Article: 261401 of talk.bizarre From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Morrisa Sherman) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: Pickles in Brine Date: 1 Dec 1995 11:43:41 -0800 Organization: Best Internet Communications Lines: 67 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Status: O X-Status: Viktor. That's a laugh. My name does not suit me. Perhaps I should change it to Vanquished, along with every man in Tortuga. I marched to war singing "For Hearth and Home and Pickles in Brine" with the rest of the Bright Warriors in my platoon, but the ferocity of our resolve crumbled when assailed by the bored might of the young brutes who came here to represent "Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie." All the pride in Tortuga could not save so much as a grass leaf during a carpet bombing raid. Being a prisoner of war was not so bad. There is a certain dignity in knowing that you are right, and that the foreigners are oppressors and captors. And they did feed us and all. We were supposed to be quiet in the barracks, but the showers were always good for conversations with my countrymen, rumors of the front, stories of fair wives and good children with red cheeks. No it was not so bad, for we knew who we were. Returning home after the war was not so bad. I thought I'd be disgraced, having been taken prisoner. I was taught 'tis better to die than live in bond, but when I was released, my family was overjoyed that I crossed the thresh-hold of my home a whole man instead of a cripple. "Oh Viktor, Viktor, Viktor," my mother cried, over and over, so overwhelming was her joy at our reunion. I too was grateful, and though hard times were upon us, I gave as many coppers as I could to my wrecked brethren who begged in the streets, displaying their stumps and their wounds. They'd murmer wheedlingly "Harsh is God's retribution," and I'd drop coins in their dirty palms and reply piously "but his mercy heals like the touch of a mother." No, it wasn't so bad, for I was love, and I knew mercy. Even those first hard days of reconstruction were not so bad. The Bright Warriors that had been taken prisoner now banded together to offer our strength to the community. Along with the ranks of The Mothers of Our Nation and those hardy little troopers The Flowers of Youth, we had enough hands and a hundred times the courage we needed to rebuild our country. We ate our rolls with good Tortuga pickles, and the work was not so bad. If only the foreigners had simply left us alone, alone to scratch our pride back out of the dust ourselves, but the Campaign to Rebuild War-torn Tortuga came on the next ships, a new invasion, this time blighting our dignity instead of our land. The same faces and the same uniforms that so callously rent my sweet Tortuga asunder, the bored young boys that so easily crushed the honor of the Bright Warriors on the battlefield with their gatling guns and strange firy chemicals were back. It seemed there was nothing they could not do. They'd see one of us carrying a yoke-load of bricks, ask him where the site of his new home was to be, go there, slap up one of their "pre-fabricated dwellings," and offer the children foreign chocolate before they left. Chocolate! When their father had been struggling to find them cabbages! My children would ask if they could go be foreigners too, and I was ashamed. The McDonald's restaurant was the last straw. They put it up to serve the tastes of the foreigners, but soon a steady black market arose in which we traded our carvings, our gems, our fine embroidery, every tiny treasure left to our names for foreign money, so our children could eat the clean food, the ground meat uncut with old potatoes. My wife got a job there, and would smuggle pickles home, flaccid, rubbery, tasteless pickles, sour with defeat, salted with hopelessness, nothing like the piquant crunch of a true Tortuga pickle. Even our pickles became supplanted by the foreigners. I was not the Viktor, even in my home. So that is why I am here in this McDonald's restaurant with my gun, to make you pay for what your people have done to my country, to make you taste the flavor of the defeat with which you tormented Tortuga. Today you do not look bored. That is good. Now finish eating your damned pickles, or I'll kill more of you. The choice is not so bad, is it?