We watched our assailants sack Constantinople, New York City, Narnia, Oz,
and all we could do was stand there, hands in our pockets,
waiting for the next Greyhound out of the Emerald City. In the bus,
the windows made the flames engulfing the bright green towers all the more vibrant
so I decided to talk about how the red flames and emerald edifices reminded me
of Christmas trees. We were all devastated, but sometimes there’s nothing left to do or say.
Call it a weakness, but even enemies in fantasy worlds
are too threatening for me to face before I need to change the channel,
pause my imagination with a bookmark, or cancel the battle before the threat
of fantasy violence becomes actual violence. Where’s the line between a demagogue,
a dictator, a fascist regime, and the Wicked Witch of the West and her horde
of flying monkeys anyway? Not even Patton would have a plan for flying monkeys.
Orcs, goblins, trolls, and oil tycoons are hard to tell apart anyway, so why risk
pissing them off? Why not bear the threats with a smile?
I’ve always preferred sharing beers with potential enemies
over punching them. And if our country fell under attack, I’d pray for God
to give me the strength to win the enemy over with a few corny jokes and a wink.
Aslan would call me weak in body and faith. Oz would burn. Gandalf would throw me
from a cliff and shun me, but I’d fall from grace in style. I’d be sure to praise
Gandalf’s beard, the stunning coordination of flying monkeys, the way emerald
in flames was a nice aesthetic choice for an attack. I’d compliment both sides.
I’m not a coward. I’m just being polite.
Lane Chasek is a freelance writer and editor from Lincoln, Nebraska. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Contrast, Jokes Review, Journey, and Laurus. He spends most of his free time at Vietnamese grocery stores.