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Disorderly Conduct

Will Cordeiro | Sayantan Halder

Ain’t easy being part of the wall, I tell ya, marching forward with your shields lined up tight. The crap people hurl at you! Insults, rotten food, beer bottles. One time it was even dog-shit—dog-shit splat on my newly polished boots! We have face guards and flak vests, sure, but still… You want to keep your uniform clean, lookin’ sharp—something these dirtbags just don’t understand.

Know your tactics. The behavior of crowds reacts to surges of energy. Collective hysteria. A mob will just move in waves, like an amoeba. It’s one giant organism—flashpoints, ripple effects… No sense of order, no sense of decency.

Now, these people, believe me, they think they have some god-given right to get together and complain! C’mon, if any dope could just mouth off, where would that get us? As a country? Huh?!

The way we deal with it, see: divide and conquer. We isolate one individual—pick a real loudmouth—and beat him down good. Suddenly just kick him in the nuts, take his knees out. Whack him in the face with the billy club, that always makes a nice impression. Draw a little blood. You need an example, so that everyone else doesn’t think of themselves as part of an anonymous mass. I mean, you don’t want them doing things for each other, forming a group, imaging the sum is bigger than its parts. Naw, we need to inspire some good ol’ fashioned competition ‘mongst ‘em. They’s gotta figure we’re coming for each and every one of them next. Everyone should feel alone.

That’s when the chief goes over the bullhorn, gives ‘em two-three minutes to disperse. Then it’s the fun stuff: we open up the whoop-ass! Pepper spray, rubber bullets. The dogs gettin’ all riled up. Hot damn, son, it’s moments like that that you live for!

What the crowd don’t know is: we’re not really interested in making a lot of arrests, since that requires us to break formation. Not to mention the paperwork, geez. But, ok, we bring some zip ties along, round up a few to show our muscle. Mostly, we get them on bullshit charges: disorderly conduct, obstructing the police. Ha, those are always good ones! Fail safe. Truth is, we barricade the area in advance, so whichever way they turn they’re basically running from us. There’s enough laws on the books that if they’re not doing one thing, it’s another, right?

We’re the ones who know who’s breaking a law. You’re not breaking a law unless we say you are. Hell, that’s what they pay us for. And here’s the best part: if you’re think your overstepping your boundaries, Rookie, just search ‘em, stick ‘em in the squad car, but don’t issue a ticket. Then it won’t get tangled up in the courts and come back to bite ya in the ass. So basically, have a field day. Yeah, it’s glory-glory hallelujah time, baby, the saints—that’s you and me and the boys—come a-marching in!

At least, y’know, that’s how we handled things back when I started. Nowadays these fuckers are starting to capture the roughhouse on their cell phones; before you know it, it’s going viral. They’re pressing charges—I shit you not, Charlie—against us, which becomes a real P.R. nightmare. Here’s my secret: make sure you smash their videos. Go after those twerps first—they’re easy targets, just holding up their smartphones or whatnot. Smart alecks, more like it, they’re holding up our whole operation. Remember, this is important: we decide what counts as evidence.

Scare some respect into ‘em. We’ve a job to do, after all. Ain’t easy, I tell ya. But somebody’s gotta make the streets safe. Wrangle up the whiners so we can have a functioning democracy. It’s days like that, when you’re right in the thick of things, wearing the riot gear, I’m saying, makes you proud you’re on the Force.

About Will Cordeiro

Will Cordeiro received his MFA from Cornell University, where he is completing his Ph.D. in English. His work appears widely, including recent or forthcoming publications in burnt district, Copper Nickel, Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Phoebe, and elsewhere. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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