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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

(by Levon who is listening to The French Kicks, “Swimming.”)

note: names have been changed to protect the entangled:

Ashley knows a family in Tazewell, VA that has had some excitement recently.  Jake is in his late twenties and after spending the early to mids of them behind bars in “Pokie,” or the Pocahontas Virginia State Correctional Facility, his first week out has been a make up for lost time.  The probation officer would like Jake to begin 40 hour weekly courses on attitude management and get a job in the fast food industry to start benefiting societies’ appetite for cheeseburgers.  Jake, who recently had plenty of time on his hands to dedicate to such coursework was informed that he could only enroll then if he could pay the prison tuition.  Instead, Jake received the best education that could be afforded by the Pokie library and the studious peers with whom he served his previous debt.  Elite peers whose knowledge of vast subject area is unsurpassed by any institution of its type in the state of Virginia.

Jake is aware that he has been given a new start.  Jake’s family surrounds him and he has people that love him.  He knows others who have been locked up so long that upon their release they will likely be as lost as the time they have seen pass.  Jake and his younger brothers Shawn and Calvin have put a good deposit back into the missed time during the one week that Jake has been on the outside.  The brothers are close.  So close that if Shawn and Calvin are claiming where they will sleep between a large couch and a small couch, they will both share the small couch.  All night they’ll complain and fight, saying, “Dude your fuggin’ feet stink,”  but they’ve always been like that.  Jake is close, too.  Like any good older brother, he is a strong advocate of discipline and would never spare a bb gun where he felt one was needed.  Sometimes when he lectures on the values he is instilling in his brothers he forgets to stop pumping the gun.  Eventually  a good bb gun will stop pumping around 32 or 33 times.  Shawn and Calvin respect what Jake has to say.

The brothers have a sister, too.  Shania.  Shania is the glue that keeps the brothers angry and mean but in loving way, kind of like a twisting pinch behind the arm.  If it weren’t for Shania, the boys would be instructing students of their own back in Pokie for a long time to come.  Ever since Jake and the boys have been catching up and making visits, Shania has been either two or three cars behind, or just behind a row of laurel bushes and a dumpster.  When she isn’t sure where she’s following she carries a precautionary baseball bat.  On about the second or third night of Jake’s return, I’m told that Shania caused such a surprise that the authorities were dispatched.  Jake forgets all the time that people can communicate in silence with the invention of text messaging, and was caught offhand when she appeared in the front yard at his party.  Without a word she head butted him, slapped him, kneed him in the groin and spit.  The host had already called the police.  Shania, who has never as much smoked a cigarette, was soon yelling at the officers:

“Yes those are my brothers and I came to kill them!!”

“Sir, is this your sister and are you concerned?”

“Yes officer, that is our sister and we feel okay about the situation.”

“Very well then.  Keep it under control, ma’am.”

Shania does keep it under control.  She always has.  When she was younger and annoyed by brothers and cousins she told them that large birds in the sky would eat children and that they should play dead to make them leave.  A hillside of still children is a sure way to attract more large circling birds, but that keeps the children more still.  Shania runs a daycare now in Tazewell.  (No she doesn’t).

Jake has good people around him and he’s lucky.  Papa, pronounced Paw paw, always said “Family’s all you got.”  He also said “If you’re going to be stupid you’ve got to be tough.”  Jake is at his fork in the road and if enough people are standing to the right side it can be an obvious choice which way to go.  We’re not always at our own fork, but we are usually nearby someone else’s.


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