Suburbiaville by Kyle Cabrera
Every time I think about the events that led up to the last time I saw Martin I become sick. Now that I am an adult I know why it happened, but when I was a child his disappearance left me confused. In history class, the week before he left, our third grade teacher was lecturing about the Second American Civil War. Most of our history books cover the Second American Civil War extensively, but little is said about the first American Civil War, except that it ended in a tie inspiring a brief period of compromise. Our teacher stood in front of the class and asked if anyone knew the names of the two armies that fought each other.
“Us,” a student replied without raising his hand.
“Yes, and who do you mean by us?” The teacher replied.
“The Tea Party,” he said confidently.
The teacher smiled. “Does any one know the name of the army that fought the Tea Party?”
A boy in the front raised his hand. “The blue-bellies.”
“Yes, they were called that, but do you know the official name.”
The boy shook his head and a girl interrupted from behind him. “My daddy said we beat the hippies.”
“Yes, in a way that is true, but that was not their official name. Does anyone know the official name?”
My friend Martin raised his hand. “The Liberals,” he said.
“Very good Martin. Yes, the Liberals. Now when the Second American Civil War started, states like ours, in the south and the middle of the country, started to rebel against the Liberals who had been holding power for quite some time. Now does anyone have any idea why the Tea Party rebelled against the Liberals and seceded from the country?”
“My dad said they didn’t believe in the Bible,” one child responded.
“Yes, that is true. They had a very strange religion where they believed that the Earth was billions of years old and that Adam and Eve were born from monkeys. Any other reasons.”
“My dad said there was this bad thing called Hollywood,” another child blurted out.
“Yes, that is true as well. We won’t get into that this year, but in sixth grade you guys will learn about the Hollywood Anarchist Alliance led by the Minister of Propaganda Harvey Weinstein. A very wretched institution. But there is one reason I am looking for in particular.”
“Sodom and Gomorrah returned,” said Martin without raising his hand.
“Yes, very good Martin. Of course, that is what we call them now, but do you know what the Liberals called them all the way back then?”
“My dad told me before, but I forget.”
“That’s okay Martin, the names are hard to remember. Class, write this down. The two cities that threw our country into a state of moral decay were called…”
The teacher turned around and wrote down the names in white chalk, pronouncing each letter as she spelled it. “N-e-w, space, Y-o-r-k, space, C-i-t-y and S-a-n, space, F-r-a-n-c-i-s-c-o. New York City and San Francisco were the two most single…”
When my teacher said this I drifted off. I would have never admitted this to my teacher or even anyone of my family members, for surely I would have been sent to the psych ward or a juvenile correctional facility, but I would have loved to see a city. The history books always painted them as the filthy headquarters of the rebel party that had tall buildings that all looked different and disorderly. But I think that is what intrigues me the most. It seems so different from the world we live in now. Nowadays, by law, all houses are built to look the same, and they can only vary in size, not style. Around each community is a gate with one entrance that all standard sports utility vehicles can fit through. It is hard to believe, but before I was born, even our country didn’t have a gate around it—it took many years after the Second American Civil war for them to even start building the Great Gate. After it had finally been completed and reached around every inch of the Republic of American States, it was proclaimed that we were the first country to finally achieve the true goal of the gated community—complete independence and opportunity for innovation. We were finally relieved of the chaotic diversity of cultures and ideology that once plagued this nation, or so it says in the opening paragraph of the Constitution.
I then began to think of my grandfather who loved to tell me about the day the cities were destroyed. It actually took years for the cities to be completely annihilated, but whenever one of the old-timers talks about it, they can’t help but cling to the romantic idea that it all happened on Freedom Day. Ever since I was young, the old men and women who lived along my street would tell me where they were when they heard that Reckles’ troops had taken over New York City. My grandfather said it was a wretched place where perverts and drunks who were called artists and intellectuals would hang out on the streets doing drugs, and it wasn’t uncommon to spot a degenerate couple having sex on the sidewalk for all passersby to see. He would tell me of how people called gypsies and actors would attract large crowds to things called theatres where they would pretend to be other people and tell lewd stories of crime and depravity. And, on top of that, as hard as it may be to believe, the city was filled with things that looked like the Bible, but instead of scripture, they contained fake stories and hypnotic nonsense composed by people called poets and writers whose job it was to create horrifying tales meant to scare the public and undermine the government. However, the thing my grandfather hated most about the cities were the baboons. He said the city was full of baboons and they would come to our country from planes and ships.
He would relish the telling as he went on about the Great Green Witch who stood 400 feet tall in the waters of New York City as a sign of welcome to the baboons. The elders always love to talk about the day they tore down the Great Green Witch, and how when she finally toppled she shook the island on which she stood and made waves that soaked the shores of Manhattan for days. There’s no way to ever know for sure if that is what really happened. None of my grandparents were actually there, but they said that back in those days people were able to watch things that happened around the world on TV. They said that before I was born, television sets didn’t just play reality shows and sports. There was something called the news, and this is how all the elders watched the events of Freedom Day. But no one ever likes to talk about the news. It was outlawed right after I was born. Most people had agreed that it had outlived its purpose and that they were glad to see it go. Freedom Day had come and gone and our country stripped itself of any opposition—what else was there left to watch in the world.
