This Great Society - Issue 6 - The Future
 








Creative Writing

Illustrations by James Steidle

The Right of Way by James Steidle
The Right of Way by James Steidle

In the summer of 1972, as Victor was making a run along his trapline, the surveyors came through. Victor met them in the woods, near one of his cabins. They were dressed in orange vests, blue jeans, had shotguns with them. One of them would stand holding a marker, the other would take a reading with a transit, leaving behind them reams of pink ribbon. Victor looked at the route they were tacking. It looked like it would travel right past one of his cabins, maybe right through it.

“You going straight through here?” asked Victor. “Past my cabin here?”

“Looks like it,” one of them said. “But we can’t be sure. We’ll see when we get there.” They paused. The older of the two, bearing the appearance of an aging drinker, spoke. “We’ll flag the line. It’ll take some time before the bulldozers come through here, the earth scrapers. Probably leave your cabin alone, but if it’s in the way, we’ll have to work something out. It doesn’t look like much. They’ll probably help you build a new one.”

“Nobody told me I’d lose a cabin,” said Victor.

“Called the right of Linear Development,” the younger one responded. “Far as we know, you don’t own this land,” he said. “Otherwise, the government would have bought it from you. Buys up any land that isn’t crown land.”

Victor looked down at the ground, said nothing. The older surveyor looked at him, sighed, and spoke. “Besides, the reserve land we are going through is being compensated three times over. You’ll be getting more land out of this deal than you started with.”

Victor stepped aside, let them pass. He couldn’t speak, other than a muffled acknowledgement. This was not something he had foreseen in his entire life.

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