"Sleep Sheep, Dog is Awake" by Santa C., May 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: Being a police officer, soldier or a private security guard is not an easy way of life. Because of the nature of their work, they are often involved in confrontational situations - many of these requiring the use of lawful and, sometimes, even lethal use of force.
Sleep Sheep, Dog is Awake
It was yet another fair Spring day, wind tossing recklessly paper and debris off the pavement, street dogs avoiding angry shouts and bus drivers honking, wishing dead all those youngsters daring to cross streets off the designated areas.
Katie Moisse was walking with Anil Sood and Jim Kiefert, each of them on her opposite sides.
"Did you know that there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime are considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year." There was an odd scene as of a pimp molesting a prostitute in one of those "back alley" streets. Some cats meowed as if expressing their attitude towards the whole scene. Anil winked in secret at Katie's short shirt. She continued, oblivious of their true intentions.
"Furthermore …", she held her binder firm, staring at some High School girls in skirts across the street, "… since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million." She tried to peek into Jim's eyes but sun made her wince and bring one of her hands above her eyebrows.
They continued to stroll along, both men keeping their "cool".
"Thus there is a paradox …", some kids ran passed by, kicking and shouting at each other, "… and we must grasp both ends of the situation …", she instinctively pursed her lips and Anil winked again at Jim, grinning like a hyena, "… We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare." She eyed Anil and he felt ashamed like a wrongdoer in a classroom.
"And … why is this?" Anil tried to suppress his mocking laughter, walking in such a way as to cause pain to his feet, just in order to prevent his embarrassing urge.
"This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation."
"They are … sheep?" Anil suggested.
"Yes." Katie obviously liked the term. "They are sheep."
After waiting for a while at the pedestrian cross, they finally managed to cross the busy downtown street.
"But … I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep." Anil instantly felt less vulnerable, being of Asian descent among the racist Caucasians around. "What do you think, … Jim?" Jim hid his grin as they were approaching the park.
"To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg." Anil had to turn around completely and bite his lip since he was almost rolling all over from laughter. Jim continued like an inspired poet.
"Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful." He checked on Anil who mimicked in secret to go and distract Katie's attention some more in order for him to recompose. "But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell." This spilt Anil's "invisible cup" and he had to hold onto a bench in order to prevent himself from dropping down to the paved ground and laughing his back off. Katie winced almost nervously at him, not realizing why he was so … agitated. Feeling already like a winner, Jim continued.
"Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and …", they watched as Anil threw his books onto the green grass, waving with his hand for them to ignore him, his red face attracting attention of some seated men and women, as well as of some Security Guards, "… someday the civilization they protect will grow into something … wonderful?" He paused, trying desperately to prevent his own attack of uncontrollable laughter. "For now …", he turned sideways watching Anil roll on grass like some trained dog, crouching, holding his stomach as if someone just hit him there, his face hot red from laughter, "… though …", Jim noticed Anil's reaction made some other students join him in his attempt to release every day's tension, "… they need warriors to protect them from …", he watched the Security Guards approach Anil, "… the predators." Anil excused himself to the Security Guards and then, after picking up his books and wiping tears with a paper napkin, joined Katie and Jim.
"What about the wolves?" Katie offered as they listened to the bells announcing one o'clock in the afternoon.
"'Then there are the wolves', the old war veteran said, 'and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.'" Jim cited someone and Katie smiled feebly, noticing some girls were looking at her as if she was some cheap country girl.
"Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy?" Jim waited for Anil to bring himself … back. "You better believe it." The way Jim acted towards Katie made things only worse for Anil as he started to shudder and tremble from uncontrollable laughter, his books falling down on the paved road like some ripe fruit. Some professors and students passing by watched him as if he was some kind of an addict perhaps.
Katie and Jim stopped, waiting for the crouching Anil to resume his homo erectus position again. Security Guards were monitoring everything from the distance, one of them talking to the radio communication device.
"There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds." One of the Alumni guys eyed them in a sinister way. Katie felt sad towards Anil. "The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so …", Anil threw one helpless glance at Jim, "… you become a sheep."
"That's right!" Katie turned back to Jim. "That's exactly what I had in mind!"
"And …", Jim tried to calm himself down since Anil was hopelessly grinning in a monkey-like position, trying bring himself back to … normal. "There is no safety in denial."
"Precisely!" Katie blushed at Jim. "Oh, my God …"
"What?" Jim was still monitoring Anil who was trying to bring himself back with some deep breathing technique. Some girl students even offered him help, which he politely refused, pointing at Katie and Jim.
"'Then there are sheepdogs', he went on, 'and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.'" Jim finished with his citation, staring towards some sun burst from the cloud, inspiring Katie even more.
"My point is … if you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, … a sheep." Anil finally joined them, wiping his eyes for the nth time with yet another paper tissue.
"But if you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens …", Jim checked Anil over Katie's head, "… then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, … a wolf."
"Oh, my Gooood!" Katie paused, holding her binder and staring upwards at Jim as if he was some kind of a preacher.
"What?" Jim knew he definitely hit the jackpot with Katie.
"That's … oh …", she looked down, composing herself, smiling, "… that's exactly what I had in mind!" Jim winked at Anil and they continued towards the University Hall building.
After taking a seat at one of the free benches, Jim brought out their purchase from the local fast food court and soon they were munching some sandwiches, enjoying soft wind and birds singing above them.
"But what if you have a capacity for violence …", Katie offered in between her swallows, "… and a deep love for your fellow citizens?" She examined her salami and frowned. "What do you have then?"
