Occupant (An Index Card Novel)
The fat old white guy injineer read the letter again for the umpty umpth time. “Greetings Citizen: Congratulations on your Eightieth Birthday. Please report to the Shady Oaks Rest Home at 0900 hours for your Retirement Induction Ceremony. Blah, blah, blah.”
He’d lose his house, his truck, his money — pittance as it was, his pension, everything. The State would take care of him. It was general knowledge that once you were useless, you were sent to the equivalent of a death camp.
He had some other ideas. All along this Road to Serfdom, he’d had other ideas. He’d always admired Harriet Tubman.
In the early days of hope and change, like mind individuals formed the modern equivalent of the French Resistance. As they shuttled escaped POWs and downed Allied fliers back to England, so to a Renaissance Underground Railroad formed in the once free USA. The fat old white guy injineer was a “station master”.
Each Tuesday, morning, the garbage man came to collect his trash. Because of the handicapped symbol painted on his driveway by law, his can was collected from beside his house and returned there. Carelessly, of course. The can landed on its side. The top next to a big pine tree. The fat old white guy injineer’s grandmother planted it there decades ago. She called it “her freedom tree”; she too was a refugee. Weren’t we all at one time or another?
As soon as it was dark, the can “birthed” an inhabitant who took up refuge under the tree. The fat old white guy injineer had carefully and considerately and charitably left some scare food, a gallon of water, and some blankets under the tree.
The next day, a tradesman cam with a big truckload of baled hay. He carefully loaded the the fat old white guy injineer’s pick up truck with a small load. One bale was left ajar at the base. Yes, you guessed it. The “pyramid” had a secret space. That night, the inhabitant, or inhabitants, moved from tree to truck. The lone bale was fitted in by the fat old white guy injineer.
At the tunnel’s check point the fat old white guy injineer heard the command: “Your papers, please, comrade.”
He turned over his universal tamper-proof id card, he passport for interstate travel, his economic activity permit, his environmental impact permit, his gas ration card (to demonstrate he’d paid his fuel tax), and his prepaid tunnel tax.
With a smile, the fat old white guy injineer said to the guard: “Por su frio?” and exposed a small bottle in his pocket. “Con sugaro?” the guard asked. “Si!” was the response. In an oft practiced motion, the guard returned the forms to the pocket and the bottle wrapped in currency disappeared.
The journey resumed.
It was a crappy little town called White Horse Station. It truly was a “station”. At the end of a long windy road, more of a path, the truck came to a stop at the edge of a meadow. A shepherd with a flock contained by a single dog waited patiently.
As the fat old white guy injineer extracted the bale and his cargo, the shepherd came over to help. Two funny whistles and the dog cut out five sheep and began to herd them towards the far end of the meadow. “There’s your guide”, the shepherd laughed. “And, if the border patrol gets you, he won’t talk.”
Together the two new refugees took off after their guide dog who was patiently waiting for them to catch up. Was the dog thinking “these new shepherds are slow and dumb.”?
The sign over the gate said but one word: “Freedom”. There was a small line shack with an older than dirt gent sitting on the porch. He yelled “Hello. A minute of your time, friend.” The two refugees, tired from their hike, sat on the steps.
“Wait here, your ride will be along shortly. Here’s your citizenship cards!”
They looked at two unalterable id cards like the ones they had in the USA, but the new ones just said “Occupant”. He laughed at them: “It’s a joke, friends. Welcome to the Free State of New Hampshire.”
The fat old white guy injineer’s ordeal was over. He was free.
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