The History of the World by P.

H Madore

© 2006 by

No part of this text may be altered, reproduced, or distributed without the written consent of the publisher. Cover art by: Miles Fitzsimmons

www.oneleggedcowpress.org

I: The Street

One
Before I go on to tell you everything, I want to tell you about this fucking guy coming down the sidewalk. We got history—grew up together in a ruddy Italian neighborhood belied by filth you wouldn't believe. Which is now beside the point, as so many things have become, because it's what the bugger did later in life that I want to tell you about. Both in our early twenties we were—green to worldly ways and in little worlds of our own, sick and sad as they may have been, getting along as every man must, and one day collided, again, for the first time since our high school graduation. Recognized each other, spoke, and things became interesting when this man said the most insane thing—he'd just come back from killing a man, it hadn't been his first, and there was a good chance, he went on, that it wouldn't be his last. He explained he was a Goomba from birth to death, claimed it was beyond his control, further that he had no fear of the death or hell since neither were very real in the here and now. Which was the point, after all, if beside this point. The kill had taken place in a park, I decided, by the look of him: windbreaker, sweatpants, bandana, all that. Not that I gave much of a damn. I'd once seen a person killed and was unfazed—I'm not lying. I didn't even blink. Which was what you were supposed to do in a situation like that, not immediately react. The point was that that was what they wanted from you, and if you gave it to them you were weak. Very. They'd attack if you weren't on your guard. Which was why most people, regardless of if they actually were weak, didn't give in right away. I may come off as having trouble expressing my thoughts because sometimes my thoughts get ahead of my words and the things I'm trying to express come out all wrong because many of them seem, seem beyond expression but really all they need is the right speaker to work them. But it's hard to find the energy, courage, to do that. This is why you don't often bother with the idea—what you'd rather do is stay away from it. That's not me at all. Nor is that all there is to the man now close to approaching me. The point I'm making about him is simple: he doesn't feel guilt, shame, or fear. He plays like he's breathing air, lives like life's drinking water. He fears no man, feels guilty for no act, and won't be shamed into anything. If Stubborn were his middle name, it would pass unnoticed. He walks at me and I'm not sure how to react, what to say. You see sometimes, during the day when there's nothing to drink, I get this heartache inside and I'm unable to speak very well. I thought I felt that coming over me just now, but I was wrong and it's just the ulcer in my stomach pulsing—something I don't enjoy but 1

have become used to. During daylight I overdose myself with prescribed drugs these days because at night there is always the pub.

2

Two
Let's have a drink in this pub right here, it'll do. Why a table in the corner? In the middle of the action is where I've always been. It's the place to be, the middle of the room. So, before everything crashed and fell down, there was a dream, one of the oddest I have in my memory. And I suppose there's nothing to be lost if you're let into it: Starts in a blue-gray lighted bedroom. Clothes on the floor, the shadow of a great-bodied woman, an open window through which we are caressed by the music of the street, a candle in the one other room, and little more. The light, scattered and fused smoking—staggering—is comforting somehow, and she comes to bed. Must I tell you the rest? I say it has been told a time too many, over history's course and coursing streams of fantasy. Though it's the last I see of her—when in the dream I awake to smell the street burning, and she's nowhere I know. Thinking back this makes sense that she'd have run—she could get out, go to Ireland from where she came. A vision; her green passport which said Eire on it. Need there yet be a stated reason to explain my motivations for telling all this? Of course there are hundreds of reasons not to, the first being the danger involved in such speech. As I said, there is always the pub. This or any. She ran back to Ireland, never seen since. Gone, and how could I help that I missed her that morning? At this point few things were making sense, even by the standard of dreams. Outside, there was corruption and violence and in the room the only things left were a bra, memories, and some money. She must've laid the chump change (inflation being what it's been for so long now) on the bed and then not wanted to look back on her way out. Forgotten it, five hundred bucks and in my dream I waste time trying to figure out why she'd left it. I stood and went to the window, looked outside to the backdrop of the bay— our breathtaking Caribbean bay—at cars flipped over, people fist-fighting, guns firing. Thick smoke rising each and everywhere. I stood in that motel window and watched all this, then pulled on my pants, and the next part went awfully fast. I found myself walking the freshly battered streets of San Victorio. Went east and took a turn north which led me up a vicious road littered with busted vehicles and bodies and fear and guts and brass bullet casings and pride and charred books—Bibles, even, in this great Catholic monstrosity—and hateful tragedy and at one generic spot a fresh sprouting pine tree. All that's civil war was ahead and behind when I reached the top. No promises were made by the men there, which wasn't very promising. I was sure I was their boss, but they didn't act as such, and in consciousness I know I never could've been. Not sure of myself by this point, further 3

