Let the World Fear Us
Prologue: Juliette's Diary, Winter 1872
Union City... how I both love and hate you. You're the only place I've ever known, the place I've called home my entire life. And at this rate, the only place I'll ever know. It's not a bad place to live, all things considered. There's plenty to do around here. There's museums, art galleries, culture, good food... most of the people are well-to-do, even though we're all poor as dirt.
We all know why we're poor, too. Not through any fault of our own, but it's the corrupt fat cats in the city and national governments. Despite knowing that, nobody speaks up, nobody tries to make a difference. Can't say I blame them, though. Criticizing the government was outlawed during the Great War. That, like the prosperity and freedoms we took for granted for over a century, has faded into the wind.
What we can't change, we live with. We make subtle differences that impact the lives of those around us. Some of the wealthier folk still understand compassion, and they've done what they can to help us. Those museums and art galleries I've mentioned certainly do. Some of them have even opened businesses that offer little to the community just to employ us and keep us off the streets. There are some people out there who still care, and there are some people out there who have undying gratitude for such opportunities. People like my father.
My father, David... he busts his balls just to keep us alive. He works in the Beckenridge Coal Mines just out of town, six days a week. He usually puts in ten hour days and comes home black as night. Some days, however, his boss is 'generous' enough to let him work twelve hour days... He really loves it, though. He always comes home with stories and jokes that he heard from his coworkers, something he's said time and time again that he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
You know, it never ceases to amaze me how a simple coal worker can provide for a family of five. We're not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but I've seen his coworkers, they're struggling. Maybe he's just good at managing money.
Or maybe that's my mother, she's always been good with numbers. She's a real smart one, it seems like an awful waste for her to be just an aging housewife... alas, there's little she can really do. Us women aren't allowed to work in many jobs, and those that we can work in are usually taken by younger, more attractive girls. So she stays at home and manages things... She keeps the house nice, prepares dinner, works on the garden, and tells my brother that everything will be alright...
Ha, my brother, Marcello. I shouldn't laugh at his misfortune, but he really has brought it on himself. Him and I don't get along well, but I don't think that's my fault. He's not much older than me, but he has quite an extensive criminal record. Minor crimes, mostly, like jaywalking, verbal threats and loitering. At least, that's all we know about, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's up to more. I don't think he's worked an honest day in his life, and nobody will hire him. Well, that's what happens when you're a small time crook. Still, he's not a complete drain on us and he helps us pay the bills every now and then.
Then there's my other brother, Christopher. I get along much better with him. He's a bit older, a bit more wise... generous, too. He's been working at the Silken Seductress for a little over six years now. I'm not sure I agree with everything he does at that place, but I won't argue about it. He's taken charge of his life and he's moved out on his own, recently getting engaged to a lovely girl he met at his job. There's something about him that I just can't help but respect. No matter how bad things get for him, or even for all of us in the Republic, he gets back up and punches life in the face. And he does it with pride.
Myself? I'm none of those things, really. I'm not strong willed, not a crook, not a housewife... I certainly don't work in any dreadful and dangerous mines. I'm still young, still looking to find my purpose in life. Besides helping my mother maintain our nice home, I don't do much at the moment but help my brother out at the Silken Seductress every now and then. The kinds of people I see in there, it's mind blowing. Being a burlesque house, it's not going to attract the highlights of society, but it's stunning to see people openly plot and scheme against their political rivals. Openly talk about who they've robbed, cheated or even killed.
Despite all of that, however, I can't complain. My family is rather close knit, besides my brother and I. We've scratched out a living while a majority of our neighbors, friends and coworkers suffer. We avoid dealing with the corrupt and the criminals... well, besides my brother of course. For it all, we're left alone to our peace, to ourselves. Things will eventually change and return to the way they were before the Great War, and we'll all live better lives, but I'm not hopeful that will happen any time soon.
~ Diary of Juliette Paciland, Winter of 1872