They wouldn’t send real Americans away to be stored.  Radical Muslims, sure.  Illegal immigrants, yeah.  Maybe welfare queens.  But not just…regular Americans.

That’s what Judy had nervously told herself for that entire six weeks, between the day she was first called in for questioning and the day when she was, in fact, sent to one of the country’s resident storage facilities.

She was young and stupid when she took those pictures.  Since then, she had turned her life around.  She was born again and regretted the things she had done when she was lost.  She was no longer that woman.

But in President Pence’s America, that didn’t matter.  Pictures “of an inappropriate nature” like hers meant she was a defective citizen.  A friend found the pictures somewhere and submitted a complaint…because of course they did.  Everybody did that.  If the situation were reversed, she would have done the same.

Defective Americans went to storage centers, where they could be stored away from society–and, most importantly, where they could be used for free labor.  Because hard labor was the one sacred thing which made America better than any other country in the world.

The customer service representative whose job it was to interrogate her grinned when he saw the printouts of her photos.  “You should’ve known better,” he admonished her, the grin still in his voice.  “Don’t worry, ma’am.  The place I’m sending you is a great deal, and you’ll only have to stay for four years…”

***

She remembered how she wanted to scream at her neighbors:  “I’m not a bad person!  I’m just like you!  I voted for Trump and Pence too!”  But she was suddenly on the other side of the fence, and they didn’t really want to talk to her or look her in the eye.

How she had wished back then that they would see her side of the story.  Now it was four and a half years later, and she didn’t care anymore.  She was tired.  This was her old neighborhood, but it didn’t feel like home.  She limped slowly up the sidewalk to her house.  There was a child she didn’t know playing in the driveway.  His mother stood nearby, watching.

The house had been confiscated and sold while Judy was locked up.  The walls had been newly painted a bright pink, and a magnolia tree had been planted by the front steps.  There was another, smaller house being constructed in what once was the backyard.

The mother finally noticed Judy and started walking towards her.  “Can I help you?”  Her question was made softer by her accent.

“I used to live in this house,” Judy said.

The woman’s face hardened.  “We don’t want any problems.  We bought this house all legal.”

“Right.  I know.  I was in a center.”

The woman shrugged.  “So was my brother.”  She picked up her child and went inside, locking the door behind her.

***

A couple days before, Judy had gone to see Mr. Rodriguez, an attorney who was working with storage center survivors.  Just a few years ago, she would have viewed him with suspicion–was he in the country legally?  Now she only wondered if he could help her.

Mr. Rodriguez shook his head sympathetically.  “It’s going to be very difficult to get any compensation for you.  It’s pretty obvious from your online record that you were an avid supporter of the Pence regime in its early years.”

She fidgeted with her paperwork.  “Well, I believed him when he said he would bring back the jobs and all that.”

The lawyer sighed.  “I don’t want to get your hopes up.  The new government has focused on specific groups of Americans which were harshly targeted by the Pence administration.  It will be hard to make a case for you.  I will file an application…but I doubt you will get any results.”

She did not argue, as something in her sensed he was already being kinder to her than he needed to be.  She picked up her papers and stood up to go.

But she felt a twinge of desperation and bent down to him again.

“You had friends in…the resistance?  Yes?”  she whispered.

“If I did, what makes you think I would tell you who they are?”

***

Her nephew, Nick, lived at his mother’s place, in a suburb on what used to be Judy’s side of town.  Their last conversation before they fell out of touch was on Facebook, and it had ended with Judy mocking him for being a “snowflake.”  He had been whining about his gender identity or some such nonsense.

She thought about all of that again on the long bus ride to see him.  She hadn’t called or texted him about her visit.  What if he didn’t want to talk to her at all?

But Nick gave her his usual quiet, easy going nod when he opened the door.  “Hi.  Mom isn’t here right now.”

“That’s okay.  How are you doing?”

He let her in.  He was still very pale and very skinny.  Maybe a little skinnier.

“I’m fine.”  He perched on the side of the sofa.  “I should be asking you how you are.  Mom said you got locked up.”

“Yes.  They let me out not too long ago.”

“That’s rough.  I was arrested a few times.  I never went to a center, though.  I guess I didn’t have much they wanted to take.”  He chuckled.  “Was it bad?”

“It was…”  She found that even after all this time she didn’t want to talk about or think about what it was like.  The house–that was what she wanted to think about.  Her house.

Nick’s dark eyes squinted a bit.  “Do you still believe the people in the centers brought it on themselves?”

“No, no.  I was wrong, and I understand that.”  She was lying.  It had all been a mistake with her.  She only took a couple of pictures.  She wasn’t like those types who protested every week–she never blocked traffic or burned anything.  And she wasn’t a terrorist.

“We should put it all behind us, anyway.  I’ve forgiven you for what you said about me,”  Nick announced.  So full of himself, she thought.  “You’ve always been my favorite aunt.”

She hesitantly accepted a hug from him.

“If you need any help…Mom sometimes gets extra stuff from the church pantry.”

