• CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Price of Bread Today

    Mid afternoon on a Saturday.  Franklin walks into the kitchen and find the refrigerator door open with a person bent over inside, scavenging for food. Franklin slows his pace, and quietly continues to approach a woman, standing in the open refrigerator.

         "Can I help you find something?"
    The woman is startled and jumps out of the open frige.
         "Dad! Good God you scared me."
         "Ummmm...well, you gave me a bit of a scare when I came around the corner and found some strange woman in my kitchen."
         "Daddy..."
         "Oh...yes, Daddy. The dirty laundry can't be too far behind."
         "Daddy...I needed a break from all the chaos at school."
         "Wait. You're not on some break?"
         "No. The school decided to shut down this week to try and handle the protest. Plus, the school has to hire new custodial and grounds staff. You know the government deported all the undocumented residents, so there are a lot of jobs left open. I mean, I guess it could be good for people looking for work but it's not so good when your physics lab partner suddenly disappears."
         "No, Selina is a citizen. She was born here."
         "Yeah, well, her parents weren't and she didn't want to be here without them. A lot of kids are leaving with their folks despite having a right to stay. Dad...we really need to do something about this fridge. Where's mom?"
         "Alex has a soccer game today."
         "And you didn't want to be there?
         "Mom's soccer. I'm basketball."
         "Stereotypical."
         "Learning big words in college huh, Rian?"
    They laugh.
         "So...the people disappearing and being deported...I'm so sick of people blaming Uncle Jamie's card.  I mean, I have to say, I think it's kinda cool how everything is in one place. I carry my iPhone and my DC and that's it."
         "Your DC?"
         "Yeah. Do you know how embarrassing it is to say your own name every time you talk about the card?
         "Yeah, actually I do. Ok...let's go to the grocery store. I guess if you're gonna be here for the weekend. We may as well stock up on...what do you college kids eat nowadays?"
         "Free. If it's free, we eat it."
         "Well, glad to see some things haven't changed."

    At the grocery store, the entrance is blocked by a crowd of protesters. They are mainly Latinos. The protesters are yelling for the customers to boycott the store for laying off all their Hispanic workers. Franklin and Rian walk up to the door. They are yelled at by the protesters but do not feel threatened. They enter the store and as the doors close behind them, the sound of the protest outside is silenced. The soothing sounds of smooth jazz plays over the speaker system in the store. The two head to the produce section first. They find the produce fresh and plentiful. There is a small sign stuck in the various fruits and vegatables, "Grown, harvested, packaged and delivered by the USA Corp. From American fields to American tables...daily and fresh."
    Rian chuckles,
         "Wow...and to think all of that fits on a little sign."
         "Don't know why you're surprised. Our entire lives is on a little card."
         "Dad, you don't sound happy about what Uncle Jamie has done. I don't know. I think it's cool. I mean, not the sending people away part, but the fact that we're using technology to streamline information and it does seem to be helping with the unemployment rate.
    Franklin stops dead in his tracks.
         "Ok. I'm not mad at your uncle. I'm disappointed this wasn't better planned...thought out. There are consequences to what's happening in this country right now, and while we're eating fresh produce and prime meat from the butcher courtesy of the USA Corp, millions of families are being displaced. My kids...your friends...our neighbors..."
    Franklin looks around and out the front doors.
         "This is America right now. There is chaos just outside our doors and while we think it's safe inside, we're not. We're trapped.
    Rian looks at her Dad. Franklin remains fixed on the door. Rian takes her dad by the arm.
         "I think we're going to be ok. We're Dracels. Embarrassing as it may be sometimes, our name is on the card. I think we're safe, Dad."
         "Safe or a target. Depending on who you ask."
         "Wow. Really Dad? You should really have more faith in Uncle Jamie. He didn't create that out there. America's been broken for centuries...since the beginning. Stealing a country and then vilifying the people you robbed...no we didn't create that out there. What Uncle Jamie is doing is resetting America. Rescuing a country from itself."

    Franklin is looking deep in Rian's face. He looks as if he's looking at a stranger.
         "Are you serious?! Do you honestly believe Jamie's ridiculous card, chalk full with ALL our lives on it, further disenfranchising the people who..."
         "Who what? Need jobs? Who now have better health care because a doctor can now scan the patient's card and see their entire medical history just through blood and DNA scans...also on their card? Or are you talking about the people who can afford gas, food, and other necessity because it's all built around the info on your card? You make $8 a hour, you scan your card for groceries or gas, you're not instantly broke because you pay the same amount as the guy who makes $1,000 a hour. You talking about THOSE people? THOSE people are just fine. They are preparing their kids for college. They are saving money for the first time in their lives. They are voting without hassle because all their information is right there. Can not be denied. Those people? Those people are happy in America...for the first time. Those people...or should I just say We, Us, and Our? What Uncle Jamie did was said 'Welcome Home' finally. We are home...finally."
         "Then we are home in a house with no lights. It's dark in here baby. That outside is NOT America. That outside is tearing families apart...is destroying peoples' lives...people who have been here their whole life. Yes, many have benefited but many are suffering and no one is paying attention to that. People are being sent to places they don't know and can't possibly call home because they've never been there before. It's a dark time and your Uncle Jamie doesn't have the power to turn on a light bulb. He's a puppet in all this. Look out there! Somewhere in all that chaos is Selina...her mom...her dad."
         "Yeah...well...like you said, she's a citizen. She must have her card and she'll work it out for her family and will be back in class next week. Citizens are not being deported. Uncle Jamie made the card, not the immigration laws."

    Franklin looks at Rian with disbelief and sadness as she walks off and continues shopping.

    Rian and Franklin make their way to the cashier, an African American woman wearing the name tag, Betty. Out the windows they see the police has arrived and is trying to manage the chaos. Franklin takes out his card and swipes it. The screen reads, 'Thank you Mr. Dracel. Have a nice day.' The cashier looks up at Franklin and says,
         "Are you related to him?"
         "To...?"
         "You know who she's talking about, Dad." Rian turns to the cashier, "Jamison Dracel is my uncle...his brother."
         "You must be proud of him.  Thanks to the economic reform and the card and whatnot, I have a job, have seen a doctor and a dentist in the last year. Hadn't done any of those things in a long, long time. Your brother is a very good man. You must be proud."
    Rian speaks up, "He is. Radical change can take some getting use to. All through out our history, Dad, with great change has always been great chaos. But it's getting better. We are getting better. Isn't that right Betty?
         "Yes ma'am. Much better."
    Rian grabs the groceries and walks away from the counter. Franklin is left standing, looking at Betty.
         "Thank you." he says.
         "Thank your brother for me. He saved my life."
         "Yes. Yes, I will share that with him."

    Franklin walks up to the store doors to Rian. The doors slide open and suddenly the wave of sound from the protest pours in. Franklin and Rian calmly walk pass the protesters and to their car.




  • 1 comment:

    1. Excellent writing! 14 chapters in and it is still so suspenseful. I find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop after every paragraph. Good to learn more about another family member and more about how this card is working (?!). I'm enjoying the ride. Can't wait for the movie hehehe!

      ReplyDelete

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