Trapped in the Tricky Dicky

Itchy tree fingers whirlwind around as if a flock of birds had flown, these leaves, these leaves won’t leave me be.
reds yellows oranges greens and browns float in a vortex around me like a contestant in a game show, designed to be snatched from mid air and spent on bills and a clandestine amphetamine.

Oh Vast Universe, what is this supposed to mean? Is it an omen for an event that can be blown drastically outta proportion by the both of us
or is it supposed to be like a warm hug from an excited child, aggressively innocent, without a trace of malice?
Emotions are funny that way. When you step back and look at them from afar they become distorted, funky grey clouds mixing & smogging up to look the same.

What is there to gain? Am I not supposed to acknowledge the tree digits tickling my nose and crunching my steps? Or accept this as a gift from Mother Earth for what is sure to bloom into a superpower for elemental manipulation?
Love and Happiness or else a conquer & divide?

Such is life


Operation Tricky Dicky, Part V

Today. August 8th. I clocked out at 12:59pm and ran like the wind to my car, going 80mph on the highway. I couldn’t get to the mayor’s headquarters fast enough.

I got off at the West Broad St exit and made my way down Marconi Blvd, slowing down a bit as I got closer to the office building, looking up at streetlights & traffic corners but saw no cameras. I parked in a spot on the opposite side of the street in front of the building and fed quarters into the meter.

He was on the short walkway on top of the first flight of stairs leading up to the front doors, sitting in a tattered lawn chair with the State of Ohio flag covering the back, the 2pointed ends flapping in the summer breeze. He had several signs in his hands:

1984 : 2014




that were written in a heavy black permanent markered script on cardboard slabs attached to thin tree branches. Underneath the chair was an unidentifiable auburn canister and the black suitcase.

His face lit up when he saw me walking up the stairs. “Aww shit, I didn’t think you would actually show! Good to see ya.”

I didn’t say anything at first. I’m not exactly sure what I expected to see once I got there but there he was, looking like every stereotypical crazy bum you’ve ever seen depicted in the media. “How, uhh… how long have you been out here?” I asked hesitantly.

“About an hour or so. Haven’t been met with much resistance, or any for that matter. People have been walking by, going about their day to day. A few folks stopped to take my picture on their phones but that’s about it. But now that you’re here…” He gently set the signs down on the ground and grabbed the suitcase. “We can get this party started.”

He laid the case on its side and kneeled down in front of it and started to open the latches. I immediately started to sweat. I barely slept a wink the night before, hypothesizing what was inside. Maybe it’s a incriminating papertrail thought buried by the administration and police force? Maybe it’s photos and videos he saved that would flip the city upside down? A bomb was still a likely possibility.

He opened the case and I halfexpected a luminous golden light to shine out. He reached inside and pulled out a megaphone.

A fucking megaphone.

“Of all the things in the world…. Why in the fresh hell did you decided bury THAT?” I asked.

“I knew THEY would try to take everything from me. But I refused to be silenced…” He held the megaphone in his arms as it were a newborn baby. “And people tend to listen to you when you have one of these. Without it, all rebels would just look like raving lunatics.”

“So what now?” I asked.

“Now? The Dawn begins.”

He hopped to his feet and turned to face the street. Cars were driving by. People were walking along, even walking in and out of the office. We were practically invisible. I watched his face as he surveyed our surroundings with the intensity of a redtailed hawk hunting live prey. The point is to thoroughly terrify these bastards… It’s necessary that they learn to fear every sunrise until the next August 8th…” he muttered under his breath, more to himself than anything else.

He then turned away and picked up the signs, leaned 1 against the chair, and walked the other 3 back to where I was standing at the foot of the steps. “Pick 2”, he instructed. I picked The Truth & Latin Phrase signs and held them in each hand. He held the Big Brother Sign high above his head and clicked on the megaphone.


Well. He certainly is direct, I remember thinking at the time.


