Friday, September 12, 2008

Forty Acres and a Fool (part 1 of 2)

This week, our patchwork pair hits the plantation to fulfill the obfuscated obligations of their crop share contract.

Here it is, all 40 acres of it. Completely organic, run by completely organic means. We do all our tilling, transporting, picking, planting, and watering by hand.

You must spend a fortune on labor.

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Heh, heh … So about your volunteer work …

Yes, our crop share contract stipulates that we’re required to volunteer six hours apiece.

Right. The system is simple. For every hour you work, you’re awarded one of these here tokens. Once you accrue six tokens, you turn them in to me and you’re free to go.

“Free” to go?

If you two head on out to the fields, one of my overseers will assign you a task.


Isn’t this nice, Beau? The nature, the fresh air, the sunshine?

We sure picked a hot enough day to volunteer—wait a second, is that Charley?

Yeah, man. Trying to knock out of these volunteer hours.

I didn’t take you for the type to—

What’s that supposed to mean? Brother’s gotta eat, too. And of course that old bigot farmer put me out here weeding the eggplant patch.

At least he didn’t assign you to the watermelons.

Oh yeah, watch out for that patch … Animatronic scarecrows. Armed with rifles. Negro-sensitive laser sights … it’s bad news.

We’ll watch our step.

That can’t be …

What, Mandy?

Askwasi’s wife, Senami.

Yeah. Hi, you two. Awkasi wouldn’t geet hees lazy auss out of bed thees morning. So I’m having to do tha volunteer laba myself.

But … you’re eight-months pregnant! What if you go into labor?

Akwasi said that Jesus was born in a manger, and that whateva’s good enough for Jesus ees good enough for his son.

Then he rolled ova and went back to sleep.

Well, you look hot and exhausted. We’ll run to the house and get you something to drink.

At the Big House

A beverage? It’ll cost ya.

Well, look, here’s a twenty. Let me get four tall glasses of ice water.

Naaaaah. Your money’s no good here. I only accept tokens. One token for water. Two for food. Three to rent one of the cabins out back overnight if you need extra time to complete your volunteer hours.

But we don’t have any tokens.

Well, then, you better get to work.

Wait, wait, wait. You realize that this is an exploitative practice, right? You’re implementing a scrip system, designed to keep paid labor in servitude, to run healthy workers into debt, destitution, and eventually death.

Hey, you signed the contract …

… Sorry. All my colleagues were doing it.

Why aren’t your colleagues out here, then?

There’s an optional fee you can pay to waive the volunteer hours.

Then I’ll just run to an ATM.

Parking fee—half a token per hour.

…You got half a token?

Come on, Mandy. Let’s go do an hour’s worth of work so we can—

Hey! It’s Jared and Jessica! What are you two doing in here?

Volunteer hours—filing contracts, tallying receipts, soaking up the AC.

Yeah, we came out here to get our hands dirty, but Farmer Dale insisted that we work in the office.

He said something about “different strokes for different folks”—said we didn’t “fit the profile” for field labor.

Wait a second, do you know these two people?

Mandy and Beau? Yeah, they’re two of our closest friends.

Uh, oh. I know that look.

Back in the field

That son of a bitch.

OK, look everyone. By design, we’re never going get out of this place through our own efforts. Farmer Dale’s even charging us half a token per hour to “rent” his tools.

F that! I’ve got a tool for him that he can—

Oookay … we’re going to have to pool our resources to pay for one of us to get out. Then that person will go get money to pay the waiver fee for the rest of us.

Which one of us should it be?

I nominate myself.

Oooooh, no, white man. We’ve been down that road before. If history’s any indication, you’ll go get the money and use it to invest in the farm, itself, instead bailing us out. Come tomorrow you’ll be shouting orders at us in the field from the Big House.

It should obviously be Senami; she’s eight-months pregnant. She needs to get out of the heat.

I weel gladly accept—

No way! For all we know, Senami will go into labor the minute she drives off the farm. She’ll go pop one out at the hospital and completely forget about us.

Yeah, it should be Jessica who goes.

Oh, no. Knowing her, she’ll jast leave and go to the mall.

…She’s probably right.

Then I’ll go.

No way! You with your Afrocentric political agenda … You’ll probably go get enough money to free Senami and Beau and leave the rest of us here.

Damn. I didn’t know I was that transparent.

So it’s either me or Beau.

We’ll put it to a vote.

Excellent idea. Thees ees truly een the democratic spireet of our …

Pssst. Mandy.


How about we vote for each other? That way, we’ll all have to work until we have enough to get both of us out, together.

Beau! That’s a great idea. … I love you.

Love you, too, honey.

So aull in fava of Beau going?





And aull in fava of Mandy?



Beau, raise your hand for me.

Oops! Sorry, honey. I accidentally used my vote already on myself.


That settles eet. Beau weel be our savior. Everyone geev your tokens to Beau.

Travel safe, my man.

Sankofa, my brother. Return and fetch us.

So long, my friends. I won’t forget about you.

Forget about us? How long are you planning on taking?

Bye, honey. Give me a call when you’re headed back.

…Indeed, I will.

To be continued on Monday ...


Shawna said...

lol. shoulda seen that coming. looking forward to the next one:)

Abdel Shakur said...

Sankofa, my brother.