ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the prompt calls, inspired by a discussion with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "face to face" square on my 9-29-14 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] stardreamer. This poem belongs to the FORK thread of the Polychrome Heroics series, following the events of the story "Keeping Warm" and demifiction "Corporation Sues Man."

WARNING: This poem features bigotry and hateful slurs.  If these are sensitive topics for you, please consider your mindstate before deciding whether you want to read further.


"FORK in the Road"


In an unusual turn of events, Donald R. Engelmann,
CEO of the Tastee Shack corporation,
revealed in a press conference this morning
that the corporation is pursuing litigation against
Officer R. Andrew Tanner, Jr. for his part
in precipitating a conflict which closed
the Mercedes City Mall, damaged
...

Andy crumpled up the article that
someone had taped to his door, then
threw the ball of paper at the trash can.

It missed.

He got up, swearing,
grabbed the offending ball,
and shoved it into the trash,
kicking the can for good measure.

Why does everyone have to blame ME?
he wondered. I was just doing my job!
I can't believe that the chief fired me
for arresting a goddamned supervillain,
and now this bullshit happens, too.
Why the hell isn't anyone suing HIM?
He's the criminal here, not me!


A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.

Grumbling, Andy stalked to the door,
prepared to yell at whoever it was
because he'd gotten no end of crank calls
and crap left on his doorstep (literally,
and the paper bag it came in had been on fire,
which led to him getting shit on his shoe
as he tried to stomp it out) and dumb kids
knocking then running away.

Instead he found himself facing a man
with black hair and green eyes,
wearing a black suit that looked expensive.
"Hello, Officer Tanner. I'm Benjamin Zingel,"
he said. "It's an honor to make your acquaintance."

Andy hadn't heard that in a while,
not since that asshole supervillain
had cost him a good job and
his place in the community.

Andy shook Benjamin's hand --
the grip was confident and a little cool --
then invited him inside. "What do you want?"

"I've heard so much about you in the news,
I wanted to meet you face to face," said Benjamin.
"I think that you and I share some mutual interests."

Andy snorted. "Like what?"

"Certain priorities, shall we say,"
Benjamin said as he took a seat.
"Are you familiar with the Ku Klux Klan?"

"Bunch of idiots dressed in bedsheets,"
Andy said, settling into the other chair.
"I can't imagine you'd fit in with them."

Benjamin gave him a thin smile. "Leaving aside
their regrettable fashion sense, their ideals
point in the right direction," he said.
"As the Klan was losing members, they decided
to open the doors to new applicants -- blacks,
Hispanics, even Jews like myself."

"Oh, that can't have ended well,"
Andy said with a low chuckle.
They must've fought like cats and dogs.

"Well enough," Benjamin said. "It inspired
a new organization called FORK --
which is open to people of any race, religion,
sexual orientation, or other persuasion
so long as they agree that real humans
deserve rights which freaks do not."

"You're still a kike," Andy pointed out.

Benjamin showed his teeth.
"Ah, but I'm a normal kike," he said,
"and that has made all the difference."
He reached into a pocket and
pulled out a business card.

Andy accepted it, looking at the silver logo
of a fork under which were the words,
For a civilized dining experience.
"Looks like a restaurant," he said.
It had to be better than fucking Tastee Shack.

"It pays to be discreet," Benjamin said.
"Consider what the open practice
of your standards has gotten you.
Respect? Gratitude? Promotion?"

"Try door number four," Andy said,
shaking his head. "I got fired,
and then sued a couple different times --
for taking down a supervillain.
What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Do they want criminals running around loose?"

"You know, I asked myself those very same questions,"
said Benjamin. "I got disbarred for discrimination against
'a person with minority abilities.' How do you like that?"

"Sucks to be you," Andy said.

"There are a lot of people in similar straits,"
Benjamin said. "I believe that we can
accomplish more by sticking together.
You've come to a fork in the road,
Officer Tanner. What do you say --
are you with us, or against us?"

"I'm with you," Andy said,
sticking out his hand.
They shook on it.

He felt better already.

* * *

Notes:

[Character concept by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer]
Officer R. Andrew Tanner, Jr. -- He has ruddy skin, brown eyes, and reddish-brown hair shaved close. He is short and portly, and barely under the weight limit for his department. Andy has a macho personality and tends to swagger when he walks. He believes that might makes right, and the end justifies the means.
Officer Tanner served on the police force in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois. He instigated a supervillain incident at the Mercedes City Mall in California which caused serious injury to himself and Cold Cash, along with lesser injuries to other people and considerable property damage. Afterwards he was fired, and multiple court cases are in progress.
Qualities: Good (+2) Drinking Buddies, Good (+2) Hand-to-Hand Combat, Good (+2) Persistent
Poor (-2) Bigot
Motivation: To fight criminals.

