Beyond the Western
The old man was homeless and cold.
The cement he sat on offered no warmth and the thin blanket he was wrapped in wasn’t helping.
The U.E. Control officer patrolling the area noticed the old man and walked over. “What’s your name?”
The old man looked up. “Are you a cop?
“U.E. Control. It’s a division of the local authority. Can I see your identification?”
“Don’t have any.”
The officer pulled a small unit from his utility belt and held it out. Put your thumb on this,” he ordered.
The old man complied. “Three hundred million people in this country and that thing is going to tell you who I am?”
“Anyone in the world,” he replied. He turned on the camera and pointed it toward the old man. “Look at this.”
“Face recognition and retina scan. It’s a double check.” replied the officer. “Douglas M. Biggs. Born on January 5, 1984 in Akron, Ohio. Is that correct?”
“If you say so.”
“Says you’re divorced and have four kids. Tom’s your oldest. Has a good paying job. Looks like your other kids aren’t doing too bad either. Also says you’re enrolled in several social welfare programs and that you receive welfare checks although it Looks like you trade most of them for cigarettes and booze.”
“Lots of information in that little box,” scoffed the old man.
“It’s ALL here. Why aren’t your kids supporting you? It’s the law you know.”
“I’m too proud to ask my kids for a handout.”
“Well the U.E. Isn’t.. We’ll be in touch with your kids. The fine is much higher than any support they would have had to pay.”
The officer turned his attention to the overflowing grocery cart next to the old man. “Is this all yours?”
“Yep, It’s everything I own.”
“The carts not yours. It’s illegal to have one of these you know.”
“I got no other way to carry my stuff.”
The officer got on his radio. “U.E. Control Officer Dicks here. I need a Fema van at my location.
“On the way,” squawked the radio.
“It’s cold out, you have an illegal cart. And you’re homeless. We have a warming facility just outside of town. Your going to be our guest for a few days.”
“Not interested,” replied the old man.
“You have no choice,” insisted the officer.
The van pulled up and opened the back door. The old man reluctantly got up and climbed in.
“My stuff. I have a picture of my kids in there. I want it.”
“You’ll get your stuff,” replied the officer.
“What the hell does U.E. Stand for anyways?” Asked the old man.
Dicks didn’t reply.
As the van pulled away Dicks got on the radio. “U.E. Control Officer Dicks here. Need a garbage pick-up at my location.” He grinned as he thought to himself, another Useless Eater off the streets.
© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.