Somewhere in America, a young man sits at the breakfast table, eating his cereal.  He’s getting ready to go.  His backpack and coat are in the chair next to him.

His parents are nervous and excited for him.  He’s told them that he’s going to the city for a job interview.

Before he leaves, he gives his sister a hug.  She tells him to be careful.  The big city is not a safe place.  He gets into his truck and takes off.

He sits in horrible traffic for hours.  Slowly, he crawls his way downtown.  He looks out his window at the dirty streets and the crowds.

He finally finds a parking spot, and then he walks, in the noise and the shadow of the towering skyscrapers.  He hates it here, but he’s willing to do this.  He’s here to save his country.

For a while, he hangs out in front of a store window, staring at a display of the latest phones.  Across the street, a slim figure strides down the sidewalk.  It’s easy to recognize her.  She’s a female journalist, and he has read online that she walks to work every day.  He agrees with his President–she’s one of the enemies of the people.

Pulling out his gun, taking the shot–it all happens in a flash, and she crumples to the ground.

The next bullet is for him.  He doesn’t mind dying.  He has fulfilled his mission, done what he believes his role models and leaders wanted him to do.

Maybe–he thinks in his last moments–maybe, thanks to his sacrifice, America will continue to be free.

 

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“Hey, Sis?  You realize that the guy who’s selling you the laptop lives out in Frackville, right?”

I leaned over my sister’s shoulder and whispered a few non-English swearwords.  “Why the hell would he be out there?”

“I dunno.”

“So this means I have to go outside the city limits, then.”

“It’s only an hour’s drive beyond the wall.”  My sister shrugged.  “People do it all the time and they’re fine.  Katie went outside just two weeks ago to visit family.”

Mother emerged from the living room, her face drawn.  “Right into the middle of the Disturbance.  This laptop worth this to you?”

“I need a laptop to do my work.  No worries, Mom.”

***

I continued to tell myself I wasn’t worried even as I got ready for my trip in front of the bathroom mirror.  I pulled my hair back and stared at my face, belatedly regretting all the time I spent lounging in the sun over the summer.  Was my skin a bit too tan?

Maybe it wouldn’t matter.  Even though I had chosen my rattiest jacket and ripped jeans, it was painfully obvious I was a cityfolk.

I grabbed my knife and purse.  It really was going to be okay.

***

At the checkpoint, a pot-bellied bearded man with a gun slung across his back sauntered up to my car.  I rolled down my window.

He nodded.  “Hello there.  Purpose of trip?”

“Just travelling to Frackville to purchase a laptop.”

“Mmmmm, going shopping, huh?”  He eyed my purse eagerly.

“How much is the toll going to cost me?”

“I don’t know yet.”  He chuckled.  “You got your ID on you?”

I handed my metropolitan ID card to him.

He scowled darkly.  “Maria?”

“I’m Ukrainian,”  I snapped.

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess your last name does look Russian.  That’s okay, then.”

“Can I go?”

“Not sure.”  He leaned into my window.  “What are you doing trying to go into Nowhere unaccompanied, anyway?  It can be dangerous for females around here.”

“My father died defending the city during the killing days,”  I said coldly.  “It’s your militia’s fault that I don’t have a male guardian with me.”

To his credit, he looked abashed at this.  He cleared his throat and stepped back from the car.  “I see.  We need to run one more quick check on you, ma’am.  Rob?”  He gave my ID to the other guard, who was holding a tablet.  “Check her voting record?”

Rob typed my name in.  “She didn’t vote at all last election.”

“Lucky for you,”  the first guard said.  “You won’t get hit with our wrong candidate surcharge.”

“Great.”  I felt relieved and, for once, grateful for the political cynicism which led me to be a non-voter back in 2016.

“We’ll be nice.  Let’s make your toll payment an even hundred bucks.”

I forced a polite smile, made the payment and accepted my ID.  As I slowly drove away, a truck came to a stop at the checkpoint, and the guards gestured at the truck driver to get out so they could inspect his goods.  I heard the driver yelling obscenities at them, and I sped up until the checkpoint was out of sight.

***

The laptop seller lived in a little white house in Frackville’s mostly empty downtown area.  Across the street, there were a couple of abandoned buildings, with a Trump poster peeling away from one of the brick walls.

