by Ron Burch
It was nearly midnight when the General and his soldiers burst in. They were first preceded by the window-shattering black drones with whooshing rotors and tiny missiles that looked liked children’s toys but were not. The soldiers broke down the door, their voices shouting contradictory orders. We were watching “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and, panicking, just managed to dive under the couch before the soldiers sprayed the entire room with live rounds, shattering our large-screen TV, an old family mirror and three glass-encased bookcases.
When the firing stopped, the General walked in; he wore a shock collar, like the kind you put on misbehaving dogs; we had heard that the shock collars were remote-controlled and were operated from a steel and cement bunker 40 miles beneath the Ronald Reagan Airport. If the General didn’t carry out the required order, a shock would be sent from thousands of miles away, dropping him to his knees, the blood racing around his head, veins engorged, until he almost passed out.
For all my life I’ve only known my country to be in war. Not the same war but one after another after another. I never really understood who profited from these wars. Men and women died. Some wars were called a draw. So what was won? We went all over the world to fight and kill. We approved torture and took pictures of our victims. We killed innocents and called them collateral.
It’s like that old Star Trek episode, the original series, where there are the good Enterprise people and then the alternate world where there are the bad Enterprise people, you know, the one where bad Spock has the cool beard and bad Kirk had that device that could spy on anyone and make them disappear. And for years and years you think we are the good Enterprise people. That’s what we say. That’s what the politician’s say. That’s what the paper prints and the pundits declare but you wake up one day and you wonder: no, are we the bad Enterprise people?
Talk about a mind fuck!
And then a soldier whispers into the General’s ear and they re-check their maps and their orders and, embarrassed, the General, I didn’t get his name, apologizes, saying that they had the wrong house and he picks up the broken lamp and sets it back on our leaning table, although since the base is shattered, it just falls back over onto the floor, breaking again, and they take what’s left of our dog Muffin who was shot in the melee and scrape him into a black bag, saying they’re really sorry about that, and then promise to send a new dog and someone to fix the door, the windows, the bullet-ridden wall, and the front yard, including the freshly-planted daisies, decimated by the thick and heavy tank treads, which no matter how many times you resod, you will never be able to completely cover.
published 25 June 2016