- - - - - - documents [on earth: a satile]
On earth, people knew me as Vanessa Lee, a short, non-hispanic girl. It always bothered me how most forms filtered people like that; either as member of the majority, or the minority. Humans (especially those in the government) didn’t care for specific details… like the night some jerk high off “wild parsley” shot me in the head three times for no reason. My friend laughed at his “black Capone” speech, but I suppose he forgot to notice who laughed.
So I died that night since everyone on the train kept looking out the window, reading the newspaper or some other distraction to avoid my eye contact (or gash). I spent my last moments on earth recalling that same indifference; I felt bad as a child every time someone less fortunate jingled in my direction. I pulled pennies from my pocket, much to my mother’s protest. She yelled at me for my gullibility…so then I learned to ignore it and built immunity to the suffering of others. In the back of our minds, people cling to our place in this capitalist word; if an individual falls behind, tough luck.
When I opened my eyes, everything looked the same---same bed sheets, chaotic room full of junk, the alarm clock worked, too. An ashy light drenched everything, though…and I dismissed it as air pollution. So I rolled out of bed to turn the television on, to find “The Bachelor” finale on every other channel. The other channels showed poorly written infomercials or worse…Jerry Springer. No signs of (so-called) news, intellectual shows…nothing to save my brain from further drowning in the sea of blissful indifference. “Millions of people rather watch reality television rather than the local news; who wants to care about the depressing, violent and inhumane anyways?” the walls whispered, so I ran outside and looked around. It occurred to me then that I was in hell.
It made no difference whether I needed to brush my teeth or comb my hair (not that I ever cared), so I decided to take a walk. Hell mimicked the world with a bitter and sadistic sarcasm; the media splattered in a bloody mess everywhere, people liked the drink and procrastination dominated. All of these things had one thing in common: they serve as methods of forgetting (which usually dulls human awareness). We turn to the television to avoid the reality of life; when millions of people starve of famine in a peripheral country, all most people want to see is more interesting angst on One Tree Hill. The media fully exploits this, manipulating art and music to sell us more junk made in China, anyway…
I kept walking through the masses, watching each person fret over something insignificant, like a broken nail, lint, and masculinity. I kept walking in hopes that I would find an explanation (or Satan, to explain things). Instead, I heard hacking noises coming from an abandoned baby carriage. “What’s this?” I asked myself as I looked into the carriage to see a baby boy choking on the hazardous part of a toy (that comes with a “happy meal”). That sense of panic swept over me again as I picked him up and attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver, to no avail. In frustration (or concern, rather), I punched the baby in the stomach and immediately, the little plastic part flew out of his mouth. He coughed, wheezed and gasped for breath some more before slurring his speech. I must warn you, despite his age, the baby knew many profane words and used them fluently in the next few minutes…
“G’damn mother f’cker, that stupid piece of sheit was stuck there so f’cking long! My momma and poppa didn’t give a crap ‘cause they were always working all the g’damn time and the babysitter didn’t give a flying f’ck ‘cause she was always watching that stupid teenage drama sheit on T.V. Nobody ever held me for more than five minutes and when I sobbed my li’l g’damn heart out, they ignored me and then to stop me from making any more “noise” that dumb b’tch gave me a happy meal toy. A HAPPY MEAL TOY! Don’t they read the label on the f’cking package? Not for children under three…but no, McDonalds chose to make the toys anyway. All I wanted was some love, some affection, and milk…but no, I choked on that piece of crap and died with it lodged in my throat. Even down here nobody cared, they all walked passed me idling in their own idiotic life crisis and then you came along and punched me in the bloody stomach?!”
My jawbones disjointed as I nervously cradled the baby in my arms, to console the child from his miserable life and afterlife. “You know, in China, the government upheld a restrictive population policy in the 80s. Families could only have one child, so many favored the baby boy over a baby girl…so many people killed off the girls. If you think that’s horrible, what’s worse is nobody cared enough to attempt to change…and not many knew. So, maybe you were lucky, just a little…” He went silent as I continued to cradle him, and after a few minutes something occurred to me…
“Wait, you can talk…?”
“ Milk it is, then.” As I went into the supermarket, the ashy light disappeared and was replaced by the familiar bright lights and chaotic array of cheap, often malformed consumer goods. People ran madly around the store, grabbing whatever they wanted at the super low prices, unaware of what that meant for other people. “There’s a jar of pickles here for $2.97, and a jar of pickles at some other place for $4. Let some other guy buy that.” The words drew my attention and I migrated towards the third display.
“ But my company…! You cannot continue to sell this at $2.97, or else my workers won’t have a job.” The businessman begged vainly as he blocked the display from a hungry mob of consumers.
“ We want a gallon of pickles for $2.97! I don’t care whether or not your company goes bankrupt or your workers’ families…give us what we want and we’ll go away…happy…” The mob chanted as they closed in on the businessman; they swallowed his protest like the business records and the small businesses.
“ Wow…that’s…” Johnny stared as the mob swallowed the businessman and began to grab the gallons of pickles waiting to waste away. Like people, indulgence of the phrase, “I don’t care.”