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FREEDOMWORLD

A short story

by Ben D’Alessio

*This story contains explicit content*

There was a direct correlation between the rapid decline of the American birthrate and the release of the AR-15 fleshlight.

LoveYourGunCorp. had created a Made-In-America showroom series of products that could be fastened right into the barrel or the stock of your assault rifle for only three easy and affordable payments of $19.99.

At first, girlfriends and wives throughout the country bought the fleshlight as a gag for birthdays or bachelor parties, or to keep their man from meeting up with online floozies at the highway motel by the airport. For those willing to shell out a little more dough (three more payments of $19.99 plus a “molding fee” plus a service fee for the trained professional to come to your home, all for a total of $250) the fleshlight could be formed to the buyer’s exact specifications.

Cynthia had been on her lunch-break at the hospital when she scrolled through an advertisement for the device while checking Facebook: “Over 50 million sold! Get yours now with this amazing offer!”

So for their Fifth Anniversary she finally caved and bought John a standard “white model,” one of the originals, and wrapped it up nice and gave it to him while they were finishing up dessert of apple pie — John’s favorite.

Sure, she had read the alarming reports about men completely receding into their gun lodges or gun shelters or gun arsenals for hours on end, losing all interest in their significant others, but Cynthia knew the Damn Liberal Media tended to exaggerate when it came to expressing-your-Second-Amendment-Right, so part of her felt surprisingly patriotic when she entered her credit card number to make that first easy payment.

“Congratulations! Now you can share a bond with your assault rifle the way the Founding Fathers intended!”

“Hey wow babe, this is…this is really great,” said John.

“Oh… I uh…thought you’d be more excited,” said Cynthia.

“No no, I mean yeah, no I am babe. It’s great. Thank you.”

“Welcome.” Cynthia got up from her seat and walked over to the kitchen island overflowing with paperwork, her smile had melted from her face.

“Hey, did you pick up more tickets? I think we’re running low.”

“We just got a jumbo stack last week. How are we out?”

“Well, there was the shooting at Oregon State and at that hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Oh and there was one in downtown Atlanta and the stabbing in Liverpool…”

“Wait, do we need international tickets? Because I only got domestic.”

“Well it depends on whether it was a terrorist attack.”

“Was it a Muslim? The one in Liverpool, I mean.”

“I think so, but all of the others were just mentally ill.”

“Such a shame. I don’t know what is going on in this country. Seems like there are more mentally ill people every day,” Cynthia said, as she riffled through the stack of government subsidized “Thoughts and Prayers” tickets. “Here, take these down to the Office, should be good for more ammo and maybe even an upgrade on your rifle.”

“Which one?”

“The one you always use.”

“The Model 2T?”

“I thought it was a Bushmaster?”

“I have three of those. You mean the Windham?”

“The one you said you needed and used the money I had set aside for the garage door.”

“Really? Really Cynth? Isn’t this family’s protection important to you?”

An alarm began beeping and buzzing sitting on the kitchen island. John and Cynthia both stood up from the table, faced East, placed their hands over their hearts, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance — it was the fifth time they recited that day.

“With Liberty…”

“…And justice for all.”

They sat back down and Cynthia picked up where she had left off. “Okay, I’m sorry. I know… I just…”

“Okay then. What were you saying about an upgrade?”

“I think you get an upgrade for the Bushmaster and a box of ammunition for each social media platform you use a ticket for. I’m not sure though. It was in the Great Leader’s morning tweeting.”

“Okay, I’ll check.”

“Hey John.”

“Yeah?”

“You think we can try again tonight? It is our anniversary, and I have to work late all…”

“I don’t know,” John snapped. “I mean, maybe babe. I have the range with the guys.”

“Oh…you didn’t tell them it’s our…”

“I gotta go pray before. Can we just…just talk later tonight, Okay?”

“Okay.”

John went out the back screen door and followed a patio that led to an egg-white shed with crimson trim set deep in the yard.

To appease the Damn Liberals, Congress had passed a piece of legislation that limited each household to only 25 assault weapons, 50 handguns, and 20 sniper-rifles; it was the first piece of bipartisan legislation passed in the last 10 years.

The spare bedroom had already been filled to the legal limit, and John had his stock spilling out into the hallway. So he and a few of the boys built the “Freedom Dome” or FREEDOME — the egg-white shed with the crimson trim — in open defiance of the law, albeit, a law that no one seemed to be enforcing, anyway.

