Saturday, March 27, 2004

A Life On The Streets Day!

When you were nine, you felt coddled in your middle-class life with two loving parents and free food and schooling. So you took to the streets to find something real.

And the streets took to you. Tricksters and hucksters alike could see in those nine-year old eyes the glint of lawlessness. They brought you on, but kept you at bay. As with all the best outlaws, you were invaluable to your employers, but your employers knew that one day you'd make a move against them. On the streets, climbing the ladder means picking off whoever's on the upper rung.

Within six months, you were running your own corner, selling keyrings. By age ten and a half, you owned your block. Anyone tried to move so much as a water-pick in your neighborhood, they knew you got a taste. Not long after your twelfth birthday, you took control of the trade that would bring you more money and power than any crook had ever imagined. Animal Shelters.

Shelters got cash from the city to fund all their vets through all the spaying and neutering the city's rescued pets might need before they went to a good home. Ten percent of that cash went to you. You did it the right way, you showed the shelters respect for the service they provided. You took just enough to make a nice profit, and they had more than enough left over to remain comfortably in operation. In exchange, they got your muscle with the cops and you had city hall on speed dial. They needed you to get their funding and to speed through the red tape to build into new neighborhoods and get their permits for outreach programs.

No one else saw what you could see. Non-profits are the ideal partners in crime. It's so obvious it's right there in the name. Not only do they have no interest in turning a profit, by law they're not even allowed to hang onto the money. All they wanna do is stay in business and feel like they're doing what they set out to do, which is help out somehow. And the government makes them jump so many hurdles they got no problem with funneling city cash to someone who actually makes things easier for them. That's where you came in.

The veterinary trade made you a giant, and by the time you were sixteen you'd swooped into every other social service you could find. While the other kingpins were out getting shot trying to push drugs, you went into cahoots with the needle exchange folks, robbing the trucks carrying the needles and taking half what the program was going pay to the legit providers. Soup kitchens put a new wing on your house. You'd rob the soup trucks and bring the chicken noodle to those in need while pocketing a big hunk of grant money. And breast cancer research proved to be a good racket as well. Those breast cancer research trucks never expected to face a robbery, and they handed over the keys without a stammer.

But when you were eighteen, things started to get silly. Rival gangs were pelting your soldiers with water balloons full of shaving cream. The new administration proved harder to work with, and the mayor made the cops come down on you and your trade. Suddenly, you couldn't move so much as a month's supply of birth control at planned parenthood without some cop holding out his hand for some cashews. And then the cable company started snooping around. The vision that helped you climb so high was suddenly going blurry. You were going to have to finally follow the beaten path. Just like every crook who's getting tired, you decided it was going to be one last score and then you were gonna get out.

So tonight's the night. There's eight trucks full to the brim with welfare cheese pulling into the warehouse district tonight. You've got every last thug on your payroll armed to the hilt with wiffle ball bats and rape whistles. By dawn, you'll either be on an island in the pacific, or you'll be covered in magic markered obscenities from head to toe. You're only twenty one, and no matter how tonight's score plays out, your life on the streets is about to come to a very stupid end.

Happy A Life On The Streets Day!