By midmorning, the six-man holding cell that Andy Morrison languished in held thirteen prisoners. Dirty foam slabs and rumpled rectangles of stained, reeking Mylar covered most of the floor; an ancient Perry Mason rerun flickered on the television mounted high up on the wall... seven times every minute a red light on the box beneath blinked, allowing the deputies an opportunity to watch the prisoners watch Raymond Burr dispatch another hapless witness.

          Until two deputies marched another scrawny, twitchy wraith to the door.










          "Yo', my man," one of the unlucky thirteen challenged... a relative newcomer himself, having been tossed in at six in the morning... "do we get out for recreation after lunch?"

          "Not today," Deputy Dawg smiled, jangling his keys. "Lockdown."


          "Guy hanged himself yesterday, down in fifth floor isolation. Your sorts stop killing yourselves and each other here before the government gets to do it, you get the recreation."

          "People never get out for recreation," the guy persisted, "all they can do is suicide."

          "Life sucks," the deputy summed up as the twitching man, scratching at real or imagined bugs crawling across the base of his neck, was shoved across the threshold. "And then, for you, it gets worse. In you go, Tweaky! Watch out for this one, likely to shit the floor..."

          "You stink, man!" recoiled the prisoner in the Cleveland Browns shirt. "Get away from me!" Others took up the complaint, the skinny hype bouncing from corner to corner like an infected pinball.

          "Hey... Andy!" the freak recognized, "long time, no see. Kin I sit down with you?"

          "Over by the facility, Tweaks," Andy lifted a finger, pointing towards the sole unoccupied space by the clogged toilet. "Don't come any closer."

          "S'cool. Hey man I don't need this, I'm clean," he began babbling. "They want s’mother guy. Wouldna’ happened if I coulda stayed at the Sanctuary..."

          "Stuff it!" Andy cut him off, loud enough to be heard over the QualMart commercial. "You got thrown out for the same reason nobody here wants you round... you stink. And steal! What did happen to Izzy's shoes, lose 'em?"

          "Wasn't me took them, musta been s’mother dude. I don't need this shit, you know? I went to the U. We been in school together. I's a Professional..."

          "Professional crap artist. Keep it shut. You're making everybody miss their show."

          "He walks. They always walk on Perry Mason, thing is... there ain't no Perry Mason, man, jus' like there ain't no Santa Claus. Hey... my life matters, I matter!  I'm somebody. I am somebody!" he repeated, staggering upwards... the only reply being that someone bounced a crumpled styrofoam cup left over from breakfast off his leg. "I was an imporrant... once. Me 'n Andy, we were tight wit' Mark Cobb. The famous rad’cal killer? Close persn'l frens!"

          One of the few prisoners old enough to care spat out through the bars into the corridor.

          "The famous asshole," he said. "Siddown, shut up and stop movin'. Stinks less when you ain't movin' around."

          Tweaky tried to sidle towards Andy and sit down, but Andy kicked out, knocking him back towards the toilet.

          "Wha'd I do? You're fucked. Fucked racist, like the rest of you, all but Cobb. He was for the people..."

          "Yeah, like that chick he cut up..." the old jailbird spat again.

          "He was framed! By the system! He's a hero, rev'lusionry hero, not a bum, like you or me. You so smart, how come you're in here?"

          The spitter turned away, nobody else answered. By and by Perry Mason wrapped his case and, through a haze of pop-ups for investment schemes and miracle drugs, lawyers seeking class-action clients for lawsuits against miracle drugmakers and public service messages against drinking, smoking, the latest Coronavirus miracle “cure” and smuggling prescription cancer medications, the noon news wafted through the cell.

          "I'm Celia Morrow," said the thin, hungry-looking anchorwoman, "with Benny Takajima, Dennis Monroe with Eleven Weather, and this is News at Noon. Police Chief Ahearne, this morning, defended the city's "quick arrest" policy that has filled local jails and unspecified auxiliary facilities with outside agitators, homeless and transients protesting the Coalition for a New Consensus..."

          A chorus of groans, styrofoam and curses greeted the image of the Police Chief. "We have given people every opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights and they've responded violently. But they'll be made to adjust, very quickly, and lives will be saved. It's a clear test of our police minds," Ahearne declared, tapping his brow, “and we always prevail.”

          "Inside Masty Hall," continued Morrow, "almost two thousand delegates and guests continue meeting, searching for a common vision that, said keynote speaker Congressman Morton Scow, may... or may not..."

          "I doubled my investment in twenty one days!" a full-screened, peppy real-estate foreclosure specialist popped up...

          "...include the existing parties. Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, Florida, doctors are weighing the decision whether to perform life-saving surgery on Baby Claire Hoskins, after assurances that her parents' dramatic appeal for funds has raised over seven hundred thousand dollars online to date. Details after these messages..."

          But, before the answer could be revealed, the Sheriff's deputies returned... one pointing at Andy.

          "You! Over here..."

          Andy rose on sleepy, tingling feet, taking a visible deep breath as soon as he'd passed through the door and put six feet of distance between himself and Tweaky. The cell door slammed shut again, one of the deputies pointing the way towards the small, black door at the end of the corridor…Tweaky shouting after him…

          "He's danj’rous! We killed lotsa cops together, me an' Andy... and Mark Cobb. Come back! Can't run away from the past! Asshole! You can't run away from your past!"

