Hard drugs are the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary, the client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.
-William Burroughs, author of The Naked Lunch (1959)
Nailed up like a Jesus, minus the cross and any sign of being divine. His hands above his head like a doll; his legs hanging below him, they’d be swinging if there was a breeze. But there wasn’t. Maybe there was, above the buildings, in the sky, in the light. A problem for the planes to deal with, not detectives worried about a swinging body. His head was bent down to one side like Jesus as well; his eyes were gauged out though. I didn’t remember that passage in the Bible. That didn’t matter though, I wasn’t religious. Not in the sense that I prayed to anyone, I did, however, do things in a religious fashion.
I struggled to see what my finding out who did this would do for anyone. It wouldn’t matter in my mind. A young guy nailed to a power pole outside a MacDonald’s on a bitterly cold morning. Who would care? If I found out who it was, it wouldn’t bring this young man back, that’s Jesus’ job, and here I was staring at his lynched up body. Even if I found the guy and he was sent to prison, it wouldn’t stop all the killing, it probably wouldn’t even stop him from murdering inside. It was a waste of time for me, for him, for everyone. People are always going to be killed; we may as well live with it.
As for closure, why? What is being told who did it going to do for them, for his family? Nothing. He died, it doesn’t matter how. If it had been diabetes or cancer, no one would ask a police officer to arrest a bunch of cancer cells, or a brain tumour. As long as another person feels the pain too, as long as there is some kind of retribution, consolation or just plain old punishment, preferably as harsh as possible, those grieving will be ok. We are all sadists; the others around me were all sadists, why else do you think they are cops? Pride in doing a duty for a metropolis? Nope; they like it when bad guys get hurt. We all do. It never comes to a peaceful resolution; the evil genius always burns in acid; Superman saves the day. That’s the one thing films have got right about human nature; the idea that we all like to see a bit of pain inflicted on someone else; a bit of physical comedy at someone else’s expense; a nasty character crushed in a vice; a sadist nailed to a power pole.
I kill therefore I am.
I am, therefore I kill.
And besides, it is no one’s fault that this guy died. It is the fault of the system, which he, and I, and his family, and everyone around me are a part of. The person who did it cannot be blamed, but the system can. No one runs the system, it runs itself, you can’t really blame it; the system is the tumour you cannot convict. We are bodies in a clanking machine; it’s hard not to get squished in the cogs. Now he is gone, someone will take his place; someone will fill the void that he leaves, whether it be an emotional, financial or physical void, it will be filled. It might take several people to make this happen, but it will happen. The people in the system will fix it, they couldn’t handle it otherwise, they need to fix it; they couldn’t live forever in sadness. We can handle that kind of pain for a while, pretend like we’re in a movie, but a movie eventually finishes. I wished my movie would end right now, I had grown tired of the body, tired of the power pole, tired of the police tape and the officers walking around me; it was all so futile. We’d be out here next week, maybe even tomorrow, chasing down another paedophile or bank robber, I didn’t care for it anymore, it was hard to think of when I had.
I turned my attention to the MacDonald’s; my stomach wished for satisfaction, and nothing came at a more convenient price or location. While policing may be pointless, here was an idea with potential; the thought that you could make something so addictive, that people of all ages were going to use it; the thought that the business you have created was now so huge, it had taken on a life of its own; nothing could stop it now, not even the owners. I found it all dangerously appealing. I walked from the lynched-up young man, to the entrance of the restaurant; pushing open the heavy white doors and standing at the back of the medium sized line, with extra kids. My mind had almost lost the image of the guy hanging by his hands on the power pole outside, no doubt he had been an employee; pimples and breaking voice seemed to be the best resume you could have. I eventually moved to the front of the line and ordered the usual: Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries, a large coke, and two small cheeseburgers to get me started; just because they don’t have waiters, doesn’t mean you can’t have courses. I would also have a pie, later.
I sat down at the table and un-wrapped my first burger. I liked the thin plastic wrapping; somehow it was comforting, familiar. The smooth, and equally plastic, bun broke apart in my mouth and I finished within four bites. I could feel my mood lifting. I gazed through the window at the still hanging young man; no one had removed him, I guess they shared my ideology. They too saw the futility of closure. At least here, in MacDonald’s, I could do something that would actually benefit; it would benefit the young workers get through college, it would benefit my self-esteem and battle my depression, and it would help my trainer out financially later as well; a circle on positives. This was the future as I could see it; endless chains, literally chains running down the streets, of fast food places, like this, expensive restaurants are gone, and a good chunk of murder and crime should be eliminated as a result. The food would be so cheap, no one would have a need to steal copious amounts of money to get buy; and jobs would be so easy to get, that the need to steal for a living would become more of a hassle than to work at MacDonald’s. Plus, this food makes one happy; it’s hard to think of gauging a man’s eyes out when you’re gorging yourself. I was now onto my fries, I held one in my mouth like a cigarette while I thought some more. Then, unexpectedly, and inconveniently, my chest started to tighten up and pull in on itself; I put my fries down and squeezed my eyes closed and clutched at my shirt. It felt like indigestion in my heart; my blood became chilled and I couldn’t think of anything but the swirl of colours I saw before me; the red container of fries, my drink, it’s tall, cone shaped cup, getting wider at the top, and my burger, still wrapped tightly in its plastic, sitting on the tray, on top of a picture Ronald inviting some kids to play, and a maze for them to do. I couldn’t think of anything but this blur of colours; I couldn’t imagine who was around me, or if anyone had noticed and was watching me. I felt my head spin, though I’m sure it wasn’t, and I soon blacked out.
I came alive again after a short moment and discovered I was on the floor of the restaurant; kids all around me, an off-duty doctor on his knees above my chest; patrons’ mouths agape, nearly enough to squeeze in a whole Big Mac; some of the employees at the counter leaning over in curiosity; two boys in the kitchen laughed in sadistic humour. I rolled my eyes around in my head, looking for the killer. There he was, above, me, to both sides of me, in the hands of the customers, in the cups, in the plastic wrapping, on the hats of the service operators, on the place mats, out in the playground, on the billboards; I was surrounded. How had no one caught this guy before?
The futility of closure.
Something so large it couldn’t be stopped. It would kill people of all ages, nothing could stop it now. I took a last breath, one filled with the smell of the sugary buns, the special sauce, the deep frying machine, the salt, the juices, the pickles; a thick fog of deliciousness. I had been murdered; crushed in the cogs; killed by the system.
© Copyright 2017 Patrick Flynn. All rights reserved.
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