Not sure how much longer I'll be doing this. Not sure how much longer they'll LET me do it. I already know they're watching me. The couple in the apartment next door are spies, and I'm sure they've been using their bugging equipment on us.
I'm allowed to review Strange Music and books from the old days, but nothing TOO far-out. And I'm absolutely not allowed to criticize the government. That kind of mouthing-off is Not Approved under the new regime. Gotta keep my head down or they'll haul me off to a work camp.
Things keep getting weirder, as if they weren't weird enough already. The Homeland Security guys in the big black trucks came around last week issuing our new Official Uniform, the black pajamas -- two pairs each for me and the Mrs. It was Strongly Suggested that we start wearing the black PJ's at all times -- not just when we're out in public or going to work. We're supposed to lounge in them, sleep in them, do the gardening in them. We're never supposed to take them off. Except for the mandated one shower per week. Taking more than one shower per week is verboten. That'll get you hauled off to a work camp quicker than you can say "Clean Air Act." Water conservation measures are now fully in force. Along with all our other conservation measures.
Like conserving gasoline so the military can use it.
They came and hauled away our cars a couple of weeks ago. Since there's no gas legally for sale anywhere anymore, there's no need for cars. They'll be crushed and recycled and turned into weapons for our military to use in our ongoing struggle against our enemies.
Instead, the Mrs. and I have been issued bicycles. Not fancy 24-speed bicycles. These look like something out of the 1950's. Basic black, one speed. And they all look the same -- kind of grimy and oily.
And I imagine I look kind of grimy and oily as I peddle the bike to my job, five miles into town in my black PJ's and sandals, even in the winter. Not even allowed an overcoat -- those went to the Army, and they'd detract from the "uniform." Peddle faster, citizen, it'll help keep you warm.
I have a new job now. I work at the local office of the Ministry Of Information. The job's not bad. I take news released by official sources and censor it appropriately for my area. Uh, scratch that -- make sure it's acceptable doctrine-wise to release to my fellow citizens. That means heavily editing any news coming in from Europe or Asia -- places where they still have a free press. Any criticisms of Our Beloved Leader are of course immediately eliminated.
This is a tough job to have. Holding it means that I already know a lot more about what's Really Going On than most citizens. Which is why they now watch me more closely.
For instance, I know our former friendly neighbors up in Canada have almost finished building THEIR wall -- to keep US OUT.
I know that all minorities have either been deported or executed. Millions of them. Dissidents and artists have been sent to work camps in the Rockies and the desert Southwest. Drug addicts have been executed, sent to camps, or left to die on the street.
I know our war in the Middle East is dragging on endlessly. But by next week we could be at war with Russia. Again. We continue to drop bombs and make drone attacks on all the people we don't like.
But most of my fellow citizens don't want to hear about this stuff anyway. They're too busy trying to keep their heads down, act like they're working hard, and praying that they won't get sent to a work camp.
It's hard to remember that this is what most of us seemed to want -- more or less. This is what millions of us voted for. Back when we could vote. This is what we chose.
But we don't remind each other of that. The constant surveillance would pick it up. They are everywhere, always watching.
There are no "people of color" anymore. All I see now at my job or in the streets are white faces -- washed-out white faces. Some of them are almost gray, beaten down with the shock of the many changes over the last couple years. The changes never stop, and each new change is worse than the last. And gray goes better with the black pajamas than the ghostly white of too many shocks.
There are many things I miss. I'll miss wearing a pair of comfy worn-in blue jeans to work, and lounging in my sweats at home.
There's no more radio, so I can't even complain about how bad recent music was. I also can't hear my favorite blues show on the weekends.
There's no more TV. Those 600 cable channels have all been eliminated by the government, and now there's only one channel, UTV -- Universal Television, broadcasting only what the government wants you to know.
I can still play my Strange Music at home, quietly, but I've already started hiding it. All my weird music is stashed in a cubby-hole under the stairs, and my books are hidden in a back closet. Because I think someday those big black trucks are gonna come back to confiscate all that stuff. And I'd like to be able to hold onto it for a few minutes longer. Before they send me to a work camp or shoot me.
I guess there are good things about our new lives. There are no traffic jams anymore, because there are no cars. Though I bet the bicycles get snarled up in something like traffic jams in the big cities.
Everybody's more physically fit now, because you have to walk or ride a bike to get anywhere.
Law and order prevails over all -- because every couple hundred yards there's a police kiosk with an officer inside. And he's armed with a pistol and a rifle in case of any disturbance.
Nobody's hungry anymore. The big black trucks swing by every week with a box full of food rations. You never know what you're gonna get, and it may be far from what you'd like -- but you won't starve.
Things run smoothly, the days are orderly, people are productive, everybody has a sense of purpose and urgency. Though they may just be urgent about covering their asses so they don't get shipped off to a camp in a big black truck.
I don't have friends anymore. You never know who might turn you in for mumbling some Unthinkable Thought under your breath during times of stress. It's just me and the Mrs. now, and that's more than enough for me. Times are too strange to expect much more.
There are probably many good things about this new regime. We're never hungry, we're never cold, we both have jobs. We never worry if we're going to have enough to eat or if the bills are going to get paid on time.
And if we both keep our noses clean, that should continue.
But it sure is quiet around here.