My meeting with the inspector

(short tale of a philosophical disagreement)

I shimmied a good length down a pole and landed on top of a police inspector. Draco was his name, a cop from the ninth precinct, a real slob. He was the type who only got into a life of crimefighting because his only alternative woulda been a life of crime. Draco was too stupid to be a successful criminal, but he was just slow and stubborn enough to make a reliable cop.

Draco pinned down the facts of the case—the fact that I was not so squeaky clean, and I ought very well to be arrested—just as I landed on him from above. Now he was pinned.

“You’re no Batman, pole rider,” he snarls at me. But I think then he realized his spine was shattered in eight or nine places:

“Rraagh, dagnabbit,” he squeals, “what will Bessie and the kids think? I was supposed to take them out for wings tonight!”

Wife and kids eh? Who woulda thought. Touched by Draco’s apparent family demeanour, I apologized for any fractures I may have caused, and fling a twenty-dollar bill onto the man’s writhing corpus (at that moment turning an interesting shade of purple). I smirk, “that’s to tip the ambulance, chief; sorry bout spoiling dinner.” Ha, those are the ‘breaks’ I guess. I straighten my collar—mussed from the descent down the pole—and I make to walk out the door onto Thistle Street to meet my associates.

But as rotten luck has it, Draco’s gun’s still lying nearby beneath the pole, beside his not-quite-yet-useless right hand. He lifts his revolver—a standard precinct issue—and groans wearily in my direction:

“Kaplutnik,”—my name, Victor Kaplutnik—“you Ukrainian nincompoop—I’m gonna taste your ass before the day is up!” Shit, he’s really sore, and now he’s pointing a pistol at me. Continues, “let’s see how easy-peasy you sashay around the town square when there’s no kneecaps on your filthy Ukrainian legs!”

Blam, blam. That’s what I’m thinking at this point: blam blam blam.

I make this sound effect in my mind, blam blam, figuring that if a sound existed in my mind, there couldn’t be the same sound in a simultaneous reality, and Draco wouldn’t dare pull the trigger of his revolver lest a philosophical contradiction arise between thought and action (I was reading The Republic pretty intensely that week, and for some reason was hung up on the primacy of the insubstantial mind). No bullets in my legs please, I was thinking—praying, really—as I stare at the barrel. But I was relying on the analogy of the Cave far too much that afternoon: Draco is no Platonist, and his gun, though surely more intelligent than he is (unlike the inspector, the gun isn’t loaded all the time), was quite a ways more dangerous when fired.

I hear blam blam all right, but this wasn’t some idle metaphysical musing; it’s the genuine sound of two actual bullets shredding their way through my kneecaps, exiting the other side, and destined to leave a flesh-and-blood mess on the floor beneath the pole—a pole which no one would want to shimmy down for a least an hour, because it was soon covered by the red stuff spurting copiously from my leg, and was already obviated by a tubby, now-paraplegic police inspector whom right then and there I was wishing I had never met.

No comments: