Clown World: Book One, Chapter Four…unedited, incomplete…

Emily’s words caused me to crack my eyes and peer out the dirty glass door. Sure enough, a group of people had built a fire in the center of the road. They gathered about it, a cast iron skillet sat on an iron grate and an old man cooked breakfast. Instinctively my hand clutched my weapon. Emily waved at them, and they waved back.

“Wait a minute,” I muttered, “I know these-”
I watched as Emily tied her hair into a ponytail with a bread tie, and she said, “they’re actors from Hollywood.”
“Yeah. That’s where I know them from, but who are those two?”
She followed my pointed finger, and she nodded. “Those two are journalist. Well, they used to be journalist, no one is spouting the news out nowadays.”
“That’s right,” I said, as I pointed at the female. “She hated America.”
“No, she didn’t.”
“She did, all she talked about was how much this country sucked. That, and how one race was at fault for everyone else’s problems.”
“That’s not true, Jake.”
“Yes, it is Emily.”
Emily shook her head and gave me that disappointed look your mother gave you when you failed first grade or knocked up the local whore.
“All she ever wanted was for her people to get treated fairly.”
I strapped on my pack and secured my weapon. Emily shrugged on Ted’s pack.
“I guess I’m old, Emily. I don’t understand people like that.”
“What don’t you understand, Jake?”
“These people, all of them, lived in America. A land of opportunity, a place where you could be anything you wanted to be. It didn’t matter what color you were; it didn’t matter where you were born, or what you worshiped, you had a chance to make it big. People had more rights, and more freedom in America than anywhere else on the planet, and what did they do? They bitched and moaned about how oppressed they were, they complained they had to put effort into increasing their status, they bemoaned the fact that some people were filthy rich, and they weren’t.”
“It wasn’t enough, Emily. They had all the opportunities in the world, and they were too lazy to take advantage of it. It wasn’t enough they could live any life they wanted, it wasn’t enough they could improve their lot in life, they wanted other people to pay for everything while they sat on their lazy butts and did nothing.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
One of the actors motioned for us to join them. Emily walked out to them, the actors swarmed her, hugging, slapping her on the back, I’d never seen Emily so happy.
“Now there’s an Oscar-worthy performance,” I thought, as I walked out to join them around the fire.
I recognized the old actor that prepared breakfast, but I couldn’t recall his name. He’d starred in several shows, where he played many different roles. Range, I believe is what they called it in show business.
“Hi,” he said in a cheery voice. “Could I interest you in an egg and a slice of turkey bacon?”
He cracked an egg into the cast iron pan. A delicious aroma filled the air, and I turned to look for it. He grinned at me.
“Do you drink coffee?”
My mouth watered so much I had to swallow before I answered him.
“Yes, sir. I drink coffee.”
“Do you want some?”
“I do.”
An old metal percolator coffee pot sat next to the cast iron skillet. I poured a cup of coffee, my first since America met its demise six months ago and took a sip. “Mmm,” I muttered, and the old man smiled.
“It’s like Heaven in a cup.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
My strip of turkey bacon and egg was done, so the old man passed me the plate. I gobbled it down like my life depended on how quickly I consumed the meal. It was embarrassing how fast my manners disappeared.
“I’m Tom,” the old man said by way of greeting.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jake.”
“Likewise, Tom. Thanks for the breakfast and coffee.”
Tom and I chatted for a few minutes. We talked about the good ole days, and the people we lost on our way to Colorado. He’d lost a daughter; I had lost Ted. Emily had B.D. torn from her life. There was a lot of pain to go around, and it didn’t care what color your skin was, or where you came from. When your name came up on Death’s radar, no amount of money-or the lack of it, would keep you from the Reaper’s icy touch.
“It’s a brave new world out here, isn’t it?”
“No, Tom. It’s the same world, only meaner.”
“Yeah,” Tom said in agreement, “that’s what I’m afraid of.”

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