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Wolf Tracks

Welcome to the Party

So I'm, like, at this party, you know. And things get really weird.

Last I remembered, it was 1968 and they said there was going to be this really cool thing happening. Like, we were all going to get together at this party and there'd be all this brotherhood and love and shit, and we'd all groove on it.

But somehow the time flow's screwed up. (Good acid. Bad acid. You just gotta go with it.) So yeah, the time flow's screwed up, like maybe I had a flashforward instead of a flashback, and I'm suddenly standing here in the middle of this party, all ready to groove on everybody.

Only it isn't cool at all. I'm standin' there and man, the word freak doesn't begin to describe what I'm seein'.

First off, I'm, like, nailed up against the wall by this bull dyke who's lecturing me about cigarettes, man. Like how we gotta get rid of cigarettes. Like, it's for the good of the children or something. And they're gonna put tobacco pushers in jail and all. I'd think that's pretty freakin' funny, man, except she's, like, blowing booze in my face, practically gale-force, while she's going on about how only Washington can put a stop to this killer menace cigarette thing that's endangering all the children. And she means it, you know. Except from what I remember it was a lot harder for kiddies to get cigarettes than to get, like, dope.So I finally think I get it, man, and I ask, "Hey, you mean they legalized dope and made cigarettes illegal, instead?"

And the only good thing I can say about that is that she shut up for a second. She just shut up and stared at me, man, like really weird. And before she can start off about the evils of...I manage to pop out from between her and the wall like a spit watermelon seed. She goes on talking at the wallpaper, I think.

Now, finally, I get a look around. Man, we're talking scary! What happened to us, anyway? This is our big party? The whole room's full of these people who look more like our parents than our parents did.

And I can catch some of their rap, and it's all about control man. Control, control, control. Like, over here there's this big bloaty guy with a Boston accent-cahs and bahs and all that-talking about how we gotta control guns. There's these two other people nodding at him. Like, one is this very Marin County chick, like who you know never saw a gun in her life. And another one's this creepy little lizard man, like you wouldn't buy a used car from. And they're nodding away.

Control, control, control. Nod, nod, nod.

Well, yeah, it wasn't cool for the cops and army dudes to be shooting at people, and all. Hey, remember the flowers in the gun barrels? That was cool. But at the same time, there was the Black Panthers, and they had guns and that was kind of cool, too, because, like, they had to protect their brothers, you know. So maybe guns weren't really, like, our favorite thing, but it was the violence part we were against, and you gotta protect yourself sometime, man. Even we knew that.

So I drift over at first, thinkin' they might be talkin' about takin' guns away from the cops and soldiers.

But this is different. These guys are talkin' about it bein' illegal for my straight little Boy Scout brother to shoot his .22. Shit, my little brother wouldn't shoot anything more serious than a tin can. I don't get this.

And the Marin chick says, "...Junk guns. Junk guns are killing our children."

I eventually get that junk guns are guns real people can afford to buy. So as far's I can figure, this chick is saying there's okay guns for Marin County kinda people and government kinda people, then there's bad guns that they gotta take away from poor people.

But weren't we for the poor people, man? Didn't we believe, like, power to the people, and that they should be able to defend themselves against the really hardass pigs and all?

So I think I get it again and I ask, "You mean, like, the poor are now safe and respected and have power, man, and they don't need to protect themselves any more, like, against oppression? That's groovy."

I get the same look I got from the cigarette lady. Then all three of them start yelling at once, and while I can't make much sense out of the ruckus, I hear all kind of stuff about the guns killing children, and guns making people pop their wives and all, and how just having guns around the house makes people, like, go massacre whole schoolyards full of little kids. And, like, bad looking guns especially make people do stuff.

And I think maybe people must have got hold of a lot of bad drugs, man, if they're that wigged out that guns can, like, make them do stuff. Must have been something come along after acid that was, like, really heavy and turned all the regular people into some kinda bad, brainless zombies controlled by guns.

And yeah, sure enough, I hear everybody sayin' about how we gotta build more prisons and stuff for all the bad people. And somebody says there's, like, way more than a million people in prison-million point two or somethin'--and I say, like, "What? Like, man, that's unflippingbelievable! You got that many people, like, murdering and raping and stuff?"

But no, it turns out it's mostly, like, dope and all. Weird. And now they're even gonna put in people for cigarettes and owning .22's. And there's some other lady wants to put people in jail for, like, saying food is "natural" when it isn't, like, really organic and all. And, like, filling in a ditch on your commune could get you a couple years in the federal slam. And stuff like that. Really weird.

And guess what? They say they can already, like, take away people's cars and houses and all their money and stuff without even charging you with a crime or anything. Like, even if somebody else broke a law using your car and you didn't even know about it, they can take your car away. Weird!

What's even weirder is I don't hear anybody talking about, like, rights.

