In the News

In the main room of the abandoned warehouse, the members of Vince's gang had rigged an improvised table of boards and concrete blocks. It was usually a place for playing cards or throwing dice, but today Ozone sat down with a cup of questionable coffee from a street vendor, smoothed out a newspaper and began reading.

This sort of behavior didn't go unnoticed among some of the other gang members.

"What are you wasting your time on now?" Speedball asked. 

"It's called reading," Ozone said without looking up. "It's the sort of thing smart people do. You wouldn't know anything about it."

Fausto looked up from cleaning one of his guns. "If that's one of El Duque's papers, you'd be smarter to take it with you to the latrine and use it to wipe your ass."

"There's important information here." Ozone pointed to a headline. "Says here they're making improvements to the water sanitation facility."

Speedball shrugged his big shoulders. "I only drink alcohol, so who cares?"

"It's not like we have running water, anyway," Fausto added. "You're reading useless information."

"Oh yeah?" Ozone pointed to another story. "Starting October 1st, we'll have electricity until 10 pm."

"I'll believe it when I see it," Fausto said. "Besides, you don't need a newspaper to tell you if the electricity is working. Just flip the light switch."

"Or stick a fork in the socket," Speedball suggested. "I'll watch."

Ozone gave an exasperated sigh. "I can't help it if you guys want to be uninformed about what's going on in this city. Go on and be ignorant." He bent back over his paper, but when Vince walked by a few minutes later, he called to him. "I picked up a paper for us, boss. Want to take a look?"

"What kind of paper?" Vince ambled over, but when he saw the masthead he frowned. "Government propaganda." He picked up the paper and peered at it more closely. "Says here crime is down in the city."

"Not if I have any say in it," Speedball muttered.

"They mean reported crime," Ozone said. He tried to take the paper back, but Vince kept it out of his reach. "We're not in the statistics because we get away with it."

"Then you admit this paper contains misleading information." Vince tucked it under his arm. "I'll dispose of this. Go do something useful."

When Vince got to his office, though, rather than throw the paper away, he spread it out on his desk, poured himself a drink, and perused the front page, chuckling over the stories. He found the next few pages amusing, too, but when he came to the obituaries, he grew serious. A wealthy man had died, with the burial to take place in one of the outer suburbs, where those with enough money and connections could still sometimes get a plot.

Vince rubbed the blue stripe on his face and wondered what kind of security would be at the man's house while everyone was at the funeral. Breaking and entering wasn't really his thing, but he had a couple guys on his team who might be perfect for that sort of job.

With a sigh of satisfaction, Vince took a pen and noted the date and time of the funeral on the calendar he had drawn on the wall, then picked up his glass of scotch. Ozone was right, there was value in reading the paper. But the best things weren't from the front pages; they were what could be found on the inside, and by reading between the lines.

This was written for Sunday Scribblings 2.


Jae Rose said...

I shouldn't but I kind of like this little band of brothers (and sister)...they are adapting and essence there is no crime in that..

oldegg said...

What I like about this Ann is that that is much like mirror of our own lives; that of learning how to to survive in troubled times!

Alice Audrey said...

Leave it to Vince to find truth among the propaganda. I like the way he laughs at the articles up to that point.

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