The Last Resort

The Last Resort: a draft for member review and comment. This is intended for publication, Monday deadline. Please… post your reactions.

You may wonder why a ragged folk choose to camp in an abandoned courtyard behind a burned out building. Don’t they know the risk? The neighborhood is a habit to desperate people. The buildings are destined for the wrecking ball and bulldozer. The neighbors who still have something to lose are beaten down, and fearful of the next beating. They know where the road they are on is going.

The ragged folk don’t seem to get any of this. They built a campfire in a place where no one has been allowed to warm themselves in recent years. They set up cheap tents and thin plastic rain-sheds, and shared their meager meals, tattered shelters, and even their ragged clothing with passers-by who needed them. They picked up broken glass and the litter of used up furniture and hauled loads to dump. They rented a porta-potty and paid every month to have it emptied. They planted a vegetable garden and lots of flowers.

Here, at least, people who have nowhere else to go can rest a bit.

Funny, how that infuriates people who actually do have places to go. The city has codes and regulations, you know, and those who cannot afford to live by them are welcome to go someplace else.

It is true that Muses often join the fire circle, and there is poetry, philosophy, music and a continuing epic saga of loss and gain, damage and recovery, fallen hopes and Phoenix dreams. When you have no other resources, you make your own entertainment, and the muses like that. When muses join the fire, even poor people know they will live forever. That drives Midnight Blue police gangs and the street boss nuts.

For a while, the ragged people stored their few possessions in an abandoned building next to the courtyard. A neighbor notified the city building safety inspector, and she came to shut them down. She arrived with two Midnight Blues and ordered street boss to board the door. He was eager to comply.
Midnight Blue swelled up and ordered the ragged folk to vacate. But a few rights remain under law. Midnight Blue threatened arrest, but the threats were blown to the wind. More threats followed and were ignored. In the end, Midnight Blue couldn’t legally even issue a citation.

The burned-out building next door is listed by address as condemned, and is posted with notices as is required by law. But the ragged folk’s building is not listed on the condemnation order. Not listed. Not posted. Not condemned.

The ragged folk built a garden on the roof and planted squash and melons there. When the local street boss saw this, he was enraged. He ordered the ragged folk to get their stuff off the roof. They ignored him. They had been ordered not to enter. No one said anything about the roof.

But the local street boss re-fortified the door and removed a fence ragged folk used to access the roof. He twisted screws into the door and spray painted “keep out” in large black pointy letters.

The city has left this neighborhood rot for years. They can’t even make sure poor people have access to a toilet. Who will work to restore neighborhood safety if the city won’t?

The ragged folk came here because they have no place else. The ragged folk clean the alley and plant flowers and vegetables. They feed hungry neighbors and distribute clothing and other good donated items. If the city can’t or won’t help, why don’t they just get their expletive deleted out of the way?