Tag Archives: war

DONALD FACE-TIMES THE PSA. CHAPTER 13

A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER

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A stream burbles. A bird chirps. Clouds pass silently by overhead. The sun is warm. The breeze is cool. The Earth is on fire with hatred and violence.

Deep within the Garden of Serenity, Bernie Sanders, John McCain, Joe Kennedy, hosted by Barack and Michelle Obama, gather in a circle and sip tea. Barack’s head has become so swollen with human wisdom that he now has to wear an enormous brace of his own invention. Getting through doors is almost impossible and there are no pillows that are up to the challenge of cushioning his marvelous dome so he sleeps outside, in the dirt, staring up at the stars.

Currently, Barack floats inches above the grassy meadow, meditating on their next moves. He wears wireless headphones and listens to brain entrainment signals playing at 15Hz to help regulate the serotonin levels in his mind. Happiness was a garden that needed constant tending.

His head was still throbbing but it was a pain he was growing accustomed to, like an ingrown toe nail. He had accepted it.

“We have gathered here today under unfortunate circumstances,” Barack begins, feeling the old sense of excitement in giving a speech. He loved to lead – to guide the people to greater places, to bring them out of their caves and into the light. Look, he wanted to shout at them, look at yourselves! You are full of hate and stupidity and ignorance! Every one of you! You are short-sighted and idiotic. Your noisy arguments serve no purpose but to act as cotton in your own ears. Please give me silence for one moment and try to listen.

But he couldn’t say that.

That wasn’t very patriotic. That wasn’t very hopeful.

McCain cuts in. “Let’s cut the political bullshit. I want this mother fucker’s head on a spit. We are calling for justice, Barack. This is America!”

“Are you calling for justice or are you calling for blood?”

Bernie watches the match play out between the two seasoned pros. “Gentlemen, if I may-“ Bernie tries to lighten the mood.

I want his blood!” McCain screams over the gentle breeze and green grass. “I want to watch his empire crumble and I want to be the man that removes the cornerstone! Does that answer your question? Do I want justice or blood? I want his blood, Barack. I want it running down my face. I want to wear his ears on a necklace. I want to burn his body and laugh.”

Joe was new to the world but thought that McCain’s attitude seemed a little aggressive.

“When good men do nothing, evil prevails.” This was Joe. He was programmed to say smart things that other men had manufactured but not create any of his own thoughts. He rings his hands together and his Adam’s apple bobs apologetically.

Michelle stands behind Barack and begins to rub his throbbing temples, the size of dinner plates.

A silence falls over the group as they each become lost in their own thoughts. How many silences do we have left? Barack thinks to himself. How many sunsets? God, where are you in all this?

“Nowhere,” God answers plainly.

Barack assumed as much already.

Bernie and McCain exchange stories about their roots – their war histories, their war protests, their jail time and their time as prisoners.

“The words are all wrong, aren’t they?” Bernie stands up and gazes out at the breath-taking meadow.

“No borders out here, huh?”

Joe begins to say something wrought with patriotism and earnest. In a voice that sounds like he’s on the verge of passionate tears, he says, “Gentlemen. On this day we look upon our fellow man –“

Bernie cuts in. “Not now, Joe. There will be time later.” He turns to John, “He’s very excited to get going. I have very high hopes for him.”

Joe smiles respectfully. “I truly thank you, sir. Your personal endorsement for me is an absolute honor.”

“My pleasure, Joe.”

McCain throws a rock. It doesn’t go very far. His body is crumbling under the weight of time. Everything was working against him. He was just a hamster in a wheel.

“It’s the end, Bern. This is it. Democrat. Republican. Brain tumor – no brain tumor. This is it. We won’t be remembered because there won’t be anyone to remember us.”

Bernie begins shaking his head, “We need to hope. We need to believe. We need to strive for-“

“I know the messaging. I’ve been doing this for as long as you. Look at us! Old hound dogs. We’ve done this our whole lives and this is what it amounts to. I got into politics to help people. How’d it – how’d it get like this?”

“Gentlemen, if I may take a moment to interject my own subtle thoughts into the conversation? If I may,” Joe smoothly butters out. “Perhaps man’s own worst enemy is man himself. Perhaps.”

