A Phone Call From the Future and It's For You

4:48 PM

By Rudolfo Carrillo


I have a wall-mounted rotary telephone with an ivory color to match the surrounding environment, to complement the other electronic and mechanical appliances that define the space in mi chante used to store and process food into attractively temporary constructions for consumption.


Well, that damn thing started ringing last night about ten and besides startling my pack of ferocious, pizza-eating canine sentinels, it additionally became a dandy and perfectly logical reason for me to rise, moonlike and spherically, from my repose upon a burgundy lounger made from dreams, copper, and ethernet cables.


I reckoned answering the incoming transmission would afford me an opportunity to survey the local refrigeration unit for another Otter-Pop, which we have been loading up on for relief from the heat of summer.


The fella on the other line wanted to tell about how the election for president of the United States was only a hundred days away. Course he also wanted to know to which side I was leaning in the upcoming and gloriously democratic fray. That ought to be clear, said I to him with just the slightest Saturday night-induced vocal nuance. I am for the one that jumps heroically into the captain's chair, consults his science officer and chief engineer with the proper gravitas, and warps us all the hell out of the mess we have been navigating mournfully towards while increasingly dramatic music composed by Alexander Courage plays in the background.


Well, it took him a few ticks to figure out what I was getting at, but when my pop culture obscurantism unraveled poetically on his side of things, he laughed nervously and suggested we meet at his Nob Hill office to get to know one another and work out some strategizing. I told him I would sleep on it and did just that.


The next morning, the sun came up just like it was supposed to do; the dogs didn't wanna have anything to do with the dry kibble I offered them, unless I tossed in some warm milk and a couple of encouraging winks; meanwhile, I figured out a meaningful way to meaningfully contribute to the meaningful political discourse dancing this way and that, with great profundity and cyclical rhythm, on the airwaves and lips of my fellow Americans.


What you all have read so far is the preamble to that, which goes something like this:


According to indications available to Rudolfo Carrillo through a combination of personal experience and anecdotal electronic data-gathering missions, the author is convinced that a reordering of priorities is order. The man responsible for this particular polemic earnestly believes our world is on the edge of just about every kind of cliff the reader can meticulously and neurologically render.


The economic and cultural gap between the rich and poor in this city is heartbreaking. The experiences that led to that conclusion are easy to come by, repeatable by you or you in any city in this nation, I fear.


If you don't care to acknowledge that fact, then grab your keys, ATM card, and detachable-face car stereo thingy and drive down to the Smith's grocery store on Carlisle and Constitution. The drive there will be idyllic, composed mostly of tree-lined avenues, well-kept gardens, and good neighbors gamboling blithely from one private pool party to another, Tecate or mojito in hand. Ah, summertime!


Spend some time wandering through the formidable produce section, let the young woman with a sparkly smile serve you up some fresh sushi from the demonstration counter. Take a careful look at the humans that are coming and going, note their happiness and satisfaction, the kind attentiveness of the clerks.


Then leave that place, buoyed by hope and pride in our community. Drive about two miles south, to the Walmart that is gently nestled in the economically shattered neighborhood next to the air force base where they store thousands of thermonuclear devices and have soaked the surrounding earth with enough jet fuel to poison our enemies and our own citizens with equal relentlessness.


When you are inside that second food distribution center I told you about, take some time to count the number of young women accompanied by more than two children and with no partner or father in sight; whose shoes and shirts are slight and threadbare not out of a sense of fashion or because of a bizarre involvement with the cult of the visibly youthful human form, but because there are no words for new or beautiful in the vernacular of interminable unemployment and sullen trips to the payday loan counter next to the thrift store where mi jita found a gently used pair of flip-flops in her size.


When you take your leave, do not look up, like I did, at the gangsta rolling past the doorway. He is threatened by eye contact and will mistake your tears for weakness, for proof of the corruption of the ruling class, even as his attention is diverted by the shameful self-loathing induced by five missed child-support payments.


In case you are interested, I was gonna interview some middle-class folks in an earnest attempt at balancing the foreboding tone contained herein, but they were so worried about losing their jobs, their delinquent student loan payments, and about how they were still working towards getting three co-payments together this month so that the family could get to see a doctor who is so overwhelmed with patients and looming insurance companies that his corporate backers only give him fifteen minutes per patient, not a one of them had time to chat.


And if all that descriptive stuff seems more than a little unsettling to you, you are damn right, it is. It is my hope, however, that these words will invoke progression, actions designed to walk all of us away from the precipice, back to the center of things. Taken all together, that should give you all some idea of who my vote is going to, come November.

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