We all live poorly here. Use mail-in rebates at the hardwood store, get drunk at Sammy’s on Friday nights, and let our children run around in their underwear in our front yards. They wave flags, swords, and guns, practicing for the coming days when soldier is the only job that comes with benefits.
We all live insecurely here. Guns unlocked and loaded, resting oily beneath dusty bed-ruffles, front doors with deadbolts and chains, evidence of forced entry too cracked to paint over, pharmacy and liquor store heavily gated and watched by paid-by-the-hour security guards turtled with bullet-proof vests.
We all live indignantly here. Dig up stop signs and hammer them into the walls above our beds, siphon cable from the trailer court terminal, dig up surveyor stakes, forcing our pets to defecate on imaginary property lines, hoist cars up on jacks in our front drives, license plates conspicuously missing.
We all live rashly here. Spending the last of our paychecks at VFW fish fry’s, McDonalds’ Happy Meals, and on the spirits of amnesia: vodka, marijuana, and oxy. We roll through town timing belts squealing, humming along to 107.3 Classic rock, looking anywhere but the fuel gauge, hollering through the stripped-soul ache of being unknown. We race trains and semis, dart through intersections, collecting unacknowledged badges of goddamn luck, leaving rashes of side panel paint everywhere we go.
We all live permanently here. Football Friday nights, performing art center dance recitals, candlelight vigils for missing tweens, bake sale Saturdays for mission trips and recess equipment, petitions for crosswalks and longer traffic lights. Car crashes, lightning strikes, and messy affairs whisper through the corn-arrowed fields.
We all live ignorantly here. Making references to our ancestors, those that scattered the ashes of cultures they couldn’t bring to a caged harmony. Claiming a land that was never promised, that continues to seep with miasmas of chemical cocktails, evolution feasting on its own tail. We stockpile weapons, hell-bent on protecting our ideals of liberty while riding the twin thoroughbreds of abhorrence and distrust, proclaiming an erosive happiness. This, we say, is the only way to live.
Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two children. He is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. He is the Flash Fiction Section Editor at Craft Literary. He has been previously published in the BULL Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux Review, New World Writing, Pithead Chapel, and New Flash Fiction Review. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.