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Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “police”

The ring, the stranger, and the spiders

gold ringThe golden ring was stolen on a Monday. Lewis couldn’t sleep until he had figured out a way to get it back. It was already Wednesday by the time he had devised a plan that might work.

He knew who had stolen it. He remembered a dark, sinister strange, brushing against him as he hastily left the room that day.

It only took a minute. He still did not know how it had happened. But the golden ring with the sapphire-shaped heart in the middle had somehow disappeared along with the stranger that day.

It was an extravagantly dressed, corpulent woman who had noticed it first, as her shrieks even scared the guard dogs outside. It did not seem that the glass surrounding the luxurious and exorbitant ring was cracked at all. So how on earth did they manage to steal it?

Lewis remembered following the stranger into an alley behind the Museum. But there was absolutely nothing there, other than three walls leading to a dead-end. And the stranger was gone.

All day Tuesday Lewis contrived his plan and suitably equipped himself for the mission that lay ahead. Two special policemen accompanied him to the end of the alley, but from there he would continue alone. It was his responsibility and he would be the one to retrieve the ring.

They scanned the area for a whole five minutes before they found it. The stranger’s escape route.

It was a trapdoor at the left side – the darkest part – of the alley. But the minute Lewis shed his torch light on the dark abyss that opened up below, his heart stopped.

A hairy-legged black spider crawled slowly out of the darkness onto the grey-stoned alley road. And then another. And another.

Lewis hated spiders. And most importantly he feared them. He shivered all over with disgust as he dreaded the idea of climbing down there with these awful creatures.

No, he would not. He could not. There must be another way. This would simply be a decoy. The real exit was elsewhere.

Soon the left side of the alley was slowly being taken over by spiders.

Lewis shuddered and jumped up with such a yell that the museum guard dogs ran to his rescue. They had been trained to react with every scream.

Lucky for him that they did not have the same problem with spiders. They quickly forced them all back under the trap door.

But the most fortunate coincidence of all was when one of the dogs chased around one spider which was pretty fast for its genre, crashed out of excitement onto the back wall, and revealed the real exit.

The back wall was simply plaster. Thick layers of plaster.

After that, it all fell into place quite easily.

The wall opened up to a wooden, poorly constructed shed, where apparently the stranger-thief had hidden the priceless jewel in a shoebox until he returned from somewhere. All it took from now on was a hideout until the stranger came. He didn’t take long; only 40 minutes.

The ring was returned to the Museum. And the dogs given a life supply of bones and treats.

What was most surprising though, was that the ring thief was actually the extravagantly-dressed, corpulent woman’s husband, who also happened to be the ex-director of the Museum who had been fired for misconduct and embezzlement a year ago.

Revenge can truly take astonishing turns.

But payback does belong to a dog.

 

Inspired by Story-ideas-three elements

Breaking the Law, Breaking Bad

camping_fullsize_story1Have you ever broken the law? Stealing candy doesn’t count. Something more substantial. Like tying the officer’s shoelaces together when you’re ten years old, so he can’t run after you when you grab an entire ice cream bucket from the town market. Not that I would know how that would be done, of course. So really, have you ever been bad?

I remember a specific summer when we had gone camping. That week was fully, completely, no-turning-back, law-breaking. There was almost nothing legal about it.

To begin with, we had camped in a non-authorised camping zone. And we would soon realise why.

We had gotten off track on the way there, because one of us had forgotten the GPS, and, well, let’s face it, a sense of orientation is not our strongest trait. But that is why we went camping to begin with. To practice.

It took us three hours to set up our tents (when at practice we had them set up and equipped within thirty minutes). The wind was blowing everything away, the tent blew up like a balloon, and then we spent about two and a half hours chasing the tents around the makeshift camp zone in order to bolt them down to the ground. It was kinda funny if you weren’t the one running after the tent.