People were beginning to take notice. A few passerbys stopped along the sidewalk to watch the spectacle that was beginning to unfold. I glanced back at the office building and saw curtains pulled back and faces peering out windows.


Cars were slowing down on the street. The crowd was starting to grow larger and chiming in with shouts of encouragement. It was hard to tell whether they actually agreed or were just egging him on. Either way, he clearly had struck a nerve.


At this point, the crowd had grown from a few bystanders to a fullblown legion. The sidewalk was swarmed with bodies, all clapping & cheering along with each declaration. My eyes were brimmed with tears. A man after my own heart & ideology, he was killing me softly with speech. My uncertainty melted away. I was holding the flimsy signs up like the torches of the Statue of Liberty, pumping them in the air and engaging with the crowd.

He put the megaphone down and beamed out at the crowd he had drawn in. He set the megaphone down on the ground and called me over. “Keep the energy going. It’s only a matter of time before they call the pigs in to crash this party. Time for the grand finale.”

He walked back over to the chair. I raised the signs higher in the air and bellowed out a primal war cry, which the crowd copied, their voices uniting together in a resonating roar. I was living. The revolution I had been wanting to start for so long but had been too afraid to start had arrived and here I was, in the center of the belly of the beast. The roar started to grow even louder and I heard one person, a teenage girl in a Hot Topic Jack Skellington hoodie, in the crowd yell out “Holy Shit!” and point past me.

I turned around and saw a flash of orange. The Ohio flag was on the ground in a blaze of unglory, the familiar red, white & blue starting to char in a bellow of smoke. He poured a little more (of what I presume is gasoline) from the auburn canister onto the flame, making it burst out even more. And then stood up and started to pour it on himself.

I dropped my hands, still holding the signs, and felt them dangle by my sides. The atmosphere sharply shifted from “Fuck Yeah!” to “What The Fuck”. The front doors to the office building burst open and a whole throng of blackoutfitted security guards emerged from the inside. He emptied the rest of the canister over his body and threw himself onto the flame. A mini fireball erupted, blasting a heatwave out across the street.

The crowd dispersed in a clattered confusion of screams of terror. A security guard pushed me down the stairs and told me to “get the hell out of here.” Sirens blared in the distance.

Throughout the ages, antiestablishment protestors and nonconformists have risen in the hopes to introduce a little anarchy & upset the foundation. But things have still remained relatively unchanged. Most acts of liberation are little more than a selfimposed servitude, today being no different. My homeless messiah turned out to be little more than an unbalanced lunatic looking to go out in a literal blaze of glory.

Am I really that easily swayed & naive that I’m willing to listen to anyone? Was I just a chess piece in his twisted game? Did he accomplish what he had set out to do? Even if what all he told me was true, was anything changed? Did he even have a plan at all?

I didn’t have time to think about it. The scene was getting more hectic by the minute and I needed to get out of there.

Besides, the time was about to run out on the parking meter.

Operation Tricky Dicky, Part IV

It was getting late. The sun had set in the west, the sky was getting darker by the minute, and raindrops started to gradually fall on the windshield. I had another long shift ahead of me the next day that I wasn’t going to blow off, like I did today to break several minor laws with a stranger. Can’t say this is exactly I had envisioned spending my sick day but it was infinitely more interesting than if I had continued about my minimum-wage duties. But enough was enough for one day and I needed time to clean my car before the passenger seat was permanently stained.

As if he read my mind he said, “Alright, cool. You can take me back home now. I got everything I need right here.” He patted the suitcase delicately.

This guy has told me a lot about himself and he felt like an old confidante, so it took me a minute to realize why what he said was so odd.

“Umm… where exactly do you call ‘home’?” I asked consciously.

He chuckled softly. “There are few places around that I’ve settled in. Ain’t much but I call them home anyway. Head back up to High Street. It’s not too far from where we first met.”