John opened the shed and had to beat back a hanging American Flag — one of 1,776 flags located in the FREEDOME — that had come loose and fallen into his face. He wiped the mud from his shoes on the American flag mat and changed into his Team America customized jersey with From My Cold Dead Hands filling the space typically reserved for the surname.

He took out his phone and sent a Text to Diego: Meet OUTSIDE the FREEDOME in 15 minutes.

He dropped to his knees and folded his hands below his chin. The sun had just started to set and an orange glow twinkled through the window, providing John with an unintentional spotlight before the painted mural of the Great Leader. Below the portrait, John had painted the Revised Freedom Prayer in red and blue paint, which he recited in a whisper.

“All men, being necessary to the security of a FREE State, the right of such men to keep and bear and use and modify Guns, shall not be infringed, Amen.”

A day had yet to pass when the prayer’s recitation didn’t bring a tear to John’s eye.

Knock, knock, knock, knock “Mr. John, are you in there?”

“I’ve told that Mexican…”

“Hello? Mr. John?”

John grabbed two of his Bushmasters and slung a third over his shoulder, then swung open the door to the FREEDOME almost smacking the teenager in the jaw. “Here, take this, this, and this,” the boy waiting outside fumbled with the rifles as John shoved them in his chest.

He was tan and slim with a curling thick quaff of light-brown hair. John could see the diluted European in him from centuries past bursting through the native shell. He thought the boy, with perhaps the right haircut and accent, could pass for a Greek or Italian. This made John feel not quite so bad when he decided to hire Diego as his caddy over the American boys down the street — the Mexican would work twice as hard for half the price, after all.

Diego was born in Louisiana — a state that, despite its distinction, was still part of the US; his parents came from Honduras.

The teenager followed John around the house to the driveway, where a silver pickup truck sat glittering in the descending sun, its back and rearview window covered in stickers like leeches.

John smoothed one out that had started to come loose in the corner: Her E-Mails Kill Babies.

Diego loaded the rifles in the backseat and joined John in the front. As the kid opened the passenger door, bullets spilled out and onto the driveway pavement with a pretty twinkling sound. He dropped to his hands and knees to salvage the ammunition, but John insisted they’d be late and he’d just deduct the lost bullets from the boy’s pay.

Although FREEDOMWORLD was only a short ride from the house, John pulled into the park and paid the $15 entry fee — considered one of the most affordable in the state since the park service went private — and parked by the restrooms. He told Diego to stay in the car as he pulled the Bushmaster from the backseat. He trotted toward the restrooms; head on a swivel, looking over both shoulders, and disappeared into the darkness.

Diego watched the spotlight come on and illuminate the gargantuan flag that waved in the autumn breeze above the Great American War Victory Memorial. The Memorial commemorated the one-day war between the US and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. The Memorial itself, in tasteful, minimalist fashion, was a replica of the nuclear missile that struck Pyongyang, thus sealing the American victory. Rumors abounded that the North Korean leader and all of his top advisers and officials had actually fled the country days before the attack and had been safely hiding in Manchuria, but the Great Leader assured the American people that those rumors were merely FAKENEWS perpetuated by the Damn Liberal Media.

To the side of the Memorial, in a nook of the park cornered off by a barbed-wire fence, a playground sat that had become faded from the elements and overgrown from disuse. Diego couldn’t remember the last time he saw a child in the park.

He watched the empty swings squeak in the breeze as John trotted back to the truck, zipping his fly a few feet from the driver-side door. As John set the car in reverse and backed out of the park, a figure popped out of the restrooms and darted around the other side. His backpack had come open, revealing an assortment of fleshlights popping out the top like baguettes. John’s face was rouged and Diego watched drops of sweat drip from the bottom of John’s earlobe and into the center console while his boss had turned to look out the back of the truck.

“Are you okay, Mr. John?” Diego asked.

“Huh? Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just had to ya know, drain the main vein.”

Diego craned his neck to try and get a look of the shadowy character hopping from tree to tree. “What is that man doing?”

“Don’t look at him. Nothing. Look away. Actually, if you tell anyone about us even coming here I’ll call ICE: FREEDOM PROTECTORS on your family.”

Diego looked away, even though John threatened to call the FREEDOM PROTECTORS on his family for the smallest transgressions.

They pulled the truck into the FREEDOMWORLD parking lot where speakers attached to the light-poles played the Star Spangled Banner in perpetuity. John rummaged through the center console for spare “Thoughts and Prayers” tickets. A giant monitor fixed to the front of the complex played news coverage of the shootings — often times in split screen to keep up with the ceaseless content — and if you inserted a ticket upon entering your name would flash across the screen and you’d receive a free clip of ammunition for the magazine of your choosing.

