Under the Counter.

A woman, who lives over the road, emerges from her front door and into the landfill abandoned nappy grey every couple of hours. Shuffling and never entirely predictable, like a deficient cuckoo clock. Greasy, lank hair, housecoat of converged stains wrapped around this week’s rancid pyjamas.  Behind her the ghost of joy covers his face and steps backwards.
She shuffles along in somebody else’s novelty slippers. Never looks up or around. Staring into the shit scarred paving, looking for the answer to a question she was only given part of. Off to the little Shop by the main road. The Aladdin’s Cave of processed poison, offal that only desperate people would eat and single cigarettes sold furtively under the Counter like ‘fat granny porn’.
We used to call them ‘Lucys’ back when the future was still a carnival. However, we were schoolkids and not broken,  middle aged women too skint to ever afford a full packet. Here’s the thing, and it’s poverty kryptonite, she is paying a lot more for her scant comfort.
Incidentally,  I will pause for a moment and check your understanding. If your response to her predicament is any combination of ‘why are we paying these people to lounge about’, ‘if she can smoke she doesn’t need benefits’, ‘ Victorian values’ or ‘I’ve worked for what I have’ then follow me to the path.  Take that path to fuck off and die and don’t stop to talk to strangers.
You are too stupid, selfish and shallow to understand her misery or that the system, that you celebrate, put her there.  Incidentally,  come close whilst I whisper, I only live in the knowledge that my grandchildren will watch yours dig the ditches they will sleep in before their final dawn. I will spit on your corpse.
Back to our faded showgirl who never had dreams to be shattered. The shady little man in the shop, the arse oggler as my kids call him, knows that she is exposed and ready to be picked dry. She will pay more for a single cigarette than she would pay for a cigarette amongst a packet of 20. Another 20 pence here and there and a £7 packet becomes an £11 packet. Day 1 Economics GCSE, supply and demand. I will pay more for the first glass of water, to ease my terrible thirst, than for the second. Give me a whole jug and I will pay disproportionately less anyway. ‘It’s the economy stupid’. 
The little sleaze ball with the gold flecked ciggies isn’t her real problem. He is just a baby capitalist. Her problem is that the Great White Shark capitalists worked out the same trick hundreds of years ago. She is what the grifters call ‘a mark’. They know that she needs far more than she can afford. They fix the system to ensure it. She will be ‘metered’ so that that she pays more for a unit of gas than the CEO of a large bank. Her credit rating will be lower than Nigel Farages IQ so her phone will be rationed pay as you go and everything will be high end ‘never never’. 1000% emergency loans from thugs. The type that kick your door in, follow the kids hone from school and stamp your ribs in. She will know the trauma of sitting in the dark whilst the bailiffs, the paedophiles of the class war, are hammering on the door lying about prison.
She exists but that’s irrelevant. There are thousands of her in thousands of streets and in more pitiful lives than I care to tally up. They have been abandoned. Not overlooked,  ser aside or ‘put on the back burner’. Thrown into the mincer like unwanted baby chicks in a battery farm. There is no redemption. Their lives aren’t a Tom Hanks ending or a feel good novel. They are fucked. From the midwife’s slap to the undertaker’s lid. Fucked. The underbelly. Barely educated, never employed and punted into the shitpile.
Here’s my point. I defy you, I fucking dare you, to knock on the door. Look into her empty eyes and tell her that a rigged general election, in a rigged society, will save her. A choice between abusers. A narrow band of ambitious, rich speculators trading blows for a bigger sweety jar.
This isn’t democracy. It never has been. They own the system and they configure it to profit. If you aren’t going to enhance that profit, you are dead to them. Deader than Elvis lying next to his porcelain shitter reduced, in a failed heartbeat, back into the ranks. Right, right but pretending to be left, very right but pretending to be lovable,  pointless, nationalist, bourgeois hippy. Any combination of the above. A sick theatre. Different sovereigns on the fists that beat you.
The election is a nod through for a corrupt system. Vote if you want, don’t if you don’t.  Ignore the glorious dead rubbish. They are past caring under the sod from imperialist rulers bickering over off cuts. You are just guaranteeing more wars, more poverty and less accountability. It won’t make a gnats fart of a difference to her or your existence.
This is not pre revolution, it’s despair. The revolution won’t come from bitter, dismayed old men and it won’t come from self aggrandising talking shops and logo clubs. It will just happen.
When I die, because the cuts of the daily lies and betrayals have bled me dry, bury me on the banks of the river looking out to the sea. I can’t spend eternity looking inwards at the suffering and the cruel greed. My eyes are raw and my heart is empty.
Our descendents will stand on their tattered flags and plot compassion, kindness, equality and hope. Dig me up then. Shove beer in my fingers and dance around my bones. None of this can go on forever. If I thought it could I would be buying single ciggies.


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