Generation Gap is a young adult dystopian novel.
When age rules the country, it’s hard being young.
Trey runs away from the youth reserve sure he’s no more than spare parts for a father he barely remembers. The Council of Elders has its own questions about him. When Trey finds the Underground and joins the fight to give rights back to the Youngers, he starts a chain of events beyond anyone’s control.
Excerpt from the book:
Sax and Whisky
Joe sipped his whisky. It burned on his tongue like the sound of the blues player rolling across his ears. He gave fervent thanks his ability to appreciate the music hadn’t diminished over the years.
He sat at a small table to the side of the club close enough to see the saxophonist’s fingers blur, but far enough away to allow the harmonies to absorb texture from the conversations surrounding him. He let himself blend into the background, just one more old man in a room of old people. Occasionally someone would sit at his table, but after a glance from Joe, would move on to another table or back to the bar as if something about Joe made them uncomfortable. His job and his age had that effect on people.
The waitress came with the next round and he nodded at her. She smiled at him, giving him another chance to admire her. Whether her teeth were real or not, her dentist was a genius.
Joe looked around at the club. The octogenarian crowd, still full of themselves after making it to retirement, filled the club. The only Youngers in the room were the musicians and the bartender with the discreet caduceus on his shirt and the medical kit hidden behind the bar.
The set concluded, and the player came over to Joe’s table. Joe waved at him to sit. With a nervous glance the younger man took a seat. The musician attracted some attention. A few raised eyebrows at Joe, others just shifted their chairs to turn their backs. The other musicians were backstage, probably in a stark concrete room. No Youngers would dare come to the tables unless someone like Joe invited them. New retirees didn’t like rubbing shoulders with youth.
“That’s sweet playing, son,” Joe said.
“Thank you, sir. I love the music.” He wiped a faint sheen of sweat from his face.
Poor kid was hardly forty.
“My name is David.” He twitched nervously as if trying to find a spot which made him invisible.
Joe waved the waitress over.
“Some water for my friend. Music is thirsty work.” She brought the water, but set it in front of Joe, refusing to acknowledge the younger man. Joe sighed and pushed the glass across the table.
The musician lifted the glass and drank it at one go. He blushed and put the empty glass back on the table in front of him.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you came, sir.”
“It’s my job, David. But your playing has made it a pleasure. Tell me again about what made you call my office.”
“I love playing, I love the music. But I have a problem…”
Joe waited, sipping at his drink. It had tasted better with the music. Conversations provided white noise in the background.
Finally, the young musician looked up, smooth face carefully blank.
“My contract is for music, and just music. I don’t mind giving music lessons to the club’s owner, but she wants more than music. It’s flattering, I guess, but it’s creepy. Look at me. I’m only forty. I still have children at home. What does she want with someone like me? Not like there aren’t all kinds who’d love to give her what she wants. I just want to play my sax and go home.”
Joe sighed and looked at the sax player.
“Do you want a different contract?”
“No way.” He flushed. “I mean, this is a great job. I get to play music, and mostly whatever I like. It’s just….” His blush deepened. “…if she would just leave me alone.”
“All right, son, I’ll have a word with her.” The musician sat back in relief, and Joe sipped at his drink again. He levered himself up with his cane and walked toward the office.
The door was closed, so he rapped on it with the head of his cane. He heard a scuffling behind the door and a moment later it opened. She wasn’t as attractive as the waitress, but she didn’t need to be. He saw too many like her. Only a decade past retirement herself, she reminded her customers of their old existence along with the perks of their new lives. Like a lot of people her age – figuring now she’d made it, she could take whatever she wanted. Joe walked into the office without saying anything and looked around. Well set up, if a little soft for his taste. He noted the couch against one wall and frowned. The cushions were still returning to their shape. The door beside the couch hadn’t quite closed.
“May I help you?” Her voice was a carefully contrived contralto.
“You can keep your hands off the saxophone player,” Joe said.
“What are you? A prude? You don’t like the idea I still have needs?”
“I don’t care about your needs. Just keep your hands off people who aren’t willing.”
“He signed a contract!” she screeched, forgetting her contralto. “I can break him just as easily as I made him.”
“He signed a contract to provide music for your club. There is no clause forcing him to provide sexual favors to the owner.”
“So what? Everyone knows it’s part of the deal. I give him a job, he gives me what I want.”
Joe leaned forward on his cane. “You keep your hands off the staff, and I will walk out of here and never bother you again. Bother that young man one more time, and I will take this club away from you.”
“How dare you talk to me like this!” Her voice rose another octave. “I am retired now. I deserve everything I can get. Do you know what I had to put up with? Do you? No. But you stand here and preach at me about what I can and can’t do to my staff. I own them.”
“I think maybe it’s time you went into the Home,” Joe said quietly. “It is clear you aren’t managing retirement well.”
“NO!” she screamed and lunged at him. Joe lifted his cane and stopped her with it. She tried to bat it to one side to get to him, and he pushed a button on the handle. Twenty-thousand volts coursed through her and she dropped twitching to the floor. The not-quite-closed door burst open and the bartender ran in. He had his kit out, and was taking her pulse before his knees hit the floor.
“You may have killed her.”
“I knew you were there,” Joe said. “I figured you’d save her.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then she won’t have to spend the rest of her life in the Home, will she?”
The bartender stared at Joe.
“The law is the law, even for retirees. You may want to remember that if you live so long.” Joe pointed at the woman on the floor. “Your boss forgot no one is above the law, so one way or the other, her happy retirement is over.”
She coughed and her eyes opened.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m a Methuselah,” Joe answered, “my job is reminding retirees they may have risen above the need to work, but no one is above the law.’
“I thought you were a myth.” Her eyes closed, but tears out leaked anyway.
“Some days, I wish we were.” Joe stepped aside to allow the transport crew in. They strapped the terrified woman onto the gurney and wheeled her out.
The music started up again in the club. Joe paused for a second then went back to his table to listen. He didn’t get out very often any more. The music and the whisky mixed in his soul and washed it clean. For a while he let himself forget about the world and his place in it.