Thursday, March 26, 2015

Salo- The Film Which Gives You PTSD


            Salo is perhaps the vilest, most evil minded film ever made, that can still be considered an artistic achievement. Sure there are many violent gorefests out there, brimming with intensity, but Salo is a cut above these, earning the title “the most controversial film of all time.” It is a beautifully shot film of the most vile content imaginable.
            Salo is based upon The 120 Days of Sodom authored by Donatien Alphonse François, the Marquis de Sade, which he described as “the most impure tale that has ever been told since out world began.”  In it 4 Lords, a Duke, a Bishop, a Bank President, and a Judge- each representing a different pillar of society- kidnap 16 youths (8 boys and 8 girls) and take them to a fortress in the dead of winter from which they cannot escape. There with their guards, the Four Fuckers (men chosen for their enormous penises) and the Four Whores (old brothel keepers) the villain protagonists present themselves to the youths as their new Gods, their every whim to be considered law. They youths are told that they are objects to be used and discarded at the Lord’s will.
            The Whores each take turns telling stories from their experiences as a prostitute and madam, to incite the Lords and form an inspiration for the sexual abuse and torture of their captives. The stories begin with simple vices, and quickly move on to complex, criminal, and murderous ones, emulated by the Lords- eventually ending in the slaughter of their victims. And in the end, all fourwalk away unscathed, because they represent the law and power in the world.
            Strange as it may sound, de Sade novel's was attempting to make a political point here, not a sadistic pornographic one. Simple and direct (and perhaps overstated as is de Sade’s style) he demonstrates that the forces of government and power, who are supposed to prevent things like this from happening to, are the ones perpetuating the crimes. 
Only known portrait of de Sade

            For a historical context, we must remember that de Sade wrote this during the French Revolution, where the greed of the nobility had created one of the widest wealth gaps ever seen in Europe. By today’s standards France was a third world country. And the people, driven by desperation and a lack of the basic necessities of life, revolted. Wide spread revolution tending only to occur when they had no other viable option. For many revolutionaries it was literally fight or starve. Thus the events of the book fits very well into revolutionary ideology of the time.
            The 120 Days of Sodom is not actually a complete novel. While writing it de Sade was imprisoned in the Bastille, for crimes of sexual deviancy and for penning the novel Justine (another work detailing the rape of innocence by the ruling classes). He had completed only the first part and outlined the other three,when the Bastille was taken by revolutionary forces, freeing the Marquis and the other 4 inmates. Unfortunately for the Marquis this freedom meant a loss of a lot of his material, including his only copy of The 120 Days.
            The book had been written on a long continuous roll of paper, made up of small pieces of paper glued together and written in nearly microscopic text and hidden away from guards. De Sade had believed it lost in the post-battle looting of the Bastille, and it was not seen again until nearly a half century after his death, tucked away in its hiding place. But still the novel did not see publication until the second decade of the 20th century.
            Salo is the final film of Pier Paolo Passolini. He had finished his Trilogy of Life series (Deacameron, The Canterbury Tales, and Arabian Nights) and Salo was to be the first of his Trilogy of Death. Considering the unabashed cruelty in Salo one can only speculate what was going to happen in later films- consider Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS without the sex. Pasolini updated the setting, placing it during World War II in Salo, a town in northern Italy and made the four villain protagonists members of the fascist party. The town had a special place for Passolini as it was there that his brother was shot by the fascist government. But apart from these changes, he kept the flow and flavor of the book, picking and choosing which scenes of barbarity to display from the wide variety described by de Sade. Unflinchingly he kept the most grotesque scenes of rape, incest, blasphemy, sacrilege, torture, sodomy, and coprophagia.
Pier Paolo Passolini
            This was Pasolini’s last film because he was murdered shortly after he finished editing. Always a controversial figure, he was last seen alive walking down a beach with a male prostitute. His body was found two days later. The autopsy determined that a car had driven over his head at least twice, he had multiple fractured bones, and his genitals had been crushed by an iron bar (some reports claim they were severed and placed in his mouth), then the body was doused in gasoline and set ablaze. The prostitute was arrested and confessed, but as he was much weaker build than Passolini it has been a generally held belief that he was innocent. Other rumors suggest a mafia execution, leftover members of the Italian fascist party, or someone else upset with Passolini’s communist affiliations.  The truth will probably never be discovered. 
           Salo batters you, not with a continuous bombardment of images, but with a constant buildup of dread, a steady progression of evil, and the knowledge that it will get worse. There is no release from it. That dread is what cements everything in the mind. You cannot help but place yourself in the victim’s role and you find yourself asking, “What if that had been me?” Which is the cornerstone of the film, I never doubted that it could and might actually take place. A realistic horror film, which makes it all the worse.
And as the film progresses the dread increases.  We see the four villain protagonists take in more and more power, act to spit every social convention of society, and eventually spiral deeper into their own madness. The scene where feces is served up as a delicacy is perhaps the most nauseating thing I have ever viewed, up there with Divine’s dog shit eating scene in Pink Flamingos.
Eat up!