FORK is a hate group in Terramagne that discriminates against people with superpowers. This article about the KKK opening its doors to wider membership inspired [personal profile] dialecticdreamer to ask what would happen with that in Terramagne. I used static and interactive maps of hate groups for further inspiration.

Benjamin Zingel -- He has fair skin, green eyes, and short curly black hair with a short beard and moustache. He was married, and has two children that he hasn't seen since the divorce. Benjamin worked as a lawyer in Eastbord before he got disbarred for discriminating against a superpowered client. Since then, he has joined FORK and offers under-the-table legal advice to other bigots.
Qualities: Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Determination, Good (+2) Friends in FORK, Good (+2) Legal Knowledge
Poor (-2) Jew

* * *

Andy's story arc shows a turn toward the dark side. He means well, but he goes to extremes in ways that cause problems. He does evil things, and then excuses his behavior by claiming that he was just following orders and had to do it. He feels like he is being punished for doing good. (In Terramagne slang, that's called a Jump Up Johnny. What happened to Andy is not the same at all, regardless of his opinion.) He is very self-centered.

Blaming other people can happen for many reasons. It's one of several bad habits that perpetuate destructive anger. There are ways to stop blaming others.

The flaming bag of poo is a classic prank.

The Ku Klux Klan is a hate group with a long ugly history.

Bigots come in various flavors. There are ways to deal with bigots and to stop being a bigot.

Extremism and hate groups cause a lot of problems. See hate groups by state. Know how to combat hate groups generally and in your community, and how to fight intolerance.

Tastee Shack is a popular eatery in Terramagne, usually appearing in food courts.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-17 12:09 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
You've come to a fork the road,
Officer Tanner.

Missing "in" there.

Emotionally Complex Response here. On the one hand, I have to like it because it's starting to take a look at the darker aspects of this society, and that's something I do like to see in a story. But then, that means it's looking at the darker aspects, which is not always such pleasant reading! :-)

I suspect that if I encountered Tanner out of uniform, my reaction would probably be to see him as a skinhead. (The similarities in the worldview of skinheads and right-wing cops are not by any means lost on me.)

This story is a wonderful illustration of the concept that ideology, even more than politics, makes for strange bedfellows. The Klan, finding themselves on the wrong end of survival, decides to change the primary focus of their hate... and then discovers that some of their traditional enemies share the new focus, and proceeds to make common cause. Boy, wouldn't I love to be a fly on the wall (with a mini-vidcam) at one of their meetings! The barely-contained catfights and the level of mutual snark must be epic -- as illustrated by Zingel's response to the "kike" crack.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-17 03:10 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I don't know that I'm going to be able to read this thread.

Well-written, though.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-12-17 02:59 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Thanks. I just don't have enough spoons for this right now, I might be able to come back later, but I can't be sure.

Skipping

Date: 2014-12-17 05:46 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
If you have to bow out, we'll miss you, but I look forward to your comments elsewhere; I can wait for another poem to have a chat via comments.

I feel partly responsible for the problem, because I helped spark the poem. Sorry if it bothered you.

Re: Skipping

Date: 2014-12-17 03:00 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Please don't feel badly. I'm fine.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-17 04:33 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
At least I'm familiar enough with the 'verse that the title warned me long before I got to the trigger warning. I'm
hoping
afraid
to see where this goes.
Is FORK (all-caps) an acronym here?

Echoing [personal profile] stardreamer:

•You've come to a fork ^ the road,
 Officer Tanner.
> Missing "in" there.
Edited Date: 2014-12-17 04:34 am (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-12-18 06:12 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I tried to think of an expansion for FORK, and got 3/4 of the way there -- "Fellowship Of [the] ____ Kind", but I can't come up with anything for the R that parses to some variation on "normal". "Real" would work if there were a K word meaning "people" other than "kin" or "kind", but I don't think it flies with either of those. "Regular Kind" might work, but I don't think it's catchy enough.

But maybe my musings will spark something for you.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2014-12-18 08:50 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
"Friends Of the Real Kind" would make an innocuous-sounding expansion, except how are they defining "real"?

Officer RAT

Date: 2014-12-17 05:47 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
eeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeee.

Yeah, he makes a good squeaky toy. And frankly, he and Benjamin /deserve/ each other.

(As I chant "karma, karma, karma!") with crossed fingers. Just sayin'.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 11:27 pm (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
It kinda offends me that a Jewish guy shows up in your stuff, as a willing pawn of bigot assholes. If he could be any minority alt-Klan is now officially cool with, why dramatically does he need to be one of us instead of any of the others?

And it also doesn't ring true to reality. We can and do discriminate despite the number of us who've always been there fighting for civil rights - but I'd suggest we tend to be really really leery of organizations which in the past have shown they hate us. Any tolerance shown by such an organization usually goes skin deep if that, and it can go away any moment... on the other hand, there are Jews who are self-destructive enough to be Republicans, so maybe I'm wrong.

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