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Rat-Jacket

By George Sparling

When Maggie told him that in 1972 she'd had sex with inmate Donald>> DeFreeze ( aka Cinque ), the former ( now dead ) leader of the Symbionese>> Liberation Army,in a trailer located within the Vacaville Medical>> Facility, Woody was stunned.>>

"Who let you do that?" Woody met Maggie a year ago. She bought four>> DVD rental stores owned by locals. As a manager of one, Woody dated her.>> He now lived in her Victorian home.>>

"A friend of a friend introduced me," she said. "They let him have>> conjugal visits.">>

"You ever meet Patty Hearst?" he asked. "I read years ago that she'd>> screwed him, too.">>

"No, but I heard rumors," she said. "I was eighteen, mistakes happen.">>

"A rogue FBI unit ran the SLA, for shit sake," he said. He could>> have smashed the microbrew bottle and cut her throat with the shards,>> watching her bleed and die in the kitchen. He killed before. The second>> time would be easier. Only in Maggie's case it would not have any > "revolutionary" cover>> the one had during the '99 Seattle WTO protests. Rose, her daughter, > wanted to talk with him>> about that.>>

Living with Maggie upgraded his life so much, that leaving because of>> jealous pique was out of the qeastion.>>

"How can I trust any woman getting pronged by the man who planned the>> assassination of the most popular Superintendant of Public Schools the Bay > Area ever had.">> > 2-Sparling>>

Woody's hypocrisy glared back at him, observing his reflection in>> Maggie's eyes. His needs must be salvaged by any means necessary. > Exhausted by the>> poor man's swinger life, its dissapation and ruin, moving from partner to > partner, eventually>> sleeping in forests, fearful of trespass arrest. He had ended stranded, > homeless,>> until Maggie came along. He couldn't let her slip away. Self-preservation > was>> uppermost, greater than much over-rated dignity both the poor and liberals>> talked so much about.>>

"We've been together for six months," she said, opening another beer.>>

"It wouldn't be honest not telling you.">>

"Too bad Bernadine Dorhn didn't have conjugals," he said. Woody saw>> her dance naked long ago in a NYC safe house. "I'd fantasies about her>> ever since.">>

"Bitch. Only aggravated assault and bail-jumping charges," she said,>> her voice louder than Woody had ever heard. Were those Dorhn details > Movement nostalgia or>> had Maggie been briefed? Woody couldn't separate paranoia from historical > accuracy. Desparation acted>> that way.>>

"Real revolutionaries go to prison, not get three years probation," he > said.>>

"A real looker, she should be doing porn movies," she said. "I'd order>> twenty copies of her boffing Brad Pitt.">>

"I'd like clips of you and Cinque." Talk about vulgar yet vintage > porno.>>

"I've changed. Buying the stores, I'm respectable now," she said.>>

Respectable in special op circles or as a civilian who never > collaborated with the other>> > 3-Sparling>> side? Love and suspicion, he had no way to separate them.>>

"You mean shitting on guys' faces at $400 a poop, I mean pop, wasn't>> respectable" Woody said. "I'm shocked, shocked." Probing too much into>> her past, he knew was dangerous, threatened his security. Opening one > hole,>> then others would open: More shit would sluice through their lives. Job, > housing,>> booze, sex: a beach wave washing over a sandcastle, his present set-up > disappearing. A thirty-eight,>> he wanted a Dolores Ibarruri shouting, "They shall not pass," standing up > againt fascists in the Spanish Civil War.>> Maggie would be a Lesser-Dolores, giving him strength through passion. The > world had turned uglier, and>> Woody couldn't hold out much longer.>>

"My crackhead days ended two years ago," she said. "I'm nobler now." > She stretched "nobler" out, giving>> it room for sarcasm and bitter irony.>>

"Does that mean you'd give me a freebie?" Woody asked.>>

"If you asked, I'd do the shit-thing," she said. Maggie stroked her>> brown hair. Most fifty-year-old women had started graying. She stayed fit, > going to the>> health club, doing the Stairmaster, hand weights, treadmill, aerobics. > From tricking to>> fitnesss, Maggie had transformed herself. Too fast for Woody to place > complete faith>> in her, though. But total faith meant fanaticism.Revulsion overwhelmed > him, thinking himself just another idiotic>> zealot hanging on to her.>>

The following day, he dressed because the store opened at ten. When he>> arrived, a strange and familiar face stared at him from the open window of > a new Lexus. Her pale face, its bone>> structure and contours still pleased him, even with a small,gold nose > ring. Rose had updated her beauty. She stepped>> out, wearing a slit skirt, and scooted to the seat's edge, exposing her > legs longer than necessary. She modeled a green and red skull>> > 4-Sparling>> tattoo on one calf. Bison? A purple serpent ran the length of the other > calf. Surprised, but finding those legs still>> irrestible. No longer wearing street-fighting clothes, her exterior > inciting him, just as the power of her fearlessness had during>> those five battleground days had.>>

