Land of the Free?

By
Victor Zapata lay fast asleep still shielded by the cover of darkness that reigned supreme over the Southern Californian sky. Quickly did the features of July manifest themselves on his bare body, through a thin layer of sweat that covered his naked skin. All the normal sounds of the desert night were present: the soft whistle of the wind, the quite howl of the coyote, the scurrying of the mice, of course none of these were heard of the deafening screeches of the slaughterhouse, that used to so badger him in the past. Aside from the dull roar of the background, the confides of his run down trailer home were permeated with a sense of calm tranquility, nothing moved at the vibrations caused by the loud imposition of the slaughterhouse.
Although, the scene was not one of visceral pleasure, everywhere there was dirt, insects, spilled coffee, and dirty laundry. The latter however, was not an issue as Zapata did not own enough clothes for the laundry to cover the small space. The view on the outside, however was much worse, the metal frame was broken, scratched, rusted, and ruined to a point far beyond repair. Much like its owner, the trailer was run down, the wheels were bent and without tires, and the engine was shot. Just like him, it wasn’t going anywhere, but at least this was apparent to the home.

A sudden jolt interrupted his reprieve, as his ancient alarm clock went ballistic; ringing loudly with deafening intensity, until the unfortunate Mexican would acquiesce to its imposition. Grudgingly, he capitulated and swung his arm down on his tormentor. Examining the time he could barely make out through his blood shot eyes that the big hand just barely lingering over 4, the usual five hours of sleep. With the enthusiasm second to only that of the dead, he stood up and went through the steps of his almost ritualistic routine. Traversing the three steps to his “kitchen” he took out the egg substitute and poured it onto the pan over the hot plate, whilst they radiated he turned on the radio to the newest bubblegum station hosted by a charismatic preacher, lawyer, and real estate agent: George Falwell. The man really encapsulated the “will of the people” and was not afraid to “tell it like it is.” For half an hour Zapata swallowed the conservative rhetoric (brought to him by Deximazotrin, the only weight loss pill that also cures cancer!) and his “eggs:” yelling at those “Goddamn godless liberal communists secularist humanist Fascist Nihilists, eroding away at our beloved American Judeo-Christian values, swelling in anger at the “terrorists” and of course the “dirty Mexicans jumping beans who were stealing American jobs and ruining San Diego.” And feeling great pride at the descriptions of the common man living in the badlands of North Dakota, who went and screamed at his town hall meetings and everyday exercised his second amendment rights.

Zapata’s thoughts drifted back to his childhood, as they often did for reasons unbeknownst to him. He thought of his father pulling him under the fence at the age of four, and remembering how the metal tore deep gashes into his back leaving a permanent souvenir. He remembered playing with the children of the plantation owner, and then them forgetting him after he began working on fields, when he was eight. Working on the fields helped him get through his father’s death from diabetes, which was of course independent of the many cheap meals featuring oversaturated and over sweetened food, nor the inability to procure the correct medicine because of the lack of capital. For these would be systemic errors, and certainly the system could not be at fault in the “greatest, freest, richest, country that God ever gave man on the face of the Earth.” As it is self evident that everyman is responsible for his own fate and nothing is a product of circumstance. And a man’s fate is decided by how hard that man worked, and Zapata, working for 22 years, would have his reward anytime now. That was only fair, and if the system is anything, it is fair.

A burst of grease from the “nutrient enriched eggs,” lifted him from his reverie. He glanced at his Red, White and Blue clock which shown four thirty, and saw that it was high time for him to go to his beloved slaughterhouse, for he could not risk coming late. The last time he was late he was forced to endure humiliation at the hands of his superior. But this could not compare to the hatred he held for himself after such a grievous error, for only parasites show such laziness. Parasites like the “progressives” that advocate for so called “eight-hour days,” and “workers’ rights,” did they really expect the public to believe in their policies masquerading as socialism. How indignant were they to think that they would know more than the business geniuses that make this country great.

