Saturday, April 12, 2014

RECKLESS DRAG PATROL By Brandon Cracraft (Random Title 27)

My father served honorably in the Riot Defense Patrol, nineteen hour shifts without food, water, or piss breaks.  Dad used to joke that RDP actually stood for “Rotten Diaper Patrol” because a lot of them wore diapers under their armor.  Since they wore them all day without a change, he said that the locker room was pretty ripe.
            “I know this one giant who still hasn’t washed his uniform,” Dad said, holding his nose.  “I wish the kid would wear a diaper.  He let his pride get in the way of hygiene. I’m sick of smelling his piss and shit every time I go out on patrol.”
            Dad was small for a member of the RDP, barely over eight feet tall and two hundred and ninety pounds of hardened muscle reinforced with plates beneath his skin, making him a grand total of four hundred pounds. 
            “How was Rotten Diaper Patrol?” I said when I caught Dad watching me as I slept.  He took a drag off a cigarette laced with nutrition capsules and caffeine.  It took him a long time to respond.  He hugged his knees, his body shaking.  It was the closest he could physically come to crying.
            Dad shook his head.  “It’s not Rotten Diaper Patrol anymore.”  I expected him to make a joke, but he sounded serious.  Dad actually sounded scared.  My entire body went cold.  I nervously played with the frayed edge of my blankets.  “They have a new name.” He stood up.  Dad was wearing his uniform.  He never wore his uniform at home.  “They are now the Reckless Drag Patrol.”
            I gave him a confused look.  He sat next to me, and my bed creaked under his weight.  “What’s going on?”
            Dad’s eyes trailed to the shoebox I hid under my old blankets and toys.  “As of last night,” he said, his grey eyes scanning my bedroom nervously, “homosexuality is illegal.”  He shuddered, and I felt my body shake.  I never felt so terrified.  “We went to a gay bar and locked the doors.”  His voice cracked.  He sounded like a little boy.  “We put a chain and lock on the door and put bars on the window.  When everything was secure, we set the bar on fire.”
            “They burned to death. . .”  I said, barely able to speak.
            Dad shook his head.  “Most of them died from the smoke before they had a chance to burn to death.”  He stood up, peeling off his armor and dropping them on the floor.  “You need to be careful, Jono.”  He went from sounding like a little boy to sounding ancient.  “If someone finds out, they’ll make me kill you.”
            “I’ll burn them, Dad,” I said.  “They won’t know.”
            Dad tried to smile.  “Maybe this will all blow over,” he said.  “You know how The Country is.  They get a bug up their ass for the stupidest things.”
            The Reckless Drag Patrol continued to cleanse The Country.  I watched newscast after newscast that happily showed the image of men dressed like women being beaten, shot, and burned.  My friend, Abbie-Lee Marsh, did a presentation about the scourge of homosexuality and the importance of the RDP.  She got another A that she didn’t deserve.
            Dad looked worse every day.  He started wearing his uniform full time, even the armor and weapons.  He hardly even ate.  I hated the smell of those damn cigarettes.  The Reckless Drag Patrol didn’t just kill homos.  They killed something inside my dad as well.
            I stopped calling it the Reckless Drag Patrol yesterday.  They stopped going after gay people.  There was no explanation from The Country.  The Country just decided to stop.  They had a new target: traitors.  Anyone who spoke against the RDP could be labelled a traitor.  The Country encouraged us to snitch on anyone who criticized the RDP.
            Abbie-Lee Marsh actually snitched on her parents.  She announced that she was going to a youth education program.
            RDP now stands for Ruining Dad Patrol, even though I will never say that out loud.  Some waiter heard my dad call them “Reckless Drag Patrol.”  He kicked us out and called my dad a traitor.
            Dad told me not to worry, even though he was obviously terrified.  He tried to assure me that the RDP would never kill one of their own.  Loyalty was the second highest virtue after obedience.
Some giant who didn’t even bother to take off his helmet callously told me that my father was a traitor and nothing else.  The RDP officer didn’t stay long enough to let me answer questions.
            I haven’t eaten in days.  No one will sell food to me.  My teacher told me that she would shoot me if she saw me on the street.  I guess I’ll be going to a youth education program.  No one will tell me anything.
            There’s only one thing I know for certain: The RDP killed my dad. 
            At least, I hope that the RDP killed my father.  Dad once told me that The Country was capable of doing horrible things to people.  When I asked what they were, he just shook his head and looked like he was going to puke.
            I really hope that the RDP killed my dad. 

Brandon Cracraft lives with his boyfriend in the historic district of Tucson, Arizona.  His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and his novel, FAMILY VALUES, is available in electronic and paperback format.

No comments: