Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I just realized where I went wrong, and how much…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 11:27 AM Permalink

…different my life could have been.

It was in Abilene, Texas, November, 1963, and a bunch of us kids had run down to the local "little store" to get cokes and candy bars. While my sisters and others were doing so I was drawn as a moth to the flame to the old spinning rack of comic books almost every store had to check out the latest Superman comic.

My sisters and friends finished their purchases, ran out the door, calling for me to follow. Without even thinking, and still holding the comic in which I had been so engrossed, I ran out out of the store to catch up. Suddenly it occurred to me that I still had a now stolen comic in hand, turned around, head hung down, and with feet of lead slowly made my way back to to the store to face my certain execution (Get the rope, Ma, we'll just string him up out back and bury him afore he stinks too bad).

So as I entered the store knowing death was imminent, I slowly, and with tears in my eyes, confessed my unintended crime and submitted myself to the mercy of the store owner.

"I saw ya run out the door with the other kids and was just fixin' to call the police, but since you brought it back so quickly I believe you had no real intention of stealing it. Just put the comic back on the rack, son, and go on home, but don't ever let somethin' like this ever happen again!"

Reprieve! Absolution! Forgiveness! That's where it all went wrong! I should've recognized my opportunity for fame, infamy actually, gone back into that store, beat the crap outa that old man and his wife, taken the shotgun under the counter and blown them both away.

What were they gonna do, I was only ten years old, the longest they could have held me was to age twenty-one, and in the meantime the notoriety, the sheer evilness, the callous cruelty of the deed would grow in leaps and bounds as the horror of this act spread throughout the nation, making me the greatest and most well-known juvenile criminal ever!

Press interviews with parents and neighbors ("Why, he was always such a nice young man, helpful to the elderly, voluntarily cleaned the swimming pool for the trailer park, and always a cheerful smile and a kind word for children younger than he! How, my god, how, my god could he have reverted to such evil? Could it have been the loss of his bible engraved with his name that made him so depraved?)

I would have given voluntary interviews, calmly facing the cameras as Walter Cronkite gently, in his avuncular way, asked what motivated me to commit such a horrible crime, and then, only then, would I begin to stammer, a single tear rolling down my tender young cheek, and I would have explained how it was soda and comic books that warped my young mind, and how I prayed to the lord to bless those I had slaughtered and to damn me to hell.

The trial wouldn't have been open to the public, but dozens of breathless reporters would be sprinting to their news vans for minute by minute updates, right up until my conviction, and consignment to the most vile of Texas Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in existence (I wouldn't be able to say where, I heard they were all terrible and vile), where, upon entering the hoosegow I would immediately murder two other inmates, beginning the whole circus anew.

I would be the first to rend my garments and scream that evil should die after President Kennedy's assassination. Weeping myself to sleep at night, kneeling and praying beforehand until my knees bled. Consolidating my reputation of being insane.

Midway through my sentence I would "find god" and become the biggest holy roller in the whole joint, converting other criminals to the good side, committing them to do only good deeds, and act only in the service of others.

New articles and books would be written of my miracle conversion. I would become not only a model prisoner, but exceed the standards of a model citizen. I would write many of those books, touting my salvation, subject to more interviews with Walter Cronkite than the astronauts returning from space.

And finally, after all those years of murdering, converting, and finding god I could undoubtedly have pursued my true dream:

I would become a banker, rich beyond my dreams and paid billions by the same sucker taxpayers that rehabilitated me. And it all would have started with that comic book leading to a comic book life.

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