Words by NautiusMax
Tim peddled his bike carefully down the rutted dirt road. It was an awful place to live, worse even than the slums outside of Nairobi they had lived near one year, but his parents were anthropologists, and went where a tribe of primitive humans could be studied for their work.
Why this place and tribe were so awful Tim’s parents couldn’t yet answer. After all, it was a very rich country, and not far to the north people were much different. People here ate strange food, used a language his parents said was related to English yet unintelligible, and had very few teeth. Tim, not much of a student most places, was considered the school nerd here. People lived huddled in beat-up metal boxes, with leaky roofs patched with signs that said “MAGA” in bold letter. His parents had no idea what that meant in English yet, and cars on blocks were everywhere. His parents were still arguing over whether or not that was a religious symbol. In spite of the attempts of the country’s government, the tribe had shown no interest in changing.
As he peddled down the dirt road, he passed a number of interesting places:
- The old folks home, where Old Man Davis dozed with an empty pudding cup in his lap. Tim went by at this time to avoid the awful sound of Davis’ voice ruined from years of shouting “get of my lawn” to passing kids. Old man Wayne also lived there, but Tim was careful not to utter his name or he migt escape and a half hour later get stalked by someone shouting about atheist Muslims. Tim’s parents said he was a failed priest of the local faith centered on the cars.
- Mariner’s farm, where the sound of a terrified heifer came from the small barn. Tim had once peeked through a knothole and still shuddered over what he had seen. His parents in comforting him claimed this was unusual even for this tribe, usually preferring that activity with close relatives.
- The turtle pond, where a fat naked woman covered in mud mumbled to herself.
- A run down house shack with the words “Gone to Italy, Drop Dead” painted on the side, and Cloudy’s Freedumbs on the front.
Turning into what passed for the center of tribal life here, Tim entered the market area. The boney guy with wild grey hair stood as he always did, with his placards claiming
“Jesus Loves You” on one side and “Repent Or Fry” on the other. He claimed his name was Happy, but he never seemed very happy to Tim. A belch from the storm drain came and Tim knew Lowdy had survived the recent hurricane.
The marketplace was different. In it were people hawking alcohol, pills, and a strange white powder Tim’s parents said eliminated the need for dentists. There was also someone selling coloring books along with half chewed crayons.
The only nice place in the whole area was a building with a cross on it, and a Cadillac parked in the back. The owner often stood at the front door and lured people in with a smile that gave Tim the creeps, but the tribe often went in there, usually on Sundays.
Tim finally arrived at the grass hut with the word “Skool” on a sign out front. A number of flags flew on sticks out front. The flag of the national government, a flag that had once been white but was now a dirt brown, and a red flag with a large blue “X” with stars inside it. Tim’s parents said that was the symbol of the tribe, and they usually preferred it to the national flag except during something called “feettball seeson”.
Inside the hut was a well dressed man, also a scientist who was working undercover teaching for the national government. His name was Mr. Tenni. Tim’s parents said he was a colleague but was wasting his time and career with this tribe, as they didn’t have the intelligence level needed for his advanced material. Tim wondered about that as the it was material he’d had in the 5th grade, and now he was in 8th. The barefoot kids said their parents called the teacher a “stinkin’ librul” and to not pay any attention to what was taught.
Most of the kids were barefoot, and half of the girls were currently pregnant. Tim’s parents had told him that in this tribe first pregnancies were usually with a sibling or parent as the father, but they usually went on to marry a first or second cousin. They said it helped explain the low IQs and the tribe but the food and living conditions also contributed. The girls all flirted with Tim as he was the only non-relative in the school, but they smelled bad even if they weren’t pregnant and Tim was not interested. Soap was always in short supply.
A bad smell drifted over the town, and the other kids took deep breaths as if to fully enjoy it. Tim didn’t understand it but the kids said it “wuz the smell of freedumb”. Apparently an out of town grifter had bought the local wetland and said he was going to clean it up, but had instead turned it into the cesspool for the local area. All kinds of sewage flowed into the cesspool and back out, polluting the countryside for miles around. The local townspeople loved the man as he had “a lot of bucks” and a wife with a full set of teeth not a relative.
Walking down the sidewalk was a man, but nobody knew his name. His parents said the man went door to door trying to talk people out of their car religion and into something called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. He didn’t have any luck but that never stopped him trying. He handed out flyers with the word “Watchtower” on them, but the words inside were too complicated for those in the tribe, even though to Tim they were 6th grade level at best.
To Be Continued…