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$200 Less For The Married Disabled

by Jack Bragen

drawing of military colonel We waited interminably in the dimly lit, dungy, dark, smoke-filled waiting room. Finally, the swarthy, heavily armed, machete bearing guard motioned for us to pass through the steel-clad, iron barred door.

My wife and I, as directed, each took a seat in front of a highly ornate, outrageously massive, brass-emblazoned desk. Behind this desk sat a thin, mustachioed man in a heavily decorated uniform and officer's hat. This man, the SSI Service Rep., carried total authority over the destiny of my wife and me.

He declared; "Two Can Live As Cheaply As One! You will now receive two hundred dollars less. I strongly advise you do not try to work -- you will be harshly penalized. I have spoken!"

At that, the uniformed man slammed down a dagger on his desk to punctuate what he had said. "You may go now!"

We left that office and returned to our life of desperation and squalor, never to question the authority of SSI.


Jack Bragen is a freelance writer who has been dealing with schizophrenia since 1982. He lives in the East Bay area of California.

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