Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Free-Ranging Release"

This poem is spillover from the April 2, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "unwanted opinion" square in my 2-28-19 card for the Meet Ugly Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.

WARNING: This poem contains subjects that are extremely controversial and likely to disturb most readers. Highlight to read the warnings, which include spoilers and probable triggers. It features a soup with a 10-year-old body and 36-year-old mind, police harassment, mature clothing in French style, practical sex counseling as a career, making someone late for work, giftedness and super-intellect, past zetetic mishap involving physical (but not mental) age regression, negative opinions of sex and sex workers, unwanted opinions, frank discussion of sexuality and sexual disorders including hypersexuality and pedophilia, women can enjoy fucking and choose their own careers but some people disapprove of this, references to anxiety and depression, discussion of suicide, pros and cons of various treatments for pedophilia and other sexual disorders, references to castration and talk therapy, hermitages isolating pedophiles, use of superpowers to alter sexual orientations, high-risk therapies and consent issues, reference to bloodletting for reduction of sexual urges, references to pornography and sex dolls, reference to psychopaths born without a conscience, clumsy apology, loss of exercise time, and other challenges. WARN ALL THE THINGS! If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding if this is something you want to read. (This poem is intended for mature audiences, and it is not recommended for survivors of child abuse and/or sexual violence but the choice remains yours.) It does not connect to extant storylines, so skipping it would cause no problems.

"Free-Ranging Release"

[Monday, March 2, 2015]

Juliette Rayne tapped her foot
against the floor of the police station.

Even in high-heels, it was difficult
for her 10-year-old body to see over
the high counter, which did not
include an accessibility notch.

Her 36-year-old mind was
rapidly running out of patience
with the cop behind the counter,
who had brought her in for

"As I have already explained,"
Juliette said through her teeth,
"I am a practical sex counselor.
If you would stop stalling and
call the confirmation number on
my license, you would know that."

"Now, miss, I know that's a fake,
and not even a convincing fake,"
Officer Faber said. "There's no way
you could have all those credentials, or
any of the other ID. You should be in
a grade school, not walking the streets
dressed in high heels and a short dress."

"I was just on my way to work at
the Serenity Clinic of Human Sexuality,"
Juliette said. "I have my first client
in less than an hour from now, I have
paperwork to do before then, and
you are making me late for work."

"Kids your age shouldn't be doing
more than yardwork or babysitting,"
said Officer Faber. "Don't pull my leg."

"I am 36 years old," Juliette said.
"Only my physical appearance
is younger. Do I sound like
a 10-year-old girl to you?"

"There's gifted kids ..."
Officer Faber said slowly.

"I know that," she snapped.
"I was one. I didn't sound like this
when I was actually 10! I sounded
like a super-smart little girl."

"If you want me to believe
that you're really grown up,
then just how do you explain
your looks?" Officer Faber said.

"Well, that's why people shouldn't
mess around with zetetics in search of
the fountain of youth," Juliette drawled.
"You might find it, and then realize
that it's not what you wanted."

"You could just be covering for
your pimp, though," said Officer Faber.
"Sex trade isn't good for people."

"Says the man who works in a town
with two brothels and a sex clinic,"
Juliette said. "You can just keep
your unwanted opinion to yourself."

"I didn't know about all the sex stuff when
I moved here," Officer Faber protested.
"I just arrived at the turn of the year."

"Wonderful, I get to break in the new guy,"
Juliette grumbled. "My lawyer is going
to chew you up and spit you out."

"What lawyer?" said Officer Faber,
his dark skin paling a fraction. "You
haven't had your phone call yet!"

Juliette shook her wrist at him,
showing the bold red screen
on her vidwatch. "I have
a panic button, you idiot."

"What are you doing with
that kind of app?" he said.

"First, my appearance means
that I get hassled by authorities
on a routine basis, like now,"
said Juliette. "This prevents
them from 'disappearing' me
down a Family Services hole."

"What else?" Officer Faber said.

"I work at a sexuality clinic,"
Juliette reminded him. "Some of
our clients have disorders that make it
difficult or impossible for them to control
their urges. Therefore, employees use
panic apps to ensure everyone's safety."

"Disorders ...?" Officer Faber said.
"That would be dangerous even if
you were as old as you say!"

"I have a master's degree
in zetetic biochemistry with
supporting coursework in
psychology, and later training
in practical sex counseling,"
Juliette said. "We have clients
with hypersexuality, pedophilia,
and other problems who need help,
and I'm best suited for some of them."

"That is so wrong," Officer Faber said,
shaking his head. "There's no way
I can let you go back to that!"

"You don't have a choice,"
Juliette pointed out. "Women
are allowed to enjoy fucking and
to take whatever career we wish."

"Nobody could enjoy what pedophiles
do to their victims!" Officer Faber said.

