drops and the primer explodes. In a literal flash, time begins again.

Axel saw it coming. From about six feet away, he saw the muzzle flash and a full load of 00 Buck headed his way. I’d say that was all he saw but I seriously doubt he felt anything. 00 Buckshot is the equivalent, if you don’t know, of eight .380 handgun slugs being fired at you. Simultaneously. Axel never had a chance to feel anything.

Neither did I, for that matter. I think that’s what always really bothers me afterwards. Most people describe sensations of guilt or remorse after committing such a deed. Some people probably experience fear. A considerable number, likely more than we’d prefer to admit, feel some form of elation and a few, a small chosen few, have mind bending orgasms when they pull a trigger. Me, I experience more stimulation when I pull the mailbox door open.

It took ten seconds to toss the dead animal onto a piece of plastic in the back of my truck and away I went. Yeah. It happens that fast. No one saw me. When I flopped the plastic wrapped Chow into the big green bin at the dump, the attendant didn’t even look up. It was a good, clean killing. No mess. No witnesses. An hour later, at breakfast, my then fiancé asked if I was ok.

She knew what happened because I tell her everything. So over eggs and coffee, I told her I was fine.

And I was.

So therein lies the problem, or at least that’s what I used to think.

It’s supposed to be hard to take a life, any life, isn’t it? I’ve always interpreted that from tv and from other people, at least. A friend refused, at the last moment, to shoot the deer he’d been stalking. “I just couldn’t do it,” he said later. Guys freeze up in close combat all the time. Soldiers admit to missing intentionally. The tv protagonist, when presented an opportunity to gun down the villain, is often shown to hesitate at the last second, or even backing out entirely. Killing…violence in general…is supposed to be fucking hard.

Not so for me. My lack of personal emotional repercussions associated with such events leaves me pretty well ambivalent with regards to the commission of the act itself. I can just do it. Without hesitation and especially any sort of unnecessary reconsideration. If you hesitate, the target has a chance to move its head and you lose your opportunity. If you back out, you don’t eat venison for dinner or someone else’s dog gets the skin peeled off his shoulder. Or your six year old is scarred for life.

These days, I think it’s all about balance. I think the whole world, human society included, operates in a sort of harmony and it needs people like me to keep it in tune. Make no mistake…I’m not a pathological killer. There is no enjoyment, no stimulation, no chemical charge. The act in itself, to me, is not rewarding. But I can do it, and then eat breakfast and take a mid morning nap afterward.

When you first discover what you are actually capable of, how far you can really go, it’s a little scary. Realizing that sort of power is something that only a fool, or a true psychopath, takes lightly and I’ve always struggled with understanding it. The ability to inflict harm and pain without remorse, or fear for that matter, just didn’t seem like it could be a good thing. I always felt like something was wrong with me.

During my military years and the chaotic adjustment period that followed, I had a weird relationship with violence. The antisocial personality shit, along with a good bit of alcohol, the steady exposure to violence, testosterone and increased opportunities to engage in it made me a ticking bomb during my early and mid twenties. I treated my ability to behave violently the same way I treated the first fast car I ever owned and that car red lined in fifth gear at 168 mph. I never found my own red line. In retrospect, I consider my experiences in the service as a series of experiments in violence, sanctioned by both society and the state. Legal wise, it was all ok.

In the time thereafter, I found it difficult to disengage and slipped into a pattern of criminal behavior. Engaging in violence had not necessarily become pleasurable, but it had become habitual. Fucking shit up was normal behavior and, all of the sudden, it wasn’t, so what had been considered normal in that world was, even in the criminal subculture with which I began to experiment, extreme. And sort of profitable. I guess.

But it didn’t last. Violence doesn’t fit well within many social constructs. It almost always attracts other, more violent behavior, the same way Axel attracted me. And for that matter, the same way I attracted two well armed gentlemen in Juarez who effectively ended my criminal career by nearly ending me.

That’s balance. And the world needs balance.

There always needs to be somebody bigger. Somebody meaner. Somebody willing to go a step further with a pair of pliers in order to make the point that it’s not ok to use pliers and other assorted hand tools on other living creatures. It keeps the rest of us honest.

What the Columbine kids did wasn’t ok, not by any means, but it gives kids who like to bully other kids something real to consider. Frame by frame.

That’s also balance. It’s fucked up. But it’s balance.

I tend to avoid violence these days. I hadn’t even thought about the Axel incident in over a year until a couple of days ago when my Christian friend randomly thanked me. Apparently, his children had said something to him about feeling safer in the neighborhood since Axel disappeared. For a moment or so, I felt like a lost puzzle piece that had fallen into place.

I still do, sort of. It’s not possible for me to ever really, truly, fit in to a social group. I can make believe or play monkey see-monkey do and I do a damn good job, but it’s all for show and ultimately, it’s all for me. So the incident with Axel, for me, was monumental.

For once, a negative behavioral trait I carry and engage naturally served as cause for my puzzle piece to truly fit in somewhere, even if it was in a dark corner. I’d like to fit in all the time, but I know that’s not really possible and I’m definitely not seeking out similar opportunities. It was nice though, if only for a moment, to feel like I actually belonged.