Monday, October 24, 2011

The Prime Grievances: Preface

At present time, the 99%, Occupy Wall Street, and other social movements are an aggregate of individuals who believe, to put this as broadly as possible, that they have been or will be subject to an injustice and that the origin of this injustice is not from a misdeed, inadequacy, or failure on their part, but rather result from the cultural, political, economic, social systems that are components of the civilization known as the United States of America. These words deliberately focus on the USA as the observations they are based on are limited solely to that country, the individuals living within it, and the policies and norms (legal and by-legal) which prevail in its sovereignty. I believe that I would be supremely disingenuous if I attempted to pontificate about the plights of those fellow humans in separate sovereign states.

Nearly every person who identifies themselves as part of the 99% possesses difficulties, either past, present, or (they believe) future, which imperil their current standard of living and socio-economic standing, or if their standard and position are already precarious at best, threaten to reduce their current situation to destitution. Even if there are people within the movement who are not imperiled by such difficulties, those exempt individuals are nonetheless sympathetic to the plights of the former category and operate in solidarity with them.

The specific and proximal reasons behind each individual's plight would be, while not impossible, supremely impractical to properly enumerate. Just so, the beliefs concerning the systemic origin of their plights and possible means of correction are likewise as numerous as those claiming to be a component of the movement. However, after observing the movement as an aggregate of various complaints, philosophies, and solutions, there has so emerged a collection of issues which have ascended above all others by being shared by a majority of the movement, in some fashion or another.

While by no means definitive in either number, content, or presentation, at least five issues transcend all others by being not only the most broadly observed topics of discussion, but also by being the sources of so many people's plights.

These I have so dubbed: the Prime Grievances.

Grievance 1: The grossly disproportionate influence corporate entities posses over the political system of the United States of America, specifically that of the Representative and Executive branches, which results in..

Grievance 2: The prevailing economic trends resulting in the collapse of the American 'middle' socio-economic class, resulting in the swelling of the 'low' socio-economic class and the prevalence of poverty if not outright destitution, which is exacerbated by...

Grievance 3: The ongoing and systematic decrease in wages, either directly by deliberate and apparent wage cuts or indirectly by wage stagnation in the face of magnifying monetary inflation;

Grievance 4: The binding of universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning directly to the market system as opposed to having them be a public service. Having these organizations, which are vital to the training and improvement of American citizenry subject to market forces ensures that they will likewise be subject to the turbulence inherent in market systems, most tellingly in their real and imminent danger of economic collapse;

Grievance 5: Likewise, Healthcare and the acquisition of which being subject to market forces.

These are the Prime Grievances as I have identified them and understand them. In the coming days, I will not only elaborate in depth upon each of these, but will according to reader input add to and/or revise these listed points in addition to adding new grievances entirely. After each of these have been sufficiently elaborated upon, they will be organized and collated into a final draft to be accessed as needed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Just Leg It" - Flash Fiction Challenge: Five Words Plus One Vampire

Chuck Wendig from wanted a story containing at least three of the following words: COCKROACH, FOUNTAIN, TAX, BOTTLE, BOX; and the incorporation of vampires.

Well, here you go. I brought enough to share with the rest of the class.


A gloved thumb spun a wheel flint, firing off a cascade of sparks to ignite the fuel-soaked wick of a lighter. The flame burst in the frosty night air, it occupied only by down-drifting snow and a man in dark winter clothes with a cigarette eager for immolation. With it lit, he took a not-in-any-way-modest drag as his eyes panned the street ahead of him, and the wall of buildings just past it.

A black truck turned onto the street between apartment blocks and storefronts. He squinted, trying to see and if so recognize the driver, a task complicated by distance and precipitation. He returned the lighter to his coat as the truck just kept driving, snowflakes chasing after it as if they were hoping for a ride.

The headlights of a dark green town car seized his attention, increasingly due to its decreasing speed. It stopped next to him, and the passenger-side window rolled down. The driver, leaning over the empty seat, said in a scarf muffled voice, “What the hell are you doing out in this cold, Angel?”

Angel left the cigarette in his mouth. “Freezing to death, just to prove a point about how slow you are. Get in the back; we'll load up and skidoo.” The car drove forward, then turned into the alleyway and the loading area inside. Angel followed behind after giving the area one last visual sweep.

As he turned into the alley, one of his hands searched his jacket for the pistol that was not his. He walked into the loading area with the pistol in hand, stepping up to the driver's side door as the driver opened it. Angel pulled out the pistol as the driver approached him, hand open for a shake.

