Tropical Trouble by Chris Nichols

The heat is oppressive, soaking the citizens in mops of sweat. Water is scarce and the poetry runs dry. Dehydration sets in. Lack of water will do funny things to a man, make him dream like he has never dreamt before and make him see what he never sought. Diversity quenches the thirst of the community. Like a salad of social class, the caste system is alive and well. Over bridges and under buildings, I observe. I see crime, I see poverty, I see happy and I see sad. Corruption is the name of the game.

I live in the fifth most corrupt county in the country, but that doesn’t faze me. It only fazes those who aren’t drinking the water. The water is the cure, but the cure isn’t pure. Routine stops turn into home invasions, warrants are a thing of the past. Mommas are separated from their babies, and the babies go thirsty. Longing for the water.I’ve had a few encounters with the corrupt savages of the water. Each experience scarier than the last but due to formalities and the fortune of my skin, I’ve only scratched the surface of the pain that can be enforced and the droughts that can occur.

Lights flash in my rearview mirror, both blue and red. My heart races as the sirens begin to sing. Like no song I’ve ever heard before, they sing louder and louder until I comply with what they imply. I turn the wheel of my car ever so slightly, finding a place to rest on the shoulder of the road. I take a peep through the rearview mirror and see what I feared I would not.Out of the shittily painted broward sheriff’s crown vic steps a man, short and chubby, the kind ofcop that you can tell was bullied as a child. The kind of cop who took up a law enforcement job to somehow seek revenge. As the “officer” approaches my window, my brain floods with thought. What’s he pulling me over for? What’s he gonna do? What’s he gonna find? Who’s he gonna call? He taps on the glass of my front driver side window. I roll it down. Without any suspicion, or any prior request to see ID, he asks me to step out of the car. Does he think I’m stupid? I know my rights, I’ve drank my water. I answer questions as vaguely as I can despite the “officer’s” ridiculous tone and demands. I just want this to end. The officer concludes with reading my rights, but all I can think about is how he has broken them, and broken me. I’m a crook, but an angel in the eyes of the “officer.”

I’ve been on my water for years now, I’ve been hydrated. The Florida streets have become my family. The sun beams warm me, and the smell of salt fills my nostrils, providing me with a sense of value. The sunshine state is my home, a place that I hold dear, but it’s a place that I won’t mind looking at through the rearview mirror.