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Thread: Black Friday

  1. #1
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Jun 2007
    next door to the lady in the vinegar bottle
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    Black Friday

    In addition to the little poem, I'm posting another item from Ought Seven, dusted off and slightly revised. It began with speculation as to whether it is possible for someone to live totally "off the grid." Or is it the grim realization that in the USA, materialism never fails to rear its ugly head, raised highest on its favorite day, the day after Thanksgiving?

    Black Friday
    by Aunt Shecky

    All Rights Reserved

    The sun was out, the sky was blue, the air was just crisp enough to remind folks of the winter festivities to come: in short, a perfect day for shopping. It wasn't that great a day to be on duty, but breaking decades of precedence, the governor had not declared the day after Thanksgiving a holiday. State workers who wanted the day off had to take a vacation or personal day. Hence, Sgt. Vender was on the job.

    Here he was along with his partner, in plainclothes and an unmarked vehicle, parked on a dirt road, on the edge of forbidding woods. Stakeout. Vender would have preferred a “steak” out, or at home, a nice hot turkey sandwich, or, if there were no leftover gravy, a cold one on rye with lettuce and mayo. All he had was a cardboard container of rapidly-cooling, lousy coffee.

    He looked out at the sylvan vista, now primarily a phalanx of bare trees, save for the brown leaves of the oaks and a few yellow poplars defiantly clinging to their branches. “Eh! What a godforsaken place. Why the hell are we here? We should be with the rest of the population doing our patriotic duty at the Mall.”

    “Qwitcher *****in’ will ya?” Mac tossed the butt of his verboten cigarette into his own coffee cup, rolled down the driver side window, and tossed it out on the dirt road. For an ordinary citizen, littering carries a $50 fine. “How’d ya like to be my Nadine? She had to be at her register at four am this morning. Four am. Minimum wage, but you can't beat the hours.” In the distance they both heard the sound of a gunshot. “That our guy?”

    Vender shrugged. “Who knows? It’s the middle of huntin’ season. Everybody and his brother is out shooting deer today.”

    “I thought you said they were all at the Mall.”

    A moment later a small black dog trotted through a clearing; a few steps behind him was a man, his back to the road. The man was dressed in clothes so out of date that a casual observer could have mistaken him for an actor portraying Rip Van Winkle. Mac put his hand on the door handle, but Vender gripped his arm. “Wait. Wait a minute. We don't know these woods – he does. And don't forget, he’s got a rifle in his hands.” Vender gently touched the handle of the passenger side door as if it were Baccarat crystal. He crouched down and exited and closed the door gently, though the click echoed through the woods. To Mac he whispered, “Look. He’s got a shack back there, a hovel or something. We'll follow that footpath and then we'll do it to it. Don't forget the briefcase.”

    The footpath was slick and muddy. Under his breath Vender cursed; the Italian loafers were new and soles were getting ruined. Damn the deadbeat, damn this small-time Unabomber.

    They reached the shack in little time. For a shack, it wasn't as tumble-down as both officers had imagined. Its construction was of charcoal-colored wooden planks, the same material which framed the porch, with its own roof and rocking chair. There were a couple of unshaded windows in the front and a wisp of white smoke billowed out of a cylindrical chimney
    jutting up from the grey-shingled roof. The urgent bark of a dog – presumably the little mutt they'd spotted earlier – reverberated through the woods. Their arrival was announced; no need to knock on the plywood paneled front door.

    Gingerly that door opened; the barrel of a rifle poked through. Instinctively the right hands of both officers of the law went to their pockets, wherein they clicked their own weapons. With his left hand, Vender displayed his ID. “Mr. Henry? Emerson Henry?” Vender asked.
    Slowly the shotgun descended and the door opened an inch. “We only want to ask a couple questions. May we come in?”

    Emerson opened the door. In the nanosecond that the two cops entered he slammed the door quickly, so as not to lose any of the precious heat. “Uh, Mr. Henry, would you mind? Put the gun down.”

    He stroked his longish grey beard for a second, and then finally set the rifle aslant against the wall, its stock on the floor, the thin barrel pointing to the ceiling. He himself stood no more than two feet away from it; the rifle was never out of his sight nor reach. “I don't know why I'm being harassed. I mind my own business-You guys from the IRS?” His voice was soft; this was not so much a sign of weakness as the speech of someone for whom it had been a while since he had engaged in human conversation. “I told them over and over and over again – you can't pay income tax when you don't got any income!”

    “Really. “ Vender suppressed a laugh. From the looks of the place, from him, that was no lie. A few sticks of rough-hewn furniture that stood in the room looked like afterthoughts. There was no TV, no radio, no computer. A kerosene lamp sat precariously on the windowsill. “How about sales tax, Mr. Henry?”

    “Sales tax? I haven't bought anything in years!”

    Mac sprung open the briefcase. “How about twenty-four years, Mr. Henry?”