"It is inconvenient to modern beliefs,
but in fact several lauded societies in
history practiced pederasty, including
Greeks, Romans, and Samurai,"
said Juliette. "They have left
much literature praising it."

"I don't care, it's still wrong!"
Officer Faber said. "We'll
get you out of that place."

"No you will not," Juliette said.
"That place is where I work, and
my clients need me. There are
not many options for treating
pedophilia, precisely because
it is a sexual orientation and
those are not subject to change
under ordinary circumstances."

"Who cares about pedos?"
said Officer Faber. "Lock 'em up
and throw away the keys!"

"I care," Juliette said. "They
can't help how they're born or
how they feel. All they can do is
try to suppress the urges -- and that
does a lot of harm to some of them.
Anxiety, depression, and suicide
are constant threats; I have
lost clients to all of those."

"Well ... there's gotta be
something modern medicine
can do about it," Officer Faber said.

"Sure," said Juliette. "Talk therapy
and sex therapy, which I offer, but
even those have some risks.
Chemical or physical castration
has ruinous side effects."

"That ... doesn't sound good,"
Officer Faber admitted.

"It's not," Juliette said.
"Some people prefer
to isolate themselves in
a hermitage instead. I've
got several clients who live at
the Hermitage of Saint Agathon.
No children are permitted, so
that minimizes temptations."

"I guess that's better than some of
the other options," Officer Faber said.

"It works very well for some people,
but not for others, just the same as for
most other treatments," Juliette said.
"The most effective solutions involve
using superpowers to eradicate traits,
but that can do a lot of collateral damage.
I've lost clients that way, too -- one who
got the contact information of a soulworker
that just badly injured another client."

"Ugh," said Officer Faber. "Did you
at least get the perpetrator on that one?"

Juliette shook her head. "No, that
wasn't appropriate," she said. "They
knew it was a high-risk treatment and
chose to try it anyway. Many of my clients
are desperate enough that they'll try anything.
They'll read about minution in old manuscripts
and figure they can bleed themselves like
monks did to reduce the heat of desire."

"That sounds dangerous," Officer Faber said.

"People do die of it," Juliette said. "It's not
necessarily a suicide attempt, though, and
distinguishing between the two is vital
to formulating a helpful treatment."

"Can you really help them?"
Officer Faber asked. "I mean,
at the police academy we learned
that recidivism is a serious risk."

"I have helped many clients with
all kinds of complaints in reducing
problematic behavior," Juliette said.
"Even if you don't believe that part,
there's one incontrovertible fact:
while they're with me, they're not
out troubling someone else."

"Guess I can't argue with
that one," Officer Faber said.

"It really comes down to identifying
the root problem," said Juliette. "If it's
ignorance -- many who suffer from
mental issues have a fraught past --
then education and talk therapy can
help. If it's more physical, sometimes
medication works. Some find strength
in religion. Those all have pros and cons."

"You don't think that dealing with you
might make it worse?" Officer Faber said.

"Sometimes it does," Juliette said. "Other times
it lets off the pressure so they don't feel compelled
to seek out an actual child. The same holds true of
pornography, by the way -- some can find relief from
a drawing, a story, or a sex doll instead of a person;
but others get worse. We help our clients find
safe ways to feel more comfortable."

"But talking actually helps them?"
Officer Faber said. "By itself?"

"Sometimes, just the act of venting
is helpful," Juliette said. "Counseling
provides a safe haven for precisely
that kind of free-ranging release: You
can say things in the therapist's office,
with the therapist present, that would be
incendiary or hurtful in your living room."

"Well, that's something," Officer Faber said.

"There are no easy answers," Juliette said.
"All the options have potential hazards.
None of them have zero risk for everyone.
There isn't even a treatment that guarantees
the most basic standard of 'First, do no harm.'
Accessibility varies from place to place, too.
It's just a matter of deciding who gets hurt, or
which option is the least-worst in a given case."

Officer Faber shuddered. "That's horrible,"
he said. "How can you work like that?"

"Because it's better than doing nothing,"
Juliette said firmly. "I can help some people.
That's better than abandoning all of them.
It's not their fault that they're born with
a problem, or acquire one while growing up.
Psychopaths are born without a conscience,
which is also dangerous and miserable;
we've found methods of helping them
compensate for their flaws too."

"Well, yeah, that's like being born
without an arm or a leg or whatever,"
said Officer Faber. "They can get
a prosthetic arm or leg, or someone
to serve as a prosthetic conscience."

"That's why some programs for
people with pedophilia provide
supervision services," said Juliette.
"They can't get into much trouble
with someone watching them -- but
that drives the privacy advocates batshit.
They're not wrong to worry, because who
knows what might be spy-worthy next?"

"This is getting way over my pay grade,"
Officer Faber said, shaking his head.

"Then it's a good thing you don't need
to worry about it," a new voice said.

Juliette turned to see her lawyer
Deward Proue striding into the room.