on I reached a brick wall and studied it in a way that showed I didn't care who's watching—looked up it and saw something quite beautiful: a pyramid of rubble at one end of the wall. Presently I witnessed a boy walk up over the wall and down the mound—still clad in his school blazer, no less—and wander dreamlike into the dusty road (once a street, soon to be a path of or to the past) toting a suitcase and a revolver. I gave the driver of a cab which nearly hit this boy a dirty look. I went up—climbed the pyramid—and stood amazed looking over the wall.

4

Three
I stepped on the concrete. My feet felt elastic but not so much to bounce. Looked forward at an angry tank, at which my first reaction was to duck but my second was to take aim. Then at the realization of standing unarmed, my third reaction was to go with my first. Ahead of me a tank in the street, currently less battered than the one behind the wall. I couldn't be sure the beast was American. It made little sense for such a tank to be on our tiny island, but instead of asking questions I took a series of signifying actions. I didn't want its crew setting sights on me, a desperate and lonely bastard islander. I imagined the kid slyly marching right past them, exhilarated later by his own slick abilities. Widened my eyes in mental adoration, prepared for the dream's end.

5

Four
I avoided the tank for a long time; the tank which turned into many tanks, and the soldiers, and the rest of the military ballyhoo. Not that I cared very much, but things happening all once could and can always get on my nerves. Sometimes there wasn't much you or anyone should bother to say for me. Though eventually, as they always do and have over the history of the world, they caught on to me. I never gave myself away, it was all their doing. And I'd be wrong to feel sorry for myself or my position. It was the way of things. I always had a lot of faith in the island. We never messed with each other, for such a small populace we did rightly fine. Always fine, just right, never a huge conflict, irresolvable paradox, or endless agreement. It must've been an outside force tearing us apart, I decided, and moreover that it would most likely fail and so there was nothing to worry about. Not really. Just the same there were the counter-active forces; the imperial military ones; the revolutionaries. All of it on my peaceful fucking island. Really, it was difficult to fathom and for me to even focus once the men took me into their truck and started grilling, questioning me. I answered, lied to the best of my abilities until they showed satisfaction and thought they saw submission. Certainly this wasn't easy, though, and all seemed devious just then. Is that my true meaning? No, diabolical. Not as they should have been, which was what I was having a hard time with. I survived—in the dream.

6

II: Everything

One
I know that the mob was responsible for the war. A couple days later in the rubble of an apartment building I came across the notebook of a journalist who'd somehow managed to get inside everything like a mole. He took detailed, hurried notes, and by the end of his notebook it appeared he was in the process of writing an account. Here's what I still remember: It all started just after the war for our independence, and the notes leading up to the account were spread across half a dozen years. There was a man named Fat Louie who hated the government, and a couple of others governments, and he wanted to shake everything up. He turned every word from his mouth into action. Things he demanded happened often enough that a man might be scared. The journalist, whose name was nowhere in the document to be found, couldn't keep track of all the murders he'd witnessed. One was as good as the next, a couple he described in gruesome yet boring detail. Once you've seen a killing you don't want to see it again, and if you're hardened it's only because the whole affair is quite boring to you. The cops were easily corrupted—like anyone else in those days. What we saw starting on May Day was the culmination of very little planning on Fat Louie's part. His organization set things up, made plans and did everything. It was their way to do as told. They put people in the right places. Lined the right pockets. The mayor of my own city was killed in the early hours, his being the first bullet fired. The journalist knew this was going to happen. He tried not to die. The mob turned everything to their advantage, controlled the wild fire riots. They took their profit while my city burned and expected to own an island when everything became quiet again. This wasn't long after the dream. There was more to it: three armies. One of our government, sworn to protect us. The mob was using American artillery. The scope of all this wouldn't be understood for awhile yet. They were spoofing the war in such a way that the people would blame a foreign power and embrace the mob's impending two-faced rise to power. A group of citizens, myself included, stole one tank and many guns. I wore a fisherman's hat which secretly identified my allegiance. We were some sort of militia and we acted like an army. I was made a captain after my captain shot himself in the face of futility you can't pinpoint. I'd make decisions on the spot and stick with them until death. Being stubborn works. We rolled up in two trucks; our men jumped out and stormed mob headquarters, and we shot the place up good. Won then. People were soon falling out of windows and dropping guns from lifeless hands, it was like an old Alamo western. 7

Offensive defense. Nothing any of us would later repent for, least of all me. We had no illusions of victory, though, somehow. There are some things that can't be helped.

