Thursday, 7 August 2008

29 July 2008

it was my duty to put up the American flag on a sixty foot pole, and this morning I put it upside down and went home to bed. When I came back in the evening the regular corp of cops were sitting around grimly in the office. “Say bo, what was all the noise around here last night. We’ve had complaints from people who live in those houses across the canyon.” “I don’t know” I said “it sounds pretty quiet right now.” “The whole contingent’s gone. You was supposed to keep order around here last night---the Chief is yelling at you---and another thing---do you know you can go to jail for putting the American flag upsidedown on a government pole.” “Upsidedown?” I was horrified; of course I hadn’t realized it; I did it every morning mechanically. I shook out its dust in dew and hauled her up. “Yessir,” said a fat cop who’d spent thirty years as a guard in the horrible prison known as San Quentin, “you could go to jail for doing something like that.” The others nodded grimly. They were always sitting around on their asses; they were proud of their jobs. They took their guns out and talked about them, but they never pointed them. They were itching to shoot somebody. Henri and me. Let me tell you about the two worst cops. The fat one who had been a San Quentin guard was pot bellied and about sixty, retired and couldn’t keep away from the atmospheres that had nourished his dry soul all his life. Every night he drove to work in his 37 Buick, punched the clock exactly on time, and sat down at the rolltop desk. They said he had a wife. Then he laboured painfully over the simple form we all had to fill out every night--- rounds, time, what happened and so on. Then he leaned back and told stories. “You should have been here about two months ago when me and Tex” (that was the other horrible cop, a youngster who wanted to be a Texas ranger and had to be satisfied with his present lot) “me and Tex arrested a drunk in Barrack G. Boy you should have seen the blood fly. I’ll take you over there tonight and show you the stains on the wall. We had him bouncing from one wall to another, first Tex hit him with his club, then I did, then Tex took out his revolver and snapped him one, and I was just about to try it myself when he subsided and went quietly. That fellow swore to kill us when he got out

No comments: