COLUMN: DIRT CITY | 08.15.2022

Don’t fuck the police
by Barbara Genova

This guy I fucked twice, he slept over, twice, and I now lack the time and inclination to unearth old message threads, but the last sign I ever got was him saying he was arranging shit with his cousin. They would get shotguns and barricade themselves up on the mountains.

You mean your cousin who’s a dentist?

That, I did not type.

I might have typed ahah that scans. The minute you break out the psycho talk, I am dust in the doorway.

You want to get dicked down bad enough, it’s not a matter of lowering your guard, it’s speeding through the check points. What if he stabs you in the neck? What if he does steal a blender? Maybe get a room you can rent by the hour, the night receptionist tracking your ID, for security? You either avoid male company or, you get your Strangers on, you get your urban siege on.

And you can still end up railing the dude no one wanted.

This guy’s deal was, he was young, mid-twenties, and he would bounce, a small town flop boy. He had been hating for a long long time, no bottom, swirling in a black pill cocktail of his own design. Said he was thinking of getting into police work because he wished to make a positive contribution to society (ha!) in light of the incoming collapse (folks, we got a live one). He had a bunch of preemptive anti-cop jokes. A YouTube password to match. We met up at a railway station, he acted dull and called it ataraxia, and he was down, he was short but whatever, I could bend. He said we had no time. He would try Xanax, he wasn’t on the force yet, but then he didn’t. In his daydreams he got a Cenobite on his left shoulder. Or was it a bolt. Something that used to scare him when he was a kid.

Soon as he popped, the shooter manifesto started seeping in.

He had been failing out of law school. He was failing all across the board. Couldn’t get laid for — wanna say four years.

You would think the minute  a fucking incel  busts a nut, he’s amenable to turn it down a notch. But no. No no no. No. The wasted cavalcade of past failure is kicking in the highest of gears now, and they are really going to drag you into it, you, exclusively.

This guy carried the specific, limp, prolonged failure of value-free universities in the European Union: they let you stay enrolled for decades; hey, you keep pumping coins into the slot, you might be able to persuade other people you can turn it around somehow? He had a twenty minute shut-the-door phone call with the mom. His family paid for: room groceries bills tuition gym membership. Never had a job. Never. He would eat a bowl of frosted flakes at midnight after Krav Maga. Asked a question, what he did do all day long was, skulking outside indie bookstores and sending voice notes on American pro wrestling from the single-occupancy room he had beached in, after each one of his peers had graduated or staggered back home to do fuck-all with some abysmal GPA.

The Continental life has its perks – a slower pace, thicker walls, Medieval castles are kind of everywhere — it can be grand: doesn’t make it good.

You move in a college town, you meet the same person over and over; brand new skin ware, same goo brain, this ocean of NEETs who lie about school so that their families in the Deep South / Up North still can pretend it’s okay to pay for them to doomscroll twenty four seven in suspended animation.

Mark Fisher reading freaks with a debit card. This semester will be different I swear yeah yeah — or, what if they don’t even have to say it? What if the parents do most of the talking? Same bushy boys you shipped off to swim meets and track meets and language intensives in Ireland, they’re a money pit. What’s a father to do but deny.

At the end of the line, they stage a suicide attempt in the least lethal way fathomable — step one, send ominous text, step two, scatter white candy around and lie on the floor with their eyes closed – are they here yet, blink, blink blink — the brave ones, they dump the phone in a stalling garbage truck and they run out of cash in three to five business days, they call from Gibraltar — uhh, I got a confession to make

Man, the more they love to lecture you about the proletariat, the more often it turns out they like crack a little too much.

There was a summer when a friend of a friend had to get to Marbella, Spain — that’s planes and driving — since this dude she sort of remembered as a small town teen, he was gone on the mental level — dissolve — whoosh — he was living in a garage, he was sleeping in the streets, word got back to his disabled parents, and this woman, the mother of a child, she had to get there and perform extraction. Scrape the crazy off the sidewalk, get the crazy inside the van, pedal to the metal, city limits, go go go.

He was crawling with hungry hungry lice and spitting mad. Total. Collapse.

They might have elbowed him under a truck stop shower in France, but not a minute sooner.

Ever since I’ve been alive there was something of this nature creeping in, a tendril curling into frame from above. Had a little girl body and a little girl bikini as my main weapon to tune out a landscape of frantic phone calls (didn’t have one of those faces yet). This planted the first seed of a mute contempt for middle class disasters who just cannot get over themselves not being destined for greatness. Can’t quit, won’t quit. Won’t get off smack, won’t take their pills, won’t change careers. Oh, and also, those deranged women with a yoga teaching certificate who open children’s apparel stores. The husband not seeing them anymore, you know?