Zip. Cha-Ching! “Welcome back to FREEDOMWORLD, John Smith.”

Ts and Ps from John Smith floated across the screen airing coverage of a High School shooting in the Little Rock suburbs.

Because of John’s pit-stop to the park, “the guys” were already deep into their respective reality chambers and couldn’t be contacted from the outside. John flipped through the tome-like manual — more out of habit than necessity — to select the right reality tour.

The manual was divided first into Domestic or International, then by category. Last night, John had completed the Socialist-Spree set in Norway, and the night before that he had done Muslim-Massacre set in Agrabah, a personal favorite.

After checking his watch, John hastily flipped the tome back to the Domestic section — BLM Protests, Sanctuary Cities, College Campuses, Kneeling Athletes, Feminazis — and had a difficult time deciding between the Seahawks game or UC-Berkeley.

He finally decided on the university after remembering the snowflakes protest against some VERY FINE PEOPLE merely expressing-their-First-Amendment-Right.

Diego joined John in the simulation, following a few feet behind while his boss mowed down the protesting college students.

“You see, Diego? The only way to stop a bad guy with an assault rifle is a good guy with an assault rifle.” Diego held in his vomit as the bodies made a sickening thud on the pavement. “If any of these students were expressing-their-Second-Amendment-Right, they’d be able to stop me.” Diego wiped the blood spatter from his face. “Quick, quick, give me a clip,” said John, making sure not to let any of the entitled snowflakes get away — he was on pace to beat his high score.

“Mr. John, you already shot…”

John held a 9mm a few inches behind a sophomore’s head before Diego could finish the question.

“Ya see, Diego,” John lifted a wounded student by the scalp and slit his throat with a bowie knife. “I’m using a knife now to kill them. Should we ban knives?”

“But…”

“Or how about rocks?” John smashed a student in the skull with smooth gray stone that lined the blood-soaked quad. “Should we ban rocks? Hhmmm?”

Diego couldn’t hold it in anymore and tried to find a patch of grass not covered by a bullet-riddled corpse so he could puke.

“You still aren’t used to this, kid? Damn, I wouldn’t want you in a fox-hole with me,” John said while shooting a crawling student in the back of the head. “I think I saw a bunch run into that building. Come on you’re getting blood all over the…damn it, kid. Wipe that off and let’s go. I’ll need all three rifles for this.”

Diego whisked the blood from the rifles with an American flag towel before wiping the vomit residue from his mouth. John had taken off down the quad, jumping over bodies like hurdles, and raced into the nearest academic building. Diego could hear the pop pop pop, popopopop of the bullets tearing through the walls and glass and defenseless flesh.

John’s roar reverberated throughout the hallways like an omnipresent god, which made it difficult to find his exact location. He flung open a door to a science-lab and slipped on the blood-soaked tile. From the ground, Diego could see the bare white calves and ass of a thrusting, overweight man. A Bushmaster — same make an model John had been using during this tour — lay on the desk in front of him; the wet suction sound of the fleshlight didn’t do any favors for Diego’s brittle stomach.

“Hey kid! You want to get in on this?!” the man had lines of blood streaking across his face like war paint. “I got another one right here, you can put it on the muzzle and we can double-team this bitch!”

“Oh God. Oh no, no thank you, Sir.”

“Suit yurr self. Yeeeehaw!” And his hips kicked it into fourth gear.

Lugging the assault rifles from room to room, Diego found only corpses and wounded bodies begging for help; he couldn’t lend aid to any of the wailing students or faculty, as he had not paid for a tour in the virtual reality chamber and had merely been given “caddy” status for John — this status also prohibited Diego from putting them out of their misery.

Diego ran the tips of his fingers along the wall as he walked down the hallway. He had given up his search for John and accepted that a large chunk of his pay would be lost to “inactivity.” He found a room with only a handful of slaughtered students and leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. He flicked pieces of tissue and vomit from his shirt and held back tears as a student, about his own age, begged for mercy through the part of his mouth that had remained intact from the rifle blast.

“They aren’t real,” he said to himself. “They aren’t real.”

He thought he had overcome this “Liberal Weakness,” as John would call it.

John told him that accepting the violence was just part of being a patriotic American and that all of the carnage, the thousands killed every year by the mentally ill who are improperly expressing-their-Second-Amendment-Right was just part of the cost of our Freedom.

