When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.
This is a short story set in America in the year 2030. President for life, Rick Perry has established Christian law in the country and rules with an iron fist. We will be following a father as he explains to his 10 year old son what America was like before PFL Perry took control of the the American legal system and eventually the whole country. We begin in Washington in front of the “Freedom Statue”. A statue depicting PFL Rick Perry grasping a bible to his chest and while stepping on the chest of a man who could only be described as “very Arab”.
“Dad, why is President Perry in charge forever? Teacher says it used to be 8 years and that was it.”
“She did, did she? That teacher of yours. I’d almost swear she were a stinking liberal. But we locked all them up years ago.”, The father looks off in the distance as though he were trying to recapture a long forgotten memory.
“What’s wrong, dad?” Charlie showed genuine concern as he tugged his father’s coat sleeve. His father always grew distant when anyone mentioned the word “liberal”. In 2020, not long after Charlie was born, PFL Perry had anyone involved in the “liberal conspiracy” apprehended and either imprisoned or executed. It was a violent time and Charlie’s dad never liked talking about it. In fact, he could not remember him ever discussing it. The word liberal rarely ever left his lips which made Charlie all the more worried.
“It’s nothing son. So, let’s get back to your question. You see, PFL Perry had a vision. A vision from GOD himself. GOD told him to become President and use his authority to become president for life. Only PFL Perry could save America from the temptation of the devil.” Saying it out loud always made him feel stupid. GOD, the devil. He knew how Rick Perry gained his unjust dominion. He was there. Something he would never tell Charlie.
He was there when Perry helped engineer the attack on America. He was there when Perry, “single handed”, stopped the worst of the attacks in 2012. There when a grateful nation voted him into office and changed the Constitution to keep him there. He was Perry’s right hand man. Had a hand in planning and carrying out the whole sad ordeal. He had to leave. had to get away from it.
But his hands were already stained. His wife, Charlie’s mother, could barely look at him. Eventually she left him and tried to take custody of Charlie. He couldn’t accept that. Without thought he turned his wife’s name over to Perry’s “Inquisition”. Labeled her a liberal and a traitor to America. She was taken away 3 years ago and he has not heard about her since. He couldn’t bring himself to tell Charlie. Charlie assumed his father’s current wife was his mother. How could he tell him that he had his mother taken away for trying to take him away? Would she have even succeeded? Perry took many civil rights away from women. Siad they had no place in society but to serve their husbands. Many had rebelled against it and paid the ultimate price. Made Kent State seem quaint.
Charlie was getting apprehensive as they walked. They stopped in front of a large building. Long marble steps leading to a landing lined with beautiful pillars. Something was missing though. You could see where something had been dug out in the middle of the floor.
“What used to be there, dad? It’s all messed up.” Charlie’s father looked to where he was pointing. Up until a few years ago ti was the Lincoln Memorial. A monument to a man many had considered the greatest President the country had every known. Under Perry’s leadership it was branded a monument to a traitor. American history was being altered. Lincoln was cast as a tyrant, subjugating the South and invading them to destroy their way of life. It was sad. Not only women but minorities had seen their civil rights greatly dialed back. Segregation was taking hold once again. Laws that once kept prejudice in check had been repealed. The KKK was now an official political party with members in Congress. Some people were simply counting the days til slavery was reintroduced. Many minorities simply left the country. The total population of the country dropped by tens of millions. Didn’t change much. Poor white southerners still blame black people for all their problems. Rich white westerners still blame Mexicans.
Most of them are gone now. The economy took the biggest hit it had ever received. In 2021 a depression took hold that was more sever than the fabled depression of the early 20th century. Perry said that Canada was manipulating the people leaving our country and attempting a coup against him. They were the reason our economy was bleeding out. All lies. We lost 40% of our labor force. That is what killed us. But now we are in year 10 of the Canadian – American war. Remember all those jokes about how easy it would be to invade Canada? Turns out it isn’t. Apparently England still takes the whole “violating sovereign control” thing very seriously. So really we’re fighting both Canada and England. The European Union, now the largest economy on Earth, has called for a blockade of out ports and an embargo immediately be put in place. Word from the inside is that Perry plans to nuke Canada and bring his war to England. It’s getting scary.
“This is the site for the new Robert E. Lee Memorial. He was a great general way back in the 19th century. Defeated that coward Lincoln many times before Lincoln brainwashed our labor force into betraying us.” That one really hurt. Charlie’s dad loved Lincoln. Looked up to him his entire life. If ever there was a man who deserved to have statues built in his likeness, it was Lincoln.
“I see.” said Charlie. “We were watching the news in class last week and Secretary Bachmann said that they were ‘setting history right’ with this memorial.” Michelle Bachmann. The de facto leader of Perry’s “vice squad”. A miserable woman who may just be crazier than Perry himself. The only woman to hold any position in government. There were many rumors about what she had to do to get there but Charlie’s dad knew the truth. Perry could use her. She had the zealous conviction eh needed to ensure his orders were followed to the letter. And she reveled in her work. Total control of the lives of every U.S. citizen. A tear came to his eye as he though of the “camps” she sent gay people to. Abuses that no person should ever have to suffer. It wasn’t exactly Nazi Germany but it very much resembled the cages we kept Japanese Americans in during WW 2. One place where we could “educate” them and, of course, keep an eye on them. Suicide rates in the gay community have increased every year since Bachmann got the job.