The film gives you PTSD. For days afterwards bits and pieces of it bob from your subconscious and slap you in the face. Weird things set it off- eating a bar of chocolate, seeing some art deco architecture, a mention of Italy or World War II. It is like a stain on your brain that you cannot scrub off. You cannot unring the bell. You cannot unsee the movie. Salo has such a large volume of vileness in such a short span of time that it is difficult to take in at first. Usually by the end you feel numb. Your brain needs time to process it all, hence the delayed effect.
 The Criterion Collection version contains a lot of behind the scenes footage and interviews and I was surprised ro see that the cast had a lot of fun making this film, both torturers and the tortured. Most of the actors were young, never having been in a film before, so there were many laughs and practical jokes being played.  And since it has filmed so disjointedly, most of the actors did not realize just how grim the final product would be.  
Viewer beware. Salo is a solid film, but earns it’s title of “the most controversial film of all time.” Criterion version is here.
 Trailer is below. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor
 



Friday, March 20, 2015

Why No Love for Predator 2? It’s the Better Film!

 

The Predator franchise is perhaps the best known and warmly embraced series about interstellar aliens on safari. It is so successful that the original meaning of the word predator now comes second in many people’s minds, after the image of the alien hunter.
I was sitting around with some friends recently- throwing back a few beers, smoking a few cigars, and urinating in a few alleys- when the conversation eventually wandered onto the topic of films. And as usual a hubbub of whiny complaints emerged about the number of sequels being vomited up by the Hollywood machine.
I don’t care. Apparently someone’s watching these films if they keep making them. The demand must be there. It’s not something that I’m demanding, but I am apparently in the minority- nothing new there. But that isn’t good enough for my friend Mitchel. He is one of those guys who constantly complains about The Walking Dead but never misses an episode, like he’s going out of his way to antagonize himself.
“They can do sequels, but why are they all so bad?”
“Perhaps because so many people- like you- watch them no matter what they’re like.”
“I don’t pay to see them.” He retorts.
Which gives him even less reason to complain.
I attempted to divert the conversation away from “those guys in Hollywood who should make good film and not bad ones” by stating that sometimes the sequels are better than the original, which starts us off listing a few. We go through the standard list- The Godfather Part II, Aliens, Evil Dead II, The Road Warrior, The Good The Bad and The Ugly- at which point I offer up Predator 2.
Never get tired of this!
The table goes dead, like I had just slapped a nun. Everyone there disagrees with me- violently so. The opposition is so fierce that I start to think we are talking about two different movies. But no, they knew exactly which film it was. The evening ended with a lot of back and forth, all of us being impolitely asked to leave, and me loudly wishing that all of their families would die of AIDS.
         So, unable to convince the others, for this entry I will present my reasons for why Predator 2 is the better film. And God help you if you disagree!
 
