Chapter Eighteen

The government wouldn’t do that to their own people.

Imagine an abused child, now a damaged man, finally admitting to himself that his own parents were perverted sadists. And they felt no remorse. That would be a crushing truth to realize. Never for a moment did he suspect there was malice in their hearts. And that’s what hurts the most to recall, his innocence, his trust.

Everything you believed was a lie. 

We are at one of those moments in history—there have been more than a few—when the natural order of things is perverted. Up is down. Good is bad. Your parents might kill you. Your spouse might turn you in. It’s happening, again. Somewhere in Germany a youth, a quite nice boy who is well-liked by friends and teachers, is spraying “Ungeimpfte ins Gas” on an alley wall.

Scholars and historians have puzzled over it for almost a century, and now we finally understand how the Holocaust happened. It’s the old witch burning instinct re-emerging right before our very eyes. There it is. We see it. It still doesn’t make any sense. We can’t begin to explain why, but now we know how it happens.

Of course every democide project is unique. Whenever I begin to hate my friends and neighbors for their Nazisms—demanding quarantine camps, cutting the unvaxxed’s access to organ transplants, air travel, dating apps, and food—I reflect upon the fact that they have gone and vaccinated themselves and their children. It’s not like the Nazis got the Jews to herd their own families into the camp or to turn on the gas themselves. It’s not as if the Nazis destroyed their own supporters first before turning on the scapegoats. This is nothing like the Holocaust. We’re being taken out rather indiscriminately.

Is killing indiscriminately better than targeting specific groups? Somehow we feel it is, and that’s a strange feeling. I suppose it comes down to passion. The Nazis hated Jews passionately. Mass murderers these days don’t give a damn about any of us. We are just in the way. There are just too many of us.

Here we are, billions of two legged souls, disillusioned and frightened. We’ve tried so hard to do it right, but it was never going to work out for us. Get an education, pay off the house, leave it to the kids. That was our plan. It was never part of Their plan. Senior care home bills would eat up the estate and nothing would be left of our lives, our careful planning and hard work, to go to the children. All that time clearing the fields, raising the barns, replacing the rot and installing new windows, what was it for? We even took the right pills and dutifully fed our 401Ks, but, in the end, our children will own nothing.

On the way to the grocery store, I saw a sign outside the health clinic querying, ¿Te has vacunado contra el covid? It pictured young woman, “Lucia,” proclaiming, “Si.”  I could hear the marketers on the zoom call figuring this one out. How do we get the immigrants?  I know. Peer pressure!

It occurred to me that, as yet, I’d really hadn’t done anything to stop this evil. I whipped a U-turn and headed back to the clinic. I pulled off the road, car half-cocked on sloping ground. Honoré , who was in the backseat, watched alarmed. Freezing rain was pelting my face as I yanked up the sign and threw it into my trunk.

At the store, next to the banana pile, I ran into Laertes. His posture had changed. He walked like someone who was trying to duck out of a movie theater. He was still wearing a cone mask.

“Hey, Winston! Wow, is this your daughter?”

“This is Honoré,” I replied half-lying.

“I guess we didn’t get a chance to really catch up last time.” Laertes went on praising her snow white appearance while she smiled bashfully. Since we hadn’t seen much of each other in five years, and I’d turned up with a five-year-old attached to me who looks like me, it was easy to assume. Honoré didn’t correct his misassumption either.

While the small talk went on I was disconcerted by the fact that Laertes was so emaskulated.  Distractedly I grabbed bananas, probably too green, and tossed them into my cart.

Said Laeretes, “I’m all right, but with Covid it’s been hard.”

“Yeah,” I agreed.

Honore asked if she could get oranges and I okayed the idea.

“Of course, we’ll have to get by with booster shots for awhile,” Laertes was saying, “but labs are developing time-release vaccines—either that or implants that can transmit information to your doctor if your anti-bodies go too low and he can get you caught up. It’s amazing science we have today. I feel so lucky to be alive.”

“Oh, no, Laertes. You didn’t get it, did you?”

“I got the J&J,” he explained, “which isn’t very good. So I got a Pfizer booster.”

“What for?” I blurted out, “to be a datapoint on the mix and match study?”

“It makes me feel safer,” said a man who had survived combat.

“Well, it shouldn’t,” I said, as if by mechanical switch. It just came out. Then to my own amazement, as I drove my cart off with my green bananas, I added, over my shoulder, “Good luck with that.” 

Honoré, who had been putting oranges into a bag, had to run to catch up with me. I tried to remember what we had come for.  “Can you get the peanut butter your mom likes?”

