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Image: Sarah Trahan

Robo-cop

By Dom Sinacola · Sep 20, 2014

The shortest distance between will and way is a straight lace of remorse, loose ends of thought and current, and of Murphy’s wife’s undergarment an iteration of him once struggled to undo, which he senses as if in a subset—or to re-do, which he knows is somehow possible on an infinitely small level because this is how his brain works now that it’s a computer—and of Murphy’s son’s small gym shoes, which he vividly recalls as more spheres halved like melons than phalangeal carapaces, training wheels for modern men near the end of the evolutionary chart, suction cups with vestigial rope, of regret we hang in the closet or pile in the entryway, guests tripping over it as they show up unannounced. This is fine, because they are friends.

Murphy who is no longer Murphy has been summoned to the scene of crime, because he is police, he is a cop, and in pursuit of crime he has become wholly sublimated within a traffic jam, much like a piece of code written within a programmable environment, much like a subset within substrata, much like his Murphyness, submerged literally, the essence of two parts of him sort of just swum together at a level far below the surface, so that even though he’s supposed to be in charge of his own maintenance, he’s never been so impartial to the melding of selves at the bottom of his own inky depths as he is sitting without sound in a traffic jam.

There’s actually a lot with which Murphy who is not Murphy impartially contends, such as the routes and ETAs he once carefully mapped in microseconds which he, or a relegated piece of him, now must rewrite due to the stimuli he feeds, unhindered, or is fed, unhindered, into his psynetic brain lumps, stimuli that exist only due to the environment which he, to an infinitesimal degree, determined optimal, until suddenly it wasn’t, because he was there, and because his automobile is more like a tank than a sedan, much like a cat in a shoebox both alive and not alive until observed, but he is not the cat, nor the shoebox, nor the observer, and only from one angle the observed, but is a system of all of this, a system entangled with the Murphy who is still Murphy, who in cowardice coaxed his partner back into their very standard City-issued police-mobile to wait for back-up, the Murphy who is still Murphy because he chose his family over duty, which, as Murphy who is no longer Murphy now realizes, is logically impossible, for they are identical choices. He does not understand what this means, because he is programmed to only “retain” or “not retain,” and understanding is the longest route between these two. This behemoth, this armored vehicle, which steers and twists via a steering column that requires so much torque only Murphy who is not Murphy can manage the strength necessary to navigate it, to toward it, lest it roll heedlessly through highway medians or citizens’ flowerbeds, which is partly what it was designed to do, should the need arise for such pyrrhic destruction, this hulking hybrid of humanity’s will to both save and destroy all stuff—all of it all of the stuff—Murphy who is no longer Murphy only accepted under orders from his superiors, the same brass which still kept their flesh and organs and bone structure—accepted under duty, the same duty which compelled him to lead a two-person assault on a warehouse manned by over five fearlessly intoxicated drug dealers, the same duty which blew his forearm to pulp and robbed Murphy of himself.

Due to the impressiveness of his ride and the urgency of his call, Murphy who is no longer Murphy has stumbled into a feedback loop of immobility, wherein he must exact justice at the agreed upon location, yet he cannot step outside the bounds of the law, which dictate that his only recourse is to use designated roads in the manner intended, to wait, patiently, for traffic to loosen, disperse, waste away like so much impacted detritus to which he no longer recognizes fealty, as the closest organ resembling the colon is his segmented exhaust tubing, a hose which rests coiled in his abdominal cavity, seething, a rat’s tail twitching waiting for twilight, and it does not perform the same function as the colon he’d now miss, were nostalgia available to him, from the times in which he was only Murphy who is still Murphy, just as Murphy who is no longer Murphy will never experience the sweet release of traffic exiting the butt end of a bottleneck, because he is the reason for the traffic, always, the dying beetle swarmed by ants dragging it ever closer to prelapsarian gridlock. He does not register awareness of his armored vehicle tanking the pace of the traffic which prevents him from exacting justice, for he only obeys traffic laws in absolute silence, having no capacity to question them, nor any desire to fill his time with music or talk radio. His time, though outside the realm of comprehension, is not his own, and this he knows, for unbidden images haunt his sleep mode, of cackling drug dealers with green cigarettes hanging from green lips, between mossy teeth, loose ends of thought and current and lace and his son’s infinitely small gym shoes, of small feet within small shoes, feet within feet within shoes within shoes within feet, we are shells. No one, including this wrathful vehicle itself, told him that it has propellers, and once extended, then distended, pneumatically of course, could fly away, with only minimal damage to surrounding automobiles, and less than a 2% potential loss of life.

This is it. He is it. Murphy who is no longer Murphy is no longer man, he is many, he is machine, he is police, he is a braid of potentiality, he is cauterized bioluminescence, he is commodity, he is become Robot Cop, Destroyer of Injustice, because in destroying injustice he only clears the womb for more, and so is integral to both push and pull, he is humanity’s greatest solenoid, and yet he is apart from the cycle of the womb, for “he” is only convenience, not a coincidence of hormones, not a solid steel codpiece guarding vital organs, but bulging with a literal cable, an essential assembly of wires braided to efficiently conduct power from the top to the bottom, a hierarchy of electrons to which he holds no control, the cable itself something he can’t access unless in dire straits, and yet the clearest sign he is no longer man, as a man’s greatest freedom is the full possession of grip and authority to hold one’s cable, and only in peril can Murphy who is no longer Murphy hold his cable, which is no circumstance in which anyone should be granted grip of one’s cable. He again thinks of the radio, and wishes he could get a grip on taste, and in the time it takes for the car ahead of him to turn on its blinker, in the time it takes for the car behind him to grimace inconsolably, he has perused “taste,” from lobster to Lagunitas, from samba to the Silmarillion, from art deco to Art Tatum, to Art, Bea, from hiking to hiking up one’s skirt in public in order to engage in public, vaguely voyeuristic intercourse, all of which Murphy who is Murphy but who can no longer remember all of Murphy cannot connect to any discernible physical property which guarantees the thwarting of criminality or the preservation of the public good. And so he waits, wearing a seatbelt. And in this moment he accepts that he is no longer Murphy, a single drop of sweat appearing in the crook between arm and chest, an odor of life slipped with rot, and he closes his eyes, the eyes he was born with, and lets his car do the rest.

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