             1. It Has Better Actors and Acting:
           Not to disparage Ah-nold or his thespian skills, but everyone must admit staring in Predator wasn’t exactly a breakthrough performance. “You are one ugly motherfucker.” Not best catch phrase. We have all heard him grunt through similar roles in a dozen movies. His characters in Raw Deal, Commando, End of Days, Collateral Damage, and Predator might’ve easily been the same character.
       And it holds true for the rest of the original Predator cast as well. While we all enjoy the irony factor of having two future US governors in the film, Jessie “I’m a Sexual Tyrannosaurus” Ventura is no actor of merit. Carl Weathers was serviceable. He said his lines in a coherent manner, lost his arm, and died. He’s really just there to be sliced up. For a serious role with Weathers, I’ll watch him in Rocky. For comedy, I’ll watch him get a stew going on. And while Bill Duke has the dead eyed sociopath character down and knows how to stab a scorpion, his role is not explosive. Plus the rest of the cast- the Indian, the Hispanic Chick and the Skinny White Guy who tells sexual jokes too childish for a 4th grader. No one was bad, they were just okay. The real standout was the alien’s makeup and it did not disappoint.
Plus it touted Morton Downey Jr. RIP
      On to Predator 2 and we have Danny Glover- always good as the everyman cop doing his best against the odds roles. Bill Paxton doing his smarmiest best as the wanna-be hot dog cop. “Blah blah blah is my specialty.” Ruben Blades and Maria Conchita Alonso as a pair of detective, not exactly your muscle bound types. Plus to top it off a pre-motorcycle accident Gary Busey, before his brains were scrambled. All together there is a lot more personality in the cast of Predator 2 and it shows.

2. It Has a Better Plot
Granted Predator 2 builds on Predator, but there is still much more swirling around in this cyberpunk future. It had gang wars, Hispanic drug cartels, Voodoo rituals, mysterious government agencies, and a city on the edge where everyone runs around packed- leading to my favorite scene of vigilantes on the subway, a fun parody of Bernard Goetz.
Predator 1 didn't have enough
old ladies with brooms!
Predator after the 40 minute mark slows down a lot. You know everyone except for Arnold and the chick will die and you’re just sitting around waiting to see what the alien looks like. After Carl Weather bites it, you might as well fast forward to the end. Predator 2 doesn’t slow down. It is paced perfectly to keep your interest, with little comedic flares along the way.

3. It Has a Much Better Resolution:
The end of Predator 2 gives us every understanding we have of Predator culture, as opposed to Predator where the creature commits suicide, trying to take everyone with him. Not exactly the spirit of an honorable hunter species we associate with them. It’s from Predator 2 where we get the true sense of them.

Some damn good comics!
The last three minutes of Predator 2 has been expanded on and influenced every other further media development of the franchise (though ‘m still waiting for a video game where you play the Predator in a free roam city, sort of like Grand Theft Auto). Plus the on special shot- added as a joke- gave us a series of great graphic novels and 2 bad movies.
Stay tuned for my next blog where I will explain why Fletch Lives is better than Fletch.
What? You don’t agree?





 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Fine Romance- Details on Dating a Hooker Part IV


                                                            VI.
            Not long later, I went over to Tabitha's room. I hadn’t heard from her in a few days, which was different. She called a lot. Usually to say nothing, just hello and good bye. I don’t why. She liked the sound of my voice. Maybe to remind herself that I was real, and not just part of a drug fueled psychotic break. Maybe she just mis-dialed a lot. She also hadn’t been answering her phone, another departure from the norm. I pounded on the door. No answer. I knew it was too early for her to be out working, so I used the key card that I had palmed before and let myself in.
            I saw her lying on top of the covers, face down, a pool of sticky saliva about her head. The pillows were scattered about the floor. A couple of empty pill bottles lying by her body. I’m sure everyone has already leapt to the correct conclusion here, but when you’re actually living it, you can easily miss the foreshadowing. I thought she was just asleep, no doubt aided by pills, or booze, or a combination of the two.
            “Hey. I’m here.” I said, “Wake up.”
             No reply.
            “Hey!” I shook her leg. 
            No reply. No movement. No stirring. No snoring either.
            I shook her roughly and sharply slapped her cheeks. She was warm and still breathing, but  wouldn’t wake up. I waited a few minutes and tried again. No results. I turned her over and peeled back her eye lid. The pupil was dilated. This meant something, I knew. Exactly what I didn’t.
            As I called 911, I prepared myself to answer a barrage of questions. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how little I knew about her. Practically nothing, except for what I’d seen with my own eyes and a handful of hazy anecdotes. I had never met anyone else actually connected to her.
            Fifteen minutes later the EMT showed up and started working. Lots of questions were asked. What did she take? I don’t know. Medical history? I don’t know. Next of kin? I don’t know. My relationship to her? Besides something that’s obviously fucked up, I don’t know.
            They checked her out for couple of minutes, strapped her to a gurney, and hauled it into the back of the ambulance. I grabbed her big bag of crap and hitched a ride along. We rattled down the street, siren blazing away, I drifted off thinking: Had the situation been reversed, what did she know about me? I had never introduced her to anyone, or even really mentioned her to family or friends. I had never told her about my past, where I was from, or how old I was. It was like we existed for the other only in a bubble, cut off from the rest of our lives.
            At the hospital, they rushed her in and gave me a form (of course) to fill out. I wrote her name easily, but that was it. I rummaged through her fat sack and cribbed the rest from an expired driver’s license, a current Medicade card, and what I think was her Social Security Card (it was very water damaged).  I turned in the papers and hunkered down for an extended stay in the antiseptic, yet still foul, waiting room.
After an Ice Age, a lanky huge- bearded doctor finally came out. We went through the rigmarole of who I was and how I was connected to Tabitha. I cut him short.