The bell rang and school was over. I had not listened to a single word from my teacher, but seeing how my grandfather was an expert on the war I figured I could ask him anything I needed to know for the test. I ran into Martin on my way out of class, and asked him if he wanted to walk to the pick up zone with me. We lived on the same street in the same gated-community since we were young, and I considered him one of my close friends.
“How do you know so much about the Second American Civil War?” I asked him as we walked down the hall.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” he said.
There was a long silence as he and I kept walking to the doors that led out to the pick up zone.
“Do you want to hear something strange?” he asked with a confused look. “I walked by my mom and dad’s room the other night and heard my dad talking to my mom. He was angry and told her that it wasn’t right that we were celebrating the Fourth of July. I even heard him say that we didn’t win the First Civil War.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I never asked him.”
We waited in the pick up zone for five minutes in silence until my mom pulled up in her Hummer.
When I got home, I went to my grandfather who was sitting in the living room, and I told him that my class was discussing the Second American Civil War. This immediately sparked his interest, and he told me to come sit with him so he could tell me stories. He began by recounting the day Reckles had finally united the Bible Belt with a militia large enough to demand cessation.
“My brothers and I signed up for the war knowing we would defeat those socialist Liberals,” my grandfather said with a patriotic look. “For one thing, all those left-wing-nuts settled in these densely populated cities on the coasts. They had enough people, sure, but when the bombings began it was like shooting fish in a barrel. And even though they had so many people, it didn’t matter because the liberals were such pansies— they didn’t even believe in carrying assault weapons, nor did they even know how to use a handgun.”
I had heard all this before but it never failed to shock me because any preschooler is taught how to shoot a snub nose 38, a standard revolver, and even a Glock 9 before they can move onto kindergarten where they learn to read and handle more advanced weapons like SIG Saures and Tech N9nes.
My grandpa continued as he rocked back and forth in his chair. “The second reason that we all knew the Liberals would never have a snowball’s chance in hell at winning the war was because once the cessation began and the president had ordered the troops to put down the uprising, many troops simply left the military and joined Reckles’ militia. More than two-thirds of the military came from the Bible Belt and other mid-west states that had supported the armed insurgency of the Tea Party, so it only made sense that they would join the revolution. It was a wonderful time of patriotism, boy.”
“I bet,” I replied. I stared at him for a second and hesitated before speaking. “Grandpa, can I ask you something?”
“You know Martin down the street, right?”
My Grandfather nodded.
“Well, he and I were talking today and he told me that he heard his dad say that we didn’t win the first American Civil War,” I said meekly.
My grandfather’s rocking chair came to and abrupt halt and he stared at me with intense eyes. “What did you just say boy?”
“He even said that his dad didn’t want to celebrate the Fourth of July.”
“You are sure about this, boy?” My grandpa said with a voice that scared me.
“Well, yes. Martin and I were talking about it right before ma’ picked me up from school.”
“Is that right?” My grandfather stared at me in complete silence. “Look boy, your friend is obviously confused. Don’t listen to him. Do me a favor kid and run to your room; I need to make a phone call.”
“Okay, grandpa,” I said. I began to walk to my room and the looked back. “Am I in trouble?”
My Grandpa looked me up and down and then smiled. “No, boy. Now go run to your room.”
Awhile later, I heard my grandfather open the door for a group of men who came in the house and proceeded to the living room. I peaked out my door to see most of the elders of the neighborhood sitting around talking in hushed voices. Usually, most of these men only came over on Sunday when they had their weekly veterans’ meeting. I figured my grandfather had simply changed the date for the meeting, so I closed my door and turned on the television to watch The Real Housewives of America on my personal ninety-two inch virtual definition three-dimension flat screen.
The next day when I went to school, Martin wasn’t in class. It sort of irritated me because I wanted to tell him that he was wrong and didn’t know what he was talking about. When school was over my mom picked me up and brought me home. I sat around the house for a little while but soon became bored, so I figured that I would go to Martin’s house and see why he didn’t come to school. As I walked down our street lined with identical houses, I had an eerie sense that someone was watching me. When I pulled up in front of Martin’s house, I turned around and saw a car parked across the street with a man in the driver seat whom I didn’t recognize. I turned back around walked the path to Martin’s front door and knocked on the door. A lady with blonde hair and a plastic face answered the door.
“Hello, how are you sweetie?” The lady said to me.
I looked at this strange woman who I had never seen before and then looked at the address to make sure I had the right place. “I’m, sorry,” I said “is Martin here?”
“Oh sweetie,” the woman chattered. “Were you friends with young Martin?”
“Yes, I am. I live down the street. This is his house, where is he?” I asked irritated.
“Well, Martin and his family moved. We just moved in. We are your new neighbors, the Thompson family. I’m Martha Thompson.”
I stood there in silence as Martha Thompson smiled at me.
“I don’t think I understand,” I stammered. “Where is Martin?”
“Oh sweetie,” she looked at me with big adoring eyes. “Martin and his family were just not the right fit for this neighborhood. But don’t worry we are your new neighbors now, and I’m sure we will get along just fine. In fact, I have a son just about your age; I’m sure you two will get along great.”
“This doesn’t make any sense. Where is Martin?!” I demanded.
“Sweetie, maybe you should talk to your parents about this. But if you need anything don’t hesitate to stop by. We will see you around,” she said while signaling goodbye and closing the door.
I stood stunned, staring at the door until I finally turned around and walked back towards my house. The car that was parked across the street had disappeared.