A satire of dysfunctional politics and economic disparity.
Chapter VI: Day/Page 59 CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY. . . . What Sofia cannot make out clearly in the distance with her newly-trammeled eyesight is actually the outline of two cities. The main one, the one closest to the sea, is the city of “Bellapraia,” a swanky, seaside resort, home to affluent tourists and business executives from the nation-states up north. At one time Bellapraia supported over a million people, but now less than one in ten remain. Most of those who could afford to leave did so. While those without the means to flee were shoved deep into the jungle where they formed a dilapidated shantytown which the local church, without a sense of irony, named “City of God,” despite it being painfully obvious that god had most likely never been to this sad, broken place, or even knew it existed.
As she walks further she sees, on the sea side to the east, a proper town with buildings and paved streets. But closer to her, on the west, sits a vast third-world slum with tiered scars of muddy terraces that have been gashed into red-clay hills backing up into the jungle. Scattered helter-skelter on these scarred embankments are myriad square-block structures clumped tightly together, sharing common walls, each made of the same scarlet-colored clay as the rutted ground they stand on. And spattered behind the red-clay huts are thousands of little stick shacks, clinging like weeds onto a slippery, naked mountain in back.
The sturdier shanties below, littering the valley floor, have rusty corrugated-tin roofs, narrow empty windows lined with nails to dissuade thieves from crawling in, and semi-functioning doors. But most of the shabby mud-huts have only palm fronds and weathered thatch atop, with tattered grungy sheets of plastic fluttering where a door should be. Others are not made of mud or stick at all, but are instead constructed of flattened soda-cans that have been stitched together by hand and attached to the outer wall of some other hovel, just as the woman whose body she confiscated had done with the banyan tree.
Scampering about the rutted clay paths that serve as roads are packs of grubby canine children, as ill-kempt as mangy pups. Filth litters the sun-baked streets, befouling the dank humid air with a heavy stench; and in the fetid wind women hang dingy ragged clothes on rusty wires to dry. (What a dump! This is really unbelievable. And what is all that crap over there? It looks like they just throw their garbage out everywhere and relieve themselves right in the street. Ugh!—and the smell! I swear, this nose is going to kill me.)
Sofia had been worried about her dismal appearance and dirty bare feet, but now realizes that she looks about the same as most of the other impoverished inhabitants who call this cesspool home. Her dress, if that is what you could call it, looks well-suited to the miserable environs, but her healthy vigor did not. Privation wracks the bodies of those around her and is visible in their eyes, seeping deep into the soul. As she enters the shantytown, both male and female canines watch her ominously.
Sofia hears two loud whistles. . . . TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW. . . .
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Gregory James All rights reserved