Editor’s note: The Humane Society of the United States has proposed a law that would put a restraint on most eggs and pork from being sold in Massachusetts. The following tale is a grim look at the future American outlaws should this happen.
He woke up early. It was 4:00 AM and he was hungry. In the darkness, a light rain was falling. He got dressed quietly so he wouldn't awaken his wife. "Almost cold enough for the first snow of the season, " he thought.
He shivered as he remembered the season of never-ending snows a few years ago. It took Boston until mid-summer and a red-hot July to rid itself of the last traces of dirt gray slush. What was found when the last of the melt ran into the gutter and found its wayin to the Bay was a harsh and ugly testament to the seedier lives of the city.
He knew what he had to wear; black pants, black sweater, black work boots, black sock hat that he could pull down low over his forehead. He glanced at his still sleeping wife as he tip-toed out of the room. She stirred restlessly and was dimly aware that he was leaving again. It was a trip that she knew he had to make several times a month.
Just in case he wouldn't be able to return soon, he checked on his children before slipping into his black Corolla, a non-descript sedan he bought last year for just these kinds of surreptitious border crossings. "I remember seeing a dark sedan" was all anyone could say if he was spotted returning home after an early morning crossing into Rhode Island, a state still free of those notorious food laws.
He shifted the car into neutral and let it roll quietly down the drive way and intro the street before he started the engine, better to slip away without waking his family or the neighbors. He started it and headed south down I-95 toward Providence. His target was just across the border, though; an always open Dunkin' Donuts, just off the Interstate on East Street in Pawtucket. He tossed a package of tofu on the passenger's seat, a red herring that would distract any of the food police who might stop him when he attempted to sneak back into Massachusetts. It was hickory barbecue flavored and purchased at Whole Foods, his sly dig at the absurdity of what he was forced to do this morning.
The food police were notorious. Ever vigilant with shiny new badges pinned onto their brown shirts and the official HSUS patch high stitched high on their sleeves, they had a sworn duty and they were vigorous in their work to defend the new law. With handcuffs and tasers at the ready and always suspicious of breath mints, they would stop suspicious vehicles and demand that the driver submit to a roadside test familiar to anyone suspected of DUI.
"Have you had anything to eat, recently?" They would demand. "What did you eat?" It could be a fierce cross examination akin to anything the most aggressive Boston lawyer would do in court when he knew you were guilty of a most heinous crime.
It was less than half an hour to the border and soon he could see the lights of the newly constructed check points blocking the northbound lanes. Leaving Massachusetts was easy; returning could be difficult, especially if the food police suspected you of trying to sneak contraband into the state.
He saw the exit to Pawtucket and slowed down. It was a hard right turn. His headlights picked up dark skid marks on the concrete barriers made by careless drivers who were traveling to fast for the conditions when they made the turn. "Poor saps," he thought. Most of those marks were made by refugees just like him, trying to desperately to get their early morning 'fix.'.
He glanced at the clock. He knew he would make his destination before the shift change and would be dealing with the late night crew. They were far more lax; furtively whispered orders were quietly filled, no questions asked. Still, he felt nervous as he pulled into the parking lot. He saw two mud-encrusted pick ups and an old, rusted out Chevy Blazer, the night crew and maybe one customer, he thought.
He pulled the sock hat low over his forehead, ducked down so the parking lot security cameras couldn't pick up his face and strolled into the store. A wizened old clerk saw him enter and, before the door closed, poured the cup of coffee he knew would be ordered. A cool wind blew in and the one drowsy customer, who had been nursing the same cup of cold coffee for over an hour, glanced at the new guy and quickly turned away as he texted someone on his battered cell phone. Wrinkled, greasy fingers tapped a quick message and he hit the 'send' button before wiping down the screen with a coffee stained paper napkin. He scuttled out into the darkness like a cockroach when the kitchen lights are turned on.
"What'll ya' have?" the clerk asked.
"Bacon, egg and cheese on a pretzel roll." Keeping his head down, he sipped the coffee.
The clerk glanced out the window and saw the car with the out-of-state plates. "You'll be eating that here," he said. It was a statement of fact, not a question.
He bagged up the order and dropped a cheap peppermint candy into the sack. He had learned long ago that this DD was the first stop for many bacon-starved refugees from north of the border and a mint usually insured a larger tip.
"Thanks," he said as he dropped a fiver in the tip jar for a four dollar order. The breakfast sandwich smelled great. It took just a few minutes for him to devour something indescribably delicious that was now illegal back home. The bacon and egg combo was a rare culinary treat, banned because of a law that forbid traditional breakfast foods - eggs, bacon, sausage, ham - not raised by hand on small acre farms from being sold in Massachusetts. It's passage caused great consternation among most citizens even as HSUS, the outfit that wrote and pushed the law with hefty bags filled with money, celebrated the victory in their L Street office in Washington office late into the night.
He yearned to order one for the road, a sandwich he could share with his wife when he returned. He couldn't risk it, though. Such contraband was cause for a large fine and even jail time for repeat offenders. He could trust her to keep quiet but children liked to talk and HSUS ears were everywhere these days. They had even infiltrated the schools, suggesting to impressionable sons and daughters that tattling on friends and parents was a civic duty to be admired.
Draining the coffee, he crumpled up the empty cup and tossed it into the trash. A stray DD cup in the back seat was a sure tip that eggs had been eaten and the car needed to be 'strip searched' to make sure nothing illegal was being smuggled back into the state. He popped the mint into his mouth, turned and nodded to the clerk. When he got into the car, he checked his teeth in the rear view mirror. No sense in getting caught with a stray bit of bacon marring your best and friendliest "Hey, don't I look innocent" smile.
Next time, he promised himself, he would stop at that convenience-store just a few blocks down E Street and buy a pound of Oscar Mayer bacon, a rare treat that could bring ten times its price on the Boston black market. He could slide it under his car battery, no one would ever find it there, and share it with his wife when he returned home and the kids were sent to their grandparents for the weekend.
He started the car and headed north. In just a few minutes, he slowed for the check point. A work-weary HSUS officer, just minutes from the end of her all night shift, peeked into the car and saw the tofu wrapper. She waved him through, the last inspection of the morning for her. She pulled her jacket tighter against the cold and clocked out.
"He came through again, third time this month," she told her replacement as she reached for her post shift cigarette. He lit it for her and the blaze briefly highlighted her tired face.
"We'll stop him next time," he flashed a toothy grin as he double clicked his Taser.