Corporate dustbowls

The machines howled and screamed as they worked their way closer. The mowing contractors were working the lawns on the upper part of the apartment complex first. They would be here soon and I didn’t know what to do. I was sick in my stomach with stress. I sat in the doorway of the tiny apartment and wracked my mind for some way to prevent them engineering a confrontation. It seemed as though they had no choice but to make some gesture to prove they were the all powerful corporate employees and we were at their service.

Plastic sheet being swayed by the small wind gusts created in that corner of my apartment

The bedclothes had just been changed. The fresh quilt cover still has the scent of the lizard that was boiled when the hot water heater flooded the whole apartment. It is an unpleasant smell. I like the lizards. Everything in that big linen press smells of boiled lizard. There are a half dozen quilt covers, sheets, pillow cases and mattress covers. I raced out and threw the quilt and cover over the rocks on the lawn out front. That was followed by both pillows and both pillow cases. There was now no way to get a ride-on mower onto the grass in front of my apartment without driving over my bedding. The rest of the items that were only lightly scented went out into the hot sun on the lawn while the worst went into the washing machine,

The rider on the big mower raced into sight around the corner of the apartments on the other side of the driveway. He looked at the bedding spread across the little patch of grass in front of my apartment. He cranked down the mower blades as low as they would go and began to rip up the actual dirt creating a dust and pebble cyclone that raced in the direction of my possessions. It wasn’t totally unexpected and the answer was at hand.

When the contractors had left the broken hot water heater to fill the apartment for three days the only reason I had managed to save anything was to make my stock of a hundred and twenty meters of black plastic film into rafts. Those rafts were stuffed into corners now that they were no longer needed. I grabbed one, walked outside and tossed it over the items on the lawn. That continued until all of the lengths of plastic sheet were strewn over the grass and it couldn’t be seen at all. It increased the heat acting on the bacteria on the sheets and things as well as pulling the plastic sheets out straight so I could get them rolled up for storage. All activities that were long overdue but made the grass and my apartment unassailable for whatever little act of resentment they were planning

That is not to say that nobody suffered the results of the resentment being projected by the contractors. The area that was chewed up to make the dusty cyclone was the garden of an elderly pensioner. She was well over ninety years old and very fragile. She spent what money she could afford on a gardener for her tiny world. The resentful and spiteful act by the contractor had just seen all her grass turned into something like a rhinoceros dust wallow just a few weeks before Christmas. It was at a time we were trying to get grass to grow to lengths that would allow us to have greenery through the summer heat. She had no hope now. Her big double windows at the front opened onto a hot, dead patch that would not come good this side of autumn. She will not complain. Only a few would dare face the resentment and continual confrontation they see me dealing with. Besides, she knows she has no value after her rent is paid.

The dust-bowl their need to spite me created in an elderly lady’s life

Doing the couple of chores I had set myself here were far more than I could cope with easily. It doesn’t seem like a lot if you are healthy but very small chores completely strip me of energy and this was staggering and sweltering. It was done though and the smell of small dying creatures is almost gone from the linen press. The black plastic sheets that filled every space and hid toe breaking items of furniture have been wrapped onto a big roll and stand in a corner.

It was scary when my vision started to explode into heat blooms. I have seen that before. The heat was overwhelming my body. I poured water over my head and drank a liter before wandering back outside and, with my arms folded, glared at the contractors who now seemed to have increased in number and found cause to walk back and forth in front of my apartment.. They walked past shaking their heads. One spat. The one on the ride-on drove right up the plastic covered grass as though he was going to go right over everything before turning away.

They make me feel ill. The stress of being in the hands of such spiteful people has been causing me to wake with a horrible anxiety in my belly followed by hours of helpless dismay that sucks the energy I try to use to work on the drawings and paintings. The law protects them. The only way out of here is to die or to get thrown onto the street and for me that still equals death

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