They said I had substance. Had it on my person. Claimed substance on my breath.
Yes, I admitted, I had substance – what of it?
They said, because of the substance, I was a danger to myself, and/or others. They had to take me off the street.
Before I could object, they snapped on cuffs. Pushed me down into the backseat. Drove me off to the building. Herded me into a cell.
Because this is a free country, I got a lawyer, no charge. He was fresh out of school, didn’t appear to have any substance at all. Urged me to plead guilty. So the trial would end quick and he could get back to pounding pavement for a real job.
I told him, sure, I was guilty. We all are. Bible got that right. The whole species is fallen, fucked from the outset. But I was damned if I’d plead. No call to beg – I had substance.
Substantially, the kid admitted, I was right. But in matters of the law, ritual matters. If I’d just sign the confession he had prepared…
I begged him go. So I could think.
The verb threw him; think not legal language. He advised me, as my lawyer, not to for godsake do that. Then, shaking his head, trembling noticeably, even whiter than when he first came, he split.
I looked around – toilet, bunk, bars, wall. My future home, future office, vacation spot of the future. I was now at last a real asshole, stuck in a space with just about that much room.
Pulled out my substance. Wasn’t much. Bitty little dingleberry. But it got me off. And that was all I needed – to get off.
When the kid came back, he was grinning ear to ear. He said, “Hey, old man – you got off! You can walk – you’re free to go!”
I stood. Walked to the toilet. Went.
“If it’s all the same to you,” urine arced into the bowl, “I’ll just stay put.”
His face – like a civilization – collapsed. He saw with horror the years of food I would consume; say nothing of free rent, free medical, free dental – Christ, the city would wind up footing the burial!
Worst of all, the judge would kick the kid’s butt personally for not getting my butt back out on the street, where – after the song and dance of arrest – said butt arguably belonged.
Above the riot of urine impacting water, I chuckled, “Please close the door on the way out. And would you inform the authorities I detest apple pie? I eat only mom.”
Then I died happy. Because, sensitive about the mom crack (or maybe the pie got his goat), the kid stabbed me in the back.
“You got it!” I gasped, echoing in the bowl, chin-down on the rim. “That’s all I ask – pass it on. Now you got substance… maybe you too can kick shit…” and I rattled into the porcelain – born again glad and anxious in the baby between the kid’s ears.