Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 25 of 64


I am already in as much trouble as I can be, I think. I have left my room, hit and detonated some poor cafeteria hash-slinger’s fartmobile, and certainly damned some hapless secret smoker to employee Hades for his security lapses. When I get down from here, I will be bound up in a chemical straightjacket. I’ll be one of the ward-corner droolers, propped up in a wheelchair in front of the video, tended twice daily for diaper changes, feeding and re-medication.

That is the worst they can do, and I’m in for it. This leaves me asking two questions:

1. Why am I so damned eager to be rescued from my rooftop aerie? I am sunburned and sad, but I am more free than I have been in weeks.

2. Why am I so reluctant to take further action in the service of getting someone up onto the roof? I could topple a ventilator chimney by moving the cinderblocks that hold its apron down and giving it the shoulder. I could dump rattling handfuls of gravel down its maw and wake the psychotics below.

I could, but I won’t. Maybe I don’t want to go back just yet.

They cooked it up between them. The Jersey customers, Fede, and Linda. I should have known better.

When I landed at Logan, I was full of beans, ready to design and implement my war-driving scheme for the Jersey customers and advance the glorious cause of the Eastern Standard Tribe. I gleefully hopped up and down the coast, chilling in Manhattan for a day or two, hanging out with Gran in Toronto.

That Linda followed me out made it all even better. We rented cars and drove them from city to city, dropping them off at the city limits and switching to top-grade EST public transit, eating top-grade EST pizza, heads turning to follow the impeccably dressed, buff couples that strolled the pedestrian-friendly streets arm in arm. We sat on stoops in Brooklyn with old ladies who talked softly in the gloaming of the pollution-tinged sunsets while their grandchildren chased each other down the street. We joined a pickup game of street-hockey in Boston, yelling “Car!” and clearing the net every time a fartmobile turned into the cul-de-sac.

We played like kids. I got commed during working hours and my evenings were blissfully devoid of buzzes, beeps and alerts. It surprised the hell out of me when I discovered Fede’s treachery and Linda’s complicity and found myself flying cattle class to London to kick Fede’s ass. What an idiot I am.

I have never won an argument with Fede. I thought I had that time, of course, but I should have known better. I was hardly back in Boston for a day before the men with the white coats came to take me away.

They showed up at the Novotel, soothing and grim, and opened my room’s keycard reader with a mental-hygiene override. There were four of them, wiry and fast with the no-nonsense manner of men who have been unexpectedly hammered by outwardly calm psychopaths. That I was harmlessly having a rare cigarette on the balcony, dripping from the shower, made no impression on them. They dropped their faceplates, moved quickly to the balcony and boxed me in.

One of them recited a Miranda-esque litany that ended with “Do you understand.” It wasn’t really a question, but I answered anyway. “No! No I don’t! Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my fucking hotel room?”

In my heart, though, I knew. I’d lived enough of my life on the hallucinatory edge of sleepdep to have anticipated this moment during a thousand freakouts. I was being led away to the sanatorium, because someone, somewhere, had figured out about the scurrying hamsters in my brain. About time.

As soon as I said the f-word, the guns came out. I tried to relax. I knew intuitively that this could either be a routine and impersonal affair, or a screaming, kicking, biting nightmare. I knew that arriving at the intake in a calm frame of mind would make the difference between a chemical straightjacket and a sleeping pill.

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