Originally published in ‘Stories of X’ (1979)
Deep in the Orient the smoking bowl fumes. The natives of the southern mountains chew their leaves for life. The natives of the Southwest eat their buttons religiously, picking dark fungus.
George had his own patch, and the peace pipe kept many soothing moments calm. From the hills came the factories and the stills. When the swinging strayed, the singing stopped.
An old American favorite at the fountain brought a brief relief from menstrual pain. Along came a minor confrontation gone sour. Young pincushions flourished deep in the jungle. The boys back home invented undreamed of chemicals, and everywhere the scent of burning flowers.
The boys came home undernourished from depleting inventories. Spoiled by the frank availability overseas. They were trained in war to move undetected, to fly. To trust to a limit and respect their superiors. They had to get back to work. They had to make money. To feed tortured, tattered families.
The power brokers and politicians ran out of easy armory contracts. They had to find new toys to play the game on the trading field. To feed the undernourished. Harvest the Oriental fields, develop the long forgotten rope trade. Teach the mountain villages the importance of chemical laboratories. Worst of all, it was all in line with the plans of the adversaries, like walking up to a smoking gun. On the record: ‘we are against’, ‘we will fight’. From the highest echelons of business, political and diplomatic circles: ‘buy the product’. Put the boys to fly and move undetected, to sell! Feed the undernourished.
The profits began to add up. They began to shakedown a simple and straightforward economy. They created international tidal waves.
A new plan of action had to be drawn in response to a new subculture of unemployed, homeless, high dollar battered street vendors and ten year old carpetbagging dictators. A new class was formed. Easy money, high stakes, finagling wealthy criminals with an expensive taste for the churches of the night.
Start a war. Bleed the taxpaying dollar and feed it to fight the roots of mega multi-national profits.
He was my lieutenant in Nam, we did a few together. He is on a D. C. staff now, pays well. I guess one in the bush is worth two in the desert.
The banker politician and celebrity justice shake hands at the gala event. The multimillion dollar shipment has arrived in time for their re-election campaign. Down the street the minority crack dealer trying to feed his wife and kids, hears a shot. His buyer hits the street in blood. He feels the cold steel cuffs tighten on his wrists. The cop gets an extra hit, the judge laughs, and the banker pours another shot.
An answer? More money for planes to stop them. More contracts. More congressional profits. Your money. And more money to run them. More ways and more places and more of it. Your money.
All the money to give them jobs, give them homes and give them food. More money to give them nice cars, give them mansions and give them banquets. No money. Give them drugs.