My neighbor waved her mail at me with a toothy wide smile that I had never seen on her before, and walked toward me in an elated stride. I wondered what merciful miracle might have been given the poor wretch, as she rarely approached me without a frown and a cigarette, and reeking of Mad Dog 20/20. Today...though was different. It was jubilee! Her cheesy dentured smile made me question my eyesight "Maybe this is her 'un'-evil sister or something?":...I thought for a second. But, no, ...it was her alright. Waving a letter from her pile of bounced check notices and an ultra thick OPRAH magazine which she let fall to the ground.
" My Aunt died! My Aunt died!"...she exclaimed to me, as she got close enough to show me her letter. " And this is the check from my inheritance!". I stood a little bewildered and confused at her lack of regret for her Aunt's passing, and wondered if she had counted the days ...farting into her tattered LazyBoy recliner with a bottle of ripple in hand,. ..waiting ....in some strange , sweet anticipation ...eager for her poor Auntie's imminent death.
Another of my neighbors down the street, was casually making his way down the road. One hand in his pocket with his chin facing the sun, ...he was smiling happily, and walking with a bounce in his knees ,...his face pleasurably absorbing the wonderfully warm Florida sun. I saw that he was wearing a cast on his arm. "What happened!?!" , I asked him ...concerned that maybe he burned his hand on a fryer, or that the pit-bull next door finally got a piece of him. His smile was radiant, relaxed, and beaming! "I crushed my two fingers at work!".. he told me. "I'll probably never be able to use'em again!"...he explained, with the smile now growing from slight smirk ...and becoming ear-to-ear.
There is a school for this, which many of us have never attended. It was obvious that he was intent on getting his PhD.
There was a side of me that understood his mindset. I realized that his injury had allowed him to become a 'walkin' man"!
In his own mind, he had just been freed from prison and a certain life sentence. It is a sentence we are all serving for our illusion of freedom. The harder we work for a living , the more we begin to understand this basic American paradoxical truth :
' In order to be free in this society, we must become a slave to it!'
And I recalled with guilty conscience the many times I had wished a hurricane on our small town, just so I could get a few free days off from work. Billions and billions of dollars in property damage, homes filled with loving memories wiped away, the potential for innocent lives to be lost....just so I could get an extra day off! Selfish bastard.