So, by the time we got that part done, we were starving. Luckily we had brought enough food with us. Well, at least for the first couple of days. We had to light a fire to warm up the pre-cooked food we had cleverly tagged along, yet there were no marked firewood lying around anywhere (as there would have been if we had reached the intended camping site). So, the two “macho” men in our group proclaimed they “would go get wood”. We waited. And waited. Then we heard a screech, a yell, and a bump. Apparently, they had reenacted that cartoon scene where one of them sits on a branch, sawing the wrong end of it, so that eventually both branch and sawyer fell onto the on-viewer who was (stupidly, may I add) observing from ground view. Enough said.

We could not sleep at all during the night, because we were literally bombarded by flying monkeys. OK, so they weren’t monkeys, they were mosquitoes. But they were huge and noisy and were everywhere. They might as well have been flying monkeys.

The next day, we decided to go fishing at the lake. Well, you can see where this is going, so I won’t tell you much. Just that it involved a cut arm, a rusty fishing line, an eel, some whitebait, and someone almost drowning.

Our food ran out, faster than the sun set. It seems that misfortunes, and the absolute lack of any first-world comforts that we so often take for granted, can certainly accentuate your appetite. We decided to hike to the nearest market. On the way, we were almost tackled by a grizzly bear. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration. On the way, we were definitely tackled by a grizzly bear. It tore off both the “macho” men’s T-shirts and tried to pull of my shoe. Luckily, the boot was tightly fitted on to my leg and I managed to run away.

We had hiked for three kilometers by the time we reached the market and found an inn right on top of it. But of course, we had (smartly) left our money back at the “campsite”. Nonetheless, we decided to sneak in and take a shower. Us two girls, managed quite easily. But when the second boy was finishing up and looking for a towel, the innkeeper’s wife came in. Screaming ensued, mostly from the wet, naked man, who had fortunately managed to grab a towel that turned out to be the innkeeper’s conservative nightgown, and we ran out of there like crazy.

The innkeeper, however, fulfilled the threat he had so loudly yelled at us. Police were called, of course.

By the time we returned to the campsite, the police were already there. So was the bear. We were the ones to get a heavy fine for all this confusion and illegality. But we did also get a ride back to town. Not matter if it was in a police car. With the sirens on. Apparently, the police thought we had something to hide and that is why we were acting so strangely. Little did they know, this is how insane we were. We were forced to spend the night at the police department and pay the fine in full before we were released. It was certainly better than spending the night with a grizzly bear in our tent.

One thing is for sure though. We definitely learnt to appreciate all the things we usually take for granted. Clean water, food of all sorts, warmth, technology, bear-free zones. But the camping trip did us good, for we realized that we need a little order lest our world springs into chaos; a little light to save us from our own darkness.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Breaking the Law

Who is #Charlie?

Darrin Bell

©DarrinBell

Since the bloody attack on Wednesday 07 January 2015 on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the murder of 12 people, including the chief-editor and four cartoonists, a lot has emerged. The shock and horror of this action intensified in the next two days, with more murders, as the terrorists were finally killed on Friday 09 January 2015, after a police siege ended two hostage situations in Paris. The Internet is being overflooded with articles, opinions, memes, and messages of support, declaring #JeSuisCharlie, or #JeNeSuisPasCharlie, or even #JeSuisAhmed in honour of the Muslim police officer who was so ruthlessly shot by the attackers. But who really is this Charlie, and what does it all mean? Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. It describes itself as left-wing and anti-racist and is Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone. It first appeared as “Hara-Kiri” in 1960 and later changed its name in order to overcome the ban that was imposed in November 1970 after its cover spoofed popular press coverage of the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle, eight days after a night-club disaster that resulted in 146 dead. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie Mensuel. Charlie allegedly took its name from Charlie Brown, the lead character of Peanuts – one of the comics originally published in Charlie Mensuel – and was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle.

Jean Jullien

©JeanJullien

Over the years, the publication has been criticized and even banned due to its controversial cartoons, particularly attacking religion. It was some of these cartoons, ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed that reportedly led to the 7 January attacks during the morning editorial meeting of the paper. It is argued that the paper is being racist, not respecting other religions and insulting the faith of a minority, which has never really ever felt welcome in France anyway. Hence the growing of the #JeNeSuisPasCharlie group. Editors are faced with a tough dilemma as to whether they should reproduce these controversial cartoons, with many uttering “what right do I have to risk the lives of my staff to make a point?

