Friday, April 7, 2017

41 - Food Fight

“Ooh, I wish I could punch Mayor Dick right in the face,” seethed Claire as she finished reading the garden eviction notice.

“What are you going to do?” asked Charlotte.

“I don't know yet,” answered Bartholomew. “Aunt Josephine wants to fight it. She says that land just sits there empty, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to garden on it.”

“She's right,” said Claire.

“But then if we can't plant on the railroad property, too, the garden isn't very big,” said Bartholomew.

“Isn't very big?!” exclaimed Claire. “Bartholomew, it is still plenty big for us. It was quite a bit of maintenance to keep it going. I can't imagine what we were going to do at harvest time.”

“Yeah, a lot of mine and... Topping's... food went to waste because we couldn't eat it all,” said Charlotte holding back her sadness at the mention of their old life together.

     “Well, you don't have to worry about that now that I'm cooking as much of it as possible so it doesn't go to waste,” responded Claire.

“How's the new apartment?” asked Bartholomew.

“It's good,” said Claire. “Much nicer not having old Dumbo Ned around. Charlotte is a much better roommate.”

“Yeah,” agreed Charlotte with a forced smile.

“But Bartholomew, I think you are looking at this garden permission thing all wrong,” said Claire. “It's not just about this garden of ours, but the city should have a policy that allows community gardens all over the place. Everybody should have the right to a space to grow their own food. It's the sustainable thing to do. There's only one community garden in town and that's run by a church and the food is given to a food shelf.”

“Really, I hadn't even thought about other gardens, or the possibility of them,” said Bartholomew. “You guys want something to drink?”

“How about a gin and tonic?” asked Charlotte.

Bartholomew, who was heading toward the kitchen, stopped in his tracks. “Charlotte, I meant orange juice or water or coffee. It is only ten in the morning.”

“Oh...” said Charlotte, turning a little red. “Yeah, of course...” She let out a little laugh. “I'm just joking. I would like some orange juice if you have it, please.”

“I'll have some coffee, if it’s not a bother,” said Claire. “Otherwise, I'll have some juice, too.”

“Two juices it is,” said Bartholomew as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Alone for a few moments, Claire leaned over to Charlotte and asked “I have an extra ticket to the poetry slam tonight, do you want to go? 'Rissa is putting it on and some of the people from my class are going to perform. It's a fundraiser for a local battered women's shelter.”

“Oh, I don't know. I think spoken word in support of a women's shelter might be a bit depressing.”

“What do you mean?!” demanded Claire.

Charlotte suddenly felt bad about what she had said. “It's just that 'Rissa will start talking about her experience and about blood and bruises and … well... it’s kinda depressing. Don't get me wrong, it’s a good cause. I just don't think that's what I'm in the mood to hear tonight.”

“Fine. But these are my friends. It would be nice for you to get out and meet people instead of moping around the apartment every night.”

“I don't mope!” protested Charlotte.

“No, sitting down at eleven o’clock at night and eating a whole box of Honey Chunk cereal isn't moping. Watching Bambi and replaying that scene where his mother gets shot until 3:00 am is not moping. Accidentally calling me 'Topping' at least three times a day isn't moping. Girl, you mope so much I'm thinking of buying you a moped.”

Charlotte just turned away from Claire.

“C'mon, get out of the house and get over him. Come with me tonight.”

“Maybe, and there's nothing to get over,” said Charlotte.

Bartholomew returned with a blue tray of glasses filled with orange juice. Charlotte thought they looked beautiful in the morning light.

“Here you go. Oh, and please use the coasters,” said Bartholomew.

“You know,” he continued, “I think you’re right. I think we should do something in order to promote gardening throughout the city. There are a lot of people and a lot of open spaces where they could grow their own food. With the price of food always going up and the nutritional quality going down, I think it would be a good thing.”

“There you go. Now you're talking,” said Claire.

“Uncle Jeffrey researched a little and found out that to stop the eviction notice from Mayor Dick's office we would have to appeal it to the Office of Licensing and Inspection. If that doesn't work, then we have to appeal it to the City Council.”

“What if instead of simply appealing the eviction to the council we ask them to allow gardening throughout the city?” suggested Charlotte.

