~ 2 ~
Night was fast approaching, and with it, the imminent danger of the deformed hordes emerging from the shadows, and raping, robbing, killing and torturing their victims. Rourke had a some amount of money in his pocket, not much, but he figured he might be able to convince someone to let him sleep at their place. In the past few hours he had covered a large amount of distance, and he was now only a few miles from downtown. Still, if he had to sleep on the street, he would rather do it away from downtown – downtown still had some police and security presence.
On the street, Rourke saw an older white man sweeping the street outside of a small two story brick shop. Having nothing better to do, Rourke just stood for a moment and looked at this oddity.
“What, you never seen someone sweeping before?” the man asked out of nowhere.
“Never seen? I used to be a janitor.”
“San Diego? Life’s rough down there. I lost a cousin who was a border patrol agent down there during the border wars 15 years ago.”
Rourke was surprised, here were just two older English speaking white men in a sea of brown. He decided to test the waters a bit.
“Yeah, well, the government didn’t do shit about all those illegal Mexicans. Now California basically is Mexico.”
The man lit up slightly upon seeing another white person who understood.
“Yeah, the government didn’t do shit for decades now. All the riots and the immigrants. Who the hell is even in charge anymore?”
Rourke saw an opportunity to possibly exploit this man’s mild positivity by asking him if he could sweep instead.
“I haven’t have anyone ask to help me for no pay in years.”
“Consider it a favor for two lost men in the world.”
And so Rourke swept and mopped and helped clean up the place, while he and the man just chatted about their various ways. The store owner in question was a man named Tim Beaker–a carpenter from Buffalo, New York who had fled the region in the aftermath of the great riot of 2020. Two lost souls, from two different coasts reconnected here, in this formless mass of a city. And so it was time to finally take this mutual assistance to it’s logical conclusion.
“Do you know anywhere that is cheap I could sleep tonight?”
Tim just smiled and asked “You don’t have anywhere to go, do you?”
“I guessed as much. Let me guess, you just helped me to see if I would help you?”
Rourke froze with a sort of shame for a second, Tim saw right through him. He laughed.
“Relax, I still appreciate the help. Really you and me are just two white privileged scum in a melting pot of a city. You help me and I help you, if you want, you can sleep in the back room tonight, just don’t touch anything.”
Rourke accepted the offer, and shortly he found himself sleeping on a very old mattress without blankets or a pillow in a small storage closet.
19 May 2045
The morning was damned hot already–another early heat wave this year. Luckily, Tim still had a old small window mounted air conditioner from the 1980s. Sadly it didn’t work well, even with new parts and freon, so the temperature dropped from an awful 95 degrees to a more bearable 80 degrees. Rourke woke up a bit distraught–he lucked out tonight, but could he get anywhere else in this city to sleep? Tim had seen right through him. Rourke decided to go upfront and test the waters.
Tim was standing at the front counter in a stained white t-shirt and some brown shorts.
“Good morning” Tim asked.
“Morning. I figure you want me out of here?”
“Not quite. I’m not really angered–the fact you didn’t rob me blind was good enough for me. And at any rate, let’s just cut the bullshit. I’m not a corporate human resources department.”
“Well, do you know of any places around here that offer some work?”
“Unless you happen to be an electrical engineer who could work at Boeing, I don’t know of any place around that’s hiring for people like you.”
Rourke just stood there for a moment contemplating his sad existence. Finally Tim intervened
“You look pretty down. Believe me, I have been there and done that. Got kicked out of Buffalo, had to deal with a divorce. We’ve all been there. I am willing to help a fellow man out, at least a bit. Look, I got this small closet in the back. It isn’t much, but if you are willing to help with some tasks around here, I’ll let you sleep in it for as long as you need. Just as long as you provide your own food, I have no problem helping a brother out.”
Even if Rourke had tried in a benign way to exploit Tim, the sentiment was genuine. In a brown pool, there were some of the last practical white men left, and there was a sense of connection, a sense of “us” that existed no matter the economics.
Surely now, Rourke would have to find a way to make some real money.