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Roland's Orange Cart

Roland's Orange Cart.

The wheels of the cart squeaked. Roland kicked the loudest one next to his left foot. This did not stop the noise but it gave him satisfaction. He kicked it once more pushing the trolley down aisle nineteen stopping every so often to grab an item and toss it on his load.

The cart was orange, its corrugated steel base its bent steel tube railing, every thing but the wheels, which were hard rubber with dull naked steel hubs.... orange. The banners above his head were orange. The doors were orange; the whole dam place was orange. Roland hated orange. After working at this place for two years he would not even drink the juice. He could not tolerate a pumpkin.

He looked down at the squeaking wobbling hard rubber tire and kicked it again. Maintenance--not his department. He was an order man, in the contractor’s department. The orders came in and the orders went out. Roland filled them and wheeled the cart to the loading dock, hung the sign on the cart, Jefferson job, or Stevens order, Julie Fine Design, then he would get another cart and fill another order. This was his life. At least the one he had fallen into at sixty... working more for insurance than wages. Hell, he made no wages to speak of, twelve bucks an hour in the land of the free and the home of the brave...George W Bush’s land of opportunity. Ever since the cancer, since his insurance company had screwed him, since he had lost his home, his life, his business. It sucked but there was nothing he could do about it. Not if he wanted his pills, his tests, his processing. Wanted to be able to pay for some doc to shove a tube up his posterior every six months just to be sure the cancer had not returned.

What a life, he thought. And did it really matter to spend five more years until Medicare just to have this wonderful life of filling orders at Remodel Rex. Orders for idiots. He was almost ready to quit...fuck what if he died. This might as well be death anyway.

It had not always been so. Life was luck, life was work, life was opportunity, life was talent, but mainly it was luck, and his had sucked. And at times when it might have been only mediocre he had made sure to stretch the despair down every avenue to insure there was no in between. Good luck... Bad luck. Roland was an absolutist. No, he knew he had something, perhaps even a lot to do with his current predicament, but still he had not dreamed the illness not summoned it from some celestial witching spirit. Everyone lived forever in his family... until.
But still, talk about luck; look at this current warmongering doofus of a President, now there was a man who should have had bad luck. Bailed out at every turn, cronies up the wazoo, a failure at every endeavor. What did they call him.... the man must have stuffed socks in his pants for that picture. Mr. Mission Accomplished... they called this former incompetent cheerleader tough. Right tough as in tough shit America. Every time he made another stupid speech there would be Chris Mathews on the television ... “The President was resolute, bold, decisive.” From Roland’s perspective, someone should get rid of the son of bitch, or at the very least place him in the stocks and pelt him with rotten cabbages. But this was another thing he kept to himself...anymore he did not speak of his health, his politics, hell, for that matter he did not talk to anyone any longer unless he had to. What good did it do? He had reduced his large vocabulary to a finite system of grunts and finger pointing.

Take that man of just moments ago. “Do you know where the bolts for dishwashers are?” One grunt. “Hey you, I’m talking to you” Two grunts. “You know those little ones that hold them to the floor, and those brackets which attach the hose to the disposal... appliances?" Three grunts. And then Roland had beckoned with his hand pushing his squeaky cart before him. Until he and the man had reached aisle nineteen’s intersection with a more major corridor of commerce. That was how this place was laid out. House Beautiful, little aisles, intersecting bigger aisles, intersecting still bigger aisles. Finally pointing towards a banner, white on orange, away in the distance... a crude drawing of a refrigerator. Who needed words?

Roland grunted it was weeks later. He had an IV drip attached to his wrist which made him only half aware. Half in and half out of consciousness, but not so much that he could not see the screen or feel the slimy tube making its way up his digestive track. Lying on his side with his buttocks exposed. “This won’t hurt much.” He grunted again. He could see himself on the screen. His inner self, that is, the pink inverted corridor where the cancer had once lived. Not exactly the same spot though, they had cut that section out, twelve inches of it, of him, five years previously. “So far so good”, said the voice, the sound coming from behind his shoulder. So Far, OH! And there it was a dark mass, a rounded stalactile lump blocking the corridor. Doesn’t look good, not.......

Roland had expected this and he had not. Every time they had done this procedure, expected something to be inside resurrected... growing. It was springtime. Halleluiah, a resurrection, just the wrong kind, Easter was coming. Lot of good that would do him.

“This is going to need to come out. It may just be a polyp. But the darkness. It doesn’t look good. We need to check it now. Nurse increase the drip.”

He remembers nothing until coming slowly from a shadow world of dreams and intrusions, insects invading his body popping from his arms and abdomen his thighs in pustule bursts to climb and swarm about his body. He, like some chained Gulliver, the insects Lilliputians. He tries to swat the imaginary creatures, he feels their bights, their scratches, but he cannot. His hand is attached to the gurney and they are wheeling him. He thinks, oddly, it is like the carts. These wheels squeak too. He looks about for the orange for the banners but everything is too bright, and he is too supine. He listens to the conversation, “poor fucks cancer’s back. They say it’s spread”. The wheels continue to howl and thump against the floor, echoing off this too bright passage. Roland nods off again.

He awakes, but this time he is in a bed, and there is a woman present. Not a nurse she wears a suit. "Mr. Mainly how are you"? The woman smiles a made up perfumed, powdered, packaged smile.

“How are you? Nice room isn’t it”.

Roland nods.

“I am so sorry but we seem to have a problem. You cannot stay in the hospital any longer. It, well, you can.. but we need to know something about you... your asset base. Do you have any assets?”

“I...What are you talking about...I... you mean money? I have insurance from Remodel Rex. I work there”.

“Well, that’s the problem. You need an operation. They have found more cancer. It is spreading and this new part on your Colon. The doctors say you need another operation. We must know you can pay for it.”

“You have my number, you have my card.

“Right.. Right. But it is my job to check on such things. The Remodel Rex corporation says you have been reduced to a temporary employee, I called and they called me right back to say your status in the organization had changed... shifted as it were. And as a temporary employee, well. The sad reality is you have no insurance.”

“I was just working there two weeks ago, then I took a week off. "

“Oh”, she said, “Perhaps that is the problem. They say your week off was unauthorized and your status has thus changed. You have no insurance Mr. Mainly. And you cannot expect us to take care of you if you cannot pay. This is why I asked about your assets.”

“Nope, none, he said, I rent now, since the cancer. I had to sell my house. I may have a couple thousand in the bank, my truck... It is ten years old”

“That will hardly cover it”, she says. “ I am so sorry, but you will need to leave. Do you have any family?”

“No”, he says, thinking maybe he should rob the 7-11 down the street. They take care of you in prison.

| It Be Just Alright: An Island Journey | A Builder's Tale | Oh To Be An Indian | Captain Passion | Roland's Orange Cart | Roland's Orange Cart | The Pumpkin Festival |
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