In the beginning, I only wanted to handle the pain with grace. I did not want to scream too loudly and I sure as heck didn’t want to wet myself. I stood in front of the group and hoped I might salvage some dignity.
Then the cop fired 50,000 volts of electricity into my body and all of those things ceased to matter. In an instant, I was in the grip of the most powerful force on the planet and wracked by a pain so great, it was otherworldly.
Welcome to the discipline of the Taser.
Welcome to a universe of pain.
The electricity owns you.
You feel it pulsing through your bones like a million shards of glass and it’s everywhere. Muscles tighten around limbs and become useless to you. You feel your jaw freeze and your hands hook into claws. The hateful electricity just hums and hums and traps you in a dimension where there is only you and this pain so high and bright, you have never imagined a thing like it could exist.
I describe it as a universe because for five seconds, I was somewhere far from the familiar landscape I have walked all my life. I was strapped to a lightening bolt and my God, did I want to get off. For that eternity of agony, there was electric throbbing and there was the terrified chatter of my thoughts. In those thoughts I was shrieking, because I had become absolutely powerless in a way I have not experienced before. The pain was so spectacular it was like being squeezed by the hand of God, or by Satan himself.
This is not like being poked or kicked, punched or stabbed. The agony of electricity is as psychic as it is physical. The brain recoils from the grip of it but the body can put forth no revolt. In the teeth of the Taser, pain and terror hold equal sway. I felt puny beneath its might and I’ve not shaken off that feeling, though hours have passed.
It’s all weird relativity. The dozen or so cops and one photographer in the room tell me the jolt lasted five seconds. My mind somewhat disagrees. I remember distinctly the voice screaming in my head that it had gone on too long. That minutes had passed, perhaps hours. Something had gone awry with the experiment and I was trapped in this hell of amps and voltage forever!
I have said before that the terrors manufactured by the imagination can rival almost any physical suffering you will ever endure. The mind, when it’s all you have, has a self-defeating tendency to take hold of a bad situation and examine it from all angles. In the electric Kung Fu grip of the debilitating jolt, the imagination soars. But it does not distract from the agony.
And then sweet relief. The man with the gizmo relents and at once, the pain is gone. The electrons that filled your bones disappear as fast as they had come. There is no describing the joy of being freed from the sizzling bonds that enveloped me so consummately.
I dropped to my knees and did not think about the wonders of electromagnetism. I didn’t ponder the myriad ways in which the functions of the human body can be nullified. I thought about how utterly fantastic it was to be mobile and pain-free and how I would never voluntarily go one on one with electricity again.
I’ve seen videos of 350-pound men who gargle nails and chew firecrackers suddenly reduced to blubbering children after riding the lightning. I understand their pain and I wonder how they will continue a life of civil disobedience now that they know such electrified punishment awaits.
The cops told me later that for the five seconds I boiled in the soup of electricity, I never made a sound. Very good for me, but I guarantee you it was not machismo. Because I know I would have screamed plenty if the organs necessary for speech had not been rendered impotent by the blast.
When it was over, I noticed that my pants were dry but by then, I didn’t give a damn. I would have wet myself, squealed like a little girl, cried and vomited just to shave one second off that nastiness.
I did none of those things, however, and in accordance with the tacit laws of man, I have every right to brag about the experience. See me for that in a week or two, after I’ve shaken off the voltage and convinced myself again that I’m mightier than the mightiest force on Earth.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. His blog can be found at www.marklaflamme.com/blog.