The Reckoning – Jill Adams

Jill Adams

The year was 2050 and, in what had begun as a slow-moving vertical ascent at the turn of the century, the U.S. prison population now hit 40%. Most of the 20th-century boomers and their offspring who had at first clandestinely, and then openly, fought for privatization of the state and federal correctional institutions were long gone, though through the vagaries of fate some were still around and found themselves incarcerated. A drooling, 104-year-old George Bush sat mute in TX103, one of the countries’ largest facilities. Marco Rubio, now 79, took up space in FL689; while an 86-year-old Sarah Palin, relegated to AK244, could be found lecturing obsessively to her deaf-eared unit on the finer points of moose gutting. A long demented Donald Trump died behind bars not long after confinement. Asked if he had any last words, Trump flopped around in his man-diaper screaming Fake News! which remained enigmatic to all but a few. Other names you might remember: Miley Cyrus (age 58) and Kim Kardashian (age 70), housed together at CA2886, two of the many who had fought on the wrong side of the battle. In one of the more ignoble exploits of the day, K’s mammoth bottom, now falling halfway to her knees, still made the stream-bloids, caught by unscrupulous guards who continuously flick-fotoed her in the community showers.

The entire prison population was white.

Blue Ivy Carter now sat in the Oval Office of a tastefully graffiti-covered White House, now known as The House. Her parents, once upper-class and fully-fledged members of that echelon, had died during the revolution, which began when her father, Jay-Z, still a major force in the music world at 81, got shot in the back while strolling through his hometown neighborhood of Bedford–Stuyvesant, the victim of a beat cop who felt he looked “intimidating” and “way too well dressed for that corner.”

The racial divide, having never fully mended since the days of slavery, had been roiling for some time, heating up with the deaths of innocent black men—along with many women and some children—once or twice every month, then every week, then near daily, as the perpetrators went unpunished and people of color swelled the correctional institutions. There were sporadic urban riots, many of which refused to die down completely, although it wasn’t until Jay-Z was murdered that blacks everywhere stopped what they were doing, collectively organized overnight, hoisted arms of all varieties and, in one of the world’s grandest political overthrows, took the nation in eight months. It wasn’t that Jay-Z was necessarily more highly revered than earlier victims, which included many well-known personalities, but as every revolution needs a spark to kick it full throttle, it was his death that served as trigger, instantly inciting urban communities across the nation before fanning out to less populated areas.

The battle was on. In L.A., a still very fit Beyoncé, her thick mane now rastaed up, marched out of her mansion for the last time wearing paratrooper boots and a black jumpsuit with a see-through black lace back, an Uzi-Pro-X in each hand, strapped with extra cartridges round her waist and thighs. She led the takeover of the city, going down in a blaze in the final days. “I am Sasha Fierce!” was her war cry, a refrain taken up by black women across the nation, even as the younger ones had to ask their mamas and grandmamas if Sasha Fierce was some old cyber-game heroine or what.

Most Latinos joined in as many had been permanently relegated to their prescribed roles of underpaid, unskilled workers, maintaining pristine landscapes for the gated communities, taking on day-labor jobs of all sorts in all temperatures, working as cashiers while enduring daily insults about their less than perfect English, and generally being ostracized by races of all color. But with the uprising, a united front was formed against the white elitist society that sought to hold them all down and “keep them in place” while whining about their inability to rise from poverty which “surely they could do if they only wanted to.”

It was the Latinos who went after Rubio, who reverted to babbling in his ancestral tongue in a last-ditch attempt to forge a bond with those whose legalization he had fought against while getting rich off for-profit prisons. As came as no surprise to anyone, Native Americans joined in, many painting their faces in strong colors of grim design. Other ethnic groups either remained neutral, lying low in their homes, or tentatively throwing in with the rebels, serving ramen noodles to those in the front lines or proffering juicy kebabs as that whirling meat was going to go to waste anyway as the revolution pretty much killed business.

It was not a bloodless take over. Lives were lost on both sides. Heavily. But as Blue Ivy—six-feet tall, green-eyed, with shaved head—emerged as a strong, charismatic and intelligent leader, the senseless killing and looting came to an abrupt halt as she led the way to a new order. Crack freaks were even known to put down the pipe. Justice had arrived, and there was a reason to wake up in the morning.

Europe and the rest of the world looked on, stunned. But no one had rushed in to stop it. The English continued to drink their tea and pints while the French picked at fluffy croissants and adjusted their neck scarves, the Italians sipped their espresso, enjoying the streaming of events through digital-designer sunglasses, and the Germans fast-calculated how they might capitalize on the whole business. Can’t say we didn’t see this coming seemed to be the general thinking. Even in the Middle East the latest group of jihadists, ISIS-THE NEXT GENERATION, poised to behead yet another U.S. citizen, laid down the sword with quizzical expressions as they came to realize: What the bloody heck is the point now? All secretly mesmerized by the sheer boldness and hotness of Blue Ivy.

The first order of business back in the U.S. was to throw open the prison doors. Those in need of mental health care, which comprised well over 50% of the inmate population, were placed in special residences where they received compassionate care; while the certified psychopaths and child abusers were offered the choice of remaining inside or piling on boats to the wild and anarchic territory of Venezuela to take their chances there, which the blacks preferred en masse to being housed with a horde of sniveling whiteys whose throats they couldn’t get their hands around.

