Thursday, May 30, 2019

Physician, Commit Thyself

Part 30 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

As time goes on, long after my day, when better Psycho Squads are made, I’ll be there, my spirit pressed against the grindstone and sparking like mad. The current generation always builds on what came before. And so it shall always be, until everyone's normal.

Now I'm an old man and I’ve seen a lot of changes. For the most part the changes have been for the better. When I first started, we didn’t know much, we were feeling our way. They wanted to train us “right,” according to the standards of the time. But we were young and brash and said we could do it. We tried, really tried, and it wasn’t always a big success, with the wild massacres of the late ‘70s inflaming things, to say the least. Now it's all ancient history. Because we charted a new course, hating with a purple passion our banning by the infernal "responsible authorities." We had to take a different path if we wanted to eat...

Yes, a lot of guys were skittish and acted tough; they fell by the wayside. Some true talents were among them, too, who could’ve helped advance the Psycho Squad movement. But they wilted like violets, proving themselves namby pamby weak-willed nothings, always there when the going was easy but nowhere to be found when people started dying: “Aggh! There goes another one!” Which to me is when you need them the most. “Suture this man’s wounds! Set that bone! We’re dying here, people! Where are you going?! You can’t leave us! I don't care if drinks are half-priced! They’re locked in the bathroom with a box of matches and enough gasoline to ignite World War III!” ... You realize I'm not talking about patients, that was the staff...

But today is not a day for looking back but ahead, and having the same can-do spirit that made us pick up the loose pieces and march forward. Which, if memory serves, some loudmouths said couldn’t be done. I will be the first to admit, I almost believed the naysayers. Because, really, what'd I know? I was new, still fairly innocent in the ways of the world and personally had some tough times. Now I've had decades to reflect on the mission, but then I wavered. And just before I was lost forever on the naysayers’ path, I found my way back. Big thanks to Cindy Lou S___ for taking me in that night, for comforting me, stroking my hair, etc., and humpa humpa, the dawn broke.

Where have the years gone? Into service, that’s where! We've seen the whole mental hospital scene. County facilities for the mentally wayward. And a relatively recent emphasis on meds to calm and control. I was vehemently against it at first but they subdued me and thereby convinced me, “Yes, this works.” And now I have several prescriptions of my own, so, to be absolutely blunt, I’m chillin’, dude … You still here? Hope you can read these chicken scratches; I can barely read them myself, but hey… I’m OK, you’re OK, no one reads this far anyway. I could say anything or puke all over the place and it’d be all the same...

You know, I haven’t seen a psycho in a choke-hold in 20 years! The old ways have passed. Which was indeed fairly sad, but effective. Cuffed to a nightstand, turn the TV way up, and except for the noise everything was under perfect control. Of course you wouldn’t try that working on your re-cert! I mean, live dangerously if that’s your thing, just don’t tempt fate, that’s all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Warning: Cheer Up!

Part 29 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Everywhere I go as a mental health guy — head of the local Psycho Squad — I share the same positive message of moral uplift, good cheer and behavior. Because for the most part I have the world’s greatest attitude, only so often what I get in return are folks looking back at me tough as nails, like they’d jump me in a second with a ready shiv. Yes, there’s a few cheerful ones. I try not to take all the credit, but I figure they’re also inherently mean but briefly piggybacking on my good cheer.

It’s amazing how many folks I run into in the course of a day. I take the dog out and there’s strangers everywhere, walking up or down the street. Serious question: Whatever happened to people walking on the sidewalk? Why are they always literally walking in the street? I have some theories on that, but when you’re in my business, you have theories on everything. Like my theory on squinting: I sometimes squint my eyes and seem to detect that people with psychotic tendencies often live in houses that appear to be melting. (A true result of squinting, and if verified it'd be a great tool for diagnoses.)

Really, it seems like I see more with my eyes squinting than wide open! I don’t know if there’s any relation to how you fix your eyes (open, closed, squinting) and the accuracy of discerning life's secrets. It’s an interesting theory. Maybe one of these years I’ll make a New Year’s resolution to squint my eyes more than ever and see what kind of year I have! It’d be interesting to squint your eyes in rush hour, because I believe I’d see a lot more accidents than otherwise. I seriously don't have the time for accidents and the nasty aftermath, but it'd be a great way to meet new people in distress.

I don’t know what you do for a living, but unless you’re with the police or bill collectors you don’t see as many sad (and mean) people as I do. To normal people, there’s nothing more fascinating than the Psycho Squad. I get a million questions from normal people, all asked with a big wide-eyed look of true interest on their sweet faces. The first thing normal kids want from me is to blow the siren. Which I can’t legally do, but if they promise real good not to report me I’ll blow it for a few seconds. Then there’s kids and adults who aren’t normal. Sensing me in the neighborhood, even without the siren, they duck down quickly inside their melting houses, trying to stay hidden from the light of day, and doing ... who knows what? There's so much squalor of their very dim, sun-deprived houses or apartments, it could be anything. It's bad for property values for sure, too much melting.

If you get a bunch of folks together — say someone's reported them for abnormal tendencies — and I show up, with a blank sheet of paper to take down their info, you have never seen a bunch of sadder pusses than the look on these folks! Grimaces! Frowning like concentrated evil, furrowed eyebrows, bald heads flushed pink with social disgust, really the whole gamut. What can I do but run ‘em in, and let the system sort ‘em out? Yes, I get it. They hate me. But I’m pursuing their ultimate happiness, and if they can prove they’re not a danger to themselves or others, and that can sometimes be a struggle, they can go back home. Folks, the answer’s easy: Put a nice smile on your face when I’m around or face the music.

They could duck down and hide when I go by, but somehow I’d still be drawn to them and they to me, and I’m not sure anyone will ever get away.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Are We All Crazy?

Part 28 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Are we all crazy? Who’s asking? If we're all crazy is there someone sane enough to ask? Sounds like a thought puzzle, like we had in college, talking in some guy's dorm room. The weird philosophical discussions we had! Then an orgy would break out and the time for talk had passed. Boys and girls, girls and girls, boys and boys, an occasional priest. Completely carnal except for the intellectual talk and a dash of spirituality.

A few of the discussions centered on interests like this, How do we know what we know? Where do we independently stand to know the truth? This stuff usually came out of philosophy, which I still don’t get entirely. Except it's meant to tie you up in knots and get you flunked. Technically it's the love of wisdom, but since it’s so hard to state the terms and definitions describing reality (which is a mystery), it’s every person, object, or concept for itself. That’s what I got out of it, and it’s helped me immensely with the Psycho Squad. “Screw the rules. The rules are ‘Battle stations, entities of every stripe!'”

I can simplify things: Clinically speaking, we’re divided into two basic groups, the much smaller group, normal people like me. Then the vaster group, those who are abnormal in one respect or another. They may have eaten one too many TV dinners or maybe they were born with it, but they’re decidedly different, confirmed wacko. One problem with me, and I don’t admit anything bad very often, is I only have one Psycho Squad ambulance. If I really applied myself I could have a thousand ambulances and a million employees! But the few employees I have now pilfer me almost to death, so if I were any more successful I'd be completely broke.

Think of the dilemma from this angle: With that many people lost in their mental problems and essentially incapacitated — except for their strange unerring ability to act as criminals — I couldn’t afford to screen a staff with the percentages; they themselves would be 80% psychotic! Just keeping track of who’s nuts enough to be semi-normal would be too much. The only solution would be to have a vast facility and an unlimited number of holding cells for when they acted out. But getting staff who aren't sadists, sheesh!

Anyway, I guess I'm happy enough with operations the way they are. Small enough to be flexible and big enough to keep myself neatly dressed. Plus, it does allow me enough free time to chart out how massive my problems are. I keep a blackboard in the garage and update it daily depending on the previous day’s experience. My PQ rating (psycho quotient) goes up and down, which is my take on the social environment. I buckle down when it’s high and loosen up when it’s low. It's about even now, so I'm simultaneously buckled and loose.

