by Ricky Rules
“A fresh face is an admission of guilt”
“How do you figure”
“The greatest criminals get off scot-free: the bankers, the CEOs, the politicians”
“And your point”
“The greatest criminals are clean cut, well groomed, suited up, top hat and white tails and all… fresh-faced, so to speak…Take, for instance, this portrait of our President I have in my breast pocket”
(Pig Bonker shows it to his brother, P.I. Ee I. Oh Bonker, as they squeeze through the sewage pipes)
P.I. says, “OK, I see it ‘for instance’. Keep moving”
“Our President don’t look so bad, now does he? Fifty-some years old and fairly fresh-faced… presentable, wouldn’t you say”
“Yeah, he looks alright. Handsome. Not so bad for his age. A little sleep deprived, but I’d rack that up on account of ‘im ‘aving to sacrifice a few winks in order to serve the voters, his people”
“And serve his people he does: the bankers, the CEOs, the politicians. The President’s sparkling shaved face is, underneath his shining suburban surface, the face of a fanatic, an advocate of torture, a connoisseur of unjust war and colonization, a supporter of anti-assembly and anti-dissent, a believer in bailouts and big business boosters, a stickler for police states and suppression, a pusher of a healthcare system based on get-rich-quick schemes and eternal disease. He’d love nothing more than to see all of the smart and poor young die fast and the old quacks and three breast suitors get richer. He says one thing and means the other. He says transparency but he means opaque”
“What you say is true, common knowledge, and only a fool would disagree, but I don’t gather I see any of that in his fresh moderate face”
“My point precisely, P.I. The cleaner the face, the guiltier the conscience. What we see here in our President’s fine-tuned facial features is a handsome cadaver, embalmed with Old Spice and aftershave. For the sake of contrast, take a look at us. You and me, brother Bonker, are nothing but one plus one equals two dirty convicts. Here we are, in the pipeline, soaked in shit, skipping out on our sentences. Yet, despite our smelly exterior, there ain’t nobody cleaner inside than you and I. We’ve confessed. We admitted we were guilty as charged. We reveled in it. We welcomed the shaming and sentence of ironic justice. We stood in front of the Judge and admitted every sordid detail of our crimes. The way the hate would just well up inside of us. The kind of hate that just don’t go away until you make another big kill. How relieved we felt after our first patricide. The way we felt when we were making kill after kill. The way our sinister schemes got more and more elaborate… The taste, texture and spice. We smiled as we told the Judge. They said we could go free: free as a jailbird, which is to say, not free one bit. No, you and I did not get off scot-free like the bankers, the CEOS, the politicians. You and I got the four piece suit, the straitjacket, the muzzle. That’s the thanks we got for coming clean. Turned into a pair of twin shitstains, while the lying stinking heads of state keep smiling and shaking hands with babies. It don’t pay to be honest, but you won’t catch me crying. I am saved; my guilt is purged and my conscience clean. I can’t wait to get back out there and do some real, honest damage. As for fashion: the filthier the better. Bathe me in excrement and towel me off with turds. Hygiene is the mask of sin. I choose to live honest”
“OK, I get it, Pig, and I disagree with all of my heart. I’ve ‘come clean’ just like you, but I feel neither saved nor rehabilitated by my confession and consequent punishment. My guilt is private. The law, society, or family cannot possess it. Only I have carried my crimes out. And I live in my sins for all eternity. There is no salvation. Not a living thing is innocent, whether they are covered in gristle or clean as a whistle. Life itself is a criminal act. Every living being must consume to survive. Movement is murder. Confession or penitence can’t negate that. An act that has been committed, cannot be ‘uncommitted’. Admission does not lead to absolution. Only the vain think up stuff like that. Stuff it for a while though, there’s a P-trap up ahead and we’re going to need all our faculties to navigate the curves”
“Yea, you’re right, brother. There’s some rough ones coming up. I’m sweating the pipe thinking about them”
“It wouldn’t be a jailbreak if there weren’t some curve balls. We both know that”
“It’s never right down the line”
“In our case it’s through the roof”
“That’s ‘cause we gotta keep climbing and climbing, ’til we clear this stink pipe. Then we’re through with this black water and back to our ways. Waste not, want not”
“Still, this route of escape enervates my energy. I feel drained. I feel clogged up. This tiny red heart of mine ain’t pumping like it used to. We’re out of plumb”
“We’ve been stuck in the mud, like a couple of drips. It gets me down in the dumps, thinking of all those years wasted in the can. Soon enough, we’ll flush the bad days down and raise some more cain”
“Count me out of your antics, Pig. I feel smoothed out. I’m ready to have a ball. Only sugarcane and sweet nectar for this Bonker”
“Sounds real fine and refined to me. Why don’t you join me? We’ll be like two kids in a candy shoppe”
“Don’t try and sweet talk me. I’m no shopper. If I want something, I take it, as easy and natural as taking candy from a baby. You’re a sap”
“Alright, Pig. One day you’ll see it my way. On that day you’ll get your just desserts.”
