I tell her with so much vigor that my words spray saliva at her, “That’s what I call ‘em, you know, sheeple. You know why I call 'em that?”
She says she doesn’t know.
“It’s ‘cause they all act like sheep. All of ‘em. Like sheep to the slaughter! Some people’ll believe anything that the government tells ‘em.”
The clerk blows a big pink bubble out her face.
“But I can tell,” I nod, looking into her sleepy eyes, “I can tell you’re a smart girl. You don’t take shit from the government, do ya?”
“You don’t take shit from nobody, do ya?”
Christie grabs me by the sleeve and whines, all bitchy, “Come on, we gotta go,” but I’m not done talking to the nice girl at the register, and I tell her so.
“Tell me--” eyeing the clerk’s name tag, “Tiffany, are you aware of chemtrails, hm?”
“Good Lord. It’s a good thing I’m here to tell ya. The government’s tryin’ to kill us all!”
“C’mon, that’s enough, we gotta go.” Christie’s all red and huffy. Her mouth's pressed shut and her hands are in fists.
“Alright, alright, alright. I’ll see you later, Tiffany and I’ll tell you all about it. When you hear it, it’ll make your hair curl!”
Christie pushes me out of the way and wheels the cart forward.
“Look it up online! It’s for your own good!” I trail off as Christie pulls me away and out the door.
In the car she’s quiet and I know that she’s mad at me. Her eyes look almost like they’re touching the window glass, they’re so close. And her body’s leaning as far away from me as she can without opening the door, rolling out of the car and into traffic. I try to be nice and play with her hair but she slaps my hand away.
She's pissed at me.
“Stop what? Telling the truth? What do you want me to do,” I ask her, “Just lie and act like everything is okay? You know what happened to me last night?”
“My firewall told me that I was attacked by the Trojan Horse Virus!”
She just looks at me all dumb.
“You know what that is, right? The Trojan Horse Virus? The government was trying to hack ‘emselves into my computer.”
Christie doesn’t believe me. She turns herself completely away until we’re home. I wish I could get her to understand. I fear for her all the time—I’m afraid that she’s gonna live her life among the apathetic masses, comfortably unaware, cocooned in ignorance. It’s like in the Matrix, you know? I just wanna give everyone the red pill!
But no, everyone's asleep. Nobody cares about anything around here. The buildings show it, that's for sure. They're all broken brick and boarded up and some of the windows are smashed. You'll be walkin' down the street, laa-dee-dah, and whattaya know, you're steppin' in a big ol’ pile of glass shards. And you always know when you're gettin' into the downtown, 'cause you'll get a big-ass whiff of smoke. The streets just reek of industrial waste—it's all those shitty factories along the Androscoggin, all empty and sad, worn and slumped in decay.
I live in that smoky mess, but hey, I pretend we're just livin' on a cloud! My apartment's no castle, but it's sure as hell better than some of the tattered pieces of shit around here. Inside the phone’s ringing and Tammy goes to answer it.
I shout, “Screen it! I’m not here.”
And she does that Mmmrmph grumble and drags those fat legs to her bedroom. On the door, a sign reads, “KEEP THE FUCK OUT” in rainbow colored pencils.
Jesus, that answering machine.
Hello, says a robot-voice, this is a message regarding your Sears credit card. We have some important information about your account. Please call us back...
“Bloodsuckers!” I push the STOP button and cut ‘em off.
Bill collectors are on my shit list. They’re the worst. What kind of scum would get paid to make poor people miserable and call ‘em all the time, day and night? You don’t even know how many damn times I get woken up by some automated tyrant-robot talkin’ into my answering machine. Ludicrous!
I take a nap in the late mornings and then again in the late afternoons, 'cause I have to pick up the kids all the way out in the snooty-snoot neighborhoods with the schools, and I don't trust those old man bus drivers. The old man driver at my high school back in the day was a perv, you know, he got caught touching a girl’s breasts. So, yeah, I don’t let my kids ride the bus, I pick ‘em up, and by then I’m just so tired from doing laundry and cooking lunch and stuff, so when I bring ‘em back home I take another nap. And you know what? They call then, too, those fuckers!
Though sometimes I’ll have a few giggles in the afternoon ‘cause I’ll tell Little Man to answer the call and we’ll both be sitting right there next to the phone all tee-hee’ing.
“Hallo? The Libby resdidens!” says Little Man.
Yes, hello, is Ms. Sheryl Libby there?