It got the grip of an m1911 instead. “What the hell is this?” the driver asked. “Your present. Happy birthday Teddy.” He stepped back and examined the gun as Angel moved to a workbench supporting a large wooden box. “Wow. Just, wow, man. This really makes up for needing to make a run on my fucking birthday. Was this yours in the war?” Angel grabbed the box and carried it to the back of the car. “No, it's new. Pop open the trunk, would ya?”

Teddy ducked back inside and set the pistol on his seat as he opened the hatch. “Where are we off to, anyway?” he said, fiddling with the pistol more as he crawled inside. Angel set the box down with a huff and the clinking of glass bottles before shutting the trunk. “I dunno. I have the address, but never heard of the place. Must be a really ritzy operation though, paying so much to transport a single crate.” Teddy shut his door and opened the passenger side. Angel climbed in as quickly as his bulk allowed.

“Imports? Not just Canadian bootleg, I mean actual champagne or something?” Teddy's new pistol was absent, likely on his person. They crept on to the street as Angel replied. “Head north here. I have no clue, I just heard the boss tell me to get this crate to the address, and that I would get a lead enema for any sort of 'product testing.” Teddy pulled into the street, due north, and gradually accelerated. He found a modest speed – neither too slow or too fast – and held it. “Right in four lights,” Angel instructed.

“Thanks Angelo. For the pistol. I've been itching for a new piece for a while now,” Teddy said as he reached the turn. “You've been itching? That old piece of shit was a liability. I'm surprised it didn't blow off your hand. Follow this until we hit 27th.”

Teddy did so with concentration to spare. “How's Doris?” he asked. “Getting crankier every day now, god damn. The fact that she's cranky is making her cranky.” Teddy grinned under his scarf. “Compound crankiness? Yikes man, are all women like that when a kid is on the way?” Angel sighed, breath and smoke billowed in the car. “I am fine with that remaining a mystery.”

Angel looked out the widow at the apartments and storefronts passing them by. “What happens when we hit 27th?” Teddy pulled into the center lane. “You're going to want to take a left for a block. There will be a department store with a fountain in front of it. I'm pretty sure I know which alley to turn into.”

They drove past the green light at the 23rd Street intersection and a few cars waiting to cross. Angel eyes traced the blunt curves of the dashboard when the view outside started to become monotonous. A large brown blur moved in his periphery. His eyes darted to a thick cockroach creeping up Teddy's slim shoulder. He started to reach for it. 'Teddy, keep driving.” He glanced at him, but followed the order and the road. “What? What is it?” “Keep fucking driving,” he said as his hand nearly grasped the glossy carapace. Teddy's eyes darted back to him, then his head twisted as he felt the antenna on his ear.

Teddy screamed shrill, incomprehensible almost-words as the steering wheel became enslaved to his panic. The car swerved hard left, pushing Angel against the door. The cockroach joined him by landing on his face.

Teddy forced a corrective turn which only served to swerve the car into a slide and spin. Inertia proved to be the harshest mistress of them all – more so than Doris – as the car crashed into the glass, brick, and timepieces of a clock store.

Angel kicked open the door and danced chaotically, trying to shake the roach off. He stopped when the full weight of the situation froze solid in his mind. “Jesus. Fucking Christ.” Teddy crawled out after him through the passenger side, rolling on the ground in an effort to remove what and how many crawling things he feared were on him. “Teddy? Teddy get the fuck up! We need to go!” “What was it? Is it on me? Get it off!” Angel grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet.

“Teddy! It's gone! It was a fucking roach!” Angel looked around to see lights blink on in windows all around the area. “Jesus, open the trunk, we need to carry this out before the cops get here!”
“Is it in the car?!” he scream asked. “Open the god damn trunk!” Angel rushed to the back of the car as Teddy mustered enough courage to open it with the tip of his shoe. Angel prepared for the worst as he lifted up.

The case was broken open, and the glass bottles inside shattered. Luckily for them, there was no alcohol in those bottles. Unluckily, the trunk looked like a killing floor - with killing walls and a killing ceiling, all splattered with ferric crimson. Teddy jumped beside him, panic in his eyes. “Angel? What the fuck? I thought we needed to g- oh.”

Angel placed a gloved finger in the puddle of red and then brought it to his nose. He smelled the rust. Teddy's head darted down the street as police sirens started to run through the urban corridor. “Hey, Angelo? When did we start doing runs for Draculas?”

“It's 'vampires', and this isn't going to be the first time,” Angelo said as he stepped back, his body shaking from more than cold. “Just leg it.”