FICTION: STRENGTH IS IGNORANCE | SLAVERY IS FREEDOM | PEACE IS WAR
It was a tough time to be a redneck in Washington. But was there ever an easy time? Probably never.
Keeping any kind of red meat-style life going was a stressful occupation these days, restricted as it was to dark corners and exclusive clubhouses.
Especially so when an era of peace had descended to cotton wool the town.
It had become the one and only political lexicon allowed for the majority now. And holding any other line was getting harder by the day. Even a grimace in the wrong place could get you a warning and if repeated you’d certainly get socially cancelled. You just had to voice an opinion such as maybe more discipline would be a good thing and you’d be greeted with howls of accusation. “Satan’s Agent!”, “Hitler’s Puppet!” and worse!
How did they expect to get anywhere when all you talked of was how to be more warmhearted, forgive others’ sins, only start a dialogue and never disagree? It left those of us in the tiny minority of nuovo-warriors feeling sorely persecuted and as wanted as a yodeler at a funeral.
Smiling had become mandatory in all public places. Hugging too, whether you knew the yokel or not. And a bad odour was no excuse. We were even encouraged to kiss on both cheeks continental style! We knew french kissing strangers wouldn’t be far behind. It was all too much.
So we decided to rebel.
There was far too much peace in the world. And particularly here in Washington.
It was time to redress the balance.
We got together at Jack’s on the first Sunday of the month for a few beers and a sometime game of poker. There we were free to cuss and snarl to our heart’s content. My favourite thing was to slam my Bowie knife into Jack’s table over and over again till I felt the edge coming off the calming I’d built up through the week.
It felt real good imagining I was piercing the top of President Peace’s head. So very good...
That wasn’t her real name of course. But then her real name wasn’t her real name either, not as far as I was concerned. She’d changed it from Grubenhacker by deed poll to Angel-Giver Blow-Kisser the Third.
I ask you, what kind of a name for a president of the United States of America is that? President Angel-Giver Blow-Kisser the Third. Ye Godz!
Of course, those among our small fraternity of warriors substituted Turd for Third. But mostly I called her President Peace... and ALWAYS with a snarl. Piece of Piss!
Dick always joined me, Josh, Frank and Rainbow at Jack’s place on Sundays.
I’m Steve by the way.
What, you were wondering about him.? Rainbow? I agree. It IS a stupid fucking name... but that’s the way things are here now. Though some of us just can’t get used to it. Moose got landed with that moniker by his ever-smiling parents. It’s even worse though. His full given name is Rainbow Lily Moonshadow Joygiver Sunglow Thomson. We call him The Dirty Moose though, or just Moose for short.
We had a guest this night though... a very SPECIAL guest. He seemed a moody, introverted sort, very self-contained, assured but silent. We weren’t allowed to know much about him. For security reasons you understand.
He was sitting at the far end of our bench at the table, sort of hunched up, keeping his hood down over his forehead... very silent, keeping himself very much to himself.
So, I took it upon myself to engage him in a little conversation.
You’re new in town, new to the country too? You’ve come from someplace I’d prob’ly like to emigrate to I’d guess. Someplace a man’s still a man? And isn’t made to wear lace and ribbons in his hair... am I right?
He answered with little more than a nod.
Yeah, I thought so.
You got an army there still? Maybe a gun or two?
He looked up at me from below his hood.
We do. ‘Course we do brother.
Let me take a look at you... it’s okay, I just want a quick peek...
Yeah, you still got hair on your chest. On your balls too I take it? You lucky sumbitch!
The newbies get ‘treated’, at birth. We had it done late in life.
He looked at me quizzically, cocking an eyebrow.
What, you don’t know about that?
He shook his head, hardly moving it at all.
Yeah, treated, ‘bleached’ as they call it. All body hair except on top, gone. For good.
Sorry to embarrass you and all. You didn’t really need to know. But I was curious...
Hey, we’re lucky they left us our dicks.
You getting the picture now stranger?
He chuckled darkly.
Where did you wander in from anyhow?
I presume you arrived by air, yeah?
To this he nodded. A short up and down motion of the chin, very begrudged.
At the Holy Saint Kamala? Or Immaculate Hillary?
Carter Memorial International... okay.
Look, I’m Steve, at least that’s what we’ve agreed here.
Can I know your name... or is that a no-no?
I couldn’t make out the mumble.
What did you say?
Then I got it.
Gut Buster. At least that’s what I understood him to say, whether he’d made it up on the spot or not I didn't know just then.
Jeez, now that’s a name to conjure with!
He looked a little sheepish, then mumbled a bit annoyed as if he’d had a confession forced out of him, “It’s really Art, Arthur... but Gut Buster is what I go by okay?!”
It is more than okay brother. Gut Buster it is.
Tell me, are there more with names like that where you come from?
He grudgingly gave a few examples after intimating no one was christened with these names.
Mind Cracker? I like it!
Flesh Ripper? Wow!
Jeezus, these are good!
Welcome to the nationwide Sisterhood of Perfect Peace brother, a.k.a. the former USA!
I have a sneaking suspicion you’re gonna have a few tips for us on how to take on this here nation’s Establishment of Sisterly Love!
He stood then, hand outstretched and uttered his first and almost last sentence.
“That’s why I’m here brother.”
Okay, let’s to it.
Beer? Vodka? Scotch? Joint?
He was a toker, though moderate... but perhaps only on occasions like these when he had a job to do.
Then we planned our next moves.
Not one of us partook of the usual holy water that most folk favoured these days. The hell with that!
The guy behind the counter had a pretty nametag all bordered by flowers.
‘Willow Wand Summer Cloud Daisypetal Schmidt’. It sorta suited him though his family name jarred more than a bit. He was a weedy apologetic type, curtsying and rubbing his hands together, one eye exhibiting a constant tick.
