Josie is a secondary character in this novel-or-novella-thing I've had going called DOO-DAH DAYS IN MAMMON. He's a schizophrenic homeless guy who complains to the narrator about having ridden around town on buses all day with a turd in him, only to be turned out of City Hall at 5 PM when he's trying to use their restroom. That, for Josie, defines Politics. Fun and laffs for the whole family ensue.
It was a crisp September morning---a Saturday---When Josie wandered into the square in front of City Hall and dropped his drawers in front of God and everybody.
“I’m gonna take a shit,” he roared.
There was immediate motion in the crowd, like the scrambling chaos of the Zapruder film. Mothers shielding children's eyes. Some of the more erudite men in the crowd, who still had composure, were heard to cry, “no! Please don't do that!”
Josie eyed them resolutely and they could see, as he squatted, that he meant this more than he had ever meant anything in his life. More than when he stood on Main Street screaming at the traffic, more than when he told me he had spent six days inside The Dog. Government to Josie was a cold, impersonal, arbitrarily meaningless control over his bowels and this was his ultimate act of defiance.
It was Josie's defining moment, and it became the defining (and in some cases, dividing) moment of everyone in town.
Josie strained for a moment and then the steaming cascade came forth.
“It had little bits of red and green in it,” cracked Othmar later, “it was festive. Kinda like an early Christmas present to the world.”
“There was nothing funny about it,” griped one Earth Mama, her voice trembling. “My children saw shit. My children saw shit. That's not what I wanted for them....that's not how I raised them!”
The event was forever referred to in the newspapers, with no small amount of derision, as “Satyrday”. Much of that reference hinged upon Josie’s unkempt appearance.
Presumably if he'd been clean-shaven and well-dressed, the whole incident might have been forgotten in a week. But it was Josie, crazed Josie, unwashed Josie, Josie who collected a crazy check, got his meds (on the occasions when he was on his meds) at Community Council, Josie who screamed at traffic on main street, Josie who frightened small children and (perhaps more importantly) their parents, Josie who was fragrant in the Summer, Josie who just didn't look good in anyone's Campaign Commercial.
“I was there,” shuddered the Pillar of the Community. “I mean, I was at the Farmer's Market, buying some fresh kale, and I was close enough to smell him. It goes to show....you know, we say the Public is Welcome, but then maybe most of us agree that we need to draw some lines in the sand when we talk about who the 'Public' consists of!”
The beatdown wasn't immediate, but it wasn't long in coming, either. Josie, unfortunately, had a way of hanging around and glorying in every small victory----which is what made it devolve from a victory to a debacle in a matter of minutes. It wasn't like the Rodney King beatdown---no one filmed it or went racing to his defense...first of all because Josie made them all feel uncomfortable, also because Josie smelled bad, he used a lot of foul language and a lot of women on hand felt like he might rape them.
“It was at the Farmer's Market,” cried Emily. “The Farmer's Market! I just don't feel safe anymore....”
Few could argue that justice was dispensed.
“I wasn't there, but I heard all about it,” said Joe the Republican. “That's a good use of the taxpayers' dollars! You don't mess with those police! These freaks think they can expose their dirty assholes and take a shit in front of everyone, including the kids----ah-aaahhhh....bad move!!! Let me tell ya something....I wish I'd have been there to kick that guy's ass myself! This guy's got long hair, right? This is the way we used to do 'em in Lowell! The guy's got this ponytail, right? And you grab him by the ponytail and you jerk his head back and you take turns grinding out cigarettes on his chin! Yeah! That's how we handled 'em in Lowell!”
Our new Mayor didn't miss a trick-----within two weeks, eighty-six separate ordinances were written and approved by the City Council....it was a victory for those who claimed his predecessor hadn't authored nearly enough ordinances....there were ordinances about decorum and conduct at the Farmer's Market---ordinances about maintaining the freshness of the kale and other vegetables, ordinances about bodily fluids, ordinances about how they should or should not be dispensed. No concessions were made about people riding the bus all day with a turd in them. There were ordinances about proper attire at the Farmer's Market and what that attire might or might not consist of. There were ordinances about mental stability and what the criterea for that would be at the Farmer's Market. There were ordinances regarding the definition of “Citizen”---who fit the definition and who didn't. Who was permitted to buy, sell, or even show up at the town square at any time, for any reason. There were endless ordinances about personhood----who qualified as a “Person” at the Framer's Market and who didn't. There were titanic legal fracases (with multiple lawyers present) over the definition of the word, “Is”.
The newspapers ran sprawling articles on Josie---who he was, how he came to the point he had, why he was in jail, a laundry list of past sins. I read all of this. He was a child genius, a math prodigy who'd been accepted to the University at age 13. He cracked in his senior year and spent five years in and out of the looney bin. Four suicide attempts, numerous incarcerations for disorderly conduct.
None of these articles were written with any degree of empathy, at least as far as I could see---it was all a case of “what kind of psychopaths the universities were opening themselves up to if they continued following this bleeding heart agenda”.
Lots of cautionary tales. You know, in mathematics, there are no absolutes----that will turn your children to crime and drugs.
Josie was raped five times in the county lockup; The third time he was held for sixteen hours----forced to drink urine, sodomized with a toothbrush and then forced to brush his teeth with said utensil. The fifth time he had all his teeth knocked out. A fellow prisoner was quoted as saying it would “help him give better head”. In the end he had his face kicked in and spent the final six weeks of his sentence in the hospital.
People shrugged, laughed and forgot the whole thing. Most of the new-agey liberal types said they hoped he had “learned the right lessons” from the experience.
Copyright 2014 C.F. Roberts/2016 Molotov Editions
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
HUSKER DU-"Zen Arcade"
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.-"First Issue"
IRON MAIDEN-First album