Pluribus 21

pluribuscover.jpg

Pluribus 21
By DJ Cline

September 30, 2031, 11:00 AM.

A fat man in a dirty sweatshirt and overalls stood on the trailer porch aiming a shotgun.
A raven squawked in a nearby pine tree. The fat man swung the shotgun and shot at the bird. It squawked and flew to another tree. “Damn ravens!”

Don and Tap sat in their limo. It had been a long drive from Spokane to the American Resettlement Area on the Raven Reservation in northern Idaho. The last five miles was down a red dirt road past rows and rows of house trailers.

Don carefully opened the limo bulletproof window a crack. “Excuse me. We are looking for a Shirley Loman. Does she live here?”

“After a fashion. Who are you?”

“I am Don Jin of Wakima, a company in China. I am with Tapas Kalki of Applied Karma. We have a business proposition.”

The man frowned. “A business proposition huh? Your godammed people ran me out of my house in California with your taxes. That Free Trade Zone was not so damned free. Paid me crap and turned around and sold it to one of your friends for ten times what it was worth. Told me the only way we were gonna get Social Security is if we moved to this damned reservation. You cannot push me off my land. I am not a godammed Indian.”

Tap kept his mouth shut. Now was not the time for a lecture on karma. Don tried to figure an angle that might work. “We might be able to help you get your house back. Can we speak to Shirley Loman?”

The man stuck his double chin out. “Talking to her. I got myself reassigned a few years back when I had insurance. Come on up on the porch and have a few beers.”

They sat on dirty white plastic patio chairs. Don had a beer in his lap and Tap had his on the wood deck floor, probably to get to his dart gun before Sherman could get to his/her gun.

Sherman lit up a cigarette. “So what brings you boys out here?”

Don tried say it in a neutral tone. I would like to ask you some questions about your time at Netrosonics.”

Tap thought Sherman was going to get up and shoot them. Instead the man swore. “Can you get my pension and stock options back? They cheated me. All my years of brass polishing and backstabbing to get ahead and I wind up not more than fifty miles from where I grew up. Life sucks. They took my daughter you know.”

Don was genuinely surprised. “No, I did not know. How did that happen?”

Sherman flashed the regret of a mother. “I left the Circle when I got reassigned. They kept her. She wound up in that big fire.”

A raven called out, unopposed.

Copyright 2006 DJ Cline. All rights reserved.