Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is A Clean Rap Sheet

All I Want For Christmas Is A Clean Rap Sheet
a tale from the Binder Of Shame
Al Bruno III

(The following is a mostly true story)

2010 has been a rough year. 2010 has seen setbacks financial and personal. In 2010 my wife and daughter became seriously ill (they’re better now). In 2010 my place of employment shifted its focus from customer service to issuing increasingly bizarre and conflicting directives to its employees. It was a year that our cars regularly broke down and we frequently found ourselves trying to decide between the power bill and the food bill.

Yeah, 2010 was a real bastard of a year and the week before Christmas it delivered the roughest blow yet.

It was a Friday evening, my missus was scrap booking and my daughter was playing video games. I naturally was updating my blog in the hopes that people are still reading this nonsense.

Around eleven o’clock my daughter asked me if we could do something together. She’s ten now and I think we are both becoming aware that time and adolescence would soon come between us. I knew she wanted to go to see the new Yogi Bear movie but I really hate movies of its kind. In many ways I am still recovering from my viewing of Alvin And The Chipmunks 2, a film I can only describe as the cinematic equivalent of being beaten with a club made from stale frosting.

“Hey,” I said, “instead of the movies why don’t we go out for ice cream? Heck we can even bring the dogs along for fun and give them some French fries.”

My daughter loved the idea for its fun and spontaneity. My wife loved the idea for the peace and quiet.

We all piled into the car; my daughter was in the front seat, my two dogs were in the back. Yours truly was in the driver’s seat. I allowed my daughter to choose the radio station and as we headed out for the local Sonic I pondered what the sensation of feeling ‘Like a G6’ might be like.

Since I was a middle aged nerd I assumed I never would know and contented myself to know what it was like to play Dungeons & Dragons and feel ‘Like a D6’.

Before we could reach our destination flashing blue lights filled my rearview mirror. For a moment I hoped it might be a UFO filled with green skinned women looking for good breeding stock but sadly it was only a police car.

I pulled over into a nearby parking lot and waited. My daughter was full of worries and questions but I assured her everything was all right. The officer that approached my car was tall, he reminded me of a cross between country music singer Travis Tritt and futuristic killing machine The Terminator. The dogs barked and whined as he drew closer.

The conversation we had was a variation of one I had shared with police officers many times over the years.

He asked, “Do you know you have a headlight out?”

I replied, “Uhm...”

He nodded, “And your registration expired four months ago.”

“Uh... whoops?” Despite the cool December weather I suddenly began to feel very warm.

My daughter must have realized I was floundering so she chimed in, “It’s not my Daddy’s fault. He’s bi-polar!”

Ah, the insanity defense. A clever move but it was a little too early in the game for that. The police officer asked me for my drivers license and I gave it to him. He paused for a moment to make sure that the chunky ragged looking man before him matched the chunky ragged looking man in the picture. Then he went back to his car.

We waited for what seemed like a very long time. My daughter and I talked about what was happening and why there was nothing to be scared about.

Then the police officer asked me to step out of the vehicle so we could talk privately. I wondered if he might be one of my 100+ blog subscribers, if he was I promised myself I would graciously give him the requested autographs.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Mr. Bruno you have an outstanding arrest warrant.”

“Outstanding?” I croaked. An arrest warrant didn’t sound very outstanding at all; in fact it sounded pretty Goddamn upsetting. I couldn’t think of a single solitary thing I had done to earn an arrest warrant. I wondered if he had me confused with another Al Bruno. A Google search of my name finds a mobster, a porn star and my Dad. Suspicious characters one and all.

“I don’t have the complete information yet but it has to do with a worthless check you wrote,” he explained, “apparently the debt was never addressed and the matter was brought to the magistrate.”

I looked back to my car, to my daughter and my dogs, none of them were going to take this very well. “So what happens now?”

“Before I arrest you is there anyone that can pick up your child and pets?”

“Sure, my wife.”

“You can call her if you like.”

“I don’t have a cell phone,” I blushed at the admission. As our finances had gone into the toilet the cell phones had been the first thing to go.