I knocked on the door.  A skinny old man cracked it open and peered out at me.

“Hi!  I’m here to pick up the laptop?”

“Nice to meet you, Maria.  Come on in.”

His name was Gus.  He grinned at the knife on my belt (“They still don’t let you have guns in the city?”) and then vanished into the back of the house.  I sat on the sofa and waited.  There was a cross hanging in the entry hallway, but I noticed a distinct lack of Trump portraits.  This was an encouraging sign.

I smiled at him when he returned, bearing the laptop.  “I see you’re not a big fan of President Trump, eh?”

He fidgeted nervously.  “May his soul rest in peace.”

“Amen.”

President Trump had been assassinated soon after the beginning of what we all called the Disturbance–because nobody wanted to call it a civil war–but the Disturbance rolled right along without him.  It was common for the residents of the Nowhere lands to give a place of honor in their home to portraits of the Martyr President, sometimes building miniature shrines in his memory.

After his initial moment of anxiety, Gus relaxed.  “Yeah, I never did like him much.  He seemed like a big talker to me.  Seemed like a fake.”

“Doesn’t that get you in trouble around here?”

“Me?  No.  I leave the militia guys alone, and they leave me alone.  I’ve lived here forever, anyway.”

I examined the laptop.  It was small and the keyboard was wearing out, but it would have to do.

Gus shuffled his feet.  “Sorry, I would offer you some coffee, but I only have a tiny bit left, and I don’t know when the roads will be clear for me to go get groceries.”

“That’s okay.”

“So what kind of work do you do?”

“I knit handmade hats and scarves.  I sell them online.”

I glanced up at Gus.  “Would you like my website address?  Maybe I could make you something?”

“No need for that.  Doubt I could afford it.”

There was no time for me to hang around any further.  I stood up and looked out once again upon the desolate street.

“Are you ever angry at the militia, Gus?”

“Angry?”

“About what they did to your town?”

Behind me, I could hear his soft laughter.  “The town has always been like this, before the militia ever came.  There haven’t been any jobs in Frackville for years and years.  Why do you think the people here voted for Trump?”

***

I opened the car door.  I couldn’t wait to leave this dead zone and go home.

Somewhere in the distance, the small figure of an armed man crossed the road.  The sight should have made me scared, but instead it made me sad.  How had we created a world like this?  How had we allowed this to happen?

The curtains in the front window of the little white house moved.  I didn’t want to make Gus uncomfortable by staying there too long.  I got in the car and started on the drive back to the checkpoint and my exit out of Nowhere.

 

 

“Well, are you ready for a fairy tale?”

“Oh, yes!  Things have been so depressing lately.  Tell me a good one, Uncle Fox!”

“Once upon a time, there was a future President who was born deep in the African savannah, under the acacia trees.  From the time he was a little boy, it was his goal to bring the Islamic faith to the American nation.  As a young man, he made the long, perilous journey from Kenya to America.  His Marxist mentors were already waiting here for him.  They subjected him to the toughest kind of mental training, until he was turned into the perfect instrument of subversion.  When he was ready, his handlers helped him infiltrate the Senate.  Little did the American people know that a fascist dictator would soon be unleashed upon them…”

“But I thought he was a Marxist…”

“Shhhhh!  Don’t ruin the story!  Remember, this is a fairy tale.  Now, do you want me to go on or not?”

“Yes, yes!  I’ll be quiet, I promise!”

“The young politician had strong black magic at his disposal…haha, see what I did there?”

“Hehehe!  You’re so politically incorrect, Uncle Fox!”

“Don’t I know it!  He used his magical spells to create all sorts of things out of thin air–cell phones, food stamps, birth control pills…  He enchanted the voters by showering them with free gifts.  He turned them into sheep and they elected him to the presidency.”

“Oh, no!”

“They were under his spell–they were unable to resist him.  And so, the long dark years of the new President’s reign began.  The people of the nation suffered…”

“Ooh, ooh!  Tell me about all the terrible things that happened.  Did they lose their jobs?”

“Well, actually…the economy improved.  But not as much as it could have!  Also, the President gave more people health insurance…”

“That doesn’t sound so bad…”

“Just wait, it gets worse!  There were weddings all over the land…”

“I love weddings!”

