The Golden Years

“You could get a coach.”

“I don’t know. I heard most of those guys actually work for the Inclusivity Commission.”

“My sister got one for her father-in-law.” Mark waited as a woman passed. “She isn’t sure it helped, but he did great in the interview and he’s still at home.”

James shrugged slightly.
“I don’t know. Grandpa’s really old; he goes all the way back to the Twentieth Century. They expect to find something. If he just gives them all the right answers they’ll be suspicious.”

Mark nodded.
“That’s what the coach told us. What they want to see with someone in their eighties or older is that he’s made what they call ‘the Journey’; he needs to tell them how he overcame his supremacist upbringing. He knows to say he’s been involved in activism of some sort or another, right?”

“Yeah. Still. I hear they’re actually investigating that stuff out now.” James replied glumly. “They’re checking everything since that law passed last year giving the Commission unlimited funding. You can’t just say you marched with so-and-so.” James sighed. “I just wish he was more concerned about it himself. He doesn’t seem to care. You should hear him at home. He makes no attempt to regulate what he says. He actually enjoys speaking against love-truth.”

Mark chortled a little at the phrase. James continued.

“He thinks it’s all a joke. I try to impress upon him…”
“Does he realize what can happen? He’s not, you know, losing it…?”
“No. If only.” They both laughed. “Maybe he’d be more pliable. No, he’s mentally as sharp as ever. But emotionally, he’s like a child. He’s…” James searched for the word, “…he’s defiant.”

“So why the interview? What did he do–what did he say?”

“I don’t know. They won’t tell you. Just…” James looked both ways “…that awful language. What did the notice say? ‘…comments denigrating a protected class…’ they won’t say who. But the part at the end, something about how he might be a bad influence on ‘any minor children with whom he has unsupervised contact’, you know, that being the kids, his grandchildren.”

“How is he getting along with them?”

“They love him. And Jack, you know, is just like him, he even looks a lot like him, but I think he thinks more like him than anything…”

“Watch that.”

“I know. He’s smart, you know, and he’s getting old enough he knows how to keep his mouth shut at school. Hell, he knows better than me how to play the game. He’s been helpful with Dad. But when he and the old guy get together, especially when they go over this stuff, they always end up sharing jokes about how absurd they think it is. It’s funny, you know…”

“What?”

“That I’m so proud of him, and proud of the old man, for their smarts and defiance, and it’s going to get Dad shunted off to a Home and a regimen of mind-numbing drugs and, if we’re not careful, is going to get Jack black-listed on google-employment, drawing a basic income check, and still having to regulate his behavior all the more to keep it.”

“No joke. I know a guy who lost his UBI because he asked a girl out on a date.”

“It sucks. I was watching them together the other night. I should have been proud, watching my dad and my son, Jack is so handsome now, just a little man, you know, and there’s dad, doing what people have always done, or used to do until modern times I guess, he’s passing along knowledge, and he’ll be gone soon and Jack will eventually be old and passing along what he’s learned–probably not, though, seeing as most kids now won’t have their own kids. I was moved by the sight of them together. But the idea of them taking the old guy away…I swear I had to leave the room so Sarah wouldn’t see me getting emotional.”

“The last thing you want to do is get emotional. You’re not just trying to keep your dad at home now. You’re saving Jack too. God forbid he should just give up and accept the UBI dole. He is a smart kid, and he’s got character. No, don’t let him get a taste for the truth now, it’ll all be over for him before he gets started.”

“I know. He knows, he understands. But sometimes I think he doesn’t care. It’s scary. Sometimes I fear he’ll be one of these guys who just checks out because he can’t or won’t play the game. I have a hard time imagining the old man doing it, doing what we’ve been doing, what we are doing.”

“What are we doing?”

James stopped in his tracks.

“Yeah. What the hell are we doing, Mark?”

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