“Oh, she’s my mom.”
Yes, is your mom there?
And then he hangs up and it’s hilarious! Isn’t it? Haha! I wish I could see the looks on their faces. That stops a lot of ‘em from calling, but there’s still a big bunch of ‘em. They’re like goddamn rats. Little Man's my guy when it comes to phone calls I don't wanna take. He loves talkin' on the phone anyway. It’s funny too when Tammy answers the phone, ‘cause, you know, Tammy’s fourteen and always wants to be on the phone talkin’ to her friends and whatnot and she gets all pissy when the lines are tied up by the bill collectors, so she fucks with ‘em.
Yes, hello, is Ms. Sheryl Libby there?
“What do you want?”
We have some private business matters we would like to discuss with her.
“Oh yeah? Suck a big dick!”
And then she’ll hang up and it’s hilarious!
It’s the afternoon and I’m tired and I don’t want to deal with the bullshit I know Christie's going to pull. Wah, wah, wah, I need to use my computer. Here we go again. I hate when she says my, all condescending-like. Then, you know, I'll take a few swigs of the bottle in the freezer and play some Beatles while I fiddle-fart around and do the dishes. I'll check the living room for cups or plates and I'll take a teeny peek over at Christie and she won't even be doing her damn homework. She's on the chatbox! Always with the damn chatbox.
“It’s called a chat room,” she waves me away, “Not a chatbox.”
And I'll tell her--I'll say, c'mon, man, I wanna check my threads, and she'll roll her eyes all bitchy and put her headphones on or somethin’.
I got a subscription to the Real Truth newsletter, which comes from one of the boards I frequent. It came in the mail today when I went to the P.O. Box, along with a buncha bills and one of those little “IT'S TIME FOR YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT!” postcards that dentists send you. It's for Little Man, and it's dated for today. I've been avoiding this for a couple years. He's never been to the dentist. I don't trust doctors. Of any kind. Doctors are in the business of making money, they're the same as those damn car salesmen who'll lie right in your face to try to get you to give 'em more money. You know what's actually in vaccination shots? It'd make your eyeballs fall out! I read online about the crazy toxins in 'em when I was pregnant, so Little Man's not vaccinated, thank God. Doctors want people to be sick. I know you grow up one way, thinkin' that they're there to help you and all, but think about it—if people were all healthy, there wouldn't be a need for doctors, would there? Or pharmaceutical companies, they're even worse. One time, when I was fighting for custody, long story, trust me, but I was court-ordered to go to a shrink with Christie and Tammy.
The shrink was a snoot. You know, she had those little glasses that sat on the bridge of her nose and the pencil skirts and the fancy schmancy nylons. She said that Christie was “depressed” and that she was gonna write her a prescription for “anti-depressants”--just after one session! Now tell me: how can you diagnose someone you just met?
I told Christie “No way in Hell!”
Maybe people wouldn't be so “depressed” if the government didn't put so much damn fluoride in the water.
There's a dentist that accepts Medicare on Oak Street, which is a coupla streets away, so Tammy and me, with Little Man in the backseat, we drive over there. Her name is Dr. Gaelle Hockman. I can tell already that I'm not gonna like her—she's got a cold, dead handshake, and my father, God rest his soul, always told me that you can really tell about a person judging by their handshake. A firm, strong handshake means a genuine person and a limp one means bad news. The doctor takes Little Man away and I feel awfully nervous. Sometimes I get this sour gut feeling when I think something's gonna go awry, and usually I follow my instincts, you know, but he's already in there. In my head I've all all these terrifying images: Dr. Hockman's got her pointy fingers in my boy's mouth and she's tellin' him a buncha lies about what's good for you and what's not good for you and I feel like I'm gonna faint because I've just realized I've delivered my son to the machine, and he's being programmed this very second! I knockknock knocknock on the receptionist's window and she gives me one of those prissy looks and says, “Yes?”
I say all hot-faced into the glass, “I need to see my son right now.”
“He's already in for the cleaning and treatment,” she replies, her eyebrows all furrowed.
I'm shaking, “The treatment? What are you talking about?”
“The fluoride treatment,” she's says.
“Are you kidding me? Go get my son.” I knew it. The sonofabitches! I knew it. The receptionist just sits there like a lazy, lying idiot.
I feel hysterical. Any mother would. I'm pacing. I stomp on the carpet with my shitkickers.
“I said, go get him!”
