Note to readers: This new little series is not really that serious. I’m writing it for two simple reasons. The first is to get back at the cowardly, misguided immature editor who suggested I whitewash—correction, suggested I wokewash—my latest book in order to appease converts to the new woke religion, which apparently has a lot to do with geometry . . . what with all the talk about intersections. So, this is me blowing off some steam, in a hopefully comical way. The second reason I’m writing this is for the writing practice. It’s nothing more than a little project to help me get sharper between books. [These brackets represent the “trigger warning” that I removed because . . . fuck that shit.]
Episode One: Chicks with Dicks
As he sat there in the nondescript HR conference room of that certain three letter agency he worked for, waiting to get fired, Curtis Laroux couldn’t help but dwell on the strange irony of it all. Six months prior he had taken a secret trip down to Louisiana and ended up with his hand on the trigger of the gun that killed an innocent man. Somehow, he had managed to keep himself not only out of jail, but in the good graces of his leadership chain at work. And that was no easy task—these people dealt with lies for a living. But the thing that was about to see him cut loose, after six years as an enlisted Air Force man and then another six here as a civilian—the thing that was gonna finally do him in was a stupid “chicks with dicks” joke he made standing at the urinal in the men’s room.
He had recently been getting into the Stoics. The path to happiness lies in rising above the emotions of the moment, in using your mind to create solutions to problems and your hands to do the necessary, diligent work of implementing them. What would Seneca or Marcus Arelius say about this shit? Would they see the situation the way Curt did?
He deserved to be fired. There was no two ways about that. But not for this. Not because some goodie two-shoes in the handicap stall—and mind you the dude wasn’t even handicapped, but nobody seemed to give a shit about that—some dude, not even a trans dude or whatever, just a regular dude—decided that Curtis was creating a hostile work environment.
He probably could have navigated his way out of the situation if he hadn’t had a raging hangover the morning Randy, his manager, and the HR lady pulled him aside. Ambush was more like it. The woman had totally painted him into a corner. Hell, she probably had the fucking paperwork already filled out. But he hadn’t helped himself. Not at all.
Cajun men tend to get loud. And even though Curt was a long way from his home state, that Coon-ass excitability was in his blood. He had been drinking Gentleman Jack straight from the bottle the night before, taking big swigs while he picked his way through his “Tattoos and Tans” folder of intelligence, developed in the course of the case in Eunice that actually ended pretty well. Aside from the dead guy, at least. So he might’ve been a little slow on the uptake, but once he finally grasped what was happening, the whole thing just kind of escalated.
His refrain of “but I was in the bathroom” evolved to “I was in the fucking bathroom”, which gave way to phrases like “you have got to be fucking kidding me!” He had to give Randy some credit because at least he’d tried to keep Curt from digging the hole for himself, but by then it was too late. Curt had already demanded to know the identity of the dude in the handicapped stall, and that was more than enough for the HR lady to write it up like a threat in her report.
And he still would have gotten off with just the suspension if he hadn’t acted up in the special session of diversity and inclusion training they made him go too. He had his emotions in check by then, but the passion had given way to indignation and righteousness, and those qualities did not jive with the training environment.
Microaggressions. Silence is violence. Triggers. Unconscious bias. Equity. Every bit of it was postmodern nonsense, and even though he went at it all calmly, with the help of the stoics and modern intellectuals like Douglas Murray and Jordan Peterson, it was no use. There were ten people in the class and at least eight of them clearly sided with Curtis, but it didn’t matter. Reason didn’t matter. Freedom of speech didn’t matter. Martin Luther King’s advice to judge a man by the content of his character didn’t matter. What mattered was compliance, adherence to the new dogma of inclusion and equity.
The instructor was an adjunct from the corporate communications department, earning hours towards her “diversity certification”, and he could tell she was just reveling in the whole thing. “You need to understand that the words you use can be offensive, Mr. Laroux. They can be hurtful.” When he asked her if her momma or her daddy had ever taught her how “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words could never hurt you”, she challenged him on his assumption about the sexual orientation of her parents. And then she asked him to leave.
He was so proud of himself for not losing his shit in that moment. The F-bombs were teed up in the bomb-bay of his mind, just waiting, but Curtis had closed his eyes and used his breathing technique. And it worked. For about fifteen seconds.
He had already done the math. He could afford to be unemployed for six months at least. A year if he moved out of D.C. And the truth was, he had been thinking about resigning anyway. Angel Castille’s death was still fucking with his head, and the court dates for the son of bitch that shot him, Lenny fucking Prichard, were coming up soon. Curtis was not an innocent man. He hadn’t killed anybody, but he had done all kinds of wrong down in Louisiana, and the facts could still come out.
That was when the words of Rage Against the Machine came to him. He had offered logic, spirited intellectual debate. But apparently there was no room for that anymore. Curtis had looked around the room then and made eye contact with the other guys in the class, each of them reveling in his objections—he could see it plain as day in their eyes—and he said “in the movie of my life, this is the part where that hard opening riff is gonna kick in.” He pumped his fist a couple times and did the part, not loud, but clear. “Duh da duh, duh da duh.”
Curt took another breath and marveled at how calm his heartbeat was at that moment when he looked at the instructor and said flatly, but with enough venom to make it clear he meant it, “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.” And as he walked out the door, he repeated the refrain. “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.” He was still saying it to himself when he hit the turnstiles in the lobby, and right then he knew he’d only be back one more time. Long enough to sign his papers, turn in his badge, and get the obligatory read-out speech about all the classified information that was still swimming around in his head.