Exercise in Hopelessness

What would you call it?  A daydream? A fantasy?  I don’t know. Whatever you call it, though, I think all of us, every one of us, should have one.  I suspect it won’t be comfortable. In fact, it might be one of the most uncomfortable experiences of our lives. God, that’s probably an understatement. It might be far worse than uncomfortable.  It could be—probably will be—one of the most terrifying ‘experiences’ of our lives.

Here’s what I want you to do. Imagine yourself living through this experience; every second of it.

A sound awakens you at 3:00 a.m.  It might be loud knocks on the front door or maybe it’s the doorbell. The noise is loud, sharp, jarring.  You hear it for fifteen seconds before it finally registers with you, before it finally wakes you up. Your heart races. A thousand thoughts rush through your brain. Is someone trying to break in? Who would be banging on my door at this hour? Is it the police, coming to give me bad news about an accident?  What in the hell is it?!

You swing your legs over the side of the bed, slide your feet into a pair of slippers, stand up, and grab a robe hanging behind the bedroom door.  You turn on the hall light and shuffle to the front door, calling out “Who’s there?” as you flip the light switch for the front porch light.

“Police! Open up!”

“What? What is it?  What do you want at this hour?”

“Open the door! It’s the police. We need to talk to you.”

Looking through the peep hole on the door, you seen four uniformed officers.

“Can I see some ID, please?”

“We’ll show you our ID when you open the door! Now open up, please!”

When you open the door, the officers do not show you ID. Instead, they take you by your arms, twirl you around, pull your arms behind your back and place you in handcuffs.

“You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do or say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”

“What’s going on? What do you think I’ve done?” You can feel the fear rising in you. Something very ugly is happening. You’re unsure why these officers are at your door, why they have placed you in handcuffs, why they have read you the Miranda warning.

The officers remain unmoved by your pleas. “You’ll find out more when the detectives talk to you.”

Finally, at the station, where you’ve been placed in a small interrogation room, a detective comes in.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

“No! I’ve been asking and they won’t tell me anything! I didn’t do anything! I think I need a lawyer!”

“That’s your right. But if you insist on talking to a lawyer, it’s going to drag this thing out longer than it needs to go on. I won’t be able to ask you any questions I need to ask you and we’ll just have to put you in a cell until you can be arraigned.”

“Arraigned for what! What the hell did I do?”

“Do you want to talk to talk to me or do you want a lawyer?  You can’t have it both ways. I’ll explain why you’re here, but only if we can have a conversation. If  you insist on a lawyer, I’m prohibited from explaining everything to you.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to you long enough to know what it is you think I did. But then I’m going to want to have a lawyer in here.”

“Fair enough. Here’s the deal. Your next door neighbor was killed a few hours ago. His wife says you did it, says you came in the front door with a baseball bat and beat him to death. That’s why you’re here.  So, why did you do it?”

“I didn’t do it! I don’t know anything about that! I didn’t know he was dead! This is just surreal. Why would she say I did it? If she’s claiming I did it, she must have done it to protect herself!”

“If she did it, why did we find a bloody bat in your garage? Why were your bloody fingerprints on the front door of their house?”

“I have no idea! She must have put it there. And it’s impossible that my bloody fingerprints were on the front door of their house. I wasn’t there. It wasn’t me.”

No, it wasn’t you. But that doesn’t matter. The evidence, every manufactured bit of evidence, says it was you. You, absolutely innocent of the crime, are in the early stages of a frame-up that will place you behind bars for the rest of your natural life. You feel this. You know this to be true. This is a dream that doesn’t stop.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Exercise in Hopelessness

  1. That was not my intent, Millie. Really. But at least something came of what I wrote. 😉

  2. Millie says:

    Okay, you have officially ruined my day.

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