"For whoever would save his life will lose it,
"but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
"but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
Five thousand dollars. In the grand scheme of things it's not a lot of money. That would only get me two nights with one of Elliot Spitzer's hookers. Or it could get me a very rundown car. But it couldn't get me a new life or affect me materially in any permanent way. But on the other hand...
Most working people are apolitical. That's because they understand politics the best. They don't fall for the charade of some political creature crowing about how he/she's going to fight for the little guy. It's not the working soul's job to make the government be honest any more than it's their job to make the corner mechanic be honest. We the working poor live in a state of perpetually forced trust. And since most people know what it means for others to live at their mercy, workers will always be feared and dreaded.
Living like that makes people angry. And sometimes even desperate. Fifteen years ago anger and desperation got the best of me. Then as now, I had no way out. It was easy to see the many ways I was being fucked, how the game is rigged for money to always flow upward, and that the only reward for hard work was more hard work and even less money. Unless you've experienced that squeeze first hand, you can't imagine the claustrophobia of living at the mercy of our corrupt economic prison. So grossing eight bucks an hour, five thousand dollars is a fucking fortune.
The pressure of hopeless rage is unrelenting. People crack. The system is designed to crack you then be "tough on [the inevitable] crime". These judges and cops standing in moral superiority "saving" society from facing its sins are a joke. The crime is not in having no money, but in the requiring of it. I too cracked. When one feels one is dead anyway one may do most anything. My crucifixion serves no greater good. I'd hit the boiling point.
You hear of people making good scores. It's not uncommon. But the stars are not aligned for me to make good on any shortcuts. That is something I have to constantly keep reminding myself even though I keep falling down in that regard. You do things you know are stupid when frustration boils over and you have to hope against hope. (And frankly, that's how I'd explain this last election.) It's also how I'd explain my greatest sin (of commission, anyway).
I had my chance at a Big Score. I sooo wanted to be the one telling the story instead of just hearing it. "Play it smart, for once, Harry. The only thing universally morally revered in this world is money." I'd worked myself up into a lather. My only demand was that I'd carry no gun. That failure to fully commit turned out to be a tragic choice (story of my life). I wanted to play in the mud but not get dirty. Idiot.
No point going into the details. It gets more painful to recount every time, and each time I do the clearer it becomes of what a blind fool I was. Suffice it to say I forced myself to believe in people I didn't believe in because I thought I was going to get something out of it. (That too is like voting.) Things went wrong - very, very, wrong - and I found my unarmed ass being chased by a gunman. Had I been able to shoot back it could have changed everything. For though I wasn't directly part of the deal, I had witnessed a murder.
And for that I too had to be killed. As the lookout I had a head start but the total panic and fear that grips you in that moment cannot be adequately described. But another instinct kicked in, one that I didn't expect of myself: a curiously calm mind. It was like part of me detached from the situation, knowing I couldn't give in to the panic and survive. My only thought was to stay alive by any means possible - even though a little voice told me I needed to own the mess I was in and face the consequences. In moments like these you find out if you're a man or not.
As I turned the corner finally reaching a more public area in the lower east Dallas wasteland I saw a cop directing traffic at a nonfunctioning stoplight. Naturally I headed towards him with him being an authority figure but then a devious thought popped into my head, how to politically exploit this to my advantage. If I ran in such a way as to put the cop in the line of fire then everyone would turn on the shooter if the cop got shot. No one would give a damn if a lowlife like myself got what's coming to him. I needed the people on my side. So that's what I did. But this was the shooter's last chance to get me. And the cop got shot.
Sure enough, that was enough to make my pursuer turn tail and leave this murder witness alive. I ran to the cop where a crowd was gathering, stunned one of my devious plans actually worked when they so rarely do the rest of time. Dear God, what a time to start believing in myself. The bullet went into the cop's back, paralyzing his legs for life I found out later. I didn't stay long, especially after I heard a voice accuse me. "Hey, you got that officer shot!" Seems I had my own witness to testify against me. It would be years before I even went to that part of town again. It will be never before I can forget it.
Time has not been kind. Between my stupidity and cowardice, I started to withdraw, unable to imagine anyone wanting anything to do with me. I can only tell this story now because it won't be believed. But I never confessed when it counted. When I see a crime of irresponsibility reported in the news I have to wonder if I too am capable of that; a tortured prisoner of doubt. But the real ultimate price came when something real came into my life years later after finally daring to open my heart again, and I destroyed it rather than be seen for what I am - for I will always be what I was in that moment.
Politically I could mitigate this by saying cops get paid to take bullets. But that's garbage. Another human being paid for my mistakes. I'm sure he and his family blame the shooter and not I who put him in the line of fire. I could have taken a different angle to have only my own life at risk. If so, then I could have kept my life. But by trying to save it I have certainly lost it. God damn, those words of Jesus make sense to me now. I'd hoped he wasn't being literal.
So I feel the tragedy when I see others repeat my sins, reliving my moment of secret infamy. The more visible ones you see on TV, lying to cover their ass, to get the people on their side, perverting the truth thinking that coming clean is death. It's like watching someone drown whom no one else can see. And I've yet to learn how to swim. What more hollow victory than to win a political argument? To have everyone believe you're right when you know you're wrong. How very isolating. Only the honest soul can win and I can't undo the damage I've done. Some things you never get over - even after letting go.