“What’s her condition?”
He looked startled and blurted, “She’s in a coma, but there’s a series of treatments we can try and I’m optimistic that she’ll pull through.”

He wanted a bunch more useless information. I said that I needed to use the bathroom and would be right back and handed him her bag. I then left, catching a cab outside. There was nothing else I could do.
 The ride home was filled with silent contemplation. What the hell were the two of us about? I cared about her, but I had no illusions that our relationship was ever going to more than what it was. What did I honestly mean to her? I couldn’t tell. I think she wanted a real relationship with me, but what we had was the best she could manage.
I went back several days later and after some stumbling, found where they had stashed her. Some long term unit for the terminal and incurables. I knew then, though I didn’t admit to myself, that it was over for her. This was her final living/resting place.
Poor girl, poor girl. She never really had any sort of a chance. Someone, in my mind an indistinct monstrous personage, had taken and broken her at a young age. She had never recovered or been helped to recover, back when it might have worked. The details… well the details don’t matter, because here we are now! The damage goes on through her entire life. If this hadn’t been her end, then what? Dead from an overdose? Prison? Homeless and crazy on the streets?
I kept going back though, hoping the truth was a lie. Each time I asked if she were going to come out of it. I got, “There’s always a chance.” Which means, “No.” After two months I stopped going. What was the point? She didn’t know if I was there or not. All of that reading to a person in a coma stuff is just placebo bullshit for the grieving relatives, so they’ll feel like they’re doing something and leave the doctors alone.
The question is presented. Was this an accident or a suicide? I’d like to think it was a mistake. But perhaps she had a moment of clarity and saw where her life was going, or wasn’t going, and decided to end it. We all have moments of weakness where death is a glorious release. Perhaps she embraced it.
The last time I saw her. I just stood at the foot of her bed. She looked… I don’t know, peaceful lying there, eyes closed. Even with the tubes running this way and that out of her, there was a sanctity about her still form. I thought that this was the best she was ever going to get in life. Cared for with no worries, no responsibilities, and nothing to do but… exist.
At the end of this story people usually ask me, “Isn’t there something more that you could’ve done to help her?” What specifically I could’ve done is never mentioned. I usually answer, “No. She was too far gone by the time I met her.” I remember the old clichéd adage that you can’t get someone off of drugs if they don’t want to. And unless you’ve been through it with someone, it’s nearly impossible to realize just how true that saying is. The best you can do is slow them down.
In my head, I know that there was nothing to be done, but occasionally, while I sit at my Waffle House and sip a cup of coffee, I feel a pang in my heart and I wonder….