David Pope

©DavidPope

Yet, on the other hand, around the world, the debate of freedom of expression and the right to be able to say, write or paint anything is being bellowed across social media, in mainstream news, and in candle-lit staged protests in central squares and outside French embassies. #JeSuisCharlie is a message of solidarity. It is a message that the pen is more powerful than the sword. That if you are so easily affected and offended by words and cartoons, then you should think deeper about what it is that you truly believe in. In fact, cartoonists all over the world have joined their voices and pens in protesting against the attempt to silence them and declaring support to Charlie Hebdo.

Samiamidi

©AikateriniAndreou

The Charlie Hebdo attacks demonstrated to the world that no matter how technologically and socially advanced we proclaim we are, we are still very backward in our mentality. Yes, we do have to consider carefully what we say and do in order not to offend anyone, but when does that become censorship? If people are supposed to be able to freely express themselves, shouldn’t we be equally tolerable of everyone’s opinion? Was it not Voltaire who said that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

Patrick Chappatte

©PatrickChappatte

This is also what led to the emergence of #JeSuisAhmed. Ahmed was the 42-year old French police officer who was shot and killed on 7 January. He was a Muslim who died, fighting to defend a publication known for insulting his culture and religion. Without discrimination. Without hesitation. Because he knew, like so many Muslims who condemned the attack, that violence is not an answer to anything. In fact, by “sharpening the contradictions” that have so loudly appeared after this tragic attack, we are all feeding into the hatred, the polarization, and the atrocity. This publication, is not the only one that used cartoons to satirize political, social and religious life. In fact, people who understand the importance of humor in our lives, take it lightly and enjoy such criticisms. From Plato, Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, George Orwell to Stephen Colbert, Jon Stuart and even Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park), satire has always been crucial to a healthy life. Because it would, supposedly, lead to a better comprehension of our life and help improve it. Reacting with extremism is the worst that could happen, because “extremism thrives on other people’s extremism and is inexorably defeated by tolerance”. Take a pen out and write something. Witness how easy and permanent it is to scribble a word, and how difficult it is to erase it. Consider what would you like to be, the pen or the eraser?

©BernardoErlich “The world has become so serious that humour is now a risky profession.”

©BernardoErlich “The world has become so serious that humour is now a risky profession.”

The story and debate that has erupted is not about satire. It is far beyond it. The violent attacks will lead to repercussions on all sides. And it is already evident at how other media, mosques and international organisations are on high security alert. Fear is taking over once again. So, we need to ensure that this demonstration of solidarity that begins by lifting a pen and raising your voice will ensue. That it will trump over the hatred and will rally behind a common cause – that of accepting difference, respecting others and committing “to defeating those hell-bent on destroying the common fabric of our society”. It is now the time more than ever to prove that we, as multicultural societies, can live together in peace. Western heads-of-state have over time urged media not to publish certain stories or cartoons even – as in the case of investigative journalist Gary Webb and Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier. Both refused, no matter how precipitous developments may follow or as how offensive they might be perceived. Charb remained defiant even after al-Qaeda reportedly placed his name on an “enemies of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad” hit list. Two years ago, explaining why he continued to publish cartoons criticizing Islam, despite threats to his publication, Charb said, “I prefer to die standing than to live on my knees.Jouralism - Orwell Freedom of expression is a fundamental liberty and a right that we all so profoundly demand. But this attack was not just on journalists, it was on society as a whole, on people who dare to be different. It was a wake-up call that nothing can, or should be, taken for granted. And it was an alert that we do not live in as much a liberal world as we want it to be.

