One morning, Willard Romney awakes with a start. He sits bolt upright in bed, and looks around at his apartment. He can’t remember the wallpaper being so worn, or a small kitchen being installed by the bed. As his eyes adjust to the morning light, he sees that this was in fact the only kitchen, a kitchenette, in a tiny, run-down studio apartment. There are a couple of pieces of stained and deteriorating furniture, a couple of ancient appliances, and frayed, dangerous wires protruding from the corners. The place smells like mold, rotting food in the sink, old socks and beer. As the horror dawns on him that this is his home, he clambers out of his rickety single bed and goes to a tiny round table stacked high with past-due bills, threatening letters from the IRS and creditors, and some coupon books for Walmart.
In a sweat and a growing panic, he puts on some work coveralls that have his name on the lapel patch – “Mitt, Happy to serve you” – and looks for any clue about the nature of the garment. There it is, a pay stub with his name and the name and address of the company he obviously works for. He reaches in the pockets for some car keys, but finds none. Indeed, in this world Mitt has no car, as it has been repossessed months before. He stumbles out the door with the pay stub address in hand, and manages to make the bus stop. In his left pocket is just enough for the fare.
He arrives at the Happy Bonnets packing plant just as the morning alarm blares through the courtyard and a mob of people are lining up to punch their time cards. He finds his, and it has a little note attached to it: “Please see Mrs. Drummond in Human Resources immediately.”
He finds her office, lightly knocks, and she invites him in. After a quick, dry smile, she lowers her eyes and tells him the bad news. She is afraid they have to let him go. Cutbacks and taxes, you see. So very sorry, please clean out your locker by noon and pick up your final check. As he is leaving, he hears the CEO through a partially closed door, on the phone in an animated conversation with an accountant, joking about slashing 50 jobs that day, and that he wants to move one and a half million into a new offshore account before a loophole closes.
Clutching his final paycheck, Mitt looks at the amount and quickly sees it’s not enough for three days’ groceries. As he walks, he starts to limp because an increasing pain in his left leg impedes his step. He stops at a park bench and rolls up his pant leg, to discover a large and painful mass on his shin bone. It doesn’t look right at all, and he thinks it should be looked at by a doctor right away. So he finds the nearest one, and goes to the desk. Continue reading Not On His Radar