But it's all good. I get a few days rest, the PQ goes up, we work like dogs, then enjoy a few days downtime. It’s a great job. Although I'm stuck with the sneaky feeling that I may wake up someday and discover the real truth, that I've been locked up and sedated my whole life.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fight Like Samson, Like A Dog

Part 27 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

“Fight Like A Dog To The Death.” That’s the Psycho Squad’s advice. It makes sense. We’re all eventually going to die anyway, we may as well fight like a dog getting there. Half measures are for halfwits. The whole enchilada, that's what's happening for those who would prevail. Like my mom told me the first day of Kindergarten, "Get your butt in there, son. Kick ass and take names." Which, like Samson in the picture, is one of my pillars of success. Essentially it means, Do everything you can to better your circumstances.

One of the biggest barriers to our understanding these days is we don't usually see dogs fighting. But it used to be that dogs ran free. They weren't curled up while you were watching TV. But off doing territorial, defensive things. In some cases they did fight to the death. The key thing is the territorial resolve that motivates rugged nature. Like me with a box of glazed donuts; I may not be generous, don't lose your hand testing me.

These days when we say things about fighting like a dog, of course we’re speaking in terms of mental/psychological resolve, not giving up easily, not being a pushover. What if we had the personal strength to make better choices, X Y Z, instead of letting circumstances run roughshod over us? Someone comes in the room and says, "What's this dead body on the rug?" And you're not overly disturbed but calmly calling around to see if anyone's missing someone.

You've probably heard the story of Samson. He was a lecherous guy, having wild sex with temptress Delilah. But she was working with his enemies, trying to find the source of his strength and how to destroy him. It was his long hair. When they cut it he lost his power. They even blinded him, then put him to work like a slave. But his hair was growing back. Finally, when it was long enough to put up a decent fight, he was tied to the pillars of the building and pulled them down, killing everyone including himself. That's the kind of power any of us could use.

But you have to pick your battles. When it comes to the Psycho Squad, I'd rather the guys I take in not fight like a dog to the death. One, we're going to get you one way or another. We have backup. Two, we have insurance, yes, but I hate to use it. If you start destroying ambulances, that's a big deal. Or getting hurt, that's a liability. The Philistines were primitive compared to us today in terms of chemistry. We have enough medicine to put you to sleep for a month. Imagine that, waking up a month from now in a 40-pound diaper. The picture in your mind, let it be a warning.

You could even make the case that Samson got it all wrong, struggling like a fool, no eyes, no prospects of getting back his normal life, he should’ve just given in. That’s the advice we give our patients. I’m standing there Mr. Compassion, but we'll use all legitimate means to subdue you for your own good. Say you're biting through a tire on the ambulance, for multiple reasons that's a big no-no.

But if we have a guy without any fight at all, we're gentle. We have one guy who actually gave me a key and said, “Don’t bother knocking, the bird might be asleep.” So we go in, creep quietly by the cage, give the guy a hypo, get him help and he’s back home in a couple weeks. We’re even compassionate with the bird, put a box of food by him, a gallon of water, and the Sunday newspaper.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

You May Have Psychotic Tendencies

No. 26 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Something most of us share is a great hope for the future. I believe there's a correlation between hoping for things and getting them, even if it's nothing more than an occasional coincidence. You certainly see it at the personal level. You tell your mom you hope for a dartboard at Christmas and there's a pretty good chance you'll get one. Unless you have a bad history with darts as some families have. If you ever threw a dart and killed a brother, ask for something else.

In the Psycho Squad business we’re always hoping to pin down the things that accompany psychological eruptions. It’d be great if we could predict when they're going to happen, who the parties are, and where they are. With there possibly being a few drawbacks. You'd still have to let it happen before you jumped in. If we had the stun gun ready and jumped the gun, right there's a lawsuit. And if you've ever seen a certified psycho with a certified lawyer, they want so much money they're both psychos. Let me underscore this point: Even if it’s statistically likely someone's going to go completely nuts and kill half the state, wait! Maybe put up some netting at the ceiling, that's it; you could save a few lives without being an accomplice.

And after reflection, I'm thinking it's not smart to predict things too accurately for other reasons. If I showed up at someone's place to treat them preemptively, after a while they’d think it was me that was making them sick. Business would drop off, I’d miss out on meals and get hungry. And I wouldn’t be able to afford the few meds I take. I’d start acting out, getting crazier and crazier, and pretty soon a different Psycho Squad would take me in and predict all my future eruptions.

So it's the element of surprise that keeps me in the green. Making me resolve, “Even if I know who’s going to act out, I will do nothing about it in advance." In fact, I might just wait till all hope is lost before responding. Then drive five miles out of my way before turning around, so the exacerbated consequences will yield more profits. Soon society will be so bad off that my work will be publicly subsidized, with greater and greater profits. However (and this is a good point), I can't purposely fail too much, because then the competition would overtake me. Plus, if I was always late and they were always early, that'd hurt my self image; I've always been proud of my punctuality.

Anyway, I started working up a few psychological tests (see above), but I think I'll junk them now. We need to keep psychological stuff, and certainly the world of psychoses, a little quieter. We really don't want competition. I won't even explain the graphic, because, honestly, that one graphic is the key to everything. If the competition had the barest inkling of the arcane implications of those five graphics and five captions, that'd be it! So I will leave it posted only briefly, a few minutes, OK? And, please, no one make copies of it. Even now I'm going to print off a copy and immediately burn it. Must -- keep -- everything -- secret.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Most Attractive Men

Part 25 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

What do I find attractive? Depends on the day and the eyes I wake up with. But attractive or not, everything's off limits till we boldly go after it. Rubber stamp a court order, barge in, this is a take-down, a shakedown. And the rules are on our side. It's a bad time to be a perp. Even if I only imagine myself doing something criminal or psychotic I know how they'll take me down. That's a good perspective to have. And that the two ends of every life are birth and death.

Attractive? Sure, my mind goes there. I mentioned kindergarten teachers before; they've got it goin' on, even as I consciously wonder, "Who do you think you're fooling? It's been done to death." Then there's tougher gals, making the two extremes, innocent and guilty. We just covered all-night waitresses. And there's everyone else, of every tribe and nation. I used to see those pictures of naked ladies from other tribes and a bone in their nose and not get it. I get it now. The guys there are desperate.

So we're looking at the balance between the absolute innocent and the absolute wanton. And there's a lot to that — it’s in the myths, the mommy that babies you and the mother who guts and fillets you. I hope waitresses will forgive the jab, but next time I’m in your joint how about a grin for the road and not the blunt end of a frown? You could've killed me in the crib but you didn't.

Sure, accused men, even the psychotic, are attractive, the center of their own nucleus and gravity. Who doesn't know that? The law swarms them, never to their liking. Even if the accusation isn't immediately clear, round up the usual suspects and we'll sort it out. In the picture Josef K acts like he doesn't know why he's under arrest. When the evidence is everywhere. He can't contain it. Everywhere he goes he's clearly seen, bad behavior massively askew and guilt pouring everywhere through the cracks. He could've just died in the opening scene rather than stringing us along and gumming up the works. Dispatch him quickly and give us the rest of the day off.

But if we must work, let's work... Get on with the important mission of spotting the guilty, the confused, the infirm. Frankly, it’s all I can do not to tackle and arrest people simply for their own good. You see them a mile away and what they’re up to. You know where they go and you know what they do there. There's no reason to hide behind niceties, it's disgusting. And if I know that much, there's no denial of the rest. We started out with enough to go on, pal. Let’s get you some help, if you'll submit before it's too late. And if it takes pouring money into another ambulance or two -- I'd love to have a vacation instead -- so be it. Every little bit helps.

You all have something you can do to speed things along: Don't hide in the shadows. Surrender immediately, confess. We're not going away. We're going to get you hook or crook. But you'll be fine. What exactly are you trying to protect? What you've got's no good; let's make it better. You know me. I'm against all wanton feeling up, all invasiveness. It never happens. Don't listen to anyone. I'll cuddle you like you were my own family jewels.
Photo from movie "The Trial," starring Anthony Perkins. From the novel by Franz Kafka.

Friday, May 24, 2019

I Am A Proud Cog

Part 24 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Have you ever foolishly worried that you're "merely" a cog in a machine? Or are you rightfully proud that as an appropriate match to other cogs the machine runs smoothly? When your long life is finished, will they put your citizen name on the tombstone (boring!) or a nice glorious stylized clip art cog to identify your valued life?