8

Two
We simultaneously made moves on the government. There wasn't a person among us or the citizenship at large who wasn't sick of the whole fucking thing: the government, leaders, thugs, the politicians, criminals, drugs, whores; all of it. We were ready to throw it out the window, and were about to do so, we thought. We moved on City Hall. There were government troops all over the place. We were not scared. Many of us by this time were fearless. We took it by smashing the hell out of salaried killers. I sat in the mayor's seat, though I'd respected him while he lived. There'd been a crazy General, now also dead, trying to take over, force the regime to hold onto power. Something was amiss. We trusted us more. There were still places to be re-captured. I would one day abandon the cause to find myself.

9

Three
We were a band of reckless lost men who took care of business as a group; walked and stalked the streets in search of enemies, combing the place like it was a child's head for lice. We weren't used to catching them, and the ones we found were quite mouthy. One said, “Scum natives come for scum city. We kill!” He barely spoke our language. Another said, “Scum whores, who'd'you think y'are?” None of us bothered to say anything. It was easier not to say a word, just move on and take these guys back to city hall, which had been converted to our main headquarters. Getting them there was fun and once there, many would suffer. We'd give the mouthy ones special treatment for the naughty things they said about us, about our mothers, about our island. We weren't much for changing things. I did my job and struck off.

10

Four
The next group I met, in a nearby township, was different. By this time the people were getting more like a federation of freedom fighters. In those days it was hard to be sure of anything—now you can sit down and say one or two things you're sure of. At that time it was nothing even close. You couldn't go anywhere and be sure of anything. Some of us loved it. Worked their hardest to keep things as chaotic and anarchistic as possible, succeeded often enough at keeping things out of order. If there were people who wanted to keep things in a shitcan sort of order and rabblerouser mentality, so be it. At one point I was supposed to take out this outpost of insolent teenagers. I ordered my men to surround the place once we reached it and I stood in front of it. I called out to the people inside, telling them that their time was up and they might as well surrender, beg for mercy. Soon we had a firefight on our hands. We certainly weren't going to be scared by any punk teenagers; waltzed in there under their fire and took the place like peppermint candy from an ancient man. Once back at base, I was told to site in front of the prisoners watching them. Didn't like what I saw: a bunch of fucks from the other side who didn't know how to fight, who'd never know how to fight, and I saw how it always pissed me off, and I could never fully explain this primal anger. The way they sat there and pretended they were true warriors, imprisoned for their affiliation, and not mere punks in the way of progress. I hated that more than most things at the time. I sat in a metal chair watching these prisoners, and eventually I was awakened by their noise, by their stink as well. Prisoners always stink, I learned then. Are doomed to stink most of the time. It will keep you awake, make you mistrustful of reality, intoxicate you even. It is toxic, this prisoner-stink only a soldier will know or understand. Not that I was much of a solider in terms of discipline. The whole time I watched them I was drinking cerveza frio and cat-calling at female passersby.

11

Five
There was the suicide of several key government officials. If the citizen's federation or army or whatever had had its way, these men would have been killed anyway. That's what some said, but most believed that these men were hiding something. The majority of them were. And the others, plain scared of the coming changes. Either way, their suicides worked for and against us at the same time. Worked because it meant there'd be a few less men to deal with. Made the situation more difficult because the people wouldn't respect us much until we'd killed the figureheads of corruption, and it seemed they were killing themselves before we got the chance. It hadn't been our group that had killed the mayor before. Rumors said it was an individual act, but I knew better. I had the notebook under my cot at my current camp; it told me otherwise.

