The illusion of security,
The security of illusion,
We live in both.
Last night I awoke to the sound of my door opening, an uninvited guest. I live alone in Southern California, in a motorhome with South Dakota license plates, and someone was breaking in. That’s melodramatic; the door was open, so they didn’t even have to use the crowbar they were carrying.
I am a light sleeper and a fast actor. I also keep a slingshot next to my pillow. I sat up in bed and opened my eyes, saw the shadow of a young man behind the glare of his flashlight.
“Better fuck off fast before I shoot your ass,” I said, in my best Clint Eastwood growl.
The would-be intruder froze, like a poacher in the sights of a warden. I intensified the anger in my voice, letting it sound like a twitchy finger on a trigger would, if it could talk. “Fuck off,” I said.
My motorhome has some hippie stickers on it. One reads, “Honor and respect all beings.” Sometimes violence can be an act of honor, of respect, of re-installing those things where for whatever reason they’ve worn thin. And by violence, I do not mean murder: There are other ways to stand your ground which won’t simultaneously undermine it.
“Ok, I’ll talk you through what you’re going to do,” I said, solidifying my position of power. “You are going to walk backwards, ten steps. Then you are going to turn and run.
“And,” I went on, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, too. I’m going to watch you walk those ten steps. Then I’m going to watch you run. Don’t worry, I won’t shoot you in the back. That’d just put me in a world of shit. And I’m not an idiot like yourself. Sound good?”
“Let’s do it on the count of three:
As he ran, he dropped the crowbar.
Today I peeled the hippie stickers off. I replaced them with a “Beware of Dog” sign, though I don’t have a dog, and added an N.R.A. sticker, though I’m not a member and I don’t have a rifle.
Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.