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BTW: The photo art and prose included in any given post are separate creations having nothing to do with each other. Duality and such …
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The Charge Holes
The guy was caught at the second perimeter, officer actually jumping from his vehicle and leaving his door open, chasing him a half a block and tackling him. Guy had ditched the knife by then, so the officer was never in danger, though it still wasn’t the smartest move. In addition to leaving the door of his squad car open upon leaping out, he also hadn’t appropriately locked the vehicle into ‘Park’, so sure enough it popped back into gear, idled forward and butted a fire hydrant just enough to crack the pipe and send a jet of water spiking into the air. This in the midst of a major drought. Mayor’s gonna love it, the Captain thought.
As he cruised through the area a little later, the Captain thought to himself that he couldn’t really blame the officer – they were all frustrated. He was frustrated too. Everyone hated the detail, although it did sort of work. He pulled to the curb where another of his officers seemed to be wrapping the scene up. “Everything secure?” he asked.
“Yeah. Not much to secure. Didn’t find anything else where the guy was tackled. I moved the squad car back – kinda dented in the front.”
Couple water department guys were working nearby; Mayor had jerked them out of their comfortable homes right at their bedtime. They’d stemmed the flow of water. Now they were trying to replace the cracked pipe.
Captain said, “I’ll send the arresting officer back to collect the squad car when he finishes booking the guy. What was it this time?”
The officer shrugged, “Guy got tired of waiting, cussed at another guy he’d thought was hanging out too long, that guy insulted the first guy’s intelligence, so he pulled a knife and stuck it into the other guy’s lower abdomen.”
“So, about like usual.”
“About like usual,” the officer confirmed.
Captain nodded. “Which hole?” There were ramifications to the question because the department kept a pool going as to which of the two holes would generate the most incidents each month.
“Charge Break,” Officer told him.
Captain nodded, smiled. That was the one his money was on. “Puts them firmly in the lead,” he said.
Officer smiled back. “This time.”
Not so long ago the Charge Break had been known as Break Time and they sold gasoline along with three aisles of candy bars, Cheetos, soda, and beer. When everything went electric they tried to add a few fast-charging stations, but they hadn’t added enough, and they hadn’t changed the nature of the business, and as they began losing money hand over fist the oil company that owned them sold them. The outfit that bought them reduced the number of gas pumps to two off to the side and tripled the number of fast-charging stations, expanded the building itself and reconfigured it into more of a lounge so people had a place to chill for the fifteen to thirty minutes it would take to put enough juice into their vehicles to get to where they needed to go. Problem was, if all the chargers were in use, as they often were, one had to wait. And given that certain shit-for-brains politicians had fanned political and racial tensions to the boiling point, certain people didn’t like to hang with certain other people, especially if either shot their mouth off.
The hole just slightly diagonal across the pot-holed business route, once known as Casey’s and now known as Tommy’s, had undergone a similar transformation, and attracted parallel discontent. Difference was, Charge Break was on the right side of the street for drivers leaving town late in the day, and they had a greater need for a long charge, so that’s why Captain had put his money down on them. Didn’t always work out that way depending on what was happening in town, but it seemed to about seventy percent of the time. The only way to prevent outbreaks, which occurred at least every other day at one of the two holes was to park an officer at both locations all the time, and that wasn’t practical for his small force. So he kept one officer patrolling no more than three blocks from them – that was the first perimeter – and a second no more than six blocks away – that was the second. He rotated who got stuck with the duty and would not use it as a form of discipline because he didn’t want anyone half-assing their way through it. He assigned two other officers to collapse onto the sites at the first sign of trouble. One of the town’s five rescue squads was always designated as the first responder if one was needed. And he had to leave it at that. He could call on the county sheriff if things got really bad, or the state patrol if it got really, really bad.
Captain checked the blue, digital clock on his vehicle’s dash, sighed. “Half hour to closing time.” Shifts would rotate an hour after that.
Officer nodded. “Where are we with getting both holes to close by 7 p.m.?” he asked.
“Nowhere”, Captain told him. “Nobody but us likes the idea.”
Officer shook his head.
Captain took a final cruise up the business route, past both holes, wished he wasn’t savoring being out of the house. His daughter had moved back home since becoming pregnant and hated it. His son was begging for a sex change operation and hated him for being too young. His wife hated him for needing to pretend she wasn’t having an affair – he understood that least of all because they both knew she was, so why pretend? Unless she was having more than one. Half the town hated the other half. Everybody hated that they were into the 12th year of a profound drought likely driven by climate change, which a fair number of people still denied, including his mostly senile dad, who lived in the little room above his garage. They were dying; his family, his town, arguably everything, dying, and everything happening to them had been anticipated decades prior, and nobody’d had the common sense do anything about it.
He looked wistful at the street in front of him, fairly dark as they’d had to dim or disengage the streetlights to save energy, knew that the business route would connect back to the state highway in another mile, and then he could just ride it out of town, far, far down the road. He was in his own car, not the department’s so what was to stop him? He could turn off the police radio, put some tunes on, crack the pint of bourbon hid under the seat and roll. He could drive all night. Drive until the discontent vanished.
But to do that, he knew, he’d need a charge.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.