I used to think I was something other than a cog, because really I hadn't given much thought to it. I was 18 and in my first job, but having raging hormones I wanted to go see my matching girl person for a date. But the boss instead wanted me to work overtime. So he came in and shared with me the facts of life. These facts didn’t involve wasting time worrying about sex, but instead me being a cog in a well-oiled machine. I learned that if a cog doesn’t stay put and do its job, it's replaced. Naturally I took that as a new insight, and since I always want to be helpful, I stayed. Even now I can imagine that wise man in his office -- he's long since passed on to the great machine in the sky -- and I still feel privileged that from his lips I learned that great lesson.

Life would be a lot easier if we could cast off all flesh and blood and literally be metal cogs and strong machines, joyfully going at it, no evil hormones to interrupt us. We would pause and submit to on-site mechanics, not waste time going to the doctor. It would be of the greatest value to work 24 hours a day. And our arms would be programmed to reach for the exact medicine we need. I don't always know what to take. The only medical knowledge I have are bandages. Which are tough to choke down, but if you can manage it they're great for a sore throat. If they could only be engineered to cure everything, from headaches to broken bones...

But as things stand, we still need a doctor for everything else. Jock itch, syphilis, Italian breath. The doctor actually helped me with Italian breath. Put hot sauce on a bandage and wrap it around your tongue and replace it every couple months. And avoid Italian food. And I guess there's other medicines we’ve managed to wrestle out of the doctor’s hold: cough drops, triple antibiotic, and fungus spray. Everything else is off limits. With the Psycho Squad, I can't even commit a guy to the psych hospital and throw away the key without a doctor's OK. It tempts me sometimes to blow my top, but I tell myself that there is social wisdom in it. A higher-up cog decided, so that's good enough for me.

Just to come full circle on my triple antibiotic story, I tried healing an itch on my arm with triple antibiotic, with a consult with the doctor. After a few days I thought it was cured so I quit applying it. But it came roaring back. So I ganged up on it, applying the cream several times a day for a couple weeks, till -- yucky! -- my skin was glowing and sagging. Ultimately it worked and that's good. Wrestling psychos into ambulances is a lot easier with two arms.

Just to close it out on my old boss. The last time I saw him was in 1984 at a political debate of the presidential candidates. Beloved Mr. Cog in the flesh! But I didn’t go over and visit with him because I still didn't quite feel worthy. I still had in my mind the original shame of wanting to visit a girl instead of working. This was before I had the Psycho Squad franchise or I certainly would've shared with him my place in the world. And maybe checked his mental health to keep him going. Good health is important, from one cog to another. Do your part and you will fulfill your destiny!

Please, seriously, do your part faithfully. Reading time is now over. Back to work.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

No Pocus, No Hocus

Part 23 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

I seriously thought I would make a love connection with Doris the Matching Tie Waitress, but it wasn't to be. Something came between us in what might've been our moment. It didn’t take long for the coffee to cool off and the same went for her. Some like it hot, some like it cold. Who we kiddin'? No one likes it cold. Except her. Although in fairness, she's probably been burned more than once. And maybe she thought I was too eager and a danger to her physical health. I totally understand, since that’s my own normal standard of thinking. Whatever, there was no love connection.

And so I tramped out into cold slumped like a lost puppy, but with a Psycho Squad call to deal with, a group of guys considered off the beam. You never know when these calls are going to erupt. As far as I know, they were as mentally healthy as horses just minutes before. And whether there was a mysterious quivering in the cosmic cloth or just some persistent problem of Monkey See Monkey Do, Birds of a Feather Flocking, or Communal Delusion aka the Jonestown Syndrome, they all went whack in perfect synch.

Was it a massive coincidence? Well, they were all looking for love connections at a gentlemen's club, according to the sworn statements of several more satisfied guys. Which I’ve seen a thousand times. Guys get so stoved up and desperate for affection, and this is especially pronounced at gentlemen’s clubs. Then once rejected their eyes glaze over and they act out in negative ways. It’s rooted in their desires and years and years of rejection, fears, misplaced optimism, etc. Group think is a biggie in men’s breeding genes, and, yes, it edges close to the psycho range.

It’d be great to pool our knowledge of gentlemen’s clubs. I’m not saying I know a lot, about average, but I never put it on my resume. Guys, you need to remember, those gals are pros! They’ve been around the block more times than teenagers on a Friday night. But you look down and see your single solitary self and think you’re God’s gift to women. Maybe you are, but that doesn't impress the pros. They’ve got your number, they milk it for what it's worth, and that’s as far as the service goes.

So I showed up at the Fox's Tail Club, found the group of glassy-eyed Romeos about like you'd expect — one had kicked the jukebox and ended the fun for everyone — and took them in for a while. The worst four I told to sit up straight in the back of the ambulance. The way we handle these guys is scare them straight the best we can. Do they have wives? Do they have jobs? Are they elected officials? We point out the consequences of bad behavior. Throw in an aspirin-flavored placebo and it instantly heals what might’ve been a full blown psycho meltdown.

Then hand them a few tissues and send ‘em behind the building. The same way you purge a good drunk, the body’s normal way of ejecting booze out the mouth, is similar to handling gentlemen’s club rejects. And profitable. I charge $5 a tissue and because they were bad boys they never complain.

Which brings me back to my own rejection from waitress Doris: Dear Doris, darling Doris! I need the hocus pocus... I need the magic back... Because no pocus, no hocus! But, baby, the last word's mine! And I’ll be back to normal any minute now...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Coming On Hot To Cold Doris

Part 22 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Everyone in the Psycho Squad biz knows the 72-year war, presently the average lifespan of our species, a long time to have psychotic problems. But to the person with it — who knows? — it might fly by in a flash. They don’t know. They're just lurching from one crisis to another, more or less oblivious: It's someone else's problem.

So, for me, yes, I have plenty to do. But I also have 72 years, a good chunk of time. I can afford to kick back a few minutes, take a snack — coffee, tea, or me — the work will still be waiting when I get done. I pulled into one of those all night eats joints where the food’s hot and maybe the waitresses. Me and romance, though, not always a good combo. The Psycho Squad stuff doesn't go away: If there's a problem, you act on it now, no time to wait, no time like the present.

That was the scene I met at this all night place. With a waitress I’d tangled with before, but not in the way I’d like. 'Your thicket or mine, let's tangle... We're both stoved up and hot, instant on, a bad way to be when there's no feast to be had.' Reminds me of the old Westinghouse we used to cook with: Don’t turn it on till it’s time, the thing sparks into action right now. That’s what sparked in me when I saw Doris -- "Doris," her beautiful name tripped off her tag to the tip of my tongue, a goddess conjuring as if by magic coffee, sausage, and more sausage. I thought, "No need to check the state of play, I'm a man." But I warned myself, "Easy, boy, down! Stay cool till we're invited!"

Yeah, but these damned joints will break your heart every time. It's the same old story. There’s not an innocent bird in the place. I scoured the scene. Every one of them's been around the block so many times they’ve carved ruts. Street savvy. They know their way around a guy. They should, they’ve met enough creeps to last a lifetime. Once they had the git-up and go, now they’ve turned the corner. And bedded down in the paddock and taken their oats.

That's right, a few years in the waitress biz is all it takes. And who can blame 'em? Ridden hard, put away wet one too many times. And I bet she's got a dozen cross-eyed brats in foster homes up and down the tri-state corridor. Little bastards maybe showing up wanting her tip money, the old guilt trip. Yeah, I could see it in her eyes. No wild oats for her. Just looking for the straightaway home. That’s good for the jockey in her mind, not what's in my jockeys. I mentioned instant on, this was instant off.

But I laughed it off and gave her a wink as if to say, "You old kidder!" But she was impossible to break with the Night Shift Syndrome. I sat there then quiet like, simmering, trying to ignore her. A little more cream for my coffee? And she kept up a brisk pace, playing the mind game of making me drink as fast as possible and get the hell out. But psycho tricks are always on my side; the game had shifted, and in this game I had her right where I wanted her: She’s gonna give me coffee refills from now till doomsday! I would not be forced out...

So I sat there three hours — it was a grudge match and I had nothing better to do. When, damn it to hell, there had to be a Psycho Squad call about 5 in the morning! Some twerp with a God complex dangling from the water tower. And He was holding two hostages, possibly the Son and Spirit, with rusty nails held to both their throats. Huh? I couldn't stew over theology, I had to ascend and get going.

