Genre: Based on actual experiences.
Synopsis: A novel dealing with the lighter side of mutilation, genocide, global destruction, widespread political corruption and international conflict.
Back Ground: For anyone who hasn't lived through it, it's difficult to imagine the chaos of the late Sixties and early Seventies in the United States. The primary impetus behind what can only be described as complete pandemonium in the face of nation wide political unrest resulting from first King's then JFK then RFK's assassination followed by the political buffoonery of LBJ and his complete and utter inability to lead, truly demonstrated that no one was steering the ship.
A pretty scary thought when you have 250 million passengers.
For young people who came of age during this time, in the heart of The Cold War, it seemed that the end of the world was just around the corner.
Add to this the lunacy of Viet Nam, and for some, especially for those in the armed forces, there really was no choice but to live as if you were going to die tomorrow. It is no small coincidence that this was the time of the Drug Boom.
Vietnamese refugees aboard a U.S. carrier
during Operation Frequent Wind, South China
Sea. April of '75
KNOCK KNOCK! Guess who's coming to dinner?
From the Novel:
"In April Tricky stepped up the bombing. In June he met with Brezhnev. In August one of his P. R. wizards announced, "An end to the war was imminent!" and would commence with the gradual withdrawal of ground troops.
On October 3rd Tricky met Gromyko and amongst enough expensive champagne and caviar to rebuild Hanoi they agreed to 'curb' the nuclear arms race.
Twenty-three days later Kissinger announced “Peace is close.” Close to what he didn't say but everyone kept their fingers crossed that it was closer than the impending nuclear war we were pretty sure was just around the corner.
Eleven days later, after weeks of wrangling about the place settings and what shape the negotiating table should be, Tricky tried to bomb Uncle Ho back to the peace talks in Paris. Coincidently the same day he was re-elected.
Richard Milhouse Nixon, prior to his brief but well publicised career as a recording artist and sound editor, seized upon this opportunity to unload thousands of tons of ordinance which might have otherwise been turned into war surplus and thereby cost the tax payer billions of dollars. He did this by teaching the North Vietnamese Government the American economic principle of supply and demand.
Every time the Communists would demand a different arrangement at the negotiating table, Dickey would supply the good people of Hanoi with all the surplus ordinance they required.
On December 30, he halted the bombing after a representative from Switzerland suggested they find a kidney shaped table. Being professional politicians the delegates all realized that this was the only way everyone could see every one else's hands above the table all the time. A mutual agreement had been reached.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
As the Medivac chopper fought valiantly to maintain altitude J. D.'s alter ego Billy Chance, fought to block out the uneven whir of the rotor blades and consciously concentrated on trying to become unconscious, as his mind once again sought to go on permanent vacation to places like Smitfield.
Smitfield, Illinois was actually Smithfield, Illinois, but seeing as how the Rotary Club were too miserly to hire a real sign painter for $85, Henry Watkins, their Treasurer, did the job and so the welcome sign at the end of Sherman Street cost the town fathers $125,276.96 in reprinted tourist brochures, ball caps and school book covers, plus the re-lettering of the police car and the fire truck which were still owned by the Moriarity Savings and Loan. (Ralph Jenkin’s lawsuit over the re-painting of his hardware store sign is still pending).
Incorporating late, by mid-western standards, the Smitfield citizenry had experienced World Wars I and II, the post war booms, the Cold War, the Korean War, the labor wars of the Twenties and Thirties, the on-going race wars, the inception of the ‘War on Drugs’, and William Shatner’s war on believable acting.
For half the population things made pretty good sense and were as they should be. For the other half, (those under thirty), a one armed blind man in a dark room trying to shove a pound of hot, melted butter up a wild cat's ass had a better chance then somebody trying to make sense out of what was going on in the U.S. in 1972.
On the southern most boarder of Meriam County, just across the state line from Lincoln County, lies Patriot, Illinois. About fifteen minutes just outside of town there was a small trailer park, which had thrice been wiped out by tornadoes. Slow learners that they were, the residents kept rebuilding their solid plywood and aluminium dwellings never realizing the storms were probably god’s way of saying “Get that shit off my earth!”
Herein, on lot #127, of the U-Need-A-Rest Trailer Park resided the Derber family.
Chester Derber, aged 18 years, was feeling very proud that afternoon as he prepared the Bar-B-Que for his parent’s seventeenth wedding anniversary party, which was scheduled to begin promptly at somewhere between three and six that evening. The exact time couldn't be set because there was no reliable way to know when Cleatus Derber would get home from the Veteran’s Of Foreign Wars Post #339, or when Zelda Derber's friends would get off work from the Curl Up & Dye Beauty & Sun Tanning Salon.
The guest list was fairly comprehensive so all ten of their friends had been invited. Although Cleatus still couldn't figure out why his wife was so insistent on inviting Mario Ippolito Sanchez, the young, muscular Hispanic delivery boy from the Shop Rite.
