A few years back my son told me about his day in kindergarten: ‘We practiced the truder drill. It’s like the fire drill, only instead of going outside we go to the back of the room. The teacher locks the door and pulls the shade. We all keep quiet.’
His anecdote about a potential armed intruder at school has haunted and inspired my writing since.
Following is an excerpt from my forthcoming novel, The Patchworks, about life in the slow lane as the federal bureaucracy attempts to solve the issues that matter most.
Teague said, ‘I told my boys, ‘They’ve been doing drills since forever. Different drills for all kinds of emergencies. Emergencies that never happened. Like the A-bomb.’
William asked, ‘A-bomb? Is that like the F-bomb? Hayden got in trouble for using the F-bomb. What’s an F-bomb? Miss Belmont sent him to the principal’s office for using the F-bomb. Are we going to have F-bomb drills?’’
The F-Bomb Drill
The Marquis de Sade comedy hour? Adolf Hitler touching base with his inner child? A casual discussion of pillage and plunder with Genghis Kahn and Attila the Hun? John Altson’s Does Harry Dream of Electric Sheep? An Adult Social Satire really can lighten any subject. At its core, Altson’s book is a fun riff on Jonathan Swift’s classic satire of the human condition, detailing Harry Enlightenment’s voyage from Earth (circa 3000 A.D.) to Cetus-2 and the civilization of Baa—the Land of the Sheep.
What Harry Enlightenment finds there is frightfully similar to life in the U.S.A. circa 2014: politicians run amuck; climate change deniers in charge of atmospheric research; a culture permeated by guns and violence, unable to take even the most basic legislative action to control the prevalence of weapons or the entertainment industry that popularizes their use.
I give you the Speaker of the Baaner (not Boehner!) House of Representatives:
“Last week’s school shooting saddens me. As I understand, the perpetrator obtained his weapon legally, so there is really nothing we can do about it, other than making sure that the Mouthies discuss the negatives of random Sheepicide. We cannot change our Second Amendment and the Ohmys producing our weapons would become angered by any manufacturing restrictions. We need the Ohmy financial support.”
Unfortunately for the citizens of Baa, the law clearly states that Baaners may obtain any weapon for their personal use. And with laws permitting absolute freedom of speech, the violence permeating their media cannot be checked, “…So another heated debate persisted, ending in no resolution.”
But why (other than a Mohamed cartoon convention in Texas) harp on this societal deficiency alone when Altson holds up the mirror to so many others? More