Note: The following is the first segment of a short, original work of fiction set in the not too distant future where present trends have continued. A few brave people have decided to buck those trends.
He said goodbye to the friendly older lady behind the counter and exited the small, quaint gift shop, stepping out onto the concrete sidewalk in the steamy July heat. It was just mid-morning but Jimmy was unaccustomed to South Carolina summers and his pink skin was almost immediately damp and sticky. Stuffing a fist full of stickers and brochures into his shirt pocket, Jimmy wiped his forehead and surveyed the tiny downtown of Daviston. Was this the place for him?
Two doors down he saw a man in a dark uniform, some sort of police officer no doubt, looking in his direction. The man started walking toward Jimmy and a tinge of nervousness momentarily struck him. It was a reaction conditioned by his experience growing up in New Jersey.
This officer was unlike those he was familiar with back home. For one thing he was White, a rarity these days on the East Coast in an era in which Hispanics and Blacks dominated local police forces and city governments – even much of what had been thriving suburbia. The Trenton PD was notoriously corrupt and the scattered White people left in the city’s sprawling neighborhoods did their best to avoid contact with them. Shakedowns were common and violence was not infrequent. It was also generally a bad idea to report abuse as this might lead to the victim’s prosecution on the grounds of discrimination – a criminal offence across the country.
As the officer approached Jimmy was struck by his lack of military appearance. He carried no automatic rifle, just a pistol holstered on his hip. His demeanor was friendly, quite unlike the Trenton PD officers.
“Good morning,” the young man greeted Jimmy. “Jeff Harrington,” he introduced himself, extending his hand.
Gerald shook his hand and introduced himself, noticing his badge. “You’re the law enforcement here?”
The young man smiled and Jimmy noted how physically fit he was. This too contrasted with the appearance of most policemen he saw in New Jersey, many of whom were significantly over weight.
“I prefer to think of myself as a peace officer,” Jeff said. “We don’t have any real crime here. Not like y’all have got out there.” He chuckled. “Small town, as you can see,” the officer made a small gesture. “And we all know each other. Plus, most are here for the same reason.”
This is what interested Jimmy – enough for him to make the long drive down here to visit Daviston.
“I work for the company,” he pointed to the Daviston Corporation badge on his chest. “Hired by the board. That is why there aren’t any flags on here.”
Jimmy looked around with interest at the nearby buildings. None had the red, white and blue US banner he was used to seeing everywhere. And none flew the new red, yellow, white and green South Carolina flag – the original having been officially retired nearly a decade earlier because of its links to a racist past. At least that is how Governor Gonzalez described it to the television cameras as he oversaw the flag being removed from atop the South Carolina State House. But in Daviston, Jimmy noticed, the former State flag was still quite popular. It flew from several of the buildings.