The source of young Chester's new found pride was his Selective Service Registration Document,SS Form 7 , (draft card), which had arrived in the afternoon mail, thus giving official certification of his manhood. Monday morning Chester Derber, ‘Man’, would dutifully register at the Hall of Records, over at the county seat, which was really just a post office, (which was just a small room in the back of J. D.'s Feed and Grain).
He had his masculinity tucked neatly in the top pocket of his baby blue, Dacron Hanes dress shirt with button down collar, when it happened.
While reaching across the Bar-B-Q for some more Fast Lite Bricketts the SS Form 7 made a break for it and gently floated down coming to rest on the lit coals.
In the blink of a Walter Cronkite CBS eye, Chester was no longer a dutiful, loyal patriot, but a dangerous treasonous felon, who no doubt was a Commie sympathiser, (or worse yet a Socialist), facing 7 to 10 years in the federal pen and/or a $20,000 fine. The standard penalty for burning your draft card agreed upon by the enlightened 'onorable get'lemen of the United States Congress.
On entering the gravel strewn, weed infested yard Mrs. Derber saw that her son was so distraught that she was compelled to cancel the party. Mustering further concern for her son’s disrupted emotional state, the now unnerved mother took to seeking advise and council from everyone, including Phil the mail man.
Phil was besides himself as he spread the word down at the CPD&SC, (Central Postal Distribution and Sorting Center to the average civilian), which, coincidentally overlapped into Lincoln county, home of Smitfield whose town council had just last week passed a town ordnance against trailer parks. The reasoning was anyone not able to afford proper housing had no business in Smitfield. Like all those Little Yellow Bastards coming over here from Viet Nam looking to the good and loyal god-fearing citizens of the U. S. of A. to take them in after they went and messed up their own country!
Not coincidentally, seven eighths of the town council, as well as the mayor, were active members of the All Powerful Rotary Club. So when his Honor Henry Watkins heard that the kids over in Meriam county were burning their draft cards he nearly took a heart attack thinking about the impending rioting in the streets and the inevitable occupation of his fair city by National Guard troops who would no doubt be called in by morning to restore peace and make sure all the black kids could still get into their own schools over on their side of town.
“We don’t want no Kent State, Goddamn it!”
Meanwhile, across the street from the Town Hall, Doris Huntzinger, sitting comfortably under the purple, plastic, bullet-shaped hair dryer, which made her look like Robbie the Robot from Lost In Space, had just begun drying her new beehive bouffant when she was startled by Arthur Crowley, President of the All Powerful Rotary Club, as he burst through the front door of Mary Hurley's Beautician Magicians on Patton Street.
Aside from being the personal secretary for the Mayor, The Elks Lodge, The Moose Lodge, and The Royal Order Of The Rainbow Trout, Doris was also the Executive Secretary of the All Powerful Rotary Club.
“DORIS! DORIS! Come quick! We need you over to the court house! There’s an emergency meetin’ of the Rotary Club!”
“What? Why?” Doris enquired lifting Robbie the Robot's parasitic shell from her own.
“There’s an emergency meetin’ right away about the riotin’ goin’ on over in Meriam county!”
“Riotin’? What riotin’?” The other bouffants became nervous, dropped their Home & Garden magazines, Montgomery Wards and Sears & Roebucks catalogues as efficiently as a U. S. Marine Corps drill team, and sat bolt upright.
“The riotin’ that’s goin’ on ‘cause’a the draft card burning’!”
“Oh my heavenly father up in heaven!” Doris retorted as she gathered her things. “I told Pete it was only a matter of time till it reached here! But he didn’t want to sell the house and move over ta Smitfield! Maybe now he’ll listen to reason!”
All the others in the shop wasted no time disengaging themselves from their purple, orange and lime green plastic space helmets and, with matching plastic aprons flapping, dashed through the front door, still being held open by Arthur Crowley, to head out to the Shop Rite and stock up on emergency supplies as there was no tellin’ how long the siege might last once the Natural Guard showed up!
All the others, except the part time beauty student, Linda Davis that is, who knew a girl that once dated a guy who used to hang around with a friend of Chester Derber’s and therefore was of the opinion that most guys in Meriam county didn’t have the balls to burn a joint much less a draft card. Linda just continued to calmly sit in the empty beauty parlor, hand on chin, shaking her head and thumbing through last month’s Cosmopolitan.
The last two minutes on board Titanic must have seemed uneventful as compared to the melee that passed for the emergency meeting of the A.P.R.C. which followed. Robert’s Rules of Order never saw the likes.
The end result of the gathering was a barrage of ordinances, legally binding articles and laws forbidding the burning, mutilating, tearing, defacing or altering in any way shape or form, (to include the use as an improvised toothpick), of the United States issue Selective Service Document SA 80, (draft card) within the city limits.
“What about coverin’ it in plastic so’s it don’t get damaged?”
“That’s a good point Frank! Doris, draft an exemption clause.”
The fact that the cards already came laminated and that it was already a Federal offence to burn or alter them and so superseded anything the Smitfield A.P.R.C. had to say about it, never occurred to anyone at the meeting.
The last stage outta Dodge!
U.S. Embassy, Saigon