The change was gradual as most changes are. Not a sweeping, life-altering moment, like satori, that mystical state of enlightenment where all is revealed. That only happened to people in the movies whose lives fit snugly into a three-act structure. That was more Gil’s thing; his was a real life movie.
No, this change began with the industrial revolution and it was slow and steady and specious and that’s why no one noticed. Avery knew the statistics. Over two thousand species of plants and animals, making their homes in various rainforests became extinct every day. Tillable land took precedence over foraging the fertile soils for raw materials that would become medicines. Old growth forests were becoming tables and chairs and bookcases. The trees, which acted as the earth’s lungs taking in carbon dioxide and returning oxygen, were being methodically clear cut, leaving a system that ran on partial capacity, like a cancer patient who’s had a lung removed. Fertile soils, the hallmark of America, capable of producing vast quantities of a amber waves of grain, were being systematically stripped of all nutrients, thanks to agribusiness, through the overuse of pesticides and lack of diversification in farming, or worse, paved over for housing developments. The hole in the ozone layer continued to grow yet the U.S. walked away from Kyoto, citing shoddy science and uncertainty, allowing corporations to line their pockets a little deeper against the coming winter, the winter that may soon never go away. What will we do when floods and famine become the norm?
Avery really never understood it all. He knew it was bad, but what time he devoted was more for Ruth the Mother Of Us All . He sighed, folded another group of flyers and stared out the window looking for answers in the grey winter sky.
“Hey.” Avery jumped sending a stack of flyers sailing to the ground.
“Jesus, Kori. You scared the heck out of me.”
“What are you thinking about?”
“Mom,” Avery said. Kori sat down next to her brother.
“Me, too. So – how can I help?” She extended her hand. Avery put a stack of flyers in it.
“Labels. I need some…” A loud rap at the door sent more papers scattering to floor. Avery turned to see two policemen, peering in the kitchen.
“What’s going on?” she asked, and jumped up to answer the door.
Gil miraculously appeared in the kitchen. “They’re cops,” he said and sat down at the kitchen table, his knee bouncing up and down.
“No kidding, Sherlock,” Kori said, walking to the door. “Why are they here?”
“Cause I set off the alarm.”
“You little jerk,” Avery said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Cause I didn’t know until just now,” Gil said.
Kori opened the door and greeted the visitors. “Hi. Can I help you?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I’m officer Matheson. We’re investigating a call into headquarters at 14:42 hours. Report indicates the alarm in the barn was tripped. Have you been home, Ma’am?” Avery walked over and stood behind his sister.
“All afternoon, officer.”
“Have you noticed any suspicious behavior in the vicinity of your backyard, Ma’am?”
“Not suspicious, but I can tell you…” Avery pinched Kori in the back, hard. “Oowww.” She turned to glare at her brother.
He smiled sweetly, a warning in his eyes. “Nothing suspicious, Officer,” Avery said.
“Okay. Mind if we take a look?”
Avery and Kori both shook their heads.
“We’ll let you know if we find anything.”
The cops walked across the lawn and Kori closed the door behind them. Avery and Gil exchanged glances.
“All right-y, then. Somebody better tell me what’s going on.”
The wind picked up as Officers Matheson and Traecy crossed the backyard. They arrived at the barn to find the door banging in the wind. Matheson checked the perimeter while Traecy investigated the interior. After several minutes they stood at the door.
“Just a false alarm. Probably forgot that it was on,” Matheson said. “This wind’s not helpin’.” He turned his collar up against a fresh onslaught and closed the barn door.
“Kids,” Matheson said. Traecy nodded in agreement.
to be continued. . .
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