Poor Old Campbell

This is the City. Two police officers on patrol on a Sunday morning.

“Good to have you aboard this morning, Bill.”

“Well, if I had to be demoted back to the beat from detective, this is the place I would want to end up, Pete. Too bad about Reed, what with the economy forcing his layoff, and all.”

“How’s Joe taking it?”

“The stress of the extra job load is taking it’s toll. He’s smoking like a chimney these days.”

“Those coffin nails are going to kill him someday.”

“Can’t tell him anything.”

Just then the car in front of them makes a left turn without signaling. Pete flashes the lights, the woman pulls over. Pete exits and approaches the car. Bill, observing from the car sees the woman hand Pete her license and registration, just a routine stop, only a warning this time. The radio blares a message as Bill watches Pete, “Car in vicinity of Azitex Mills, manager reports man by the side of the road, possibly inebriated.”

Grabbing the mike Bill responds, “Car 12, will respond.”

As Pete reenters the car Bill relays the message and the patrol car speeds off. Soon the car is on East 15th street. Approaching Azitex, the man lying near the curb is soon visible.

“It’s old Otis, again! This is twice this month.” Bill observes.

The car pulls up in the parking space next to where the man is resting. The two officers exit and casually walk over to the man.

“Otis, wake up…” shouts Pete as he physically tries to bring Otis out of his stupor.

“Wha…. guh! What are you doing in my house, Pete?” blubbers the man, obviously still 3 sheets to the wind.

“Come on Otis, we’ll take you back to the tank where you can sleep it off.” states Pete, lifting the man by his arm to a standing position. Carefully the two officers escort Otis to the back seat of the patrol car and once he is secure the car pulls away from the curb.

“Don’t know what got into me, Pete, how did I end up on the street there. Don’t know how I got there.”

“I don’t know how you got there either Otis, but I do know what got into you. Probably some cheap wine.”

As the patrol car navigates the streets, Otis, slipping into sad drunk mode observes a church they are passing, parking lot filled to the brim, overflowing into the streets.

“Them people. They go to the church for the same reason I go to a bar. They want to magin’ being some place better, at least for a little while. They goes in, seeking god, but he never shows. At least for a little while, they feel important, not neglected, part of a group. Then they go back home, but the magic don’t last, soon they are just like everybody else, tryin’ to survive. “

“Maybe you need to go there Otis. Might keep you out of the gutter.”

“All’s the same! My world, their world, make believe. We both find a different way to deal with it, reality, that is. Or should I say, avoiding it. Pete, you know, I went in one once, to see if God was there.”

“You, in a church, that’ll be the day.”

“No, really, did. Didn’t find no God, but found a lot of people who said they spoke for him. Everybody claimed they knew him. When I asked to see him they said it was all a matter of faith. If I would just believe, they said, I would live forever in heaven with God.”

“What happened then?”

“I asked them to show me some proof, instead they showed me the door.” is the short reply.

As the car pulls up to the station Otis makes one last remark. “Weak, that’s what we are. Both me and the church people. Seeking escape from reality, from facing the truth. Being sober is too hard, so I look for relief in a bottle, they look for relief in an old book of fables.”

Gently Otis is pulled from the car and escorted inside.

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