Bernie and John wait for him to say more but he doesn’t. Bernie encourages him. “That was real good, Joe. We’ll tweak you a bit but I’m proud of you. Really great try.”

Barack opens his eyes. He speaks slowly and under great intellectual labor to formulate simple enough words for his team to understand. “Michelle. Please give us a status update on our armies.”

Michelle takes the stage. She was born to lead. Her eyes and her smile shine. She walks with the posture of a warm war general.

“On-point. The LGBT arm is moving along the country back roads now and Atheists United has already begun circling around Mar a Lago after disguising themselves as Christians to get in the door. The Muslim and Immigrant battalions are already poised and ready to strike. The US military teams that have turned Rebel are also ready to publicly turn once given the signal.”

“It’s all about to happen, isn’t it? I am so saddened that it has come to this.” Barack’s voice cracks and he pauses. Shuts his eyes. A tear runs down his cheek.

Michelle’s phone bings. She glances down at it. “Trump is trying to face time me. Why is Trump trying to face time me?”

Barack: I don’t have a phone.

McCain: My phone doesn’t receive videos.

Bernie: My phone is full.

Joe: I was just invented. I don’t yet have a phone but would like to someday.

Everyone gathers around Michelle and watches in stunned silence. It was even worse than they thought.

On the other end of the line, Donald Trump, in his human form, speaks to them. Spittle, slobber, mucus and phlegm drizzle down his scabbed and irritated chin skin. His eyes are blood shot and red. Dried boogers crust his nostrils and his posture seems worse than usual. He’s wearing his skin-suit. He does that from time to time but it was starting to look like a pair of old and holey jeans. The thing they were looking at was very clearly not human. It looked like a monster in a fleshy sock with eye-holes punched out.

The video opens with the camera facing Trump, he holding the camera in his left hand. He hits the record button with his right hand pointer finger and then leaves the pointer finger fully extended and hanging in front of the camera lens for just a moment too long.

“Is it going? Yes. Okay. Men. We have some – issues. Happening. But. Together. We also have some other issues. Happening. Right now. I need to show this to you. This will. This will speak for itself. I think.”

He turns his phone towards a second phone and hits play.

“Sorry – Trump. What is this?”

“I can’t send the file because it’s too large so I have to film the screen on Paul’s phone and stream it to you like this. Can you see it okay?”

“It isn’t great.”

“Can you hear it?”

“It’ll do.”

“I’m going to hit play.”

There is silence. Then a slender and beautiful finger enters frame and hovers above play. “Are you ready?”

Sanders shouts, “Yes. Please. Go.”

The video is of Kim Jong Un. “Mister President. Allow me to make this short and to the point as I am certain that that is all the time you have.” Kim lets out a little giggle that sounds strangely like a pig squeezing out an SBD. “I have launched my secret project, nicknamed Power House. What is Power House? Power House is a planet-ending missile. And it’s heading your way right now.”

“Maniac.” Bernie slams his fist into the palm of his hand. McCain puckers his lips and breaks a stick in half.

Kim continues, “You’ll all be dead before daybreak. All of you. All of you.” He turns the phone around and gives them a quick tour of the spaceship. “You see, I’m on a spaceship. I’m up in outer space. And I have enough food and supplies to last until the end of my life. Good luck, Mister Trump. It looks like the Rocket Man took your advice. Have fun, Earthling.”

That last word hurt Donald more than any other word he’d ever had thrown at him. Earthling. This was his fault. This was all his fault. He was right. He really didn’t know what he was doing. He really wasn’t very good at this. He really was hopeless. Wells was right. Everybody was right.

But maybe there was still time. After all, a Kardashian always saves themselves. Perhaps if he could steal one of the D.I.s from The Oval Office, he would be able to run to another dimension and hide there until… well, until forever. He would have to be a runaway for the rest of his life. A rebel. Faceless. Nameless.

Non-sense. King Donald Trump, God of men and ruler of Earth could not become a beggar. There was only one way. And that was straight through. There was no running.

McCain grabs the phone and begins screaming into it, “What have you done?! What have you done, you absent-minded lunatic!

