Day 875: 5 Minute Freewrite CONTINUATION: Friday - Prompt: clawfoot bathtub

in Freewriters4 years ago (edited)

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Mrs. Della Scott had made up set of herbal tea bags for her husband to add to his coffee; the bag was marked, “Relaxing Moment.” The idea was for him to put that with his hot coffee and remember his morning bath … and sure enough, the herbs with the coffee did create a steam that was strangely reminiscent of the calm, rich steam of his hot bath.

Commissioner Winfred Scott of the Big Loft, VA police was glad for his wife's concern and care … Officer Brandt just did not have the experience to know yet, as Mrs. Thornton did, who to screen out and redirect in the middle of Big Loft just having another crazy week that the police, provided they stayed within the limits of protecting and serving, could do little about.

So, calls the commissioner normally did not take went through … and he just sipped his coffee, breathed in the steam, and was back in his clawfoot bathtub again, 36 gallons deep in pure relaxation, and then dealt with the caller in a calmer frame of mind.

The problem was that many of his fellow city officials felt like they had lost control of the city … the challenge is that they imagined normality without the 42 percent of the city and county that was Black and Latino having any power or say, and just satisfied that they were in some way included. “Integration ought to be enough for them; we know who is going to stay in charge” – Commissioner Scott had overheard that said in Big Loft decades earlier when he was courting his wife there.

The problem was that the city officials were not prepared to deal with what would happen when 42 percent of the city and county decided the bargain they had no say in making was no longer enough. The under-count of Black and Latino deaths in the Ridgeline Fire – 12,020 under-counted, to be exact – had been the breaking point. Those two communities – really the Black community, a full 39 percent, but for the time being, the Latino community was operating in lockstep – had found their muscles and were flexing hard enough to disrupt Big Loft's patterns and revenue.

Even at the time Commissioner Scott was born – merely 1959 – police could be and often were used to break all such unification and show of strength from the local Black community. It was even expected, and had still been enforced right down to Commissioner Scott's dual tenure as chief and commissioner, the previous five commissioners having been caught up in corruption and forced out either by arrest or by death.

Yet in 2019, Commissioner Scott would have none of it, and would not permit the police department he had charge of to continue in that way.

Hence all the phone calls – folks were mad, even though the commissioner's guidance was helping the police department and Big Loft to navigate the more than a dozen lawsuits coming out of the same Black community deciding it was time to fight back. The numbers being asked for in the suit went above bankruptcy numbers for the city … yet Commissioner Scott was making the hard steps that were setting the foundation for the change in policing and the positioning of the city to be able to achieve a settlement that would allow the city to recover.

And, folks were mad, because to do any of this was to acknowledge and respond to the power of people who were supposed to be powerless. The systems truly did not work right if they were not powerless, for when Virginia was born, the assumption was built into the system.

If things kept on as they were, Big Loft, VA would have to become something new, along with Lofton County... something that worked better for everybody in it. 42 percent of the city and county was insisting on it.

And Winfred Scott wasn't stopping it. He was keeping his department in its proper lane, and folks were mad that he just wouldn't let his department be involved in any way in the traditional functions. All the police were doing was providing security – PROVIDING security – to the 100,000 Black and Latino people who were having their public memorial where their relatives had only been servants, having their memorial where the elite of Big Loft had once lived, but had been burned out by a rogue police officer moonlighting as the elite's hitman.

Those 100,000 people would have been working, filling out the service economy, or at least not cluttering up the road for people more important. Those 100,000 people would have not been asserting their importance by their absence. Those 100,000 people would not dare to be standing on what still, by law, belonged to the elite survivors – and certainly their community representatives would not have been able to persuade the mayor that he should allow all of that.

Winfred Scott wasn't stopping any of it – so of course, he was the problem.

He almost laughed at one of his callers of that mindset … how much angrier would that poor man have been had he known that his complaining was fading back into the steam as the commissioner sipped his coffee and let his mind go home to his clawfoot bathtub and that supreme relaxing moment of going to sleep in the steam and waking up slowly to his wife singing him awake?

At lunch time, the commissioner came out of his office with a list for Officer Brandt.

“You're new, so you don't know, but these are people who don't get to call me directly,” he said.

“Yes, sir. I will memorize the entire list.”

“You don't have to do that – just keep it by the phone. You see a number that matches, hit 8 and let it go to voice mail. You have enough to do getting up to speed to not be worried about even dealing with these people today.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Eventually – let's say when you come on permanently – you'll know how to give these people the run-around properly. But today: let them all go to voice mail so they can re-learn that they aren't as important as they want us to think they are.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You're doing a great job – thank you especially for keeping the coffee fresh and hot.”

“Yes, sir.”

Commissioner Scott filled up his coffee mug, and added a fresh tea bag … the real stresses of the job were real, and the endless conversations with lawyers, officials of a more serious mind, police captains, police union reps, HR, and now the FBI took a great toll on him. But it helped to be able to go back in his mind to a more relaxing moment … although, of course, he had to watch his coffee intake. Fortunately, Mrs. Scott's tea worked just fine in hot water as well, so the commissioner kept his mug full and kept on working.

Photo by Nik Owens on Unsplash

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