Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Visions of Blood

If there were no hell, man would need to invent it. So many people do so much evil here on Earth and escape punishment, there has to ultimately be a place where justice is finally meted out. Some are consoled with the death penalty, but that’s mostly for the poor. What about the rich and powerful? No matter what they do, no matter how many lives they destroy or end, they seem to always get off scott free. Most never see the insides of a courtroom; if they do, they generally get off; if they’re sentenced, the Michael Milkens of the world are shuttled off to Club Feds with manicured lawns and tennis courts crying about doing “hard time”; and bastards like Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milosevic, and Ken Lay would rather die than face terrestrial punishment. So few receive a righteous gunning down like Anastasio Somoza, eternal damnation seems to be our last hope for retribution. And we console ourselves, singing, "If there's a hell below, they're all gonna go."

But sometimes our fantasies can’t wait, and we resort to dreams of good ole-fashioned street justice. “Boy, f I caught that bastard in an alley … on the street … alone …” Oh, we’d take that jerk to task. Beat him down like the punk he is. Take a pound of flesh out of that ass. That would teach the powerful a real lesson. Even in our fantasies, it’s not enough, but it makes us feel better believing that our fists could knock the rich and powerful down a notch.

The problem with living in DC is that the powerful truly walk among us. Tim Russert was a neighbor of mine. My wife was 10 feet away from W. when he and “Condi” were condemning “nation building” after the Afghanistan invasion. I’ve been in the same room as Bill Clinton, Sandra Day O’Conner, and Ted Kennedy; the same bar with Barbara Bush the Younger; met Bono en el Baño; been given free cartons of Camel Lights by a powerful tobacco lobbyist; gotten drunk off of the telecom lobbyists’ dime; and was even bought by and had a drink with an assistant director of the FBI. And I’m not even in politics.

So, when you cry for the opportunity for street justice, in this city you have to be careful what you ask for. Because, sooner or later, you may just get it. I sure di. In 2004.

It was a nice, fall morning. I’d just genuflected to middle age, eating my All Bran “shit rods”, grabbed my water bottle, and was off to the gym. I walked outside to see three, official-looking black SUVs. Paranoid Black Man Instinct instantly kicked in, checking to see if my shit was correct. You got any drugs or guns on you, Bill? I asked myself. Wait, you don’t do drugs and hate guns. Somewhat relieved, I hesitantly walked by—hoping these bastards (whoever they were) wouldn’t pin a gun and/or drugs charge on me.

When I turned the corner, I faced a squat, powerful brother with Pecs o’ Steel that spanned all six lanes of Connecticut Avenue and a white coil sprouting from his left ear. Three black SUVs plus this black behemoth equaled one, powerful sumbitch. Before I had a chance to speculate who, a little lump of graying timidity popped out of the dry cleaners. I gasped, coming face-to-face with the ultimate apparatchik of evil.

Paul Wolfowitz. At the time the Deputy Secretary of Defense. The face of the Iraqi invasion. God, I hated that bastard. I hated all those neocons—that cabal of pseudo-intellectual dweebs who couldn’t fight their way out of a high school locker who got their menopausal machismo on by heralding others’ deaths and tortures. During Vietnam, Wolfowitz studied math at Columbia to get a deferment, Bush had his Daddy get him into the Texas Air National Guard, and Cheney was “too busy” all the while trumpeting the war effort, while folks like my Uncle Bob eschewed college, volunteered for the Marines, and received two Purple Hearts—his Jeep getting blown to bits in the jungles outside of Saigon. And while my little brother was bogged down in Baghdadi firefights, these paper patriots were busy wrapping themselves in the flag, questioning the patriotism of Max Cleland (who lost three limbs in Vietnam), and circle jerking to “Shock and Awe” casualty reports. God, I wanted a piece of them. And here was Wolfowitz, right in front of me, hunched over with dry cleaning, scuttling along as though he were still traumatized by the wedgie Biff Tannen gave him back in Hill Valley High.

Come on, Bill, I urged myself as Wolfie walked towards me. You can do this, Negro. Sure, you’re fat and out-of-shape. Sure, you haven’t been in a fight since 1994. (My last fight was the first fight I ever started, and, in a fit of divine justice, I broke my hand in the fracas. Taking my punishment, I never got it fixed, figuring I’d re-break my hand if I ever fought again. But this would be worth it. Besides, could you imagine the parades they’d throw for me in San Francisco if I said, “I broke my hand on Paul Wolfowitz’s face”?) You can do this, Campbell!

No, you can’t.

“Who?” I asked.

“What?” Wolfowitz asked.

I suddenly realized that Supa Brotha was looking at me. Interested.

Have you ever head-butted yourself, Campbell? he telepathically asked.


It’s a process where a powerful, virile brother—such as myself—takes your head, shoves it up your ass, all the way up through your entire digestive tract, and out through your mouth to where you’re actually looking at yourself. Then, said powerful, virile brother proceeds to smash your head into itself until the victim is rendered completely unconscious.

Damn. You can do that?

The brother just looked at me, Sphinx-like. Wolfie was just a slug away. It was now or never. I looked at the brother again, at Wolfowitz, at the sight of my head traveling past my morning bran through my large intestines, back at Wolfowitz again, Supa Brotha.

I sigh. “Good day, Mr. Wolfowitz, mighty fine job you’re doing.” I bow reverentially.

“Why, thank you,” Wolfowitz smiled. The Brotha smiled. I went on to the gym promising to punish myself with extra stomach crunches.

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