The Deathbed Playlist

Elevate form over function to get at less easily articulable truths.

The Deathbed Playlist

Postby Berkley Babes » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:49 am

Sometimes it’s so hard to explain.

PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE SQUIRRELS, was posted on signs everywhere at Carter Park. The signs hung all over the place, catching my eye a thousand times. More signs here than you’d ever see on any street, even those under-construction roadwork jobs. Bolted to each fence, these metal signs begged for mercy, while I walked around the race track, about to sprinkle peanuts.

Two cops in matching uniforms approached from a distance. They converged on me. Daylight was getting dim, causing the two cops to look like menacing figures.

Dipping my left hand inside my secret jacket pocket, I felt the salt stick to my fingertips. I pulled a cashew out. Then I exhaled some tense air just before dropping the nut, full release.

It wasn’t exactly terrorism at scale, but it did excite me greatly, as if I were a sly man.

The first word on each sign, PLEASE, was printed in the delicate slant of italics, politely wishing for order, stressing the command, really. The next part of the phrase, DO NOT, was underlined in such a harsh bold type, it sounded like rage from park management. FEED THE SQUIRRELS, was a reminder that these things are far from tame. What the signs banned was clear. But the sheer number of signs had a more important, underlying message: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, STOP GIVING WILD ANIMALS A REASON TO BITE.

The two cops, they confronted me. They looked ready to arrest. They demanded that I produce identification, which I did. I waited for them to radio my name, Sidlow Wilson, over to dispatch.

The first cop said, “What are you doing in the park after dark?”

Apparently, that was another rule here, nobody allowed in the park at night.

“Not exercising,” I answered with a fair amount of confidence.

“Not,” the first cop repeated his deep struggle to understand, “exercising?”

The second cop interjected, saying, “The football field has been spray painted on. Bunch of red marks made against the team logo. What do you know about that?”

He used an accusing tone, like I knew guilt.

From what these two cops told me, they said the cartoon blue devil on the fifty-yard line had been spray painted over with a big red X.
They suspected that I’m the one who vandalized it, or at least saw who did.

As they continued to extract the full reason of why I was at the park after hours, I rubbed my fingertips free of cashew dust.

I thought again about the squirrel signs. But I tried not to glance at them for too long. The lettering on each sign was a light blue color, same color as the high school mascot, a blue devil. The big red X must’ve startled them with such a contrast. But I wasn’t to blame for it.
When they shook my body down for weapons or drugs, I heard snack wrappers crinkle inside my pants. And when I didn’t justify my presence to their total satisfaction, I was arrested. Taken to headquarters to answer more questions. Guessing by the way they tossed me in the back of the patrol car, there was also the possibility of actual physical torture.

Down at the station. Still in handcuffs. Sitting in front of a police chief. I was asked again about my after-dark-park-status.

“My problems are threefold,” I said. “I can’t go home.”
It annoyed even me to hear myself talk like that, how I used the word threefold.

“And why can’t you go home?” the police chief said, resting his knuckles on the desk.

“Because,” I said, “I think my birth father has just moved into the apartment next to mine. And I might kill him.”

The police chief had a duty to pry for more: “Why would you want to kill your own father?”

I gave him the stark reply: “When I was two years old, my father was part of a Satanic cult. It was at one of his bonfire gatherings, where he planned to sacrifice my virgin body to the flames. But, that night, the FBI raided the whole secret woods meeting. They broke everything up, just thirty seconds after my father dropped me into a fire pit. So, yeah, I want to kill him. Because he tried to burn me alive. He did jail time. And I haven’t seen him since. Until now. Thirty years later.”

The police chief took his knuckles off the desk. Instead he folded his arms. Then he said, “And you claim your father just moved into your apartment building. Where? Above you? Below you?”

“Next to me. We share the same wall.”

Arms still folded, the police chief went on to ask, “Why would he move in next to you? Now? After all these years?”