12

III – The In-Between

One
The period I came to call “the in-between” was the sort of hazed over one you'd find illustrated in a modern revolutionary pamphlet. Stalking the day it seemed night without explanation, and I don't recall anyone with time enough for asking. Most were capable of simply living. Once, a man stood up during our lunch. I knew what he had to say was interesting, but didn't I nearly piss myself laughing at it. I couldn't rightly punish him. I was drunk, and though I can't exactly remember what the man said, I do remember him speaking of days gone by—hadn't we all at one point or another swum the Caribbean? Wasn't this reason enough to settle for whatever fate may wait us should we surrender? During the in-between we dealt with things most of us weren't meant to. It was hard for many of us, and I was amazed at the number of people who survived— mentally, I mean. We were just waiting, hiding some thought, waiting for our rations to run out and the game to end. The day to day during wasn't actually so bad, I never thought. I dealt for quite some time. Just went along, did my thing, and apparently it inspired the others, in itself, just enough to make people happy to promote me higher in rank. I was happy but I remember I didn't care much. Also the docks. See one day I was walking. I often did this by myself, walked the streets of the city we were holding down in search of even I don't know exactly what. When there was nothing else to do, which was often during this time, I wandered. I prefer to dress it up in fancier terms that don't make it sound quite aimless. I came upon the docks just once during the in-between. And it was lucky, because I saw a group of mobsters poised to attack the government, ran and called in my troop, and we took them out. Then we did something even I hadn't planned, and we also took the government troops they'd been about to attack. The in-between had made us all crazy. We didn't care, either, not most of us. Most of us couldn't care if the wind blew in the wrong direction or the ground beneath us crumbled. We knew it wouldn't matter—all in the haze I first told you about, mind you. Everything was strange; many professed hating the in-between that lasted awhile, I remember, and we had no choice but to find adapting ways. Some would close our eyes whenever we'd a chance, which sometimes was often; others rare. Some would simply focus on something totally removed from the situation, like checkers or volleyball. Didn't really matter what it was, as long as it had nothing to do with the present, with the haze. 13

To have something not touched by the haze was a blessing. Many of us had trouble understanding and coping with the haze. Why it had come upon us so. There were no answers, and those who'd asked were driven almost to madness. They survived. But it wasn't the same, never again could it be. There were those among us professing to be representatives of various isms. Communism, hedonism, situationism, anarchism, racism, socialism, fascism, prism— all saying they had the answers to all our questions and were going to single-handedly turn things around in favor of the people. We didn't buy this crap because it wasn't a problem we had with government, with capitalism. Was a problem with our government, with our capitalism. It was all that our people needed to fight. We didn't need some political platform for motivation. Didn't need something that proclaimed government itself as evil. All the people of my island needed was a reason to hate the government, and we had it. Corruption. The suicide of the officials when things started to heat up confirmation for most, and our army's numbers swelled—which meant an influx of the aforementioned. We were only taking what we supposed was rightfully ours. There were very few left, be they soldiers or officials or otherwise, who were willing to argue with us. We supposed we'd won our way right to the top, and we couldn't have been more proud of ourselves for it. Again, we made our suppositions—that this was all simply part of the plan. None of us knew how little had actually been planned by officials—whom none of us had met. Very, very few of us knew anything of the fact that there were only a couple of people actually sitting at the top, calling shots, making decisions. Life was simply chess during the in-between. Moving the pieces we could move while we could still move them, hoping to make a dent, an impact, something to be proud of, whatever it might have been. As long as it worked, as long as it showed something about us, we would've been happy. By that point we didn't care what went down, not really, as long as it was in our favor. And most of it was.

14

Two
There were many and different types of ships the hectic crazy day the United States came to stir up the trouble we'd already had brewing. At least there were many for our little port, which was full and overflowing. We worried over the arrival and we all had the notion, which we didn't bother to speak, that they were there to support the corrupted government. They would try to take care of our rebel asses for good. What good would it do to say it? It would be like this: Worried: I worry about tomorrow, about the future of our cause and our people. Group at large: Okay. There was nothing anyone could do about what was going on. There was no point in complaining. The only thing we as a group could do was prepare to fight these and others when the time came. And so we prepared. Soon we would fight them, but first there'd be skirmishes with the government, who'd been recharged and invigorated by the arrival of the United States, some of whom were mercenaries but most of whom were soldiers of the government of that country. This bothered us because the United States had the most powerful army in the world, not to mention skilled and equipped. The new boldness of the government worked to our advantage, and we slaughtered many of their number. If nothing else, we showed them and their new arrival friends we were nothing to be messed with. Others didn't see it this way, figured we ought to do more than that, ought to move on the new government outposts and take them out while the chance was prime. It seemed possible we would fight the United States—anything seemed possible just then, even victory therein. Was not long before the end of the inbetween, but the fog worked to our advantage that day as it had every other. We'd also been having skirmishes with mob forces, but until then had gotten along relatively alright. Also we were helped that day, in that the United States people weren't used to the fog of our islands, and it inhibited their ability to fight. This was why we managed to take a fair number of them out right off the bat, without blinking, without exactly thinking about what we were doing. Soon they'd come back, we knew. It was only a matter of waiting and we welcomed the new forces in the madness of the in-between. We had a suspicion that our head bosses were only waiting to join forces with the mob. We hoped this wasn't the case. On the ground we didn't want involvement in our new government by men of old ways. We wanted to fight those men off the same as we were about to fight the other two factions now vying for our country and its power. To fight everyone off and live in our own peace. That was the important part to many of us, being able to determine on our own, by 15

