Hoover Ville

December 2, 2010
Padded and dying the animal’s fur clung to its body black in color. For the frail and starving creature a speck of crust served as a banquet. Its belly quaked, but it would survive. For one day more it would survive. Home only to the shadow, the animal darted from the hazy light. Scurrying to complete the day’s chores of scavenging for scraps of material within the dark and dank alleys of Hoover Ville, a broken down encampment of homes and hopes, the animal evaded briskly. The object of nothing but disdain and disgust it was a point of survival to remain within the outreaches of the shadow; the animal was the pest of their town. In the rubble of what were their homes, it claimed ownership to ragged bits of cloth, clenching it in its teeth before retreating into the safety of seclusion. Tempted by a flake of stale bread the animal scurried from the sanctuary of the darkness, an unforgivable course of action. With the swift and merciless swoop of a foot, the animals bones crunched beneath the boot of a well-built man, its life withered away.
Glaring at the stinking carcass of a diseased rodent beneath his foot, his face became distorted by the unpleasant wildlife. The young man was a squatty fellow with broad shoulders like a bull dog and a low center of gravity. Two rings were always present on the man’s person. One was a jagged brown ring of sweat around his caller and the other was a sterling silver ring around his finger; the last possession that would not sell. His beard thick and clumped swirled in patches around his jaw line. His eyes were beady and small and hid beneath a canvas of bushy and bristling eyebrows. His heart was uncommonly humble. He carried such a disposition partly because of his good nature and partly because he did not own anything worth the effort of investing his pride into. There were only two exceptions. Pulling a small photo from his patchwork pants, the remnants of his entire wardrobe, he smiled warmly at a picture of his wife and young daughter. Their colorless faces stared back at him reminding him of better times. It had been over eight months since he had last seen them. Staring at the picture confirmed that the only thing more agonizing then his hunger pains was his desire to see his family. They had moved to Idaho to live with his wife’s sister. It was his daughters third birthday today and his eyes embraced the photo affectionately for longer than usual. Although he ached for them, he thanked God every day that they were not with him in Hoover Ville. Looking unproportional in the cramped somber shack he drudged his way over to his hearty breakfast, a rock hard biscuit. The light appeared murky as it leaked its way through the cracks in the back wall. As he stomached his way through his meal he pondered his luck in remaining dry the entire night, nearly surprised his roof did not come crashing down on him. Looking down at his feet he slowly raised his eyes examining each part of his body. Every inch of it was haggard and fatigued, all held together by a strained mind. Sleep was no longer restoring anymore, only a postponement to feeling drained the second you wake up. He cleaned off his boots before drugging out into the morning.
The rudimentary city of vulnerable shanties laid in the shadows of the great corporate buildings on the outskirts of the city. It was part of the city, but unwanted, like a diseased growth. The sagging shacks stood reluctantly, appearing hopeless in their posture. Like the people living inside of them, they seemed as though they wanted to simply give up. The arrangement of homes was chaotic having no rows or columns, as if they mushroomed up from the ground. The shanties were made up of whatever building material was available, wood, metal scraps, car doors, cardboard. Because of events they did not comprehend men had to send their families away, or risk having them starve. There were no families in the camp, no children laughing, no women singing, no babies crying, no parents disciplining or loving, only the void that nobody would speak about. A car door, a sheet of metal, a plank of wood could not patch the void. As work became more uncommon and hunger more gnawing the delicacy of Hoover dogs, wild rabbits, was established. Smoke trickled up into the sky as the town woke from sleep and began their search for work, their search for food.
The young man stumbled through the maze of shacks and garbage. He waited for a moment and allowed the sun to warm his skin as he greeted a neighbor with a smile and the tilt of his head. He had known his neighbor for many years, they grew up together. Yet both men held a mild sense of disdain for the other. Survival, the pillar of their town is a poor foundation for friendship. Through the eyes of a survivor everyone, to some extent, is merely completion. The need to preserver was the first element in every relationship in Hoover Ville. There was no haste in his walk. Searching out of habit rather than hope he slumped along heavily to look for work. He arrived at the tent of Jesse Jackson. Out of sheer respect he was named town mayor. No election was ever held nor needed. Jackson stood outside his faded tent in wool pants and a jacket standing in contrast to the young man, tall with a clean shave. It was obvious he did his best to look presentable. Presentable, as far as his living conditions would allow.
The young man approached Jackson meekly and softly huddled over a dying flame. Realizing his presence, “Well how ya doin this mornin Abe?” Jesse’s voice bellowed deep and hoarse.
“I’m doin just fine Mr. Jackson. I was wonderin…” Jackson interrupted
“Boy you can just call me Jesse. I’m a simple man.”
He continued “I’m sorry Mr. Jac… Jesse. I was… I was wonderin if ya heard word of any work while you were in the city.”
Jackson took a long deep breath taking in the sobering air. Answering in an exasperated voice “No, I wasn’t tol of no work. The most those b******s would agree to was not to burn us out a third time.” They broke eye contact which seemed to free Abe.
There was more boldness in Abe’s tone when he spoke drawing out each word “Awful dam nice of em.”
Their attention was diverted by new coming family, a young couple with a little girl no older than three. Her clothes were little more than ragged cloth. Forgetting Jesses’ presence Abe mumbled warmly “it’s good to see a family again.” His eyes embraced them affectionately,. They were driven from the rabble that was their home as vagrants, evicted from their house; the family was pests of their town. With burning eyes the young man watched as they scurried about scavenging for materials within the dank and rancid alleys of Hoover Ville to build a shack. Their bellies quaked but they would survive. For one day more, they would survive.

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