“But these were gay weddings!”

“Eep!”

“See what I mean?”

“Uncle Fox, I know another bad thing that this President did!  Mama told me that he used drone strikes to hit innocent people…”

“Silly bunny…drone strikes are a good thing!  Stop messing up my story!”

“Keep going, Uncle Fox…”

“Misery and evil descended upon the country.  Thankfully, there was a small band of brave Tea Party warriors who were willing to stand up against the dictator…”

“Wow!  What did they do?”

“Let me tell you!  They took out their…”

“Swords!”

“…flag pins!  They put on their patriotic flag pins, and they rallied with American flags and anti-Medicare signs.  They even dressed up as the Founders!”

“Awesome!”

“They were armed and ready!  When the time came, they pulled out their guns and…”

“And??”

“…took selfies with them!  They shared Facebook memes!  These were true freedom fighters.  We don’t have men like that around anymore.”

“Sigh…”

“Finally, the dictator’s eight-year term was about to come to an end, and the patriots were ready to breathe a sigh of relief.  But then the thing they had always feared came to pass.  The population of America was so mesmerized by its smart phones, they didn’t notice getting microchipped in the neck by the government.  Also, the military was easily able to go door to door and confiscate all the guns, since the gun owners were too busy blogging in their underwear about how they were going to assassinate the politicians they didn’t like.  The FEMA camps had waited around for years, but now, they were going to be used…”

“I’ve heard all about the FEMA camps!  What did the patriots do?”

“After the microchipping, they could no longer fight, so it seemed all hope was lost.  But God was on their side!  And so was a giant bald eagle!  The eagle grasped a nuclear bomb in its talons and dropped it on the dictator, annihilating him.  As the smoke of the explosion cleared, Jesus appeared in the clouds and appointed a new President, a godly one who would restore this nation to its biblical foundation of huge mansions and strippers with big hair.  President Cruz would rule the land in peace and liberty…”

“So all those stories about the voting machines malfunctioning in 2016 and President Cruz stealing the election are untrue?”

“Of course they are!  Those are all liberal lies.”

“And the stuff about our wages going lower and our pension funds getting stolen?”

“Don’t you worry your little bunny head about that nonsense!  Now that a real American is President again, we’re going to live happily ever after in the land of the free…”

“Awwwww, Uncle Fox!  You tell such nice stories.”

“Now hop along to the meadow, little one!  We need to fatten you up…I mean, make sure you’re healthy and well!”

“I’m on my way, uncle!  Thank you for everything and have a good night!”

“Sweet dreams, bunny!”

Some immigrants are luckier than others. We were embraced by complete strangers when we came to the States. “Welcome to America!” “God bless you!”

Then there is the Iraqi man in Texas who went outside to look at his first snowfall and was shot dead in front of his home. His welcome wagon was, shall we say, a little less festive.

What makes one person a target and not another? Was it simply that the color of his skin was darker than ours? Or were we lucky to be dealing with people slightly less crazy than the ones in Texas?

When we lived in Idaho, our neighbors pointed their many guns at everything else that moved–the squirrels, the birds–but not at us, at least as far as I can remember. Not that there was any love lost between us. They didn’t like us because we had an accent and spoke to each other in our native language. Actually, they were drug dealers, so they were paranoid and didn’t like anybody very much.

I was told when I came to America that I should fear the big cities with their muggings, but the scariest time I’ve experienced here has been the five years we spent in Boise. Still, we didn’t get shot. Since America is portrayed around the world as the country where people get shot, this was a big deal for us.

I guess this rambling post is to reflect on the randomness of fate. What decides which human beings live and die? Whether or not you look like the type of person who gets killed. And if you do, whether or not you are doing something “suspicious”. Whether or not you live somewhere where weapons get waved around in public, or a more civilized area like the one I currently inhabit, where the residents keep their weapons hidden in their homes. Whether or not the nutjob down the street finally reaches his tipping point. So many things can go wrong.

Some of us just happen to be lucky.

