Love And The Sound Of Diesel Trucks
Or, it don't smell like peaches.
The suburbs are dumps now.
The oil production peak left us sleeping in our diesel pickup trucks under land-un-scaped orange trees and blackened street lamps. The engines rumbled and whined the first few nights after the gas ran out. Then one lane at a time, the furthest from the filling station first, the motors grumbled. They stumbled. They came to rest and gave the oranges the peace and quiet they always wanted to grow.
The filling stations closed first.
The morning came and the phone still worked. I called in to say I couldn't make it. I left a message. They didn't call back. I figured I was sacked.
It was November and cold started to set in early. The lights still lit in the house. I rigged a couple of lamps to the truck. But that was running out as fast as the gas and plastics. The tunnel's got a dark end now.
The food spoiled in the fridge. The city shut the water off and the ice maker melted. We walked the neighborhood at night to keep warm.
Mr. Douglas down the street had to play with his kids. The TV stopped shining out the front window a couple nights ago. I watched him struggle to keep their untrained attention. He couldn't do it. He looked sad about the shiny Navigator in his driveway. It's starting to get a layer of dust.
Mrs. Ellis stopped to talk to me. She used to complain when I parked my car behind her driveway and hadn't talked to me since. She was a bitter old shrew, eaten up by the booze. There hasn't been any more in the liquor stores since last Thursday, and it's a seven mile walk one way anyway. Funny, she seems happy that everyone's staying home and she wakes up sober for the first time in a decade.
Johnny Jones talked to me last summer about the houses they were building up on the Central Coast. Man, he was jazzed about another 12,000 single family units on a golf course and all the commission he'd get for a whole street of them. He waved as I walked past. "Hey remember what you said?".
"What did I say?"
"Remember when we talked about those new houses?"
"Yeah sure do."
"Well how about this then."
We talked about it and I had wondered at him about the rolling blackouts we already had.
"How can our infrastructure possibly support another 12,000 4,000 square foot vaulted ceiling all new Vulcan appliances and in-ground pools?"
"Yeah, pretty soon I won't be able to fill my pool."
Then he turned away and kept telling about the money to be made and his pool party at Christmas and his son might start to come over a little more. Well not now. Can't walk five kids thirty miles, and who wants to play in a concrete pit anyway?
Jenks was a radical. "Open your fucking eyes!" he told me. "They've got it still. They've got gas. They've got all the electricity meat and potatoes and gold shit latrines with little tryptic pictures of us in the bottom. They're shitting on us now. Literally, they're shitting on us."
Consipracy theory. There is no they and he knows it and I know it and everybody else knows it. Especially them. They really know it. But today he had me just about convinced. Today the first trucks rolled in.
I got it figured out. There's a ridiculously finite quantity of diesel left. The suburbs are closer to the city than the dump is to the city. So to save the diesel, the city brings the trash to us. Along with armed escorts. Maybe "they" are the Army? They're bringing so much it looks like they're bringing some of our old trash back.
The average American throws away a third of the food that he buys. That trash goes to the dump, composts over a while, then one day the gas runs out and to make shorter runs, they bring it back to us. Shit we bought years ago and threw away coming back in the interests of public health.
They had a public health guy out here a couple days ago to warn us. We figured it was bullshit. Nope. He told us that in the interests of public health in the city, they had to move trash around. See, the people in the city still have jobs, because they don't have to commute. They still get to go around and get around and eat and fuck and drink and fuck some more. Their lives have hardly changed. Turns out they don't need gas and didn't use much gas and their fucking tiny apartments insulate each other so well they hardly need heat.
What the fuck? We moved out here to get away from the homeless begging uneducated illiterate no health care shits downtown. Now what, they own us? Who the fuck are they?
Public health: it's the shit we threw away that's composted. They said they're sending out a team to teach us to use the composted shit to grow food. On the fucking lawn.
Luke the dog runs around and plays like nothing happened.
© 2004 Sorrell