March 3, 2017
By Mickey Friedman
You never know who you’ll meet at Fuel. I was writing about my friend Frank and The Deli when this guy asked to use the outlet beneath my table to charge his phone.
I gestured for him to sit. I didn’t want to be rude but it wasn’t hard to see he was troubled. He was about six feet tall, early twenties, but his eyes looked so much older. Muttering: “Fake views. Fake views.”
“I don’t want to intrude, but are you O.K? Can I help?”
He checked me out, then said slowly: “None of us is O.K. Not after what we went through … But let me tell, you survive that and you’re ready for anything … I’m a peaceful plumber from Ohio, but tomorrow I’m reporting for duty.”
“Thank you for your service. You headed to Iraq? Afghanistan?”
“I’d rather not say. As for help, it’s really hard to talk about it. Pretty much everybody who was there feels the same. And because Cynthia kicked the press out, they didn’t see it. So far away with their fake views. Probably why you don’t even know it happened.”
“Well I’m a writer and I’ve found that even though it’s hard to write about difficult things, it helps to get it out.”
He took a sip of his coffee, looked me over again, and decided to trust me: “People think I’m crazy talking about bugs, but folks need to know. I’m not really a picnic guy. I’m used to city roaches; they stand out. You’re on the way to the bathroom at night, you turn the light on, and there they are, scurrying like mad. No camouflage.
“But country bugs blend in. Green like the grass or brown like twigs. Anyway, if it wasn’t for second-cousin Cynthia’s fifth wedding to Harvey Presser, who despite her four failed marriages still figured they could pull it off, I wouldn’t have been in Kentucky in the first place. But family is family.
“Maybe Obama didn’t want to worry folks, but nobody warns you when you cross the border from West Virginia about those vicious Kentucky bugs.
“Probably because of jerk husband number one, Jasper Kincaid of the Kincaid Picnic Basket fortune, Cynthia insisted on an outdoor wedding. Knowing Cynthia, it was mostly to use the one hundred and fifty Kincaid Picnic Baskets she had gotten in the divorce.
“I might have have been the first to sense the problem. Paranoid, I could feel that small squadron of horseflies headed my way. A minute later I couldn’t enjoy my macaroni salad with those dive-bombing horseflies biting my neck and arms and legs.
“Then came the mosquitos with their high-pitched whining. First a dozen. A hundred. A thousand. Then the wasps and hornets.
“Shelly Anne Pondway, Cynthia’s friend from college and the Young Republicans, that blond lady you see on TV with the President was sitting at the next blanket besides that Banyon fellow, the President’s advisor guy. She said loudly: ‘These Obama bugs are killing me …’
“Then Shelly Anne complained: ‘Mexico … Most of them are born in the Mexico swamp and just fly over the border. Free as a bird. Obama didn’t lift a finger to stop them.’
“Then Steve chimed in: ‘Replacing our bugs, and biting the American people. It’s why the President says we need the bug wall. The big zapper. A huge zapper.’
“I don’t know much about politics but it sounded right. Because let me tell we could have used a big zapper. I’m not a particularly religious man, but if you ask me God wasn’t ready to bless Cynthia and Harvey Presser, at least not on that Sunday. Because we’re talking a biblical deluge of bugs. You could barely see the sky. Bugs as big as bats.
“Then the panic. Some not sure where they were running to. Shelly Anne and that Banyon fellow took off, madly sprinting across picnic blankets, yelling ‘Drain the Swamp. Ban The Bugs. The Wall. The Wall,’ knocking the groom’s family to the ground, potato salad and cole slaw flying everywhere, the mayo blinding some, who tripped and fell over others.
“There was blood and broken bones. There’s a reason we call it The Bowling Green Massacre. Even if the press with their fake views didn’t see it.
“So when Shelly Anne and the President talk about The War on Bug Terror and The Bug Ban, I’m all in. You can laugh at the way the President shakes hands and those tweeterings of his, but he’s looking after us. And so when Shelly Anne Pondway says it’s a crying shame Nordstrom won’t sell those Ivanka baubles, believe her. I do. Because I’ve been through Bowling Green with her.
“He’s my President; and Ivanka is his daughter. Family is family. So I’m off to Albany to fight the War on Nordstrom.”
Mickey Friedman’s Berkshire-based I Ching mysteries, “Danger” and “Folly”, as well as his non-fiction “A Red Family” are available on Amazon.com.