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Social Contracts With German Beavers

In a compelling, meta-example for how Capitalism is as irreconcilable with Feminism as it is with Democracy, as well as possibly a statement on the sense of humor of the gods below, a brave little beaver in Germany brought down a 20-meter-tall poplar tree upon a yacht, causing thousands of euros in damages while sparing the lives of the non-socialists aboard. In hopes that they might change their evil, evil yacht-enjoying ways and thus learn to become satiable because outgrowing britches means more unpaid or underpaid, non-union sweat-shopping work for underage labor forces abroad so that the white men in overpriced suits spending your taxes can avoid paying their own.

Which beavers themselves are never guilty of but where are the pop songs or themed restaurants honoring them?

I’m more of a skunk fan myself, having noted the obviousness long ago of how hard a ride they are given, for no better reason that that people hate seeing things in black and white.

Throughout most of 2014 I rented as living quarters office space from a church in Bardstown, Kentucky. The small building had been built in the 1950s to serve as a rectory, but eventually had been converted to become the church’s office, with rooms on the side subletting out for years as a satellite branch of the county unemployment office. As that funding got quietly slashed nationwide over the course of the Obama administration, the rooms opened up and so I approached the priest about my renting the space as an alternative to the weekly motels I had been staying in. The church in question was the “black” Catholic church in town, so the distasteful reality of a long-haired, non-theist white guy reeking of bourbon and weed renting out half their office for god knows what continued to keep my life interesting, with my car being vandalized in the church parking lot not once but twice. Which was an acceptable trade-off as the old rectory itself was dramatically haunted, even more than the rest of Bardstown. I slept where not one but two nuns had hung themselves. My head in the precise space of where their knees swung.

And that was how I almost founded an occult detective agency.

Late at night was my prime time for smoking, stepping out on the small stoop outside my door, crouched down to ash in a coffee-can I kept hidden in reach under the limited privacy of small bushes to either side. Always with either a coffee or beer in hand, sometimes a joint. This was down the street from the heart of downtown, but located as it were on the quiet edge of town, enough so that the nighttime road would look of the city but sound and smell of the country. The nights immediately following the twice a week mowing of church grounds would always call forth a pair of colorful skunks, who would not run but skip through the fresh-cut grass eagerly picking about the smorgasbord of giant countrified bugs stirred up by the day’s activity of suburban destruction on hallowed ground. (I’ve a theory that the local insect populations have been mutated after decades of mass exposures by hundreds of generations to distillery runoff.) The skunks would be so playful, hopping around one another almost as though they were dancing with exuberance, with pure joy. They had the power to choose their distractions.

One night, one of them abruptly hopped out from one of my small bushes to land less than a foot from my steel-toed boots, the two of us freezing in mutual, abject terror, staring eye to eye with our own reflection in each other’s eyes, both waiting for the creature before us to make the first move. Realizing I was no threat, the little guy walked slowly across the sidewalk before me to the other side, disappearing under a bush and around the corner. If I had moved first I’d have slipped in all the bullets sweated. But beginning with the next post-mowing night, the two would alternately come closer and closer, so that within a month they would sniff my hands like a friendly dog, or brush up against my knees like a friendly cat. Many nights the two would take a break from their playing around the greens to lay at my feet for a time, even eating broken-up wheat saltine crackers from my hands. I’d tell them about my day, and in their own way, they would too. In that neighborhood, they were my only real friends. Two wild skunks.

In those months I worked a range of jobs, full-time and part-time but always temporary. In no order, I cooked on a dinner train, I performed low-level maintenance at a distillery and I washed dishes for a franchise sports bar/steakhouse, along with some specialized landscaping and opening for a deservedly short-lived Christian coffee-shop. Not one of these jobs could go more than a few weeks without employers lying about pay, whether paying late and/or less than agreed or reneging on payment altogether as evidently the poor souls could only find profit through free labor but boy howdy will they pray for you brother. My most reliable employer at the time was Heavy Metal Magazine, while its then-owner Kevin Eastman was tens of thousands in debt himself his staffers Fiona and Berger kept an eye on me, successfully seeing no logic in stiffing someone who had been recruited to fill a specific void. I always find a way to break even but here there was never the means or steam left for any sort of socializing. So many brick walls and dead-ends would prompt me to drive for hours in circles all over the winding roads of the countryside, like pacing the confines of a cage.

The skunks, who I unironically named Skunkie and Stripey, understood. They lived their lives on the edge of rural and urban, braving the town’s streets only at night to explore and forage for big insects kicked up by the lawnmower man’s whirling fumes. Everyone they encounter presuming them to be nothing but stinkers, when that encompasses such a minute part of the endless possibilities formulating who and what they are. So, we would enjoy our shared company, whether whistles and purrs or a more-needed silence, comforted in our bond so impossible to find among the neighbors and co-workers of that community, of possessing no desire to inhibit life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for each other. No urge to buy from or sell to each other, anything other than calm.

After many months of this, one day, some random bastard drove over Stripey. I found her in the middle of the street directly in front of my building, seemingly caught midway in crossing, but smeared twice as far as her actual length. I set about cleaning her remains from the road immediately, telling myself how that was a residential neighborhood with a family in every house and that no kid should have to see such a disgusting mess in broad daylight like that. But really, I just wanted to give my friend a better sendoff than that. I never saw Skunkie again, and I imagine he was heartbroken by the brutal, mindless and heartless loss of his playmate, the yang to his yin. I myself moved a few weeks later, but I would look for excuses to cruise through that old neighborhood, looking for evidence that my surviving friend was still getting by. The peaceful late nights the three of us shared sitting on my stoop, watching cars go by, watching the stars in the sky, one time even seeing a Fort Knox drone in person flying just 30′ above ground across the church property, its 12′ wingspan casting a shadow uniting the two sides of the rectory in dark…you cannot purchase a circle such as that.

A circle made of time and love enough to round out all the bleakness that comes from being abandoned by the world at large, discarded and lost from our own hopes and fears like lepers lucked into passports and meeting with none of the dreams that make life livable. We, the rejects, the refuse, defined by our imaginary worst. I identify with the beaver unlike the yacht couple. Only those in the service to Capitalism get crushed by falling trees, never animals. And there are distinct reasons for that which trace their origins to long before our purposefully manufactured fictions to explain away this war’s perseverance where man obsessive-compulsively strangles man for entertainment. Animals know the score, you can hear it in the wails of the coyotes echoing across the valleys, like uncountable dozens of ghostly, crying infants. Fascists disguise entertainment as survival, where Capitalists disguise survival as entertainment. Their only difference, the worst kinds of mankind, and all that truly separates man from beast.