Underground Irony [Today's News Fiction by Jenean McBrearty, September 28, 2012]
Wise Hootie Owl— at WWW.ASKWHO.COM—was more than a website for the chronically confused. Directives such as, “Dump the SOB already”, issued with painful regularity to young people with hopeless attachments to abusive significant others, were also encoded messages to Wellwishers.
Editor-in-Chief Marston Michaels, 'ol M&M who loved chocolate unrepentantly, notified his submitting followers they'd be meeting, where and when, through arcane artistic allusions and advice to hormone dominated adolescents and wily whiny children.
Dear WHO: I live at home and my mother refuses to give me an allowance. Is this fair? I'm 8 years old. Signed, Oppressed.
Dear Oppressed: Suck it up and write me when you're 20 and on your own.
Meaning: WHO headquarters. Eight o'clock. Women's turn to bring the cupcakes. Yearly dues due.
The Censors had little trouble deciphering the message, except for the true ingredients of the refreshments and where, exactly, headquarters was. Wellwishers were suspected of using narcotics to induce creativity, and Wellwishers suspects were never seen leaving their homes.
“The Allies planted false information about the D-Day invasion on a corpse, threw it into the sea, and made sure the Germans recovered it. Hitler concentrated his defenses in Calais. Maybe this is a Wellwisher decoy message meant to throw us off track,” FBI Director J. Meager said to the Writer's Task Force when they'd assembled at the Quantico, Virginia office.
“Or a feeble attempt at humor,” lead WTF Agent Turnbull said, “are we supposed to believe these subversives eat cupcakes?”
J. Meager shot agent Turnbull a glare, suspecting Turnbull was a turncoat. “We found a Wendy's receipt in Tim McVeigh's glove box. Don't think for a moment evil people only eat raw meat. Maybe it's time we reviewed why we're hunting down this crew.” The lights went off and a screen lowered for the PowerPoint slideshow. It reminded Turnbull of the noise a stage curtain made as it opened for the first act. J. Meager delivered his lines perfectly.
“No fictional or nonfictional creation, communication, or depiction shall display any of the following:
No fictional or nonfictional creation, communication, or depiction shall use any of the above directed toward, used to describe, or created in scenes, that contain, in any form, explicit or implicit negative and/or stereotypical representations of conflicts between or among:
·Lesbians, gays, bisexual, or transgendered people
·Organizations political parties or entities
These Wellwishers are purveyors of hate speech. A sneaky bunch that doesn't wish anyone well,” J. Meager said. “Remember that.”
Turnbull raised a hesitant hand. “They're fiction writers with First Amendment rights, right?”
“Yes, but like journalists they have to write within the rules about the right things. Clean. Harmonious. Peace promoting things. I think that'd be self evident from the laws, Turnbull. You defending these freaks?” J. Meager was still speaking in the dark.
“No, sir! I'm feeling anxious about the conflict between mother and child in the WHO letter.”
J. Meager turn off the computer, turned on the lights, and went to Turnbull's side. “I apologize. Didn't mean to imply disloyalty on your part. Not at all. And we're looking into shutting down advice columns that glorify parental economic deprivation. “
Turnbull wiped a tear off his cheek with his sleeve. “I hate child abuse,” he said.
“And that, People, is why Charles Dickens' books were put to the flames,” J. Meager told the Task Force patting Turnbull on the shoulder. “Base words give rise to base emotions that fuel base behavior. I want this task force to hit a home run.”
Agent Turnbull opened his bedroom closet door and accessed a secret stairwell that led to a tunnel, that led to a great round room with 20 doors. A Wellwishers cell, Turnbull's was called Underground Irony, that connected 10—20 secret writers who'd moved into adjacent properties and immediately constructed basements and tunnels through their concrete slab foundations. Here, throughout America's cities, writers met to read and share and conjure their fictions in high-tech writers webs, air-conditioned, subterranean prison cells where everyone was free.
“Topside we live as worms and moles in glass and iron,” M&M said to Turnbull as they drank a six-pack of white wine coolers and waited for the others. “In catacombs we live in class irony, wrapped in cocoons of controversy and characters and cowardice. Treacherous. Traitors to both government-ordered order and individual liberty, because we're afraid to confront the Leviathan of Political Correctness. “
Turnbull couldn't accuse his Editor-in-chief of purple prose anymore than he could accuse J. Meager of 1st Amendment violations. Everyman writes his own version of a story. Instead he shook his head back and forth and up and down in balanced agreement and said, “How like our fiction is our nation. Subtexted. Fucked.”
Follow us on Twitter @Khakjaan
Return to Toylit
Subscribe to Toylit