No one talks to old Blogula in the ‘hood. My block feels like part of the shadowy, sensitive world of The Curfew, Jesse Ball’s quick, fanciful novel about a kind of political plague that has stripped society of music, mobility, freedom. (Delighted to be selling it here!)
Every morning someone posts a death threat on my building’s front door. Even some of my supporters have caught buyer’s remorse since the Feds leaked some of the things I admitted to under torture. Fitch won’t talk to me since the Feds, armed with my quotes, broke in and took away all his devices and what remained of our inventory. He’s been charged with conspiracy to do things that would make you laugh.
Some American readers write to say they’d happily improve on my captors’ methods. Europeans and Canadians are more sympathetic to me, though many favor the globalizing crackdown on dissent—as long as it doesn’t happen to people they like. I guess that defines a liberal these days.
An older New Yorker emailed to tell me about how in the 1950s and ‘60s and ‘70s, you would encounter people with tattoos on their arms—Nazi concentration camp survivors. They’d seen the worst things imaginable, had survived as their loved ones were ground up, gassed, cooked. “Some Holocaust survivors were the loveliest folks you could meet. They were oddly gentle and happy,” she wrote. “I’ve never understood how, but you should find out. Maybe living well is the best revenge.”
A couple of my countrymen (and women) call my report from Fed World illegal because I discussed interrogation techniques that are innately classified. They couldn’t be illegal because our government cannot torture anyone. I get what they’re saying: My lawyer isn’t allowed to discuss the state’s inquisition techniques in court. I’m glad I read Catch-22 when it still seemed funny.
Others say I’m deluded. No such machine has ever existed; a lie detector must have malfunctioned. (For days?) Not to worry, anyway: Such results are still inadmissible in court (unless you’re accused of terrorism; coerced evidence is admissible at Gitmo). Will the courts play a meaningful role in my case? So far they haven't.
I filed a burglary report. In the precinct house lobby, I saw one of those newfangled Internet surveillance posters. The government asks citizens to spot and forward “disruptive” emails and website URLs to a central Internet site for vetting by certified experts on influenza and journalism: Panic is like a virus – FIGHT FEAR – Call or Click 1-800…. (Look up the number yourself if you want it so badly.)
Upstairs, one of the detectives who shredded my life was doing paperwork. He inclined his ears to hear me recite the events to one of his colleagues. I dropped my voice to a virtual undertone.
When I spotted him angling to read my lips, I surprised both of us by winking at him. The things you learn in prison.
I kept the details as bland as possible. I made no accusations. Sure, my home contained officers of the law when I last saw my inventory. The place was stuffed to the ceiling with masks and gloves and goggles, exactly like the ones those detectives are wearing. The boxes looked just like that one in the corner. Just the facts that ought to help them identify any perps they might encounter....
The detective focused on the fact that my neighbors knew my apartment was full of gear. I haven’t seen any of them wearing my masks. They all look like ghosts.
How could I remain so calm? I avoided thinking of Sneeky.