Sunday, February 17, 2013
Officer Henry C. Williams
I have a mean streak in me. Hell, I don't trust a man that doesn't. That man is either faking it for his benefit or he is simply too dumb to know that every man he encounters has some mean streak in them. Either way that man cannot be trusted. Everyone likes to think that this isn't true. Everyone wants to believe that in a civilized world such as ours everything that is pitiful about human beings simply goes away. Everyone acts surprised when they find out there is corruption in business or politics.
Can you believe what the senator did?
How can Walmart's business policy be so inhumane?
Ridiculous. Anyways, I'm off on a tangent. I'll leave all that for writers and pundits to debate. I keep the mean streak pure in my mind. At my job I deal in life and death. Law and order. A lot of people want to run away from having to deal with that. A lot of people, as I have said, take their mean streak to business or politics. Or even marriage. Hell, women have that mean streak as well. I know it, but a lot of foolish men do not.
I've been around. I've been a patrolman for almost thirty years. This place was a small city when I first started here. It was a small city with a college next to it. A good college. They named it a university. An American University. Abraham Lincoln himself made it possible for that university to exist. Lincoln had a good mean streak in him.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have a respect for a good mean streak. I see that good mean streak in this here city. This city that was once small, but is now bigger. And it is growing too. For better or worse, it is growing.
When I first started on the force, we had some bad mean streaks, of course: good old boys getting into scraps, bitter wives offing their husbands, angry husbands offing their wives, incidents of that sort. They didn't happen very often, but sure as shit, they did eventually always happen.
There were racial incidents as well, but they were more often than not instigated by a bunch of foolish white fellows who had persuaded themselves that they were smarter than they actually were by believing that the simple act of thinking made them a genius. I've thought a lot of things over the years and I'm smart enough to know that not all of those thoughts were of genius caliber. Usually these fools would take their mean streak out on some poor brown fellow that was simply trying to start a new and proper life away from some bigger city. Usually they would take it out on some brown fellow who was trying to make a better life than he had growing up for his wife and children. It was the wrong kind of mean streak based on the wrong kind of thoughts. As I have said earlier, it didn't happen often, but sure as shit it always eventually happened.
As this city grew over the years, those who believed that this clashing of color was the most important God damned thing in this world saw the odds not necessarily even out, but certainly change slightly in their opponents favor if you catch my meaning. It was almost pathetic watching these people fold so easily. White people is who I'm talking about. I'm talking about white people running away when they start seeing a lot of brown people. People can tiptoe around the subject and act like it doesn't exist, but those who do that are the same people you cannot really trust. They want to pretend that not everybody has a mean streak.
I didn't runaway, but I did see it happen. West Lafayette use to be Purdue and where Purdue lived and ate. Those houses and restaurants were campgrounds and mess tents that surrounded a base. It was a base of intellect in the name of progress. Progress for America. West Lafayette was home to people with a higher purpose beyond family and employment. I'm guessing that higher purpose came about due to some mean streak in them, but that's none of my business. I'm not saying Purdue was guarded like some holy temple, but I do know a lot of people in this city, this real city of Lafayette proper, were intimidated. They were simpler folk, many of them smart in their own unique way. Many of them smart enough to know they did not want to be made a fool when they weren't expecting it. I guess you could say that West Lafayette and Purdue were guarded by pretension.
At some point, though, they're foolish fear got the best of them. Eventually, as this city grew, these people realized that their juvenile bullying of different people they refused to become familiar with would not stop the rising tide of natural and inevitable growth. When they realized this, they chose the risk of shame in order to avoid being proven wrong.
So West Lafayette grew, quite unnaturally if you ask me. To me it grew like a tumor hanging on to Purdue in a relatively lop-sided fashion. I'm not a scientist, but I do like maps. To me, a real city plants a seed and spreads radially, feeling out a terrain like roots from a tree. A real city plants a seed and builds a base that can be built upon with strength. I could talk about this for a while, so I'm going to try and wrap this up as quickly as possible. You don't want to build a nice treehouse in a tree that won't be able to support it. I think that is what happened to West Lafayette over the years. A bunch of people tried to build an expensive treehouse in a tree where growth is more important than support. As I said, I'm not a scientist, but I do enjoy studying maps.
What I'm trying to explain is that I did not buy this exodus as a sound solution to change and growth. Instead, I decided to use my mean streak in the best way I could manage. So I am a police patrolman. I am proud to be a police patrolman and I take that appointment very seriously. No matter how dull a day in my life is, driving the same streets over and over again, there is always something present in my thoughts. It may not happen often, but eventually I will have to deal with life and death and be the one who does not lose their head. I have to be ready at all times.
I was ready when I stepped out of my squad car that night. I had all the information the dispatch had radioed. I didn't want it to come to life or death, but I was ready. When that Figg boy came running out of that house on Wabash Avenue with that knife in his hand, I knew it had come to life or death. Life and Death. I knew I had to respond with law and order. I knew that Figg boy was the wrong kind of mean streak. I'm not glad I did what I did to that boy, but right then and there I needed to use my mean streak the best way I knew how.
You say it was the wrong kind of mean streak in Dakota Figg, but you don't say that it was for the wrong reason. Why?
I don't think I can answer that.
You can't or you don't want to even though you can?
Listen, George, I've known you for twenty years. I know if I really answer your question you can use it against me. I know that you know this too. That's why I have to ask you and I would expect the same from you if our roles just happened to be switched... Can I trust you?
-Air moves. Fabric shifts against furniture made from brushed steel manufactured in remote locations. Everything that is seen or heard seems uncertain-
Jesus Christ. I know you knew I would have told you regardless. A man has got to try and keep a little self respect.
George, I understand the boys mean streak, but I can't find a reason, good or bad, for how he used it. These children have a mean streak, but they don't know how to direct it towards something good. Hell, they don't know how to direct towards something bad. They're mean streak is directionless. George, the fact that their mean streak is directionless scares me. It scares me in a way I cannot explain.
I do not feel guilty about shooting that Figg boy in the head. Deep in my core I still believe I did the right thing.
I know you do, Henry. I remember the first time I was scared. As I grew older I made myself believe that I could overcome what scared me after I was confronted by it. Somehow, though, something out there always sneaks up and catches me off guard even though I thought I'd seen everything there was to be seen.
So you understand?
Yes Henry, I do. Do you remember the first thing that scared you?
Why do you ask?
I'm just curious. The first thing that ever really scared me was "The Wild Bunch."
The Sam Peckinpah movie with William Holden and Ernest Borgnine.
That was a Western, right?
Yes, or maybe you could call it an anti-Western if you really analyze it.
Anyways, it wouldn't phase these kids these days. Violence doesn't register with them unless you're putting a body through a meat grinder.
Amen to that, George.
Maybe this incident will make them understand a little better. Maybe because it is one of them, they will understand the magnitude of what they must deal with.
Uh, George, what in hell are you talking about?
Henry, I'm saying that you are right.
Aaron C. Molden