I went to check my bank account yesterday. I hesitated as I punched in the numbers that would bring my balance to the screen. With one hand slightly covering my eyes, and the other hovering near the 'cancel' button, I fearfully looked at the screen.
I hate it when my bank account screams in agony like that.
Sighing, I got back into my car and casually laid my head on the steering wheel.
"Momma," my 4 year old called from the backseat, "why you laying your head down? Is you tired?"
"Yes, baby." I replied without picking up my head. "I'm very tired."
"What are you tired from?" My Red Head asked from behind me in the her booster seat.k And just in case I didn't hear her the first time, she repeated herself.
"I'm tired of being broke," I informed her. "I'm not sure how I'm going to navigate life without a job."
"Navigate," she said. "Are you going somewhere?"
Sighing, I said never mind. I put the car into drive and headed home.
Visions of my negative balance danced in my head as I manuevered the car into my neighborhood. As the kids giggled back and forth, I tallied up the monthly bills.
I'm good. But, even I can't make a negative balance pay the bills each month.
See, I got fired almost two weeks ago. After a year of employment, the powers-that-be decided I was no longer a good "fit". I know (and so do they) the real reason I got let go. There's really no reason to recount them here. What's done is done. I have more important things to worry about at the moment. Like how to pay my house payment. Or how to keep the lights one.
Or, most importantly, how to keep my cable on....at least during football season.
So, today I went to the Department of Social Services. I sat at the desk of my caseworker as she looked over my paperwork and quietly judged me. I leaned forward to see what she was typing into that desktop computer of her's. I answered "yes ma'm" and "no ma'm" to her repetitive questions.
No, I do not get help from family, friends, outside agencies, federal government, aliens, the old lady down the street, my crush from years ago, my crush from weeks ago, my neighbor, or anyone else. Yes, I have two kids. Are they illegal? Why? Will that help me get assistance? Because if so, then, why yes...they are illegal. I bought them off the black market yesterday.
She didn't think that was funny.
Yes, english is my primary language. But, if it helps me get emergency foodstamps, then we primarily speak Swahelii. No? It won't? Oh, well, just put us down for bad english then.
No, we are not of hispanic origin. No, we are not hispanic period. We are Native American. Lumbee to be precise.
What? What do you mean you can't help me keep my lights on? What does me being Indian have anything to do with South River receiving their money in time and; thus, allowing me to keep my tv tuned into football on Sundays and Mondays?
You are restricted from helping Natives? Are you serious? I thought all that ended when we intergrated into the school system. It's the 21st century, for-crying-out-loud. I thought we had put aside this petty business of racisim and banded together to hate the angry muslims.
Still no smile from the caseworker. This broad is a hard nut to crack.
She directed me to my tribe for "Emergency Energy Assistance". "They can help you." She informed me.
So, I called the tribe and explained my situation. I gave my best heart-felt plea. I made my situation as dour as I possibly could. Yes, I lost my job. I was not merely fired, but I was escorted out by a group of neo-nazis wearing camoflouge and carrying high powered rifles. My kids are starving, I told them. The 4 year old hasn't ate in days. My Red Head is so emanciated, that her beautiful hair is falling out. Flys are buzzing around the kids.
"I'm sorry," the lady on the phone said. "We can't help you."
"We don't have any funds right now. We are supposed to get them in sometime in October. But, I am not sure."
"So, you mean to tell me you can't help me? At all? No other agency will touch me because I belong to you, and you can't help me? Really? Seriously?"
I lost my temper. I'm not proud.
After repeated apologies from the lady on the other end, I hung up the phone. Disgrunted, dejected, disheartened, and pissed off, I made my way back home.
I might as well enjoy the lights and air conditioning while I still have it.
As I sit and marinate on my predicament, I know I am not the first single mother in the history of America to be out of work and struggling. Hell, these days, millions of people are bypassing the mailbox because they just can't bare to look at another past due bill. Thousands of people, here in this very city, line up at the unemployment office everyday hoping against hope for something. Anything. Used to be if you lost one job, another one was literally right around the corner. These days McDonald's isn't even hiring.
And don't get me started on unemployment. It is a mere fraction of what a worker was actually getting paid. Personally, it is going to take three weeks of checks to equal what I owe in a house payment. Whatever is left will have to be given to the utility people.
It all sucks monkey butt.
All of this makes me want to hop into my car and pay a visit to my congressman. Imagine the scene, if you will:
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Hello, Congressman...... My name is Wes. I know you don't give a rat's ass about me, but I care greatly about you. See, I have recently fell on hard times, and being you-technically-work for me, I want to know what you are going to do about it.
I have paid into the North Carolina tax base for several years. Now, that I need a little help, I am being told I can't get any. Why? Where are my taxes going to? I know it's not the roads. Have you driven down my neck of the woods lately? No? Well, I promise once you are do, you will need a new front end allignment. I'm aware that very little money is going into the school system. Ya'll seem to want to always cut that first before anything else. Trust me, I have experienced this first hand. My kid, special needs mind you, didn't get into pre-k because of budgetary cuts. But, thanks to my trusty softball bat, a little kid couldn't make it and he was granted a spot.