Also part of Daily Prompt: (Your thing) for Dummies

Santa run

santa-claus-is-flying-in-a-sleigh-with-reindeerThe white-haired man with the white beard and big belly that had an abnormal affinity for red suits was once again spotted around the park. He was looking at all the young children playing carefree on the swings and in the playground and appeared to be checking a list that he drew out of his side pocket and seemed to have no end. What on earth was he doing? This could take a very ugly turn.

And it did.

Marissa was an old lady who couldn’t hear very well. She couldn’t see very well either, despite the fact that she wore glasses with lenses as thick a piece of gammon at Christmas lunch. She also used a cane to walk, which she would also occasionally use as a weapon lest any “young rascal” would try to steal her bag. She would take her young grandson to the park every afternoon and sit at the bench watching him (or at least someone who looked like him from afar) enjoy himself in the playground. She had become acquainted with the other children and parents who spent their time there too. Therefore, whenever a “newbie” arrived, everyone would notice. They were as easy to recognize as a fly drowning in milk.

The past few days, however, ever since the beginning of December, Marissa noticed the frequent presence of a rather fat and peculiar old man. He was oddly jolly with everyone and was very fond of children. Perhaps too fond, according to Marissa. And he was always there. From the moment she and little Everett arrived, to the moment they left, that old man was sitting on the adjacent bench taking notes.

A week later, after Marissa had ran through her mind all the possible things this man might be noting – all of which were remarkably anomalous, no matter how you looked at it – she decided it was time to take action. She did consider walking over there and whacking him on the head with her cane, then grabbing his list and running to the police to file a report against him as a pedophile. But there were two problems with that: she couldn’t see very well and due to the holiday season more and more people began to draw a liking to red clothing and she might thus end up hitting someone else; and then she couldn’t run very fast, so by the time she had made her way out of the park, he might regain consciousness and chase after her. So, Marissa decided to do the only proper and responsible thing she knew: she would call the police.

Her report said that an old man with white hair and beard, dressed in a red suit that was unflattering for his age, was constantly roaming around the park, observing the kids and making notes. Just to be sure that the police wouldn’t make fun of her, she did send an instant message from her tablet (that had a big enough screen for her to be sure she had captured at least part of the man in question).

It didn’t take long for the police to arrive. The German Shepherd dog accompanying them was already growling, but for some strange reason it stopped the minute its eyes located the old man. And surprisingly it sat down and refused to go near or attack, no matter how much the policemen were yelling. The old man did not even budge.

Yet, all of a sudden, chaos broke out. Seeing that the dog had no intention of chasing or attacking the suspect, the police officers decided to take matters into their own hands. They began to scream, whistle and shout – if there was the appropriate music, it would even seem that they were trying to do the Twist.

And then began the run.

The old man, seeing a handful of unusually frightening young men in police attire racing like raging bulls towards him, got up and began to run too. The kids, thinking this was some sort of festive game, thought it would be fun to join in. And the German Shepherd dog decided it was time to get a move on too. The parents, afraid the dog might attack the children or the police might fire a shot that may reach an unintentional target, raced like mad and white as ghosts, behind the mob. It was complete havoc. And on the side, Marissa was taking photos on her tablet – you know, for evidence.

The old man ran into the forest-y area of the park where a wooden shed was located, he rushed in before the police closed up – the dog was for some reason being intentionally slow at catching up.

And then…

Police, dog, children, parents, the kiosk-owner who had approached out of curiosity, the candyman who was looking for kids to sell his produce to, and Marissa (who was still taking photos), all looked up at the sky, rubbing their eyes. They could not believe what they saw. A sleigh. Yes, a sleigh, a red one with a small turbo engine at the back and a dozen reindeer – yes, those horned animals that look like deer – pulling it along. It all disappeared before the bedazzled crowd managed to take a second blink.

The police stormed the wooden shed, with the dog barking happily beside them. There was nothing in there apart from some hay – most of which appeared to have been consumed – and some firewood. Nothing else.

So where did the old man dressed in red go? And did they really see what they thought they saw?

When the police questioned Marissa, she told them she had photo evidence. But when they confiscated her tablet to see for themselves, all they found was funny-looking selfies of a befuddled old lady in the park.

