The deserted middle school down the street served as a base of operations for the Smurf cosplayers, a temporary garment storage facility and a future home for their village diorama. The failed school system abandoned the building after the state banned math and reading and dissolved all child labor and minimum wage laws, to bring back manufacturing jobs. We built this! I’d sometimes see the blue-suited yiff-monsters run rampant in the neighborhood, using the magic s-word as a noun, verb, adjective, expletive, and a warning to everyone: don’t smurf with us, or we will smurf you in the ass.
Just outside of town, the product of the destroyed school system, giant slave labor camps of kids in their pre-teens, sewed together camouflage hunting jackets and cured beef jerky made from dead dogs, to be sold at Man Hunter Pro outlet stores across the midwest. High-test enemas of legalized speed, prescribed for ADD, kept the kids churning away on production for twenty hours a day, under the bright lights of the guard towers full of private security guards with sniper rifles and concussion grenades.
We’d buy a case of beer and drink on the porch, stirring a huge iron wok full of imitation Chinese food perched on top of a gas barbecue grill bought with Camel Cash from a previous tenant. With a Mossberg shotgun on the lawn chair next to me and a can of the corner store’s cheapest in hand, I’d watch the blue-faced losers get the shit beaten out of them by roving packs of meth-heads trying to steal anything of value. The Max Max bands of scab-covered toothless predators smashed the smurf out of those poor fuckers with lead pipes and pieces of lumber, taking their expensive phones and video gear, probably bought with parental moneys.
The Day After scenery can be rough stuff to process if you have even a shred of empathy toward your fellow man left in your system. But it’s cheaper than getting reamed on an HBO subscription, and with the temperature above 115 even at ten at night, I wasn’t about to sit inside in a house with no AC and bake away in front of an idiot tube. It’s consume or be consumed in this media landscape, and the “I don’t watch TV” line won’t get you pussy anymore, so we made do with our own version of the boob tube, the Rodney King live performance art series.
A small army of people stood on the road outside the subdivision and watched the police V-2 rockets fall from the sky, decimating craftsman homes with high explosive warheads. “We’ll wait until the first round finishes up, and then go in and start the looting,” he told me. “Plenty of furniture and household goods for the taking. Maybe some guns and ammo, too. Everyone here’s scared to death of poor people boosting their shit, and have a 9mm in their nightstand. That’s at least five hundred bucks on the open market, right in the palm of your goddamn hand.” A kid pulling a red wagon with an Igloo cooler sold beers, slick with ice-water, for five bucks each. Three for ten. My supply of bodega-bought Red, White, and Blue exhausted, I bought nine, and watched the explosions. I hoped for a good VCR, one of those 4-heads with HiFi sound and composite video outputs.