Diego wanted to be a true American and had taken English Accent, Trickle-Down Economics, and Pussy Grabbing 101 at the Great Leader’s University. Last summer, he interned at The Wall to work on the new layer — the seventh out of a proposed eleven — and even had taken advantage of the skin bleaching services subsidized by the State. But in spite of his efforts, as if he possessed an inerasable otherness, Diego could never become an American in John’s eyes.

He planned to wait until the buzzer went off signaling the end of their session, but the roar of an engine drew Diego to the window: “Hey kid!” John called from the driver’s seat of a giant, black SUV tearing through the blood-soaked quad. “Should we criminalize trucks now, too?!”

The crunch of bones sent Diego back to the floor.

_________________________

Cynthia received an emergency call back to the hospital. A nightclub shooting in Riverside had caused the neighboring town’s hospital to fill to capacity, and they needed to send patients to Springfield.

Because John had left for the evening, she had been able to hit the weekly quota for the Great Leader’s tweetings, and could always catch up at work where the tweets were broadcast on the walls throughout the day like continually changing wallpaper.

Ambulances flew by as Cynthia took the exit for the hospital. She could hear the screams of agony from the parking lot.

She hit the buildings threshold and ran to the nearest doctor whose white coat was covered in bloody handprints. His nurse was frozen — a new girl from Norway who had not yet grown accustomed to American culture — and Cynthia got right in her face: “Nurse! You have to spool…Hey! Nurse!”

She didn’t move.

Cynthia grabbed the roll and held it over her head to give the doctor a smoother stream. But no matter how many Thoughts and Prayers compresses the doctor shoved into the spurting wound, the bleeding could not be contained.

“I need more. I need more Thoughts and Prayers!”

The roll was running low.

“Nurse!” Cynthia screamed. “Nurse! Grab another! Quickly! We have more Thoughts and Prayers in storage!”

The Norwegian didn’t move.

“Nurse!”

“Don’t you die on me!” The wounds spurt blood into the air like a fountain in front of an office building. “Come on! Don’t you die on me!” The roll emptied. “Don’t you die…”

Flat line.

“Damn it! God damn it!” The doctor flipped over a tray of tools and screamed into a blood-soaked pillow.

Cynthia raced to another gurney where a man lay swallowing his final breaths, grabbed the roll of Thoughts and Prayers, and held it high above her head. But as the doctor barked orders at the team of nurses beginning to form around the victim, the ear-splitting pounds of assault rifle thunder cracked against the hospital walls — puncturing the Great Leader’s tweets about HER emails — and Cynthia thought of John.

_________________________

John didn’t change out of his blood-stained clothes as he dropped Diego off at his apartment building that had been designated immigrant housing.

“I’m…I’m sorry, Mr. John,” the kid said, hanging his head, avoiding eye contact.

“Err uh…yeah. Maybe next time.”

“Do you think…if you have the time one day…do you think you could maybe show me how to shoot like an American, Mr. John?”

John knew how dangerous it was for non-Americans to get their hands on guns, and how their cultures couldn’t comprehend the concept of Expressing-Your-Second-Amendment-Right, but John felt bad for the kid, so he obliged for the time being.

“How ‘bout this, next week we’ll do a tour together, one of the easy ones like a sanctuary city high school? How’s that sound?”

“Oh just great! Thank you, Mr. John. Thank you.”

“Okay then. Go rest up because we got a confederate statue protest tomorrow.”

“I will.”

“Hey Diego!” he called out the passenger side window, leaning over the center console. “We’ll find that American in you yet!”

The kid’s face lit up like a MERRY CHRISTMAS tree, and he trotted inside.

John headed downtown and didn’t see his Text from Cynthia until he found a parking spot.

Guess u are out late 2nite. Going back to the hospital. Emergency. ❤ You

John hopped from the SUV and crossed Drumpf Street. As he hit the curb, a string of ambulances, horns blaring, rushed through the red light at the intersection of Drumpf and Freedom Avenue.

John still had a Thoughts and Prayers credit at Drumpf tower — the shining beacon of taste in an otherwise blighted downtown — and decided to treat himself to dinner, which came with a complimentary golden shower.

After the Ukrainian teen had left John clean-as-a-whistle, he skipped back across Drumpf Street to enjoy a beer at the Patriot’s Tavern — a known FREEDOM PROTECTOR hangout.

“We pulled a Mexican right from the hospital bed,” said a FREEDOM PROTECTOR as he wiped the foam mustache from his lip. “I don’t know how a sick child got through the six layers, but I’ll tell ya what, that wall better get finished soon. These people always seem to find a way in.”

“I hear that,” said his compatriot and brother-in-arms.

