Letters From After, Day 7

Photo 34590151 / Barbed Wire © Angelo Gilardelli | Dreamstime.com

[Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6]

Dear Sergeant,

For the record, this is the apology letter you demanded after you read my last letter to my friend Bunky. I guess I understand why you were unhappy and wouldn’t let me write him today.

Until now, I have to admit, I thought the staff of this camp were stupid thugs. But you were bright enough to realize I left a short message to Bunky in the first letter of each paragraph yesterday.

Catastrophe will not descend on the camp if my pal realizes that while describing camp life in reassuring tones, I was also spelling out a plea for him to “HELP US.” It’s not like Bunky could help even if he wanted to, he doesn’t know where I am. Neither do I, for that matter.

Kudos, however, for finding my other implanted message. You have to know Bunky and me pretty well to suss out that both of us vomited after eating the beef strogonoff at the Northport Diner. My cover is blown, I can’t say nice things about the food here anymore. Damn.

Yesterday I guess I was more frustrated than I realized about being here. I know you guys are only following orders, so I do owe you an apology, and I hope you’ll accept it.

On the other hand, I don’t have any kind words for the angry men and women who have seized control of the government and enabled this Soviet-style camp for American citizens. I don’t want to get you in trouble, but I can’t believe you take those people seriously.

Under our system, or least the system I grown up in, people were allowed to criticize or even make fun of our leaders, to disagree with a law or a lawmaker, and to move about the country freely. Leaders who are confident in their beliefs ought not fear exposure to lesser ideas.

Yet these doddering old fools drove this country toward dictatorship for years, and now they’re tossing wrong-thinkers like me into camps surrounded by chain link and barbed wire.

Obviously they’re not very confident their ideology will fly with the masses. They have to know you can’t win a philosophical battle by throwing dissenters into a cage, but here I am with a few hundred of my fellow travelers.

Usurping a 200-year republic without an open revolution seems impossible, but here we are, happily living a Soviet lifestyle with empty shelves in grocery stores, thought police on every corner, rampant Pravda-style journalism, and citizens snickering at the doddering old fools in charge even as they cower and obey the rules.

Can you imagine the heyday historians will have years from now as they dissect the fall of the American Empire? It happened in a blink of an eye. It happened tortuously slowly over decades.

Other campers here aren’t taking it as calmly as I am. Even I’m not sure why I’m calm about it. Intellectually I’m outraged, but I can’t bring myself to feel any rage. Maybe I’m still in shock.

Much has been made over the old adage that it’s not the votes that count as much as who counts the votes. Part of bringing down the republic was destroying everyone’s faith in the election process. For years one party screamed about rigged elections, then they won a couple and now the other party is screaming.

Me, I have no use for either party. I suppose if the other party opened some camps, I’d be tossed into theirs. That’s another reason I don’t take this personally, Sarge.

“I got no need to beat you, I just want to go my way.” One of my favorite Malcolm Reynolds quotes, and that’s my philosophy, too. I have no beef with people I disagree with, as long as we leave each other alone.

Everyone agrees with that approach. Or at least I thought so.

For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I’ve been less than a model camper. I’m doing my best to do what I’m told, but I just can’t manage to think what you tell me to think.

Undulating thoughts just keep bubbling up about freedom and liberty and resisting tyrants with every breath.

Can you accept my apology even if it’s half-hearted? I’m sort of trying here.

Know this: My days of leaving secret messages at the margins are done. I hope you’ll let me write my letter to Bunky tomorrow.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

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