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Waiting for the Light

By Bob Woodiwiss · July 15th, 1999 · Pseudoquasiesque

I was having breakfast when the authorities burst into my apartment. "Robert W.," the official in charge said, "you will please to come with us." His manner was so utterly threatening it's possible I only imagined the German affectations.

"May I at least finish my cereal?," I inquired, indicating the sugary, fruit-flavored spheres I'd just poured into my bowl.

"Trix are for kids about whose dietary regimen you are indifferent," he said, savagely twisting the beloved brand's themeline.

"But what do you want with me?," I asked. "What have I done?" By this time we were out the front door and halfway down the porch stairs.

"What do you think you have done?," he responded.

"I can't imagine," I said, all the while wondering if the plans I had for that evening might be construed, in the strictest legal sense, as "conspiracy to commit drunk and disorderly" and, if they could, when I would have had the time to inform on myself. "I lead a very ordinary life."

"Yes, perhaps," he said, forcing me into the back seat of his car.

"But you would do well to remember that you are dealing with people who are very well informed."

We spent the next two hours driving in circles, trying to find a way out of my housing development.

We eventually arrived at police headquarters, where a uniformed guard led me to a small, windowless room. Stepping inside I saw a single, bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. A hard, straight-backed chair sat directly under it. Spread beneath the chair was a polka-dotted plastic playing surface from the game of Twister. I recoiled at the inhuman and humiliating possibilities.

As if reading my thoughts, the guard said, "The rug's been sent out for cleaning and the floors are hardwood," whereupon he closed and locked the door.

I'd been sitting in the room for nearly an hour when the door opened. A moustached man in a drab suit entered. A woman with a note pad and pen, obviously his secretary, followed. Their faces were in contrast: his grim, hers smiling. Or so I thought. After a moment, I realized the bun in the woman's hair was pulled so tight that the corners of her mouth were drawn up and back.

Only the man spoke. He introduced himself as Inspector P. "I have several questions to put to you," he said. "When you have answered them to my satisfaction, you will be free to go. Answer them in less than 60 seconds and I'll fly you and a companion to Las Vegas, where you'll stay at the fabulous MGM Grand and be entertained by the legendary Wayne N."

"You have nothing to hide," I told myself. "Cooperate fully." Yet nagging, gnawing at my very essence, was the reality that in all encounters with the authorities, caution is one's sole protection. Only grief, misfortune and misery ­ for me, for my loved ones ­ would come from any collabora....

Oh. Wait a second. I think my Zoloft's kicking in.



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