What? Don't judge me.
So, where's the money going? It's not healthcare. I was informed today that on unemployment, I make too much for medicaid. Really? Your people are telling me that as an unemployed worker, I don't get any medical benefits at all. Why? Can you tell me that?
And I know it's not going to retirement for the state employees. Ya'll seem to want to rob them blind left and right. Trust me, I know that too. Plus, their health insurance sucks as well.
So, Mr. Big-Ole-Congressman, where is my money going? Where are all the taxes that I have paid gone to? Wait.....is that your Rolls? Dang, that's a nice ride."
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
"I'm doing hard work," I informed him defensively. "I'm out there defending my country. Your country."
"Yep. Yep. You are. I didn't mean to imply you weren't"
So, momma completed her grocery shopping. Heading home, I am sure she was already planning on what to make daddy for dinner.
Until he killed my mother.
And the old man asks me why I'm so angry.
"You know," the old man says as he spits out a wade of tobacco, "they killed his son."
"What are you talking about?"
A week later I packed my bags and headed back to the desert.
Monday, September 5, 2011
The neck makes an ugly sound as it cracks.
I didn't drop the hammer at first. I just stood over his body, contemplating my next move. I knew he was dead. A person's neck is not meant to turn in that direction. I crouched low enough to the ground to get a good look at him. His eyes were open, forever caught in the endless question of why. I laid the hammer, my murder weapon, down beside him.
"Now, what do I do with you," I asked him. His corpse lacked a reply.
Slowly, I grabbed him by the arms and began the arduous task of dragging him out of the shed. I knew, without much thought or plan, where I was taking him.
The lake was no more than a hundred paces from the tool shed. In the summer time, it was home to a host of snakes, snapping turtles, and other assortment of carnivorous creatures. As children, we were not allowed anywhere near its banks. Fishing was not permitted. Swimming was out of the question. The lake was simply a mirage. An illusion of tranquility and summer enjoyment. My dad liked to tell me there were at least a thousand different ways to die in there.
It was the perfect spot to dispose of the body.
I was only able to drag him a quarter of the way before I had to sit and rest. The sun was beginning to say goodbye on this eventful day, when I sensed the first rumblings of an animal off in the distance. I didn't want to be discovered by any of the animals that lived out that way after sunset. Managing his heavy body was proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated. Killing had been easy. But, with his dead weight, I was not making much headway. Reluctantly, I decided on an ulterior, yet messier, method of concealing my crime. I went back into the tool shed and fetched the axe that my dad used to chop wood with in the winter time. My plan was to cut off the limbs and throw them in the lake. With the extra weight taken off, I reasoned I should be able to maneuver his torso with better ease.
At least that was the plan.
Our bodies are made to stay intact; to carry us through life with the protection that we need to sustain it. After we die, our bodies refuse to give up the fight. Our hearts, even though they cease to pump, still receive electrical impulses from the brain signalling some form of movement. Our bones, once given the duty to hold us upright and to protect our more fragile organs, refuse to break even after we have exhaled our last breath. These are the moments, that as living creatures, we don't realize. The corpse, however, looking at me with his neck twisted at that unnatural angle, was all too aware.
I approached him stealthily with the axe in my hand. I held it over my head, ready to swing at the slightest movement. I knew he was dead. Yet, something in me didn't trust death to keep him down. I circled his carcass a few times, nudging him with the axe handle here and there, half way expecting a reaction. When none was displayed, I prepared myself for the dismemberment.
I had originally drug him to the spot on his belly. His head laid at such an angle, that if he were on his back, his face would be in the dirt. So, I kept him on his stomach and spread his arms and legs out. He resembled a twisted angel. He looked halfway up at the sky, still kept one eye on me; while the other watched the ground.
I decided to start with his arms, rather than his legs. I had no reason behind this action. It just seemed like a good place to begin.
With the axe raised over my head, I stood poised to bring it down as hard as I could. Taking deep breaths, I swung with all my might.
And completely missed.
Undaunted, I attempted the act a second time. On this go around, I caught the arm where it joins to the shoulder. I felt the axe ripped through the muscle and tissue as it meant resistance at the bone. Again, I lifted the axe over my head and swung down. The cracking sound let me know that I was at least somewhat successful.
The fourth time was undoubtedly the charm. The cracking of the bones and cartilage gave way to the axe sweeping clean through to the ground. Careful not to get too much blood on me, I picked the limb up by the elbow and carried it to the banks of the pond. Once there, I threw it as far as I could into the placid waters. I returned to the body to repeat the process three more times.
By the time I had thrown the last limb into the lake, the sun had set. Working by the light of the moon, I made my way back to the torso. Even in the night, I could see blood splattered everywhere. I imagined what I must look like in my jean shorts and t-shirt. I could smell his blood mixed with my sweat all over me. Wiping the beads of perspiration from my forehead, I grabbed him by what remained of his clothes, and proceeded to drag him the rest of the way to the lake.
A person's body weighs considerably less when it's missing appendages.
Besides, I needed to get to bed. The next day was a school day.