Sometimes Ken Weene writes to exorcise demons. Sometimes he writes because the characters in his head demand to be heard. Sometimes he writes because he thinks what he has to say might amuse or even on occasion inform. Mostly, however, he writes because it is a cheaper addiction than drugs, an easier exercise than going to the gym, and a more sociable outlet than sitting at McDonald’s drinking coffee with other old farts: in brief because it keeps him just a bit younger and more alive.
Ken’s stories and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. He has published five full length books and three shorter e-books. More about Ken can be found at his website, http://www.kennethweene.com [cut and paste] and his books, which are based on his quirky view of the human experience, can be purchased on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Weene/e/B002M3EMWU [cut and paste].
The 6:20 bus back to the city will be crowded. It always is. It will be the last one before the gates close and the night patrols begin. During the day we can go through the checkpoints as long as we have the necessary docuchips. They need us during the day, so from 6 AM till 6:30 PM you can, if you’re lucky enough to find work, earn ten coin an hour in Paradize.
With my wife expecting again and our little one still needing diapers, I work seven days a week and wish I could make it ten. Senor Losinos has been kind to us, letting me work in his store five days and then giving me a second job on his estate. Every time I thank him, el patron says, “Jador, you’re a good worker, trustworthy. Why not have you do the landscaping; I know it will be done well.”
I bow slightly and thank him again. It’s a little dance we do. I suppose Senor Losinos is a good man. He doesn’t hit me or threaten. He even lets Cosa feed me when I’ve finished mowing and weeding, when I’m so tired and hungry that I’m ready to fall to the ground.
Cosa is special, a live-here. She has a room in the back of the garage. She lives well, better than my wife and I can hope. But! Officially they may be called live-heres but mostly we call them prisoners. Cosa can’t get on that bus. She can’t not come to work one day. She can’t ask for a different job.
Not that it would occur to her. “Her circuit board is limited,” is the way Manuel the patron’s son explains it to me.
“Your brain, Jador, it gives you freewill.”
“I’m not sure what that means, but if somebody gave me something for free I sure don’t know what it is.”
The boy laughs and asks me if I could hide in the garage and spend the night.
“Why?” I ask back. “I’d just get in trouble.”
He says, “Sure, but could you?”
“I suppose,” I say; but I can’t really suppose it at all: I have to be on the 6:20 bus; I have to get home to my wife and child; I have to buy diapers on the way home. It’s ten coin for a box of diapers and the little one goes through a box every two days. I have to pay for food and rent and even to use the exper-system. Today I worked nine hours and fifty minutes. Before I get on the bus I will receive eighty-eight coin; I have to pay for the bus, too.
Those are the things I do. They are the things I have to do.
The boy says, “Why don’t you? Why don’t you hide in the garage for the night?”
I try to understand his question. It makes no sense. I want to tell him that my head hurts. I want to tell him that the patrols will—I don’t know what the patrols will do. I’ve never seen them. I just know that at 6:30, after the last bus leaves, the gates will be closed and the night patrols will begin.
The boy says I should stay. He says that he wants me to stay. “Hide in the garage,” he orders.
I must… I must… I…
“Dad, Dad, there’s something wrong with Jador,” the boy shouts.
Senor Losinos strides into the barn. He looks at me. Looks into my eyes, Squints. “Manuel, have you been messing with his circuitry.”
The boy laughs.
“Manuel, I swear! Not another one. Next time I’m taking the cost of the trabajador out of your allowance.”
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