way of “democracy”, the way we lived and the way things happened in our own government. We didn't much care for the sort of coterie that had been going on before, and we didn't even want to remember the thing. Even then we figured it was already in the past and we'd just move on like it had never existed because we didn't care for it, wouldn't miss it. And back they did come, and tried to fight us, but again we took care of business. Their numbers had been nearly cut in half by our last battle, and they only stood to grow worse by fighting us. I remember one man with both ears torn off, his face also red and covered with blood, he was wounded in other places as well. Just the same this enemy moved on and tried to kill. Two guys executed this fool, who should've gone home and healed up. He fought on as long as he could; as long as he breathed he fought for a cause not his own. It was always guys like this who scared me most. I just hope you understand you're not supposed to repeat a lot of the things I tell you here. Even if they're in the past, there are those who'd like to kill me. They'd like to see me, and everyone else involved in the rebellion, dead. I don't want to run, so keep your mouth shut.

16

Three
Standing on a boat, on the ocean, you learn things. I found this in hindsight. Some of the things you learn involve life—life itself is really one great circle that goes around and around and you love it for this reason and you hate it for this reason as well. That's what you've got and most of the time you find some way to deal with it, you play your cards right and somehow you make it out alive. You learn all this standing and looking down at waves. Atop these waves, and you are trying to fathom it all. Here you are, guarding your country from evil invaders like some stupid superhero. Not even quite sure you understand the magnitude of what you're doing, but you're aware they talked it up to be something very important back when you volunteered and they picked you, along with about fifty others, to man a vessel which once belonged to an invader and go guard the bay. So there you are, doing just that, when you learn all these things about life and don't even realize it while you do because you're thinking about your next meal. It will come from the galley, from hands you don't trust. You wonder what it will be like. You don't see any reason to think of other things, but even so you're learning things you won't recollect until much later. Things that come only in reflection or re-living the moment, seeing it all again in lively color in your mind and watching as things happen. See these things in third person, in your dreams, and see them in a first-person view alternately. After all, it's scary to be outside one's own body watching life happen. Doesn't happen all the time, just once in awhile a person will see these things all in hindsight, and in the third-person. I find it to be my duty to record it all that I remember in first-person, even if I can't save a lot of this or really inform of everything. I'm only telling the important things, things you need to understand exactly what happened here. As some of us had been expecting, two new Navy ships came. They came furious and fast, as if they knew something, and when they approached us they looked nervous. A few of our men had dressed in uniforms, pretended to be officers of the ship, and went out to greet them. Then, once they were sufficiently lured—we were quite impatient—launched a great attack on the boats. Our men jumped over the side and took lives, made an impression on the Navy as a whole. We aimed to scare them off, couldn't help that we wanted such a thing, felt a largely natural impulse driving us to this end. We charged on and took them all. We couldn't stand their sight. These men who thought they'd just come and take over our island. We decided we had sufficiently intercepted enemies. However, while most of us left, a few were left to watch the bay. We hoped for the best, perhaps in vain that there would be no new ships. If there were we'd have to take care of them, but for just that time we felt like we would be fine.