"Mr. Proue, how good of you
to join us," she said smoothly.
"I trust you got my message?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Mr. Proue.
"Officer Faber, is it? I affirm
that my client Juliette Rayne is
chronologically 36 years old.
You have no hold over her."

He placed his black briefcase on
the counter and thumbed the latches,
releasing the biometric locks with
a sharp clack. Lifting the lid, he
withdrew a thick sheaf of pages.

"Your paperwork, Officer Faber,"
he said crisply. "I expect to see it
all on my desk by this Friday."

"Wh-what?" said Officer Faber.

"Based on evidence collected
via vidwatch safety app, you have
stopped my client without due cause,
ignored both her verbal explanations
and written credentials, detained her
also without cause making her late
to work, impugned her profession, and
otherwise discriminated against her."
Mr. Proue. "We expect restitution."

"Restitution -- but -- you can't expect
me to ignore a little girl dressed like that
and not in school!" said Officer Faber.

Juliette was, in fact, dressed in
perfectly respectable French fashion
with a black-and-white striped dress
and sophisticated high heels. She
wasn't even showing much skin,
but some people just couldn't abide
mature clothes on someone like her.

"As you are not her parent or guardian,
her dress is not your concern. Many girls of
her visual age take themselves to school each day,"
Mr. Proue said. "Did you ask her whether she
had either a bicycle license or bus pass?"

"No, but she was walking," said Officer Faber.

"Irrelevant," Mr. Proue said, waving his hand.
"Either of those cards indicate that someone has
demonstrated the ability to travel around
the town responsibly on their own."

"I have both of those, by the way,
along with the driver's license and
professional licenses you refused
to confirm," Juliette pointed out.

Officer Faber rubbed a hand over
his face. "What do you want?"

"First, you will call to confirm
each of the papers you challenged,"
said Mr. Proue. "You will then note
both your challenge and the confirmation
in the furnished paperwork and whatever
your department uses for its own records."

"Okay," said Officer Faber. "I can do that."

Mr. Proue drummed his fingers on top
of the paperwork stack until Officer Faber
actually made relevant the phone calls.

"Which one -- where --" Officer Faber said
as he fumbled with the stack of pages.

"Remove the cover page," said Mr. Proue.
"Begin at the top and log each confirmation
on the page belonging to its identification.
When you reach the end of the credentials
that you challenged today, then stop."

They waited while the cop did so.

"Next, you owe my client an apology
for bothering her, disbelieving her,
and making her late," said Mr. Proue.
"A general paraphrase will suffice."

"I'm sorry for ... that stuff he said,"
Officer Faber mumbled. "I shoulda
checked your cards, at least."

"Apology accepted," Juliette said.
"Just be more careful next time."

"I suggest, though I do not require,
that you seek additional training in how
to handle people with superpowers,"
said Mr. Proue. "You will not always
encounter them only in commission
of a crime. It pays to be prepared."

"SPOON doesn't run that many classes
for naries," said Officer Faber. "I know,
I checked both Westbord and the Heights
when I was in the police academy."

"In that case, perhaps I may be of
assistance," said Mr. Proue. He took out
a business card, made a notation on the back,
and clipped it to the top of the paperwork stack.
"The Illumination Outfit is a private organization
that represents people with certain superpowers
and educates others about their concerns."

"Yeah, that's ... probably a good idea,"
Officer Faber said, eyeing the card.

"You will be paying for my client's time
at her top billable rate, rounded up
to the nearest quarter hour for
a total of $300," said Mr. Proue.

"What?" squawked Officer Faber.

"You can, of course, dispute this but
that would bring the matter to the attention
of both External Affairs and your union,"
said Mr. Proue. "Do you really want that?"

"... no," Officer Faber muttered,
looking away from the lawyer.

That was just as well. He'd lose,
but it would be very tedious.

"Finally, you need to call
the Serenity Clinic and tell
the manager why Miss Rayne
is late today," said Mr. Proue.
"There is no need to offer her
a ride as I will drive her there."

Juliette slouched against the counter,
grumbling underneath her breath.

She had a luxury apartment in
a lovely complex with a pool and
other amenities, one bedroom for
herself and another for a home office.

The whole point to choosing
Oasis Apartments was that it lay
only two miles from the Serenity Clinic,
so she could walk to work in half an hour.

That and the trip home gave Juliette
the recommended hour of activity
per day for her physical age.

Now she'd have to make it up in
the gym or the pool tonight,
and that kind of sucked.

She glared at Officer Faber,
who hunched over the phone as
he explained the situation to her boss.

Finally he gave her another apology
and let her leave the police station.

Juliette strode out to the parking lot
beside Mr. Proue, her high heels
clicking against the pavement.

It had been a sticky situation, but she
was grateful for this free-ranging release.

* * *


Extensive notes for this poem appear in posts for the characters, settings, and content.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, politics, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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