Honoré took off in that direction. I was so distracted by what I had just done, I decided I’d better not skip any aisles so as to be visually reminded of my mental list. Vinegar, what was the only thing I could think of. Paper towels, dish soap. Oh, this is awful. I should just get out of the store.  What had I done? I didn’t want to be so horrified at his choices, but I was so horrified at his choices. That wasn’t going to help him, treating him that way. Or maybe it would?  Maybe it was better to say to people who have lost their minds, Hey, you have lost your mind. Maybe being understanding and patient wasn’t the thing to help him snap out of it.

As I turned into the paper towel aisle there he was again, now with his son, coming toward me. Ray was about sixteen, slender and gawky, huge eyes and big hands like a lemur, not like his adopted dad at all.

“I’m sorry,” I started, “but—” Oh, good god, did I really say ‘sorry, but’? Horrible people say ‘sorry, but.’  Nevertheless, I went on, “It’s mass psychosis. I can’t bear watching you hurt yourself.”

“I’ve know people who have died of Covid!” Laertes exclaimed, working up a bit of vigor against my horrible accusation. Surely, he remembered that my mother had died. Or maybe not. His words were as knee jerk as my own. “It’s dangerous,” he added.

“No shit. It’s a fucking bioweapon.” I retorted, looking at his son, “and the vaccine is even worse,” then I walked on without looking back at the damage I had inflicted on their worldview. I hoped that I had destroyed it, and, in Laertes’s mind, the gears would be finally tumbling in a new direction by a new, even worse fear.

Honoré appeared with the right peanut butter and handed it to me.

“Good job,” I said. “That’s all we need,” I lied. “Let’s go.”

Unfortunately, the line was long. Only one cash register was open. Laertes got in line behind me with his basket.

“You shouldn’t have said that in front of Ray. He is at Hotchkiss; they are going to require the shot,” he said. I noticed that his basket contained mostly packages of meat that was made from all synthetic ingredients and said so. 

“Oh, he’s already going to high school?” I forced myself back into small talk tone. “Time goes by so fast. He’ll find a better school.”

Laertes lowered his voice so that Honoré could not overhear, “He’s afraid to get it because I got a touch of heart inflammation.”

I whispered back, “Myocarditis?” The news gave my own heart got a shot of adrenaline.

“Yeah, it’s mild. Who knows if it’s really related to the shot or not.”

“My god. I hope you’re okay.”

“I’ll be fine. I just have to take it easy for a while.”

“Aren’t you all about mountain biking, back country skiing, triathlon stuff?”

“Well yeah, not since May.”

“Jeez. That must suck. I’m so sorry.”

“Yeah, I’ve put on a little weight. I’ll take it off again as soon as my doctor says my D-dimer levels are back to normal.”

“I hope so.”

“But I can’t let Ray give up a full scholarship over this.”

“Oh jeez.”

“I told him I’m not paying for him to go to another school.”

Ray showed up, with a bag of apples.

“Those are the wrong kind,” said Laertes, annoyed. “Here,” he shoved the basket into his chest and left toward the fruit aisle.

“Hey, Honoré, we forgot apples,” I said. “Follow Laertes and ask him to pick some out for us too.”

Honoré was delighted with the assignment and took off after Laertes.

I looked at Ray, fidgety and shy. I asked gently, “Is your dad forcing you to get the vaccine?”

He looked at the floor. “It fucked him up. I can’t get it. I won’t. I don’t care if they kick me out. I honestly don’t.” 

“What about your mom?”

“She won’t stand up to him,” he said, voice cracking. 

Oh, man double treachery, I thought.  I replied as neutrally as possible, “Sometimes it’s not worth trying to convince a crazy man to change his mind.”

Ray looked terrified. His myopic blue eyes still glued to the floor. I was worried he was going to cry.

“I have a solution,” I said. I dug into my leather manbag and found the passport holder where I had a vaccine card that I’d bought from Amil. It had all the info filled in except the name and date. “I got this for my girlfriend, but I can get another one.” I looked to make sure Laertes hadn’t reappeared. “Here you take it. Just fill in your name and the date.”

He took it quickly and stuck it in his back pocket. “They’ll check it against the database,” he said.

“There is no such thing—yet. They’re bluffing. Anyway your school doesn’t really care. They probably get paid per vaxxed student. They’ll be happy to check off the box.”

“What do I tell my dad?”

“I don’t know, just hand it in to the school. Once they accept it, you can make up something. Tell him you got the shot on your own, to make him happy.”

“Thanks,” said Ray. “I’ll tell my mom.”

“Whatever you think will work. Make sure it works,” then I explained, “I love your dad.”

