At peace with myself


Iím half way between Albany and New York City when my car conks out.

Iím in one of those tiny hamlets that have on garage, a motel, a tavern and not much else.

The garage is closed so I go to the tavern.

Every guy in the place looks at me as if I just landed there from outer space.

Even the bartender is a creep and I have to ask him three time about the repair place before he bothers to answer, telling me Iíve got to wait till morning.

By this time Iím really angry since being a beat cop in Manhattan, Iím not accustomed to people treating me like shit.

One guy Ė the local yokel sheriff Ė even laughs from the end of the bar, mocking my being a helpless city boy.

Heís begging for a beating.

Any place else, I might have given him one.

But being on someone elseís turf I need to keep my cool.

Too many people against me.

So I bite my tongue and go back outside where I donít have to look at that sheriffís ugly mug.

So I go over to the motel to book a room for the night, figuring I can scrap this shit place off my boots when the carís fixed in the morning.

The motel clerk has the same attitude as the bartender and charges me three times when the room is worth.

But my temper is up now and I let loose on him, a verbal barrage that would make a street punk blush.

The clerk calls the sheriff, who comes in telling me to shut my mouth or Iíll be spending the night in his jail free.

I tell the fool that Iím a cop, too, and that he ought not treat strangers like he is.

I see the clerk get nervous, and he tells the sheriff it was all a misunderstanding. He tells me heíll let me stay at the local rate.

This makes me feel a little easier.

The clerk, at least, has sense not to test my patience.

But Iím not sooner out the door when that son of a bitch sheriff belts me in face with a two by four.

Iím dazed with blood streaming from my forehead.

Still, I can make out him and some others from the tavern laughing at me.

Now Iím scared and I hate feeling scared.

But Iím out in the middle of some nightmare world and I canít even call for backup.

Yet the red I see isnít from blood, but from rage.

I grab the board before the asshole can swing it again and I throw it aside, then lay into him with both fits.

These jerks out here might think they're mean having to worry about bears and wolves, but I learned to survive on the streets of New York, and Iím so out of control none of the others make a move as I beat the living shit out of the sheriff.

It takes me a long time to get the rage out of me.

By that time, the sheriff looks more like processed meat than a human being, moving slow, I think he might be dying.

Everybody is staring at me, and I imagine seeing them all on some court house witness stand telling a jury how I did all this without provocation.

Iím thinking of how trapped I am, and how out of my element, and how any local judge is going to take their word against mine, simply because heís from here and Iím not.

But when I look down at the sheriff I see fear in his blood-caked eyes and I know he wonít tangle with me again.

Then I look around and see fear in their faces, too.

So I slowly walk back towards the door of my motel room, enter, and close the door on those faces.

Maybe theyíll arrest me in the morning.

But tonight, Iím strangely at peace for the first time in many years.


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