Tuesday, August 13, 2019
I’ve got a job.
I got down to the trolley station early and waited for the first train, just like I was a regular commuter. You’ve got to wonder if the other people on the platform would have been so friendly or indifferent if they had known who I was. Then again, it’s been ten years and a lot of shit has happened in that time. Maybe nobody cares anymore. Anyway, I did my best to blend in, despite feeling like I have a giant tattoo on my forehead that says “ex-con!”
I was trying to read the headlines through the front of the newspaper machine when, somebody tapped me on the shoulder, John.
“Off to work, eh,” he asked.
“Off to find work,” I answered.
“I thought so.” He looked at the triangle on my arm. “How particular are you?”
I shrugged, “Not very.”
“I could use some help around the place, and I can probably pay you enough to get by.”
I had to admit that I was an ex-con, on parole. I figured that would be the end of it right there. Instead, he surprised the shit out of me. “I know who you are,” he said matter of fact.
Turns out he’d known right from the first time I walked in the door. Despite the short time I’ve known him I’ve had him pegged as a pretty astute guy. He doesn’t miss much. Standing there on the trolley platform, he wasn’t watching me, he was watching everybody else. Certain habits you just never lose, I guess, not if you want to make it alive out of the meat grinder.
With the cat out of the bag, there wasn’t any point in hiding things. “I’m supposed to go through the SEO,” I told him. “It’s part of the parole conditions.”
“No problem.” John actually had State Employment on speed dial; according to him he’d been trying to hire somebody for over a year. “Government bullhockey,” he told me (I’d never heard that term before, I’ll have to remember it). “There’s got to be a million jobs available since they kicked the ‘cans out. Shit, I haven’t been able to get a decent burrito in four years. Half the yards in Scripps Ranch are outright jungles because there isn’t a white guy in all of
I took his offer, I’d have been stupid not to. So I’ll be washing dishes for a little better than minimum wage – and free meals and net access, and a half promise of something maybe better down the line if I do a good job. After squaring my employment up with the SEO, John put me to work right there. I went with him to the farmer’s market and helped lug back the week’s produce. It was very strange for me, surrounded by people who were just going about their lives. I didn’t have to ask permission to use the pisser. I didn’t have to worry about getting spiked in the kidneys (vigilante ex-cops don’t last long in prison unless they are very, very paranoid). Hell, John even bought me breakfast, some kind of spicy wrap thing from a bug-wagon run by an old Filipino women John seemed to know. Frankly I couldn’t understand a dammed thing she said.
About the only familiar thing were the pricks in BlackRiver uniforms and machine pistols, sweating in their body armor. I got real familiar with BlackRiver in the can. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but ever since Stauch signed the Emergency Act those mercenary bastards have been all over SoCal. Hey, I was a good Soldier – and a lousy cop, but I never busted heads for money. Yeah, I know all about stones and glass houses, and I know that what I did was hardly patriotic, even though it seemed so at the time. I’m not making excuses. I thought I was above the law; at least these guys have the law on their side, what they do for a living is legal. I made dammed sure to behave myself, though. And I’m sure their helmet cogware hit on my face. Every one of them I passed turned to stare at me. Remind me not to piss off my
After we got back to the café, John had me clean the kitchen. I’m good at that, five years in the Army and ten in prison, you better believe I know how to operate a mop and sponge.
Two more little quakes today and CNN is saying something about weird shit in the sky. Some kind of comet, or something. I don’t know. I’ll look it up later on the AfricaBox, when I get done washing the dinner dishes. If I still have the energy to crank the handle that is.
Thank God for John. I haven’t prayed for anybody but myself in a long time, but I thanked God for John tonight.
Posted by VanDerDecken at 10:48 PM