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Fine Romance- Details on Dating a Hooker Part III


                                        III.
Late one night, on a day we weren’t supposed to meet, I got a phone call from an unknown number. I almost didn’t pick it up, but I got a strange niggling sensation in the back of my brain that this was something important. So I took a dare and answered the phone.
It was Tabitha. There was a problem. It seemed like there was always a problem. “I hate all my clothes. I need new ones.” “That guy looked at me funny. I think he wants to kill me.” “I’m out of pills, now I need to go back to those stupid doctors.” But in this case the urgency was immediately clear. Her voice was shaky and sounded like she was on the verge of a hysterical fit.
“C-c-can you come and get me…. I-I-I really need help here.” 
She gave me some stammering insane directions, which were revised several times in-between sobs.
“No here…No wait… Go this way… Oh God.”
Finally I had it nailed down and jumped to go get her. It was at a gas station in the sleazier half of downtown, near the puke ridden college bars and the moldering working man’s saloons. Something very bad had happened. We never met outside of the small area between the Waffle House and her motel room.
Twenty minutes of speeding later, I managed to find the place. As I pulled in, I saw her sitting on the concrete base of a streetlight with a man and a woman, smoking a cigarette. She saw my beat-up red Honda, roughly grabbed her purse, and walked over. I could tell that she was barely holding herself together. The purse swung wildly about her shoulder. She got in without saying a word. I pulled out of the lot and headed back to the motel. For the entire trip, she kept her face turned away from me.
It was a quiet night for downtown. A few lonely streetlights gave an illusion of safety from the evil night. There were a couple of stray cars here and there, but mostly it was dead. We didn’t say a word, just enjoyed being in the moment. I could tell that she wanted to delay the explanation for as long as possible.
Eventually we reached the motel. She jumped out of the car, mumbling “Thanks,” and rushed to her door. I was irritated, who wouldn’t be? But I knew that there was something, beyond the ordinary, wrong with her and debated whether to go after her or let her tell me in her own time. She stopped at the door and was just standing there. That made up my mind. I went up behind her.
“What’s the matter?”
“My key won’t work.”
She tried it several more times.
“Could you go get me another one please?” She said in an almost robotic tone, choking back tears. She threw the key card behind her. “Please? Please? PLEASE?” She slammed the palm of her hand on the door repeatedly.
I went to the office and asked the guy there for a couple more cards. The clerk wasn't very good at his job. He didn’t ask for any proof that I was staying there. He just yawned, scratched himself, and gave me two new ones. I pocketed one on the way back. You never know when that would come in handy.
I let her in and she tried to shut the door behind her, but I shoved my way through. It might’ve been selfish of me, but I had to know.  She angrily flung her purse in the corner and laid face down on the bed.
“I’ll fix us a few drinks.”
“Okay thanks…,” Was the muffled reply.
I could hear her sobbing, as I poured the booze. A feeling of dread crept all over me. It was time.  I went back in and handed her the Jack-n-Coke. She took it, face still down.
“All right,” I said, “What the fuck’s going on? Show me.”
She shook her head.
“Sit up and show me!”
Reluctantly she did. I threw my drink against the wall.
The right side of her face was beaten all to hell. It was bruised and bloody and raw. Her right eye had swollen up like a bloody knot in a tree. There was no way she could see out of it. The left side also had some nasty scrapes and brush burns from being kicked to the ground. My vision went red.
 She burst into tears when she looked at me and started to piss herself. I quickly took her into the bathroom, I had to support her most of the way as she had started trembling horribly and could barely walk. As I stripped her down, she screamed in pain as several of the wounds on her body stuck to the clothes. I laid her down in the off white tub and ran a bath and saw more bruises on the right side of her body from kicks. Her legs were scratched up and there was a lot of bruising around her vagina. She wailed in absolute despair. My heart broke over and over again with every cry, and a rage boiled inside of me. I had to go outside for a moment and punch the wall to maintain myself. 
I started to treat her wounds, very gently, and little by little I got a story out of her. Though she still stuck by her old standard of not talking about her profession around me. The story rambled a bit and it changed a couple of times as it was being told, but it seems the basic facts are:
There were three of them, college punks. All white. One had sandy curled hair, tall with a chin. The second had dark hair, semi-long with rough light scraggly facial hair. The last had short dark hair in a conservative style and was “pretty” (I guess that meant he didn’t need to rape to get laid. He just did it for fun). She didn’t know any names. Their clothes were “normal.” She met these guys while "out” and they went into an alley by a bar down in the Vista. One of them made her blow him, while the other’s laughed. When she was done, another one kicked her in the side of the face. They pushed her up against the wall, covered her mouth, and took turns raping her. Then they laughed, knocked her over, kicked her a few more times, and left. Dredge as much truth from that as you can.
Going to the police was out of the question. They were more likely to arrest her (prostitution and possession) than anyone else. She was a complete mess and there was nothing to be done about it. Just a battered girl and a lifetime of hate. At that moment, retribution had to be put off. I focused on taking care of her. I gently picked her up and brought her to the bed. I tucked her in and stroked her hair until she went to sleep.
Talk about feeling helpless. I wanted to grab one of these smirking punks and strangle the life out of him. My blood still boils and my fingers get twitchy at the idea. I could see him now hanging about some frat party, no doubt bragging to his friends about what he did. But I had nothing to go on. No name. No real description. I found myself hanging around in bars in that area, just hoping that I would find the guy. Figuring maybe I’d see one of them and somehow, mystically, would know. It never happened. They’re all such obnoxious arrogant shits at that age that it could’ve been anyone of them. All I did was spend money that I shouldn’t have on a pathetic revenge fantasy. Still it felt better than just doing nothing.
A couple of people have carelessly said to me, “Well she should’ve expected stuff like that if she was going to be a hooker.” I defy anyone, anyone, to look at her bruised and destroyed body and say that. No one deserves what happened to her.
For days after she would barely communicate. She just curled up under the covers and zombie out on TV. I would bring over a bag of food and she’d sit in silence, quietly munching and drinking tap water. Or else she’d be completely zoned out of her mind on pills. That’s the only time she’d laugh or giggle mindlessly, then latch onto me and then pass out, unconsciously drooling all over my chest.
This went on for weeks as she slowly healed. Physically that is. Mentally she was worse than ever. Now she didn’t want to leave the room at all. She only wanted to lie in bed and let the world outside drift by without her.
She started to run out of money quickly and more importantly, to her, out of pills. How she managed to stay in that place I had no idea and really didn’t want to know. Still I could tell she was just holding on by the skin of her teeth, and apart from moral support, there was little I could do to help. I briefly mentioned that she could come live at my apartment (which I’m sure I would have regretted) but she shot it down, saying that my place was too small, or something. She had a nervous tick when this came up and would scratch violently at her wrists.
Ever since the rape, she had been taking twice as many pills and getting even loopier. She must’ve had a friend drop off the pills (or had a pharmacy deliver) because I don’t see how else she got more, but her increased dosage meant that she was eventually going to be caught short. I tired to get her to cut back with this bit of wisdom, but she couldn’t control herself.
It was a Friday when the inevitable happened. The place was even more of a mess than usual and she was agitated. All of the liquor we had drunk didn’t help her mood either. She was pacing back and forth and scratching furiously at her torso. I was slightly drunk and trying to relax on the bed. Just looking at her I knew, I knew, that she was going to be unbearable all night long.
“I need…” She said.
“What?”
“You know. You gotta get it for me.”
“I don’t know what and I don’t know where.”
“I need it. Come on. I love you.”
“Nothing I can do.”
“WHY NOT? I NEED IT!”
“Sorry.”
“YOU HATE ME!”
“No I don’t.”
“I FUCKING HATE YOU!”
“No you don’t.”
“YES I DO. I HATE THIS WHOLE SHITTY PLACE, YOU FUCKING IDIOT.”
I had tried to be patient, but that only works up to a point, then you have to put your foot down. I got up. “SIT DOWN AND CHILL THE FUCK OUT! IT’LL GET BETTER LATER!” She slapped me across the face and I pushed her back. She fell against the dresser and grabbed an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle. 
I was raised (if you can call it that) not to hit women, but if there was ever an exception to the rule it is when one is screaming hysterically and trying to crack your skull open with a sturdy liquor bottle. What would you have done? I punched her in the face. She landed on the cheap motel bed and then flipped over, smacking into the floor, dragging most of the scratchy bed sheet with her. I felt bad about it later, but at the time it was almost an autonomic response.