I merged on to I-70 West to expedite the trip a little more. Along the way I stole glances at him and the enigmatic suitcase, that he was still stroking in a way that reminded me of Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth. He certainly talked a lot but nearly every dialogue exchange was initiated by me and it became increasingly obvious that he wasn’t going to tell me what was inside unless I asked. “Are you going to tell me what’s in that thing?”

He looked over at me but didn’t answer right away. “Let’s just say it’s a very valuable weapon I saved from the old days.” That wasn’t good enough for me.

“That’s it? All the stuff I’ve done for you today and that’s ALL you’re going to tell me? You wouldn’t have been able to get this if it weren’t for me! And JESUS CHRIST! A weapon?! What is it, a gun? A bomb? Oh my fucking god, it’s a bomb, isn’t it? ISN’T IT? Who are you working for? Are you terrorist? What act of terror did I just aid?!” I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Manic like a freak in the midst of a whacked out LSD binge.

He remained silent for a few more moments and then burst out in laughter, like he was watching an episode of Seinfeld. “You need to take several chill pills, man. Trust me, a terrorist would have far more resources than me and wouldn’t need to rely on a teenager in a beat up car to get the supplies-[“I’m not a teenager….” I grumbled]-for the job. And don’t be silly it’s not a bomb.”

“So, what is it?”

“Take a left at this light, then a right 3 streets down.”

In my flight of mania I went into a kind of autopilot, not realizing that I had driven as far as I had. We were back on High Street. I followed his instructions and it led us to a back alley, where I’m sure a drug deal or act of violence was taking place in the shadows just a few feet away, where the streetlights didn’t reach.

“It looks worse than it actually is. I’ve squatted in far worse streets in this city.” There were a few awkward moments when we were just staring at one another, each expecting the other to say something. “Well… see ya around.”

“Will I ever see you again?” I asked as he opened the door. He was the first person I’ve hung out with in quite some time and it seemed odd for him to just walk out of my life.

“What are you doing on the 8th?” he asked.

I pulled out my phone and looked at the calender. It was the upcoming Friday. “I work a short shift but I’ll be off around 1pm.”

“Come see me outside of the Mayor’s Office when you get off. I’ll be hard to miss.”

I reached in my backseat. “Here, take this umbrella. It’s starting to rain a little harder now.”

He flashed me a grateful smile, grabbed the suitcase with one hand and the umbrella with the other, closed the door, and walked into the alley. I watched until his outline disappeared into the darkness.

Operation Tricky Dicky, Part III

The car returned to a constrained quiet that only tales of administrative abuses of power can bring forth. I was simultaneously intrigued & terrified of the man sitting in my passenger seat. He looked and sounded like a half-mad cross between a hyena and a hermit, a thing best left alone as long as possible to do whatever the hell it wants.

Yet I felt for him. Here’s someone who was bent over and fucked sideways by the powers that be, lost everything and everyone that was important to him, and just seemed happy someone else was listening-I’m probably the first person that’s noticed him and didn’t recoil in disgust in ages.

We drove and drove, with him pointing out the directions and chain smoking my cigarettes and wordlessly gazing out the window. “Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve been out this way,” he said suddenly as we passed a mall. “What the fuck is a Forever 21 and why would anyone want to stay that age?” I could only laugh.

Finally we arrived in a rather upscale neighborhood. Houses bigger than every residence I had ever lived in combined, animated green manicured lawns decorated with miniature marble statues, and brand new sports cars ostentatiously displayed in every driveway. I felt very selfconcious with my beatup old Ford Taurus with several easily noticeable dents on the doors and bumper and a Geico caveman for a passenger. We could not have looked anymore out of place.


I stomped on the brakes and he jumped out and raced up a driveway and into an open garage. He rummaged around for a few seconds and ran back into the car holding a shovel, which he tossed into the backseat. “Ok now, drive up a few more houses and park by the curb.” I did.

“I’ll just be a few minutes.” He grabbed the shovel and got out of the car again. I couldn’t help but notice his body left a sooty outline on the cloth seat. He walked up to another house, through the neatly trimmed lawn, with the shovel flung over his shoulder.