The officer called my wife for me and my missus and her best friend got there shortly. My daughter began to freak out as she realized her father was about to be taken away in the back of a police car. The dogs started to freak out as they realized they weren’t going to be getting any fries.

I told my missus to stay calm and take care of our little one. I promised to call her as soon as this was over.

The police officer waited until my wife and daughter were gone before he put the handcuffs on me, something I will always be grateful to him for. He also carefully frisked me, something I will always have mixed feelings about.

Then it was into the back of the car and off to the county courthouse/ police station.

It all became very real at that point, a kind of cold feeling settled into my stomach. Much like getting one of my novels published, this arrest was not something I had ever anticipated happening in my lifetime.

Once we got to the courthouse slash police station I was placed in a holding cell roughly the size of the cubicle I occupied at work. A desperate wondering of what in the Hell had gone wrong with my life filled my mind. Oddly enough this was also what went through my mind when I was in my cubicle at work.

After a short time my arresting officer came to retrieve me. “Wow, those things really do smell like pee,” I joked.

The look I got told me that this was a joke that should never be made in situations like this but there has always been a part of my mind that makes me say just the wrong thing.

Mug shots followed, then after that it was explained to me that this was all over a hundred dollar check that had been written a little over a year ago. To a veterinarian of all things. Apparently my warrantt had fallen through the cracks when the county had gone from paper records to computerized records.

Lucky me.

Once the paperwork was done it was off to the magistrate where I enjoyed more waiting and paperwork. Then I was free to go.

It was roughly 1 AM when I called home.

Well actually I tried to call home but all there was for me to use was pay phones and I had no change and no way to get change.

I was all alone, in front of the county courthouse/ police station, it was a cold December night and I was nine miles from home. I started walking.

I really didn’t plan to walk all the way home but I couldn’t find a pay phone or sympathetic late night business to help me out. So I kept on walking. I thought about my court date for the check and then my next court date for the expired registration. It looked like I wouldn’t be buying much Doctor Who merchandise this January either.

About two-thirds of the way home my wife found me, rather than wait for my call she had headed out for the courthouse as soon as she had gotten her best friend to watch my daughter.

Then she had gotten lost and I was gone by the time she had found the place.

I climbed in her car and we started heading home. When I explained to my missus about the check in question she started crying a little. She remembered the check in question even though I didn’t, and she blamed herself because she had asked me to write it.

My missus was really worried that this was going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, that I was going to leave her.

I laughed reassuringly, “Honey. I was only imprisoned for twenty minutes, after eighteen years of marriage to you that’s nothing.”

Then she really started crying. See what I mean about always saying the wrong thing?

I will leave the rest of the story to your imagination; the tearful reunion with my very worried daughter, the angry glares from my French fry denied pets and the futon I ended up sleeping on thanks to my smart mouth.

It is just a few days before the end of the year now and I am worried there is one more disaster waiting for me in the wings. I am worried 2011 will be even crueler than the year before. The one thing I am not worried about is the supposed Mayan Apocalypse coming in 2012.

At this point I say bring it on.


  1. Seriously, they arrested you over one bad check? Yikes. That could happen to anyone!

    I'm so sorry. That really, really sucks. You wrote the story well and with humor though. Hope everything goes better for you in the New Year. *hug*

  2. You have a great sense of humor and a wonderfully clear writing style. Keep it up and thank yuh. Merry Christmas Al.

  3. {{{AL}}}

    That sucks...but you have the sense of humor that overrides anything!

    Love to U and the fam!


  4. Nice sense of humor, Al. Nothing lasts forever. Best line is:

    “Honey. I was only imprisoned for twenty minutes, after eighteen years of marriage to you that’s nothing.”

    Only a married guy can understand that, like me!

  5. I saw this linked on Web Fiction Guide in the forums, and came to see what happened, so I could attempt to follow the discussion. I also thought it might give me a glimpse of your narrative voice. And wow. If this is how you tell stories, count me out.

    I knew she wanted to go to see the new Yogi Bear movie but I really hate movies of its kind. In many ways I am still recovering from my viewing of Alvin And The Chipmunks 2, a film I can only describe as the cinematic equivalent of being raped with a dildo made from stale frosting.

