I haven’t run far when the bomb explodes. It slams me to the ground and busts my nose. Most of the concussion goes over my head. Pieces of culvert shatter and scatter everywhere. There’s no sign of Ace, the bomb maker. RIP, Ace. I have a bad combination of weed tripping and a concussion and lack comprehension of much. I walk off and through gathering crowds that seem impaired. Among refugees stumbling on like the damned on the plains of Gomorrah. Malefic things stirring underfoot, foulness rising from the culverts and drains. Uneasy sleeper you will live to see the city of your birth pulled down to the last stone.
I know I am still tripping when an Arab rides up on a horse and thanks me for saving his life. He must be the one that would have died if Ace had his way.
May Allah grant you mercy all your days, he says, and rides off.
By God I am so tired of tripping. I want to come down.
On a chilly night I flop down in the woods just out of sight of the highway. The stars are out and blazing in the velour sky and I am sound asleep as soon as I lie down. When I wake my head is finally clear. It’s midmorning, judging by the sun. An apparition in blue is shaking me. I am annoyed because I have been dreaming of being in heaven and of being relieved of the tribulations of this mortal coil.
Hey, you, the apparition says. Wake up!
Is this heaven? I say, yawning.
No sir. This is Indiana.
Why am I not surprised. Go away!
You have to come with me, he says.
You aint the law, I say.
I can get the law if you force me to, he says. You wouldn’t want that.
Oh, very well, I say, bored. If I must.
Just who RU, sonnyboy? And BTW what’s that blue sweatsuit for? It really looks faggy, I snicker.
He looks hurt. He says, You’ll have to wear one.
Is that the new uniform for the chain gang?
They don’t have a chaingang anymore.
That’s super. But…just who TFRU, anyway?
I’m in treatment, he says with mixed pride, shame, and disdain.
What does that have to do with me?
You’ll see, he says. Talk to this man.
A man in white asks me my name and I tell him.
You smell like whiskey, he says, wrinkling his nose.
I had a drink yesterday, I say doubtfully.
Just one? Or twenty-one? I think you need help.
Not as much as you do, I say. See ya.
I turn to go and that’s when he hits me with a Taser.