"Great job, watching DVDs while earning dineros," she said. She tongued>> him as she had before after the first day of resistance.>>

Woody held the store keys, wanting to open the store, waiting for her > to>> quit the tongue business. She finally backed off.>>

"The man we killed was my dad," she said. Not conspiratorily, but as a>> simple fact of life. Woody, shocked, never blinked, however. Rose was > capable of anything>>

"Does that change anything?" Woody never asked a more leading question>> in his life.>>

"Dad, Coulter, took vids of our sex in that Methodist man's home," she>> said. "But Mr. Wesley is a fine, good man.">> Woody thought they'd both do big time in prison for that. He never asked > her>> age. He only come out from behind the wire a corpse if she were a minor, > that was certain.>>

"What should we do?" Woody asked. Rose had smarts, and something > else---power. Woody was>> envious of that, how he'd lacked any overriding control in life. > Floundering, moving from>> disaster to disaster. Powerful people shaped events, not getting molded > like Richard Serra's iron>> sculpture by them.>>

"A guy in my Seattle cell, Jack, is in federal prison, now," she said.>> "Caught him shipping XTC across the BC border.">>

"Why dope? Politics is more important.">> > 5-Sparling>>

"We wanted to get a few shoulder-held, surface-to-air launchers," she>> said. "It was stupid and fucked. We'd never do that now.">>

"That's criminal, for shit sake," he said. "Killing innocent civilians > is homicide">>

"My sociopathic days are over," she said. Rose looked sad, a>> faultline of recognition crossed her eyes. Who was she? As close to her as > conceivable, yet he never>> really knew her, which he felt positive he had. Only 10% of human brains > get>> utilized..The other 90%, that dark energy beneath the surface, we never>> knew. Even bio-geneticists lacked understanding about those unchartered>> regions. She hadn't a scintilla of awareness of who she was or>> what drove her. Neither had Woody nor anyone.>>

"He snitched out a guy body-snatching unsuspected drifters, loser>> types," she said, smoking a foreign cigarette Woody hadn't heard of."Made > snuff films.">>

Woody always thought those were urban legends.>>

"Your friends are troglodytes, living in complete moral darkness.">>

""Jack's a rat-jacket.">>

"What's that?">>

"A guy in prison who rats out others.">>

"What's Jack's connection to Dad Coulter?">>

"Before the cell, Jack talked gullibles into doing short vid clips," > she>> said. "Told them they'd be famous.">>

"And they believed him?" How could anyone be so irrational,.>>

"Celebs are real to most people these days." she said. "More real than their fathers and mothers, even.">>

"That doesn't sound so bad," Woody said.>>

"Jack sold them to my dad, and he trafficked them doing>> unnameable shit.">>

"Nothing is ever what it seems, so it seems." Woody said.>> Nihilistic noir crime writer Jim Thompson used that heme in all his > novels.>>

"Jack was relased, and got our tapes," she said. "Found religion,>> became a Christian.">>

She unlocked the trunk, pulling out a canvas bag, and opened it.>> Woody saw about forty discs.>>

"Damn. Never knew we'd that much sex," he said. She laughed. Then>> Rose left to visit Maggie. She hadn't seen her mother in two years.>>

Maggie phoned Woody before he closed the store, telling him she>> and Rose would be there, don't close. Woody turned off the lights, then > sat in darkness behind>> the counter. He put a new one he knew anything about. "Dakota" was about > sex workers.>> How could this movie make such critical acclaim at a big movie festival, > he mused.>> let herself in. Rose followed, carrying the canvas bag.>>

"Oh, this is ironic, you watching that movie, me with all these other>> discs," she said.>>

"How come?" Woody asked.>> "Similar, I'd say," Rose said.>>

"What's up?" Woody took "Dakota" out, out, putting it back into the > case.>> > 7-Sparling>>

"We'll use that other monitor," Maggie said. "No one can see the light > back here."> .>

Rose and Woody sat in cushy swivel chairs. Maggie dug out at random a disc. She fed it to the player. They watched Rose and "boyfriends," doing whatever regular love-making required. In silence, the three saw and heard what went on during those early years. Woody felt uncomfortable. It was like incest, he thought, having Maggie view with daughter Rose these spontaneous trysts. Normal exploits, except that they'd been secretly taped. Privacy was as old-fashioned as Victorian corsets and Oscar Wilde epigrams.

They watched many discs until morning. All semi-nude, but they rubbed themselves off separately. After all, they were family.

Tearing things apart, trying to make life really human. Stopping the innocent from slaughter, damn horny lightning, protesting all of it.

(C)opyright 2008 George Sparling All Rights Reserved

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