John grabbed a seat by the window that faced Drumpf Street. It had started to rain, giving the big and large and elegant and impressive Drumpf tower a glittering shine.

John admired the massive and gorgeous and impressive tower until a tap on the window broke his concentration.

“John? John! It’s me…Gary.” Gary threw open the tavern door and stood next to John’s small table, dripping wet.

“Gary? You look…different.”

“I’m cured now John. I’m not the guy who used to go on tours with you. I’m a new Gary. A better Gary. A healthy Gary. Can I sit? John, I’m not sure if you know this…” Gary put his balled fist to his mouth. “Whoo…you can do this, Gary. Okay, John, back when we used to tour together, and I mean, we would really express-our-Second-Amendment-Right, we had some good times, but I would leave FREEDOMWORLD and I’d go right over there to the big and profound and magnificent Drumpf Tower and I’d spend the whole week’s pay on classic American fleshlights services. The State doesn’t subsidize those, John.”

John took a swig of his beer.

“And it wouldn’t stop there, John. Sometimes after, if I still wasn’t satisfied, I’d come to this very tavern and get drunk and then go to Madame Libre’s House of Pleasures down by the bridge. Have you ever been there, John?” Gary lowered his voice. “They have fleshlights that…well…let’s just say they’ve got the stuff they don’t use at Drumpf tower, John. They have Thai and Russian and Israeli and Nigerian made fleshlights, John. They’ve even got,” he lowered his voice still, “they’ve even got North Korean, John, from before the Great Victory.”

The rain beat down in percussive waves against the blacktop giving the street a glowing sheen. John watched as a string of ambulances tore down Drumpf Street — they were all coming from Riverside.

“I was going three, four, five times a week, John. I needed help. I know you’ve been going to FREEDOMWORLD almost every day. Lilly talks with Cynthia, John. She’s worried about you. I know. I’ve been there too. I helped you build the FREEDOME, remember? I know what you’ve got in there. Come with me to ARA, John. It’s right here, at one of the abandoned Preschools. It’s a great group. We’d love to have you.”

John received the pinch on his inner thigh signaling that the Great Leader had tweeted — they were required to sleep with their phones in a State-provided armband so they would be notified of the Great Leader’s tweets during the deep hours of the night.

@GLOTUS: Another TERRIBLE shooting from MENTALLY ILL at Springfield hospital. VERY SAD. THOUGHTS and PRAYERS. So many DEAD. VERY SAD. #ArmTheDoctors #ArmTheNurses #2ndAmendment #Ts&Ps

“What is he saying, John? It’s another shooting, isn’t it?”

John stumbled from his seat, opened the tavern door, and fell into the rain.

“It’s not too late, John!” Gary followed him down the street holding a copy of the day’s FREEDOM DAILY over his head for shelter. “LoveYourGunCorp. wants us to kill each other so we buy more guns so we kill each other so we…”

“Shut up, Gary!”

The cracks of thunder silenced the blaring ambulance sirens for a few seconds at a time.

John looked up at the glittering Drumpf tower, clenched his jaw until his molars felt like they were about to pop! And stuck a finger directly in Gary’s face.

“You…you…un-American libtard! You DAMN LIBERAL Gary! Shut up you…you un-American, FREEDOM hating liberal! You’re fired, Gary! Shut your FREEDOM hating un-American mouth! You kneeler! I am a FAKENEWS fighting patriot! You libtard liberal! What about HER emails, Gary? Huh?”

“Wait, John, doesn’t Cynthia work at the hospital? Is she working tonight?”

“What about HER emails?!”

“Jesus John, did you read this tweet? There’s been a shooting at the hospital. Come on, I’ll take you.”

“HER emails!!!”

Gary stared back at John in the pouring rain. He had heard that rhetoric before, that stone cold face repellent to logic and reason, and knew his old friend had become lost in FREEDOMWORLD.

John didn’t go to the hospital; he didn’t even call Cynthia.

John drove to the bridge and parked beside Madame Libre’s House of Pleasures, ordered the North Korean, using the money he had saved to buy Cynthia an anniversary present, and recited the 2nd Amendment, between grunts, as he thrust into the assault rifle: “Shall not be infringed. Shall not be infringed. Shall not be infringed.”

Then he finished.

“Amen.”

Ben D’Alessio is a writer and law student in New Orleans, LA. His debut novel, Binge Until Tragedy, is available on Amazon and the publisher’s page(use coupon code FZWUPJ to save 25%) 25% of profits are donated to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). You can read the back cover blurband the first two chapters on his Medium page.