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American Coming of Age Contemporary

The wheat berries are beginning to sprout. He's talking to himself because there is no one, not even a pet that lives with him. His slum dwelling of a house is what it is because when scavengers took the best and trashed the rest, they left a war-zone ambiance, long neglected since his heart hasn't been there; years have gone by without cleaning up after mice/rats and bats, or dealing with a street gang from California that's encroaching on the property line. It borders a dead end road that's twenty-six miles from the closest town with free WiFi; he has no phone, no car, and no electricity except for two solar panels.

He had lost the blade to his meat grinder; he's always losing/misplacing things because that's what TBIs do, so he thinks, hence, he's spooning the berries into a hand-cranked wheat-grass juicer.

The coconut oiled pan slowly fills with the wheat. While cranking, he drinks a quart of honey water. -- The honey was purchased in bulk: a sixty pound pail. It says raw on the label but the honey appears to be a 65/35 mix of honey and something off color: a yellowish ingredient. He complained , but the young lady at Glory Bee said that she would not have it tested by an outside source. “All of our honey is certified,” she said. Does she know about the Chinese honey that had been treated with artificial sweetener, or that China has gotten around this little known fact by feeding artificial sweetener to bees, and shipping it to Brazil; which is where, according to the label, the Glory Bee honey originated? -- Now! The bread is ready for the oven.

He uses the toilet that's missing a seat. (One of the many things that's been stolen). He shaves, showers, then scrubs his body with a small dry towel. Exits the shower dancing on one foot, places his other foot in the sink. Dries/scrubs it. Dresses in shorts and sweaters and river sandals. Rolls his bicycle out the door.

He disconnects the solar panels, the charge controller doesn't work, and grabs the bread. Places it in a very damaged solar oven; the reflection mirror is propped up with a broken tree branch.

While locking the door with three locks, his memory sparks....in Russian, there's a black marketeer unlocking three locks on his door.... He coasts down his bicycle lane to the road, passing by the street gang's squatter's cabin. It was put up without a building permit.

Two hours later.... The bakery's coffee is not the best but it works, or maybe he's just overjoyed from talking to the social security office in North Bend. -- At 63 and destitute, he could have received two thousand a month for ssi retirement, but the web page said that if he waited 'till 66 and one month, his retirement amount would be three thousand a month. So, he lived off his sister's credit card, only to find out social security reduced payments by one third. After waiting three years, living in abject poverty, he will now receive two thousand a month. (such is the arbitrary power of the government.) The next day a letter from social security arrive saying that he did not qualify for ssi; but! There's two ssi payments; one is for disability and the other for retirement. -- After talking to Jen, he became so delighted that other bakery costumers looked at him with a ? mark, or was it the coffee that made him ramble on and on.

There's an email about writing a story and maybe getting money. He proceeds to vent.

The story will end when he takes the sun baked bread out of the oven. After bathing, he will spread coconut oil, salt and consume the entire loaf. It will be naturally sweet.

He submits the story; but it's rejected. (If it wasn't for rejection, he would have no recognition of being alive.) Oh!! It needs to be longer.

He talks to himself, "I'll have to cycle back, then cycle into town again tomorrow. Then! I might have more to write, and maybe, just maybe, win! 

From the bakery, he will cycle to the local library to make a copy of an Amazon return label; but first, he needs to relearn the difference between UPS and USPS. The label says USPS, but the last time he returned bike parts to Amazon, he went to the wrong shipping agency. He’s always getting things wrong; always confused by the similar images depicting the parts he needs to keep his two bicycles rolling.  

He has two bikes; one is a Long Haul Trucker that he pulls a trailer with for shopping in Eugene. It takes him about twenty-six hours to get there and back but it takes two days to recover. Normally, he uses his sister’s credit card and picks up items at an Azure Standard food drop or at his post office box; which is sixty miles from his slum dwelling because a box at the local post office requires an eight dollar key deposit. The Box in Winchester Bay uses a combination system;  no key deposit, and he can have large items shipped there. 

Before he leaves, connects with his facebook account to have a quick chat with any or all of his five sisters; his three brothers have been non-communicative. The Facebook connection does not work, which enhances his lack of faith in all things corporate American. Little do too many know that there is a “limited times” clause in the original US Constitution. It gives Congress power to regulate commerce. Instead, commerce regulates Congress, while We the People pay taxes for one representative for every half million taxpayers.

He thinks what needs to happen to repair the damaged polity of  the US Government is to follow the original constitution. He often soap boxes about the need for a constitutional renaissance, calling for individual state legislatures to serve as individual chambers in a fifty chamber House of Representatives. He goes on and on about how the Constitution calls for representatives to be at least twenty-five and senators to be at least thirty; which implies that if you are over thirty years of age, the House of Representatives is not for you. 

HEY!! The word count on google docs (something he absolutely hates, but windows has become...) says the number has reached the saturation point. “I don’t have to wait ‘till I cycle another round trip to submit,” he says to himself. “And the bread!! It’s going to burn if I don’t get going.

June 25, 2021 19:26

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01:27 Jul 11, 2021

This is a very stark description of survival when mental health and/or disability drive unfortunate souls to desperation. And while the thinking of the main character is often distorted, insights into social injustices break through. A good read.


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