    Yeah. Using rape as a metaphor for a bad movie? Seriously offensive. You know what's like rape? Rape. Seriously. Using it as a metaphor for a bad movie minimizes what actual survivors go through. So knock it off.

    I laughed reassuringly, “Honey. I was only imprisoned for twenty minutes, after eighteen years of marriage to you that’s nothing.”

    Then she really started crying. See what I mean about always saying the wrong thing?

    A guy belittling his concerned wife? I'm in stitches! Oh, wait, no, the other thing - annoyed, that's what I'm feeling. And before your married commenters think I don't know what I'm talking about, I'm married, and have been for eight years. Not as long as you, but long enough to find that to be something you should be embarrassed about, not bragging about.

  6. Anonymous...

    Sorry the story wasn't for you. I'm even more sorry you wre offended by it.

  7. Sorry the story wasn't for you.

    First off: the entire story isn't the problem, and I never said it was. That particularly offensive anecdote, and the trivializing rape metaphor, however, were.

    That said, no, those things were not for me, or for survivors of rape who find flippant analogies to a horrible event in their lives to be triggering and offensive, or for the many other people that find trivializing of rape to be offensive.

    I'm even more sorry you wre offended by it.

    I wasn't really expecting a reply from you, so I'm not actually hurt by this fake apology ( & for starters - they second is a google hit, so I can't speak for the site as a whole, but the article is good). Perhaps apologizing for using offensive language would be a better route.

    Also, to take what you said on Web Fiction Guide (since anonymous posting isn't allowed there and I don't feel comfortable doing the calling out unanon):

    The same goes for the fake apology, though then you included an "if it upset or offended" (emphasis mine) which is extra non-apology, since I already told you it was offensive. So you know you already have offended/were offensive, no 'if' about it. The only reason to include the word 'if' is to (intentionally or not) try to minimize the fact that you were being offensive and hurtful.

    I can't apologize for the story because it is what it is...

    I never said you had to apologize for your entire blog post. I am simply saying that, as a writer, you should be aware of the meaning your words have, and how anecdotes and bad metaphors can be offensive and negatively impact your audience.

    (Though, if the problem were that you had written an entirely offensive blog post/story, an apology would be appropriate. Again, I'm not asking for that here - the entire blog post isn't offensive. But saying that you can't apologize for something triggering, hurtful, and/or offensive just because the offensive thing exists is mind-boggling. Many things exist, but that doesn't mean that they aren't hurtful, and that if someone hurts someone, they shouldn't apologize.)

    As an author you should be striving to get the best possible reaction from your audience, and playing on offensive tropes and using hurtful and triggering language isn't the best way to go about it, unless you are simply praying that your blog doesn't get many views (conservatively, in the US 1 in 6 woman have been sexually assaulted, and any number of them can be triggered/offended easily by bad rape metaphors, among the many others that are irritated by them). Otherwise, you could get the same thoughts and story across without being offensive.

    but I never set out to ruin anyone's day

    I don't believe I ever said that you actively set out to ruin my day, or anyone else's. The thing is, intent is irrelevant. Trivializing rape analogies are offensive and triggering whether you mean them to be or not. As a writer you know that you can't hang over your reader's shoulders, telling them what you meant - the same concept applies here.

  8. All I've got to say is: A joke is a joke. A rude joke may be rude, it may even be tasteless, but raging against it as 'offensive' is not the fault of the author. Rape survivors are people too, not ultra-fragile glass sculptures. I would imagine they're grown-up enough to decide these kinds of things for themselves rather than relying on confused moral crusaders to tell authors what they should and shouldn't write.

    So you weren't amused. All you had to do was not laugh.


  9. PS. Anonymous, the admission that you are deliberately anon-posting in order to hide your identity here and on WFG implies a certain lack of force in your convictions and/or the nobility thereof. Standing up for rape survivors is quite a good cause, even if your methods are sadly, sadly misguided, so why would you be afraid to have your (potentially fake and meaningless) online identity associated with it? This is the internet, after all. There are not going to be any real-life consequences.

    To clarify, I genuinely do not care who you are and have no interest in finding out. I'm just noting a certain troll-like quality to your posts. That is all.

    You may observe my full name and website if you wish.