Eating The Pen

There are policemen, who in the line of duty, end up at a point where they can no longer handle the conflict between their conscience and their job. Torn between choices they shouldn’t have to make, they sometimes eat their gun.

The department has no place for such men, yet recognizes their value. So they get a parade and a 21 gun salute.  It’s easier to honor them in death than in life.

But what does a journalist or writer do when faced with a similar unconscionable choice? He eats his pen.

But in the eating of a pen, there is no blood, no bang, no dead body. No one parades silence. No one salutes it. What is a small silo of silence in a world of cacophony?

Yet, they are both first responders. The cop and the journo.

Not all the dead bodies they see are transmitted via satellite to LCD screens on designer TV stands, with a side dish of potato chips. Yet, those bodies have names, stories, maybe even a street number. If nothing else, a notation in a field diary that no decent cop or journo will ever throw away. The detritus of someone else’s life, becomes part of their’s.

Their stench is real. It creeps in through the nostrils to some place in the cerebral cortex, and it never goes away. It resurfaces at odd times, even years later. From a gutter. From rotten food. From a badly cleaned toilet, a butcher shop. A reminder of someone who was once a man, woman or child.

The odd angle of a fallen corpse is forever imprinted on the iris. Clothes askew, the body in undignified surrender. Why do the violent dead always fall that way?

The blood they step into isn’t filtered through CMYK colors. It sticks to their shoes and their souls and must be washed by hand in their own bathrooms, back home.


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