17

Four
Back on the island, I made a quick move: snatched an apartment. I knew it would be important later on, when everything was over, and I had an idea of exactly how I'd do it. I just walked up to one, and went in. I liked what I saw, nice furniture and some other furnishings. Even if it did belong to dead folks, I appreciated that it was a nice apartment. Took the keys to it knowing by their markings which set they were. I wandered to the bathroom window, and without any sound warning I uncovered a minor mob outpost in the backyard of the apartment building. I took out my gun, did my best. For starters: they didn't get me. I'm still breathing. I did get some of them, and in fact a lot. Might say I got more of them that day than a man should rightfully kill in a day. For the second time that day I was forced to kill people. They were nowhere near as fierce as the men who'd come from the United States, who in fact if I had been fighting them alone for any period of time, I had no doubt, I would be shortly dead. I soon had help in fighting these men, who were strong. They weren't really fierce, not in the sense that the other men had been, but were very strong. For instance, one man, had I not had help by then, probably could have torn my head off with his bare hands. It wouldn't have surprised me much if I had woken up basically and had him twisting my puny head off. There were others just as strong, but once I had another person and another gun helping me, we made out just fine. I hadn't been all that much of a winner in the real world, if you wanted to real and whole truth of it.

18

IV: Everyone

While everyone was quite satisfied with no explanations, the one thing everyone did demand was democracy. The island people, it seemed, were unexpectedly feisty and demanding of the nature of the world, of the nature of the history of the world. Everyone everywhere across the island was dissatisfied, if only for a whisper in time, with the way things were. They expressed these feelings in varying ways and degrees. Their memories would automatically erase themselves, products of chemical engineering though everyone probably is, and soon there wouldn't be enough resistance in them if due only to a lack of memory of the first incidences; in essence those who did somehow miraculously save their previous memories would be convincing the others all over again, and by this point in history there'd be only a very few examples on the island left, and things would be improving if only on the surface, and it would be near impossible so probably wouldn't happen. These lucky few were not lucky enough to knock out the prime beast, their memories by circumstance were essentially made useless and a pity, and many of them took to suicide. And once they'd done so, there weren't many left to speak of, except people like myself. But there was one.

19

V – The Man, The Lynchpin

One
This motherfucker got the bright idea one day, it can only be assumed, staring at the inside of his crack pipe. I know I haven't been so good at telling you the situations and so forth throughout this tale. All along I've moving forth the story in faith that somewhere inside you realized along the way that if nothing else then this much is true: I don't remember everything, or even most things, that happened. I remember a few events, those I've told you about, and I know the present here in San Victorio. I met him outside a cafe on Main Street a few days before the end of fire, before the end of the war. I didn't know then that he would be a lynchpin unto himself, that he would take things and turn them upside down not long thereafter. But I knew him already. He was standing wearing a purple hooded sweatshirt, torn faded blue jeans, and there was a cigar clamped between his teeth. He was holding in one hand a worn-down ink pen which would later—these days, now—come to signify in the twisted halls of my mind a writer, a journalist, something more than the alcoholic bearer of the past that I have seemingly become. He didn't look as if he had anything to do, and I thought that if I was slick enough with my tongue then I could get him to come along for a ride, perhaps could enlist him into my thinning ranks, perhaps could make some use of him because he sure had balls standing there so useless while the world was changing around him, while I was at the crux of such changes in the world around.

20

Two
He agreed to hop into the Jeep I had commandeered at some point days before, had driven until my face was plastered by wind and by bugs and by the sharp sun of the tolerable wintry days during which all of this took place, and the first thing he said to me was, “I've lost my notebook.” I scratched my balls and asked him what he was talking about. Before he could answer I shoved it down his throat: there was a motherfucking war on. He divulged that he was not from San Victorio, he hailed in fact from the Spanish-speaking island of Cuba not far away. I made sure he knew this didn't matter, that in the tide of things it was completely out of the realm of relevancy, and let him speak on. He said his notebook had been a completely non-fictional account of some time he was spending as a journalist snuggling in the San Victorian mob for an article for the Cuban magazine he represented. I asked him the obvious question: why the fuck would he want to spend his hard-earned words on a journal that would meet such a small sector of the world population? Why not the Times Nova York or something? Of course my Spanish made little sense as I was born an English-speaker as part of being born in San Victorio, but he chuckled at this and informed me that he had no choice. Not only was it a journalist duty he was fulfilling, he explained, but this was part of his duty to the socialist state, and it was nothing he regretted. I informed him that the socialists were a bunch of pricks, and he informed me that the socialist party of Cuba had likely shelled out the dough which paid for the very Jeep I was driving. “Bullshit!” I exclaimed, and pulled the thing to the side of the road. Peculiar it was that we then sat staring out over the ocean, East, and if we'd had the eyesight we could have seen Africa. “Not bullshit,” he corrected. And went on, “I lost my journal when everything began to fall apart here. I have to get hold of it or I will be shot as a traitor—no matter what explanation I bring to my bosses, without proof of any of it they will see some form of traitorship.” “Where'd you lose it?” I asked him politely, surprised at how he'd not yet struck back virally at all my hedonism. I was just so there at the time that I saw no reason to make room for humanity. I'd speak exactly as I felt I need to speaking, I'd say that words that needed the same, and I'd make along just fine in this manner whether god or the rest of those forces liked it or not. “Not far from where you picked me up, actually,” he said. “I've been combing the rubble in that area for a week now and haven't come up with it. Basically I can't go home without it.” I understood this and immediately understood what this foolish young socialist man had to do with me.

