Ignorance is bliss.

by Skidmore Rollover

I'm here to knock the smile off your face.
It was a day much like any other in the closing days of the 20th century. I had a hard day at the office, between the irate phone calls and the ranting of my supervisor. Then a grueling, battle of a commute. My car barely made it home. The reactor core in the station wagon needed recharged. I'd been back-to-school shopping and had brought home new flack-jackets for the kids. When I got home I was informed that my daughter had wounded another kid in a gun-fight . . . at school . . . again.
My mail typically consisted of bills. The cable was on the fritz. All I wanted to do was put on my virtual reality suit and relax with an hour of wild sex. But no . . .
The water was yellow again, so I couldn't have any dinner and I wouldn't be able to take a shower. We had an antique television set and it worked, so at least I'd have something to do. I had a Spamwich for supper and washed it down with a nice hot cup of carbonated coffee.
It was then that I noticed, from across the room, my son Bevis. I could hardly believe it. I didn't even flinch when he got his ears pierced at age ten. I didn't bat an eye when he got his nose pierced a year later. I just shook my head when he got his first tattoo. Then he got his nipples pierced. The tattoos started to cover his body. And now, he's got a bone in his nose! Aw, c'mon now. What the hell is he going to come up with next? A plate in his lip? Facial scarification? I dared not say these things out loud. I don't want to give him any ideas.
The evening was off to a good start on a bizarre trip to tomorrow. My world was beginning to take on Twilight Zone proportions. Then the door bell rang. My wife showed in a local politician who was campaigning for his re-election. I couldn't believe my luck. This was the idiot who introduced the new tax plan and was suspected of taking kick-backs and bribes. I got up to shake his hand and ended up beating the crap out of him. I threw him out the front door and kicked him off the front porch. As he was staggering down the sidewalk, he said, "Does this mean I can't count on your vote?" I threw a potted plant at him.
Government, practiced for the sake of tradition, had been reduced to a quaint ritual, devoid of all meaning. Corporate leaders took turns in a game of musical chairs in the halls of government. Taxes were collected and spent to keep little wars going in various places on the planet, which assured certain business men a constant flow of customers, and that other business men were given access to new areas to exploit. Career politicians, in an attempt to keep alive the illusion that they alone could save us from chaos and anarchy, occasionally pulled out their latest boogie-man and paraded him about. Proving once again that their diligence will save us from the monsters that they create. Public opinions were engineered in think-tanks in Virginia and California and pumped into our brains through the broadcast system. 'Scape-goats were found and unlucky immigrants were beaten. Tribal wars broke out occasionally among national subcultures. The masses were kept busy at each other's throat so they wouldn't be at the throats of the political leaders. This was the real source of the chaos and corruption that harassed the people. Every second of it was broadcast on television.
Fear became a part of daily living. Fear of the power going out and our alarms and lights and televisions wouldn't work. Fear of losing our jobs. Fear that we won't be able to acquire more possessions. Fear that somebody would kill us for our possessions. There was the fear of fire and that the bars on our windows would trap us inside. Fear that our cars would break down and we'd actually have to walk somewhere. Fear of random acts of violence. Fear of a lawsuit. Fear of the I.R.S.. Fear of living a meaningless life.
I numbed myself with television. I didn't want to think about how crazy reality had become. Sure, my kids are weird. All kids are weird. Sure, I hear the gunfights and car chases outside and an occasional bullet hitting the steel shutters on our windows. Sometimes I even get a shot off at them as they drive by. What are you going to do? It's the same in other cities. Different people, different guns, different cars. Same old story. There's nothing new here, just more of it.
There it was, on my TV. My savings and loan got robbed the other day. The safe at the Stop N Go across the street had more cash in it. The grocery store down the street ran out of toilet paper and the customers went on a rampage, demolishing the store's interior. Right-to-lifers are shooting doctors. Terrorists attack fast-food joints and office buildings.
I'm worried about my daughter. She's a beautiful girl but she beats her boyfriend. They try to hide it but I can see the bruises and black eyes. Therapy hasn't helped.
My daughter and her boyfriend took off on her motorcycle. My son and a couple off his friends went to a heavy-metal/health-food club. My wife and I were left with a rare evening alone in the house. It was starting to look like the evening might turn out all right after all. But no . . .
The phone rang. It was my neighbor. The one who had my car towed last week. It cost me $200 bucks to get my car back. He was frantic. His car was on fire and he wanted to know if he could borrow my fire extinguisher. "Well, I don't know ," says I. He pleaded, I stalled. After about five minutes I said OK. He was over here before the dial tone came on the phone. By then his car was gutted by the fire.
Then our mastiff, Lucifer shows up dragging the mangled remains of what used to be our neighbor's Doberman. It took us close to an hour to wrestle it away from him. I buried it in the backyard and Lucifer immediately dug it up. It made for a pretty gruesome dog-toy.
I wasn't getting any TV watching done. I hadn't made it through one whole show without some kind of interruption. There I was right in the middle of "Knott's Landing" when the helicopters came. There was a big bust of some kind a few doors down from us. Sirens, SWAT teams, police, spotlights, ambulances. That pretty much shot the evening to hell.
By the time I got to bed it was close to one-thirty in the morning. That means I won't be real sharp on the road for the morning commute. I need my wits about me if I'm to make it anywhere in one piece. I have this stupid clock radio that's stuck on a Christian radio station. It gets me out of bed but I'm worried I'm going to break it some morning. I was too tired to have sex. My wife stayed up the rest of the night watching TV and waiting for the kids to come home. When the kids did come home, they set off the security alarms. Then the phone started ringing. All my neighbors called to let me know what an idiot I am to let my kids set off those alarms every night.
Maybe I won't come home tomorrow.

Way Out West © 1993 Martin Scherer. Venus & Mars © 1995 Martin Scherer. E-mail: mscherer@tesserak.net