Billy and Lazzaro and poor old Edgar Derby crossed the prison yard to the theater now. Billy was carrying his little coat as though it were a lady's muff. It was wrapped around and around his hands. He was the central clown in an unconscious travesty of that famous oil painting "The Spirit of '76."
Edgar Derby was writing letters home in his head, telling his wife that he was alive and well, that she shouldn't worry, that the war was nearly over, that he would soon be home.
Lazzaro was talking to himself about people he was going to have killed after the war, and rackets he was going to work, and women he was going to make fuck him, whether they wanted to or not. If he had been a dog in a city, a policeman would have shot him and sent his head to a laboratory, to see if he had rabies. So it goes.
As they neared the theater, they came upon an Englishman who was hacking a groove in the Earth with the heel of his boot. He was marking the boundary between the American and English sections of the compound. Billy and Lazzaro and Derby didn't have to ask what the line meant. It was a familiar symbol from childhood.
Okay, I wasn't going to be political in the post, but I just have to point out something: Lazzaro sounds like Donald Trump. Revenge. Rackets. Rape. Pretty much describes everything that we know about the Trump dynasty. Throw in some Russians and a couple numbskull sons, and we would have to call him President Lazzaro.
It always amazes me when literature seems to predict the future. Of course, it's all hindsight. We don't see how George Orwell's 1984 describes 2017 America until we are in the middle of the collapse of society. We don't realize that Stephen King was describing Donald Trump in The Dead Zone until after Trump's finger is on the red button, ready to launch missiles at North Korea. If more people read, perhaps the United States wouldn't be in its current predicament.
Thank God both of my children are readers. My daughter read Cormac McCarthy's The Road in seventh grade. By the time she was a freshman, she was arguing with teachers about "unacceptable" books she wanted to read, and she usually won the arguments. When I see something about Jeff Sessions on the news and say, "Big Brother is watching," my daughter knows where I'm coming from.
Literature is about truth, and truth does not seem to be a valuable commodity at the moment in the White House. Perhaps public schools will be forced to start teaching alternative literature to students soon. Alternative novels. Alternative poems. Copies of Mein Kampf handed out to every student stepping onto a school bus. The Art of the Deal required reading for all high school graduates.
I am joking here, for the most part. But, as with all humor, there's always a kernel of truth in it. Let's hope that kernel never gets popped.
Saint Marty is thankful this evening for every writer and poet he has ever read.