Just then, seeing my dilemma, Doris backed against the counter and started playing with herself, mocking me. I laid it on her real square, the bad news in one painful body slam: “Save it, baby, the coffee was cold, but hotter than you...”

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Danny, Spud, Tipsy, and Cannibal

Part 21 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

My life’s really been a rich tapestry of doing good and offering help. I've offered a hand up. But then when that hand's been bitten, I've had to kick ass. These are the signs of a good life well-lived.

So here I stand, somebody. A modest man. But in certain ways, a big man, the head kahuna. I’m not just a grunt worker with the Psycho Squad, like Al and Ted, employees outside the scope of this series. I'm a happy entrepreneur, running the Squad, working on this blog, and sitting around shooting the breeze according to the highest standards. There's been moments when I tried to be a people person. One thing, a few years ago I broadened the blog staff: One broad, Myra Kula Electra, and four jailbirds from the local prison release program.

The four also had a looser connection with the Psycho Squad’s main work, but they were so far gone there was no improvement. I tried to help them but it turned out to be more of a disaster than anything. And the grunt work they shared did no good for the blog or anything else. Which taught me that it simply doesn’t pay to be a do-gooder. The average guy already knows that and would've never had anything to do with SOBs like Dashing Danny Whrfr*, Spud Tuber, Stanley “Tipsy” White, and Cannibal. It's all in the past now, but one thing still rankles me; I must’ve loaned each one of these bastards $15 or more over the years and not one of them ever paid me back. They’re completely irresponsible, the lot of them.

But there was something I got out of their worthless hides, and that's the sad experience of being with them. When you’re in the Psycho Squad business everything you do adds up. Some things give me greater compassion, like when I see the kindness of kindergarten teachers, usually cute, often single. They're always the ones that don’t realize how hot they are; they’re great with other people’s kids, what could they be with hers and mine? Then I face reality and let it pass without a word. And use my so-called compassion on equally hopeless pursuits, which brings us full circle back to these release farm rejects...

So I got a little payoff for the misfortune of dealing with Danny, Spud, Tipsy, and Cannibal. I had ‘em close to me over a period of weeks or months; I think it was weeks but felt like months. Was I pissed off at them at the time? Of course I was, because, speaking of hot dates, I had my eye on prize-winning reporter Myra Kula Electra, and then every one of these psycho bastards slept with her at the Fourth of July festivities!

Looking back on it, I recall Myra had ulterior motives and was just as guilty. It took a lot of unreformed sex drive to put her so fast on her back, and in sync with a lovely municipal fireworks display; they really went all out. But her real goal was to undercut me. The four guys were the ones I was most disappointed in: If your actual home is a reform facility you ought to be able to point to some actual progress.

But like I said, there was a payoff, the lesson I learned from the whole affair and how I’ve applied it to day to day operations with the Psycho Squad. Which is this, Never trust any of these guys! I am suspicious of everything that moves and I sleep with my eyes wide open. So when I’m around the most hardened cases my eyes are strictly like manufactured homes, double-wides.

*That’s right, Whrfr. Danny had foreign forebears. Who would ashamed of him if they only knew what their pathetic genes cursed the world with.

Monday, May 20, 2019

What The—! Seriously, What The—!

Part 20 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Most jobs are like the work of the Psycho Squad. You do it enough and you get it down to a science. Even easier when it's supposed to be a science, gauging the behavior of folks and psychological tinkering when they inevitably screw up. Which means a lot of variables. Like eating a BLT, your gut has three distinct food groups to digest and bread's the ringer. It's so complicated a lot of people don't survive and eat something else next time. And poker comes to mind, holding, folding, bluffing, complaining, distracting each other, underhanded dealing, and secret signals. It's a tough game and I've got the scars to prove it.

With psychos you have to look for every edge. Forget BLTs, their lives are a smorgasbord of food groups no one likes. They're sick and they can make you sick if you're not careful. And they don't give a squat. They hide, they lie, they deceive. You've got to stay ahead of them. Think of yourself dealing with mental flamethrowers and you'll stay ahead. People tell me they’d like to do what I do, run the Psycho Squad or work for it, and I laugh like a bowlful of jelly. Because it helps to think like a psycho without being one. And that’s tough to maintain. I was so into it one day they mistook me for the case, tossed me in the clink and threw away the key. I was steaming, because it took an hour and a half to grind a new one.

So the people are a terror. But you don't want to focus on that all the time. The average guy has a good side and an evil side. Like the lady in the picture. Someone called me on her for having a good and evil self. Which turned out the exact opposite of what you’d think. The mirror side of her was what I'd call the real side and the young beholding side was the mirror image. Like in a hall of mirrors. Lots of reflections of yourself from many different angles. I used to do that with a mirror so I could comb the back of my head. Then it got to the point where I went bald on the front so I gave up on the back. I run my fingers through it now and haven’t seen it in years. I don’t know what it looks like. According to my fingers, there’s something there, but what, I don’t know and no one ever tells me. It's sort of crusty. There's a Psycho Squad lesson in there somewhere.

Maybe you're always looking for ways to identify whether you have a psychosis and related states. Here's some pointers: If no one acts like anything’s wrong with you, you're probably OK. Or they might be faking it until they’re safely out of your presence, then they’ll organize and invade. The best way to know if you’re about to be picked up is this: Wait long enough and if no one shows up, you weren’t about to be picked up. But remember, if you’re going to be picked up, they never just show up; they're organizing. Hang out, chill, and if someone kicks in the door, that'll be your first clue.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Better Health Begins At Home

Part 19 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

For a lot of the guys we deal with, the Psycho Squad is the best friend they have. And their so-called friends, the guys on the block, are their worst enemy. But try to convince them of that. They still turn and run. They always seem to think we're somehow the enemy. So we're bobbing and weaving, avoiding angry fists ourselves as we chase them up one alley and down another. You always hear these are mean streets, the alleys are no picnic either.

Then later I walk the hospital halls and see a lot of injuries, which is terrible. Mostly for our reputation. Because a lot of misinformed people think we have something to do with it. When we certainly don't. We play by the book, our only mission to help unfortunate souls and return them back as productive members of society. It's right there in black and white in our literature, and, frankly, my arm's getting sore lifting it to swear that we're clean. But that's a fact!

We might need to get some extra PR on this thing. One, it'd be a good way to keep the liability insurance guys happy and the rates lower. Maybe send our guys out with big foam gloves and hands, like in the stands at football games. A few huge pointing foam gloves and the public would have a better idea about us. They might even associate us with the football team, always known for playing clean. The rooms are padded, but the rooms aren't seen by the public very often. We might need to look into padding for the ambulances, the uniforms, everything. And rename the business Kid Gloves Psycho Squad, anything to keep our reputation.

How hard is it to believe that most of these characters -- several have a terrible sneer and gargle glass -- might run with the wrong crowd? You see it first thing when you're on a run. Most of the time I even leave a guy with the ambulance so we'll have tires when we get back! And of course windows, seats, a steering wheel, whatever we might need to keep a functioning unit. Then some of these neighborhoods are so tough, a gang of guys could pick up and move your ambulance just to set it in illegal parking. And that's mean. And to think these are some of the same guys I used to give butterscotch candy to as kids. This is the thanks I get? Hardly anyone just wants to be friends anymore.

Anyway, a perp might be pretty badly mangled by the time he's in the psych hospital. But I'm assuming they know the rules of their neighborhood: Don't look at someone else's girlfriend. Don't look at someone else's boyfriend. Don't mess with another guy's dog. Don't get in the way when they're dismantling a firetruck or Psycho Squad ambulance. Don't steal candy. Stop on the red, cross on the green, watch both ways in traffic, don't litter. I actually lost a friend a few years ago, knifed right in the heart. He'd unfortunately committed the trifecta of sins: Looked at someone's girlfriend, petted a guy's dog, and crossed on the red. But it's been a few years now and most of us have forgotten him.

So our job is hard enough just getting these crazies to the hospital, there's no way we want to extend our little visits by roughing them up. We're like everyone else: We want to cut every corner we can to get things done faster, not prolong the agony of being with these guys. And the only way to do that -- when the natives are cooperating -- is to bring 'em in clean and ship 'em out clean. Any trouble along the way means more paperwork, more explanations, and higher insurance. Plus dirty looks from nurses, definitely something we try to avoid...

