For those who’ve missed Chat #001 to this fictional series, the one paragraph synopsis, below, will adequately get you up to speed. If you’d prefer to first read the full, introductory post, it’s archived in my “Cleo Theo Cosmo Chats” category.
The twenty-something carpenter / homebuilder Cleo, fiftyish Catholic theologian Theo and thirtyish cosmologist Cosmo all call the bustling metropolis of Upland their home. Their similar Friday a.m. work schedules and dependence on public transportation first caused their paths to cross in mid-August ‘16. The punctually late buses usually afford them plenty of time to engage in caffeine buzzed, political and social commentary. From day one, these three newfound friends have established an immediate rapport, respect and resolve to chat on a weekly basis.
The blue/grey overcast dominates the sky as Cleo and Theo near the bus stop bench from opposite directions… both spotting the already seated Cosmo. Once the cordial greetings are exchanged, Cleo, true to her previous week’s word, treats her new friends to an on-the-fly bagel and strawberry jam breakfast. Their cups of java, each has already purchased from various fast food eateries, complete the menu.
But, this Friday, Cleo’s smiling face is only short-lived.
“I got a distressing email this morning… from my brother Alberto.” Barely able to choke back her tears, she continues, “He, his wife, Olivia, and their three young children live in a small Midwest community where the mayor and city council, yuppies all, suffer from a massively snooty ‘tude. They’ve recently passed an anti-blight ordinance designed to ensure homeowners keep their neighborhoods’ appearance presentable. Of course, at face value, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea but… damn it… these arrogant bastards are brutally insensitive towards some of the very people they’re supposed to serve. They’ve failed to realize that not everyone is drawing six and seven figure incomes the way they do.”
“No doubt their new ordinance boasts plenty of sharp teeth, too,” Cosmo chimes in.
“Damn right! They have a fleet of code enforcement cars. The clowns behind the wheels go out on patrol through each and every neighborhood… ferret out and issue tickets to anyone in violation of the mayor’s new, stringent community standards.”
“I’m already beginning to catch a whiff of the political stench, Cleo,” says Theo.
“You got that right! They’ve singled out my brother and sister-in-law, who’ve each been juggling multiple, low paying, part time jobs. Their combined incomes barely cover their regular bills… and now… they’re facing down the mayor’s ultimatum… either fix up their humble house or face down a stiff fine.”
“My dear God,” Theo exhales, “This is so typical of draconian laws… I mean, to kick someone who’s already down… that’s sinful.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.” Cleo says trying, barely succeeding at containing her anger and frustration, “They already cannot afford to make these major repairs and now the city is threatening them with an additional financial burden!”
“I presume a home equity loan is out of the question?” Cosmo asks… Cleo’s frown already answering.
“They haven’t tried that yet,” she elaborates, “But Al and Liv are already in thousands of dollars of credit card debt. It’d be a miracle if the banks were to ever approve their application… I mean… not with their tanked out credit scores.”
“So what’ll happen if they fail to fix things up?” asks Theo.
“The mayor will gleefully condemn their home and heartlessly toss them out into the street.”
“That makes these code enforcers out to be the drivers of the mayor’s unwelcome wagons.”
“Well put Father Theo,” Cleo says.
Silence descends upon the three as Cleo wipes away a tear. With a sniffle she continues, “I’d offer my financial support to Al and Liv but… I’m not faring much better than they are. Besides… they’re both aware I’m struggling, too, and would never want to drag me down with them. What’s so damned frustrating is that, with my carpentry skills, I could fix up their place free of charge… were it not for the fact we live thousands of miles apart.”
“So what are they going to do?” Cosmo queries.
“It would appear their only option is to sell their home and use the proceeds to rent an apartment. And going that route will not be easy, either… this house has plenty of sentimental value… it’s been in Liv’s family for three generations.”
“Wait a sec, Cleo,” interjects Theo, “I’m sensing a diabolically evil plot. Doncha see… the mayor is cozying up to real estate agents, house flippers…”
“And I’ll bet home construction firms and home improvement retailers prominently factor in there, too,” interjects Cosmo, “Corruption, collusion… you know… all that under the table dirty wheeling and dealing.”
Cleo nods her agreement, “Don’t think I haven’t already considered all that crap. To be sure, each of those evil, big biz entities would then show the mayor and city council their undying gratitude via hefty campaign contributions.
“Cleo, your story saddens me down to every cell of my being,” says Cosmo.
“It’s heartbreaking,” adds Theo.
At that moment a gentle rainstorm moves in… not unlike tears from above. Up pops their three umbrellas as they wait in somber, contemplative silence. One by one, as their busses pull up, they bid their so-long-till-we-meet-again next Friday farewells… and head off to work.
A note to my readers: My game plan is to post these Cleo, Theo & Cosmo Bus Stop Chats on most, but not all, Fridays. These three fictitious characters will engage in political / social commentary… sometimes in agreement… other times not. But either way, the important thing, here, is that no matter how heated a discussion may get, they’ll remain civil towards each other… which, btw, is the way it should be… but usually is not… in our real world.