Living Standards

by Bill Kowaleski

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
parts: 1, 2, 3

part 2


By the fifth day, he’d fallen into a routine. He woke early, roused by Mira or Lea, set the table, and then acted as a waiter and busboy during breakfast. There had been twelve adults at the morning meal each day. They seemed interested in him, studying him closely when they thought he wouldn’t notice their stares, but turning quickly away when he flashed them a smile. After breakfast, he decided to take a chance and venture some questions of Mira and Lea as they cleared the table.

“Who are all those people?” he asked, trying to sound only mildly interested.

Mira said, “You’ll get to know them soon enough.”

“Do they live here?”

“They leave in the evening and come back in the morning. They work here but they aren’t servants like us.”

Lea shot a stern look at Mira, then turned to Jiri. “Don’t ask too many questions. You’ve got a good thing going here. You start your reading lessons today. You’d never learn to read in that enclave you came from. Just do what you’re told and it will all become clear.”

“But I want to ask just one more thing. Why can’t I reach my friends on my comm? I call, I text, I tweet, but nothing gets through, and I’m not getting their feeds either.”

“The Clavenet doesn’t come out here,” Lea said, “But your comm was set up to allow calls to and from your parents. It’s the same for all of us.”

“But I’m cut off from all my friends!”

“Well, if that bothers you so much, just tell Claudia to have DeShaun take you back home,” said Lea in her snottiest tone.

After the breakfast cleaning was done, he retreated to his room, but he’d barely laid down on his bed when Claudia tapped on his door.

“Jiri, we have a special guest today and he would like to meet you.”

She stepped aside and a man entered. He was tall, athletic, tanned, middle-aged, with very neat hair that was mostly black but for a few flecks of gray. He looked familiar. Jiri wondered how that could be possible.

“Hello, young man. You are as handsome as Claudia told me! I hope you will enjoy a very long stay here. We’ll teach you many things, and when you are an adult, you’ll be able to function in our world, and at the same time help your family.”

“Well, thanks,” Jiri said. “So you’re saying that you’re kinda like preparing me to work with you Wealthies?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “That’s one way of putting it. You know, since all the public schools were closed and the middle class pretty much disappeared, we Wealthies, as you call us, have had a hard time hiring people who can perform important tasks for us. We have to go into your enclaves and recruit our supporting cast. But it works out well. We get just as many as we need, no excess of over-educated peasants who might cause us trouble.”

“What do you mean by ‘supporting cast’?”

“Now that’s a very good question.“ He spoke like a politician, oily and glib. “If you’re just average in your lessons, you can work as a driver, security man, gardener, things like that. But if you do very well in your studies, then you can get a much better position, perhaps as a lawyer or doctor or manager.”

“But why did you choose me?”

The man paused a moment, as though he needed to find just the right words. “Well, we can tell a lot just by looking at someone, by observing how someone walks, talks, carries himself. We’re seldom wrong. You’ll see very soon.”

The answer made little sense to Jiri, but now he knew where he had seen that face. The voice had given him away. He was Jackson Bain, the state Governor. The Governor’s smiling face had taken over the Clavenet during the election campaign just a few months earlier.

Jiri remembered sitting in the makeshift neighborhood market and hearing representatives of both candidates talk during the late summer campaign. After Bain and Claudia left his room, his mind wandered back to that evening.

He hadn’t paid much attention to what the politicians were saying, but he had noticed how all the people cheered for the man representing Bain’s opponent, and how they’d booed and heckled Bain’s proxy.

After the meeting, every video on the Clavenet seemed to be about how things needed to stay the same, about how if Bain were not elected, all sorts of terrible things would happen. Jiri never heard anything more about Bain’s opponent until a few days before the election when a series of videos appeared, exposing how Bain’s opponent had solicited twelve-year old boys for sex. There were videos of boys describing the attempted seductions, the threats, the offers of money. So it was hardly a surprise when Bain was declared the winner by a wide margin.

And now Jiri had actually met the man! And he’d noticed Jiri, called him handsome. It was flattering but a little odd, too.

* * *

A week passed. Jiri now spent much of the morning in lessons: reading, arithmetic, geography, science. It was exciting and rewarding, and everyone said that he was doing extraordinarily well. He could hardly wait for his lessons, and did all the homework eagerly.

While he still called his mother on his comm every day, and had even taken her on several virtual tours of his new home, he felt more and more like he could never go back, that he was committed to his new standard of living.

After his last morning lesson, on a hot, late summer day that he’d barely noticed in his cool, climate-controlled environment, Mira stopped him in the hall. “Hey, Jiri, could you come to my room for a minute?”

She spoke in a seductive, beckoning way that excited him, and the tiny jeans shorts and skimpy halter top she wore excited him even more. He was very happy to follow her. She closed the door as they entered and pushed him onto the bed, flopping on top of him.

“It’s time we got to know each other better, don’t you think?” she whispered, suddenly breathing heavily. She tore at his clothes and within a minute they were naked. He was overcome with excitement, almost forgetting that he had no idea what he was doing.

Mira quickly set his mind at ease. “Just do what I tell you. First, turn your body to the right, just a little more, there, good.”

“Shouldn’t we close the curtains? It’s awful bright in here.”

“No, I like the light, just do as I say.”

For the next half hour she directed him through a comprehensive series of sexual positions and activities. He loved every minute of it, though he had trouble understanding why he always had to be facing a certain way, or holding her leg up, or repositioning himself. But he was having way too much fun to give it much thought.

She seduced him for six straight days, every day a little different, but always thrilling. On the seventh day she surprised him. When they entered her room, Jiri brimming with excited expectation, Carlo was lying on the bed, naked. She gave Jiri a shove, trying to get him on the bed with Carlo.

“I want to watch you do it with Carlo. He’ll guide you just like I did.”

He felt the wind knocked out of him. Barely able to speak, he whispered, “But I don’t want to do it with Carlo. I want you.”

“Don’t be silly. Carlo’s been hot for you since you arrived. Don’t disappoint him. We all take care of each other here.”

He took a deep breath and went along. Carlo seemed to be having a great time and kept telling him to get into it, make it seem like he was enjoying it. He endured but was relieved when it was over.

* * *


Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2015 by Bill Kowaleski

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