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Officer Alex finds fences and a cover charge might change the world
I was clean…cleaner than I’d been in months and it showed; my jaws were clenched and my eyes wide open, but both were only in anticipation of the possibilities I’d uncovered in the last few moments as I marveled at the possibility of something new happening in my life, in my career, for once.
I may have even been giddy.
Before I go on, let me specify what I mean by “clean”: I mean so literally. I’d stunk, coated in a tangible film of slime that only apathy, heat and monotony can readily apply to human skin shift after shift, night after night, layers brought on by the constant repetition of boredom and violence and anger and regret, and the futility that those weren’t even my emotions I was speaking of most of the time.
Simple sunlight seems harmless as well to the uninitiated—until they’ve been exposed to it for an extended period of time and suddenly realize that even bed sheets can bring excruciating pain. Well, here I am, folks. Welcome to the party. Yes: “Clean.”
Our city had been brought into a new era of peace, it hoped, by a new concept labeled the “Violence Reduction Initiative.” My thoughts on it were (and are) genuinely hopeful because the status quo sure as hell wasn’t getting us further along to “civilization”, but what did it really consist of? An enhancement of current methods already employed.
While the fangs could sink deeper and the jaws could be set to hold them in even longer, at the end of the day, it still amounted to jail time for those that chose to ignore a newly offered hand after a societal “reset button” had been hit. More escape paths had been constructed for them to find their way back to civilized behavior…but the initiative didn’t take into account the near mitochondrial programming set to ignore these things by the intended clientele.
The cement into this VRI hadn’t had the chance to set yet on either side of the fence (cement further liquefied by the habits of Mr. Richard Bennett), and violence was still an issue despite actions taken. Then I worked what we Chattanoogans affectionately refer to as “The Strut.”
Despite years of declining attendance numbers and increasing violent crime, tonight? It was beautiful. Amazing. Nothing short of turkey-leg-and-beer swilling perfection. Black and white, Democrat and Republican. Cats met laser pointers, dogs met squirrels. It was the Woodstock we imagined, not the one with spouts of “bad acid” and rain we got on that first horrible week.
And that was when the answer struck me after both years of fruitless toil and gallons of both antibacterial soap and liquor: All peace required was portable cyclone fences and a cover charge. The evidence stood before me as far as the eye could see, like a three-ton heavy-thing.
I was bowled over by the simplicity of the idea and immediately reached for a fragment of paper towel blowing down the street from J.J.’s Bohemia so as to jot down my rush of thoughts before they calmed. I spent days deciphering it despite my best efforts to write clearly on that horribly soiled paper towel. (The stench of a syphilitic raccoon haunts me to this day, friends.)
A group of wayward young men make a mistake? We shut down the 2000 block of North Chamberlain Ave. and charge a cover to pass through. An affiliated gang member decides to shoot a man in the thigh over a girl who made a pass at him during a party?
We throw up fences on Arlington from Wilson to Windsor and ask for a 10-spot, and slowly watch the East-Chatt drug community shut down like a healthcare.gov website. I’d seen it work this Strut Night, and I wasn’t going to let the lesson go unnoticed for a single second.
I was ready. Ready to get this on more formal paper, to run it up the flagpole and start doing great justice, but shots rang out on Cooley Street and all thoughts of my impending ascent left me, but I still had that filthy paper towel crammed into my back pocket, a place I would never forget I put it even after I threw it and the pants that contained it in the wash…it had hardly been three days since the last change, after all. What could go wrong?
(As of press time, no such solution has been submitted. Persons close to the source indicated something, in fact, may have gone wrong…but the idea of fences and door charges have people pre-protesting in horror compared to the current alternatives.)