Highly Commended, 2020 Green Stories Competition
Notice of Violation
by Summer G. Baker
by Summer G. Baker
The nice thing about bureaucracy was how long it took city governments to do something about anything they didn't like. Like following through on warnings to tear up front yard vegetable gardens. Or get rid of farm animals living in backyards. Or pull down all those wires attached to the power lines. Or dismantle that miniature solar plant. Or shoo off all those birds.
Failure to comply with this notice of violation... blah .
Martha held a stack of these warnings in a fist propped up on one ample hip, standing at the mouth of her neighborhood before a handful of parked police cars and one city representative. A suit-clad white man with a head shaved clean and a dimple in his chin. Jared Miller, she knew, because his name appeared at the bottom of most of those notices. And also on the city's website under the listing for City Manager.
Through a megaphone, City Manager Jared Miller called out, "Everyone in this neighborhood must vacate their homes or face several fines as well as severance of gas, water, and power sources. As none of you..." his voice trailed a little in bafflement, "have paid for any of these utilities in some time." He lowered the megaphone.
At Martha's back, a screen of greenery shielded the neighborhood from the outside, thick trees blocking view of the haven within. Crops, animals, plant and solar power, and rising above it all, a small, handmade water tower. People living a sustainable life. The tower itself was painted blue with the words Good Vibes in enormous white letters. Though Martha didn't always understand the behavior of the younger folks, she knew they had the spirit. Her neighbors. Her dream. This was a small start, but still something.
As evening set in, house lights began to flicker on. But only the necessary ones.
"We all own our properties," Martha called back, voice loud enough without a microphone. She flapped a hand at the City Manager. "And y'all don't maintain our roads worth a damn. So go right ahead!"
Miller nodded at a nearby cop, who mumbled something into his shoulder mic. In a moment, a loud buzz echoed through the still evening as some tech somewhere cut power to twenty two blocks of land in the poorest district of the city.
Everyone kept looking around, waiting for darkness to descend, yet the lights stayed on.
Martha raised her eyebrows and couldn't help the shit-eating grin as she shrugged at the City Manager. "Guess we don't need your infrastructure no more." She turned around and headed for home.
"Hey... you can't..." Miller blustered. He continued in a shout, "I'll bring a warrant for your arrest!”
Before disappearing behind the trees, Martha waved an unfriendly wave at him. "Mm hmm... and bring some of those Notices of Violation with you. We can always use the recycling."