He was obviously very nervous. It wasn’t every day that his clientele had fake hair sprouting above the v of their shirt necks.
Can I help you gentlemen?
Yeah, we’d like three twenty litre containers of Evonik pool sanitiser please. And the same of Ecochem acetone. Thank you very much.
Our anti-pan masks did a good job of hiding most of our features. This was just as well as the mix of chems we had just asked for was nothing short of explosive. Acetone and Hydrogen Peroxide. If it was good enough for London in 2005, it was good enough for us.
These peaceniks needed a scare to bring them back down to earth with a bang and we were just the guys to do it. Enough of this namby-pamby nonsense.
We took the Washington Reconciliation Express to the Industrial Zone we’d researched earlier. The lock-up was just perfect for our purposes. Concrete floor, brick walls, metal roof. Ideal.
The batch was mixed in no time though it needed a settling-in period of thirty minutes or so.
We listened to the radio, twiddling the dial to find something raucous enough for the occasion, something to keep our adrenaline buzz going.
What did we find?
Wall to wall hymns. Some Holy Joe intoning. Ambient sooth-to-sleep dirges. And finally Cat Steven’s ‘Peace Train’. After it finished we gave up and sat in silence. Silence except for the faint bubbling sound emerging from the mix.
About a half-hour after calling Jack up he backed his truck up to the lock-up doors. It was well into pitch darkness by that time and not a soul about. Sliding it in easy we got ourselves comfy wherever we could. Jack had brought the all-black weargear and we were changed and ready to go in no time.
We passed Heavenly Plaza on the way. Jack who was driving, had saved enough spit for a good gob at it before hitting the pedal hard.
Snow was falling heavily and kiddywinkles were everywhere with their shiny happy little faces peering joyfully up at their beam-smiling parents. Carol muzak drifted from stores chock full of deliriously joyful shoppers. Someone back in the van farted loudly. It was a veritable gunshot and we all shouted as one to open them damn car windows wide as they’d go.
A cop wagon drifted to a stop beside us at a set of lights. Both turned to look at us with wide soppy grins on their faces. As we had the windows open we had a good gawk at them behind their own ice-water running and misty window. Two anti-gargoyles wishing us a happy, happy peace-loving Chrissy with a hind of big sloppy kisses behind those upturned lips. I almost barfed but contained myself. It wouldn’t do to give the game away with anything even vaguely negative. Not tonight. Not tonight of all nights.
It was indeed Chrissy Eve my friends and we were blessed among the blessed. One big happy peaceful family of calm, loving humanity never to say an angry word or tarnish each other with frowns... ever again.
The war had made us leave all that behind. And if anyone ventured further than the marker glowworm fence they’d see the reason why. Out past there was the blackness. Few went to look. It wasn’t good for the soul, not good at all.
All was safe, sanitized, godly and pure as the driven snow flying past and into our windows now. In the places of peace we had left we hugged, we smiled and never so much as argued.
For leisure time we had ‘The Pools’. Each city had one. Warmed by nuclear fusion with drifting steam wafting over everyone and everything. They were our cocoons, the places where we could leave whatever was left of our remaining negativity behind us, if there were a twinge or two of it still remained sometimes dodging the hugs, the smiles and the saccharine.
It was all so nice.
And because of that, for us, it was all so terribly awful.
There was no danger of us or our plan being discovered and thwarted and us jailed, not really.
The idea that warriors still existed was unthinkable.
That had been terrified and then bred out of people surely… at least that was the prevailing certainty.
But you must always count on a few rebels rising, the perverse contrarians who find too much sweetness ineffably sour.
We were getting close.
We’d soon close this chapter of humanities book as we’d discussed doing so, so many times at Jacks. The whole novel had become wearisome to us at this point.
As we passed ‘The Institute of Peace’ the van became quite silent. It was not a comforting, positive silence however, it was the kind of silent someone who’s had far, far too many drinks or drugs seconds before the projectile vomiting starts.
We had never been at peace. Not once. We remembered too much.
How could we ever find peace when we had seen up close and personal the insanity with which the respected leaders of our ex-nation had led us into that final war?
Putting on a happy face had never been an option for us.
But we had drowned our sorrows long enough. Reached highs with their inevitable lows nightly. But we always came down. And the torture of those perma-smiles were now hurting far past the bearable into the territories of unbearable horror.
Einstein’s statue was now at hand. Jack pulled up right in front of it. The streets were empty of cars, our divided world was nearing midnight and most everyone, including the cops were in their warm, cosy homes with their kiddywinkles watching Noflix or CNT. We were alone in the silence, snowdrifts building, flakes gently landing on Albert’s hair, ears and nose.
We were only glad Oppenheimer didn’t have his own pilgrimage site. Einstein was more than enough. Jack started her up again.
So it was we reached our goal.
Lincoln towered above us, a stern white bushy-faced knight, hands outstretched along the cold stone with giant legs and shoes planted solidly before our blank, staring faces.
We were at that moment quite unsure of what to do. We hadn’t planned this part of the proceedings.
It was me who took the lead. I reached out to either side of me.
Moose got the picture first and took my right hand. Frank my left. Dick and Jack completed the circle.
We all then looked over as one toward Gut Buster, toward Art.
He was intent on his last-second preparations, looking down at the device at his knees.
We kept our gaze on him as he finished his work, then opened up the space between Dick and Jack and joined our circle.
I looked at them. They looked at me. A small, determined smile on each face. No words necessary.
I gave a wink as the button was pushed down.
Our message to our shrunken and withered world would be very simple, incongruously paraphrasing an earlier rebel brother who’d also seen too much.
On this night of useless smiling where 10 thousand glasses were raised to the skeletal remains of 7 billion souls.
We found a certain peace.