Dear Dirty America

DDA

Fordlandia

September 06
03:37 2012
Fiction, from DAN RUDY

I sort of step-hop onto the platform with the rest, glad to finally be arrived.  The next departing wave sluices through us to board, doors hissing click as the Max quietly glides away like a breeze.  The station’s still fairly chock though, clustered up with the remnants of the second shifters homeward bound.  That’s why I’m glad to be on the first, being a morning person and all – jaunt back for a quick nap and recap, then scuttle on back to the bars for a catch up with the mates.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t come out this late, but then tomorrow’s my Sabbatical so I haven’t any sort of schedule to keep.

You should unionize, Mum keeps telling me, settle down and enjoy life like you ought.  Would I, but!  The paperwork alone is enough to keep a status single.  Besides which, there aren’t any fem techs in my department – unless I’m to unionize one of the dowdy at-homes one’s wont to meet on the job, pickings are rather slim.  Not that I’m looking.  Life is best supped at different tables, ol’ Dad used to sing as he shaved, yonks ago now.  True to the last letter, that.
Over the next block a Paupermatic Asking Machine blips reprovingly as I pass it by.  ”I only carry change,” I shrug dishonestly, hands in pockets.  Anyway, I need my card to ride the Max and can’t really remember the balance offhand.  And those damned PAM’s are just about everywhere downtown, now that the economy’s been tacked back together.  If you debit one, there’ll just be another round the corner – gimme, gimme, gimme all the like.  Makes one miss the old days, when real people might just try and bum a cigarette.  (My god, what have we done?)
But Momo’s is just up the way, same as it ever was:  green awning, knick-a-knack edging out on a stool out front, glancing IDs.  I smile just as barmy fuckled as the pic on the card, sure to keep my thumb from the seal of citizenship he’s looking for.  ”Phanks mate!” I pip as I pop on into the darkened insides of the place, scouting for familiar faces.  Not a speck; must be out on the patio.  I wade into queue – may as well have a drink in hand when I step along out.  Not a long wait either, just a few thugs and a bender taking their damn-ass time.  Making chit-chat, being cute with the gal at the bar, Fuck off, I’m dying here!
A tap on the shoulder from behind.  ”Well, I’ll be gyped!  The shit you doing in this drab thing?” is shouted at me as I spin around.  Grasping manos with ol’ Bill and Whatshisface, two of the true blues so far as the troupe goes.  ”Put that card away, faggot,” Bill blusters.  ”I’ve got the first round.”  Good Bill, as ever a saint now as he was before everything else changed.
“Pedestrian traffic felt light today,” I say – which is true, people still warily withdrawn since the last curfew was lifted.  I think it was three weeks before the crowds normalized after the last before.
“Still fucking heavy,” Whatsis mutters.  ”Even so, police are still up about, stock in place on every goddamned kerb.”
Well with the Occupy still about, the Hall can’t be too careful,” Bill mumbles along conspiratorially, and the general din dies a whisper.
“Still afraid of the phone gadjems then?” I half-snort, half-wary that everything that comes from my mouth is getting wrecked someplace else, catalogued in some enormous backroom in Langley.  Christ, at least here the drones only warble about in circles overhead – not dropping rocks like they do in the Pak, in the Ran.  But hell, I’m no revolutionary.  I just take the occasional piss behind the dumpster on the stumble home.  I blow my wad at the Center like a good citizen should, every little tax and surcharge paid up, and have just enough left to go get knockered at my favorite holes.  I can make light of the Apparatus because in the end, I’m harmless.
I’m handed a relatively tremendous frosted bev and led along towards the outside, a sort of piazzaed haven for smokers and the people who feign the second-hand cough.  At least we’ve retained that privilege, eh?  Living in the shadow of the age of ten-ounce Executive pints, lorded on overhead by soulless vultures, mingling with the parading tread of metropolitan security forces.  Meanwhile seven thousand miles away, a farmer and son are smolderized in a hole left by a rock thrown via Langley; the pair are labeled ‘squirters’ and Listed for the news week’s numbers.
I take a sip of  sweet brown squirt, something aley supposedly from England.  ”Good stuff!” I say in ta with a tip of the glass.  No sense in being impolitic, what with the Auxies and Ocs flipping shit every which way.  Caught on the FOX just yesterday, Domestic Warrior Tases Self During Unpatriotic Riot.  Putting down a group of demonstrators, a cop accidentally got his arm caught on his own shield.  Didn’t quite catch the end of the story for laughing, but he may’ve died of a heart failure.  ”Did you hear about the cop what fried himself downtown yesterday?” I ask of Bill.
“Yeah, silly bastard.  I suppose it serves him right for not using his baton,” he snuffs, lighting another cigarette.  The boy’s always lighting up another cigarette, unless he has it held at arm’s length.  But we’re sitting at a bench with Wassisface and a brace of optometric student friends.  Apparently, they’ll pay Bill to have a look at his eyes, afflicted as they are with whatever night-blind tunnel sight he has.  ”And when would this be at?” he asks, thumbing his bottom lip as options are being weighed.
“Next Monday,” the gal student tells him, horn rimmed glasses perched upon the no-nonsense upturned point of her nose.  ”If you have what it sounds like, they might even be able to effect a cure.”
“Really?” he perks up, actually excited enough to take a real puff of cigarette.  ”And how much do you think it would cost?  Is it a dangerous procedure?  What sort of hospital time is involved?”  A slew of reasonable questions now that health care’s been retracted.  I’m expecting the worst, not out of a sense of schadenfreude so much as to have my gut proven right.  I take another sip of ale, transported to honeysuckle glades in spring, a thousand dandelions catching the radiant resplendence of the sun.  Not sitting out back of a grimy bar, gloomy skies above shrouding mechanical spies from view.  Who knows if they’re armed or not?
“The procedure would only be a couple thousand dollars,” guy student chimes in amicably.  ”And I’m pretty sure it’s all same-day.  You wouldn’t even need to spend a night in hospital.”
“My God,” Bill exclaims, unusually excited.  He downs his glass and puts out his cigarette end.  ”My God, but what an age we live in.  Did you ever wonder?” he starts to ask me, but pauses when he realizes I never have and probably never would.  That born whole, I’ll ever miss the forest for the trees.
Written by Dan Rudy, a once-while contributor to this wonderfully dearest and dirtiest of American blogs; typically keeping his own at sluffabout.com, but otherwise trawling about the news services for bits of informational flotsom.  (Wishing a very rational cheers to all, this electoral season.)

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