Out of my mind


I envy my next door neighbor, Phil, because he is a model citizen.

If the city tells him to put out trash at 7 pm., he posed at 6:59 with trash in one hand and stop watch in the other, waiting.

If the authorities tells him to keep a look out for suspected terrorists, heís in his window with binoculars staring out at everyone passing by.

Heís the kind of guy who scares me most because I know if the brain police come looking for me, heíll be on the street pointing out my door for them.

Maybe if I didnít have all these deviant thoughts popping into my head, Phil wouldnít make me so nervous. I donít know where they come from, but one minute Iím a clear-thinking and respectable citizens, buying whatever Iím told to buy, believing whatever Iím told to believe, and the next minute, I asking myself: why?

All the time, I dread the possibility that the brain police might call me in for a flash scan Ė those on-the-site scans they sometimes impose in-between the usual monthly scans all good citizens must endure.

Each time I see the flash of Philís binoculars looking at me from his window, I think heís reading my mind and calling the police.

Of course, Iím always careful when it comes to people like Phil, keeping my shades closed at home and making sure I do nothing obvious that will give away my thinking in public.

I learned long ago that the best defense against the brain police is to look and act normal, to pretend to believe all the right things, to make sure I belong to all the right organizations and attend all the right churches. I even give to all the acceptable charities.

I also learned from early childhood that I can divide my mind when I know a scan is coming, shoving all my questionable thoughts into a dark closet the authorities cannot detect.

This allows me to think I can hide my deformity forever, and never need to expose or even explore just how deviant I am inside.

But I also know I have to be vigilant Ė something this dark side of me always seeking to reveal itself at unexpected times, such as when I know Phil is watching me.

While I know I can hide my thoughts from a regular scan, Iím not so sure I can handle one imposed by surprise. Sometimes it takes a week for me to organize my thoughts, determining which is acceptable and which is not.

If Iím caught, I know I face serious consequences from retaining to a full mind swipe, and while I often wish I could start over and become more like Phil, another part of me hates the idea.

Sometimes, I detect yet another part of me, a third even more deviant part of me, that gets its kicks out of fooling everybody so well.

Sometimes I come out of my house, stop, smile and wave at the window where I know Phil is watching me from, me, thinking the whole time he has accepted this as an act of friendliness when inside Iím mocking him.

I taunt him with my thoughts to say he will never get the chance to turn me in, because I will look and act more normal than even he is.

How can the brain police want to scan a man so normal when there are so many other more obvious deviants wandering around the world?

This means, of course, that I need to watch others the way they watch me, and turn in my allotted share so that I donít become obvious in my neglect.

So itís more than a little shock when I wake up this morning and see the brain police stopping in front of my house and see Phil with them on my sidewalk pointing in the direction of my house.

My brain reels with the implications, so that instead of better preparing myself for the inevitable scan, my deviant thoughts scatter across every thought so it might take a year to reel them in.

So I rush out the back door and across the back yards just as the police ring my bell.

With Phil in front, I know he wonít spot me Ė even though our block has many others like him, as does every other block, armies of good citizens willing to turn in people like me for thinking differently than they do, reporting even the most trivial oddity for a potential scan.

But as I run, I pray they are so busy staring at each other they might miss so oblivious a deviant as a wild man like me rushing across their yards.

As I run, I try to sort through the madness going on in my head, filtering out the worst thoughts, the urges to kill Phil or fight authority, even thoughts about lusts and loves I know are not acceptable to our Christian society.

I figure if I can keep out of the hands of the police long enough, I might get the worst thoughts corralled so a brain scan wonít condemn me to death. Or worse.

Yet even as I run I see the flash of binocular lenses behind the curtains in each house, each one marking my progress as I rush passed, each one filled with people just like Phil Ė just like me Ė each needing to keep up his or her quota of deviant reports so that the brain police portable scan van does not stop in front of his or her house.

Very soon the sound of police radios and helicopters pursues me though the yards, a public address voice calling for me by name.

Any attempt to reshape myself as normal inside or out gets lost in the rush of fear, I am a pulsating deviant possessed by demons beyond self control.

Any test now, will show me to be a Charlie Manson or a Jim Jones, a terrorist so terrible† even death would not punish me enough Ė my hatred at being hunted making me into a hopeless cause that should be housed forever behind bars somewhere, studied† -- perhaps even tortured Ė as eternal punishment for my crimes.

Strangely, as I run, that third deviant part of me takes over, and I feel a surge of relief, my inner self free for the first time in my life.

I no longer need to hide behind walls Iíve built inside my brain in anticipation of a scan, or dread what the flash of binoculars will reveal about me. In fact, I flash each of them the finger as I run, imagining their shocked expressions at the indignity.

I donít even need to thin, but run, play this came of cat and mouse with the police, me dodging their advances.

Sure they will catch up with me Ė sooner or later.

Sure they will wash my brain or lock me in some secret prison.

But for now, rushing away as I am, I have never felt so alive.

Or so free.



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