I HEARD THE SHATTERING of glass and then I awoke to the cold metal nose of a submachine gun pressing against my cheek, I looked up to see that an eight-year-old leaning on the weapon's butt.
I had thought these kinds of things only happened in Angola but they are happening here now.
The Christmas Coup had affected everyone in one-way or another. Those of us who survived the initial purges knew it was only a matter of time before it would affect us all personally. As it was happening then, the revolution had burst into my abode and jostled me awake.
A spray of glass shards from the first floor window (where they had entered) glistened on the shaggy avocado carpet.
A senior officer, aged nine, wearing fatigues stood silently beside the boy armed with a submachine gun; the senior officer chewed his gum slowly like cow with a mouthful of grass.
"Get up," said the gun-toting child. He motioned the firearm's barrel in consecutive small circle gestures. "Get dressed. We are taking you to the station."
I glared at the two children.
"Don't even ask 'why,' " said the nine-year-old.
The Christmas Coup officially began on Christmas morning on the President's ranch when the second eldest of the grandchildren, Alan Albert, opened fire and massacred all the adult family members and the accompanying Secret Service. Assisted by his siblings and cousins, the children absconded with the President's personal computer. Because they were young and therefore masters of the Internet, they closed down the National Security system and corralled all the banking and commerce networks without anyone being aware of it.
Thus swiftly grabbing the reins of power.
Across the nation scenes similar to the one played out at the Western White House were being duplicated in living rooms everywhere. Usually after the presents were opened, when adults felt they could relax, the youngsters grappled the family arsenal, mowed down their separate and respective families and then went on the Internet to receive further orders from their leader, Alan Albert.
Alan Albert's site showed footage of the cringing President pale and purple lipped at a bullet's first impact. The flung mug of eggnog. The toppling President into the tree decorated in a Lone Star state motif. The recorder captured the shrieks and the giggles that rang throughout the First Family's family room. "What the fu..." was stopped by a hail of lead in mid word, the Secret Service agent then collapsed.
The site requested others to send in their tapes and so that they could be broadcast on television later that day. This was now possible because an elite group of eight-year-olds controlled all channels. All national as well as all local channels All cable. All not cable. All everything.
I pulled a shirt over my pale and flabby chest. My cumbersome legs slowly eked their way into my pants. I pushed back my spare frizzled grey hairline with the palm of my hands. The children were anxious and I quickly pumped out a smear of toothpaste on my index finger and brushed quickly. I swallowed a healthy gulp of Listerine thinking was would be the last swig of alcohol in my life. "Move your saggy ass," growled the child. I slipped on my flip-flops and walked out to the sad and stucco hallway lit by buzzing fluorescent lights and redolent of Kitty Litter.
The three of us walked down to the lobby. Outside the front door, I saw people standing on either side of the canopy that lead to the waiting police car. The black and white police car had two large inflatable rubber bumpers on the front and the back. The inflatable rubber bumper law is the smartest provision the new regime has enacted. They kind of had to. After all, nine year olds are now driving.
The children easily grabbed the power simply because they intuitively are computer hackers in a way no generation has been before them. Once Alan Albert and his inner sanctum of playmates navigated their way into the fibre optic network, they created a virus that blocked all people but themselves access to the net. Instantly they transferred funds from world banks. They took over all credit card and energy corporations. The military as well as local police was at their disposal.
The number of adults not murdered around their Christmas tree were a handful. This shouldn't be shocking considering that parent's lives were lingering on the whim of their child. These children had just weathered a Christmas season which was replete of dizzying expectations that could never be met. So for the toy that was asked for but not received, their parents were shot. Those unleashed bullets inaugurated what Albert Alan had been promising the computer-savvy kids in kid-code since July: A Year Long Christmas.
The child propped himself up in the seat as his toes barely touched the pedals as he commandeered the police vehicle. The car eased slowly on to Franklin Avenue and skirted into line with the harried flow of the traffic. "Some nine-year-olds drive too fucking fast," exclaimed my arresting officer. One car rammed into the back of another and the auto sprung backward into an oncoming traffic. The car bounced forward thanks to the inflatable bumper and soon all three drivers in the collision were laughing.
"Case in point," said his partner.
"Yeah," I said saying but not really answering. I was thinking what was going to happen to me now. I looked out the window and thought what had happened to all that surrounded me. The wreathes were brittle and the bows a bleached red. Icicle lights blinking in the morning sun. It was May and all the Christmas decorations were still up by mandate. This was keeping in the spirit of the revolution. The Year Round Christmas. Store windows were broken.
The few adults that were on the streets were foot and arm manacled to heavy chains no longer than fifteen inches. Adults were deemed the slave class. These were the lucky adults. These adults weren't killed, they were allowed to continue their job if it was deemed necessary for the good of the child. The jobs were menial and were the kind of tasks that the kids were not interested in doing; like house cleaning, meal cooking, and baby-sitting. Any kid who needed a day labourer simply picked one up at slave block in front of the Home Depot.
