A building had caught fire the day before and we were living in that heightened awareness following something surreal. I’d fashioned a way to multitask hosing the garden and taking care of the boy that was a thing of beauty.
There was just something nice about drinking on your front lawn and spraying your kid. It was almost that you drank to reach the euphoria of the kid. You drank to return to somewhere, whether or not it had ever existed, when everything was perfect, or to drink because you liked to drink, or to fit in.
The boy asked me something and I clenched my knuckles so that the pressure of the water hardened. The substance in my hand, the nice thing about it, is that it loosens some of your thoughts, and strengthens the rest. The boy had been talking ever since the fire.
The fire had brought us out there, just out there, a bunch of individuals on the pavement, the walls of our homes broken down. He was playing with something with kids who had had to evacuate. A homeless drug-addict interrupted them by stealing the thing. I chased the person. The person threw down the thing as I closed on them. Butt of a cig.
When I returned the boy was tearing gum from the sidewalk that drew away from the ground like the mouth of a jellyfish. I told him we had to go and he hugged my leg.
It was a cig-a-rette, I said, for him to understand.
The boy was often this way around drug-addicts and I considered finding him another cigarette to loosen the tension. Gave him the speech about climbing, how we’re all perched above one another, dangling, and how someone has to be at the bottom when the game needs someone to hold the rope, and how he could too be in the street if he didn’t work hard enough, and how we would always be safe, and how ropes were natural. Things had been promised, and we were entitled to the rest.
The boy said something from a book that a woman had left behind, about how three-quarters of your brain develops after birth, “so how can we all climb the same?”
What do you say to us turning on the hose, I said.
The beer, the sun, the son, my garden. We got what we deserved – everyone was responsible for who they were.
word by Liam Lachance
colour by Sam Rowe
From the author: “Privilege masks our own exploitation. Tokens like unofficial segregation (suburbs) and better access to employment convinces white people that power-brokers have them in mind when they create public policy for corporations. The current oligarchy muffles dissent with tokens so long as the subjects do not pose a serious threat to the oligarchy.
We need to feel better than someone to mask our own feelings of inept self-worth or lacking-meaning in working for the oligarchy, and what we say about those we believe beneath us says everything about what we believe about our Selves.
Characters go about their day following surreal events by finding someone to criticize, assuming the beasts could not come for them, when the time comes, and that these truly oppressed, these dead, these poor, these imprisoned, are not just the test demographic.”