Tattoos in Mayberry

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In a dream, my girlfriend and I were driving in a car to a familiar restaurant
with unfamiliar people who suspiciously knew a great deal about us.
Their kids sat with us, in the back seat and
said little as their parents boasted
about all their children's mythic achievements.
which seemed to bore them almost as much it did us.
The husband was driving  the car.
It had been established that this couple were our friends
although, I couldn't quite place any history
we had shared with them.
I enjoyed the ride and felt satiated by our meal.
. In addition, it felt empowering being
one of the adults who it was determined
were valued enough to speak".
We adults talked about the market,and the value of currency and all
matters of finance
We discussed.far away places we'd  seen
or heard about, along with some other noteworthy experiences .
Basically, a lot of adult small talk..
As we were driving back, from the restaurant,
before ending our visit,
it had occurred to us,
we had forgotten to pay the bill for our meal.
It was decided to turn around and go back to the restaurant.
I felt conflicted because, I didn't have much extra money
I can go off the honor system 
So part of me felt snooze, you lose,
that a freebie was a good break,
 
The rest of the dinner party, including my girlfriend
felt differently, That we should drive back and
settle accounts since the valet as well as the maitre'd knew our hosts.
and could easily identify them and their vehicle 
potentially creating problems for them in the future..
It was the prudent thing  to do, but I still felt a bit uneasy about backtracking.
As we were discussing this dilemma
 I asked them what our portion of the bill was going to cost us..
Our guests made all kinds of assurances that it would be a fair split.
if we had to pay anything at all.
Which to me meant, that perhaps our guests were going to cover the check.
No such luck.
The check was split right down the middle.
When that  piece of business was taken care of,
they invited us back to their home.
It was a palace. There were servants, along with a sizeable ranch. They asked us if we would
watch their property for a time, while they went on holiday.
We didn't ask them where they were going or.
how long they would be gone.
nor did we  ask.. 
Still, we agreed to this arrangement
said our goodbye's and settled in.
At dusk, I heard a commotion outside,
there were angry men's voices shouting.
I heard all manner of distressed animal noises 
chickens cackling,
horses neighing. Apparently, the ranch hands told us
there were bandito's in the area,
who were actively trying to sieze
chunks of property owned by our hosts.
It was also hinted that one of their own children
was  involved in this land grabbing scheme.
We didn't live there, so when police arrived to inquire about  the disturbance.
we just said we didn't want to get involved.
That we were just house sitting the property and knew nothing of any of this.
The thieves were then questioned, rounded up and escorted away
Quiet returned to the compound.
Later that night,
As I opened the door, men were screaming and being beaten
and It appeared the estate was once again, under seige,
There were fires, looting and general chaos..
I called 9/11. My girlfriend was startled,and walked 
outside to confront one of the marauders.
He hit her hard and knocked out my girlfriend
who lay crumpled on the ground.
There was what appeared to be orange kool-aid
dripping from her mouth onto the ground where she fell.
Angry and in shock I tried to beat
the man who knocked out my girlfriend with the reciever of a land phone I had in my hand,
but the cord wasn't long enough to reach his head.
I kept swinging it in rage, praying help would arrive soon.
 When the police finally arrived., They spoke some foreign language.
The authorities seemed familiar
with these attackers. I told them what happened and
that I had tried to beat one of them off with
a telephone receiver. They told me I was lucky
I didn't "connect" because if I had,
they would have surely killed me.
I said, these same men were here earlier.
How could it have been
they returned the same night?
They told me, they had booked them and released them earlier that evening..
That this was their standard procedure.
It didn't seem standard to me
to have violent thieves and menacing cut throats with a grudge
on the loose, wreaking havoc, the same evening they'd been in custody
only to storm back to the scene of the incident,, angrier, and more determined
to cause harm the second time.
We were assured ,this time
, their would be grave consequences for these men.
The next day, we followed a procession of
townspeople to a punishment wheel. It was very hot outside.
They strung two of the banditos up to
 a 100 foot high slow moving ferris wheel. the bottom section stood
just off the ground
It had small uneven,sometimes jagged notches and steps all
around it. The two men were attached to short ropes. Ropes were attached
around their neck and their wrists and then to the notches in the wheel.
They, were able to perch themselves
precariously, at the top of the wheel, after first dangling from the
rope where they had to pull themselves up onto the steps. The wheel began spinning
ever so slowly moving so as to make it
difficult to gain a footing for the men. Once, they were precariously atop the wheel,
It stopped.
At first, it looked like maybe they were going to hang,
tied up as they were.
They had to stay up their many hours,then many days. They were
barefoot.
They were clearly desperately fighting for their lives.
They kept cursing us.
I shouted you deserve punishment because you 
hurt my girlfriend.
They kept saying to me and the spectators to shut up,
not at all hearing or acknowleging any of us down below.
They screamed we were cowards.
How we had no right to judge or punish them. How they were
just doing what they had to do to feed
themselves and their families
and my gringo girlfriend had no right
getting involved
in their business. They claimed our friends,
who owned the estate, got rich off their backs
as well as the backs of their people.
I remember feeling alot of rage but little pity.
because they wouldn't acknowlege my hurt and anger
Survival for them, however
was far from assured. So,  I also felt conflicted
since, this wasn't our land nor was it our fight..
The people being punished, kept up a stream of obscenities and tormented
whisperings amongst themselves.
It was hidious torture, terrifying to watch.
yet to me, it seemed somehow
a just punishment.
I woke up screaming
, "you deserve whatever you get
for hurting someone I love."


Buddy Bee Anthony


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