Having finished her doctoral work, A. and I have moved on and are looking for a place to live and a way to make ends meet. We move to London. (Only London is a suburb of itself and is half-suspended in the trees like Jedi‘s Ewok village.) We maneuver through the town on sidewalks that give way to plank bridges with taut rope hand holds. The ground seems infinitely far beneath us. We’re connected with a group of guys that nomadically roam around the town and turn out to be little more that street thugs that tend to make their lodging under the larger, concrete bridges and in abandoned warehouse cubes and such.
The gang leader explains that he’s sympathetic to our plight and wants to help us get on our feet. It’s not a free ride (he explains) and he does expect us to contribute to the group’s welfare and bottom line. He explicitly states that he doesn’t want us to do anything untoward but I get the distinct impression that this is part ruse. (Over time he’ll lead us into bolder and bolder actions, perhaps even violent ones.) When we ask what we can do to hold up our end of the bargain, he elaborates on how they do a bit of gardening to help keep food in their bellies. (We don’t mention to him how our yields have always been nil in previous gardening experiments but A. and I exchange a glance to that effect.) Then he drops a hint how it would be nice if we could start contributing sooner rather than later. Tomatoes, he says, are things that they go through a lot of.
And so A. and I go sneaking through folks’ back yards looking for tomatoes to steal until we can manage to grow a few of our own. But we both know that this is how it begins. A few successfully stolen tomatoes and we’ll never need to grow our own, right?