Demonstrating out of line

stinky skunk gas mask“Quick, put this on!”

Jessica grabbed the gas mask Edward was forcing into her hand and struggled to place it over her nose and mouth as the air around them filled with thick smoke and tear gas.

She never thought a peaceful demonstration could lead to this.

People were panicking, running disorderly, in every direction possible. Bumping into each other violently. And coughing. There was lots of coughing and shouting and screaming!

“Move! We have to get over to Place Liberté – it’ll be safer there! Come on this way!”

Edward was more assertive than her. He always had been. And he always knew how to maintain his calm in the face of panic and transmit it to her. She on the other hand simply felt lost. It was as if she had entered a trance and was not fully aware of what was going on. Edward had to pull her across the tram lines and over to the other side of the street.

Place Liberté was peaceful and quiet. They could take the masks off now. It was as if this was a different part of town. Untouched by the incidents and episodes that had suddenly broken out just across the street.

“Come, let’s go have a juice to calm down, shall we?”

Jessica nodded and followed sheepishly as they sat at a café which was overflowing with customers extending their necks out in order to get a better view of the ‘action’.

This wasn’t frequent in Townville.

Peaceful demonstrations occurred only recently with the change of government and radical reforms that were announced.

But to have tear gas, clashes with police, and petrol bombs being thrown during a protest over the closing down of illegal pet salons, well, that was an extraordinary thing in itself!

 

Also part of Trifecta Writing Challenge, with the prompt word: Mask (noun):

a : a protective covering for the face
b : gas mask
c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries

Cops and Robbers

kids_playing_029_01A very popular children’s game, especially for the younger ages, is cops and robbers. The rules of the game are simple: one group plays the robbers, the bandits having done something bad, most probably robbed a bank for example, and the other group plays the policemen chasing after them in order to bring them to justice, i.e. prison. The game is based on the commonly acceptable rules of how society works.

But when did the cops suddenly become the bad guys and the robbers the good ones, the ones who are actually supported and justified by everyone else? In the violent riots that have broken out in countries facing the ruthless measures of austerity, where their people are brought to the brink of exasperation and suicides and crime have seen a dramatic increase, why are the police portrayed as the bad guys? The ones who attack and strike without reason. Who throw tear gas and pin commoners to the ground with unjustifiable causes. And the robbers, those that run amuck, looting and destroying private property are rationalized by public opinion. But most of all, why is it that every group of people is generalized? That all policemen are bad. And all robbers justified for having resorted to stealing?

In Greece, Golden Dawn, an extreme nationalist and right-wing party is gaining ground faster than you can say its name. It is after the robbers. But it is no police. At least it has no authority like that mandated by policemen. Its members take matters into their own hands, simply because the police – being dubbed as the bad guys – are no longer able to act, out of fear they might be persecuted themselves. And going back to the generalization trend, Golden Dawn targets immigrants, because it declares that all immigrants are bad for this country and that they overstay their welcome. It might be true that the more frequent robberies, looting, stabbing and killings are the “work” of immigrants but maybe, just maybe, not all immigrants are bad. Of course nobody considers that. Because when your child, your relative, your friend, is out for a walk one evening and ends up being stabbed by immigrants in an attempt to steal, then you end up understanding the reason behind Golden Dawn’s anger and begin yourself to feel a despise for these immigrants that have turned your country into a purgatory. But not all robbers are immigrants. Just like not all immigrants are robbers. And Golden Dawn certainly cannot be justified for targeting them all.

But you see, that is the problem with games. You never quite know how they will turn out in reality. If the cops and robbers – the good guys and the bad guys – reverse roles, what happens? And yes, there also are Cowboys and Indians, but who is the good and the bad there? For the Conquistadores in South America were the ones who plundered and took over by force the land of the Indians leading them to near extinction. Good and Bad are in the end theoretical terms. And it remains up to the perception, understanding, principles and ethics, of each individual to give them meaning.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Toy Story

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