Monday, 12 June 2017

Going South

[Media prompt] The coming Boomercide [not a news report, but an opinion piece from the Zman].
Going South

Randy’s hand shook when he picked up his whiskey and ice, the outer surface of the glass dripping with condensation in the mid-morning humidity. He took a sip, his fingers gripping so hard he thought the glass might break, before placing it back on the table with a heavy thud. Audrey, ignoring her husband’s shakes, leant over and lit the single candle on a cake shaped, he supposed, like the swordfish he never got a chance to bag.

Ever since retiring to Cuenca – an ‘American retirees’ paradise in the Andes’ according to the Department of Offshore Retirement, which assigned them to Ecuador after he’d been shunted out of the Department of Education – he had been forced to mark off his years by confronting one unrealised dream after another. Last year it had been a frosted sponge replica of a 1957 MG Roadster he had once talked about restoring. On his eightieth, it had been a fondant replica of the Maharaja Express, which he and Audrey had hoped to board the following year in Rajasthan for nine days while they relived the British Raj. The collapse of US dollar put an end to that fantasy. To a half-decent life as well, if the truth be told.  

He unscrewed the bottle cap and topped up his drink, almost calling out to Esperanza to bring some more ice, before remembering she had gone, along with Netflix and subscriptions to the New York Review of Books and the National Review.

“Here’s to leaving nothing to your kids,” said Bob Dunlap, a retired sustainability manager for the City and County of San Francisco. The two men clinked glasses.

“I’ve had the little bastards emailing again this week crying poor,” said Randy. “They’d have euthanised us by now if they could have.”

“I hope you told them to shove it,” said Bob’s wife, a women twenty-five years her husband's junior and still attractive enough for local men to catcall her in the street.

“I couldn’t give them any money if I wanted,” said Randy. “I’m not sure our fund is going to outlast our hearts.”

“Don’t talk like that,” said Audrey. “Here, make a wish.”

Randy bent forward and blew out the candle. The sky was darkening over the northern mountains, great banks of black clouds rolling over the green peaks. It would rain soon. It almost always rained on his birthday. He tried to recall the last time it had not, but could only remember that it usually rained in Seattle too.

“You know,” he said, “we left our kids something as close to paradise as we could make. Sure, there were some mistakes. But all they do is whine and moan about how tough things are.”

“Did I ever tell you about the time this guy, in his late twenties I guess, he came into the sustainability office complaining about wind and solar.”

Bob’s voice drifted off to somewhere far away, and Randy looked at the traffic through the security fence. People were saying locals had a higher standard of living than almost everybody living in the American Concession these days. It made perfect sense to him; half of Cuenca was in the US illegally and remitting tens of millions back into the economy each year. Why wouldn't they be doing better than somebody on a fixed pension?

On the wall on the other side of the road someone had painted, “Death to gringos.” When Audrey first saw it, he told her it was just local kids. But he had seen who did it. And they scared him more than the locals. It was American millennials, who came south hoping to reduce burdens on government spending. Ecuadorean death squads weren't necessarily Ecuadorean attempts at righting past grievances. 

Randy heard Bob say something about megawatts and base loads. He had started to think recently that it might be better if he and Audrey died quietly. 

No comments:

Post a Comment