“Men. This. Is your problem now. You have very little time to solve it. Good luck.” And with that, he clicks off his phone. He wanted to get one more round of golf in before annihilation.

“Soft pecker.” McCain wishes he could pour himself a drink.

The sun sets, leaving them all in the dark. The lightning bugs make it magical. The mosquitos make the magic unbearable.

McCain’s eyes begin to get watery. “I did many terrible things to people in Vietnam. At the time, I thought those things were right and I thought I was hurting bad people. But I don’t know anymore. I don’t know who’s bad. Or who’s good. Or if there even is such a thing.”

Joe turns on the men with quivering hands. “We need a plan.”

McCain throws another rock. “Like hell we do.” It soars across the field. There was still some bite left in the dog after all. “We’ve already got one.”

The group gathers round. “Bernie, can you raise enough money to rent a private jet in the next few hours?”

“Not only can I but I will. And that is a promise to the America people. And most of them will probably donate in increments no larger than $20 and most of them will just be regular people. And we will use social media as our platform!”

McCain turns his attention to Michelle, “Are you still making C4 in the bathtub?” She nods. “Good. We’ll need as much as we can fit onto a plane.”

 

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Talking to Strangers: Dale

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I’m standing on a dirt road holding a rifle somewhere in Montana.  There are no bullets in the gun so, as of right now, it’s really nothing more than a fancy club.  I look around and, as far as the eye can see, there is nothing but pasture.  It’s not even farm land.  It’s just… grass and weeds and rocks.  I suspect that people call it “God’s Country” because it looks just like it did on the day He created it.

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I’m at a shooting range just outside Billing’s city limits with my two brother-in-laws, each of them flanking either side of me, all of us trying to gather in the dwindling shade of the SUV’s popped hatch.  The first, to my left, is Jarod.  He’s just entered his mid-30s and has the body of a guy that used to be a wrestler (because he was) and dark wavy hair that covers his earlobes.  When he heard we were going to go shoot guns, he rolled out of bed and hopped in the car, sweatpants still on from the night before.  He holds a coffee and rubs sleep from his eyes.

On my right is Jarod’s younger brother and my other brother-in-law, a red-haired man named Jordan who is one of these people that, once you meet him, you won’t forget him.

Ever.

He has bright red hair that wafts out into tight curls, creating the illusion of sun-fire surrounding his head.  Underneath that, a scraggly red beard encompasses his face, ending somewhere around his collar bone.  His skin is pale and covered in freckles.  He’s one part Ronald McDonald and one part Unibomber.  He also has, what one may consider, an encyclopedic knowledge of guns and gun history and gun production and the mechanisms of guns and gun safety and what, in his opinion, is best and why and why you’re probably wrong.

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As I set the rifle down on the table, Jordan begins walking over the gun with me; Wikipedia giving me my own private lesson.  “This gun is called a such-and-such,”  Frankly, I can’t remember all / any of the details that were being thrown at me in rapid sucession so you’ll just have to bare with me, “This is the safety.  Red means fire.  You’ll see how the ergonomics of this gun works.  Your left hand goes here, your right hand goes here,” and he moves my hands so I know.  “Hug the gun, rest your cheek against the side of the stock and look through the scope.  Let me tell you about parallax,” and he does, “Here is the magazine, it’s loaded, insert it here; pull this back,” click-click, “Okay, you’ve got one in the chamber.  Once you take this gun off of safety, it’s ready to fire.  Keep your finger off the trigger until–”

“HOWDY FOLKS!”

I turn sideways and see a heavy set man approaching our car.  He’s got a shaved head and a mustache that resembles Monterrey Jack from the old Chip n’ Dale cartoon; shaved right down the middle but dangling in waxed shoestrings on either side of his mouth.  He looks like a Mongolian Warlord……. a white Mongolian Warlord.  His cream colored vest has a million pockets and a name-tag attached to it that reads, “DALE”.  He’s got, what appears to me, in my extremely limited knowledge of video game firearms, to be a shotgun slung over his shoulder which he carries around like an electric guitar.