She tried not to sound too eager.  “Thanks.  So, there’s that group of anarchists…they’re liberating homes, is what they call it…”

“No worries.  I don’t hang out with them anymore.”

“I actually wanted to meet with them.”

“Wow.”  Nick raised an eyebrow.  “Not a good idea.  They would hate you.”

Her face flushed with anger.  “Why?  Is this because of how I voted again?  Most of America voted that way–deal with it.”

“But you realize you hurt yourself with your vote, right?”

“Not true.  President Pence wanted to help the country.  The bureaucrats are the ones who came up with the centers and they made it all spin out of control.  It wasn’t his fault.”  She realized her voice had become shrill.

“I sense some unresolved guilt there in your response…”

God, how she hated it when the millennials went into their psychobabble.  Next, he’d want to talk to her about her self-esteem.

“I’m not guilty of anything,” she snapped.  “I’m one of God’s children, and He has washed my sins away.”  She turned and left before he could say anything else to her.

***

It was on the way back, the ride to her tiny rented room, that it hit her hard.  She would never get her house back.  It was so unfair.  All because of one mistake she made.  One little mistake!

And, for the life of her, she would never figure out what that one mistake was.

Just working on writing some 2020s jokes:

Two prisoners are digging ditches in a Trumpland labor camp.

The white-skinned one turns to the brown-skinned one and gloats: “Ha!  I don’t have to be politically correct anymore!”

Okay…so that’s not very funny.  But to be fair, neither is our future!

Wacka wacka wacka!

He’s not a Communist.  I get so sick and tired of hearing this bullshit.  I grew up in a Communist state.  In fact, my family and I were political refugees from Eastern Europe due to our opposition to Communism.  We know what Communism is like.  If Obama is trying to be a Communist, he’s a failure at it.

For one thing, big business is flourishing under his administration.  The stock market is going up and companies are making huge profits.  In Communist society, big business didn’t exist.  All industries were supposed to be owned by the working class–which, in reality, amounted to them being owned by the government.  Yeah, business and the government have gotten uncomfortably close, and people are upset that certain companies are getting perks and breaks from the government.  I don’t like that either, but that’s not Communism.  In Communism, businessmen and profiteers were enemies of the government, not its friends.  What we’ve got can be more accurately defined as crony capitalism.  And Obama isn’t even very good at being a progressive President, otherwise more of those profits and perks enjoyed by the wealthy elites would get shared with the rest of us.  They aren’t, and he doesn’t seem to be taking any kind of radical action to make it happen.

The Communist state also doesn’t accept any free expression of views that are opposed to its ideology, and quashes all dissent.  For all the talk of Obama being a dictator, if there’s anything we’ve had plenty of since he became President, it’s been loud criticism of his administration.  And calling it “criticism” is putting it mildly–how about vitriol, fuming hatred, extreme name calling (see “Obama’s a Communist”).  I haven’t seen any of the incessant hateful speech about the President getting censored–nor should it be.  The talking heads who spend the most time on the airwaves yelling about how oppressive the Obama “regime” is would be in jail or off the radio a long time ago if they lived under a truly oppressive regime.  But they have no idea what that’s actually like, and it’s their job to yell, not to think.

A lot of people bring up Obamacare or government health care as an example of the “Communism” in question.  But there are many countries like Germany or Holland or Sweden that have government health care and are not Communist at all.  They are a mix of capitalism with a welfare state.  I realize there are some for whom any political system which is not unrestrained capitalim is automatically bad, but one should at least try to make distinctions.  I can say from personal experience that the difference between living in Communist Eastern Europe and Western Europe was like night and day.

And that’s the point.  If you dislike Obama–for any reason–fine.  But it does you no good in presenting your argument if you do so using exaggerated and incorrect terms.  If anything, Obama is a President who attempts to implement moderate Republican policies like Romneycare, and does so in a bumbling way.  I realize that doesn’t quite have the zing of “Communist!” to it, but reality seldom gives us that exciting zing.

Where are the people who are coming to get you?

Seriously, where are they?  Those scary Feds?  The ones who are coming to take your guns away?  Or force you at gunpoint to buy health insurance and get on the Pill?

One of the first post-election reactions I saw encouraged everyone to “lock and load”.  It was followed by countless other conservatives screaming “I’m gonna get my guns before they get me!”  Well, so far I have not heard of any people getting taken away in the middle of the night.  Except maybe Bradley Manning and the guys at Gitmo, and they sure as hell didn’t get put away for voting Republican.  And Michelle Obama still isn’t sending anyone to vegan re-education camps.  So what went wrong?  The administration has had plenty of time to go after its enemies.  Obama has had over four years by now to call off the election, declare a state of emergency and crown himself All-Knowing Islamic-Communist Dictator.

But the only suggestions of violence I’ve seen have been on the conservative online forums.  The President is the one who gets death threats–a very high number of them, according to the Secret Service.  And as we all know, gun sales went up after the election, and I’m assuming that wasn’t all cocky blue-staters about to go hunting for Romney voters.  Which leaves me with one question:

Are they really coming for you, or are you getting ready to come for me?