06 December 2008


Doyle is sitting at the kitchen table reading a letter from his mama, who is soon to be released from a women's prison in Kentucky. Doyle has only seen his mama once since her incarceration for assaulting a state trooper. They let her out last year to go to Doyle Sr.'s funeral. Recently Doyle received his SSI settlement --- he has a disabling cerebral palsy, diabetes, and other issues. He was able to move into a small, partially subsidized apartment in Over-The-Rhine, after a six month stay at the Gospel Mission. He looks forward to his mother's visit, and begins to reminisce. "Doctors said Daddy died from that emphysema," Doyle said while exhaling a cloud of smoke from an unfiltered Camel. "He was never the same since the state took his property away. He died of a broken heart." "Why did they take your parent's property? You mean a business or ---" "H'nooo, nuh-uh. It wurnt no business. I'm talking about the house I grew up in, and the farm the house was on. State came and evicted mama and daddy. This was when I was working a push boat on the river. I was about thirty or thereabouts." "How could they do that? Eminent domain?" "No, they had a disagreement over property use or land use, I don't know. See, my parents was pretty wise old land turtles. They had 'em a small windmill, had there own generators, and they drew water from a well they dug themselves. We didn't have no indoor plumbing or nothin'. My daddy built us an outhouse over this little creek that flowed behind the house. Built it on crossbeams right over the creek. Just do your business, and your poop floats on downstream. We had us a pretty good life." I nod and stare at the floor while all of this sinks in. Doyle lights another unfiltered Camel. So this state agency that took your parents' property ---- " "Something to do with permits and such. It was the Department of, uh --- " "Public Health? Wastewater management?" "That was it, bud! Say, how'd you know that? " "Oh, just a guess. Bureaucracy is a terrible thing." "You're speakin' the truth, bud. Bastards drove daddy to an early grave. And I ain't feelin' so good myself."

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All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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