The doorbell interrupted Jim Owen Brown’s breakfast. He abandoned his meal and went to open the door, a full mug of coffee in his hand. A woman and a man, both wearing suits and broad smiles, greeted him. The man held a clipboard.
“Hello,” said the woman, her voice as sweet as candy cane, “are you Mr. Jim Owen Brown, Sr.?”
Jim had to stop himself from laughing out loud at such a question. Every adult in the union knew who he was, even young fresh-out-of-college lackeys like the two people in front of him. Most people called him by his political moniker, Vice President JOBS.
Jim took a sip of coffee before answering. “Yes, I am he.”
“Great. It is a pleasure to meet you,” said the woman. “My name is Jessica, and this is my co-worker Keith. We represent CAP, Corporations Are People, and we have some information for you about next week’s general vote.”
The man thrust the clipboard forward at an angle that, in order for Jim to read what was on it, he had to hold it and turn it right side. Jim didn’t fall for the bait. He crossed his arms across his chest. He said, “I’m not interested,” before taking another sip of coffee. He should’ve closed the door, ended the conversation right then and there, but a perverted part of him wanted to see how the two would respond. He wanted to see them squirm.
“We value your time, Mr. Brown, Sr.,” Jessica said, as if reading from a script. “This will only take a moment of your time.”
“Trust me, we’re not here to sell you anything or swing your vote, sir,” said Keith. “We have statistics that will help you make a more informed decision on Tuesday concerning Bill H.R. 269, commonly known as the Bundt-Johnson Return to Fair Tax Bill—”
“I said I’m not interested.” Jim’s voice was firm, nearly a yell. He knew how he had to be to folks like them. Hell, he was one of them fifty years ago.
Back then they were called canvassers. Now they were called lobbyists. Ironically, when Jim was canvassing, he was working to reduce the influence and power special interests and corporate lobbyists had in Washington. Those were a different type of lobbyist.
Keith opened his mouth, probably to make a rebuttal, but closed it after Jessica lightly elbowed his side. “That you for your time, Mr. Brown, Sr.,” said Jessica, her voice audible saccharin. “Have a wonderful day.” The two walked off his porch, on their way to the next house.
Jim watched them until they left his property. He shut the door and returned to his kitchen. His buttered toast had grown cold. He ate it anyway.
Beside his plate was a manila envelope. It contained a list of bills introduced in Congress that the people would vote on next week. They came in the mail almost every Thursday. The idea was to have people spend at least a portion of their weekend familiarizing themselves with the issues before the general vote the following Tuesday. It didn’t always work like that; Jim knew that some of his neighbors never read the listings nor voted come Tuesday.
That kind of political apathy rubbed Jim the wrong way, especially now, after he worked for decades to actually have the votes from the citizenry count for more than just choosing a representative. He tired not to let it bother him too much; his physician warned him to keep his level of stress down. His days as Vice President JOBS were twenty years in the past. Now he was simply Jim Owen Brown, Sr., a retiree living in an Arizona suburb.
*Authors note: This story takes place after the events in the short story "Freedom."
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