          Andy, hoping the deputies were too young to process the druggie's ranting, let them march him round a corner or two, then down an unfamiliar corridor. The deputies stopped before an unmarked, barred metal door.

          "You'll bunk here, cop-killer," one told him.  “Somebody got plans for you.  Proud Boy or Oaf Killer?”

          Diff’rent what the fuck,” Andy shrugged.     The room was windowless, furnitureless and, once the door slammed shut, pitch black. He felt his way around the floor, determined which corner was driest, then lay on his back upon the concrete... looking upwards into the nothing, hovering between sleep and wakefulness, not merely exposed to but... actually... welcoming the phantoms of his memory that descended from the ceiling like a blanket of mosquitoes.




SUNDAY the NINTH - 10:03 PM

          Dannie, the kid with the earring foisted on Nelson by station management and his father, the big time advertiser, was not quite so dumb as he looked. Figuring any good local riot footage that people wouldn’t remember and so draw the conclusion that it was faked would have to have come from years before, and probably would have been saved... if at all... on tape or even film stock (difficult to convert, and more than likely to explode) he'd taken down the oldest logbook and skimmed through to the section: ANNIVERSARIES & COMMEMORATIVE PROGRAMS, 1995-2000 which was, fortunately, indexed. Quickly, he'd located an hourlong documentary from 2008: "STUDENT PROTEST and RACE RIOTS of 1968 to 1983, THE QUARTER-CENTURY BEFORE THE FIRES", located and vetted the tape, then ran it up from Archives to Nelson.

          The news director didn't exactly thank him, but he did take the wet cigar out of his mouth. "Jeezus, I remember this shit," feeding the tape into the number two monitor, "used it for the fiftieth, a while back; got OK stuff on it... stores burning, gas. Little over the top long as we don’t show too any old cars, old stores or people in disco clothes, but it'll do if Bill doesn't move his ass back here. Thank Pinhead that the fuckin’ South End never changes." He fast-forwarded the video.  Faces flew past... burning buildings and flags, police horses and more faces. Lots of faces.

          "Look the fuck at that!" he pointed, freezing the video as a cameraman, probably dead now or, at least, retired, circled round a figure at a podium outdoors at the U., showing a tall youth with the droopy black moustache, modishly long hair and those multicoloured polyester threads that had come into style just as the hippies were fading away and disco fashions had ascended to rule the roost. "Mark, fuckin' Cobb!"

          "Who?" Danny scratched his earring.

          "Our own answer to the MicroTime plane bomber," Nelson whistled and, when the expression on Dannie's face remained unchanging, added, "...like the Oklahoma people? Abbie Hoffman and Patty Hearst – Osama bin Laden or Jonny fuckin' Walker.  The Brotherhood?  Terrorists! Nine-eleven.  One-six.  Like the Costa Rica protesters, the Unabomber, guy in Washington with the horns on his helmet, George Metesky... ah, what the fuck! History is wasted on you young people!"

          "Did he blow something up?" Dannie said, squinting at the old image.

          "Naw, talked a lot of bull, but never did shit. Then he fucked up one day, big time!" Nelson smirked. "Some moax tells me he’s a Buddhist now, only Buddhist on Death Row.  Fuhggeddaboudit! I don't need footage with any faces somebody can recognize like this, just go through as much as you need to and mark down where there's long shots... buildings, gas, cops. Get some police horses if you can… in color, please… but no cars, people look at this, they see all the cars are old and we're screwed!" Nelson held the cigar up and, for a moment, Dannie thought he might thank him, even tell him he'd done a good job, but the news director curled his lip and plugged his face with the stogie.

          Dannie took up a pencil and one of the writing pads with the Eleven logo, unfreezing the monitor and then speeding up the tape, keeping the sound low so its chittering would not disturb the rest of the working newspeople in the Eleven at Eleven studio. Faces flew by, crowds and buildings – stern, unseen voices narrating stories of travails and tribulations.  Sometimes he'd see a scene that could have come from anywhere in space and time, he'd stop the tape and write down its location, then speed up again.  Flashbacks of flashbacks of flashbacks.  Faces... cops and people with hair holding signs: Vietnam, fires, the races, Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, the Jackson Five, President Reagan and Chairman Mao.

          Immortalized... in image, iron oxide, if not flesh...


          "Because fuckin' Bill isn't back!" he heard Nelson chewing out the anchorman with wavy hair... Bobby Weeks, that was him. "I'll get you copy based on what we have, five minutes to eleven. Riots and fires, somebody getting killed, I hear. An' callers, sayin' Unapissers got in the middle of it and got their asses kicked, the way they always do. Serves 'em right! Don't sweat it, Bobby, you're the man! I got the new kid workin' on it... he'll get you something to run with. An' if we hit awkward spots, we'll just paste it over with pop-ups. Cover ass and make the station money at the same time!"

          "Yeah," Dannie said to himself, I'll save your asses. More faces flew by, more yesterdays.

          I'll be the one saving all your asses, Dannie fancied. 









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