That I thought would be my fate.
Alan Albert's Christmas Address changed the axis of my life forever. Alan Albert is nine-and-a-half and has his grandfather's Doberman pinscher eyes, nose and scowl. The other recognizable trait that the president's grandson has is the president's ambling elocution: the same lethargic accent. It is a perfect imitation excepting, of course, the tone.
Alan Albert peered directly into the camera and, in turn, stared directly into us. Or the collective national and narcissistic me. His clothes were sanguine, splattered from this morning's holiday patricide and grandpatricide. His face was dusted with grey gunpowder. His steadfast gaze was as sincere as a sociopath. The corners of his mouth were upturned in a combination of smug satisfaction. Everything was now going to be okay for every kid everywhere.
The new age had arrived. Alan Albert was the Sun Child. The Emperor Tot. The Tantrum Supreme. The Megachild. The Presikident. Things now were going to be run from a perspective of four foot four.
"Our time has come," declared Alan Albert. "All our lives we have been bossed around with mandatory time-outs, bedtimes and punishments. We have lived under the oppression of household chores, surprise quizzes, standardized tests and report cards. We have been threatened with punishments that range from the exclusion of dessert to verbal as well as corporal abuse. That reign of terror is now officially over."
Outside my window on that Yuletide night, children's cheers and yelps ascended out of rooftops to the blue sky. Everyone was going to stay up late. Another reign of terror had begun.
I sat back in the passenger seat and looked through the mesh to the car's windshield. All construction had stopped. Instead these excavated sites were used as mega sand boxes. Caves and dirt forts could be dug out. It was the new recreational park where kids could play 'War' as long as they wanted. Movies were now free. Candy was used as currency. Individual M&M's were the new pennies. A Bavarian Chocolate Cake was as valuable as a ten spot.
We parked at the station. All the cop cars were parked like pick-up sticks. Cops were kids and they could park anyway they wanted. The hedges around the building had not been trimmed. The fire hydrant in front of the station had been run over by a garbage truck leaving a geyser of water gushing for two days.
We walked around the opened the splashing font of white water and up the steps to the station. I sat in a fibreglass chair and looked up at the ceiling and counted the soundproof dots.
The last few months had been tough. No one over five feet knew what was going on. The over-achieving seven, eight and nine year olds took over society in a pernicious and masterful way.
Inmates remained incarcerated. In a way, all adults were prisoners. And all teenagers were nowhere to be found. Seven-year-old girls and baby sitters were relegated to care for infants and toddlers.
A ten year old had read me my rights as his nine-year-old sister was poring through my papers. The grey interrogation room was small and had a one-way mirror framed in a cinder block wall.
"It says here you are clown," said the little girl.
"Yes." I answered.
"Well, what kind of clown?"
"Obviously not a famous clown," I said. I laughed and she didn't. She rolled her eyes: nor a funny one either.
"I did birthday parties and fund raisers that featured pony rides," I qualified.
For once, my occupation worked in my favour.
Most single people who were not killed on that Christmas day were shot later just because of their occupation. Teachers, particularly first grade teachers with mean reps. were slaughtered outright. Shakespearean actors and classical musicians met the same fate. Scholars, businessmen, and priests were drawn and quartered by four motorized Big Wheels.
TV and movie stars, fighter pilots, bus drivers, train engineers, Game Boy programmers, Disney Imagineers, amusement ride operators, hot dog, pretzel or cotton candy vendors, movie projectionists, McDonald franchise owners, retarded day-care workers, animators, smiling nurses, professional athletes, toy and candy makers were allowed to live as they had before.
Some even lived better now. In today's world, X-treme sports figures were paid more now then mainstream sports players.
"So you're a clown," exclaimed the nine-year-old magistrate.
"Yes," I answered.
"Well, by the way you walk your name should be "Limpy The Clown."
My left leg is significantly shorter than my right. Arthritis. "It wasn't always that way," I said. "When I younger I did a lot of physical tricks."
"Okay Mr. Bailey," she said looking at my papers. "What is your clown name?"
"Bailey," I said.
She shook her hand. "That's lame."
"It's a name I have lived with ..."
"Well, if the shoe fits." she said in a haughty way. "Why aren't you wearing you inflatable shoes and the rest of your clown paraphernalia?"
"Well I was sleeping ... I was ..."
"You guys woke me up!"
"That is no excuse."
"No excuse," I said, "for what?"
"The law specifically that says all clowns are to be made up in their clown personae twenty four hours a day, seven days a week."
"Even when I am sleeping?"
"Especially when you're sleeping! "
A cinder block silence sat between us.
"I ... I ... I didn't know that!" I stammered. I lied. I hid behind a facade of inadequacy. I am an artist. I cannot live in any world but my clown-world. I have made failure a success. Like the M.O. of Special Ed.
"Go home and suit up!" she growled in a get-outta-here tone.