No, Virginia, There is No Love in the World

The grocery stores had all been shut down. Not literally, but ideally. There was some sort of strike going on. Something about health benefits for the proletariat working-class union wolves. They crowded the entrances to all of the supermarkets, and they were backed by the customers who never bothered to show up. Their absence was a shrine to the support they held for the baggers, the cashiers, and the butchers who butchered the meat, but never seemed to be able to take off the border of fat on your steak, even though they knew it'd clog your arteries and you'd die. The strikers kept round-the-clock vigils outside the supermarkets, and it had in effect closed down the entire chain of food retailers up and down the western seaboard.

He wandered through town as he did on a daily basis. This was nothing new. Nothing new to do, no one new to talk to. Four laps around the high school track had brought him nothing new, except the jelly-like feeling his legs now experienced. His head was just as clouded as it had been when he had woken up that morning, and the morning before that. There seemed to be nothing to free him from this torment.

The spring sky was blocked out by a grey wall of spring clouds. The sun was lost behind the shield; only its light made it through to the ground. Each hour was indistinguishable from the next. All there is, all there was, was light and clouds. The skies screamed rain but the clouds delivered mist. Today was not a special day. Just another boring day of existence. No signs of joy, no signs of the impending apocalypse. Nothing new was in store for today. Everything was the same.

There was once a love in his heart, a love so strong it could have moved mountains. But that was now gone. There was little reason to continue to do anything anymore. For some reason, the hopeless look for hope, even though there is no hope to find. He hoped for rain, because you know what they say about April showers. But they would not come. The darkest clouds didn't bring precipitation, but instead they brought less light to see by. Ill luck had found him again, and it had gripped him through the remorselessly dry barrenness of his mouth.

They each paraded identical signs that told the world that they were on strike, like the world couldn't see that. The uniformity of their monochrome signs were somewhat of an eyesore. The strike had been occurring for over a week now, and it showed no signs of giving in. The food banks were being inundated with contributions from the supermarkets, for there was no one else that would take the food from the dusty shelves. At least someone would eat well tonight.

He knew about the strike, and always wondered what it would be like if he crossed the picket line. Especially without any clothes on. He also wondered if all the kids who still went to the high school whose track he had just made use of still worked, or if they backed their co-workers by not working. Ah, American laziness at its finest, he thought. He pulled into the supermarket parking lot, for it had not been blocked off by the strikers. Such militancy had not spread this far north yet.

He parked his car in the once vacant lot, and stepped out into the surprisingly warm air. He didn't park directly in front of the store, but rather some distance away from the building. He didn't know why; he just did. And no one questions fate, not even the ruler of the world himself. He proceeded to make his 100-foot journey to the entrance of the grocery store. There was a group of union puppets camped out in front of the door that was marked "In". They all held their identical signs, and all looked at him with identical eyes. Eyes that scorned him for even thinking about pulling up to the store, nonetheless entering to purchase an item. Eyes that scorned him for not having any sympathy for a group of strangers he had never met.

At the 50 foot mark, some of them had come to confront him about his intentions. "Don't go in there, man," said one of the group of four. His eyes were filled with compassion and hope. "They want to take away one of the few things we got." The second sentence had an undertone of spite in it. Perhaps even a threat under that as well.

"Leave me alone," said the would-be customer. It wasn't that he was opposed to the union's cause, but it was that he was indifferent. The repeat was a half-plead, half-growl. "Leave me alone."

He proceeded towards the store, past the four strikers, this time unmolested. The sole customer of the grocery dynamo walked with his eyes to the ground. "Don't go in there!" he heard an anonymous voice cry.

His body and mind were weary. Weary from a lifetime of situations that were unkind to his soul. Without turning his head, or even moving his eyes up from his feet, and just loud enough so the union strikers could hear, he sighed:

"I'm thirsty."

( FIN. )