The Water Line

By Tim Maughan

Illustration by Pat Perry

That’s what she told me. For real. That’s what she said. Detroit. Moving the whole family up there. I said she must be crazy but… Hey! Look at this klutz man. Hey! HEY! Watch what you doing! Look how much you’re fucking spilling! Can you believe this shit? Watch what you’re fucking doing! Jesus…look if you don’t want that I’ll take it. Seriously. If you gonna just spill that everywhere then let me come up and take what you spill. Officer! Officer! I’m serious — officer, let me come up there and put a pan under this jittery handed motherfucker’s bottles and collect what he’s spilling, because Jesus fucking Christ, look how much is on the sidewalk right now. Jesus.

— I mean look at this guy. Who the fuck. Really? Jittery handed motherfucker. Who the fuck comes down here and lines up with old soda bottles. Like really. Filling old soda bottles, like no wonder this shit is going everywhere. All over the floor like-

— YEAH I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU MOTHERFUCKER. What? WHAT? Don’t you talk to me like that. Don’t you talk to me like that. Watch what you’re fucking doing. Look, you got water everywhere — no, you better watch YOUR tone. You watch your tone with me, buddy. And get yourself a fucking bucket. Seriously. Get your ass to Target and buy a fucking bucket you sad assed jittery handed motherfucker. Don’t come down here and fill your cheap ass soda bottles when we’ve been all been waiting on line for hours, just to watch you spill that shit everywhere. Get a fucking grip.

— Yes officer. I’m sorry officer. Yes officer. Yes officer. Of course officer. No officer. I’m sorry officer. No I do not want to go to the back of the line, officer. Yes officer. I understand officer. I will watch my tone officer, yes. Sorry. I fully understand officer, yes.

— Jesus. Give someone a machine gun and they think they’re fucking royalty, huh. These people. The state of this city, y’know?

— I’m so tired of this shit. Seriously. For real. You know I came down here Tuesday and the line was so long that we had to wait for hours, then the truck just up and left before everyone got their ration. Really. No kidding. I thought there was going to be riot. No, I got mine, I was cool. But a lot of people didn’t. I dunno. I think they didn’t turn up in Cobble Hill, so a whole bunch of people had walked down from there. Seriously. And those that didn’t get any were pissed. I mean understandably. It was hot out too, y’know? I thought it was going to all go off, I mean there was fights, like people were taking it out on the Cobble Hill crew and shit, saying it’s not their problem they ain’t got no water truck this morning. And then one of the soldiers fired off his gun in the air and they all simmered down pretty quick, everyone shut the fuck up. But for a minute there…

— Anyway, yeah. Miranda. She said she was leaving, going Detroit. And I was like “Really, Detroit? What you going to do up there?” And she says she got family up there, and everything is pretty good up there. That’s what I said! I said that to her. I said I thought Detroit was fucked. But she says no. She says they got jobs and water up there. Apparently it still snows up there, she says. That’s what she told me. She told me half the city is Chinese factories, and they always want workers, and the other half is farms now. Yeah! Farms! That’s what she said. She reckons they pulled down half the city and made it into farms. Like fresh fruit, and veggies, they got chickens and pigs… that’s what she told me. That’s what she said. Sounds crazy I know. I mean she could be lying for all I know. But she seemed to think it was true, so that’s where she’s gone. Took the last of her national wage and up and left, took her whole family with her. To Detroit.

— Me? Nah. I got nobody up there. I had some family down south, but god knows what happened to them, god bless their souls. Only family I got outside New York is back in Europe. Yeah really! Italy. Yeah! The old country, haha. Oh man…I ain’t been since, I dunno. I was a kid. I dunno when. When they close JFK? Before that. Cos we flew outta there. Yeah, long time ago. I was just a kid. Spent a few weeks over there, was nice, good memories. But y’know, that was before the war. Now things are more fucked up than here, is what I heard. No they got the droughts too, and the refugees, and all that fallout from London killing all the crops. All that man. Nasty over there, what I hear.

— Man. I’m so tired of this. Waiting on this line for an hour, and then I gotta carry these buckets up six flights. Be nice if the fucking kids would give me a hand for once, but god knows where they are. I know I don’t. But what you gonna do?

— That? That…what is that? No that’s just smoke. Yeah, that’s just Manhattan. Yeah don’t worry. They probably just burning SoHo again.

— Henry? You didn’t hear? Henry is in hospital man. Him and his whole family. Last I heard. E-coli. His son snuck into Park Slope and tapped a water tower. Yeah, for real. But the stupid bastard tapped it too low, and hit the shit level. Stuff must of come out brown but he didn’t care. Poisoned his whole family. Last I heard they were in Mount Sinai, god protect their souls. I dunno if they’ll make it out. I know. Desperate, but he was never bright man. Henry’s boy, he was never bright.

— Well, yeah. People are desperate. Y’know. I mean. Look…I’m not racist. Y’know me. I am not racist. But you know who I blame? Californians. For real. Californians. Real talk. I remember, when they were all ‘lets secede this, lets be our own country that, our economy is bigger than the rest of the US on its own’ — fine, you go do that. But don’t you come crying to us for money again when the internet is gone and you got no water and oh no there’s an earthquake now. I’m sorry, I know that might sound harsh — and really I am not a racist, because some of my best friends are from California — but that bailout fucked the rest of us man. We are getting fucked by the Californians. Between those tight assed Canadians and the Californians that is why we are in this state. That’s why we are in this state we are in. I’m sorry but that is just real talk.

— Seriously, how is this motherfucker STILL spilling his shit everywhere. Officer! I’m sorry officer, really, I’m sorry, but really, can you sort this shit out?

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