Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "So Much Worse in Its Consequences"

This poem is spillover from the January 3, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from lone_cat.  It also fills the "captive" square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them.  The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: daisiesrockalot, lone_cat, general fund

129 lines, Buy It Now = $65
Amount donated = $26.50
Verses posted = 14 of 35

Amount remaining to fund fully = $38.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $3
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $1.50

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics.  Highlight to read the more detailed warnings, some of which are spoilers.  It includes legal issues, alternative justice, sudden job loss for cause, emotional shock, temporary public housing, self-doubt, homophobia, confusion, and other angst. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

So Much Worse in Its Consequences

Hefty leafed through the paperwork
to make sure he had everything in order.
It made him feel a lot better after listening
to the flow of sewage coming out of
Cho-Cho Glow's mouth earlier.

Opening the door to the secure interview room,
he said, "Well, the two people you assaulted
have declined to press charges since
no actual injury occurred, so you get off
with a warning ticket on that. However,
we have over a dozen complaints so far
on the disorderly conduct charge, so
that's going to community court, and --
are you even listening to me?"

Cho-Cho Glow, who hadn't
moved or said a word since Hefty
came back, silently shook his head.

"You want to tell me why not?"
Hefty said, raising his eyebrows.

"I lost my job," Cho-Cho Glow said numbly.

Hefty checked his paperwork again.
"Says here you're a show soup," he read.
"That's gig work, not regular employment."

"They sent someone in, with a message,"
Cho-Cho Glow whispered. "She said
SPOON said that NHCO called them
and reported me and had a file the size
of a phonebook. They crossed me off
their list, and that's where I got my gigs,
so." His breath hitched. "I'm out of work."

Hefty sighed. "You got yourself into
this mess, but I will see what I can do,"
he said. "Since you're out of state, I'll ask
community court to prioritize your trial, and
you can stay in temporary public housing
as long as you don't make more trouble."

"Thanks," said Cho-Cho Glow.
"It's just, I don't know what to do.
I don't have any -- it's all --"

His voice broke off, and he
put his head down on the table.
His shoulders quivered.

Hefty felt a certain satisfaction in that,
but it was his job to keep the peace,
and not indulge in schadenfreude.

"You made mistakes," he said.
"Now you can either wallow in that,
or start cleaning up your own mess.
Which is it going to be, boy?"

Cho-Cho Glow mumbled something
that might have been, "Clean it up."

Hefty gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"All right," he said. "Considering the nature
of the offenses, you're likely to get saddled
with classes on anger management, tolerance,
and nonviolent communication. You've already
heard my spiel on appropriate behavior for
a superhero, and I put in my recommendation
for some relevant classes at SPOON --"

"What if they don't want me?"
Cho-Cho Glow said as he finally
looked up. His eyes were red.

"Then you'll have to make do with
what you can read on their website,
or videos, or phone conversations,"
Hefty said. "Try the supervillain section,
I know that it's set up for distance work,
because people use it for prison classes."

"But I'm a superhero," Cho-Cho Glow protested.

"That's a good goal," Hefty said evenly.
"I wish you luck working toward it."

"I didn't mean for everything to get
so far out of hand," Cho-Cho Glow said.

"Put it in your report," Hefty advised.
"If you show remorse, and you're willing
to make amends, then the judge may
take that into account for sentencing."

Cho-Cho Glow clenched his jaw, then
seemed to think better of whatever
has crossed his mind. "It's just ... I was
taught that some stuff is wrong."

Hefty recalled something he'd heard in church.
"All human sin seems so much worse in
its consequences than in its intentions."

The young man winced. "Yeah. Maybe."
He looked up at Hefty, then back down.
"Why are you being so ... patient with me?"

"It's my job to behave myself when
other people aren't," Hefty said firmly.
Sometimes that was all that let him
hang onto his self-control. "I'm a cop.
If I don't set a good example, who will?
Your poor choices got nothing to do
with mine. I got my own standards."

