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looked at that list, and he knew he either had to throw it down the sewer right away or come across for those mothers who used their children to call his hand. He decided to play out his hand, simply because he dealt the cards to himself.

As soon as he committed himself to backing up his own words, the enormity of the task became more than obvious. After a six-day week of stealing and delivering meat on Monday and Wednesday, vegetables on Tuesday and Friday, and dairy products on Thursday and Saturday to Viola on Webster Street with eight kids, Bertha on Lily between Buchanan and Laguna with ten, to the Jasons on Seymour Street with nine, to Baby Jesus on Washington with nine, to Paita Bye on Waller with fifteen, to Carmen on Mission and 22nd Street with eleven, to Ligette and Ward on Ellis Street with nine and six, to Terrell on Hayes Street with seven, to Carlos Cavaze on Treat Street with eight, to the Aurora Glory Alice commune on Cole with nine, and on and on, with ninety more names of families with people to feed--after that week, Emmett understood it was going to be sixteen hours a day, six days a week for as long as he could do what he said he would.

The Free Food Home Delivery Service became not only the most difficult thing Emmett had ever done in his life, but also the loneliest. Seldom would anyone ever accompany him on the daily, except for Sunday, day-long runs. He did most of it all by himself. Whenever someone did help him out, it was usually one of the women, but only a few, and even they would rarely stick it through with him from dawn till dusk.

Even though it was, without a doubt, the most essential aspect of their survival as a communal group, there was just something about the operation that made it unattractive to most everyone within the Free City Collective. It wasn't the tremendous burden of the work, or the length of the hours, or the likelihood of arrest and jail that made the Free Food operation undesirable. It was the thanklessness, the unromantic, unrewarding exhaustion of the cheerless, dismal anonymity which was the basic premise of "free" and the very essence of "Free Food." Anonymity is what made the food "free" and kept the "Free Food" coming right to those families' doors. Kept it coming for not just a week or a month, but every working day for a straight nine months. Kept it coming to people who didn't even know where it came from. They just had an idea, and most of them simply thought Emmett was a delivery driver, salaried by some rich man who wanted to ease his conscience by giving away a little food. [end page 442]


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