Gerald Goldman was an idealist. Commercialism and capitalism were his sworn enemies and waste was their weapon. Goldman had been living, almost entirely, outside the ‘system’ for three years. He didn’t buy any of the latest and greatest gadgets to grace the market. Gerald refused to buy hygiene products, choosing, instead, to only wash himself in the frequent Seattle rains. But Goldman’s lifestyle didn’t stop there.
Gerald was a Freegan.
A freegan avoids buying food at grocery stores. Since America’s capitalist system wastes so much extra food, Goldman lives off the discarded. To his friends, he describes himself as an ‘urban hunter-gatherer’.
Tolling the alleys behind grocery stores to look through dumpsters had been his most effective method of obtaining sustenance. He knew the locations of several fruit trees growing on public land and he would even harvest fresh dandelions for additional vitamins. Though his methods worked well, he still found himself stepping into a grocery store when food became scarce due to weather or competition.
Dirty Eddy wasn’t an idealist by any stretch of the imagination. He was a freeloader. Dumpster diving was a means to remain jobless. The freedom felt good but he also enjoyed power among the ranks of the homeless. His territory was well-known and rumor had it that Dirty Eddy had killed a man crossing the line.
When Dirty Eddy noticed Gerald snooping around one of his most prized bins, he decided he needed to protect his manna. After all, his reputation was all he had.
“You shouldn’t be here.” Dirty Eddy snarled like a sewer rat from the darkness.
Gerald jumped back – surprised anybody was watching. “I’m just looking for something to eat.” He spoke back into the darkness.
“This is my dumpster! I don’t want to see you around here ever again.” Dirty Eddy stepped closer and gave a long scowl.
“I’m sorry?” Gerald stood firmly, remembering his morals. “There is food in this dumpster and it belongs just as much to me as it does to you. There is plenty for both of us.” Though he said it, he didn’t really believe it. Even after a long day of searching, he’d found nothing to eat. This was his last attempt to avoid succumbing to paying for food.
An uncontrollable insanity glazed over Dirty Eddy’s eyes. “This is my turf!” Spittle flung from his lips.
“Easy…” Gerald wasn’t about to start a fight over garbage. “It’s all yours.” With that concession, he left any spoils to Eddy.
It was getting dark and Gerald still had no booty to show for his efforts. Hungry and reluctant, he went through the automatic doors to the grocery store. He wandered down the rows of shelves to find something cheap. He went for the baked goods that had been marked down for their age. They would be thrown away in the morning where Dirty Eddy would claim them too.
Gerald picked up a loaf of bread when a terrible idea struck him. If Eddy was out of the picture, he could again have freedom to feed from the coveted dumpster.
He set the loaf back on its shelf and headed across the store to the non-food items. There in a yellow box sat his vindication. Rat poison.
Gerald carefully opened the box and removed several pellets. It was late enough for the store to be almost completely empty, so Gerald had no problem sneaking the stolen poison back to the bakery. After several glances across the store, he gained enough courage to complete his mission. With a quick jab, he inserted the poisonous pellets deep into the day-old bread. After a sigh of relief, he tied the wire around the bag and scooted it back onto the shelf. That should take care of Eddy.
The bakery must have severely misjudged the demand for wheat bread. The day-old rack was full of loafs. What if the pay-load never reached its intended target? Just to be safe, Gerald went back for more poison. He then filled each loaf with enough poison to down a moose.
Gerald left the store without buying a single item. He smiled to himself as he walked home.
Morning came. Gerald made his usual rounds, but by noon he was still empty handed. A local coffee shop looked a little more promising. As he approached a combination ash tray / garbage can, a man threw away a box with several donuts.
Gerald rushed to collect the continental breakfast. Glazed was his favorite.
He sat on a little bench to eat where he had a good view of a large television across the street. As he took his first bite, a news banner ran across the screen.
A DOZEN ORPHANS DIE OF POISONING.
Gerald froze. He watched the news story unfold before him. The grocery store donated backed goods once a week to the orphanage. The children died. The autopsies confirm the deaths were due to rat poison.
Gerald dropped his donuts and ran as fast as he could to the grocery store. The building was closed. He ran around to the back where the dumpster resided. Policemen in uniforms and white gloves inspected the trash for evidence. Gerald could hardly believe it. What had he done?
Just then, Dirty Eddy made an appearance. The look on his face told the whole story. He was defeated. The dumpster had been apprehended, and his favorite spot was being exploited by the ‘man’.
“Hey!” Dirty Eddy screamed as he ran toward the policemen with a knife in hand. A craze took control of him.
In one quick reaction, a policeman drew his gun and shot Eddy twice in the chest.
As Eddy fell to the ground, a smiled made a surprise appearance on Gerald’s face. Eddy was dead. The investigation would be over in a few weeks and the dumpster would be a dining option again.
The rat poison turned out to be a good idea after all.