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Chapter 10: Progress

The more I talked about sex as weeks went by, the less interesting it got. Finally, I just dropped it, but I still see some of the males in my life watching me in their peripheral vision, as if they may expect me to start stripping off my clothes and wrapping them up with my arms and legs. Oh well.

We’re way into the program now, and I think today’s Board meeting should be noted as the first actual good news. Here’s the official account:

Commissioner Leo Torres: “We more or less have good news. The best part of it is that things are developing about the way we expected. The population at the project is not exactly stable, but the number of new arrivals is tapering off. If and when it gets to the same number as the death rate, we’ll have a stable population.

‘The other good news, and this was expected, too, is that the crime rate in the rest of the country also seems to be tapering off. There are a lot of factors involved, so we can’t take total credit. The economic crisis is not as bad as it was, so that’s a factor. There are considerably more people actually committing to the revolution than ever before, so naturally they’re not doing any crimes and that’s lowering the rate. People have some hope.

‘What we really need is conclusive statistics on drug-related crime and crimes committed by drug addicts. We don’t have that yet, but the general trend downward in crime may, we can infer, have something to do with the fact that most of the worst drug addict criminals in America are now right here.

‘On the downside, I have to tell you that all is not well with the locals. Most of the population started moving eastward when we started and when we built to the west. But the local people didn’t all leave, and the ones that stayed are pretty upset with our clients, with our project, and with us.

‘Nearly all the crimes that our clients do to them are petty crimes. Even when one, or a group of them, goes over into the civilian area and tries to steal something or molest somebody in some way, they don’t have a lot of effect. Plainly speaking, they just aren’t healthy enough and mentally sharp enough to get away with most of their shenanigans.

‘But they can do plenty enough to piss everybody off. They steal clothes off people’s clotheslines, they paint graffiti, and an amazing number of exposure cases have been reported. They’re anti-social little pricks everywhere they go, while the local revolutionary circles over there are promoting pro-social attitudes, so the conflict is very real.

‘That’s not the worst of it. Revolutionary circles in this part of America were never as successful, to begin with, as in other places. There is plenty of resistance here, even though it hasn’t taken the form, so far, of armed uprising. There are plenty of people in our vicinity who want us to fail because they want the entire revolutionary experiment to fail.


‘Case in point: Somebody has convinced a lot of the strongly religious people that our method of cadaver disposal is somehow sacrilegious. They think we should be paying undertakers, renting chapels, and paying preachers to conduct funeral rites instead of just putting them into the ground the way we do. I’ve asked leadership if they don’t have some religious answers for the religious objections, but I haven’t heard anything yet.

‘Meanwhile, leadership is getting an earful from the civilians here. They say that we only set this up so the drug addicts would die. Some of them accuse us of killing them on purpose. I’m not sure what they think we ought to be doing, because every previous attempt at rehabilitation was, statistically, a failure before. We’re not doing any worse than any other attempt, and we’ve managed to coax tens of thousands of dangerous people out of the population areas…”

Dr Susan Willamette: “We’ve rehabbed some of them. I doubt that any other program can claim a better success rate. Of course, there’s never been a program on this scale, so there’s nothing to compare it to. But we’ve had some successes and we’ve sent a few clients home.”

Commissioner Leo Torres: “Thanks Susan. There’s nothing to compare our program to, also, because we’re the only ones that ever made drugs free and available. Some people would have said that rehabilitation was out of the question without limiting the supply, so the fact that we’ve had some good outcomes could be pretty meaningful.

‘Truthfully, I don’t think that successful rehabilitations were actually expected. Rather, I don’t think that rehabilitations were figured in when this project was dreamed up. It’s not that nobody cared, but just that they figured success would be statistically negligible. The goal was to get them out of the population centers, and we could get a gold star for that.

‘Since you started, Susan, you might as well report whatever else you have.”

