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Despicable

The idea of the social contract is that people have an agreement to form a society and be governed by the laws of that society. Another piece of this, though, is that people within the society agree to certain things between themselves. One of these things is how to deal with areas in which we have little or no expertise. Lawyers, doctors, scientists, or any profession which requires a high degree of study and specific knowledge fall into this category. We give them money and they provide us with the benefit of their knowledge.

That’s how it is supposed to work, anyway.

There are people, despicable people, who decide that their job is not to fulfill their side of the social contract. They decide that their job is to get as much money as possible out of those poor schmoes stupid enough to come to them, generally more than those people can afford, just because those people are desperate.

This one took everything. We had a contract, but he decided that he would charge us for a whole lot of little things that weren’t specified. They weren’t specifically excluded, either, though, so when I went to another one of his profession to ask, I was told that it was legal. Not ethical, but legal.

We needed him, my wife and I. We needed his help and he cleaned us out, took our money to the bank, strung us along, and eventually said he couldn’t help us. He’d listed a bunch of possibilities to start with, but when it came down to actually doing something, he never did. I’d lay bets he laughed all the way to the bank. He took another pair of suckers, convinced us he was a good guy, that he knew what he was doing, and then he took our hope and smashed it.

My wife is dead now. She killed herself when the last little bit of hope was extinguished. We had a future, even with this last hope gone, but she could not live without some hope in that arena. Maybe she wasn’t imaginative enough. I don’t know. All I know is that this person left us with nothing to try again, no way of making it better. We were bankrupt by the time he was done with us and we had nothing to show for it. Our savings, our house, everything, was gone, all in pursuit of the false hope he was selling.

I’m writing this letter because it’s time to make sure that he doesn’t take anything from anyone else ever again. I’m sure he has hurt people before, and if I don’t do something, he’ll hurt others. Maybe this makes me despicable, too, but I have nothing to lose. He goes down, then I do, and it’s over. No one will miss me, I think. No family anymore, nothing left to hand out. The only thing I will leave is the lack of a person who takes advantage of people like us.

I used to be a sniper. I can be one again. This man, this awful creature, this poor excuse for a human being, took everything from me. I’m just returning the favor.

You should really check out Michael’s piece this week – he did an amazing job with the prompt I gave him.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Bran macFeabhail challenged me with “Write about something despicable. ” and I challenged Michael with “You’ve been keeping a bottle of champagne for five years, waiting to celebrate something specific. Tell the story leading up to finally getting to drink the champagne.”

Famous does not equal right

Unfortunately, this guy I grew up with is now famous. He’s a star in the music world. I wish I had been nicer. Everyone who knew both of us knows that he holds a grudge and that I’m the subject. He’s still angry. He makes it very clear in his latest video. I have to hear what’s in his head.

He’s an ass.

I was the beautiful one. Not just in high school, but elementary school, too. I was the one that all the boys fell in love with. I was popular, the center of attention, a cheerleader, and not a very nice person. I’m not very nice now, either, but I am seeing a little more of what other people see. If nothing else, I will try to be more careful just so this doesn’t happen again.

He was the geek, the nerd, the guy no one wanted to be seen with. He was the person you went to if you needed help with your homework, but you never actually said hello to him in the hallway. We called him Urkel, if that makes it easier to imagine. He had a huge crush on me, and I ignored him. Every time he tried to do something nice, I would laugh at him. Sometimes I would even get other people to laugh, too. I mean, seriously. Why did he think I would pay attention to someone like him?

In the video he has me sweeping stairs at the end. That’s not true. I have a perfectly good job. I’m a secretary for a really big company. I’m good at my job, too, and I present a pretty face to the public, which always helps. People come in really angry about something, but they are always nice to me.  I might not be very smart, but I am not as low as he shows me. He’s just being mean.

I’m trying to be nicer to those people, the unattractive ones. I try to at least pretend to listen to them, and I am getting better at turning down weird looking guys more gently. I don’t laugh at them anymore. I’m engaged to a great guy who tells me I’m beautiful every single day. He has a lot of money, too, so I might not have to work a lot longer. I am smart enough to get a good lawyer for a prenuptial agreement, though. I’m not going to be dumped for someone younger and prettier when he gets tired of me.

Famous guy I grew up with? Fuck you, too. I’ll bet you aren’t nice to people now that you don’t have to be.

 
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, R.L.W. challenged me with “Watch the music video for Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc0mxOXbWIU Use the song as inspiration or dress your protagonist in an outfit from the video.” and I challenged Cheney with “Wayland the Smith in the modern world. What would he be like here and now?”

