The police had just come charging into the cavernous basement office of our building’s technician where Dino, the technician, and Derek, the guy I hate the most at the office, were bruised, bloodied, and unconscious in a locked cage as I stood just outside of it, raising a large knife with my eyes bulging from fear, animal-like desperation and human-like insanity.
Detective Vuotto, the skinny, tall, female detective with a giraffe neck looked me in the eye as everyone from the force kept their guns trained at my head.
VUOTTO: Eric... please put down the knife.
ME: You don’t know what I’ve been through today. I could just kill someone right about now.
Detective Mallory, the squat, sweaty, male detective took a cautious step toward me.
MALLORY: Eric, you don’t have to kill anyone today. You can just relax now. It’s all over.
Tears pooled my eyes.
ME: Is it? Is it really over?
I closed my eyes then, as I cried like a baby. And swung my knife all over with each heaving sob.
ME: I just want it all to be over. I just want to end today. How do I end today?
MALLORY: Whoa! Whoa! Be careful!
I was stumbling aimlessly, as I continued to swing the knife all about.
ME: Where am I? Oh boy, I’m just a mess right now. Forgive me.
Next thing I knew, all twelve of the uniformed police officers had me pinned to the floor as Detective Mallory wrestled the knife away, and Detective Vuotto kicked me in the gut for good measure.
MALLORY: Eric, you are under arrest for the abduction of Derek Wellington.
ME: Whatever. Just get me out of here. It’s so damp.
Detective Vuotto kicked me in the face.
VUOTTO: Trust me, you'll never be back here again. You’re going away for a long, long time.
Detective Vuotto slammed one of her knees down onto the side of my head.
DEREK: He didn’t do it.
I turned my aching head toward the cage where two officers were helping Derek up.
DEREK: Dino did.
Dino, our building technician, was just coming to.
DEREK: But it wasn’t really an abduction.
I couldn’t believe it. Derek was covering for Dino. He really had forgiven him.
DEREK: We were just goofing off.
Sheila, our boss, walked into the basement office then.
SHEILA: What happened?
MALLORY: Everything's just dandy. Looks like they were having some kind of fight club down here.
SHEILA: Fight club? Isn’t that against the law?
I jumped to my feet.
ME: No. It was a hug club.
I ran inside the cage and threw my arms around Derek, and then reached out to Dino, who immediately hugged us back.
ME: See. We were just hugging down here. In the basement. In this cage.
All three of us held each other tightly, while lovingly swaying back and forth.
ME: We weren’t doing anything wrong.
SHEILA: Then why are these two all banged up. And dripping blood?
ME: There was just too much hugging.
SHEILA: There’s something not quite right here.
VUOTTO: Actually, if more people hugged like the three of them, there’d be a lot less crime in this town.
MALLORY: She's right. These boys have been doing a lot of good down here.
Police officers started entering the cage then and surprising us by wrapping their arms around us and holding on tight. It felt wonderful.
VUOTTO: You know, every year the department raises money for children at risk. This year, we’d like to donate all of our money to this Hug Club. I think it would really help the community.
ME: We could use more cages. And with better locks. We could sure use this money.
And that’s how I started the Hug Club in the basement of our office building, with the guy I hate the most at the office and a psycho who despises hugs more than anything else, but is now forced, one night a week, to hug many men inside a locked cage.