There was a weird electricity in the air last night. Who knows why. Maybe it was the 80 degree heat during the day. Or the full moon at night. Or the crickets that were chirping louder than I’ve ever heard them chirp, churning out this relentless subliminal rhythm. Me, Hate Man and Odd Sod were sitting around on crates in People’s Park talking about “the historical Jesus,” of all things.
“Some people think Jesus really didn’t exist,” I said. “But I always felt the sayings he came up with were so profound, it must have been a real person who came up with them. I couldn’t imagine a storyteller fabricating them.”
“Yeah,” said Hate Man.
“Of course if I’m not mistaken, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written 100 years after Jesus’s death,” I said. “So it’s not like the Bible is an eye-witness account.”
“I believe Mark was 60 years after Jesus,” said Odd Sod.
“I read one book about the historical Jesus where the writer speculated that Jesus was primarily a political figure. A Jewish street-corner rabble-rouser,” I said. “Kind of like a Trotsky or Abbie Hoffman type.”
“It’s true Jesus was getting jammed up on the political level,” said Hate Man. “He had the Romans after him, that’s for sure.”
“And he was getting jammed up on the religious level, too with all the rabbis after his ass for defying the orthodox teachings of the times. The stuff that later became the Old Testament,” I said.
“I believe all the stuff in the Bible actually happened,” said Hate Man.
“Even as a lot of it is pretty unbelievable. Like that fish-and-loaves stuff,” I said.
“I believe all the miracles happened,” said Hate Man. “The fish-and-loaves. The walking-on-water. The virgin birth. Yogis and advanced beings can do that stuff. Manifesting food and stuff like that.”
“The virgin birth thing was the one I could never figure out,” I said. “I mean, Mary is married to Joseph so how come she was still a virgin? Some honeymoon they must have had. And then when she gets pregnant she says, ‘Believe it or not, Joe, I’m still a virgin. I wasn’t fooling around with other guys. It was God who knocked me up.’ And you’re telling me ole’ Joseph bought that line? Su-u-ure!”
Before I could continue with my lame attempts at shtick, four plain-clothes cops suddenly swooped down on our merry little scene. One of the cops beamed his flashlight in my face.
“Is that your beer there, sir” said the cop, pointing to the beer bottle by my foot.
“Nope. That’s not mine. It’s somebody else’s,” I said. Which was a pretty dumb thing to say. But I couldn’t think of anything particularly clever off the top of my head that would talk the cop out of giving me an open container ticket.
“Then how come all those beer bottles are lying right there where you’re sitting?” said the cop.
“I’m sure there’s an explanation for that,” I said, gamely. And left it at that.
“Could I see your ID, sir?” said the cop.
I gave him my ID and he started running my name over the wire and writing up my ticket. So now we’re all sitting there, sort of frozen. That awkward period where you have to try and act normal while the cops are hovering around taking care of their business. For lack of anything better to do, I continued my conversation with Hate Man about “the historical Jesus.” I figured maybe the cops would hear me and think I’m an intellectual or something, as opposed to a run-of-the-mill bum, and spare me a ticket.
No such luck. “Would you sign your name in the box at the bottom of the ticket,” said the cop.
“Surely,” I said.
“Thanks for being so cooperative,” said the cop as they made their exit.
“Sure thing,” said. I turned back to Hate Man and said, “They’re just doing their jobs.” Which is basically my attitude towards cops. And went back to drinking my beer.
But then, not 5 minutes later, four different plain-clothes cops suddenly came swooping down on us. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Usually after the cops crunch you, they leave you alone for the rest of the night, figuring they’ve inflicted enough misery and justice for one evening.
“Is that your beer?” said the cop.
“Yes, it is,” I said.
“Could I see your ID, sir,” said the cop. She was a young woman cop. Early 20s.
“You’re not gonna’ give me another ticket, are you?” I said. “I just got a ticket for this beer 5 minutes ago. You can’t give me two tickets for the same beer.”
“Yes we can,” said one of the cops.
“This is unbelievable!” I said. “The cop who gave me the ticket said I could finish my beer.” (Technically, this was a lie. But cops often do say that. After giving you a ticket they’ll at least let you finish your beer as a consolation prize. And I was desperate to think up any line that would spare me a second ticket.)
“Here!” I said, handing the cop my first ticket. All the information she needed was already on that ticket (I’m here to help).
“This is unbelievable. You can’t give me two tickets for the same beer!”
The cop didn’t say anything. Aside from, “Have a nice evening, sir,” as the cops cheerfully made their exit.
“AND YOU HAVE A NICE EVENING, TOO!!” I sneered, loudly. Usually I’m obsequious with the cops. But not this time.
“She was a trainee,” said Odd Sod. “The other cops were taking the rookie around to teach her the ropes.”
“Yeah. And use me as a guinea pig to practice on,” I said. “I can’t believe it. I go three years without getting a ticket. And now I get two tickets in five minutes!!”
I stormed off towards my campsite. And in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the 48 hours of community service I was going to have to do to pay off the tickets. And the $100 in paperwork fees and other expenses I’m going to have to fork over. And having to get my ass up at 5 in the morning to make it down to the Oakland courtroom. And it lent a very sour after-taste to the evening’s festivities.
* * *
By the time I got up to my campsite it was after midnight. It was still hot and I had worked up a sweat, even though I was only wearing a shirt, no jacket. One of those nights. My two favorite feral cats, Blondie and Moo Cat, were patiently waiting for me as usual. After I laid out my bedding and took off my shoes, I took out a big bag of food for my cats that I had pain-stakingly gathered during the day. Big slabs of roasted chicken, bacon and cheddar cheese (nothing but the best for my feral cats). So at least the day was ending on a nice note.
But no! After only a couple of gobbles of the food, Moo Cat suddenly stiffened and started growling at something off in the distance. Which could only mean one thing. Raccoons! A pack of raccoons suddenly descended on the food. My two cats immediately sprinted off into the darkness in a panic. Now there was no way to salvage the food for the cats. So I picked up big chunks of the food and started flinging it all over the woods. Then I chased after the raccoons in a murderous rage, in my bare socks, throwing sticks and branches and rocks at them as I ran, loudly cursing: “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!” The raccoons were stunned and scampered down the hill, with me in hot pursuit. Usually I have a live-and-let-live attitude towards the raccoons. But not tonight. I had snapped.
As I trudged back to my campsite I suddenly realized I had stepped into something soggy. It was a big pile of the cat food. “FUCK!” I said. It never ends. I took off my soiled socks and flung them into the woods. So now it was like a comedy of errors. The endless series of stupidities that was my life.
I laid down on my blankets, but I was too amped up to sleep. So I took out my cell phone and posted several important and amusing comments on my Facebook page that I’m sure I would regret the next morning when I was sober. Finally, fell asleep. And I dreamed these weird, vivid and bizarre dreams all night long.
One of those night.