Laretes and Honoré arrived bearing apples just as the cashier was scanning my last item.  I left Ray and Laertes with a quick wave good bye.

As I walked to the car I felt light, as if a heavy cold fog of dread in my head had cleared.  I had a sense of purpose. It felt good to finally do something. 

The next morning Julia and I were surprised when we woke late at eight. In the wintertime, the sheep usually came bleating for hay at the backdoor once the sun was over Rattle Snake Ridge.

Julia looked out the bedroom window toward the barn. “There’s Honoré putting hay in the rack,” she said.

The tiny girl was surrounded by the hungry sheep. “She’s becoming a farm girl,” I said. “I better go make sure she’s okay.”

“Paul has filed suit for custodial rights and wants to make health decisions for Honoré,” said Julia matter-of-factly as she watched her daughter.

“Tell her the vaccine is dangerous and she should run. She should call you if he tries.”

“I can’t ask my daughter to do that. I don’t want her to know yet how horrible the world really is.” 

I knew the feeling. Julia was lost in a dark wood, considering this action and that solution, none of which made any sense, none of which led anywhere. She was powerless. There was simply no where to go. We were trapped and we could think about nothing else except the horrible possibility that we wouldn’t be able to save Honoré.

I pulled Julia on to the corner of the bed with me as we both watched Honoré now letting the chickens out of the coop. 

I put my arms around Julia and pressed my cheek to hers. “Lately, I have an urge to pray,” I said. “I wonder if any of my non-believer friends do too, like Horatio. Maybe it’s something deeply human when you’re so frightened and don’t know what else to do. Yesterday in the garden, I started praying, out loud, or maybe that’s the wrong word. It was more like begging or wishing.”

“I wish, I wish, I wish,” said Julia, beginning to sob.  

I hugged her tighter and confessed, “For the last year, every time I break a chicken bone, I wish really hard, just in case it works. I even cheat—hold the bone closer to the base than my opponent.”

“You cheat on the wishbone with me?” she asked wiping her nose and smiling.

“Well, yeah, you and Honore.  We all want the same thing, to be safe, but just in case you weren’t wishing as strategically as I was wishing, I cheated—for your sakes.”

Meanwhile on the news, the shots are still 95% safe and effective, 99% of people hospitalized with Covid are unvaccinated, and the Sniffer is 20% more popular with his base than even the Hope & Change guy. Just as Orwell predicted, science has been replaced by daily reports of fake statistics, unmoored from any context. I’m going to go ahead and say it now as plainly as possible without my usual sarcasm or irony. World governments have gone rogue, and the pacts they’ve made with big business aren’t even secret anymore. We have no recourse to the law. We’re Pfucked. Voting has been a meaningless ritual for decades. We might as well cast votes with wishbones. 

A whole generation of people will succumb to auto-immune diseases and fertility will plummet. We will be starved by intentional supply chain disruptions blamed on hackers and/or false positive PCR tests of the next new bioweapon. The Internet and cell phone systems will be shut down periodically, whenever protestors try to organize. They will allow us to continue to communicate horizontally online just long enough to get all our names and networks and to categorize us as non-compliant or compliant. Then online censorship will surpass anything the Soviets ever dreamt of doing. We will be put under lockdowns periodically, whenever our oligarchs want to flex their muscles again and show us how helpless we are. We will be bankrupted, and our crummy split-level ranches will bought up by GEC investors with paper assets to burn. We will be herded into smart surveillance cities, where we will dutifully try to keep our carbon footprints as small as possible, while the trillionaires use private jets to travel to their countryside mansions or take joy rides to the moon. 

Unfortunately, no matter what kind of social-political structure we’ve try to adopt—democracy, communism, socialism, free-market capitalism, anarchy—power tends to concentrate in no time.  Gen X bore witness as the pyramid structure of a feudal hierarchy somehow or other impressed its shape again on society, even though that type of political organization had long been banished by Enlightenment era framers of the democratic state. Neoliberal globalism rode into town on the white-washed horse of progress, and its monstrous progeny, private-public chimeras, subdued the populace whose actions in voting booths, in the courts, and at the check-out counters have been rendered utterly ineffectual.

All of our institutions have fallen. They are all against us. 

But they only exist on paper.  We can stop believing in them.  We can just wake up as from a dream and say the magic words, We do not consent.

We are many, they are few. We are the ones driving the trucks, working in warehouses and at the docks. We are the farmers and the mechanics. We are the ones checking the vax cards and exemptions with the power to do what is right. We are the real journalists and the activists, the police and the military. We have the power. Do not comply. Whether you openly defy the system or cheat the system, your actions will matter.