Wednesday, April 30, 2008


A RUMOR SPREAD in line that you had to have a copy of your light bill in order to prove the loss. Plus you had to sign an affidavit estimating the value of the food you lost during the outage. Almost everyone in line had hopes of claiming their entire monthly allotment had gone bad and spoiled in the heat which followed the storm. Some folks ran or sent children home to retrieve crumpled utility bills from the trash. Chester and Elvira had only a stained copy of an old bill which Chester found balled up in a corner of their trailer near the garbage pail. He took it with them not on a whim but because he knew the routine. The lights to their property had been cut off for lack of payment six months prior. They both hoped that the welfare worker wouldn't notice the old date on the bill. Chester scraped at the printed date in the corner with a fingernail which smudged it and made it almost illegible. He figured that would cast enough uncertainty on it such that they would get the stamps. Besides, they weren't greedy and were only going to claim that half of their monthly benefit was spent on perishables lost. One thing was sure, he was sick of eating canned goods from the food bank and the first thing they were going to do on the road home was stop at Me-Maw's Superette for a nice plump roaster chicken or two. Some dirty rice, mustard, and maybe a few links of good andouille sausage. And with the cash that Elvira stuffed surreptitiously into her tank top, they would buy beer, wine and cigarettes. Chester smiled a half-smile but winced a little when he put too much weight on his sore toe. The day wasn't starting out too badly, but they seldom did if one didn't expect too much. Roll with the punches, that's the mantra he chanted to himself and indeed lived by.

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