Recently on a trip in the United States, I asked my friend for a writing prompt to pass the time in the plane. This is what he gave me:“The United States has completely lost the Cold War. What does the world look like in the perspective of a young man in this society?”
I love alternate history!
Content warning: themes of homophobia and violence.
Man, I’m tired. Though it has been a successful week. I feel like I spent over 60 hours this week notarizing work transfers at city hall. It is always like that around May though. The spring makes people antsy, especially after the particularly cold winter we had here in Bolinsgrad.
As the flowers bloom, people’s imagination soars.
They ask themselves: “What is it that I could be? Can I too be like the growing roses?”
These are the kinds of questions asked. I don’t ask these questions of myself though. They seem so tempting. Everyone around me has a deep hope of change, but they don’t know anything. Not the things I know at least.
Though, my mind wanders. It has been a successful week after all. I think it is time for a drink.
I grab my thinnest sweatshirt and head out the door. I live up on- what we call- “the hill” in Bolinsgrad. I live right next to the prestigious universe of Godczeck, where the brightest students attend. They are hand picked by out statesmen to learn fine arts, literature, and history. Though I question the history taught there.
While I don’t know everything about our past, 170 or so years ago, I am fairly certain this school used to be called “Brown”. I learned this from an old book I received from my father, who is a member of the city’s politiburo. If it was learned that I read these books, I could receive a reduction in pay. But I think it is worth it. I may not be the brightest, but it feels as if I see things that others do not. Is that what intelligence is?
I make my way down the hill to my favorite, and the only one in town, martini bar. Because of my father, I can partake in things I can’t actually afford.
Though my father is an incredibly kind and generous man, nobody wants to be on the bad side of the city’s politiburo. After all, everyone wants pay increases.
Perhaps I am abusing my place of privilege, but should I care? My job is monotonous and underpaid. I deserve fun, as well.
“Good evening, Joe!” the bartender waves at me.
“Good evening to you as well, Dreyer. I’ll have my usual, and if you can, make it the stiffest in the house,” I reply.
I know it won’t be stiff. It’s not Dreyer’s fault. He always bends over backwards for me or any patrons. It’s not reported in the news, but I’ve heard a rumor that the American Alcohol Board had a major mishap in the northeast. A “major mishap”? Please.
The national board members are some of the vilest people I have heard of. Nothing but corruption. But what is a city notary, like myself, to do?
It would just cause trouble for me anyways.
I sip the drink I am handed, and I can say it is nothing more than glorified water. Is anything consistent? My workload is spontaneous. My father is in and out of the city like he is some hot shot premier, and now my booze is drying up. Last year booze was cheap. This year booze will be nonexistent. What am I to do in the winter?
Well I have a good idea of what I want to do this winter. Recently I have gotten quite brave, or at least brave on my standards. Sometimes in life we get so lonely that we must risk our life for just a shred of affection.
Most people don’t have to deal with this, at least to my knowledge. Other people are in “productive” relationships. In their love they get married and have children. These children are “essential to the common state.”
Everything must always be productive. Have some purpose. Though I feel the opposite of our leaders. While they see my job as useful, I see it as completely arbitrary and pointless. While they would see my newly blossoming love as a “distraction” or “degenerate,” I have never had such a sense of purpose in my life.
Perhaps I will give him a call tonight. My father is out of town anyways.
I finished my drink and look around the bar. Nothing but boring suits. Empty men with empty lives.
“I should be going, Dreyer. I just wanted to take the edge off after a busy week,” I smiled.
Truthfully, I am incredibly horny right now. I haven’t seen Anthony in weeks, but I can’t call him now. It is a bit too early, and his wife would probably answer.
So I will walk the street instead. Half the signs are in English and half the signs are in Russian. I have taken Russian lessons my whole life, but I can still hardly understand it. No one speaks it in their day-to-day anyways. And when we get messages from the motherland we just get someone proficient to translate it. Another useless thing.
In my books, I have learned that my city used to be called “Providence” in the state of “Rhode Island.” Everyone knows this country used to be called “The United States” but I have only come across a few that could name the states. “Delaware,” “Rhode Island,” and “Virginia” are the three names I know.
Oof. I am getting impatient and bored. I think I will call Anthony. My father makes it so I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone, so what do I have to lose?
I hear a woman sobbing.
I hang up.
What an odd greeting. I think I will swing by his place to see if everything is ok.
As I am walking my mind dwells on him. Especially the last time I saw him. He had just recently gotten a haircut and a new necklace. Though I think jewelry is frivolous spending, I was charmed by it and the way is draped his chest. He was rubbing my legs and joked about leaving Bolinsgrad to live with me completely disconnect in the Appalachians. He joked, and I laughed, but he perhaps didn’t realize how nice that really sounds to me.
I approach his house to a mob. A crowd screaming things I cannot make out. Though as I start to weave through the crowd I start to see what looks like a lot of sin through everyone’s shoulders.
A naked man on his knees. I had no idea who he was. Though he was smiling. Where is Anthony?
“Excuse me,” I nudge a random person in the crowd. “What is going on?”
“The world is going to hell! Every week there is some new pervert. The man who lives here was caught by his wife with another man. I tell you, this has been happening more and more since the National Television Board started allowing more of those awful music performances on the TV.”
That bastard! That fuck! Oh!? “Why don’t we just run to the mountains” he was just saying to me! Really!? Is that so!?
Putrid asshole. I hate him. Just like everything else in this stupid grey world. Just when I thought there was something with purpose, it was ripped from under me.
I approach the naked man. I look down at him with as cold of eyes as I can and I spit on his face.
“Pervert!” I yell with the crowd around me. “Disgusting.”
I turn and walk away. I didn’t even see the expression on his face. Do I really hate him?
It’s time for another meaningless watered down Martini...
Meet the Author : John Knetemann
From Denver, Colorado. Educated in Rapid City, South Dakota. Living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The most epic and daring content writer you will find on the east side of the Amstel... And sometimes the west side too. I am from the land of mountains, but now live in the land of very small hills and canals. Truly a native of the internet, I work with companies to build adventurous content, engaging social media identities, and addictively informative email campaigns.