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Monday, May 19, 2008

FAR Future, Episode 33: Starting Over. Sort Of.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Starting Over. Sort Of.

I want to scream with rage. I want to weep a flood. But I don’t want to wake them up.

Jesus. Only You are going to be able to help me get through this.

I suppose I’d better explain. I’d been plotzing away at my job all day, out on the back porch to catch the breeze (unseasonably warm for this time of year, and after all the cold blasts we’ve had) and give the cats some company. I had a lot to do, and I was feeling really productive, so I hadn’t gotten up much except to grab water or the occasional bathroom break. But my 4pm walk time rolled around, and I got up to get my daily dash of exercise.

And found… two kids sitting under the mailbox. A boy and a girl, both maybe 7 or 8. Buster T. Butthead, who’s getting old but still loves kids and adults and everyone in between, was sitting between them and getting loved on. He gave me a big doggie grin. The kids just looked at me.

“Hey kids. What’s up?” I said after getting over my surprise and looking around for parents, whom I assumed would be nearby.

“Waiting on our parents,” the girl said. The boy just stared and nodded.

“Oh. How long have you been here?”

“Since this morning.”

Now I was really floored. “That long? Why here?”

“They said wait here, they’d go get some food and come back for us,” she explained. “But they didn’t come back. And we’re hungry.”

I sighed. “Give me two minutes.” I ran back to the house, grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote: Your kids are inside, I fed them. What the HELL were you thinking, you assholes? Then I ran back and caught a corner of the note in the mailbox so they could see it, told the kids it was a note for their parents telling them they were in the house, and led them up to the manor. I hadn’t realized they were each sitting on a bag, and in my confusion it didn’t register.

I had no reason to doubt the kids were lying, and the way they wolfed the sandwiches I made for them only confirmed it. Mrs. Fetched came up from the garden area out back, getting some turnip greens, and I had to explain the situation all over again (leaving out the exact wording of the note to not disturb her or the kids). She agreed to keep an eye on them, while I took the phone outside and called the sheriff’s office.

“You’re not the first,” the dispatcher told me. “If we find their parents at all, they’ll probably be dead. They’re coming from up north, dropping off their kids at farms, and moving on to die.”

“What? But what do I do with them? I don’t have custody or anything—”

“I’ll put you through to DFACS. They’re keeping this quiet, but if you don’t object they’ll assign you as a permanent guardian.”

Sure enough, DFACS took names and original addresses — I went back inside, to find Mrs. Fetched had already taken care of that oversight — then registered them as wards under our custody. We’re supposed to get paperwork to sign, probably on Friday. They’ll have the kids’ SSNs, copies of birth certificates, and anything else that might be useful later on.

Mrs. Fetched thinks I’m being callous about the kids. I’m not. I’m 55, and hadn’t planned on raising kids again, but lots of people older than me have had to raise their grandchildren. I’m just worked up at the thought of people dropping off their kids in front of a complete stranger’s house, like a litter of puppies — even if they’re doing what’s best for them. I don’t want them to let their kids die off too but good God! What’s this country coming to?

The kids aren’t brother & sister, but they were neighbors and the two families knew each other. I called the cop-shop again, giving them the parents’ names and addresses (they came from near Racine, Wisconsin, almost directly across Lake Michigan from where I grew up), and they said they’d keep the info in case they needed it. I suspect a hunter will find the abandoned car soon, and maybe the bodies later on. Nobody’s off searching for them. Kim is the boy, and Serena is the girl. Daughter Dearest is going to pull a few strings to get them transferred to the school in town (they’ll start next week). Mrs. Fetched told them a comfortable load of bull — she said their parents had called and asked if we could keep them for a “little while” — then put them to work in the garden. They seem happy to help, although I think they know what’s really going on and don’t want to admit it.

I went and got my note off the mailbox, and tried to get back to work. Needless to say, this put a big ol’ hole right through the middle of my productivity. At least I was mostly done for the day.

Look on the bright side, Farf: they won’t be teenagers for five or six years.



  1. Whoa. Really. I'm trying to find words for this. The earlier work sounded and felt like something that could/will happen, and despite some harsh happenings it didn't have the same impact that this did. That was "just" rough times. This is more cataclysmic.

    And worst/best, this also has the feeling like it could/will happen. Sort of a tipping point within the story - when people really are at wits end and leave their kids in the best situation they can? All pretense gone - "we're going to die, but can we help our kids or others?". Chilling.

    It also kind of reminded me of the later parts in Soylent Green.

    I suppose good art is supposed to affect, and this certainly did. Sorry for the ramble, but I wanted to say something.

  2. I agree with the blowhard, this has the ring of truth to it. And it is a bit scary.

  3. Thanks, AB, and welcome to the free-range insane asylum. You & Boran pretty much summed up my thoughts as I was writing.

    This was not exactly an easy episode to write either. But it's part of the story. I remember when I first thought about it, I laid awake a long time, trying to come up with a way to write around it. But it's an essential part of the story, long-term.

  4. Hello Far, just want to mention that I totally agree, if there's no hope, then why bother?...

    Did you happen to see my last comments on Episode 32? Do you trust me, that I have you're best interest at heart? If so, I'd like to play a little game with you, on here. It's the same game that BC_EE, was talking about, over at the Drum. It won't take long, maybe three or four exchanges here or email, if you wish. Enlightenment only comes to those who are seeking it, by those who are willing to share it. Are you interested?

    Thanks, yooper

  5. Hi FAR ... one of the best yet. Hooked me right in from the first. Can't wait to see what happens next ... :)

  6. Hey Yooper! You've got my email — I have family in for the long weekend, so I might not get back to you right away.

    Hey Olivia! Thanks for the nice words. I'd written this one a while back, so I had some time to tweak it up before it was time to let it join the stream.

  7. Ok, my friend. Time you get a look at me anyhow!

    Thanks, yooper


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