I watched as he walked from window to window peering inside with a hand above his brow. I thought about driving away. I kept having horrible visions of him breaking inside and committing unspeakable acts with that shovel. Or a police car driving up to this hard to explain situation, called by a concerned octogenarian neighbor witnessing this from their window- or whomever he stole the shovel from.

He worked his way behind the house and out of my view. The outcome was uncertain and my vibes were beginning to shift unfavorably. This man didn’t seem the violent type, per se. Just someone fed up with nothing left to lose, but that in itself can be a pretty hairy way of thinking. A person like that can be a ticking bomb just waiting to go off at any moment, consequences be damned. It really just depends on what they devote their time & energy to.

10 minutes had gone by. I lit the last cigarette in my pack when he appeared again at the corner of the house. I could barely make him out past the oak tree and chokeberry bushes in the lawn but he seemed to be brushing himself off and peering into another window.

Come on man. I pleaded under my breath, silently willing him to get his ass back over here. I looked around quickly and didn’t see anyone else on the street but I saw a curtain move in the upper level of the neighboring house he just did godknowswhat to. Someone saw us and was getting suspicious and it would only be a matter of time before the police would be here. Or it was an air conditioning vent blowing upwards on the curtain. Either way, it was time to go.

I revved my engine a few times. He must have gotten the hint and hastily walked back to the car. A fresh layer of brown dirt was caked on his shoes and up his pants leg. The shovel was gone, replaced with a dusty black suitcase.

“What was that about? You didn’t just murder someone and bury them in the backyard, did you?” I asked as he climbed back in his seat.

“No way, hombre”, He laughed my question off as he put his seat belt on and rested the briefcase between his legs. “That’s my old place… Whoever owns that place now has terrible taste.”


Operation Tricky Dicky, Part II

3 double cheeseburgers, 2 large fries, and a sweet tea. A meal that far exceeded the mere $3 I gave him so I let him keep the bills and paid for it all with my debit card. Heading eastbound on High Street, the only sounds in the car was a local NPR story about some kind of Ohio State University Marching Band controversy and the man’s noisy chewing as he scarfed down the cheap fast food like a dragon sucking the bones of a charred Medieval knight. Never before have I seen someone eat McDonald’s with such gusto.

We drove past the Short North and the OSU district. The sidewalks swarmed with a random assortment of bodies. Carefree students wearing croptops and flipflops laughing and enjoying their summer break, students in oversized sweatpants holding large coffee cups freaking out about upcoming finals, and other rambling souls with their minds whoknowswhere thinking about whoknowswhat.

“So man, what’s your story?” I asked, trying to break the silence.
A police car in front of us switched on its lights & siren to blow through a red light only to turn them off again once they were farther down the street.

“Fucking cops,” he snorted out between sloppy bites and handfuls of salty french fries. “I used to be a cop. It was my first real job after I got outta high school. Those were dark times.”

“How so?” I asked.

“I had no purpose after I graduated. I hated everyone and everything seemed stupid to me. Years were passing me by in a blink of eye and I had do something. So I became a cop. To help people, if you can believe that.” He chuckled drearily and wiped a glob of ketchup off his upper lip. “Did that for about 10 years. I was ready to go halfway through year 3 but after seeing the things I had seen, it was hard to imagine doing anything else. I was good, too. Damn good. I started off as a lowly traffic cop. I was making my quotas and doing everything right. Started rising in the ranks…. Ol’ Kenny even nominated me in the bid for police commissioner until-”

“Wait, Ol’ Kenny? Who’s that?”

“Oh. Ken Prochazka. The old turkeynecked conservative bastard who was the mayor before Obama-Lite.”

“You mean Michael Coleman?”

“Yeah, him. Anyway, so I was next in line in the commissioner running but I didn’t want that gig. I was so sick of that kind of work and being the chief would only increase the workload tenfold. I told Kenny I was grateful but turned it down. Know what he did? He offered me a Head Security position in his office building. Now that, my friend, was a sweet gig. Got paid way more than I was probably worth, considering the amount of actual work I did. I met a fine honey, married her, had a few kids. It took a long time but I made something of myself.”

