Friday, December 21, 2035
Letters From the Sand
What a wonderful Christmas present… a letter from The Boy came last week. Sounds like he’s doing well. I edited ever so slightly.
Hey. Sorry I haven't wrote until now, I just started walking one day and kept going. There's still people out on the road, even when it's getting cold like now. But I was going east, so I decided to check out the beach to see how big the flood was getting.
I got to Myrtle Beach, and somebody asked me if I wanted a job getting junk off the islands that are flooding out. The pay sounded good, so I said sure. We're working off a boat, digging up storage tanks from gas stations and getting transformers off power poles and those boxes on the ground. The government doesn't want it [messing] up the water, I guess, and the crews make some money selling what we get out. There's a couple people still living in the condos on the beach, even with a foot or two of water coming in the ground floor. They said they don't want to leave, it's their place and they're not going even if they don't have electric or water. That's so stupid. One of the boat owners said if a big storm comes in, they won't be able to leave and if the building collapses they're dead. It's not like they don't have nowhere to go, they can get a place in Atlanta, Raleigh, or Columbia.
I'm sorry I can't live with you guys yet, I've got [stuff] to work out from when they sent me to Colorado. The government gave me a card that lets me get food even if I'm not working, so I don't have to worry about that. I don't have to worry about anything right now, except if something breaks while I'm working and that doesn't happen anyway. At night, sometimes I play guitar in one of the bars that the salvage people like to hang out at. It's a little extra money and I guess they like my music. It would be nice if we had some electricity for some amps and a drummer, I could play some really good stuff, hahaha. Some of the people I work with are optouts, or used to be. They say they're seeing if they can get back in. They don't talk much, but they smoke with me on breaks and come to the bar to hear me play. I wrote a song for them called I Opted Out Today and they laugh when I play it and put money in my tip jar, so I try to play it every night.
So I don't know what I'll do when this job is done. It's hard working in the cold water, but they give us heated gear and it helps a lot. I guess when we get all the toxic [stuff] out, we'll either move to another place or I'll hit the road again. I always wanted to go out to California, so maybe I'll save up some of my money and get a train ticket. Maybe I'll stop in Colorado and piss on the shale. I heard they put some of the junta people there, so maybe I'll piss on them too. Well, gotta go, playing a gig in a few minutes. Love you guys.
It’s good to know that he hasn’t opted out, and he’s doing something useful (and something he likes, although not necessarily at the same time). But it makes you wonder how many people up and down the coast are sticking to their homes. I hope he gets to see California, and maybe play his guitar on what’s left of the beach out there. He sent a picture, I guess a co-worker took it, of him sitting on a car with his guitar in his lap. The water was up to the windows on the car, with a half-drowned gas station in the background and the morning sun peeking out from behind a cloud. I texted his gadget and told him he should use that picture for an album cover. He texted back, “Yeah hahaha call it Optout Beach.”
They had a segment on “coastal salvage” on the tube last week. The Boy wasn’t in it — they were showing crews down in Florida, I guess because it’s warmer down there and the documentary crew didn’t have to get too cold. Or maybe they were just getting a tax write-off for a vacation. But like The Boy said, there’s both a financial and an environmental incentive to get stuff out of there. I told Daughter Dearest about her brother’s new occupation; she said “Don’t tell Pat, he doesn’t need any ideas.”
“I thought Pat’s been getting better lately,” I said. “He and Ray like to hang out, right?”
“Well, yeah… until something better comes along, anyway. Oh, did I tell you he wants a gadget?”
“I’m not surprised. He’s a teenager; that’s the time for ’em, right? Let him connect with some other kids, maybe he won’t feel so alienated here.”
“Besides, it can be a creative tool. Don’t the newest ones have a synth? Let him start making some music like he talked about.”
“I’m afraid of what he might start making. Remember what The Boy did with a guitar?”
“Kids are always going to look for some kind of music to piss off their parents. As long as he doesn’t go in for death country, it’ll be fine. He doesn’t have any B.F.E. or Prairie Dogs tracks, does he?”
“I don’t think so.”
We ordered his gadget, it came in the Monday mail, and he immediately started in on the synth. Turns out he’s into clatter… and he’s not bad at it. If you haven’t heard clatter, it’s 90% metallic percussion… and dang difficult to do well mixing, let alone live. Done poorly, it sounds like a drunk rampaging in the kitchen cabinets; letting the noise overcome the rhythm is the surest way to make bad clatter. Done well, the noise compliments and supports the rhythms; it’s catchy (at least for those of us who like it) and gets you moving. The best part, from Pat’s standpoint, is that Daughter Dearest has little in her bag of musical lessons that applies to clatter, so he’s getting lessons from a teacher down in Atlanta (they owed us for Serena teaching them a creative writing course, so it’s all good). Now Pat just needs a bigger battery so he doesn’t run his gadget down in the middle of the day…