Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mike's Story Part 63 - Oregon

   I came across the complete account of the time Mike was bitten on the testicle.
   He and at least one other cop had been summoned by a sergeant, 6' 5''.  When they arrived, they found him cornered by a small, wiry man holding a 35" T.V. above his head.  The guy had a glazed look in his eye and a thin sheen of perspiration all over, telltale signs of PCBs. The cops wrestled him onto a gurney with Mike at the head. They managed to get plastic handcuffs on him and canvas restraints on his legs. The guy broke the restraints but not without consequence; his shin bone now hung out. In a rage, he bit Mike on the testicle upon which Mike lashed out, breaking the guy's skull.
   After arriving at the hotel in Ashland, we watched CNN until it was time to go out in search of dinner.  California was burning and for reasons I no longer remember, the report showed an actual burn center.
   "That might be the one where I went," Mike commented.
   "When they grafted your ass onto your arm?'
   As I'd anticipated, the residual pain from the fall on his thumb was more intense than he'd hoped and that evening he stayed in bed while I settled in at the local internet café.
   October 30, 2007  Ashland Police Department Detective Randy Snow says that Mike's former female employee, now the plaintiff in the sexual harassment lawsuit against him, finally took her CVSA (Computer Voice Stress Analyzer test, reputed to be more accurate than a polygraph) after having her baby and against the advice of everyone including her lawyer.  She has passed with flying colors.  This means the other employee whom Mike suspects of having executed the burglary would have acted alone.  That doesn't comport with his original scenario in which the perps were a meth ring. 

   We went to Mike's interview with the detectives where, to his surprise and gratification, they allowed me to sit in on the entire proceedings.  (This was what he'd brought me to Oregon to witness.)  Mike came away with a positive sense from the meeting; the detectives "apologized" to him.  My take differed from his more than I let on; I noted caution in their manner.  The apology was grudging, couched in meaningless terms which would cause the whole concoction to evaporate under scrutiny.  But this may have been for CYA reasons; the case was becoming "cold" with a rapidity they must have found embarrassing.   
   We wondered if we'd run into the former female employee in Ashland; she lived nearby.
   "I'm going to make sure they take away her baby," Mike announced, citing reasons I won't go into.  As a mother, I was chilled.  But I understood his logic:  He blamed her for taking away his "baby," which was FTW.

   Next stop on the itinerary was Eugene.  Mike did the driving.  I have a license but zero experience so my job was to massage his thumb to keep it nimble.  Any restriction on his future mobility such as arthritis would affect his ability to shoot. 
   I'd built up a a sizable amount of anger at him over the months that he'd stayed at my apartment.  As in the laws of physics, so in the laws of psychology:  There is no action without a reaction.  I'd swallowed some mega-insults; at first, because he'd been depressed to the point of suicidality.  When he got stronger, I answered back, but rarely with the full force of the resentment I harbored.  Only once did that righteous rage explode.  I think it was when he grew angry at my reluctance to shoulder full responsibility for FTW by putting the fees on my credit card.  For anyone who missed that post, the fees themselves weren't the issue; I'd be reimbursed.  The issue was liability in the event of a copyright or any other kind of lawsuit.  Those damages can be in the hundreds of thousands, even if no money was made by the defendant or lost by the plaintiff.
   Mike had responded to my outburst by thrusting out his stomach and using it to push me back as though to taunt, "I can knock you down;" atavistic cop behavior of the kind that provokes protesters to scream, "Pig!" and get themselves arrested.
   He and I were alike in more ways than he knew.  That, and not, as he maintained, my "unconditional love," was the source of whatever insight I'd provided when he was depressed.  Did he have any idea how close he came to feeling me take advantage of his vulnerability at those moments when his thumb was in my hands?  (Have a ball, Freudians.)  If so, he put on a good show of obliviousness, letting out orgasmic shouts of relief from the massage.  But I wasn't interested in giving him orgasms.  Sometimes it felt as though only the knowledge of his breaking the drug addict's skull kept me in check.

   Lying on a fault line, we learned, Eugene has a 100% probability of seeing an earthquake at some point in the next century. So the building codes require heavy-duty reinforcement including, in one office block we passed, concrete Xs across the windows.  The supermarket was even crowned with reinforced concrete parapets.
   Mike knew that Eugene, like much of Oregon, was alert to the advent of societal collapse, in view of which those parapets didn't portend anything benign for the populace.
   The elevator door at our hotel was doubled by a steel door, ostensibly as additional fire protection but it gave the place the feel of a detention center.
   "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" asked Mike.
   I was. The architecture of Eugene would provide excellent sets for a movie that one of Mike's friends in LA was planning about the end of human industrial civilization with its attendant martial law and interment camps.
   The idea turned him on.  "Fuck Ashland; it's Eugene," he enthused.  "It's more sustainable, a better transition for you. And something tells me I can be more dangerous from here."   He was referring to his prospective lawsuit.
   "You'll be more shadowy to the people in Ashland."
   He also had a following in Eugene.  An activist friend threw a potluck dinner in his honor where the guests were deferential and appreciative, one of them bringing an organic lemon cake that read, "Welcome Home, Mike."
   We were staying in a hotel where everyone else was under thirty so there were cute gimmicks like a blackboard on each door with chalk for any artistically-minded guests.  I drew a picture of Mike watching CNN. 
   "I didn't know you could do that," he said and took a photograph of it.  (Mostly, I can't "do that," as witnessed by my illustrations in Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death.)  If anyone comes across that sketch on one of Mike's USB sticks, please let me know. 
   We went to a packed bar, the hub of the Portland blues scene, and heard his friend, the petite powerhouse, Lisa Mann, belt, "You ain't nothin' but a Hound Dog."  Mike was behind her on stage, dancing himself into a sweat.  When, in a middle verse, she called out his name, he howled like a wounded hound. Afterwards, he showed everyone pictures of the pins in his thumb.  Those who didn't spring back in disgust stared, puzzled.
   "It's not a magic trick," I said. "They really went all the way through."

   I was at the local coffee shop which offered free internet service with any purchase; twenty minute sessions requested, but if business was slack, you could stay all day.
   I'd spent several hours there already, while Mike napped.
   ("How much do you love me?" he had asked with puppy-dog eyes.
   "A whole lot."
   "Enough to finish the laundry by yourself?"
   "Fuck, no.")
   I'd just ordered a bran muffin, my second interaction with this particular counterperson, a round-faced cherub (they were all college students) in a wool cap.
   She handed me the muffin with an addendum: "If you need a place to stay, you can stay at my house."
   I was taken aback. We'd had no prior conversation beyond the ingredients of various items on the menu. Was this androgynous-looking young woman lonely? Or were the people who hogged the computer there normally homeless?

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