He made his way to the sink and squeezed the toothpaste tube until his knuckles were ready to burst from under the skin, and his efforts were rewarded with an infinitesimal amount of toothpaste. He ran the old and mangled brush through his teeth, an exercise in futility, the taste of the paste was beyond any denomination of disgusting, enough to make one think that the aging process has dissolved the chemical bonds allowing the fluoride to seep unobstructed through the digestive tract.

He spat out the toothpaste, and took one quick glance at the mirror, revealing a brown pimple ridden face with deep dark circles under his eyes, resembling something out of Raskolnikov’s dream. He examined his back and saw that his spine was not completely strait, a fact that he didn’t give much thought to as not task that he undertook could have caused such a deformation.

Zapata exited the trailer home and embarked onto the still starry sky, lighting up a cigarette for his morning walk, coughing his way to the Tyson’s metallic edifice, until the first rays of the sun mercifully shown their presence. He honestly could care less about the smoking but the old billboards around East L.A. showed proud Americans laughing and enjoying the “smooth, creamy taste,” naturally any Real American would take up the habit. He stomped out the bud and passed through the main gate, no matter how many times he would venture into the plant the sight would not cease to amaze him.

Large smoke stacks manifested themselves above the leviathan of a structure, seeming to consume the sky in a smoldering abyss. Last year it passed as an environmentally friendly facility. To some the building might have seemed daunting and menacing, to the point where entry would seem insane, but to Zapata, it was a marvel of the capitalist system, the ability to so effectively gather workers and convert them into machine like objects, all in the name of efficiency and profit.

To the right of the factory, was a “grazing range” where cows stood in wooden made cells, in miles of filth that cannot be described due to the constraints of the English language. Adjacent to the cows, were the pigs, who ate the same filth in which they stood. It was beyond Zapata as to why anyone would be under the impression that there was any E. coli in these animals. The whistle blew and twenty men with cattle prods led the animals into the factory, where they ignorantly awaited their demise. Zapata then walked into the factory and punched in his time card to signify his arrival.

He shot a glance at the empty office of his superior, who would not arrive for another few hours. Zapata thought there was no harder worker on the face on the earth than he.

Zapata took his usual place at the end of the assembly line, and to his chagrin, he perceived the face of Luis Riverra, the fattest laziest Mexican scum he ever laid his eyes on.
“Zapata, que passa mi amigo?”
Rivera was only 33, but already the shortness of breath was manifesting himself, the diabetes would take him any time now…
“I told you not to flaunt that Mexican s*** around here.” Zapata snarled. “Why don’t you act American for a change?”
“Lo siento signor, but you shouldn’t disregard you culture, especially if you’re trying to replace it with one that won’t respect you.”
“That’s a lie, maybe a worthless fat sack of crap like you won’t be accepted, but people like me, people who work hard, good hardworking God fearing people, are for whom this country has made for.”
“haha,” laughed Riverra “sure as long as you don’t come from another country and ‘steal’ the jobs of those hardworking types.”
“You understand nothing. That just shows how little you understand of this country. Just get out of my face and go back to work.”
“Okay pendejo, good luck with that American dream.”
“Save your wisdom for the treadmill, fatso.”
“That’s why I like my donuts, they never judge my wisdom, nor ever insult me.”
Zapata chose to end the conversation right there and wait until the assembly lines started moving. Zapata had the imperative task of catching the thighs of the cow moving by at 30 miles per hour and placing them on an adjacent assembly line that carried the remains to some far off mechanism that mutilated it beyond the point of recognition.
Just as soon as he began contemplating his assignment another whistle blew and the meat began moving. Zapata toiled through 14 hours of backbreaking labor, never a moments reprieve until his shift was complete, all for the eventual reward of three dollars an hour. But today he different, sloppy, he let many carcasses pass him by, more than he ever thought possible. Frustrated at himself and fatigued, his sweat rolled into the meat and sometimes would hit the unsanitary floor. From the corner of his eyes Zapata saw his floor manager, scowling at him, he couldn’t recall when he saw another man so angry.
After his shift was done Zapata was approached by the manager:
“In my office spik, now!” he growled “That was the piece of crap I have ever seen out there Zapata, what is wrong with you.”
“Sir I apologize, I don’t know what went wrong with me, I’m furious at myself.”
“Save your apologies for your supplier in Tijuana, I am running a business here Zapata, a business. I don’t ask for much, I ask of you that which a machine could do, are you telling me that you can’t even do what a machine can.”
“No sir I’m sorry-”
“Sorry? Sorry? I give you a job, a good job do that you can live in that filthy trailer yours and collect jumping beans. And this is how you repay me. The tenant of modern business is efficiency, and by the looks of it, you’re not very efficient. So I am sorry – no actually I’m not sorry at all, it’s time for you to go.”
“Sir?”
“You’re fired Zapata, you’re done. Get out of here!”
“Sir all I ask is just one more chance.”
“I said get out, or I’ll have security drag you out.”