Pig and P.I. would have kept at it like that, each one of them trying to get the last word in, eager to get their point across, but they had come face to face with a sewer snake. It was uncertain whether they’d make it past that coiling hydra-headed creature. One thing was for certain: the snake didn’t speak their language. So Pig and P.I. promptly put the plug in their conversation, knowing damn well their words wouldn’t help them weasel their way past the snake.
25 foot long, blind and venomous, the dreaded reptile was a frightful creature. The monster’s majestic size and strength coupled with its pure rage impressed the warden of the tightly secured prison. The second he saw the sewer snake in action, warden Hard Law hired the hydra. The snake started out on dry land by rattling some cages as a corrections officer, but dealing head to head with the incarcerated didn’t suit the snake one bit. For you see, being of many heads, the snake was a natural thinker. He had earned his badge, and now he was in need of some brain food. So he wriggled his way into ssssecuring a guard’s post at the tail end of the drain waste vent. He had become a Guarder Snake.
Jailbreaks were rare at Prison X. Hard Law made sure of that. Mr. Law was a tough cookie. He had a good head on his shoulders. The sewer snake had a good head on his shoulders too, plus two, plus three, or four or many. His new post allowed him to play the part of scaly shepherd and private philosopher. A quiet shift in the shit. A quiet shift that is, until Pig and P.I. popped up in the poop.
The trapdoor of tinnitus
The steely reserve of syenite
in busty silence bursts coniferous silence
wrote the shepherd sewer snake, in his drowsy heads, writing millions of other lines of poetry unwritten, unpreserved, the sort of bored poetry written in knocked out skulls during irksome shifts. Half-asleep and subconsciously writing, describing granite as would a wiggy scribe, until startled by the commotion of the Bonker Brothers batting their batty banter as though on a verbal bender.
Hark! What is this noise that interrupts my wending meditations? A noise from two mouths like two orphaned echoes coarsely decaying. Voices like granite, seen obviously and undesired. I must quicken up, for the two unsightly voices unwittingly and witlessly are heading towards my head hut.
The face-off began with a rebel “Yeaurgh” erupting from the mouth of Pig. Defiantly, Pig, so hopelessly devoted to the phantasms of freedom, charged. “Nothing’s gonna stop me from being myself: not the Judge, not Hard Law, not my brother, not this dreaded sewer snake!” he thought to himself. His overemotional outburst ended abruptly when the snake head butted him. Pig took a dazed topple backwards. Streams of red flowed from Pig’s nostrils, both left and right. A surge of panic and pain hit Pig’s brain as the crimson headwaters converged and drained into a river, mingled with the waste water, and flowed rapidly through the crossed-link polyethylene pipes. That surge landed Pig on his back.
While doing the dead man’s float, it occurred to Pig that this was his destiny. He would not get the opportunity to make another subversive splash in society. There would be no more crime, cannibalism, or patricide on his hands. He had got too wound up, too excited when charging the snake. He had simply wanted freedom too bad. And the sewer snake saw him coming a mile away like a rich man sees a tax break. Now he had lost too much blood and consciousness; like a float ball without a ballcock, he had gone adrift on a river of septicity.
Getting acclimated to his new life as a floater, Pig scanned the vaults of his memory. He internally watched the memory banks crumble. Thymolphthalein memories flashed and wiped off the map.
Recollections evaporated, forming beads of oily sweat on the pipes.
Finally, as the last memory and thought flickered out, the youngest Bonker brother got his dream. He was free. Free, without thought, in the leisurely murkiness of the crapola river, to endlessly cease to exist. The only downside to his newfound status as a suspended solid, as Pig could dimly see it, was the sensation of a million tiny little snake fangs unhurriedly gnawing on his bones.