21

Three
No, I didn't give him his notebook back. I hoarded it and hid it away even better after I found out that someone was looking for it. Even after all I've done for this battered island, I've always been in it for myself, and as far as I figured then or as far as I figure now, the notebook was a historical document which would one day be valued. Its value at the moment was doubly increased giving the surroundings and the situation. It would simply make no sense to hand it over to its foolish originator, and so I didn't.

22

Four
The last I heard of this young man, I still call him Juanito though I never did find out what he called himself, he was working with the mob to try and make things happen for himself. As he said, he couldn't leave the island without his notebook and other material, and I'd made quite sure to hold it out of his reach. This is why I still hate that young man whose name I did not catch. He is why the story soon ends.

23

VI – Finale

One
The finale to the whole show, to the whole civil war and revolution came, as I said, a long while later. So damn long it wasn't funny, not even in hindsight is it funny how much time we spent fighting. Dealing with the bodies of our enemies later was difficult as well. A few things did happen before. A few things you need to know about if you're going to really understand everything that went down. First of all, the mob showed itself as having strength and resolve, and fought in a way which demanded a little awe, a lot of respect. Many of us respected them if only for grit and determination. Even if they couldn't force us into submission, we still saw they were trying to make us, and we were shocked at the fortitude they demonstrated. Nonetheless, we tore them limb by limb, each and every of them, and won every battle fought after a rocky period of insecurity and losses. This was part of the story, we felt like, and had no inclination to let it idly pass us by. All the same, many of us felt stranded, sadly, without the thumb of the government or the mob or the invaders ever-pressing on our backs. Went as far as to feel lost. Managed to move on, made out fairly well once gaining. The government was all but ceasing existence, the groups that had come inland with their proposals and crazy ideas were trying harder with foolish words than ever. And still failing, it seemed, because we let them ramble on and on. People just weren't buying it, wanted something of their own, nothing else, and they wouldn't be satisfied until they had it. A simple matter of clearing the rest of the mob out it was, and so we set about so doing. Then we waited, we being the largely insignificant grunts.

24

Two
But it was in taking out the last of the mob, really, that The Finale took place. Or so it was called. Some of us didn't much care for the name to the time, but there wasn't much that could be done for it by that time. The powers that be had come up with the title and it has apparently stuck through all trials and tribulations. All the same, we were uncomfortable with it. We tried our best to move on and make on with it, though, even if it was somewhat of a specter to us. What I suppose the whole big deal boiled down to was one very, very simple thing. It was one of our bashing the head of the enemy leader in. Once he was dead, we supposed, the other mobsters would go back home and forget the whole idea. They would simply make due under our new system. That's what we supposed. So we did it, and sure enough it made for something they later called The Finale. But there are important details in what actually happened, if you want to know the truth. I was there. I stood on the hilltop. Our sniper moved in, I watched and I waited anxiously. I wanted to see the boss get whacked – I could see him from where I was standing. Everything, I supposed, was going to work out just fine from that point on. How did I know it wouldn't work out just as we had planned? The sniper, my sniper, took a shot. He missed. The boss walked, ran, got out of the way. And it was over an hour of combat, fierce for a last ditch effort, before we got to him and killed him. We let the others run, and sure enough they just left and went home. Though there was one trying to take over in the wreckage, trying to fight still, most simply abandoned ship at the opportunity. But that still was only part of it. The important part, somewhat, was the things this man in particular said. He said, “Long live us, fuck 'dem.” And he meant it, you could really tell that much just from hearing him. So it was that I pulled out my own gun and killed that man. I was unafraid of his bullshit, unafraid of the foolish moves he was trying to play. I simply shot him, because it was my custom to do such a thing with folks who acted the way he did. I simply shot people and usually it worked out in my favor to do so. This was the truth also in this kill, as it worked out great in the favor of my side. It scared the rest of the mobsters present into running away, which they did in a very funny way that is all their own. They all went home and waited for us to rule the place. They waited until they could operate under us. But we weren't necessarily satisfied with that. We killed two more on their way out before we stopped with that and called it a victory. 25