Blue Ivy did not increase the number of incarcerated but neither did she decrease it. There had simply been a swap of those who inhabited the dark and dank cells. Among the whites who had chosen to stand with her, no one even questioned the reverse discrimination. As Blue Ivy said:

This beginning period is one of transition. We have much to work through, and as we find our way we must not be hindered by those of ill-gotten wealth and power who have either directly murdered our people or worked to hold down races of color or turned their heads to it all. This is a period of reckoning, but with time we hope to have a near-zero prison population as we advance humanely-run centers of rehabilitation, much like those we have created for the mentally unstable.

These first centers were set up in the homes of the wealthy, who had been evicted from their spacious mansions, as the remaining country homes, with their luxurious sprawling lawns, were turned into desperately needed schools and playgrounds.

The privatization of prisons, both state and federal, along with jails and juvenile detention centers, was worth more than a million billion dollars, with the CEO of PrisonCorps taking home an annual salary of one billion. With the disintegration of Congress, there was no more lobbying to maintain the 100% occupancy lockup quota or the pressure to constantly construct new facilities or raise the cost of bail. True, there were no more tax payers either, not for the moment, but PrisonCorps, the largest of all global enterprises, was bloated enough to help keep things ticking along for now. The CEO himself was well locked away as company funds were funneled to The House where Blue Ivy wisely oversaw their distribution.

The tech sector had seen much scrambling and back stabbing as the Super Four fought to dominate the market, but in the end all had been swallowed up by Globogle, now headquartered in Cuba, where it took up most of the island. The current 27-year-old CEO watched from his 500-acre glass-walled hacienda as the country he grew up in flipped over like a hot cake in a skillet. When he finally gathered his wits, he zip-flicked Blue Ivy: What do you want me to do? She zip-flicked back: Nothing for now but take a salary reduction of minimum wage, as we all have, and turn over revenues to The House; I’ll see you get a sufficient return to keep the company afloat. The young man, finding that wildly amusing, failed to comply; thus, he was whisked away, mid-mojito, and inexplicably, being a native Californian, found himself in OK592. The second-in-charge, who suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which at least (Praise the Gallaxies!) was no longer so generalized, complied and proposed sending a team to The House to head up tech operations. Blue Ivy graciously accepted the offer if he agreed to lead the crew. “May I bring my Pomeranian?” he asked in a quivering voice, edgy as an Oxy-Más!® addict with an empty bottle. “Of course!” she replied. “Why would you ever think we had anything against Pomeranians?”

In her first formal address to the new nation, Blue Ivy stood facing her immediate army of 50,000 strong, the only unifying accoutrement being purple do-rags. Listen up, she intoned, as giant speakers sent her rich, smooth voice into the multitude:

This is to be the millennium when history stops repeating itself. It may be hardwired into our DNA to eventually adopt the ways of the oppressor after a rebellion, especially with so much wealth around us when so many of you have had so little. But on this day today, at this hour, we break the cycle. We will it. And, yes, mistakes will be made as we seek our way. But they will not be the mistakes of the past. Our strength is fast uncoiling. Draw deep on it and draw hard. We are new as a people. Africa is in many of us, but we are not African. Amongst us there is a multitude of nationalities, and those nations are in us but we are no longer defined by them. What we are is new. We are something that has never been before. Live the new!

Men and women wept as they felt the strength take hold in them, but they wept with heads held high and backs straight. They had wanted to be new, they had, and now they were.

At the end of the speech, the crowd slowly drifted off. Blue Ivy, who refused security guards, wandered around the grounds of The House until late in the night when she could think best, occasionally drawing on some choice Jamaican weed.

Suddenly from a side path appeared a middle-aged white man in a tailored suit which even in the dark Blue Ivy could see was of an expensive make as was his fitted white shirt and exquisite silk tie. His haircut, too, reeked of recklessly high-priced salons. He did not belong here; the look was all wrong. He stared at her—anxiously viewing the area behind her as well; looking for security?—and didn’t speak. She saw, too, that his left hand was edging its way into his pants pocket. Blue Ivy wore two hip pistols with a sword slung across her back. She needed to react quickly, and she did, whipping out her right hand.

The man took a quick step backwards.

Dipping her head to make sure she caught his eye, she asked with a smile: “Would you like a toke?”

The man declined the offering. He appeared flummoxed and high strung, then turned around and walked briskly off into the night after acknowledging her with a quick nod of the head.

Blue Ivy pondered the encounter with her next inhale. As she did so, she caught sight of a sturdy, compact white fluffy creature with an abundant coat and prominent ruff of fur on the neck take off after the man. She watched the fringe of feathery hair swishing on the hindquarters as the dog scampered away into the deep shadows at the lawn’s edge, but before she lost sight altogether she saw the man pull something out of his pocket which he gave the pup, making him very happy. Ah! she twigged, remembering the tech contingent was due. So that’s a Pomeranian!

Blue Ivy threw back her head and let out with a belly laugh that cut the waters of the Potomac.

The revolution—and she herself—had survived another day. Living the new.

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