"A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path?" Jim interposed shyly, not wishing to let that invisible grip he had with Katie now. He continued on his own, letting his sandwich become a possible wish list for those sparrows above. "Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out … unscathed …" He winked in secret at Anil who was serious now.
"But let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs." Katie looked at both Jim and Anil who made feeble nods, enjoying warm weather after a long and tiresome winter.
"We know that the sheep live in denial, which is what makes them sheep." Anil was now completely different person, serious as some kind of a lecturer and Jim was relieved, trying to spot those Security Guards that helped Anil previously. "They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world." Katie paused, finishing her sandwich. Jim thought that she may become fat one day.
"They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which …", someone stopped and greeted Jim and she waited for the blonde to … leave. "That is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools." Blonde turned back and sent Jim a kiss. He stiffened and turned his head sideways at Anil who made a mocking facial expression. Katie felt isolated and cleared her throat, making a paper ball out of that waxy paper that held her lunch minutes ago.
"But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school."
"Really?" Anil stopped chewing, eyeing Katie sideways. Katie made couple of innocent nods.
"Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is …"
"Denial?" Jim intercepted.
"Precisely!" Katie's eyes widened for a moment as if someone struck a cone into her butt hole.
"The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is …", she paused, making some gesticulations with her fingers, Jim mimicking in secret to Anil, "… just … too hard, and so they chose the path of denial."
She waited patiently for both of them to finish with their sandwiches, more girls greeting Jim.
"I think that the sheep generally do not like the sheepdog." Anil tried to join in but was probably troubled with his own problems and seemed rather … detached. "He looks a lot like …like the wolf." Jim paused and realized Katie had that naïve, sincere no-IQ face that asked for nothing more than some … attention. "He has fangs and … and …", he mimicked with his fingers, trying to bring back Anil's lost attention, "… the capacity for … for violence."
"That's right!" Katie made coupe of nods like an imbecile and then continued on her own.
"The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep." She paused as they greeted their professor. "Any sheep dog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed."
They listened to some younger generation of students laugh and play on the grass.
"I think that the world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours." Both Jim and Katie were pleasantly surprised at Anil's join-in.
"Still …", Jim was testing Anil's mood in secret, "… the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land."
After a while they stood up and continued towards the dormitory.
"Look at those!" Anil pointed at some Asian students arguing with the Police Officer. "They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16." Jim eye-checked Anil in secret, but Anil seemed … agitated.
"The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, 'Baa.'" Katie pointed with her fingers, holding her binder with her elbows.
"Until the wolf shows up." They watched as the police patrol vehicle parked beside the rebellious group.
After they separated with Katie, Jim embraced his arm over Anil's shoulders in a friendly manner and then side-kicked him with his hip.
"What's up … buddy?" Some girls stared at them in a jealous manner. "Night shifts giving you tough time?" Jim could still not discern Anil's true problem. He removed his hand, letting Anil stare in the distance and take a deep breath. Ice cream vendor was serving ice-cream to children and Jim was surprised at that … early start.
"Do you believe that there is a link between stress and cancer perhaps?" Anil stared seriously at Jim and he tightened his eyes, snake-eyeing Anil as if he just spat into his face. Then he looked sideways, realizing some part of green grass had mud crusts.
"The question of whether there is a link between stress and cancer has puzzled and intrigued researchers …", he checked Anil all over almost as if he was posing for some shot, " … as well as patients." He paused, waiting for Anil to give some secret signs of worry. He did not or he simply hid it so well. Jim exhaled and then continued, realizing Anil was not moving from his spot. "Study after study has asked whether people who developed cancer had more stress in the years before the diagnosis …", Jim checked some girls that did not bother to look at him, "… and conversely …", someone slapped him on his shoulders and he smiled back, waving, "… whether people who experienced extreme stress were more likely to develop cancer."
He realized that Anil was standing still, almost rigidly still. He cleared his throat and then continued in a serious manner.
"Investigators have also explored possible mechanisms, asking, for example …", they greeted one of the Assistants passing them by, "… whether stress might suppress the immune system cells that might be needed to squelch rogue cancer cells." Anil swallowed dry and Jim instantly knew there was some secret kind of war he was probably not aware of. Truck with "Europe's Bakery" passed by.
"And …?" Anil's throat tightened and Jim could sense some grief or even pain in his almost fiendish posture.
"And they have tried to determine whether the immune system …", Jim watched obstinate determination of Anil's refusal to side step and let the garbage picker pass by, "… the body's defense system …", garbage man turned back, eyeing Anil as if he was some kind of a weirdo, "… protects people from cancer in the first place."
Finally Anil moved along, his face still contorted into a twist of pain and, perhaps even some remorse. Jim tried to soften his voice and ease Anil's sudden … alienation.
"What has emerged is a tenuous connection between stress, the immune system and cancer …", he checked on Anil, testing his electronic lock at the parking, "… with a surprising new insight that is changing the direction of research …", Anil held his books tight and Jim tried to point at them, indicating his previous rolling on the grass acts, "… it now appears that cancer cells make proteins that actually tell the immune system to let them alone and even to help them grow." Anil watched Jim take a driver's seat. He opened his window and winked at Anil, realizing he made that ice melt after all. Anil even smiled feebly back at him.
"As for whether stress causes cancer …", Jim started the car, staring towards some lighted clouds in the distance, "… the question is still open." He offered Anil a hand and they greeted like in old days. As he drove away he could see Anil stand still, watching him. There was some sense of distant, mutual understanding. Almost as if they could communicate with their very thoughts!