Three
A simple thing, a bomb. A big bomb and a little bomb. The United States enemies had left them as presents. Truthfully, we had no clue how to deal with them. We were at a loss, mystified even, as to exactly what we were going to do about the situation. We were sure we could sit for a moment, but that was no comfort in itself. We needed more than that, we needed something more concrete, and we were having trouble, to our own misfortune, of getting that. So the bombs sat and stared us down, with us wondering what the hell we should do about them. Someone got the bright idea to put the bombs, by way of a very careful handling and move, onto a ship and send it out. One of the ships the men had brought with them. We did this, and it worked, but the explosion, which was fairly huge—some mentioned Hiroshima but others told them to shut up—caught the attention, once again, of the United States Navy and Coast Guard, which was a problem. Needless to say, few of us were comfortable with this notion, and sought to bolster defenses lest the northern invaders return. We found ourselves sweeping the last of our enemies and faced with the task of cleaning up our fair country and installing a new government. This would be no easy task, but we figured we were up to it. The people were behind us, and that was what was important.

26

VII – What Really Happened

One
It doesn't take long to tell you the rest, and I'm sure by the look in your eyes that you're about ready to go to your imprisoned home and sleep your imprisoned sleep. It was the last of our fighting days. As a group we figured we were just about victorious—the Americans had pulled out weeks ahead of time and things were falling into place even as we made our final marches nationwide. We were jovial and jubilant: the end to such a horrid time in our history had come to an end! And indeed it had, but not in any way we expected. The young man, the journalist without a concrete name, he is the last person I remember before the time that you know well, before the time of the old, before the time that has not changed for hundreds of centuries, since time immemorial. He is the last person I remember as we marched on the capital thinking we were victorious. He is the last thing I saw: walking up a sidewalk, raising a flag, throwing a signal.

27

Two
Few of us lived to tell the tale—how the agents of the mob were swarming and everywhere and hired and among us even—so few that those of us still left alive just sit in pubs and walk streets talking madness. Since there is so little truth in all of it, so little truth in the truth itself, we know that there are a certain amount of silences we can speak without worry or fear, we know that no one will rightly notice if we spit this or that fact of history into the ether every now and then. But we do not bother, for the most part. We tell one or two people now and then how everything fell apart, how it all changed on a dime, how the mob took control at the very last possible instant without our ever even anticipating it. Because they had been such a minor player, because we were riding a victorious high unlike no other, because reason simply spoke stark against it. But there we stood, undeniably in defeat; the winds of changed reversed in a matter of minutes, and me personally responsible in a sense, and that young man, that motherfucker with eyes that spoke of abusing crack straight from the American ghetto, raising the flag of old. And today, in the pub, paying taxes to a man who happens to be named Victorio, a man of the mob since birth.

28

Three
This is the history of the world. It is the history of change trying to come about, of strife happening everywhere you look. It is the history of change failing to come about, of strife going un-noticed everywhere you look. It is story of my life, of our lives, and it is the present with a few variations along the way. So pour me a drink and disbelieve.

29

Three
This is the history of the world. It is the history of change trying to come about, of strife happening everywhere you look. It is the history of change failing to come about, of strife going un-noticed everywhere you look. It is story of my life, of our lives, and it is the present with a few variations along the way. So pour me a drink and disbelieve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR P. H. Madore does not give a fuck about you. He thanks Leigh Hughes for her help and guidance. He edits DISPATCH LITAREVIEW. He runs TheWritePath.org. He has recently been published in a bunch of online magazines and has over the course of his “career” (quotations because it hasn't yet yielded him a living) has appeared in a few print magazines. Bother him at http://phmadore.net.

© 2006 by One-Legged Cow Press
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