“Just as life had been strange a few minutes before, so death was now as strange.” —Virginia Woolf
When I got home from work, I found Pop in a heap on the porch. An enforcement drone had burrowed a small but lethal hole in the base of his skull. Left behind was a small black box projecting his infraction on the front door: “75th violation of the Save Our Planet Act. The earth is worth it.”
I had no idea he’d been caught that many times or how he had managed to hide all the notices from me.
All the stoplights in the country had showed green that morning. In a strange twist, what once meant go now meant stop. The president declared it “A Green Day.” That meant no one could eat animal products of any kind, use motorized vehicles, or deplete non-solar powered energy reserves until midnight.
It was fruit and nuts for breakfast again.
Pop asked, “You mean to tell me no bacon again today?” Though he was 240 pounds, he still thought he’d waste away if he didn’t get meat.
“It was a yellow day yesterday. You had a slice of bacon yesterday.”
“One slice. It’s about time we get a red day. Can’t remember the last time.”
“We had one last week.”
“And how am I supposed to read the paper without a light?”
“Go sit on the porch. It’s nice out.”
“And no bingo?”
“Not unless you want to walk or ride a bike. You know, it would do you some good to walk three blocks.”
“When are we going to get some of them solar panels, so I can watch my shows?”
“I’m saving up again, Pop. Remember, you spent all our savings on a trip to Tahiti last summer.”
I tucked my thinning blond hair into my cap and left.
That was the last time I saw him, unless you count his body on the porch, hole in his head and a slice of bacon in his hand. When he was gone, somehow the air felt greener.
That afternoon, the couple who ran the funeral home wheeled a gurney down main street to pick him up. As they passed the old police station, a back wheel fell off and his body rolled into the alley.
Since they couldn’t drive, his body stayed there until the next morning—a red day declared meant they could pick him up in a hearse. They apologized for his missing hand—dogs maybe, or something worse. It was hard to tell.