Fiery the Angels rose, and as they rose deep thunder roll'd
Around their shores: indignant burning with the fires of Orc
- William Blake, America A prophecy.

Confessions of an Ex-Soldier, Ex-Cop and Ex-Con

Bad Start

Monday, August 12, 2019

I’m staying at rundown hotel that stinks of cigarettes and rat shit, the kind of place where the rooms used to rent by the hour (damn, rereading that - I feel like I should add and then a dame walked in... Heh. But it's true, that's exactly the kind of place it is). It’s so lousy that the local gangbangers don’t even bother trying to shake down the owner or the customers, so despite the roaches and the rats it’s fairly safe. And it’s a step up from my last residence, I’ll say that. Even as few as five years ago this place would have been full of illegals, migrant laborers waiting to make a dash north to the San Joaquin Valley truck farms or south to the border, but since the Emergency Act and the Expulsion four years ago it’s been mostly empty save for the whores, the druggies, and people like me. There’s a reasonably decent little takeout place across the street. I’ve been getting dinner there every night, and the owner lets me use an old vanilla AfricaBox while I wait for my order (which is where I am right now). I’ll call him John (not his real name of course, you understand if I don’t make it too easy for you to find me). He seems like a reasonably decent chap. He’s got the Green Triangle tattooed on his left forearm, same as me; the Arabic around his is different than mine though. I haven’t asked him what it says, and he hasn’t asked about mine. Just as well I suppose, ‘Burn Baghdad Burn’ seems fairly stupid to me now.

I got up early this morning and took a long shower. I’ve got one of the few rooms with working plumbing and I’m dammed sure going to take advantage of it. The water is only piss warm and there isn’t much in the way of pressure, but I’m not complaining, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken a shower without having my back to the wall.

I took the rail downtown to the employment office. I thought about walking, I’ve got to make what little money I have last until I can get a job and make it to the first paycheck, but it was at least seven miles and I wanted to get there early. So I spent the money, including the new energy tax which was more than the fare itself. The first deposit better come soon, that money would have bought me at least two meals. I promised myself I’d walk home. I made sure to get to the employment office an hour before the place opened. I should have spent the time in the shower instead, because the line was already around the corner of the building. I think some people slept on the sidewalk there the night before. Sign of the times, as they used to say – and still do.

If there’s one thing prison teaches you, it’s how to wait. Eight hours more or less, I stood on that sidewalk. I never even got in the front door to put my name on the list. The place closed at 5:00 PM and I was still three people from the door. The time wasn’t wasted though; the guy ahead of me had a widescreen NetPhone. He propped it up, and a bunch of us stood around watching talk shows and news pirated from the State Office WiFi.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched TV, the lockup I was in didn’t have TV’s in the cells and the one in the common area had been smashed when a couple of Skin Heads got to fighting over who had the better racist prison tats. I knew there had been a bunch of little earthquakes up north in San Francisco over the last two weeks. We had a couple here too, but I hardly noticed them. What I didn’t know was that there’s been a bunch of quakes all around the Ring of Fire, Japan and Indonesia have had a couple of big ones. Alaska has had a bunch of small quakes. And I guess there’s been shaking in Europe too, especially Italy. Weird. They had some guy on Good Morning America who was saying something about ‘sympathetic resonance’ but I didn’t really catch it because about then a Salvation Army lady came by in one of those electric ‘bug wagons’ handing out free coffee in paper cups. I wasn’t expecting it to be much better than prison sludge, but it was actually pretty dammed good. Could have used some sugar though.

When the office closed I thought about staying right where I was, sleeping on the sidewalk with the rest of the unemployed, but I hadn’t brought any food and I was hungry, with nothing but one little cup of coffee in my stomach the whole day. So I walked back to the hotel. And here I am at John’s place waiting for my evening bowl of chicken and couscous. John’s got a TV, an old fashioned low-def tube, mounted above the counter, and I’ve been watching it as I type. I guess there was another quake in LA today, 3.8. They’re getting bigger. Nothing here though, thank God, I hate quakes.

Tomorrow I’ll get up an hour earlier and catch the first train downtown. I’ll take something to eat with me, stop by here first and have John make me a sandwich or something, and sleep on the sidewalk tomorrow night if I have to. I’ve got to meet with the parole officer on Thursday, and I figure I better have at least met with one of the job counselors by then.

Posted by VanDerDecken at 3:21 PM

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