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Apathy, Chapter 17 The Last of the Old World Etiquette

March 19, 2019

The car started as if there was nothing ever wrong with the world. There was a quiet hum that seemed to reverberate in the world that I had never noticed before. I collected my clothes and put them in the trunk of Jim’s car as my dad stood there scratching his head. “What’s wrong?” I asked quietly.

He looked at me with a strange conflicting intensity before he said, “What happens if it goes out again? I can’t just leave our one mode of transportation here… and the wagon… well, it been more than helpful. I feel like I can’t just leave it behind.”

I understood what he meant, and the wagon-child-transport can’t very well be closed the way it had meant to- there was too much money in it, I asked, “What’re we supposed to do?”

Jim suggested strapping it to the top of the car after he heads over to the CVS, that was when I heard my dad ask, “Who the fuck is going to be working there!?” A question that I hadn’t even thought about, who knows who had broken into the store anyway? Then again, who’s going to steal cancer medication?

“What’re you suggesting?” Jim asked with a lump in his throat.

My dad stood firm and said, “Take Daisy to the hospital.”

“So go back?” Jim asked a little defeated, I guess he felt like he was on a mission or something.

“Yeah, I’ll go with you, but we gotta head back for her.”

We left the bikes locked up to a tree and somehow got the wagon in the back seat. I could feel it, a warm shower… oh my God, that sounds so fantastic. The feeling of warm water dripping off all the sweat and blood of the last couple weeks. I had started my period, but that’s not something anybody notices if you’re already covered in blood- along with the constant annoyance the entire world had become I only seemed to be in a normal mood… I just want to be clean. Especially since the world civilizations had come back.

“So, Ronnie’s still there with you guys?” My dad asked Jim.

“Yeah, I doubt he’ll be enjoying much of a retirement, he feels responsible for-”

“People don’t change do they?”

“They do, Albert… since you’ve left it hadn’t been… well, it’s tough.”

“What do you mean?”

I yelled from the cramped back, “How long is this drive?”

“Shouldn’t be long, especially how long we’ve ridden here. What’s tough, Jim?”

“It’s just different, and I don’t know about you, but we just don’t have a quality that we had. That sweet spot we had before Paul died.”

“I think of him every day. That time was trying too, though.”

“Yeah, but the house burned down the same day that Paul died, it was the turning point. You were there, but maybe a little preoccupied…”

The song Picture Book by the Kinks started playing, how did I miss music! I wanted to cry when I realized that we were listening to an album and not a playlist or something shuffled.

“I might have been a little preoccupied, but it was-”

“I know, we all have gone through it.”

“Yeah…”

“Gone through what?” I asked.

“There were four of us, hon-”

“Five of us,” Jim interjected.

“Five of us, and Daisy.”

“There’s a time with any group of guys that one or more will be in love with the female of the group. I had the luxury of being able to be loved by Daisy.”

“She loved all of us, but she was in love with Albert.”

“I never understood what had happened, though. Why did she push you away? I mean, she is still alive, right?”

Jim remained quiet as my dad said, “It’s complicated. My wife, Jim. She passed away from cancer. It was unexpected and happened all too fast for any of us to… well it was hard for everybody. I’m glad that Daisy is… well, I mean… she’s not a person you can just forget.”

Jim nodded and said, “I can see, and it’s true. She’s a strong person that you can’t just pass through.”

“Which is probably why Ronnie’s still there.”

“I hate to agree with you, but yeah. It hurts to think that if Daisy would die, I think I would have to leave, same with Ronnie.”

The words of the past traveled back and forth with my dad and Jim. They reminisced on old coworkers, a man named Mr. Strabler, and the new way of working at the Village Green. What had once worked for a millennium now seemed to be obsolete and the work that they had done at the Village Green for a better part of thirty years was different with a “brand new” way with technology and mobile ordering. The concept of customer service was working its way out of the appreciation of the world. Well, up until recently, when work for Jim and Ronnie had returned to what they were used to. The last of the old world etiquette.

I looked up to the sky and felt small, the sky was vibrant as if it had never taken a day off in its life. It would gloom upon us, only to re-reveal itself with the exuberance of a brand new day that hadn’t recognized the perils of the past. Each day was a brand new start. The feeling of doom wondered over the car as an uneasy feeling corrupted said wonder of the day- I just stared at the clouds above. The day was wavering back and forth from an optimism to the potential of returning to the horrors of a world with no rules. Nothing to hold us back as humans to tell us to do what’s best for people rather than ourselves, but who could dictate such a notion? A  notion when we propel ourselves on social media as our exclusive time to express our unjust overwhelming opinion that must be beyond scrutiny. The feeling of an undeserving right that we are always right as we follow the mob rule unless we feel above the mob.

The Village Green was in the distance when a cluster of homes and what was called a rec hall appeared before the car was put in park. This was it, the place my father had spent a better part of… God knows how long.

“There she is…”

A pale bundled up woman walked to towards the car. She seemed to be shivering.

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