(Barbara that’s a bit harsh. Oh hey there, aren’t you the dime bag who cheated on the lawyer with some married middle school vice principal who would only do finger and mouth stuff on you, because you, like, are. Way to turn me off oral for life. I blame Re-Animator, it’s a lie.)

The Marbella Woman — she went on to pulverize her own brain matter into fiery dust when she took up for a year with a human red flag conglomerate — a former gifted-child Belarusian scum who almost got them both killed in a road rage episode. He just had to jump out of the car to bang on the windshield screaming get out get out imma kill you. He brought guns to her house! Where she lived, with her baby! He was waving a knife around! He threatened to report her for coordinated fraud of all things! She kinda came back after a year of piping hot daily brain melt. And that journey to recovery, too, was a group effort I wanted no part of.

Somebody’s gonna die. Ain’t gonna be me.

Call the cops and get the baby out the house.

Of course, if the cops you call are a goon squad of college burnouts —

You know, when they start saying all that shit, and please here do picture me as Brad Parscale right before he got body-slammed on Florida pavement, bare torso baseball cap, when they start saying all that shit, they’re committed to “talk crazy” so that you’ll moonwalk out of the room (perfect), or they’re a sticky floor-cluster of personality disorders on top of biological defects, but by that point, it’s useless to decode them like they’re the fucking Riddler. They are not.

(This other girl, Laurie, she was contemplating police work because she was failing out of a degree because the boyfriend didn’t love her anymore — boo hoo cry cry — thus I discovered Laurie was semesters behind classes, she went on this enormous trip — airfare and hotels — when she could not afford a room, and a lot of what I believed went ding ding ding down the drain. Listen, you can’t get over someone, how well you reckon you’re gonna fare in a war zone. There is no crying in Ulan Bator.)

One direct question I never asked the wannabe cop was, so, how many years have you been enrolled without passing any exam. He did not answer direct questions. He’d rather shuffle to the Amy Winehouse t-shirt he’d bought off a street vendor about how society was to blame.

Over morning coffee he put his serious face on. He got ugly. Contained rage in a scoop neck sweater. He was going home for a while. I’m always tired, I’m always stressed out, nobody talks to me anymore. He stared at me.

Told him to get his credits and switch to an easier degree — what can you say, persist? He didn’t have the smarts, the mnemonic skills. He lost.

Next thing I heard was shotguns and barricades, so, psycho hours at the identity factory. I was lying on the couch we had been making out on — after 3 AM I had been asking, all quiet, you think if more men got to experience this, they’d be less inclined to join killer communities? — and I felt the precision weight of two hands pushing down on the hip bones, then a full arm was pulling me under.

You’re not talking to him again. He’s a dead stone.

Last time I got friendly with a doomer, he had been diagnosed — one of the majors — and then and there I placed him in a square white box labeled “don’t get married”. Flower print kippah, fine motion tremors in the hand region, permanent not about to melt / hold it in face. I stopped returning his texts when he said he was bunking in Eastern Europe, super off the meds, reflecting on the revolutionary potential of telekinesis.


Small town Euro crazies can hold you hostage. They will reel you in with their manners and their books and they will drag you into the mud until all you see is their drowned eyes staring back. They can talk, they can even be quippy, alien parasite-quippy, when it’s a string of text: what they cannot do is talk face to face in real time. If they’re faking the crazy to get out of their life, the needle drops, they cannot keep their ducks in a liar’s row, and if they are truly gone — well —

All my friends are hyper productive artists on a schedule or female bartenders. Anyone else, I did the time: don’t even think about it. And I don’t have Google alerts set up to any name, but, if one of these losers plows through a mall before turning on the one person to blame for all the misery wholesale, wanna bet his mama will deny she saw a sign?

Barbara Genova (she/they) is the pen name of a public woman who went private. Poetry and stories written as Barbara have been published / are forthcoming at The Daily Drunk,, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sledgehammer Lit, Scissors and Spackle, The Final Girl Bulletin Board, Fahmidan Journal, Misery Tourism, Hallowzine (2021), Expat Press, The Bear Creek Gazette, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Roi Fainéant Press, Discretionary Love, and the Hecate Magazine anthology issue #2 (DECAY, winter 2021). She can be found on Twitter and on Instagram.

Image by Daniel Nebreda from Pixabay.

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