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“WHATCHYOO FELLAS UP TO OVER HERE?!”  He talks like this, in all caps, his eyes enormous white orbs.  He laughs after almost everything he says and his jolly belly jiggles; Santa with a gun.  Jordan steps forward and tells the man that he’s just out here teaching me how to shoot a gun.  The subtext of this statement is, of course, “Leave us alone, we’re in the middle of some stuff.”

“TEACHIN’ SOME GUNPLAY, HUH?,”  Then, noticing the rifle, “OH!  SHE’S A PURTY ONE!  JUST A BEAUTIFUL STOCK!  BEAUTIFUL STOCK!  SCOPE TOO?!  I HAD A BROTHER-IN-LAW THAT WAS A CRYPTOLOGIST IN THE MILITARY BUT THEN HE QUIT AND BECAME A SNIPER AND NOW I HUNT WITH HIM!  THE MAN CAN HIT A GOPHER AT 1/2 A MILE AWAY WITH A HANDGUN……..NO SCOPE!  NO SCOPE!”

Having no idea if this is possible or not, I look over at Jordan, who slowly crosses his arms and says, “Sounds like a real sharp shooter.”  Subtext, “No, he can’t.”

Monterrey Jack continues, “I WAS WATCHIN’ IN MY BINOCULARS!  SAW THE LITTLE CRITTER FLIP INTO THE AIR ON THE FIRST BLAST AND THEN, GET THIS, BEFORE HE EVEN HIT THE GROUND, MY OL’ BROTHER-IN-LAW SHOT HIM AGAIN, POPPED HIM RIGHT UP IN THE AIR AGAIN!  AND SIX BLOCKS AIN’T EVEN AN EXAGGERATION!  BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE GOT BACK IN THAT CAR AND WATCHED THE ODOMETER AS WE DROVE OVER TO THIS LITTLE FELLA.  1/2 MILE, THERE IT IS!”

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Jordan says, “Impressive,” and then turns around and begins organizing his truck, hoping to shun the man out of existence.  Dale continues, “I WAS IN VIETNAM, ONE OF THOSE TINY BOATS; 1000 ROUNDS PER EVERY HIT OVER THERE!  HAR-HAR-HAR!  TODAY I MAKE MY OWN DYNAMITE!  MAKE MY OWN FUSES AND ALL!” at which point he goes into very long-winded detail about the best way to make a fuse.  Jordan, being a man that re-shells his own bullets and a perfectionist of the art, speaks up and says, “Okay, so you make this fuse.  Certainly we’re talking about human error in the process; how are you able to gauge how long the burn is?  How can you KNOW?” and Dale looks at him and says, “I JUST LIGHT THE SUNNABITCH AND THROW IT!”

Jordan walks away, back to organizing his truck.  His nature won’t allow him to entertain such idiocy.  Meanwhile, Jarod keeps throwing out the casual, “Wow, sounds like you’ve got a great thing – anyway – we’re just trying to–” “I JUST SOLD ALL MY GUNS!  HAD TO MOVE INTO A DIFFERENT APARTMENT!  BOUGHT THIS ONE INSTEAD!  FRONT LOADED, BLACK POWDER, SOMETHING-SOMETHING!”  Me, I can’t help it.  I find the man fascinating, like Daffy Duck with a shotgun, and just keep asking him questions.  “How long were you in the military?  What branch?  How many guns did you sell?  What is this one here?  What is black powder?  You make your own DYNAMITE?!  You make your own FUSES?!  Why do you need to make your own dynamite?  What are you using it for?”

No pause, “BLOW SHIT UP!  HAR-HAR-HAR!”

I give a laugh but it’s sort of nervous.

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“WELL, BOYS!”…. and just like that, he wanders back to his Jeep, presumably to leave.  Jordan shouts at me, “Let’s go, Cocheese!” (side note, I have no idea where this nickname came from but it has become a staple, along with Buford.)  I straddle up along the rifle again and find all the grips.  I shut my left eye against the sun and gaze through the scope.  I find the bright yellow gopher target we’ve placed at the end of the path, roughly 70 yards away, line up my sights and slowly exhale.  I’ve never sighted anything on a scope before and I could count the number of guns I’ve fired on two fingers and everything is silent and the wind is blowing and I’m trying to figure out how much the wind would effect my trajectory and mostly, I just want to nail that fake gopher to the ground and show my brothers (by law) that I can.

