Getting by, with help from your friends
Lyndon Hood is currently away on Holiday. This classiccontribution was first published in June 2008
I ‘spose it all started that night with me an’ Joe set down by the highway. We was kind of quiet for a while and then Joe asks me who I reckoned was gonna win the election, and I said that was a damnfool question to ask a body and if he wanted to know who everybody was gonna vote fer he should ask everybody who they was gonna vote fer not ask somebody who everybody was gonna vote fer. And he said that wuz what they were askin on the teevee and I said bully for them.
“Well then who are you gonna vote fer?” he says.
“And why would I be gonna vote?” I says and that was an end to it. After that we was at what you might call a loose end for a whiles. Then along come Tom and that perked us up some as he could be relied on to invent some grand adventure in short order. Sure ’nuff, Tom had three cans of spray-paint and he swapped me an old knife handle and half an apple for one and swapped Joe a frog for t’other. An then we asked him what we was gonna do with ’em.
“Why,” says Tom, “Ain’t we going to commit the most famous and terrible crime there is? Ain’t we gonna write our name on a wall with paint?”
Joe said that sounded like a bully idea, and I liked it well enough on the whole, though I felt I’d like to have Tom convince me some more. When Tom builds up a head of steam in the convincing line, it’s a sight.
“Now Tom,” says I, “Why would we want to go and draw our own names on walls? If they know who we are, won’t they come and shiv us or arrest us or some such?”
“Well I suppose you might think of using your own actual name, on account of how you was raised in a barrel,” says Tom. And I didn’t say nothing about that, cuz it was close enough to the truth. Tom went on to say that all the best sources were in agreement that you had to use a special name, some word such ‘borsht’ or ‘elmo’ that you writ in a some special way. And that way everybody who saw your mark’d know you for a bold desperado, even though they wouldn’t know who you were, like all them bandits in history with their sudo names.
I decided right then I’d call myself ‘sudo’, and that was also good on account of I felt I could safely spell it out and Tom agreed it’d do well enough. And the more Tom talked the finer the enterpise seemed, and then nothing would do but we all up and drew on every wall we could see.
Now Joe weren’t no slouch at the paintin’ and neither was I, but the both of us weren’t nothin’ to Tom. He only made the one mark, but that mark had so many curls and arrers and fine touches that you couldn’t hardly tell what any of the letters were. A body coulda put a frame round it and sold it at the market, it was so pretty. I have to say he done took a time drawin’, and us watchin’ and it was just when he finished we notice there was a coupla people coming at us pretty quick. I was afeared it was someone come to stab us all, as I heard happens, but turned out it was just the law.
Now, the lawmen said stop and we’d weren’t doin’ nuthin’ by then so we stayed stopped. And they allowed that we were to come with them, an’ we allowed we wouldn’t, an’ one of ’em says we’d come else he’d shoot us with his taser and of course that set Tom right off. There’s nothing, Tom always says, quite so glorious as the prospect of being shot, be it with a bullet or what all else. So Tom declared he wouldn’t ever come, so the lawman shot at him but missed, on account of Tom being more narrer than the broad side of a barn.
Tom stood there a-tauntin’ that poor lawman, and he didn’t take too well to that and started fixin’ to shoot at Tom again. There ain’t many can match up with Tom, for tauntin’. And after a while the lawman’s ready again and I can see that little red dot lined up steady on Tom, and I don’t know what I was thinking but I up and jumped in the way. All I’ll say is a man’s fellow-feeling’ll get him in more trouble than the television and the video games put together.
I ain’t bin tasered but the once, still I got to wishing it was over just about when it started. To this day I don’t know how it is havin a body dropped and flappin like a grounded catfish makes em easier to apprehend.
I was aware I may have swore some while I was writhing on the ground an’ such, and I got to be concerned about that cuz Joe’d seen on the teevee a body could get in a power of trouble for using cuss words in front of a policeman. But I guess they may not have heared what with everything else that was goin’ on. Somewhere in it all that lawman shot himself in his foot with that gun, too, though by that time it didn’t have any juice left in it so he just punctured hisself, as you may say.
Now, if you’re on of those internet types you might a read about this where the police talk about how they used those there zap guns. Now, I hold that was a pretty poor account and didn’t tell the half of it. In fact it was so tight-lipped a body might call it a lie. I might hold some sympathy there, except that it was such a poor, mealy-mouthed lie and not a grand soaring kind of lie that a body might enjoy. Why, if Tom was made a lawman it would’na bin so-and-so discharged such-an-such, no sir. There’d a bin robots and ninjers an I don’t know what all else. I allow Tom could show them something about justifyin’ the use of weapons.
Anyhow, I set it down here just as it happened and I ain’t stretched it none and there it is.
We was took in front of a judge, an’ he said we was to be punished and told us all how bad we were on account of the community. But I’ve bin on the wrong side of bigger men so I weren’t too shaken by him one way or t’other. Me and the community don’t mix. It ain’t never had no time for me, and I reckon I don’t have any time for it neither and we understand each other.
And that judge, he said we had to be punished extra on cuz of all the other people as was writing their names on walls, an I don’t see as how that was our fault.
Tom though, what he likes best of all is being in the middle of a crowd and he was havin’ the grandest time. And all when the judge was going on that lawman with the bandage on his foot was staring at Tom and wishing Tom’d explode or some such. I’d say if that one had his way they’d pass a new law just so’s they could put ole Tom on trial a few times more. An’ I heard since they’re trying to do just that.
So one day these fellas come in a van and took us and they said we had to scrub a bunch of stuff off the walls, tho we hardly writ any of it. Now, it was work and all, but what was worse they made us put on these vests while we scrubbed and those vests was as pink as you like. If we run off they coulda chased us with their eyes shut those vests was so bright. They allowed that between ’em the scrubbing and the vests would sivilise us. I didn’t like the sound of that, but they said it was needful.
Joe said, if they was going to introduce punishment by humiliation into they justice system they shoulda said so and passed a law and had one of those public debates people always say we ain’t had about things.
I don’t know about that, but I didn’t like it none. Maybe next time I’m bored, I’ll think about something except painting walls and such but I reckon if this is how the community treats a body then the community and I has a score to settle. If this is bein’ sivilised you can keep it. Leastways, that’s what I was getting to think. Then I seed Tom.
Tom now, he was grinnin’ like it was the gayest [sic] thing he’d ever come across. “Why,” he says, “Don’t you see that because of how we’re all such notorious freebootin’ outlaws? Don’t they got to dress us up real bright so’s folks’ll see us all coming and know they should make themselves scarce?”
I got to liking it more after that. Then Tom said he’d stowed some lockpicks in his socks that he’d made out of paperclips and such.
“But Tom,” says I, “We ain’t locked up.”
Tom didn’t say a word, but he had this look in his eye, and I guessed he was all set on wearin’ shackles before the day was out, and never mind what anybody else thought about it.
By then we’d all bin scrubbing a good while and one of those fellas said it was time to drive us home and one of the others said the keys was in the van. I wanted to offer to bet him ten dollars they waren’t, but I didn’t say nothing.