"In October, people with Alzheimer’s disease will be injected with the blood of young people in the hope that it will reverse some of the damage caused by the condition."
Elizabeth Bathory, Ph.D.
The notice from the city in Friday’s mail says that you will be summoned before the magistrate if you fail to remove the trees growing in the alley behind your house. It says that the inspector will come back “on or about” Monday.
The code compliance officer does not answer the phone at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday. Her chipper voice invites you to leave a message. You try to be friendly while explaining your situation, but you are tired and sound more annoyed than you really are.
Earlier at lunch, you had said something about chores as the reason for not coming in over the weekend. Now it is true. Retroactive honesty.
When you bought the house nine years ago, the backyard was large, with a chain link fence spanning the width halfway back and a hog wire fence at the easement. Someone told you once that a previous owner stored a mobile home between the fences. Now the South Texas weed trees have grown between the two fences into a dense, narrow forest that screens your view of the neighbors for most of the year. You call that space “the bottoms.”
You and your wife fight through the growth to see how many trees will need to be cut down. She steps in raccoon shit and you find large snail shells, empty. Do raccoons eat escargot? In the bottoms there is the lid of an unrecognized Christmas tin, incongruous with the humid August dusk.
You find a rubber cock among the weeds in the alley.
The chainsaw still runs, but the blade and chain are bad. That chainsaw model has been discontinued and it takes the rest of Friday night to figure out that the new blade and chain won’t work because your model is the 235e, not the 235. Solving this tedious problem is more satisfying than all of the last five days.
Saturday, the summer heat is filled with the ever-present Doppler staccato of cicadas.
You feel like Captain Willard every time you tramp through the bottoms. You run the chainsaw and feel guilty felling the trees that fight each other for space in the sun. Platitudes about the value of work float through a heat-induced headache.
The radio says the governor of Missouri declared marshal law to restore order from the protests against the police shooting an unarmed teenager, his hands in the air and fleeing. The police call them riots and have been using teargas and tanks for a week already, before the declaration of marshal law. They have added a curfew.
The neighbor with the implausibly-viridian crewcut lawn tells you he received a notice, too. He says the code compliance officer is nice, but she cited everyone along the alley so that something will get done.
Everybody is guilty.
In the wealthy enclave nearby, coyotes have been seen more frequently lately. At the park last week with your toddler son, your wife was approached by a lurking camera crew and asked if she knew about the coyotes. She declined to play the role of Concerned Parent on the nightly news.
In the easement you find a covert hash pipe made from a highlighter and foil. You wonder if it belongs to the same person who left the rubber cock. The radio says that the U.S. has started bombing Iraq again, fighting the relentless growth of militant fundamentalists.
The brush piles up and you reflect on the fragility of the social contract. The handle on the chainsaw breaks on Sunday. Parts are available online just in time for next weekend.
You hope the compliance officer is understanding.
The radio plays “I fought the law and the law won.”
"MILICIAS EN LA FRONTERA SUR" warns the headline from the free Tejano weekly stacked by the door in the store where they sell the magic hongos. Open source street intel from creepy Facebook pages and secret recruiting hotlines.
Did you read about white couple launching their new app today that crowdsources the “sketchy” neighborhoods to stay away from? They say it’s not about race. Vigilantism comes in soft serve, too.
The sirena with the mohawk who mediates gentrification and dispenses life at the neighborhood juice bar tells about her recent trip to see family in Tamaulipas. Where the ex-special forces guys took over the business of selling drugs to gringos.
In the newspaper that morning, they announce how they are going to build a spaceport right there on the beach where Texas ends and Tamaulipas begins.
It’s going to be awesome. Like Iron Man versus the Zetas.
The newspaper also says how the governor has swarmed the border with game wardens retooled as commandos with .30 cals and bulletproof jetboats.
Right there at Boca Chica used to be a beach town called Bagdad. It was a boomtown during the Civil War, a Confederate port full of gun smugglers, blockade runners, and desperadoes. Fandangos every night.
Up the road there is an Air Force Base they are filling up with lost children.
“We will ensure that SpaceX has everything they need in order to be successful in the Greater Brownsville Borderplex,” says the Mayor.
You read the gerontocratic future foretold by the bond rating actuaries, and you wonder if they will have guest workers in the plush centers of affluent convalescence where the Baby Boomers go to never die.
In 2020, 20% of us will be geezers, and economic growth will slow by a point. Wait until you see what 2070 looks like. You wonder how long it will take before they start putting help wanted ads over the holes in the border walls. Like the one you find on Street View, in the middle of Matamoros, walking distance from Spaceport Boca Chica.
Will they have fandangos on the launch pad? Will they invite the neighbors?
CEMENT ECLIPSES @ CHIAPAS MEXICO
Artist Isaac Cordal (tumblr / facebook) - “With the simple act of miniaturization and thoughtful placement, Isaac Cordal magically expands the imagination of pedestrians finding his sculptures on the street. Cement Eclipses is a critical definition of our behavior as a social mass. The art work intends to catch the attention on our devalued relation with the nature through a critical look to the collateral effects of our evolution. With the master touch of a stage director, the figures are placed in locations that quickly open doors to other worlds. The scenes zoom in the routine tasks of the contemporary human being”.
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature. But this? Using scissors to cut off the tip of a slice of pizza? I don’t know what this is. ”