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Glitter in the Dark – Excerpt 3
Chapter 16 – State of the Union
“Many of the dead and dying are left unattended in the streets, or in their apartments and homes. Disease and famine kill roughly 2,000 per day, and a slow migration west and south has overwhelmed bordering states. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland have all requested Federal assistance, but there‘s little to go around. WHO’s Elon Quamie said survivors are at risk of diarrhea, respiratory infections and insect-borne diseases that could result in ‘quite high rates of death,’ but he quickly added that the living are in more danger from other survivors than from the dead. Quamie also said the mental health of the survivors is at risk. ‘Tremendous mental scarring’ results from disasters like this one, he said.”
“Saying an unprecedented catastrophe requires an unprecedented response, U.N. Secretary-General Bojanca Ceplak has appealed for the international community to come together to help aid the areas ravaged by the attack. Ceplak announced that the World Bank had added $2 Trillion to the $2 Trillion already pledged by the international community for the humanitarian effort, but more is needed. The United Nations will send an appeal for assistance, and a donor’s conference is planned for May Eleventh.”
“Several European nations increased their donations in response to the latest news, but many other nations have refused to come to aid, citing the US’s reckless foreign policy as clear reasoning for denial. French President, Djamel Manaudou, stated yesterday, ‘Even in light of momentous domestic travesty – logistically, environmentally, and more importantly, humanitarianly – current US policy is aimed at foreign shores rather than of its own. Why have valuable and finite US military resources been deployed overseas when the real battle is at home, domestically?’”
Jane storms into the living room and stands in front of the TV. “What‘s this all about? A new roommate!”
“Yes, tomorrow Jewels will be moving in.” Confidence trumps apology at this juncture, right?
Jane stares at me furiously, “JEWELS?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, her name is Julie… She’s a middle school teacher.”
“I don’t care who she is or what she does! You should ask permission for decisions like these, Tyler.”
“Well, you weren’t there, Janie… She’s cool, she’s ok… We were comfortable outlining the agreement.”
“Agreement! What agreement? No, no… No fucking way, Mister!”
“All she wants is protection, and in return, we get half of her paycheck… Pay-stubs submitted as proof. She says she’s a good cook too.”
“You just don’t know when to stop, now do you? Huh, a good cook? Yeah right!”
“Listen now, dammit, I’m calling this shot! She is a good girl, we talked much of the night and I know what I am doing!” Exercising authority caused me to do things I had not intended, like lifting my ass from the couch and drawing my nose just inches from Jane’s.
The TV makes a feeble attempt to interrupt.
“You love her, don’t you?” Jane says softly to my lips before turning away.
“What,” I question her back, “do I love her! Are you out of your mind?”
She turns on a dime, “You were quick to defend her. Men only do that If they love a woman, or…”
“…Or if they want to fuck the woman,” I finish her thought sarcastically. “Listen, Jane, this is neither love nor lust. This is a logical decision that is a win-win for all parties.”
“You may think so, Tyler, but I don’t.”
“Please, please listen. This is no different than Ms. Jenkis’ house… She’s sharing her two extra bedrooms with Janis, Marley, and Dan. We have two extra rooms with nobody in them!”
“I know how you look at those girls. I know you want to fuck them.”
“Jane, Jane… Baby,” I hold her in my arms and whisper in her ear, “I love you, Jane, I lust only you.”
Jane responds with a limp torso and unresponsive arms.
“Janie, we need the money. Ms. Jenkis pulled her savings out of ours now that she has a house full of kids… She only pays us monthly now.”
Jane doesn’t respond, and she doesn’t hold me in return.
Chapter 23 – Commerce
…We shuffle down the street, and our footsteps ricochet off of neighboring houses like a parade would without music. I point out other communal efforts en route to the store. Several residents have duplicated our efforts, securing their future with security fences and tilled lawns. We’ve helped most of them.
Others have boarded their windows and doors like Jason’s – one along the way had been violated. Jane tugs on my arm, “Look, the front door has been kicked in.”
I trot onto the lawn, and Jane cautions me with anxious words. I ignore her and step over the door, clinging to its lowest hinge. I flip both light switches several times and think twice before entering the shadows. “Anyone home?”
I trample on broken glass, “Hello?”
The place is a mess, with drawers pulled and lamps broken. I can’t see much else, so I make my way towards the kitchen in search for light. My foot catches on something and I tumble onto hard kitchen floor. “Fuck!” I fondle the wall until I find a switch that works. On the floor between me and the front door lies an arm with bloody fingers. I peer around the corner to find the rest of the body, a man nearly six feet tall lying dead on his back. His swollen hands look like inflated latex gloves, and puss oozes from his fingertips. A giant blood stain covers the floor by his head. Only then did I notice the stench.
I throw up lunch onto the tiled floor and scuttle outside to puke some more.
“What’s the matter, Ty?” Dan rushes to my side. “What’s in there?”
I spit puke onto the lawn and tell Dan not to go inside.
Jane inches to me fearfully, “Baby?”
“Tell everyone to stay put.” My words stammer, but Dan relays the order perfectly. I catch my breath on two knees and whip out our last remaining cell phone. Jane kisses my swollen hand.
“Nine-one-one. What is the nature of the emergency?”
“I need to report a dead body, maybe more.”
“What address are you calling from?”
Dan, as if he could hear our conversation, reads the address to me clearly, “118 South Fortune Street.” I repeat word for word into the receiver.
“What phone number are you calling from?”
“I’d rather not give you that information.”
I hang up, and slide the phone into my back pocket. They help me up, and we rejoin the group on the street. Everyone asks, but I say nothing.
My other work is A Book for Every Body. Here is excerpt 1 from that book.