Once a top-producing real estate agent with a successful business and a beautiful home, Kris Mitchell is a victim of the economic downturn. She has lost her home to foreclosure, and her long-time boyfriend has married someone else. Then, just when she has almost given up hope for a better future, an opportunity presents itself for her to become a Level 1 Planner for a newly created federal agency that will implement the Retire America Act of 2013.
After persuading her own aging parents to sign over all of their assets, Kris learns that the government’s plan to confiscate the wealth and property of America’s retirees in exchange for lifelong care in the Smart Seniors community has some serious downsides. As she relinquishes more and more personal freedom to hold onto her job, she discovers what it means to trade liberty for a steady government paycheck.
Book Rating: G
e x c e r p t
“What part of ‘YOU MAY NOT CARRY A GUN ON THESE PREMISES’ did you not understand?” Kris was standing in her parents’ unit shouting at Jim so loudly that her voice echoed down the hallway even though the door was shut.
“Lower your voice, Kris,” her father said quietly.
“No, I won’t lower my voice. You have no concept whatsoever of the mess you’ve made. And what’s worse, you don’t care. What’s wrong with you? For once in your life, why can’t you just follow the rules?”
“Krissy, don’t speak to your father that way. And stop yelling. Everybody can hear you.”
Kris turned and faced her mother. “Everybody might as well hear me,” she was still loud but not as loud as she had been. “Did you know about this? Did you hide this from me?”
“I have the right to carry a gun, Kris. It’s in the second amendment in a little document called the Constitution. Of course, you and your communist friends have forgotten all about that. Maybe you need to enroll in a history class in the evenings….”
Kris was so enraged she felt hot, and her father’s patronizing tone of voice and attitude just made her madder. “Don’t start this with me. And don’t give me that junk about the Constitution. The second amendment does not cover your right to carry a gun on private property. You don’t have a second amendment right to carry a gun in a liquor store, or in a bar, or in an airport. And you don’t have the right to carry a gun here.”
“The second amendment gives me the right to keep and bear arms. KEEP AND BEAR. That means, for your information, that I can have a gun in my possession in my home, and I can carry it with me.”
“First of all, this is not your home. This is government housing. You have a life-lease for this unit, but you don’t own it. The federal government owns it. That makes them your landlord. Have you ever noticed those huge signs on the entrance gates to this place? ‘No Firearms or Weapons of any type are allowed on this property?’ Those aren’t there for decoration. But even with all of that, I might be able to chalk this up to you just being you, except that you and I had this conversation. I stood outside by the pool and told you before you ever set foot in this place that you had to get rid of your guns. And now, I find out that you have been hiding them here in this apartment. You sneaked them in here and lied to me about it, and now you’re just standing there with your arms folded smirking.” Now she was back to yelling.
“First of all,” her father mimicked, “this IS my home. I gave my home and everything I owned to the government in exchange for this little hellhole. I wish now I hadn’t; I should have locked you out of the house the first day you came over with this crap. I can see now that my own child was just there to steal everything I owned and put me in prison.
“But I’ll tell you this, dearie; I still have rights. You know what else I have the right to? I have the right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Those little deadbeats who pretend to maintain this dump had no right to come in here and search through our things. That’s a violation of my rights too. I’m not going to stand for this. I have already called the television stations about it. I’m going straight to the press.”
“Oh, really,” as mad as she was, Kris could not help laughing at the ridiculousness of this conversation. “Good luck with that. Let me know how it works out for you. I realize that you have never lived in multi-family housing, but in multi-family units, the landlord is always allowed to have access to the units and to search the units. The documents you signed when you moved in here explained that, if you had bothered to read them. Those same documents stated very clearly that maintenance workers have the right to immediately confiscate any substances, materials or items that are in violation of your life-lease agreement. And the life-lease agreement contains a paragraph, in all caps, which says, ‘NO FIREARMS’.”
“So what are they going to do about it?” Jim was standing with his arms folded and that same defiant look on his face she had seen her whole life when he was backed into a corner. Kris had always hated that look and the superior, smart aleck attitude that accompanied it, but today she hated it more than ever, “They’ve taken everything away from your mother and me. Everything we worked for, everything we saved, everything we collected over the years—every dime in the bank, every stick of furniture, everything. Are they going to chain me up outside and beat me with whips? Are they going to put us in front of a firing squad and kill us both with my own gun? Are they going to throw us out in the street after stealing everything we own? What exactly are they going to do?”
“Actually, I don’t know,” Kris matched her father’s complete lack of remorse with a defiance of her own. “I have to go in tomorrow to the director of our Division and find out what is going to happen to you and the rest of your little gang in here. They do have the right to evict you. I am going to try to keep that from happening, but I don’t know if I can.”
“Well don’t do us any favors, Kris. You’ve done more than enough already.” His tone oozed with sarcasm.
“You know, for once you could think about somebody other than just yourself. It’s not just your neck on the line for this. I could get fired tomorrow. And, by the way, you’re not the only one who’s had to give up stuff. It took me two years to land this job. Finally, I was down to either this or going to work waiting tables at the Greatest Steak. I have had to give up my car and my freedom, and I’ve worked like a slave, even though you clearly don’t appreciate any of it. And now, I could actually get fired and have no place to go at all just because you can’t be bothered to follow the rules.”
As she finished her father began to pretend to play a tiny violin. Rage rose up in her again. “You have got to be the most selfish person I have ever met,” she vented. “You’ve never cared about anything except getting your own way. You don’t care what happens to anybody else.”
“Krissy,” her mother stopped her. Janine had stayed out of the conversation until now, but when Kris looked into her face, she was surprised to see such genuine anger. Jim was being belligerent, but Janine was truly furious. “You need to take a good long look at your life and how you are choosing to live it. You’re so worried about losing your job—maybe you need to start thinking about what your job really is. You are helping the government steal everything from everybody. You spend your days talking people into signing over all of their possessions to the government and coming to live in this prison—and that’s what it actually is, Kris. It’s a prison for old people after the government takes everything and leaves them with nothing. We worked hard our whole lives and never asked anyone for anything. We paid taxes, we gave to charity, we saved money; we did everything we were supposed to do only to end up here in this awful little cell with nothing—no money, no freedom, no rights. And all you can think about is what the people who sent us here might think about you.” Janine’s huge brown eyes had filled with tears as she spoke, and now those tears splashed down onto her cheeks, embarrassing her. She turned hastily toward the bathroom and slammed the door, leaving Kris with her dad, who was still standing with his arms folded and that same annoying smirk on his face.
Kris stood there for a minute, and then without another word, walked out of their unit letting the door slam behind her and leaving Jim standing alone in the tiny room.