Saturday, May 18, 2019

I'm Hungry, Lock Me Up

Part 18 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Sometimes I want to know more about my readers. So consider these questions and if you want to tell me about them. I wouldn’t mind an avalanche of responses, millions of replies, requiring a bank of highly paid good-looking secretaries.

What kind of appetite do you have? Are you extremely hungry, totally hungry, or as hungry as anyone ever? After you’ve had even the slightest food, are you totally satisfied, always satisfied, or both totally and always satisfied? Do you hope satisfaction goes away very quickly, very very quickly, or never arrives so you can constantly eat? Do you know the purpose of eating, the purpose of consuming food, and why we eat? Are you embarrassed about normal digestion processes and do you realize that the mere act of eating anything is a blatant admission that you eventually poop? Or do you wantonly go, instantly digesting, even if you've taken nothing more than a tiny pickle?

I’ll tell you what’s normal: What I do. Generally I have three meals a day, which we used to call breakfast, num num, and dinner. Now, with everyone TV-crazy these meals are called morning cartoons, num num cartoons, and evening cartoons. People are TV-happy, cartoon happy, and sitting there with huge bags of fast food, gobbling it down, and throwing the bags across the room at each other! Dogs forage through the mess and never go out to do their business, so it’s a pit. But they're mostly satisfied. As are the flies streaming through the cracks in the house, making a cesspool of filth everywhere. The people who live there are terrible people, saying mean things to each other in a mean way, “Gimme the remote, you shit!”

Anyway, back to my normal home, I shoot for breakfast, lunch, dinner. All done responsibly, in good order. Toast, bacon, cereal, sandwich, baked potato, and maybe something light for dinner. I still take the dog out — she's not shy about going — and I get some exercise along the way, then watch TV within limits. Something to make me laugh, perhaps. Other times, something serious so I’m well-informed, but I scrupulously avoid all news! I remember watching the news just a few years ago and not losing my num num, but I guess it's my age...

I’m just going to say what I always think and let the chips fall where they may: When it comes to normal, I'm about it. And even with the Psycho Squad work — which could jade anyone — I keep my equilibrium, more than any man's entitled to, taking my half out of the middle. Because I need a clear head when dealing with people that don’t. These bastards will jump you in a heartbeat and when they do I lose my num num.

There's one case I remember fondly, Stub's his name. Stub wanted to be taken in because he'd had a hunger for food since he was a teenager. And remembered that the detention center had the best food ever. And it probably did, so he got hooked on it. But when we released him he’d act out again and be recommitted. The way we handled Stub was with great creativity and mercy. We swung by the thrift store and bought him a cheap discarded cookbook. He didn’t know such knowledge existed, so he was thrilled! And now he has his own food truck across town. But he's still a psycho, never opens for business, just stays there cooking and eating oatmeal.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Never Enough Room Or Time

No. 17 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

I believe the guy had a reasonable complaint -- "Never Enough Room, Never Enough Time!" -- and I’m not always so generous with guys seized up in psychotic hallucinations. But those are true words. With the irony being, he's wasting my time and I'd rather be somewhere else. The clock's working against me, because I have a lot of things to do. And time is money! But he keeps on shouting and struggling against his helpers, "Time ... Room ... Time ... Room!"

But who can't agree with him? It’s certainly reasonable. But if it’s just something you're shouting to be shouting, it’s unreasonable, and we sit here bogged down at his side. And even if I'm making money, I could be making more money if he'd just cooperate, settle down, and be normal. "We're on the same page, pal, fighting for the same thing!"

Because, really, who among us has enough time? And room? I’ve been room-challenged lots of times. Maybe the garage is too small to hold all my stuff. I’ve shopped for garages and it's a lot of work taking everything you want to keep in the garage to a place where they sell garages. And if it doesn't fit, you have to pack it up again and go to the next place. And as for time? Maybe I had all the time in the world before I wasted it shopping for garages. They need a better way to buy yard buildings.

But here I sit, and I won't have time or money if the rantings of this lunatic are allowed to continue! How could he have such a reasonable point without a reasonable attitude? Therein is the conundrum (mental dishevelment) and the glory (social lenience for involuntary craziness). I had to think, This guy will never be happier than he is right this minute. Go out on top, dude! But look at him, whacked out without reserve, without sense, and if he keeps it up, at some point we'll have to bring it to a sad end. The more lives he messes with, the less patience we have. This just makes us look bad. For society will collapse and fall if the helpers can't end things with some reasonable dispatch!

That's a great reason to be as normal as you can. Because they'll literally threaten you a hundred times with bodily injury but never pull the trigger if it looks like you're progressing toward the goal. But if you're merely out of it, all hope is lost and you're going down. So it's for your own good, even if you're screaming bloody murder, to let some sentience break through. Failing that, give him a hypo, tame him down, put him on a stretcher, and get him out of here!

Let the crowd diminish. "Nothing more to see, folks, let's shuffle off the mortal coil." And get him to the padded cell. That'll put the damper on his fun. And by then -- it's our hope -- he'll be off on a different mental thing, hopefully chasing easier butterflies within his personal mental miasma, and as harmlessly as possible. But it's always better hidden from public fascination, the meds lined up in order, something for the attendants to while away their time doling out.

Is it crazy to think there's never enough time, never enough room? I hope not, because I think the same thing on a daily basis. Time, obviously, there's only now. And if the attendants are indeed doing their thing, that now's a lot more rewarding. And as for room, sure, if I'm bunched up with this guy, and he's trying to fight a dozen guys at once, we're going to run out of room. Just be reasonable, psycho friend ... there, there, asleep in the holding room, now you've got all the room you need!

With time for a quick nap for the rest of us.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

All This God's Dream

No. 16 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

In my life as Psycho Squad head, maybe you know how it goes, keep your nose to the grindstone long enough -- being one of the few normal people able to do it -- and you’re Mr. Know-it-All. You’ve seen it all, done it all, you've drawn lessons that serve as patterns for dealing with future cases. Like being a doctor. The average doctor is bored, on an average day taking one of five or six courses of action — X-rays, MRI, colonoscopy, med changes, insulin, adult diapers, cough drops, etc. Anyone could be a doctor. It’s really too bad it's so regulated.

But I guess I shouldn’t say that. I have my own Psycho Squad team, incidentally without any formal training, mostly my own theories, experience, and stick-to-it-tiveness, but that doesn’t mean I want everyone else as competition, taking bread out of my mouth. Find another gig, deadbeats! We could always use another thrift store or gas station, better yet, BBQ joint. Do that and leave this grassy field to me. And just to scare you off more definitely: The other day I had a bastard bite my finger, hurt like a SOB, and it was my fingering finger...

Be that as it may, I also met a very nice guy who blessed me in a church run. You know, a church run. I had this idea that I could get some good business posting on church bulletin boards: “Having a bad God trip? Call us, etc.” You'd be surprised at how many calls I got, but generally it’s not as dangerous as other runs since they’re already in the groove, well-grounded in habits of morality; basically they’re not carrying knives and guns. When I show up at a church, I'm 99% safe.

This goes back some years. One night they called and I arrived. Their study group had a guy cornered and wouldn't let him out because he seemed to be a danger to himself and others. Naturally, they have a strong sense of what’s true and what’s false, and maintain it regularly. But this guy — Jesus something — blew their minds with the theory that all existence right down to themselves and their group is merely God dreaming.

The Psycho Squad took him in, voluntarily — sedative darts were topped off in case of trouble — and he was sitting by my desk. He explained his thinking on the point that everything is God’s dream. I thought, That’s a new one. But it stayed with me. I've thought it over, counting my thoughts on both hands. Which were soon tied in knots and I had to shake them out. But, listen, scientists say the universe has been around 15 billion years since the Big Bang. Jesus' theory was that's equivalent to a single second in God's Dream. If everything takes place in that single second, God could wake up and have breakfast a trillion years from now! Or momentarily. What happens then? Maybe nothing, maybe instant death... 

I guess it doesn't make much difference. We go on the same. Anything that happens, the good, we enjoy. Anything that’s bad, chalk it up to a bad catnap years ago. Ancient history, what’s there to worry about? So here’s the mystery: God sat in a chair, let's say, had a two minute snooze, and dreamt the vast period we’re still in. Two minutes. Then later that night, just guessing, God got a full night’s sleep. So future generations can look forward to a lot of craziness. And that's good for my bottom line. The Psycho Squad stays busy now, but then we'll go completely whack when we hit the full heart of darkness!