With that Zapata left, he could not understand how he could have been so lazy, so sloppy, so careless, he was worse than Riverra, worse than those Goddamn liberals. He was useless, unworthy of receiving the prosperity that this great nation has to offer.

By the time he got into his trailer home, it was nightfall. Zapata, just went straight to bed, skipping his usual canned soup dinner. He laid awake for what seemed like hours wondering what course of action he should take: should he go beg for his job? Should he look for a new one? But then he would not be able to take the trailer with him, and he would have to leave his belongings behind, not that he deserved them.

For some reason which he didn’t fully grasp, he thought that he had been abandoned, forgotten, betrayed, forced to leave his home. This was silly of course, he was the one who broke the trust, he was the one who went and got himself fired.

Just then he made out the noise of a car pulling up, then loud banging on the door.
“Police open up.” Screamed a voice

Zapata laid confused, he didn’t know what to do, or why the police were at his house. Did he commit a crime? Perhaps he did without knowing it, a parasite like him really was capable of anything.
“I said open up or Imma huff and puff, you hear?” Yelled the voice again, only louder.
“Coming” Zapata yelled back. He got out of bed and opened the door. Just then he was seized by two unseen hands and thrown to the floor.
“There he is that’s him.” Said a voice that Zapata knew all too well, it was his superior’s.
At this point Zapata was more than confused, “Why was his boss here? And why was he being handcuffed?
“Officers, I did nothing wrong yelled Zapata.”
“Ha.” A voice sounded back, “I believe that little spik, you don’t got no Green card pendejo.”
Zapata now understood he was getting deported. After 22 years on the job.
“But I’ve been working here for my entire life, officers.”
“You were stealing jobs from American workers you parasite!”
“Sir, I have never seen an American work in the assembly line.”
“That’s because you s***s drove them all out, now get your a** in the car.”

Zapata was thrown into the backseat of a police car which drove off immediately. Zapata didn’t remember the rest of the trip, because he was too tired but when he awoke the car had stopped and without a word the police officer threw him out of the car.
“Where am I?”
“Juarez, have a nice cinko de mayo or whatever it is that you do.”

Then the officer went back into the car and drove as far away into the distance.

Zapata looked around the virtually abandoned town, and couldn’t recall a time when he witnessed more abject poverty, in all the time he spent in East L.A. He saw posters that said, “BOYCOTT AMERICAN CORN!!” He didn’t understand what it had meant at first but he was slowly getting the picture.

As he walked down the streets in search of another soul his thoughts where clouded in doubt, he began second guessing all of his beliefs. He started to think about the inscription on the statue of liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Why had he not been allowed to make his dreams into fruition? Why was he tossed aside so wantonly as if he weren’t human? Where was he opportunity, his chance, his fortune? Where was his golden door?





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