The Great Shit Storm of 1978


Sydney Freedman, or a facsimile of the psychiatrist trope that generated Sydney Friedman, told me to sit in a chair of my choice in the room. My conspiracy theory was that this itself was a test, and my choice of chair wasn’t about making me comfortable, but rather some kind of shrink tactic to determine if I would grab the two-up love seat indicating that I was criminally insane, as opposed to the recliner, which would signify intimacy issues and/or a need for a steady diet of benzos and tranquilizers.

“So, tell me about your childhood,” he said, the universal cop-out and signal that he was about to take a nap for my $175.

“The smell of putrid, fermenting shit wafted over the region, as Somalian terrorists exploded the city sewage treatment plant with a fertilizer bomb delivered inside of a bootleg FedEx truck. A state away, I watched the black cloud of feces and doom float over the horizon, killing crops and lowering property values like a serial killer dressed as a clown with an entire Kindergarten class buried in his crawl space. I chipped away at a Six Million Dollar Man 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle on the linoleum floor of my kitchen and drank a bottle of Mop & Glo tile polish with sliced lime chunks. They better cancel school because of this shit storm, I thought.

“My uncle Freddy nursed a Red, White, and Blue beer on the couch, watching Soul Train with the volume on low while I looked for corner and edge pieces of the puzzle. ‘Someday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will all cut off their left hands with a Craftsman plunge router and glue plastic hooks on their bloodied stumps, then take the field and PNC Park on Roberto Clemente commemorative socket wrench day (free to first 10,000 fans) and lose the rubber match game against the Florida Marlins in a 22-0 upset. Don’t bet on it though. Bookies get suspicious when you put your entire 401K on a point spread that splayed, and almost never pay out.’

“Bored of Don Cornelius and his sho ‘nough dilly, my uncle spent the sixteen weeks constructing a Saw-like torture chamber in the reference section of the public library branch in the mini-mall, setting up a mutilation puzzle with an old card catalog to shoot poison steel spikes in the victims’ balls if they looked up the wrong Dewey decimal system section. He planned on kidnapping a random dude with an unknowing connection to the fucker at the auto parts store that always got the NAPA orders wrong and then force him to look up the amount of pressure exerted on the hydroelectric turbines at the Hoover dam. ‘Dinah Shore was right about the War of 1812! Live or die, make your choice!’ The increased number of mall walkers due to the Great Shit Storm of ’78 gave him an endless supply of victims, although I’d never get any of those days off of school.

“Outside of our cinderblock ranch house, 45 miles of the highway were covered with cow entrails, a carefully crafted trail of tears and intestines spilled from the backs of flatbed trailers originally designed to haul MX missiles from hidden silos. Ronald Reagan originally concocted the missile plan after a turgid wet dream involving Casper Weinberger rimming him in the lobby of the Washington DC Hilton, running his tongue in and out of the Gipper’s anus while mumbling about TOW missiles and Nicaraguan port facilities. The prostate massage dream triggered some latent chain of memories that made the idea of hauling 100-ton LGM-118 missiles around the country in an ever-changing pattern to evade Soviet first-strike attacks seem appealing, even if the trucks moving the missiles would burn ten gallons per mile and back up traffic across the country, causing at least fifty road rage murder-suicides per day.

“Thirty years later, airborne fleets of drones flew sorties against farmers and plains as fast as high-school dropouts could reload Hellfire missiles onto the automated craft back at home base. Remote pilots, pumped full of trucker speed, nootropic supplements, and Arby’s sandwiches ran bombing missions against GMO crop producers, raining hell on John Deere combines and silos of Monsanto seed. ‘This hippie bullshit is just a fad,’ one of the pilots said to another in the break room, as they sucked down melting ice cream sandwiches in any effort to cool off from the Nevada sun that baked their underground bunker at the undisclosed site. ‘Someday, we’re all going to look like those poor fuckers holding up ‘no blacks allowed’ signs in front of schools a hundred years later.’ His coworker didn’t listen, trying to scan through BangedUpBitches.com for some low esteem orifice to shoot his seed after the double shift of devastation and ruin.

“I considered one of these attacks myself, as I swerved the Toyota Corolla rental around the cow offal and corpses on the road, returning to my hometown thirty years later in a dopamine deficient nostalgia bender with no cure. It reminded me of a trip I took to North Korea to see a Primus concert once, back when Les Claypool had a hard-on for playing Allman Brothers jams on a 31-string Carl Thompson fretless bass made out of the wood from the sled at the end of Citizen Kane. During my entire tour of the country, driving an old army jeep made by a North Korean sister company of Ford, I kept running into distended corpses of farmers lying dead in the street. I asked my interpreter about it, and he sidestepped the whole thing, talking about how people in America were so poor, they all had to eat dead birds and would never live in a country where they could use the North Korean-invented internet to follow the news of their glorious leader’s perfect golf games. I just nodded, and ignored him, hoping the rental place wouldn’t charge extra when the loose bone shards scraped up the paint on the shitty jeep.”

The shrink woke up, looked at his watch, and jotted down a note. “Okay, now tell me about your mother.”