Bring it on. Tomorrow's always brighter than last night.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Annual Psycho Squad Training

Part 15 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

If you’ve ever had one of these jobs with real responsibility, where there's a bunch of higher authorities to answer to, you know the painful requirements of periodically demonstrating continued competence. It's all very official and extremely annoying. During those dark times of my life, I wish I’d settled for more generic grunt work, like mucking out horse stalls with a clothespin on my nose. No one shows up demanding you prove you can still handle a shovel.

For all the good things about the Psycho Squad business, there is, unfortunately — dammit to a christless hell — a lot of red tape, up the wazoo. What do you know, buddy, and how fast can you spit it out? What is your take-down protocol? Is kicking in the nuts still forbidden or finally state-sanctioned? What is our ultimate goal? What are the four R’s of Respect? They haven’t changed, folks! 1) Keep it REAL, 2) RESPOND to the situation, 3) aRREST every temptation to lash out, and 4) REPORT all problems with your own behavior and violations of the code. Probably the less said about 4 the better. But there's surely been at least one guy in recorded history who's reported ... whatever. We haven't met him that we know of.

Well, of course that's terrible stuff, but there's something even worse, which seems to be common with bureaucracy everywhere and officialdom in general, and that's the requirement to be certified, then recertified. This is a racket for somebody. Getting certified is of course a one time thing, but being recertified lasts forever. It looms out there regular as a heart attack on your 70th birthday. They're just waiting for you to have a bad day so they can take away your livelihood and allow an untrustworthy psychotic population (and I’m lumping in those who haven’t yet run amok) to live free and do their worst.

One of my early recerts was with a guy who knew the drill, and he let us skate by, giving us the answers to fill in, and he kept it very cursory as to the tests. I’ve written about the first time I got a driver’s license at 16 and how lucky I was. The stern, strict guy who was a terror to all just happened to be on vacation that day. I didn’t know it and showed up and took the easiest driver’s test in history. That’s the way I want recertification to be. Don’t make it a memory test. Everyone knows every actual case is possibly uncharted territory. You sink or swim by your wits, not by memorizing the 4 R’s.

That's not to say we don’t do it. Sure, we do it. We're willing to go through the motions and even doll it up to look more arcane and mysterious than it really is! “This time you be the perp and I’ll be the guy with the black cat loincloth and spear. I'll blindfold you and chain this 100 pound weight to your foot, representing your limited mentality, then chase you to hell and back before taking you down, metaphorically speaking, maintaining respect for your boundaries, essential humanity, etc."

Look, folks, I always pass. It's not like I'm not qualified. And with my declining memory from getting older, I sometimes do think of the 4 R's. But I also think of the 3 L's of taking a leak, 1) Look down, 2) Linger, 3) Let go. Any trick in the book if that's what it takes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

They Blew Up Outer Space

No. 14 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

At this point it’s only science fiction. And if I and the Psycho Squad have anything to say about it, that’s the way it’ll stay. They don't call me Kibosh for nothing. But, friends, even I might need your help. There have been few other catastrophes affect me this deeply, the terrible feeling that all things could be wiped out in my lifetime. I used to play at the city dump, bashing in the screens of old TVs and shooting rats with a bow and arrow. The town shut the whole thing down and told us to get the hell out. This is like that, traumatic.

So here it is, this dreaded limbo of threats and negotiations with every eye on space. Just thank your lucky stars nothing's happened yet. And I hope to hang an alien that’s how it stays. But the threat is real, and actually has every indication of not being aliens but our own species. It's ridiculous, Earthlings that far off the beam?! Haven’t they learned at some point in their pathetic lives “Live and let live”? Anyone that far off the beam, where are their values?

Certainly we must not put anything past them. One, a destructive urge like that is pathological. With my training, I should know; I aced the Destructive Urges test, not because I’m destructive — I’m not — I’m so anti-destructive I could spit. Complete destruction is never called for, with perhaps the sole exception of destroying anyone who would dare attempt it. Only then are destructive urges warranted. Because there can be no tolerance. We must declare it the highest priority and seal the deal for our existence, the planets, the stars, etc., with no mercy for those who'd threaten the system, our system, solar, stellar, or whatever.

Just thinking of someone like that, so far gone... I'll expound on it. What a craven urge! These are psychos that should not be helped, only destroyed. And no one will hold me back! Unless — and this is theoretical — they could be somehow captured and brought to justice, the sternest judgment, perhaps the death penalty or dealt with therapeutically. But let's say the situation is literally as portrayed above, where they’ve already destroyed the stars and half the sun. They themselves would need to be blown out of space. We would have to act preemptively, long before they unleashed more chaos than we could sweep up.

The Psycho Squad will never advocate for anyone that far gone. Maybe, yes, theoretically we’re sworn to help. But that far gone? No! That's beyond the pale, no hope. Just write them off. If they'd cause that much misery, that much destruction, they’re gone, history, out of here. I don’t shock easily — I like easy days, and fatalities per se don't bother me — but this level of wickedness, these depths of depravity sap the last of my tolerance. It's gone in a heartbeat.

First, though, and I hope this puts things in a more optimistic light, there seems to be some bluster at hand. We don't know how many stars there are precisely, but it's in the billions. And they’re pretty far scattered. No one could destroy all the stars except Nature itself if they all just collapsed on each other. And whether it’d be possible to destroy half the sun, I also don't know that for sure. It sounds far fetched. It'd have to be a perfect hit to destroy half, a payload right down the shute, boom! Instant half of a black hole. 

So there's some hope. But any psychos that attempt such a thing — whether humans in space or some other scurrilous alien breed — need to be dispatched. The local chapter of the Psycho Squad, for which I speak authoritatively, decries all such threats, plans, and deeds. We offer only censure and condemnation to the perpetrators.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Dick Meander Family

Part 13 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

If you're from around here, you're no doubt acquainted with the Dick Meander family. Maybe you don't know them well but you know them at least in passing. Once you've seen them go by -- a tangled ball of humanity, chaos and turmoil tumbling down the street, up alleys and down, through yards, kicking up dust, taking out complete fence rows and weaker trees and who knows what all -- they're hard to forget. I lost a maple tree a few years back.

No one does family squabbles any better or worse than the Meanders. Not to rub it in, but remember the main shelter house at the park that burnt a few years ago? That was during their family reunion. Of course family reunions are never good, but that was one for the books. Not only was the shelter house history, but they burnt a path from there to the interstate because their idiot baby happened to be smoking during the fight.

I actually went to school (9th grade) near the Meander place. But back in those days they were respectable. No one saw the future when Dick married Doris and started having kids. We always think of parents ruining the future for their kids, but with them it was the kids who were the bad influence. Danny was in 9th grade with me, famously kicked out of English class, with the teacher totally shaken, going to her desk for a downer. I never saw Danny again, but his family wasn’t so fortunate. They never recovered.

Ever since, if there's a cloud of dust, a tornado sighting, or any sort of disturbance in the atmosphere, even the slightest register on the Richter scale, you have to see what the Meanders are up to before sounding the alarm. And they simply don't care. They might be watching TV or maybe they're sitting around smoking or polishing pool cues or mowing the yard, when a fight breaks out and they're off, rolling across fields, yards, burning a path, every fight a fight for the ages.

In Psycho Squad work, I've had to waste a lot of time on the pesky requirements of continuing education. But some of it's been better than usual, like when we learn how the surrounding environment is a determining factor in the making of well-rounded psychos. The fact that the Meanders’ home place is right at the edge of town influenced their whole history. In previous generations, they might have gone toward the country and avoided a bad reputation. They’d just be despoiling the wild or killing an occasional cow. But as it is -- these being bolder times, morals are very loose, reputations unguarded -- they came right through town, like they were rubbing our faces in it: ‘We’re here, get used to it, gimme a light, let's unzip our pants and see what sparks...’

And the Psycho Squad has cleaned up the Meanders’ messes for years. I’ve written letters on their behalf pleading for mercy and it’s been granted. But we’re way past that now; everyone's so much more interested in their own property values and expenses than mercy. We tried medicating them, but they’ve developed a tolerance for everything but the hardest drugs. And harder drugs just make them mean, so it's all in vain.

