Miles away, under the same sweltering sun, a grandmother is standing on her front porch, watching her dog pee. She and her husband bought their house fifty years ago. They paid off one loan, then took out a second to get the kids through college and paid that one off, too. Now, she can no longer afford the property tax. Next month, she will have to move in with her daughter and grandson---the one who is allergic to dogs, so she’ll have to give up her pet. On the other side of town, the burger joint has applied for a property tax abatement for its regional distribution center. It has plenty of money to pay its taxes, but why pay taxes if you can get homeowners to do it for you? It’s too bad Grandma can no longer afford the “luxury” of owning a home. She should have planned better for the future. She should never have allowed herself to grow old. And the autoworker should have thought twice before going blind, and the teacher should have chosen some other profession and the veteran was a sucker for volunteering for Bush’s war.
The veteran is feeling a little dizzy today, the result of too much sun and too little water combined with the fistful of pills that the VA gives him in lieu of counseling. He takes a wrong turn and ends up in the upwardly mobile neighborhood where the burger joint has just opened. People on the sidewalk avoid his gaze or grumble angrily. Sometimes they do both. He doesn’t hear them. He is back in Baghdad, watching his best buddy get blown to pieces, only now he’s the one who is dying. Bone and flesh explode. A hero’s death, that’s how it was supposed to be. His country never meant for him to come back home. It has no place for him and his nightmares. It has no place for the blind or the downsized or the elderly. These folks are inconvenient. They make rich bankers look greedy and selfish. They make drug company executives think about their own frailty and mortality. They make oilmen tremble in the night, afraid of what will happen when the crude runs out---
If they were real Americans, they would crawl under a rock somewhere and die, and leave the light of the sun to someone more deserving of it.
Fat fuckin' chance. Us old folks izn't all pussies. I'm not ready to die yet. My rage at the Repug attitude will keep the fire burning inside me for years yet.