Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ninth and Columbia

    A young man in baggy and ill fitting clothing stood on the corner of Ninth and Columbia street. His gaunt white face winced as he whispered restrained curses, making the facial expressions of a man screaming at the top of his lungs. He fidgeted and squirmed unable to contain his pent up energy.
    Through his car window, the driver of the car passing the young man on Columbia could see him repeating  with exaggerated inflection the word fuck after every three or four words. Fuck, mumble mumble mumble, fuck, mumble mumble mumble. The driver stared at the sickly boy stewing and fidgeting by the side of the road and smiled a malign smile. The driver was not only glad that he was not the young man, but he enjoyed the fact that the young man had no choice but to be exactly what he was.
    Dakota Figg is what he was. Dakota Figg is who he was. On the corner of Ninth and Columbia, the only thing he could be was Dakota Figg.
    Dakota Figg lived on Wabash Avenue with his mother and three sisters. His mother worked seventy hours  a week at the Wabash Valley Mental Hospital as an orderly. She smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and did everything she could to make sure her four children had food and a roof over their head. As for providing motherly affection, well, she had only so many hours in a day. Dakota's mother drank vodka in order to fall asleep for five hours each night. She loved all four of her children as much as she could with the limited time that she had. She knew that time was money.
    Dakota never knew his father. Dakota's sisters never knew their fathers either. Dakota's mother never spoke of his sister's fathers, but she did speak of his father with disgust. "Rapist" she sneered. "I took a hit or two from him" she would mutter while washing second hand Tupperware trays clouded from over use. "I don't even know what your sisters would have endured if he were still around and that tears me up inside" she would confess when drunk on cheap vodka. This is the father Dakota knew.
    Dakota hated his father based on how he knew him. He also loved his father because he did not and could not know him the way he knew his mother. He knew that his whining, chain smoking, self righteous mother, blamed his father, his blood, his genetic make up for her tragedy, her missed opportunity, her perpetually dismal state. It was all very complicated for young Dakota. Fuck, mumble mumble mumble, fuck, mumble mumble mumble.
    The driver on Columbia street, deviously smiling at Dakota was Clayton Barbee. Clayton Barbee grew up in the suburban neighborhood Capilano by the Lake, a planned community centralized around an artificial lake located next to a private golf course. Clayton's father was one of a long line of mid western bankers. Money, innocently, never crossed Clayton's mind, ever. Clayton's view of the world outside of his golf course adjacent neighborhood was based mostly on what he saw on various screens. In early childhood, it was a television screen. In his teenage years it was a computer screen. At the time, it came mostly from a small screen on his phone. These screens helped Clayton's parents continue about their lives and careers without worry for the safety of their child. What could happen? He would always be safe and secure. When the phone screen was introduced Clayton's father did feel a twinge of anxiety about his son's safety, but he chalked it up to the irrationality of emotions. 
    Clayton's mother loved and adored her son so much that she refused to believe that her son could possibly be anything other than a perfect angel. The phone screen gave her a little anxiety, but she would have never admitted it. Her perfect little man was smart and she knew that he would know what to do. 
    Clayton Barbee viewed Dakota Figg on the corner of Ninth and Columbia through a much simpler screen than his television or computer or phone. Clayton viewed Dakota through the screen that was his car window. He viewed that glass screen the same way he viewed every screen in his life. It was a separation of him from the rest of the world. The screen made something that would normally scare Clayton seem amusing. So Clayton chuckled at Dakota, there on the road, fidgeting and cursing before he drove off to school. Clayton smiled because he knew that he would never be as stupid as Dakota Figg. Clayton smiled because he knew that he was better than Dakota and he liked being better than those who suffered. Clayton smiled because everything existed for him to judge as smart or dumb. Everything about the situation made sense in Clayton's thoughts and that made him happy.
    Dakota Figg killed his mother that night with butcher knife. He tried to kill his sisters, but the oldest sister managed to call the police because his middle sister managed to knee her brother in the crotch rendering him temporarily incapacitated. When the police arrived on Wabash avenue the three sisters had managed to lock themselves in the bathroom. All three of them leaned against the bathroom door to keep Dakota from breaking down the door. When Dakota heard the police sirens he lost interest in his sisters. He ran to the front door, swung it open, and ran blindly toward the flashing red and blue lights, wielding the same knife he had plunged into his mothers stomach only minutes prior. The police shot him only twice, once in the heart and once in the head. It was a very humane and efficient death.
    Clayton read the news feed on the small screen on his phone later that night. Clayton had already forgot the he had seen Dakota earlier that day, but he found the news feed intriguing. He found it amusing. Clayton posted the link on his facebook with the hash tag #PPP: Poor People's Problems. The post received fifteen likes before Clayton signed off for the night and went to sleep. He slept eight trouble free hours that night before he woke up well rested and signed on for the day. Life was good. 

Aaron C. Molden, 2012

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