“Alright, so, how did you go from all that to homeless on the street?”

He burped loudly and shoved the greasy sandwich wrappers into the bag, and pulled out another cigarette from my pack.

“Outside of being the most physically and mentally draining job imaginable, the biggest reason I hated working in the police force was the corruption. I watched far too many innocent men get locked away and kids getting their entire futures ruined because of one bad decision to ever sleep soundly at night. I needed to get away from it. And I was naive enough to believe that I could.”

He sighed heavily and took another long puff. I turned off the radio.

“You look young, so you probably don’t even remember the whole ’99 Broadgate Scandal?”
I shook my head.

“Long story short, Kenny was a paranoid ol’ geezer. On my first day I looked at the roster and couldn’t believe how many guards he had on staff. You would think we were secret service, not security for a fucking mayor. As the years went on, his public image started to suffer after a string of questionable policies and decisions and his approval ratings started to drop, which only made his paranoia even worse. A sizable portion of the cities budget starting going towards modifications to his office building. You wouldn’t believe the amount of cameras he had set up, not only inside the building and along the perimeter, but hidden cameras that covered a huge radius. If you so much as dropped a penny on the sidewalk 5 miles away, there was a camera stationed somewhere that recorded it. But that was just the beginning.

“I was working late one night and went up to his office to escort him to his car, which was already in a secured parking lot. The door was cracked and I walked up to knock and I heard him talking with several other voices. From what I had overheard, for years Ol’ Kenny had been trying to pass a law of some kind granting him permission to tap phones, bug neighborhoods and homes, situate even MORE cameras around the city, the whole works. A real Big Brother type of deal. All for “surveillance and security purposes”. Yeah right. Unsuccessful in his efforts, he decided to go a different way. I don’t know who those other guys were but they were going to make it happen.
Oh, turn left at the light up ahead.”

“Holy shit” is all I could think to say.
“Holy shit is right. The next morning I went to his office to confront him. It went about as well you could imagine. I was fired. Heartbroken, I called every newspaper in the city and anonymously leaked the story. It was a media shit storm.  Kenny knew it was me who spilled the beans. I was finished. Former colleagues in law enforcement kept there distance from me. I even went back home one night after a long day of job searching and my wife and children were gone. Don’t know where they went or what happened to ‘em.  No friends, no family, and no money. Years later, here I am.”

“Wow.” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “So, did Ken actually go through with his Big Brother plan? And where does August 8th and wherever we’re going right now fit in to all of this?”

“You ask a lot of questions. I like that,” he said, giving me a reserved smile. A car honked repeatedly behind us. “By the way, you should probably go ahead and turn now. The light’s been green for a while.”

Operation Tricky Dicky

It was the Third Hour into a Nine & A Half hour shift on the Second Day of a Six Day work week when I threw up my hands in the air and said, “Fuck it”.

My shift started at 8am and I had gotten just under 2 hours of sleep, courtesy of a jittery imagination and rampant insomnia. The 3 alarms I had set on my phone didn’t do the trick, rolling out of bed at 7:35 awakened by a garbage truck roaring by my window. I frantically kicked off my bed sheets, threw on some clothes that were lying on the floor and rushed out to my car, speeding past lollygaggers, grinding my teeth, and narrowly making the few second transition from yellow-to-red light a number of times, making it to the clock-in terminal at 7:59am. My halfempty pack of cigarettes left behind on my dresser. Caffeine and nicotine levels critically low. Red Alert.

A customer was berating me about something that was out of my control. I was standing at the register, staring deadeyed back at his angry beet red face. Expletives were flying out of his mouth at an alarming rate and then it dawned on me.

I didn’t care. Everyday the world rushes closer to a fullblown apocalypse. I’m not being paid a livable wage. And yet I was supposed to care that I couldn’t give this guy a refund on a $4.99 impulse purchase because he lost his receipt.

