Tuesday, July 6th, 2010


The American Dream


October 17th, 2012

Having received his invitation to the American Dream, Max Patrique truly deserved a piece of the pie. He lost his job during the Great Recession's double dip when the Dow plunged again below 7000. His unemployment checks had already stopped coming for several months. All credit cards were maxed, the house was in foreclosure, and the car was repossessed. It was a gift from God, a miracle, that he would be invited on an all expense paid trip to be offered a permanent position employed with one of America's Fortune 500 companies. And with it, he would receive full coverage health and life insurance for himself as well as for his thirteen year old daughter and seven year old son; spouses too were covered, but Max's wife had died of brain cancer in 2009. The Patrique's had no health or life insurance at the time. Unpredictable medical expenses drained all of their lifelong savings.
Angelica Weasel was not doing so well when she received her invitation. Luckily, the prize included a free ride to the airport, first class seats on an airplane to Arizona, and a ride to the convention center in Sierra Vista where details of the American Dream would be unraveled for all winners. Angelica's husband killed himself after he was laid off from his job where he served loyally for forty years. And just a year shy of retiring with a full pension, the CEO via a webcast informed all seventy-four hundred employees that all three factories in America were relocating to China's Xiamen province ultimately decimating the livelihood of three rural American towns. The CEO, with his eighty million a year salary, blamed the Great Recession's impact on declining global consumption and the inability to compete with the Chinese, who were now the world's largest consumers. Angelica, a fifty-two year old housewife had never worked. She also had been living with her husband in a car pay check to pay check as a result of legal fees for her son who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for driving drunk into an elementary school playground during their lunch break. She was looking forward gratefully to gain on-the-job training with confirmed upward mobility in her new career.
Another lucky five thousand unemployed Americans who had been facing apocalyptic conditions over the last decade thanked God when their invitations arrived.

Inside the convention center were no tables or chairs. All of the winners of the American Dream were squeezing towards the front of the stage on the opposite end from the two sets of exit doors. Along the walls of the convention center were life-size pictures of America's highest paid CEOs. Total annual compensations of $184.5 million, $133.4 million, $111.4 million. There were also photos of the Walton Family with their $22.5 billion in wealth. The thousands of downtrodden hopefuls looked up to those who made it in society. Bestowing down to the weak an invitation for a piece of the American Dream, the good life, a secure job with insurance and retirement.
On the wall behind the stage was a projection screen that began to play a short video. There was a man who was unknown to all, surprisingly, for it would seem more appropriate to have a famous  elite mogul welcome everyone. “Congratulations on winning the American Dream.” The crowd applauded and cheered. “But not everything is as it seems. And nothing comes for free. The convention center you all are inside of, has many cameras as you can see, placed around the sides, and along the top. Your every expression will be simulcasted for our viewing audience. Thank you so much for attending today's event. Please stay calm and work together. Through teamwork, you will be able to survive the first challenge.”
The responses were highly inconsistent from ecstatic bliss to dreadful fear as the convention center began to slowly move downward sharply at a twenty degree angle. The stage-side was moving upwards while the exit door down vertically.  With only two sets of exit doors and no windows, those who concluded escaping found themselves caught in a deadly fate. One set of doors had to be pulled forward, but the thousands of people were soon piling up on top of each other. The thirty degree downward slop towards the exit doors had hundreds if not thousands of people already smashing against each other. The obese people were the first layer as they were unable to resist the gravitational pull. Those strong enough kept running upward towards the stage side, but the slope began to increase vertically. Forty degrees would increase the compacting at the door. The problem became getting the door open wide enough for some people to exit, but unfortunately so many were trying to get out that the door would soon decapitate whatever limb was stuck. This horrific reality made many scream with terror and gasp for breath.
The other set of doors were open, but the people who went through them just dropped down a concrete hole that was fifty feet deep. This was far better than getting pulverized by thousands of fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet, and toes. There were several hundred already at the bottom of the hole screaming for people to jump. “We will catch you!” A layer of people were already on the bottom floor with multiple broken bones. But fifty feet would not kill many. And it would be possible to eventually make a human ladder to get out of the hole. There was really no sign that either door led to a successful exit.
After about nineteen minutes, nothing higher than a forty five degree angle was dropped, but the tilt shifted and the stage side began to drop at a much sharper angle. With no exit doors on this side, a human chain began to form as efforts were made by many to just jump into the hole. Unfortunately the hole's circumference could only sustain at most five hundred people, but more were compacting in layers vertically. Instead of having concrete break the fall, there were now skulls, shoulder blades, and  other bloody body parts.
“It is going to be a 45 degree angle,” one of the larger men yelled to the thousands of others who began to find their way back towards the stage, but this time they did not have breathing room. Space was getting limited and the crowd was pressed up against each other. There seemed to be no escape. At this angle, with this many people, only minutes remained before rib cages and spines were crushed. Those who were small, old, and weak died as quickly as the obese. Many had given up on trying after just ten minutes. “It's over! This is the end!” And similar fatalistic yelps were heard. “I have nothing left to live for anyway.”
More than three thousand people were layered at a forty five degree angle. There was bleeding, crackling bones, snapping limbs, yells, cries, and even laughter. As the stunned home audience watched, many viewers thought to themselves, “what next?”



Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Dirty Spooge in Praying Hands

During a snowy February Jeff discovered in a mold infested basement, at five in the morning (on his thirteenth birthday), how his young mother was prevented from having an abortion.  The Christian Right (a church leader, a teacher, a city council member, a pro-life activist, and a supporter of guns) pushed their pro-life agenda into legislation, forcing his mother, who was raped at age fourteen by her father, to bring the child forth into the world, despite her desire not to have a child of an incestuous birth: the bastard son of an evil man, who had molested many children during his tenure before cancer ate his perverted body.

Jeff's mother, a welfare recipient who did not inherit the life insurance from her father because he gave it to the church, had a whiskey and sedative habit that rivaled a Rock-N-Roll Stars from the 1970s. If she was lucky, a couple truckers would stop by the house for a few hours and give her a hard, deep rooting while she was passed out in her own vomit. She was a twenty-eight year old, STD infested, walking vessel of her cancerous environment of crucifix wearing, bible thumping, religious caricatures who privately prayed for their nation's president to be assassinated. Her teenage cirrhosis showed as she sat feebly waiting for her monthly check; nevertheless, she did not angrily beat Jeff while she was in a blacked-out rage against society. Back in the basement, Jeff sat calmly holding his mother's six shooter revolver. He placed a bullet in the chamber and spun it. Jeff grew so obsessed with the clicking sound of the chamber that he could hear the revolver's cylinder in slow motion - an ability to count how many times the bullet rotated. Pulling the trigger, pulling the trigger, and pulling the trigger again with great relaxation made him very experienced in a suicidal fancy. If the hammer would hit a bullet, he would spin it again. Risky behavior is not uncommon for American youth. Smoking, drinking, popping parent's pills, unprotected sex, eating fast food, riding a bicycle without a helmet downhill at night are but a few examples of ways to get the blood flowing in what normally would be a highly repressed rule bound culture. Appearance is everything because nobody knew what was happening inside his head at church or in school. Jeff's mother dressed him in nice clothes and reminded him, “People do judge a book by its cover”; therefore, Jeff promised his mother that he would keep his private thoughts to himself instead of publicly sharing any of his hatred for classmates and teachers. Playing in team sports and doing good in school was what made Jeff so normal. Yet one day a few of his teammates went to a girl's house, who was only twelve, and tied her to the bed and violated her with vegetables. Jeff watched sadly but was unable to escape the peer pressure of his baseball mates. “My mom is meeting me at the library today,” he said, “and I will keep this secret,” he crossed his heart and hoped to die.  If he broke the teammate's secret game of “produce play,” the name his team leader called the inserting of carrots into orifices of a farmer.

Jeff's memories were filled with contradictions as he saw the same boys in church praying to an invisible man who lives in the clouds. Even his own mother wept during church every Sunday morning, but it was not because of her connection with Jesus or God, but rather for her disgust with the hypocrisy that she was intimately familiar, growing up in an abusive house with a pedophile who had prayed every evening with the same Bible in his sweaty hands. “In hard times, the lord punishes the strong like us,” her father would say, “because we must learn by our suffering to appreciate what the lord gives us, so sometimes we have no heat in winter or food for dinner, but the lord will provide and we can keep each other warm throughout the night.” She did not have her own bed until she was impregnated. Sleeping naked every night with her father's hands rubbing her breasts seemed habitually normal. Repetition produces familiarity. Fortunately, he was impotent and only able to rape her one time unlike many other men who are incestuous.

Jeff's father died during his mother's pregnancy. But the story told was that he died in war, yet no evidence existed to support such a fiction. When his mother woke up, Jeff emerged from the basement with her revolver. He asked her to tell him the truth. He just wanted to know if his conclusions were right. It was time. Her eyes looked at him at the edge of the bed. She knew he had discovered the city, where they lived, was holy only in appearance, but deep at its roots grew an evil of poisonous darkness. The teachers in schools despised their students; the doctors in hospitals wished for their patients to become sicker and die; the restaurant cooks would feed customers toxic chemicals; fathers, who took their children to playgrounds, looked at the youth with perverted thoughts; nothing was as it appeared to be; people were not as they presented themselves in public; everything was a lie.

Jeff looked at his mother expressionless as she retold her life story. Of all the people in their world, they had only each other. Mother and son formed a blood relationship built on trust and love. A son distrustful of all with no true love had no place; a mother likewise is lost without her son's trust and love, so the bedroom warmed up and a bright glow filled the darkness retold. The world was a terrible place with horrible people, but family was left. Together they would form a new life. An hour later they left their home and everything in it for the next train headed to the other side of America. Another life awaited them. They had each other.




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