To-day’s short story is from the same anthology as yesterday’s, M. Szereto’s Getting even: Revenge stories. Tony Fennelly has a funny story about killing an Aries (“How to kill an Aries”) using his self-centeredness and recklessness against him. It’s funny if only because I know people like this (I wonder when they were born as I have some curiosity in astrology even though I do not [want to] believe.)
My main issue with this story and much contemporary fiction in general is that authors tend to neglect buyer’s remorse (the mechanics of desire.) Plans are put into place and they come to fruition. Sometimes there are unintended consequences but these effects are about the contingent and precarious nature of living and acting socially. While these questions are valuable, an even more valuable question is the remorse people feel when they actually get what they want. Thomas Jefferson once said, “the best way to convince someone they are wrong is to let them have their way.”
The main character in this story is happy when her plan comes to fruition. She just killed her husband and while her life will be better off for it, she should, while still in the hospital, be struck with a sense of loss and “what now?”
I am reminded of one of my first assignments as a Beltway Boy. Once a year in Morgantown there is a block party near the university, not unlike the one recently held here in Minneapolis, and the police decided this particular year to break up the party even though there had not been a single complaint. Not unlike last week’s Dinkytown “riot”, we need to notice the increased deployment of this term by the police, the police were overly hostile and caused more damage than there would have been by allowing the party to party itself out.
The police had overstepped their bounds and a lesson needed to be taught. Soriano has a friend who played football as a Mountaineer, and this friend’s sister was married to brute of an ass who was also one of the very cops that over-reacted, laughing as he shot drunk college students with rubber bullets. He was the obvious choice for a lesson. ‘Metaphoric condensation’ is how George referred to it. I was surprised that George, a terse bowtie wearing famous pundit, read Zizek.
We broke into the house late one night as they slept and using chloroform we put Nikesha into a deep sleep. Soriano and I pulled Elliott, bound and gagged, onto the porch. We sat him down and George talked to him.
“Do you know who I am?” Elliott shook his head affirmatively. “Good. Then you know that I am conservative and the last person to think these kids ought to have the run of the place. When police officers act stupidly the way you did you make it harder for all of us. You embolden the liberals.” George always over-enunciated and even his attempts to use the vernacular still sounded prissy and over-educated. “Now you can tell people we were here, but nobody will believe you. You may end up receiving a Section Eight.” Elliott sighed and looked down in what appeared to be acquiescence. “Good. Here is how you should have handled the student riot. You should have brought in a fire truck and sprayed cold water over the top of the crowd. It was cold that night and they were drunk. Drunk people like to fight but they hate to be cold. That would have been the humane thing to do. You will remember that, will you not?” Elliott nodded. “You need to also be nicer to your wife or we shall return. Do you understand?” Elliott nodded. We left him on the porch, bound and gagged for the neighborhood’s amusement as Nikesha was still been asleep well after sunrise.
The plan went off without a hitch and yet I felt guilt and a complete lack of satisfaction. Eventually we had to pay Elliott another visit, before the next year’s block party so the effectiveness our plan was never tested. However, the Morgantown PD have never rioted before while responding to the block party and yet that potential sign of success does not squash my sense of buyer’s remorse. Sadly the Minneapolis PD now has some answering to do for their over-reaction last week. What is even more sad though is the Star Tribune’s purchase of the PD’s spin of necessity and restraint.