“They won't simply allow gardening anywhere,” complained Claire. “It's a city after all... and it is Mayor Dick, who will find some way to stick himself into this and fuck it up.”

Bartholomew winced a little at Claire's language. “Uncle Jeffrey thinks Gerald is somehow behind this and that Mayor Dick might be doing him a favor. He thinks the events unfolded a little too quickly to be a coincidence.”

“Why would Gerald want to destroy the garden?” both Claire and Charlotte asked.

“Uncle Jeffrey thinks it is retribution for Mo falling out of the tree in my backyard.”

“But you had nothing to do with that!” said Claire.

“I know, but Xavier doesn't believe that. He even threatened me afterward and stabbed me with a knife.”

Both girls gasped.

“He didn't stab me stab me. He just stuck me with the knife point in my ribs. There was hardly any blood.”

“Oh, Bartholomew,” cried Charlotte, “he could have really hurt you! I don't trust any of them. Even The Nanny seems kinda weird. This is terrible.”

Bartholomew shrugged it off. He wasn't sure why he didn't feel threatened by Xavier and Gerald. He knew they could hurt him, but for some reason he didn't feel threatened.

“The Nanny told me that Xavier wouldn't kill me.”

“Wha... how would she know, or why would she even say that?” complained Claire.

“I told you she was weird. You can't trust her,” said Charlotte.

“No, I can trust her. For some strange reason she is someone I completely trust,” said Bartholomew.

“But Bartholomew, did you ever think she might be working with Xavier and Gerald to get back at you?” asked Charlotte.

Bartholomew thought for a moment. “No. I can trust The Nanny.”


“Sometimes in life you just have to trust someone, no matter what others might say. My experiences with her tell me that she is someone who does not want me to be hurt. The Nanny wants me to be happy.”

Charlotte and Claire stared at Bartholomew in disbelief.

“Okay. I have decided to fight this eviction notice,” announced Bartholomew, “and whatever Gerald and Xavier want to throw my way.”

Claire cheered. Charlotte worried.

“So what's next?” asked Claire.

“I don't know,” said Bartholomew. “ I think we have to appeal the eviction to the Licensing and Inspections Department. After that, I really don't know.”

“We should talk with Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine,” suggested Charlotte.

Bartholomew nodded his head in agreement.

“We have to do more than that,” added Claire. “Bartholomew, we don't know the first thing about approaching government departments and the city council much less dealing with people like Gerald who owns half the city. We need more people, more than just your friends. We need my friends, Charlotte's friends, Topping's friends, Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine's friends and we need people we don't even know.”

“How do we do that?” asked Bartholomew feeling a little overwhelmed.

“Claire, your spoken word class is doing a fundraiser tonight. Perhaps we could talk them into doing another event to support the garden and planting gardens all over?” suggested Charlotte a little more energized than a few minutes ago.

“Yeah, “Rissa would totally be all over this. Let's check with her tonight.”

“That's cool,” said Bartholomew. “We could post something on You-n-MeBook. See if other people will join us.”

“Yeah,” said both Charlotte and Claire.

“This could be fun!” added Bartholomew.

“Why fight City Hall and have it be so serious? Fighting City Hall should be fun!” laughed Claire.

All three friends laughed. Bartholomew wished Topping could have been there to share this excitement. Ned, too. He thought they both would enjoy the challenge.

“Charlotte?” asked Bartholomew hesitantly. “I really want Topping to be a part of this. Is that okay with you?”

Charlotte stared at Bartholomew with her big green eyes. She wanted to see Topping, to be with him again. But she also knew she had not been happy with him. Seeing him might be too hard. She didn't know what to say. But Claire did.

“Why don't we do what we can, get down the road a little bit and then figure this part out. I mean Charlotte and I will talk to 'Rissa tonight and you, Bartholomew, can follow up with Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine. We can figure out what we want to post online and later figure out how Topping fits in.”

Charlotte agreed to this only because she didn't know how to ask for what she really wanted. She wanted Topping in the worst way, and the worst way to want someone is to not know you do.
Written by Mark Granlund 
Illustrated by Justin Terlecki

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