I’m a happy sucker for canned foods. I completely agree with the person–I think it was some generic Portland indie rocker–who said that opening a can of food is a little bit like opening a present. Some of my most contented moments in life happen while cracking open a can of herring in tomato sauce or baked beans. My love for canned food is also prompted by the fact that I will do just about anything to avoid cooking. I thank the gods on a regular basis for having been born in a time in which I don’t have to cook, or sew my own clothing, or churn my own butter… People tell me that gratitude is important, and so here’s something I’m grateful for–my laziness.

Another connoisseur who clearly appreciates the modern genius that is canned food–and its many uses–is the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama, Priscella Holley. She has sent a letter to the parents of her students requesting that the kids bring in cans of food so that they can be used as weapons. The way this will work is that there will be a stash of cans in the classroom, and if an intruder enters the school, the kids can throw the cans at him. The principal expressed the hope that this would distract the intruder or even knock him out.

Predictably, the biggest criticism of this idea has come from the people with a gun fetish, who wish everyone in the school would be armed. To each their own kinks, I suppose. I, for one, think there’s nothing more heartwarming than a photo of a middle school class surrounded by machine-gun-wielding teachers, Third World Somalia-style.

In any case, for the first time in my life I have a reason to visit Alabama–free canned veggies! But am I woman enough to accept the challenge? Would I be brave to enough to stroll into W.F. Burns on a surprise visit, knowing that there will be a herd of middle schoolers waiting to hurl cans at me? Should be easy enough to grab a few of the projectiles and retreat quickly, or so one would think. But middle school kids are frightening creatures. I know, I remember them. They might point their fingers and make fun of me, and send me screaming and crying for the door without being able to complete my mission. Hmmmm.

I wonder if the kids at W.F. Burns like herring?

(First of all, it’s so nice to have my online access back! Our Internet was down after a windstorm last week, but now I’m up and running again!)

There’s a douchebag I blogged about over a year ago, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of him now. The douchebag in question paraded near a middle school here in the Portland suburbs with a rifle, in order to make a statement about his Second Amendment rights. This was not long after the Sandy Hook massacre, so naturally there were frantic parents who were calling the police, thinking that there was a threat to their children’s safety. The police stated that they couldn’t arrest the guy, as he wasn’t doing anything illegal, but a couple of the schools in the neighborhood did go into lockdown mode. It seems that Mr. Douchenozzle purposely picked his location to make a point. You can see why I have low regard for this individual.

And in light of everything that’s happened recently, I have to wonder, what would have happened if Mr. Nozzle had been of a darker complexion?

Because the way this situation resolved itself is that “officers talked to the man and determined he wasn’t doing anything illegal.” Sounds like it was a nice, calm conversation. Let’s be blunt here. If he had been black, would that polite conversation have happened? Would he have been allowed to strut up and down the street with a gun strapped to his back? Or would the cops have instantly shouted at him to drop his weapon, and pointed their guns at him? I wonder how that would have potentially escalated things, and how the Second Amendment defender would have reacted.

Or…would the police even have given him that much time to react? Would they simply have started shooting? After all, the only thing a black man needs to get killed these days is a toy gun or fake gun in his hands.

But nah, there’s no double standard here. And it’s definitely not about race. In fact, I’m the race-baiter for bringing it up. My apologies….

For those of you who are impatient to read it, here is a preliminary summary of WorldNetDaily contributor’s Aaron Klein’s upcoming book about Benghazi. Sounds exciting:

They make an unusual pair. He’s the Kenyan-born jihadi, with such radical acts of terrorism in his past as signing people up for health insurance and wearing a beige suit to news briefings. She’s the former First Lady, still haunted by memories of a killing spree of her political opponents, both in Arkansas and Washington D.C. Together, they will set off on a journey of transforming this nation into a Communist-Fascist-Muslim dictatorship, and their nefarious plan to hand the Libyan embassy into the hands of this country’s enemies is only the beginning.

But across the heartland, a scattered band of brave talk radio listeners is tracking their every move. Now that their guns have been confiscated, will they be able to fight off these progressive villains using only their supply of survival seeds and homemade water filtering systems? Will they be able to save America from its imminent demise? Or will a talking lizard crawl out from underneath a sun-drenched rock and tell WorldNetDaily readers: “Hey man, you’re obviously high on something and you’re hallucinating all of this. Don’t eat the purple mushrooms next time”?

Stay tuned.