fictoid: The Poet And The Policeman
The poet sat on the hill, looking at the city. An eight lane highway separated him from the city, but it might as well be the gulf separating him from the moon.
The poet believed he’d visit the moon someday, in spirit if not in fact, and never longed for it the way he longed for the city.
The policeman came up behind him, not stealthily, letting his presence be known.
The poet didn’t look in his direction.
“You again?” the policeman asked.
“Me again,” said the poet. He spoke in a language not his own, the policeman’s language.
The policeman sat down heavily by his friend. He shared the burden of staring at the city with him.
“You could go back, you know,” said the policeman.
“I can’t go back,” said the poet. “You know.”
The policeman shrugged. He liked his friend, the poet, but he had a job to do, and answering calls about strange men sitting on hills took him away from what he felt he should be doing.
The poet kept a bottle of absinthe in a paper bag. He opened it and drank straight from the bottle.
“Ach!” said the policeman. “You shouldn’t be doing that. Not in front of me.”
“Are you going to arrest me?”
“You know I won’t,” said the policeman. (He almost said “can’t”.)
The poet shrugged and took another long draught. The policeman’s jurisdiction extended only as far as the shoulder of the highway. The city’s police department held jurisdiction from that point on.
The policeman looked at his friend then resumed helping him look at the city. It could be a job for two men. Below them, cars crawled along the highway like bead necklaces slowly being dragged across black velvet, their headlights tiny diamonds.
They sat in silence a while, then the poet took another long draught.
“You are not supposed to drink alcohol in public,” said the policeman.
“Do you see anyone here?”
“No, of course not.”
“Do you see me drinking from an open, clearly marked bottle?”
“No,” said the policeman, and it was true. He could not actually see the absinthe bottle in the bag.
The poet took another drink. The licorice flavor of the absinthe testified clearly to the strength of the liquor.
He drank absinthe because it was the drink of artists and poets and madmen and sad men, and because it seemed to be the drink one should drink while looking at the city one could never return to.
The policeman looked longingly at the bagged bottle.
“If you break the law,” he said, “and I found out about it, you’ll pay some penalty.”
The poet handed the bagged bottle over to the policeman. The policeman took a long drink.
“Now I’m a criminal, too,” he said.
# # # # #
© Buzz Dixon