"Oh," Cho-Cho Glow said in a small voice.

He looked so wilted that Hefty was starting
to worry about him. Cho-Cho Glow had not
even touched the glass of water in front of him.

"Get up," Hefty said. "I'm taking you to
EFA. They'll check you out and help you
with the paperwork. I don't have the training
for that kind of emotional support, and I don't
want to risk making a bad situation even worse."

That meant the department EFA office beside
the testing room, not the publicly accessible one
rolled into the Victim Advocate office.
No sense courting trouble.

Cho-Cho Glow went meekly,
though, and Hefty was able
to hand off both the captive and
the paperwork to the EFA staff.

"Page me when you're done,"
Hefty said to the Emotional First Aide.
"I'll take him down to holding, or to
the Shock Room at the hospital if you
decide he's worse off than he looks."

Hefty really hoped it would be
the holding area downstairs.
Maybe a night there would
knock some sense into him.

If it was the hospital, though, he
was giving Cho-Cho Glow a ride in
the rainbow-painted "Pride" van that
they used for civil rights support,
instead of a plain transport car.

Smiling, Hefty headed back to his desk
and his own share of paperwork.

He tried not to envy the superheroes,
who got to do good without paperwork.

* * *


"All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

See the Omaha Police Station and its main floor plan.  The Victim Advocate area includes the publically accessible EFA and first aid station. The quiet room is the small unlabeled room beside the men's restroom. The EFA and first aid station for the department staff is the small unlabeled room next to the testing room.  The basement contains two cell blocks, one for women and one for men.

Omaha Temporary Public Housing uses a plan typical of many small apartment buildings.  The basement floor plan includes a craft room, guest bedroom, bathroom, storage/utility area, and a large recreation room with game tables.  By giving people things to do, this minimizes opportunities for misbehavior.  The two main floors include a mix of 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units.  A single person like Cho-Cho Glow would get the 1-bedroom type with a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom furnished in basic style.  A common lounge and common kitchen encourage prosocial behavior.  Practicalities include a housing office, ADA dottie, storage lockers, and laundry room.

Alternative justice typically refers to options other than imprisonment. Restorative justice focuses on the goal of repairing the damage done by crimes.  Community court deals primarily with nonviolent civil offenses, but may also address serious crimes such as drugs and human trafficking which have a big impact on community life.  Terramagne-America uses these methods to reduce the burden on the criminal system and minimize the chance of turning minor infractions into chronic misbehavior. Warning tickets allow the police to record troublesome behavior without attaching an immediate penalty. This allows them to use minimal force while still watching for problematic patterns. It's a common feature in progressive discipline. A typical sequence involves verbal warning(s), written warning(s), minor penalties (assigned education, obligatory mediation, docked pay or small fines), short term limitations (suspension, a day or few in holding), and major sanctions as a last resort (large fines, jail time). People need both clear standards and tools for improvement in order to solve problems.

Job loss often throws people into shock, especially if it's sudden and unexpected or they have no backup plans.  T-America prefers to minimize this -- except in egregious cases such as the one shown here -- because getting fired even once tends to cause a permanent  reduction in civic enagagement, a key cause of L-America's widespread loss of civic activity.  Hence Hefty's concerted effort to put Cho-Cho Glow back on track, rather than let him plummet.  Here are some tips for surviving job loss.

Making mistakes is a natural and necessary part of life.  They come in different kinds, which plays into what you can learn from them.  Understand how to learn from your mistakes and how to help others learn from theirs.  The idea that criminals can learn to behave better is a cornerstone of restorative justice.

Emotional injuries benefit from prompt care to reduce the chance of turning into serious problems. Know the basics of emotional first aid for yourself and others. You can also make an emotional first aid kit full of comfort items.

This is the van used for civil rights support at the Omaha police department.  When there's a large protest, they station some officers to protect people's civil rights.  This reduces the chance of a peaceful protest turning into a violent one.

Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, life lessons, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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