My own personal take on it: I hate getting calls about the Meanders. But I tell myself, it's all billable! Bread and butter. Good for the bottom line. Might pay off my second ambulance early. I just have to watch what I'm doing; I lost a vehicle to them once in passing. Now we treat them like any other storm in nature, hunker down till they pass and pray to the Dreaming God above that we'll get them on the downside.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Bad Behavior: Devils & Warthogs

Part 12 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Raising well-behaved adorable kids is one of the hardest things you can do. Especially these days when every kid tries to consciously out-psycho the next. I’m glad I haven’t got legitimate prospects if for no other reason than that. It’s a thankless task; were I in the market I’d take myself out and join a monastery. Or convent, depending how I swung. Still, the temptation is a bad habit to break, although lots easier with age.

So, fortunately, it’s a one-sided love affair for me these days when it comes to mating. Because everyone's understandably scared by an old man approaching the age of death. Which helps save my underlying vigor; I’m not at loose ends, not wasting my substance, but using it for the inner vigor, killing people with kindness and the force of ideas, not just looks. Any residual frustration I have, I invest it into corralling psychos and getting them help. I get a lot of laughs with some of the nurses, handling my cases with exaggerated kids' gloves. Like bloody murder just waiting to happen.

But, really, the best advice you can give another guy is, "Look before you leap, brother." And spell it out as clearly as you can without being a bore. Because sometime before that point you've already said too much. You have to just release them and know they'll misbehave, they must learn. These days are a lot looser, of course, which clearly makes things worse for them. Because at some level love partners actually want romance and restraint, not your bare-ass business dangling and bobbing and straining in their face. 

I won’t bore you with the language of romance. But if you don't get it, you're doomed to a life of skags, runny-nose cross-eyed kids, fights, divorce, estrangement, a bad reputation, and of course a persistent itch. You'll be tossing in bed, trying to sleep, but knowing you're not the only life-form in your body, and that's a huge mental weight. Itch leads to inflammation, which leads to burning, which leads to various back alley doctors, which leads to payday loans, stolen cars, and sleeping in a dumpster. With one eye open and a gun. Friends, before any of that happens, grow up, find a sweet girl and give her candy, meet the parents, take an interest in civic affairs, and be responsible.

I don’t envy anyone these days, kids or parents. Sometimes the parents are only about half grown up themselves. And the kids aren’t thought charming unless they’re in juvenile hall. There’s a whole different vibe these days, behavior up the wazoo, out the you know what (ass). Not happy unless they're underfoot, smarting off, flipping off their betters, opposed to morality, slandering the spirits above, spouting lies, burning flags, doing drugs in church, taking knees at football games, sleeping around, having kids out of wedlock younger than themselves, and putting up absolutely no fight in the fierce war against good values and basic primate sense.

What would I do with kids and their terrible behavior these days? First, arrest the parents. And once the bad influence was subdued, they’d have a better chance in an orphanage of growing up normal. That is to say, as far as doing the right thing, I’m not sure they really stand a chance. It can be tough to get in an orphanage. But get them there! Surround them with devils to tempt them but enormous warthogs to hold them back! And when they turn 18, they're a better person!

Moms and dads, love your kids, if it’s not too inconvenient. Or I will be over with the Psycho Squad, billing you for an expensive ambulance ride, more money for me and a lot more grief for you.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Sky High, Beyond All Limits

Part 11 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

It’s great for my outlook to see how much good the Psycho Squad actually does. I'm guessing 99% of the progress in society — specific acts of graciousness, the general sense of goodness, and outright love — is a result of our important work. Whatever else the species accomplishes after a lot of false starts and bluster results from the sheer benevolence of life. Remember this, life hates a loser.

But I have to be humble. Because I’m sure others could make the case that there's factors they also can selfishly latch on to, giving them at least the appearance of bragging rights. And instead of just immediately throwing up my hands and crying, “Give me a break!”, I zip my lip. Go through the motions of being agreeable. Just remember, Progress has a million fathers and there’s always a lot of 'Gimme gimme gimme' when they’re dishing out the credit. And all the while the truth is obvious, like a slap in the face, the Psycho Squad is the very heart of success.

That’s certainly how I see it in my town. This town had a sense of unnameable dread, foreboding, and future shock until I got my first ambulance. They couldn’t tie their kids down and make them behave. They'd gnaw through the ropes like cotton candy. You couldn’t walk down an alley without a gang of monsters springing up like nightmares to take you on. And unless you were literally carrying a nuclear device you didn’t have a chance. I saw a generation of normal people bite the dust. And on windy days they still blow by.

But the Psycho Squad did establish itself, and we set a few ground rules for evildoers: Submit to goodness, yield before it’s too late, or find yourself under our thumb! Because we put the word out, “Make my day! We’d simply love to take you out! Mess with us, we’ll mess with you, bad, big time bad!” And various other threats. The truth of it can be told now that we’ve prevailed. But we were scared out of our minds and could’ve been beaten easily. But we took the pose of gunslingers, that confident bow legged stance, and for the true killer move we purposely left our zippers down. The universal sign for “We got it!” and “Argue with this!”

It’s funny how that hit people. We were known for it. And for years we literally kept our zippers down as part of a Psycho Squad’s trademark. Then slowly, as we became known for other aspects of the work, we spiffed ourselves up. Kept the zippers neatly up unless, of course, other things were going on. Then it’s appropriate to send the signal, ‘It’s right here, virtually in sight, if you have anything on your mind besides the movie.' Those old challenges were settled.

Still, what a lot of work it was. The Psycho Squad took on so much action in our town we had even the most dangerous cases. Now look at us, “Sky High, Beyond All Limits,” successful in stratospheric terms, striding over the world as though we belong there, as though we own it, dwarfing everything in sight, with our zippers proudly up. And helping others keep their sanity as well.

Of course -- then or now -- these things don't just happen. We're on the scene, always on call. Because we know life is a thing of delicate balance. We never forget it. People go whack all the time. We had one guy, I called him Easy On, Easy Off, not much of a switch. His brain was atrophied beyond recognition. Doctors ordered brain scans and it had all the properties of macaroni and cheese. Sticky, hard to keep warm. They brought us in to counsel him. I took him out in a field and spelled it out for him in a way I can’t repeat, trade secret. He immediately got with the program! And my gun wasn't even loaded.

There was a lady, too. Hate to leave anyone out. She wasn't happy with her old dependable red car. Even when it got her everywhere she needed to go. So we worked with her in two ways, direct patient care and behind the scenes. The guy who runs the junk yard loaned me the same model of car, but one completely demolished. We switched her car for this one. You can guess her terror. She came out, had a meltdown and went into a coma for a week. They fed her intravenously the whole time. Then we put the old car back in place, and when she woke up she was so happy she drove away and no one ever saw her again. That's a happy ending.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Best Therapy In The World

No. 10 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

Among the great goals of the Psycho Squad is -- raising my right hand and lifting my eyes to heaven -- "To restore precious equilibrium to those unfortunate souls who have had something go wrong with them, be it a short-circuiting, a mainframe failure, the need to mentally update to the latest OS, or trying to compute with punched paper tape in a gigabyte world." It's a huge vow, because think of the tape in those circumstances shredding and catching fire trying to keep up. That's something we hate to risk.

I know, friends, sometimes I come across Machiavellian [an apparent bastard] in the way I describe the things of the Psycho Squad — because, face it, with my level of experience, there’s a certain hardening and even resentment that appears when you can’t just cure everyone and get a decent vacation. But to be completely honest without tooting my own horn, I’m the most compassionate guy in the business. I’ve been told that by some of the patients themselves, the good ones. Because there’s some real dummies who have the wrong idea about me and aren’t afraid to say so, lots of blubbering and one syllable words, most starting with F. Not everyone can be cured, that’s the lesson...

Do I ever finger angrily in their general direction? I'm not going to say I do and I'm not going to say I don't. One guy said he saw me and even phoned it in. But I could've been pointing at a UFO for all he knew. And I could stop anytime I want. UFOs are rare. I'm not that invested in it. I could show the whole lot of them where to get off anytime I want. Or tell them off to their face even with their own grandmother standing there!