Postcards

“Your father traveled a lot.” She smiled. “In some ways, though, it seemed like he was here. He sent postcards and letters from everywhere he ended up, at least once a day, sometimes more. He was very involved even when he was across the country. Open a box!”

He pulled the top box from the pile and took off the lid. Four stacks of postcards were arranged to fit neatly. He picked up a small stack and flipped through them.

“Welcome to Sunny California!” proclaimed the first over a picture of the fog-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge. The other side was a chatty, cheerful note about tourists wearing shorts and obviously just-purchased sweaters. There was also a promise of chocolate, and he had a vivid memory of the dark, slightly bitter taste of the small pieces, carefully doled out to make them last.

A picture of a desert with mesas on the horizon, with a description of the heat in Phoenix making the roads a little bit soft, was next. “I went for a walk before the sun came up and the ground was still hot from yesterday!”

The next, a picture of pouring rain seen through the windshield of a car, had a different tone. “It’s been a long couple of weeks. I miss you both so much. I’ll be home soon after you get this and they’ve promised at least a month with no travel. We can catch up and I’ll fix everything around the house. I can tuck Nate in every night, too.”

He showed that one to his mother, and she teared up and sniffed, then smiled. “We were lucky that time. He didn’t have to ship out for six months. It was so nice to have that much time with him.” Her smile turned to a grin. “Well, except for his socks left all over the house. Small price to pay, though.”

He reached back in and picked one at random. A picture of Hawaii from the air, with “The weather is here, wish you were beautiful” across the top. The back read, “Hi, darling. I can send this because I know you’ll laugh. You are the best part of my life, and I can imagine your smile as you read this.”

He looked up and saw that his mother had gone back to sleep. He opened another box and settled in. When she woke up, they’d go through more memories. She was in her last few days, and he wanted her to be as happy as possible. For all the times his father had been gone, he did make her happy.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Michael challenged me with “”The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful.”” and I challenged R.L.W. with “”We are, all of us, in the gutter…but some of us are looking at stars.” – Wil Wheaton”

Lonely Streets

Emptiness was not what she had expected from her first visit to a big city. Her image, of course, had been created before the disaster, but somehow a part of her mind had held onto the idea of a bustling metropolis.

The anti-vaxxers had scared a lot of people into not getting vaccinations. Herd immunity went away. The very old, very young, and those with compromised immune systems began to die off, slowly at first, then in great waves. The strains became more virulent as they had a chance to mutate, so even healthy people were being taken down.

The city was mostly empty. People lived in pocket neighborhoods, growing food on rooftop gardens so it could be protected, living in just a few houses or apartment complexes and keeping them up, letting the surrounding buildings gradually fall apart. Some groups had tentatively begun to work together to try to create more of a community throughout the city, but fear was the strongest emotion anyone had these days, so it was very difficult work.

She was a peacemaker. She worked with groups and helped them communicate. Everyone had something that someone else needed; she was one of the people who helped them figure out what that something was. She made sure everything was as fair as possible. She was an indeterminate color, neither white nor brown nor, really, anything identifiable. Her nose and hair, the two places most people looked to try to figure out a person’s identity, were not specifically one race or another. She was slightly exotic to every community, part of none, but a reasonable go-between. She had been working in smaller towns for years, but the group had decided to start working in the cities, too. This was her first.

She stood still, listening to the wind between the buildings, watching the noon light pick up reflections from the few unbroken windows. She had directions. All she had to do was walk down the lonely street, find the first group who had requested help, and start from the beginning.

Trust was difficult in these times, but humans needed it to survive. Her small group of forty people scattered over several states worked hard to bring people towards assuming the best rather than the worst of others, even others who looked nothing like them. The group had started out as a band of polyglots who had gone out to dinner a few times a month, reveling in their ability to carry on conversations in several languages. When the disaster had begun, they banded together, intellectuals in a sea of increasingly tribal communities. They began to look for a way to change things and make them better.

She spoke ten languages. Some of the others spoke more, but she was young and still learning. So far, ten had been enough; the few times she came across a group speaking a language she did not, there were words that were close enough in other languages that she could communicate. She had not yet failed to bring groups together, teaching them important pieces of each others’ languages and helping them communicate.

She was looking forward to this challenge.


For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Indie Adams challenged me with “these lonely streets” and I challenged Bewildered Bug with “Why are numbers beautiful? It’s like asking why is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don’t see why, someone can’t tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren’t beautiful, nothing is. – Paul Erdos”