    Emerson shrugged. “Sounds about right. I grow my own food; chop wood for my own fuel; the clothes on my back come from the Goodwill. I do maintenance for them, they let me pick out whatever I need. Everything else, is strictly the barter system. The last I heard, that’s not against the law, is it?”

    “I wouldn't know. I'm a cop, not a lawyer.” Vender said. But he was thinking, how unpatriotic. Why doesn't somebody tell this dinosaur we're living in the twenty-first century? No vehicle, no gas, no credit cards – how does the old bastard live?

    “And what about property taxes, Mr. Henry?” Mac shuffled through the documents in the briefcase.

    “Agggh. Don't tell me that’s rearing its ugly head again. This was supposed to be taken care of. I sold the lower twenty acres to the state, and that was supposed to give me forbearance for perpetuity.” He craned his neck, but never left his station next to his gun. “Don't tell me you have that document. I got a copy of it around here somewhere.”

    “Um. Interesting that you should mention a document, Emerson. Don't you ever go pick up your mail?”

    “Mail? What mail? Bills you mean? What bills?”

    “This one. Well, strictly speaking, it’s not a bill, but it’s a really important piece of mail.” Mac took the document in question out of the briefcase and waved it in Emerson’s face. “I guess you could say it’s an offer you can't refuse.”

    Emerson shrugged. “Well, whatever is I do refuse. Not interested.”

    “Hmm. I think the county and the state are interested, Mr. Henry,” Vender said. “And I might add that the U.S. Supreme Court is completely on their side. You know what I'm talking about.”

    “Yeah ,but, just look at it, Emerson,” Mac said. “It’s a really good, good deal. I mean it’s more money than you've ever seen. You could do anything, live anywhere, travel around the world if you wanted –“

    ”You could buy another place, better than this one. You could get a nice vee-hickle. A truck. Wouldn't that be nice?” Vender was using the same voice he used on his little daughter whenever he needed to teach her a life lesson. He flung his arm around Emerson’s shoulder.

    “Let me tell you something, man to man. Just think of the women, Emerson. The women!”

    Emerson looked at Vender as if he were a dead possum in the woods. Suddenly Mac’s face brightened as if inspired by a different trend of thought – it was almost as if a cartoon lightbulb had lit up above his head. “Well, if you're not interested in the money yourself, what about your relatives? Your. . .” he looked at a piece of paper in the briefcase. “Your cousin Arlene. What is she, a saloon singer? She can't be rolling in the dough. You could give it to her..”.

    Vender turned bad cop again. “Look, don't play coy with us, Henry. Sell or don't sell, I personally don't care. But I'll tell you something – a road is going to go through this property. And at along that road there are gonna be fourteen, maybe twenty outlet stores. This community is going to turn around, whether you like it or not.”

    Mac thought of trying the soft approach one more time. “Think of the jobs that will be created, Emerson. Think of all the people that will be able to work, get an income, get some discretionary spending money. People can sell things, they can buy things, Emerson. . .”

    Emerson picked up his shotgun. “For the last time, I'm not selling. And I Am Not Leaving.” He opened the front door. His dog curled up in front of the potbellied stove started to growl. “Good day, gentlemen.”

    Vender pulled out his handgun and grabbed Emerson by the collar. “Get this straight, you selfish bastard. We're not leaving until this matter is resolved. You want us to get the sheriff out here? You want to be physically evicted? Is that what you want, Emerson?”

    Through the open door Emerson made a run for it; the dog sprang to his feet and swiftly followed barking all the way. The two cops, both with service revolvers drawn, ran after him through the woods. Emerson, his legs not as young as they used to be, ran as fast as he could; the officers of the law, weighed down by the proverbial cop diet of doughnuts and fat burgers, still managed to keep up. When they had reached a close enough range, Vender lifted his pistol, and fired – ostensibly as a “warning shot.”

    The bullet hit the trunk of an ancient oak, its bark harder than cement– it ricocheted and hit Emerson squarely in the back of the neck. He fell like an item of merchandise off an overstocked shelf. The dog sat on his hind legs; intermittently his head would bow and to lick Emerson’s cheek.

    Afterward, other police vehicles arrived, including an ambulance, though that was a mere formality. An animal control officer held the dog by the scruff of its neck and unceremoniously deposited the animal in the back of the van. Brief conversations among officials disturbed the quiet of the forest air; terms like “eminent domain,” “economic opportunity,” “poor deranged idiot,” and even “treasonous defiance” were bandied about. Someone said the words “shovel ready” into a cell phone. None of the vehicles lingered more than necessary, time of course, synonymous with money. Within moments, the forest was left to enjoy the tranquil solitude of its last days, while elsewhere the Gods of Commerce rocked their domain in jubilation.
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 11-29-2017 at 03:45 PM.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Black indeed!
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #3
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Near Chicago, Illinois USA
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    Nice story. I feel sorry for Emerson and his dog.

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    A rural part of Sweden, southern Norrland
    Yes, I think I do too!

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