Legal Violations of the Food Industry:
Western society, and social endeavours generally, revolve largely around food, meals, and consumption. We host luxurious family dinners for notable holidays, have business meetings over lunch, meet friends for weekend brunch, serve refreshments as incentive for participation, and go so far as to organize our entire days around where we will eat, who we will eat with, and what we will be eating. The food industry prioritizes speed and convenience, reinforcing its active participation in almost every aspect of our lives. Vending machines, convenience stores, fast food establishments on every street corner, and the ability to order dinner with just a few clicks or swipes at the palm of our hand ensure our next meal is never too far from our thoughts.
Eight years old the first time his Daddy puts a gun in his hands. Doesn’t let him shoot it, not then. His Momma’s voice carries across their Mississippi kitchen, her lemonade-fresh tone saying, “I wish you wouldn’t do that, Randy. He’s never gonna learn how dangerous they are.”
Hands to Hold a Rake
We were country kids, born and raised on the land and raised to respect it and the man at the head of our house even when he'd done nothing to earn that respect. I wore my older brothers' hand-me-downs, proud to display the stains they'd earned from blood and grass alike, and proud to wrap a rope through the belt-loops to make those Levi's fit around my too-small, too-feminine waist.
The walk from work to my front door is no longer than four minutes. Tonight, I'm outrunning an incoming storm. Winds have picked up and where there should be a sunset there's a cover of darkened clouds. Across the street, a vagrant fumbles through his cartful of belongings. He's searching for something.
I tried to hang myself right before my eighteenth birthday. The threat of impending adulthood suffocated me in an unbearable way; a way that felt like there was already a noose around my neck. The very concept encroached upon my understanding of juvenile irresponsibility. On my inverse understanding of freedom. I had no direction, not even a hint of an idea of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.
She sits with the box as her only company for three full days. It's edges pristinely wrapped, the brown paper pulled taught and intentional, smooth on every side. A measure of doubt sits tickling the back of her throat, vague and unthreatening but there nonetheless. There's something wrong with the package, something that refuses to make sense within the confines of her mind. It takes her three whole days to pinpoint the source of it as this: the man (just barely beyond boyhood at the time) she parted ways with was the human embodiment of dishevelled, incapable of producing these sharp corners with his fumbling hands. Yet this parcel sits before her now, silent in the shadow of the corner of her kitchen, and it has his fingerprints all over it.
Absolution at the Diner
Russell shifts atop the plush diner seat, pushes a roughened palm across the tweed of his best Sunday pants. A grunt comes with the motion, aged body protesting before it's been given permission to do so. There's an aching in his knees that hasn't let up in nine days.
The Man Made of Gasoline
He wakes with a mouthful of gasoline. Swallows it. Someone is trying to burn his house down. (It isn’t his house.) A black cat sitting heavy on his chest, sharp and angry little fangs bared. A sleep paralysis demon. A domestic pet turned feral by abandonment in another dimension.