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Dump Miner - Chapter 11
The black market.


mariA arrives at the black market. She puts the long stained sheet she uses as a veil across her face and ties it behind her head, to become less recognizable. There is nothing unusual about this as others cover their faces, too, to avoid inhaling the gases and fumes that permeate the market. Tents made of tarp and vinyl, supported by wood or discarded steel poles serve as storefronts for some vendors. Other vendors have their wares spread on old blankets or cast-off stained rugs, or in large baskets and boxes. Dump miners from other welfare facilities can be seen buying leftover food or expired medicines. Facility guards and police officers can also be seen, selling vouchers or exchanging them with goods from other guards.

Later, mariA walks up to a fruit vendor. He has several different types of fruit displayed but all the fruit is old and rotting. mariA looks at the fruits as if each piece is perfect. She picks three apples from an assortment of fruit and the vendor puts them in a dirty paper bag.

mariA:
How much are the apples?

Vendor:
How much do you have?

mariA:
I am not going to just give you all my money. How much are they?

Vendor:
$5.00 a piece.

mariA:
$5.00 a piece! That is too much.

The fruit vendor pause with a sigh and motions for mariA to give back the paper bag with the apples.

Vendor:
If you don’t like it then go to a Regulated Store. Apples are $18.00 apiece there.

mariA:
I can’t afford that, don’t you have anything cheaper?

The vendor looks around and pulls out a small bag out from underneath the counter. Looking around to making sure that no one is looking he lowers his voice and speaks as if he is telling mariA a secret.
Vendor:
I was going to take these apples home for my family but you can have all of them all for five dollars.

mariA looks in the bag and sees several old rotting apples.

mariA:
I will take these.

mariA hands the vendor the ten-dollar bill and he puts it in his pocket and then goes about his business.

mariA:
You owe me some money back.

Vendor:
What money?

mariA:
You owe me five dollars.

Vendor:
You only gave me a five. Now take a hike or I will call a cop.

mariA starts to scream and everyone in the market looks in her direction.

mariA:
Give me my money!

Vendor:
OK, ok, calm down.

mariA:
Thief! This man is a thief!

The vendor reaches in his pocket and hands her a old five-dollar bill.

Vendor:
Here take it. Just shut up!

mariA:
Thank you.

Vendor:
Don’t come back here or I will report you to the authorities.

mariA:
Don’t worry about that.

mariA leaves with the apples. She hurries to get back to the camp in time for the next dump truck collection of recyclable items. If the guards catch her with fruit, there would surely be an investigation and she would surely be found out. It would be hard to explain where she got the money for the fruit, it would be hard to explain why she didn’t report it, and the consequences would surely be very grave and probably cost her life.

mariA moves quickly past the black market, keeping to alleys and dark streets, she does not want to take any chances in being seen. She cannot help but smell the apples in the bag; even in their rotting state, they give off a perfume-like aroma.

As mariA walks down a dark deserted alley, with only the faint glow of the moonlight shining on her face. She lifts the bag closer to her face to take full advantage of the wonderful scent. “So this is what a real apple smells like” she thinks to herself. The only fruit scents she or the other miners experience are that of their pre-packed “dessert like snacks” given out on holidays at the camp. As she walks, mariA takes an apple from the bag, puts it right under her nose, and takes a big whiff. It smells so good. She raises the apple above her head as if offering it to the gods. The moon approves and shines a dull glimmer on the fruit’s spoiled skin. She puts the apple back in the sack and continues. “If I have just one bite of the apple, no one will notice.” She thinks to herself. mariA stops and takes a small apple out of the bag and looks at it.

mariA:
No.

mariA puts the apple back in the sack with the others and continues to walk.

Earlier that night, in another part of Americo, John Walker, the only son of the Reagan Walker, is out with his friends and decides to go slumming. He gets wasted on designer drugs and alcohol. John Walker becomes his obnoxious self again and his friends leave him, especially when he announces that he wants to have his way with a dump miner. Patiently, like a crazed wild animal released from the cage, he waits in an alley for a woman to come by. Any woman will do, for that matter anything he can molest. The mix of AM/PM pills greatly distorts John Walker’s sense of reality. While he is on this drug cocktail, life is far better than he could ever imagine. His perspective of what he is, becomes very sharp; he is the future leader of the world. He is truly a king among the human sediment that seeps through the streets. And to spite his father and the Reagan name, and to prove to himself and to Americo that he is untouchable, John Walker has committed every crime conceivable.

mariA hurries from the black market back to Resource Facility 4499 with all the food she has bought with the found money. She cannot help but feel triumphant in getting such a great deal with the apples, and still have some money left in the process. Temptation almost takes over mariA, she reaches into the bag and takes an apple. She ponders to herself if she should eat the apple or wait to share it with the rest of the miners. She has never had an apple before. She keeps taking out an apple and looking at it, smelling it and contemplating on eating it, and then putting it back in the bag. As she walks, she keeps opening the plastic bag to look at the apples. Taking one out now and again and smelling it. She is so preoccupied with the fruit that she does not notice the dark figure in the shadows of the alleyway. It is John Walker, the Reagan Walker’s only son, who hides in the dark.

No longer in control of her will, mariA stops and takes an apple from the bag, smells it slowly and then takes a bite. The sharply rancid juice from the rotting fruit drips down her chin as she chews it very slowly. It is the most wonderful thing she has ever tasted. She starts to take another bite. The almost soft crunchiness of the fruit makes her close her eyes and she surrenders herself to the euphoric experience. Just then, the shadow reaches out of the alleyway, grabs her and pulls her in. As mariA takes another bite of the apple, John Walker explodes from the alley and grabs mariA from behind. Startled out of her bliss, mariA does not even see his face; John Walker throws her to the ground. When mariA hits the unpaved alley, the bag rips and the fruits spill everywhere. Instead of fearing for her life and thwarting her attacker, she concerns herself more with the spilled fruits. In the dark, she grabs for the spilled fruits and yells.

mariA:
Oh my god!

John Walker moves around behind her, he raises his fist into the air and says:
I am your God!

With that said, the future leader of Americo thrusts his clinched fist into in the back of mariA’s head. mariA falls face first flat on the deserted alleyway. Her head hits the cement with a dull thud, it bounces once and then comes to rest. A small trickle of blood flows on to the sidewalk, the crimson color reflected by the moonlight. mariA's world fades black.

 

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