The American Book of the Dead: Sum of Us

“Ah hah! Pronoun trouble.”
– Daffy Duck

Her father and uncles; later, her brothers, cousins, husband; later still, her sons and grandsons spilled blood overseas (others’ and their own), to defend Our Way of Life.

Of course She had assumed hers was “our” way the shops, houses, gardens, luncheonettes; Spring parties, Summer picnics, Holiday parades – her town was Our town was Our Way of Life.

When finally Our Way of Life dropped dead, decades-old decrepit shops and “Mom & Pop” eateries were crushed, flattened,  kaput. A Super Mall humming with chain stores,  and a Factory to manufacture pills would sprout like bean-stalks from the ruins; the block where She was born and raised, and raised her kids, shall too be razed, the lot black-topped and lined, a carpet for cars of the new work force.

Oh Brave New World of jobs, growth, Free Parking and discount meds!

She told the reporter: “The Courts say we’re to receive ‘just compensation’ for our home.  I’m eighty-two-years-old, yet I knew nothing of life’s worth until I saw the market value of the only home I’d ever known. The sum. Not a billion dollars, not a million dollars, not anything close. I had imagined…well, what’s a lifetime worth? The Developer, the one whose firm owns City Hall — I’m not stupid – said, and he plays hardball, I respect that, he said ‘It’s not like you’re twenty and we’re speculating on your future. This is compensation for lives lived. We’re actually paying you for time you and your hubby already pissed away.  A used house and two used lives.  That considered, this is a very reasonable offer…’”

You see, She’d been confused all those years listening and watching: radio, film, tabloid, television Celebrity News Advertise Celebrity Heartbreak Marriage News Indictment Freedom Ingénue Super-Star be Free…

Ever since She was a child, when they sent away the boys from her neighborhood she’d always assumed it was ‘Our way of life’ the boys, her boys were killing and dying for, when all along it had been THEIRS.

Their ways, Their lives, Their Eminence and Their Domain.

A life such as hers, or her husband’s, or her son’s or daughter’s or great-grand-daughter’s is but a “paltry thing,” a dirty napkin on the scale beside Their gold.

Beau Cephalus, Writer-in-Residence at /dev/null, is not afraid to speak the Truth to Power. So long as there's a viable exit-strategy. Read other articles by Beau.