He couldn’t take it anymore. He had been lying to Charlie his whole life. Letting him think this is how things should be. This is real America. Teachers and state news filling his head with terrible ideas. No more. When they returned home Charlie’s dad told him everything. Even things he didn’t think he would understand. He had to tell someone. He told Charlie about Perry’s infamous rise to power. His lies and traitorous actions. How he had organized those attacks and positioned himself to seem like the hero. How almost everyone involved was soon after killed to ensure secrecy. How he had barely escaped with his life. Then he told Charlie about his mom. About this beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful woman who had brought meaning to his life and given him a wonderful son. And how he had paid back that kindness with betrayal. Charlie’s dad was crying now. His voice broke on each word as he struggled to get them out of his throat. He told him he could never tell his step-mom any of this.She was too committed to the lie. She may not take it well, or worse, turn them in to the inquisition.
Finally he asked his son for forgiveness. Charlie sat quietly with a confused look on his face. And who could blame him? Only ten years old and he was just told that reality, everything he knows, is a lie. He asked to be excused and his father accepted. He would give Charlie time to think. to come to terms with this on his own. his wife called for supper and they spoke nothing more of it for the rest of the day. Charlie’s dad decided that tomorrow he would show Charlie some of the old books he had in the attic. Some of his mother’s books. Biographies. histories, textbooks. All with the truth inside. The true story of America. After supper he watched some TV and crawled into bed.
The next day he awoke to an empty house. It was Saturday so they could be at church. Saturdays were not mandatory so maybe they didn’t want to wake him. Charlie’s dad walked downstairs and brewed up a fresh pot of coffee and went out to get the newspaper. Suddenly the front door closed shut behind him. Locked. He heard footsteps trail away from the door so he knocked a few times. No answer. He began pounding the door.
“Hello! Hey, I’m out here! Open up dammit!” No response. Is it Charlie? His wife? Charlie’s dad made his way round to the garage to try the side door. Locked as well. The car was gone. Now he was worried. If it wasn’t Charlie or his wife then perhaps he should arm himself. Luckily PFL Perry gave every American a gun as part of his defense budget. He grabbed the glock from his tool chest and made his way around to the sliding glass door in back leading to the kitchen. He was beginning to notice how eerily quiet it was. You hear dogs barking all day in this neighborhood but there was nothing. No people, no traffic, nothing. He was freaking out. Then it came to him like a shot to the gut. He had been sold out. Charlie had told his wife. Panicking he threw a rock through the glass door and quickly grabbed the keys to his ATV from a drawer in the kitchen.
Heading back to the garage his eye caught a car parked a block away. He knew this car. Had driven it many times before. It was the inquisition. Quickly he turned the corner to the garage and his world went black. Charlie’s father would never know what had happened. Never know that it was actually Charlie who had alerted the authorities. Charlie who had told them about his dad “talking like a traitor”. Charlie who had closed the door and locked him out. His wife was at the grocery store. Oblivious to everything. Though she probably wouldn’t have cared anyways. In her eyes Charlie was doing the right thing.
Charlie’s dad opened his eyes and found himself in a sterile white room with a computer console in the middle, strapped to a vertical hospital bed. He wondered if this is where they had taken his wife to “educate” her. An old man in a lab coat walked in. He paid no attention to Charlie’s dad. Didn’t say a word. He typed some things into a computer and left the room. The door opened again and he couldn’t believe what he saw. It was his wife. Wearing an armband normally worn by the inquisition.
“Sally! What…. what are you doing here?” Charlies’ dad was losing it. The disorientation from the drugs didn’t help.
Sally smiled. “You sent me here, honey. Don’t you remember? But don’t feel bad about it. It was the right thing to do. I was a traitor and I needed to be educated.” She stood smiling, looking straight into him with unblinking eyes.
“S..Sally..” Charlie’s dad’s voice was breaking. Tears streamed down his face. “What have I done? I could have stopped this. I was there goddammit, i was there…..” He sobbed as he realized the hopelessness of his situation. A situation he designed, he created. Never thinking it would be used on him.
“Where is Charlie? Where is our son?!”
“Shhhh. It’s okay. He’s fine. He’ll be staying with your wife. She’ll remarry. Can’t have single women you know.”
Charlie’s dad was broken. No more tears, no more grief, nothing. He accepted it. Maybe felt he deserved it. He was responsible for the poison in his son’s head. He was responsible for the zombie his wife had become. The love of his life and he had did this to her. Sally turned and approached the console. She hit a few buttons and the bed began to tilt back. It stopped once Charlie’s dad was fully horizontal. Above him he saw operating lights and a TV screen.
“What’s happening? What are you gonna do?” Charlie’s dad began to struggle against the restraints. The sedation was wearing off and he felt his strength returning. “Release me! Now! Yo know you don’t want to do this, Sally! Please! You’re better than this! Better than me! I’m sorry. I’m…sorry.” His voice trailed off as the TV screen erupted with bright lights and images.
One moth later. Oval Office.
PFL Perry is going over some new intel on the English positions in Canada when his secretary informs him his guests have arrived. He asks for them to be sent in.
“Ahh, Mr. Whitaker! So good to have you back on the team. We missed your insights.” Perry reaches out his hand to shake.
“Thank you sir. I’m happy to be back”. Charlie’s dad had a huge smile on his face as he took PFL Perry’s hand in his. He was home. GOD bless America and GOD bless Rick Perry. His chosen son.”