I cut him off midsentence and excused myself, leaving him standing there bewildered and mouth agape, and headed to the manager’s office.

“I’d hate to do this but is there anyway I can go home early?” I asked, speaking slowly & dropping my voice down an octave. She turned away from her computer screen and gave me a sympathetic look. “I really don’t feel well and…”

“Yes, you can go. I could tell you were under the weather when you walked in. You look terrible.”

“Yeah…” I looked over at the wall mirror on the other side of the room. My hair was uncombed & standing in a million different directions, unshaven bristles were jutting out around my cheeks, and my shirt was wrinkled, the collar lopsided. I started to leave and remembered: “Oh by the way, there’s a guy out here who’s mad about something or whatever. You may want to deal with it,” and slammed the door closed before she could ask anything further.

I didn’t want to go home and didn’t have anyone to call. Still, the day was young now that my schedule had cleared up. The sky was a mustard yellow, the sun fighting its way to be seen past the grey overcast clouds, the radio weatherman predicting a 50% chance of rain.

After about an hour of driving around aimlessly, and making a pit stop to pick up supplies to deal with my depleted levels, I found myself in the heart of High Street, a long stretch of road in Columbus where something always seems to be happening, arguably the busiest&liveliest in all of the city.

I dropped a few quarters in the parking meter and went on a stroll with no destination in mind. I saw a ragged homeless man standing on the corner. His grungy silhouette starkly contrasted with the vibrant hustle & bustle around him, it looked like he had been wearing the same outfit for ages. His tattered tshirt an unrecognizable hue and he sported a pair of original Air Jordan sneakers that he must have bought when the line was first introduced in ’85, the famous red&white design encrusted with dirt and creased from decades of migration. I pitied him and yet was happy that he was there, relieved to see someone even more forlorn than myself. I walked up to him and pulled out my wallet.

The cardboard sign he carried read:

“So what’s so special about the 8th?” I asked him, holding a couple of bucks out like a peace offering. He didn’t turn to face me, just kept staring off into the distance in front of him.

“It’ll be my birthday.” He talked like the weight of the world was perched on his chest.

“Oh.” I coughed, anxiously shifting from foot to foot, still holding the money. “Well… here’s an early birthday gift.” I moved my hand into his line of vision. It’s hard to say if he even saw the money I was trying to give him. His scraggly brows were so thick it was difficult to make out his eyes.

He suddenly turned and faced me with such speed it made me jump, he seemed just as startled, as if he was noticing my presence for the first time. Then he flashed a smile, exposing 2 rows of mossy baked bean-like teeth.
“It’s not only the anniversary of my birth. It’ll be the start of a New Dawn.” He leaned in close enough for me to see his eyes underneath the jungle of hair on his face. They were as jet black as a bottle of calligraphy ink. “This city will never be the same. I just need a little help to make it happen.”

“Would this be a good start?” I practically shoved the money in his face.

He tenderly plucked the bills out of my hand and shoved them in his pocket. “I don’t really need money for this movement. But this will come in handy.” He scratched his beard and looked at me, reading me like a book. I flicked my cigarette into the street and pulled 2 new ones out of my pack, offering him one. He took a huge drag, sucking up half the cigarette in a single puff.
“Ya know,” he said while exhaling a large plume of dark smoke, not unlike what you’d see coming out of the powerstroke of a pickup truck, “If you really want to help, you could give me a ride somewhere. I need to pick something up.”

Well, I had nothing planned for the rest of the day. If I had said no I’d have just ended up at home drinking myself into another stupor, eating, and jacking off. An embarrassing display that would keep repeating itself until I fell asleep. Plus, the time was about to run out on the meter.

“Where do you need to go?” I asked while pulling out of the parking spot.

“Stay on this street and head east. It’s not too far of a drive. But first…” He pulls the $3 out of his pocket. “Can we stop by a McDonald’s? I haven’t eaten in days.”