FICTION – I the Undersigned Roanne by Eva Richter

I have problems with the police and these problems didn’t just come out of thin air. For example, I didn’t just invent the reasons for my problems one day and decide to be against the police spontaneously. I am not an illogical person. Actually I’m very logical and do things that make sense because that’s the only way to get ahead. To do what’s logical and makes sense, because then when you are asked, Why did you do this-or-that, you can tell everything that led you to what you did and they can follow it and in the end say, I see now that you did the only right thing. So my problems with the police are products of my experience, which is the same as saying they are products of fact, because what I experienced were facts that even though they weren’t videotaped, you can’t say they didn’t happen. I remember them.

What happened was this. I was standing at the bus stop one day in ninety-five degree weather sweating through my jeans and work polo. The reason I was at the bus stop was I was waiting for a bus to take me home from Palm Desert, where I work, to Desert Hot Springs, where I live with my family. A police woman came walking toward me from the direction the sun was setting. I knew she was in the police because of her uniform, and I thought she would greet me by saying, Hello Civilian, or Hello Citizen. She didn’t say anything, she just walked right past me as if I didn’t exist, even though I’m the one paying her salary. She wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t because of people like me, and she couldn’t even say, Hello Citizen, to me, and why? I put her instability out of my mind and concentrated on waiting for the bus when the police woman turned around and came up to me, right up to my face, and said, Use the crosswalk. The way she was acting was shocking, but I knew not to react in any negative way around the police because of the power they have. Even though We pay Their salary They can still do whatever they want to Us, which is a situation I thought was okay before, but now I think there is a problem, and a serious one too. I said to the police woman, I’m waiting for the Sun Bus. She looked around and finally she seemed to realize this was a bus stop. It took her long enough, however, that I knew she didn’t understand the geography of the city, even though this was where she worked and was supposed to patrol for the safety of all. She nodded and said Okay, just if I needed to cross I should use the crosswalk because someone was just run over by a car a little down the street while jaywalking. I looked down the street away from where the sun was setting and it was true, part of the street was taped off and there were some official vehicles parked around and some people who looked like they were conducting an investigation. I said to the police woman, You could have told me that the first time you walked by, instead of ignoring me! She said she had better things to think about, but she wanted to make sure no more people crossed the street at illegal places and got hurt. Then she stared at me for a second, as if she wasn’t used to getting questioned, and walked down the street to deal with the run over person. Alone again, I became angry with the thought: Does this police woman think I am that stupid that I would cross a busy street in the middle of the road instead of at a stopsign? But then I had to think: Yes, that’s something she has to assume because someone else did it and now is probably dead. Then I thought: But if this police woman is so concerned about everyone dying who tries to cross the street, why did she walk by me the first time? Did she walk by me the first time because secretly in her heart she wanted me to try to jaywalk so she could give me a two-hundred dollar jaywalking ticket? Or did she want me to cross in the middle of the street so she could witness another accident like the one that caused the other person to die? That is really the question: What version of a sadist is She? The kind that wants to make her department money, or the kind that wants to see someone a little bit unstable die? I watched her to see what she did about the dead person, but she didn’t do much. She just sort of wandered around the body, looked at it, watched all the other official people handle it and then stood outside one of the official cars talking to someone. I thought: At the very best this person is incompetent, but I believe she is even worse because of the way she treated me.

If there was any sign of life in the beginning in this person who was run over, it is surely gone by now, I thought, based on her slowness and incompetence, in fact her sadism, which she demonstrated to me by walking past me the first time when she thought I was going to illegally cross the street into traffic, possibly to my death.

That is my evidence against the Police Woman with Red Hair near Cook Street and Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, California.

I the undersigned Roanne.



Eva Richter studied French language and literature at the Sorbonne (Paris), German language at the Universität Wien (Vienna), and holds a bachelor’s in English and comparative literary studies from Occidental College. She co-produced the dark independent film Redlands, which was positively reviewed in The Washington Post and Spain’s El Mundo. Currently an editor for Asymptote Journal, she oversees Asymptote blog’s serial translation of Marcel Schwob’s “Mimes,” and ensures a daily stream of thought-provoking criticism and translated work on the blog.

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