Tuesday, April 29, 2008
WELFARE OFFICE Pt. 1
ONCE THE STRONG winds abated and the clouds parted, a piss-yellow sun crept out and hung low in the chalky blue sky. A long line of people snaked through the lobby of the welfare office and out the glass doors to the parking lot beyond. Chester Monsoon and Elvira Logan stood out under the rising sun with bare feet already burning on the asphalt. They shuffled their body weight from one foot to the other, as the situation required to abate the sting. Chester had a dirty white cloth bandage wrapped around a wound on his left big toe which made him wince every time he shifted to that foot. Elvira glanced at it nervously and chewed her bottom lip. With heads throbbing and still partly stewed from the night before, they stood in vigilant silence and with the patience of Buddha. A tropical storm grew in the Gulf over the weekend and whipped across the Parish, but just the tip, a near miss if ever there was one. A handful of residents were without electrical power until Monday, a minor inconvenience. The State boys in charge of the matter convened in their dull brown Capital offices but were unable to determine who lost power or the duration of the outage. An executive decision was made to authorize a full month's Food Stamps to everyone on the dole to cover the loss of victuals which might have spoiled in refrigerators and freezers during the aforementioned storm and subsequent power outage. Might congenial indeed. Word spread like lightening and by mid-morning everyone in receipt of Public Assistance in the Parish was aware of the windfall, which accounted for the line of quiet desperation which continued to grow and writhe like a plump earthworm on the sizzling pavement.