I push my thumb against the safety and hear it click.  To my right, Jordan says, very quietly, “That’s a live gun.  Just pull the trigger.”  I pull my index finger off the trigger guard and place it on the trigger proper.  “Lightly,” Jordan whispers.  I raise the cross-hairs from the gopher’s guts to his head.  We’re gonna make this one count.  I squeeze the gun to my body, brace myself, everything goes quiet and BANG!!!  It’s the loudest recoil I’ve ever heard… and I didn’t even have to pull the trigger.

I pull my face away from the sight, push my thumb onto the safety again and look over the gun stock.  Fifteen feet to my right, Dale has just fired his front loading shotgun into the wild.  He’s not aiming at anything, he’s just… firing huge bullets at dirt.

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“YEE-HAW!  SONNABITCH!  WUNNA YOU BOYS WANNA FIRE THIS BABY?  HAR-HAR-HAR!”  We all smile and turn back to our target.  I line it up again, test the wind again, pretend I’m a sniper again, exhale my breath, hold it, kick the safety off, touch the trigger and behind me Dale is yammering on about a magnum and blowing up gophers and the proper boar butter to use on a crossbow and world records and his old gun collection and statistics and how things have changed in the last 30 years and I am silent, trying to aim and Jordan is silent, standing in blatant refusal to partake in conversation with this man and Jarod just drinks his coffee, occasionally spitting and giving heavy sighs that are indicative of him being exhausted with your presence.

There is a blessed lull in the conversation and I take full advantage of it.  Pull the trigger and PHHTT!  The gun pops and barely kicks at all.  70 yards away the gopher spins on it’s stand; a direct hit.  “YEE-HAW!  NAILED HER!  HAR-HAR-HAR!”  Jordan cracks his neck without using his hands and says, “There ya go, Cocheese.  You’ve killed the mama gopher.  Now, while all her youngins are moping around, mourning her death, you need to peg each of them,” and he points at the shattered remains of various clay pigeons.  “Make every shot count.  Clean house.”

I miss all of the imaginary fake gopher babies.

I kill a lot of dirt.

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ABOVE: How I feel when I hold a gun.

BELOW: How I look when I hold a gun.

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I look up and Dale is packing things up.  He says, “I GIVE YOU BOYS MY CARD?” and Jordan says, “Nope,” and Dale says, “WELL, HELL!  WHERE’S MY MANNERS!?” and he snaps a card out of his vest pocket.  Jordan stares at it for a moment before he says, “I knew I knew you!  You used to come into (insert famous Montana Sporting Goods Store here) a couple years ago!  I knew you looked familiar!” and Dale says, “OH, YEAH!  OH, YEAH!  I USED TO COME IN THERE BUT THEY SCREWED ME OVER,” and Jordan says, “I worked there for a couple years.  I knew I knew your face,” and the way Jordan says this makes me think something is up.

“SURE!  SURE!  SUPPOSE YOU DID!  I APPLIED TWICE BUT THE IDIOT MANAGER NEVER HIRED ME!  WHOEVER WAS RUNNING THAT GUN DEPARTMENT SURE AS SHIT DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THEY WAS DOING!” and Jordan says, “Well… Corporate America.”

Dale gets into his Jeep and shouts, “HAVE FUN!” and then he’s driving away, gone forever, plumes of dirt chasing him down the road.

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ABOVE: Guns don’t kill people.  Richard kills people.

Jordan turns around and says, “That man would come into (insert famous Montana Sporting Goods store here) for hours and hours and ramble endlessly to anyone that would listen to his “knowledge” of guns.  He applied twice and the idiot manager who worked in the gun department that refused to hire him was ME.”

Har.  Har.  Har.

As I watched Dale’s car shrink into the distance, I couldn’t help but wonder if all of his puffery were just a subtle F-You to the unforgettable face that wouldn’t hire him.  “LOOK HOW MUCH I KNOW!  LOOK WHAT YOU MISSED OUT ON!  HAR-HAR-HAR!”

I fire the rifle again and the fake mother gopher spins on her stand, leaving another round of imaginary gopher children orphaned.

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