And she rolls her eyes and talks to one of the other liars dressed in white and they go and find the doctor—that lying bitch.
The office door opens and Dr. Hockman is holding my little boy's hand with her own ugly, wrinkled one. He looks happy. He's smiling. Poor boy. He has no idea what I've just saved him from. I pull him away quickly.
I can't help it, honest. I blurt out, “You lied to me. You were gonna give him fluoride. You know what that does? It causes cancer!” I shout right in her face, “You were tryin' to give my little boy cancer? You're a goddamn liar, that's what you are.”
And now Little Man's upset, he's grabbing the bottom of my shirt. He looks at me with little brown water-color eyes. The nerve of these people. I pet Little Man softly. All the receptionists and some of the dentists are gathering around and whispering now. Dr. Hockman studies my face and takes one of those drawn-out sighs that last forever and talks to me like I'm a baby.
“Ma'am, fluoride is healthy for your teeth, it's good for you.”
“BULLSHIT! You're talkin' bullshit to me now. You were gonna infect my son with fluoride. You know who else gave fluoride to people? The Nazis! That's right, look it up online. Hitler poisoned the German waters with fluoride to make 'em all docile. You got that, Dr. Hockman?” I point at her angrily. “You're the fuckin' Oppressor!”
I storm outta there dragging Little Man along and tell him and Tammy I'm not gonna go there ever again. Goddamn, I hate doctors. Tammy's whines that I'm embarrassing, but she's only fourteen, so she doesn't understand.
Back at the apartment there's a shit storm in the living room. Papers are flying everywhere. Christie's having one of her tantrums, all in hysterics. She's crying and throwing her hands up and stomping around.
“I can't find my portfolio! I can't find it!”
It's her portfolio for her fancy school. I'm tired of hearing about her fancy school. It makes me feel bad.
“Can I help you find it?”
“How can anyone find anything in this fucking dump?”
The fucking dump she's talking about is our home. I'm offended now, so I leave her in her theatrics and go take a nap, 'cause I'm tired again. When I wake up, and it's dark out.
Tammy's put Little Man to bed. He's so cute, all tangled in his blankets. The television next to his bed's playing the closing credits from Chicken Little.
In the kitchen Christie's talkin’ to herself and hittin’ her head 'cause she's doing her math homework. I have a cup of coffee and a joint while I watch the neighbors fight out the window. Christie taps her pencil on the kitchen table, sighing all dramatically, narrowing her eyes at me. She says out loud that she doesn't understand the concept of me. I suck in a few little puffs and crack my finger bones. The concept of me.
“I can't wait to get out of this place,” she says softly.
I know she's just trying to get a rise outta me, but I'm busy musing about things. After a while, I turn to Christie and my ashes fall in one of Little Man's tiny shoes on the floor.
“How,” I ask her, “can people sleep so sweetly in ignorance while there's so much chaos going on in this world?”
She doesn’t look up. “It’s because we’re all just sheeple waiting for you to liberate us…”
I don't hear her. I breathe in real deep and exhale all the smoke into the navy, twinkling wind, sitting cross-legged at the window. I like that I can watch the tendrils spiral down all pretty, you know? I see 'em floating down softly on the neighbors' heated heads, swirling around 'em like a halo they can't see.
“I'm glad that I'm one of the Aware,” I say, all squinty-eyed to no one.
I imagine Christie at her fancy school with her fancy books. She's sitting on the grass with a nice boy she met and they're talking about things that college kids talk about. I hope that she’ll be breathin’ through her nose, like I’ve been tellin’ her to. Maybe that she’ll let that boy play with her hair, and she’ll point to the sky.
“You know what that is?” I imagine that smile Christie’s got, that smug smile, but this time, in my head, it looks a lot nicer.
He’ll see it, and he’ll shrug. A straight white line in the empty blue. Maybe it goes straight down, like it’s pointing at her. Or at the both of them. Or at the whole world.
“That contrail?” he’ll ask, her hair between his fingers.
And she’ll laugh and say, “Have you ever heard of chemtrails?”
I wanna think that she’ll tell him the truth, that in this moment she’ll realize that I love her, and I’ve only tried to teach her what’s real in this world.
But I don’t see that.
My joint's almost out. I take one last puff all drawn-out. Christie's still talking on and on. I don't hear the words but I see 'em; they spill out of her mouth and float through the invisible curls, wafting out the window and into the chemical light show in the sky.
I guess some people are just never gonna wake up.