“My grandmother warned me over the phone. That my father has changed, spiritually. That he found a good, proper religion. And that he wants to get to know his son. I mean, I didn’t even recognize him at first.”

“What if I tell you,” the police chief began, “that I get loony types in here all the time, making up every imaginable loony story. So then, what makes you think that I should trust this twisted tale of yours, this Satanic sacrifice?”

At that point, I asked for the handcuffs to come off. I wanted to show him the burns on my back.

I was marked by fire, marked by flame.
Welted by the blaze.
Scorched.
My back scar was forever a purplish white.

The police chief was desperate for evidence, fumbling with the keys to the cuffs. And when I lifted my shirt to turn around, I could hear him take a deep breath, as if transfixed by some sick fascination.
He came back from his delightful nightmare, clearing his throat to say, “But you stated your problems are threefold. Your father is one problem. What are the other two problems you’re having?”

“I don’t really want to go into it.” I said, standing up. “Actually, I just told you my reason for being at the park. I’d like to leave now.”

Much to my immediate surprise, the police chief motioned to escort me out to the station lobby. He had a happy skip to his step like he bought a ticket to the circus to see the freaks and he received his full price worth. My back scar has engineered sympathy before, but in this case, it seemed to give a disturbing sparkle to his sadistic eye.

“Don’t go back to the park,” he said with a snide grin. “And don’t go home. I don’t want to get a call that you’re in the middle of the street with a bloody baseball bat, because you just killed your devil loving daddy.”

So I made a quick exit. Walking the streets again. Escaping without a single criminal charge.
I took my threefold problems to the cornershop, where I bought some more peanuts. Then I went back to Carter Park.
The park was all moon beam. Stadium floodlights turned off.
I was the only one around.
Under the bleachers of the football field, I planted peanuts in the tall grass.
The whole idea here was to get the squirrels on a steady diet. Then, after a few months of feeding them, I would starve them a little. Get them ravenous right around Thanksgiving, just in time for the big high school football game between Twin-City rivals. The main idea here was to get these tree-jumping rat cousins to invade the game, which would ruin the holiday homecoming for so many people. Sending everyone running, racing away from those black beady eyes. Those fuzzy tails. Those rabid teeth.
It wasn’t exactly a grand plan, but it did serve as a great distraction from the man who waited for me, my evil neighbor dad. I just needed something else to obsess over, so I wouldn’t break my wall down and stab him in the heart with a carving fork.

Now I took refuge in the recreational hall, the boys locker room. I had a terrible need for sleep but I couldn’t go back to the bed in my apartment. So I shut my eyes in the bathroom stall.
Sports teams had been doing double sessions this hot early June, what they call, Hell Week. The entire place stunk of piss and the sweat of jockey shorts. I sat upright on a closed toilet, slipping to the side when I started to nod off.

Suddenly, the door to the locker room burst open.
A bunch of officials, some uniformed, some not, stormed inside. Obviously, the spray paint vandal had required a serious stakeout operation in the area. Detectives in trench coats, that sort of thing.
They arrested me again, put me face down on the locker room floor.
This time they didn’t ask me any questions. This time they brought me straight to jail. They put me alone in a tight cell. For what? I don’t know. Maybe trespassing. Maybe they thought there was a connection between the blue devil icon on the field and the red horned one my father attempted to donate my sweet soul to.

In the cell, using a toilet paper roll for a pillow made me angry. No blanket.
Standing on the cement slab for a bed, I got up close to the light fixture. I examined the screws that kept the light secured to the roof.
Just then, all in one motion, I struck that light with my fist so hard the fuse inside the bulb twitched three times before going dead.
Destruction of property while in police custody was sure to spike the wrath of the judge that next morning.

But I kept reminding myself throughout the night, any punishment would be small compared to murder.
Father’s Day was less than a week away. So I sat there and I gnashed my teeth and I stewed in anger and I planned to kill him then.
In three days.
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