There she was drug sick, curled up on the floor, a ratty blanket around her, tears streaming from her eyes mixing with hot droplets of snot pouring out her nose, and making a whining “ugh ugh ugh” noise. She didn’t try to rise again. I’m convinced that this wasn’t the first time she had been in that position. Then there was a knock at the door.
“Police.”
Oh shit!
What a cliché I must have looked like. A large guy, the scent of alcohol about him, a trashed motel room, empty liquor bottles scattered about, and a crying woman with a bruised face picking herself off the floor and assuring the cops that “everything was all right.”
I was taken aside by some swaggering Southerner with a shaved head and a bushy gay-porn mustache, who seemed to enjoy sticking two fingers into my chest while he talked. His partner went inside the room to talk to Tabitha.
“We’ve been hearing that there’s a fuss here. What going on?”
“Well sir, we were just having a disagreement.”
Southern police always react better when you called them “sir”. Especially if you’re originally from the North and your accent immediately betrays that. It shows  that you’re respectful and not some loudmouth uppity Northerner who thinks he’s better than everyone (even if you actually are). Galling perhaps, but if it saved me money on tickets and kept me out of prison, I figured it was worth a little cowtowing.
“I’ll say you were having an argument. We could hear you down the other end of the motel.” He dug the fingers in a little deeper. Definitely trying to provoke me.
“Sorry about that. Didn’t realize we were so loud.”
“You hit her?”
“No sir, I did not.” I said this in my most level, straightforward, and hopefully convincing tone. Demonstrating exactly how serious I was about that statement.
“You sure about that?”
I almost said something really sarcastic here, but I sucked it back in, causing me to stammer. “Uh huh, yeah.”
“Uh huh. Well we’ll see what she says about that.”
“Okay.”
“How’d she get that bruise on her face?’
“Uhhh.”
Suddenly, luckily, there was a screaming outburst from inside the room. We both turned quickly. The cop reaching for his piece, out of instinct I guess. “NO NO NO NO NO!” Tabitha was yelling. The other cop said something indistinct.
“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!”
She was standing like an errant child; head tilted forward, hands over her face, and sobbing very noisily. Then she hit her own face twice and ran into the bathroom, tripping over a pair of old sneakers on the way.
The other cop came out of the room. “Okay. What the hell’s the matter with her?” Jerking his thumb behind him.
“She’s got some uh emotional problems.”
“No shit.”
“She’s schizophrenic and has a bipolar disorder.” That sounds good. Those are real things.  I don’t really know what they mean, but it sounds about right. “Sometimes she gets out of hand and hurts herself. I don’t know why. They’re still adjusting her medication and I think she just had a bad reaction to it.” I’m not Mr. Slick or Captain Grift, but it’s amazing how fast your mind can work under a burst of adrenaline.
“What kind of meds is she taking?’
“I don’t know. Some word that I can’t pronounce.”
A chuckle from them. Keep ‘em laughing. Keep ‘em laughing.
A cop went in and grabbed one of the few pill bottles still in sight. Mentally I was patting myself on the back over having the foresight to throw the rest of her paraphernalia in a drawer. He stared at it, as if it would suddenly yield some ancient mystery to him and nodded his head.
“Are these them?” He said.
“Ah, yes sir. I believe that there’s two types that she’s taking. I think the other one is in  the bathroom.”
He nodded and looked around some more at the mess and wounded soldiers.
“Maybe you shouldn’t be mixing alcohol with this stuff either.”
Scratching the back of my head, elbow up, I sheepishly had to admit that they were right. They finally asked for my ID and ran it to make sure I had no warrants or anything. When everything came up cool, they told me to keep the noise down. I agreed.   
“You got this?” One said.
“Yeah. She’ll calm down in a little bit and I’m going to take her back to the doctor’s tomorrow.”
“All right.” The other said, “We don’t want to have to come back out here.”
I went back in and banged on the bathroom door. “They’re gone.” I heard some muffled weeping and something being knocked over. The adrenaline rush wore off and a wave of exhaustion crashed over my body. “I’m gonna take off too. I’m beat.”
“NO.” She yelled and rushed out.
She grappled me in a surprisingly strong hug and stuck her face into my chest, sniffling. My shirt got moist, I’d like to assume from tears. She repeated, “I’m sorry,” Over and over and over again, whispering it into my pecs.
I’m such a soft soapy bastard.

   A Fine Romance will be concluded in part 4.