I hear people in this room saying stuff like "liberal" and "conservative." (That hasn't changed any.) But it doesn't seem to make any difference whether they're callin' themselves conservative or callin' somebody else liberal. They're all just talkin' about jail and control and control and jail. And makin' this illegal and makin' that illegal. And makin' everything illegal, it sounds like.

I don't hear one person around here talkin' about, oh, free speech and how cops shouldn't kick down people's doors, and why the FBI shouldn't spy on political types, and why we shouldn't, like, have to use numbers instead of names, and how people ought to be able to, like, do their own thing. Nobody's sayin' that stuff. Nobody's shouting, "Hey! You can't do that!" Like, I'm the only person in the whole room freakin' out over this weird shit!

When did I fall off the bus, man? Isn't all that rights stuff what liberal usta mean? But around here all I hear is lawn order, lawn order, lawn order. I feel like I fell down a rabbit hole into a Republican party convention.

Except that all these folks are talkin' about lots more programs, too. And how we gotta bail out all these programs they already got. Somma these programs I've heard of, like Social Security, you know. And I can understand how that one might need some bailing, because we clearly got a boatload full of old farts around here. Some of the programs I never heard of. But they all gotta be beefed up or bailed out or supported or saved and stuff. And it's all for the sake of the children and the poor people. And so it's not like a Republican convention, exactly. But kind of like a Republican convention that's full of Democrats.

Then I hear this old dude off on a sofa talkin' about closing military bases. He's talkin' this Texas drawl, real quiet and soft, but he's gettin' a lot of attention. And I think, "Yeah. Closing military bases. We useta get behind that sorta shit, man."

So I ease on over to this guy. Turns out he's a senator or ex-senator or something, this Texas dude, and he's real into legislation to, like, turn these closed military bases into camps.

Well, cool. Neat camps for the kiddies. Little kiddies playin' where the soldiers used to be. I like that.

But that's not it, either. See, he wants to turn these bases into some kind of work camp things. It's where they'd put the dopers they can't fit in the regular prisons. But also some other people, too. People who disagree with him, you know. But I don't see anybody like that. Anywhere. So I don't know who he's talkin' about.

And, shit, it isn't only camps he wants to build. He wants some amendment or another suspended so people can be left in the camps like years without any trial and weird shit like that. And some other amendment suspended so the fuzz can get evidence on dopers and, like, people who don't like the government, without having to obey the Bill of Rights, man.

And everybody's nodding and nodding and nodding. With these glassy looks in their eyes. I figure everybody can't really agree with this old fascist fart. Maybe they're just nodding because he's this important guy and they're kissing his butt.

But then another guy standing in the middle of a big crowd behind the sofa speaks up. And he doesn't look like anybody important. I mean, he's just another big, bloaty guy. (There sure are a lot of those around here.) He's got a fat, Rudolph nose, and he chuckles, in some kind of hillbilly snort, and says, "Well, if that's what you wanted, why'd you give me such shit before voting on my counterterrorism bill, then?"

Tex and the bloaty guy laugh a while at that, like it's some funny secret. And all the nodders nod and laugh, glassy-like.

And then Rudolph-nose turns to some foreign-looking guys standing around him and explains that he invented this bill that lets him or the Secretary of State or somebody call anybody they want a bunch of terrorists and confiscate all their stuff, just boom like that, on this guy's say so. And if they're foreigners, they can even have secret trials and secret evidence, without telling anybody, even the newspapers.

At least, I think that's what he said. I gotta admit, he guy's voice was so lazy-sounding it just, like, made me sleepy every time he opened his mouth. If he really said all that stuff about foreign guys and secret trials, I'd think the foreign guys he was talking to woulda been pretty mad. But these Koreans or Malaysians or whatever just laugh and nod, laugh and nod.

I staggered off, really feeling wasted. Bad trip, man. This has got to be a bad trip! I mean, we were gonna make things better, weren't we? The government was, like, going to help everybody. They were gonna get us all together, for the good of the people. Weren't they?

But all over the room, everybody's saying control, control, control like a mantra.

Except that this mantra creates some very bad vibes, If you know what I mean. And this party isn't anywhere I want to be.

So I ease on over to the door, thinkin' I'll get out of here and maybe find the real party down the hall.

Except that I get to the door and it's freakin' locked, man. It's freakin' locked! I'm at the insanest party in the universe, and every door in the place is freakin' locked, so I can't get out.

So I found this tape recorder in the bedroom. I'm hiding in the closet right now, makin' this tape. When I'm done, I'm gonna put it into a box that useta hold non-fat pizza, thinking maybe it'll get carted out of here with the trash and some janitor might find it, lookin' for leftovers. If you get this tape, and if anybody knows a way out of here, please help me, okay? This party's too weird.

© 1997 by Claire Wolfe. This article may be reprinted for non-commercial purposes, as long as it is reprinted in full with no content changes whatsoever, and is accompanied by this credit line. The article may not be re-titled, edited or excerpted (beyond the limits of the fair use doctrine) without the written permission of the author. For-profit publications will be expected to pay a nominal reprint fee.

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20 November, 1997