Dr Susan Willamette: “When I got involved, I didn’t think we’d be able to meet the demand for drugs over a period of time. But we have. I don’t know if we’re importing more drugs or if they are still just impounding illegal supplies as they were when we started, but there have always been enough and there still are.

‘I don’t know what to say about our clients raiding the civilians. I don’t know if they could be stopped, but it’s a security question I guess. If anybody thought we could get some kind of effective behavior modification to make them less downright mean and anti-social, I have to disabuse everyone of that idea. These clients of ours are the dregs of humanity and they always were, that’s why this project was developed.

‘I say guys because I don’t think the women are doing any petty crimes. Maybe stealing clothes, I guess, although I doubt it because they don’t care much how they look, but their big so-called “crime” back in society was prostitution, and they only whored to get drugs. Now that the drugs are there for them – voila! No prostitution! There’s still a lot of sex, especially among the cokeheads, but, as far as I know, nobody is paying anybody for it. Actually, there’s probably not even that much sex, relative to back in society, because the males in our project aren’t healthy enough for much of a sex life.

‘So I don’t have any answers for what to do about the criminal activity. Frankly, the only solution I can think of would be to tell the complainers to shoot every criminal they catch, petty crimes or not. Nobody would miss these guys. It’s a security problem, anyway.”

Anthony B McKay: “Security could solve this problem, but it would take more resources than we have now. My people work pretty hard just protecting our drug stash and trying to keep the inmates from killing each other. If we were going to start following everybody that leaves the reservation and making sure they behave in the outside world, it would take a lot of patrollers.

‘Another idea would be to try to get the locals to keep moving further east. The dopers might go a little way to act up, but they won’t travel far just because they’re too strung out.

‘And other idea would be to shoot some kind of microchip trackers into every client, then try to figure out when somebody is over there making trouble and then penalize them for it. Best penalty I could think of would be a 24-hour stint without any drugs. But all that would take more resources than we have. I’d go along with Dr Willamette, even though she might have been kidding: the cheapest solution is to just let the civilians shoot them down like dogs when they misbehave. Nobody would care!”

Charles Lohgren: “Why do I feel like everybody is waiting for logistics to solve every problem? I think you ought to be damned amazed that, in less than six months, we’ve pretty well got some kind of shelter for every dopehead that comes in here. We’re getting sides and even some insulation on every shelter, and I think we’ll be in time to avoid any freezing deaths when the weather gets really fierce – that is, if we can get them to stay indoors, which I kind of doubt.

‘As the commissioner told us, the population is not rising the way it did in the early months. The death rate, as a percentage of the population, is stable now that Dr Willamette and her crews are administering the dosages. I used to think that addiction killed people and, with that in mind, I more or less expected all of them to die off when they got free dope. I’m surprised, sort of pleasantly surprised, to see that they could be relatively healthy while still being addicts, if they wanted to. Of course, it’s pretty hard to find any of our clients who wants to. We no longer have many accidental overdose deaths, our overdose deaths are basically suicides. And the numbers are stable.

‘I half expect some of you to suggest that we wouldn’t have dopeheads bugging the civilian population if they were made more comfortable here at the project. As if the logistics department could somehow set things up so they didn’t want to wander off. I’m tempted to propose it just to see if I could get more resources for my department, but I don’t actually think it would work.

‘What I could do is put up more fencing on our east side so it would take them a lot longer to walk around it. If security wanted to do it, we could put security guards on the only gate. I don’t really think it would do much good because they’re not prisoners and they could always find a way to carry out mischief, but – look at it this way – it might convince some of the locals that we had a solution. What do you think of that?”

Commissioner Leo Torres: “I think that’s a smart idea. Even if it didn’t work at all, it might buy us more time, and time is what we need to prove that this project is the right thing for society as a whole even though it might be a bit difficult for the people nearby.

‘I like it a whole lot better than encouraging the local people to respond on their own. Let me know what you need and I’ll get out some requisitions.

‘Anybody got anything else for today? If not, we’ll adjourn and get back to work.”

And they did.

--July Eason, Project Archivist


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