Remember, it wasn’t my idea for people to have these mental problems. I just piggybacked on an existing problem that needed workers. And since my dad worked in the Psycho Squad, it was a natural path for me. In fact he’s the one who taught me the great compassion I have. He kept it real. I’ll try to tell you while keeping the blood and gore down to a minimum. He demonstrated it with rabbits. Because we used to do a lot of rabbit hunting and I had to learn the whole gruesome process. Which, on second thought, I better not describe or I won’t have any readers at all… Let's just say that -- blood or no blood -- a certain amount of compassion is good.

And let’s also say I was brought up in a compassionate environment. He lived by those values and that’s the way I operate today. Other guys see our patients and potential patients — if you see a cross-eyed guy staggering down the street you'll also see him later in our ambulance — as just more money, money, money. But I see humanity in a pickle and me as a helper, and the money, money, money comes later. Which I can then righteously frolic in and toss in the air.

It’s charming — looking at the graphic — what little kids can see when they look at the clouds. Some of the things are easy to imagine. I mentioned rabbits. I can see rabbits in the clouds nearly everyday. Because they’re fluffy and their ears might be straight up, at an angle, or tucked back. The key thing in the clouds is nothing bad's happened to them yet. They're fluffed out, healthy as a horse.

But you can see other things, depending on where your head is: If you see the innocent things kids see, you’ll live long and prosper. But if you see guns, knives, grenades, bags of loot, and other nasties, the Psycho Squad will be seeing you very soon. “Hands behind your back, please, this is a plastic tie. It will not hurt you unless you struggle unnecessarily. We are here to help. Please give up and relax, sir, and this will be much easier for you. You’ll be out before you know it, within the next few months if you're lucky. Remember, we passed the quiz, we are certified, we are your friends."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Be Normal, It's Not That Hard

No. 9 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

I always try to be an encouragement to my psycho friends, "C'mon, be normal! It's so easy! Try it ... Put one brain cell in front of the other and think! If you try it, you'll find it's just like ice skating. You put one foot forth and tippie-toe along -- have confidence! -- and pretty soon you're sailing across the beautiful ice! Gliding like that..." When naturally they crumple. So much for my theory that good coaching solves everything, when you're talking to a guy whose head's stuffed with mush, and maybe even the mush isn't connected.

But, patience, I keep trying. I'll always believe, Put your mind to it and great things will happen. And don't we all have aspirations? I was taught that. And if I didn’t believe it, I’d give up. I’d hate to look out on life’s landscape and see nothing looking back. Rather, I look out and I’m part of it, along with everyone else, with hopes, dreams, and possibilities. The overall prognosis is good. If we could just get rid of the pessimism which so often marks our lives on a day to day basis. Think, people!

It probably should be established what the baseline in life is, what we should all be or strive to be. It’s called Normal. A very simple word, huh? Although normal doesn’t always mean perfect or completely whole. It means not too many challenges, not too much personal hot water or stewing in it, but a basic path right down the middle. Like a karate chop, split the difference. Someone holds up four fingers, you don’t bite them off.

The big emphasis needs to be on our mental life and maintaining a decent enough standing. A guy has a stick. He does things with the stick as a sort of tool. All normal enough to understand. But he doesn’t poke his eye out. That’s far from normal, unless it’s an accident, then it’s a normal consequence of life when it’s gone bad. But once you've literally poked out an eye, all kinds of nasty things can easily follow, and I'll probably have to wrestle you to the ground.

So what about mentality when it’s off the normal track? It’s normal in the sense that things can go wrong. But it’s abnormal if the organism is out of whack and doing things against its well-being. Without giving an exhaustive description — which would be dry and boring — this is where the Psycho Squad springs into action. We look out on the world as though with an all-seeing eye. What we see looking back is a more or less normal sector. With a fairly large abnormal sector, causing crazy havoc for itself and others.

It's great to rev up the siren and make our wondrous forays into the night, because we're hoping to bring wayward minds back toward the norm. We give a quick diagnosis, say, holding up two fingers pointing to my eyes and theirs, hoping to see something registering, and if not, that’s a moment of crisis. Is the person armed? Can he or she be a threat to our normal lives and limbs? From there many paths present themselves, which we see in a flash. “Get this person to the hospital! Hup to! Hup to! ... And while you're at it, if you've got a sec, check again for guns."

Say you're the victim, the patient. You'll be happy when you’re back to normal. And, really, normal’s not so hard. Fingers to eyes, try to keep up. Let these things register in your psyche. Like falling off a log. Which takes absolutely nothing but gravity and the normal imbalances we all have, the normal inability to keep our footing on normal rotating slippery logs.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Innocence On Her Breath

 No. 8 of 30 -- Psycho Squad

The lessons of the murder scene were clear: 1) You're surrounded by psychos; 2) They'll try anything. They're not bound by good behavior. And I'm just going to throw in ... 3) Esmereldy wouldn't kill anyone, let alone 13 men around a big wooden table, a nice table that anyone would be proud to own.

But that's what the old mogul who lived there -- Boris -- would've had us believe. "It was Esmereldy, I just know it!" he insisted, his suit soaked with blood, a big knife with his fingerprints (doubtless) all over it, and him the personal enemy of those killed. How'd we know they were personal enemies? You wouldn't kill a roomful of friends, that's clear.

I got there about the same time as the cops. But they were a little earlier, since they'd already handcuffed Esmereldy, now sitting in the corner. Darling, sweet, innocent Esmereldy! Everyone's friend, not an enemy in the county, generous to a fault, always giving out little horehound candies to anyone not already sucking on something. And she might even stick one in your vest pocket on the assumption you'd want it later.

The cops had done short work on the case, as I said. Mostly because State was playing Tech in the big basketball game. And they were tuned in to it, leaving the suspect to wait till halftime before heading back to the station. I went in trying to talk about the case but they hushed me, waving me back. So I went back in and saw Boris, trying to look all innocent, and Esmereldy, bound but not gagged, bowed but not broken.

I sat there thinking. Then when the first half ended the cops came back in and were about to wrap it up. I pointed out all the pools of blood around Boris, the fingerprints, and as a long shot, even mentioned the life-long feud he'd had with the victims. Then there was Esmereldy, with her endless supply of horehound candies, offered freely, never expecting the slightest favor. Quite the contrast.

The head cop thought it over, scratching his scalp with the barrel of his gun. A second cop went snooping around Boris, dipping his finger in the blood and tasting it. He said, "Hmm, he's right, blood." And the third was even more forward, getting right in Boris' face and saying, "You always hated us, didn't you!?" He used to play in the area as a kid and remembered Boris as the meanest guy in the world.

I was getting anxious. In the confusion it was becoming clear I had no decent way to bill this job and get paid. But even if I didn't get anything out of it, just to clear Esmereldy would make it worthwhile. Yes, Boris was a mean guy when we were kids, and if truth be told he was implicated in every murder in the area for 20 years running. But he always went free, blaming the maid, butler, or paperboy.

I'm no lawyer, but I made a convincing case to the cops. "Guys, halftime's almost over. And if I had to choose between a sweetheart like Esmereldy, always giving out horehound candies, and this old bastard Boris, blood dripping even yet from his sleeves, this time I'd pick...." I paused for effect and alternated my pointed finger toward the suspects: "My - mother - told - me - to - choose - this - very - ONE." The finger pointed straight at Boris! His head sunk. I thought he'd given up, when his hands came up with an army bazooka. "Stand back!" he yelled, then began firing the thing! He took out the china hutch, a nice piece of furniture.

The cops moved back, taking cover. It took me -- remembering my many citations for bravery in the face of psychos -- to do something. Esmereldy saw my personal quandary, that I lacked confidence in the sight of danger, and by sheer intuition tossed me a horehound candy drop. I love the things. Once in my mouth, I was rejuvenated and marched boldly toward Boris -- stomping, really -- and single-handedly disarmed him. But not before he'd blasted out the electricity...

Now the cops really sprang into action! No electricity meant no TV! They moved en masse against Boris and in seconds had him in custody. We got to the police station in separate vehicles, so I had no idea what was going on in the paddy wagon. But there had been a minor scuffle and Boris was dead, somehow decapitated, no one knew how. They had no choice but to chalk it up as "just one of those things." 

Esmereldy let out her great hillbilly girl rebel yell when State beat Tech. We concluded the evening with horehound candies all around. The next morning I woke up with Esmereldy at my side. I'm hazy on the details. But guess I was wrong about her innocence.