My city is dying, not by the sinister hissing of flames, nor plague of locusts. It sustained knife wounds trying to protect itself from the blade of the bad economy, population down 20% from where it used to be. The main street has empty storefronts, like eyes determined not to cry, or handwritten neon posters screaming regrets of going-out-of-business sales; you could almost shoot a gun straight down the sidewalk and hit mostly ghosts of air, faint footsteps of a bustle decades gone. Each block plays host to at least one empty house, waiting for a new family to make it a "home".
We have no bookstore, most cities don't, lost to Amazon or caught by the web. We lost our Kmart when Wal-Mart came, plus other stores most people cannot name. One restaurant has changed hands and menus so many times, if you don't go during opening month, you might miss your chance.
The taxes here are too high, most jobs here don't pay enough, and certain individuals or companies here limit what businesses come in. If they offer certain services/merchandise or pay employees too much, they never even gaze upon our "welcome sign". It won't do, you see, to have competition for workers or patrons. We paid money to Wal-Mart to come here.
Someone spoke out once, a person in the medical field who worked here. She doesn't work here any longer, invitation rescinded, run out of town. Few know why she left, she refuses, now, to talk, when all she wanted before was better opportunities for her patients... for what this place used to be.
Our city council has had revitalization plans for our main street for years... the whole town, too. I'm uncertain if they are using the right word, or know what it means. Treating small businesses like May Flies in December? Watching the list of eyesores expand? Watch as our graduates run at breakneck speeds the second hands grasp diplomas?
We are a lower middle-class town whose staggering number of churches and bars is noted on almost every website about us, save for our Chamber of Commerce's. I suppose when there's not much to do, few places to go, and lack of meaningful employment the only things left to do are pray... or drink.
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