November 2007

Macromicros and American Jack


Kim Rush


            American Jack was racing home after a hard day’s work at a small town police department.  In two more months he’d have enough credit to buy American Jill, his high school sweetheart, that beautiful wedding ring.  It was only six thousand dollars and she was worth it—soon to be his wife, have two point five children, take out a thirty year loan on a house, buy eleven or more cars over his life span, pay a twenty-three percent interest rate on his twenty credit cards, and unable to avoid the inevitable, pay taxes of about thirty percent, for he was a money maker, and then die.  He felt good.  Just one year out of the community college Criminal Justice program, a policeperson getting respect as he deserved, but, but, but that was just the beginning.  He was sure to rise through the force and there was no end to his future.  He felt special, unique, a good person, for he’d already, in such a short time, put sixteen bad guys into their cages, doing their time, paying back society for their breaking of the rules.  It didn’t even bother him that one of his friends was in a cage now because of his police work, for his friend had, had a bag of some sort of plant, and that was against the law.  American Jack was sure that the law was justice, and he’d up-hold that law.


            An old 1973 Buick Special pulled in front of him and belched blue smoke back at him.  He beeped the horn in a bit of disgust at the smoke filtering through his air-conditioning into his recently Detailed SUV—the Detailing had just cost him a hundred bucks.  The old Buick belched and blew and weaved a bit on the road, bringing to attention this policeperson’s interest.  The rusty Buick went over the outside line again and the small town policeperson called the number in for a license check. “Pay Dirt!” the cliché screamed in his head.  The police chief had already congratulated him on the eight tickets of that day—money in the small town’s coffers, and now he had a felony warrant in front of him.  He wished he’d driven the police car home that night, but he was a policeperson and he was always on the job, so he began to beep the SUV’s horn, held up his shinny badge, spoke his command over the newly installed loudspeaker system in his SUV, and motioned the old car over to the side of the road.  It stayed in the lane and moved on down the road like an old sixties song that would never go away.  The policeperson, now irate at this nonattention, pushed the gas pedal and pulled along side the old car.  He pressed the passenger side window button down, showed his badge, and yelled into the microphone, “Pull over.  This is the police,” to the old hippy in the driver’s seat of the old car. 


            He watched the old guy roll the handle of the window down and laughed a bit at the old mechanism of window movement--suddenly he swerved to avoid an oncoming car.  Macromicors picked the tiny SUV up before it met the oncoming car of mom and kids.  The young policeperson opened his eyes and saw the sky blue in front of him instead of the fiery crash he’d expected.  His head swiveled back and forth, trying to see where and what was going on.  His eyes rested on a huge eyeball outside of the windshield.  Stunned at this unexpected image, he turned human for the first time that day and was frightened.


            He watched the eye blink at him.  This couldn’t be.  He rubbed his own eyes and quickly clamped his hands back onto the familiar steering wheel.  The initial fear turned into anger and he began to beep the horn.  The SUV was moved across the huge face and he saw the lips move.  “Hello earth bug. I am Macromicros.  My cousin, Micromegas, visited your planet in 1752 and he asked me to stop in and find what you’ve learned from the book he left.  So what have you learned?—oh, one of your fellow bugs named Voltaire wrote about the visit, so you should know of it?  Even though I’m a much smaller creature than Micromegas, I will place your cart into my ear so I can hear you.”


            The young policeperson vibrated in the turmoil of the giant’s voice.  He regained composure and beeped the horn again; now angry that anything so abynormal should happen to him a policeperson.  Had one of those arrested drug dealers put something into his coffee?  He impotently pushed the gas pedal. The engine roared, but the forty-eight thousand dollar vehicle—first payment due the second of next month, “failed to proceed.”  “What have you bugs learned from Micromegas’ book?” the huge voice repeated.

           The young policeperson, being of quick wit, again pulled up the microphone he had attached to control bad motorists like the old “love” hippy, and he yelled into the microphone, “What the hell’s going on?”


            “What is hell?” the huge voice asked.


            “Hell is where bad people like you go if they don’t follow god,” the young policeperson responded with the mantra of his sunday school childhood.


            “What is god?” Macromicros asked.  The policeperson stopped to think a moment. 


            “Well, god is the creator of all things,” he spoke from his now ingrained training.


            “How can one being create all things?” asked the giant, beginning to wonder if he’d chosen a flawed bug from the infestation on this globe.


            “Well,” repeated the policeperson, “god created everything and we—humans, are a part of his creation, as is the earth, the solar system, and the universe—and you.”


            “Me! Interesting.  I thought my parents made me,” said Macromicros, “I’ve never met this creature on any of the planets I have visited, and he’s not known on my world.  Why don’t we go and talk with him, for I’m beginning to think I’ve chosen the wrong bug from your world to speak with.  So can you lead me to this being called god?”


            The bug policeperson sat and thought about the question for a moment, and whished he’d listened to more of what the preacher had told him.  “I’m not sure how to answer your question, but I do know that god is real, but we can’t see him, or go to him.”


            “I’ve not met an invisible creature, but I do have over one thousand senses, and know from Micromegas’ report that you bugs only have five, so perhaps you don’t have the senses to perceive this being god.  Can you speak to him, so that we can meet?”


            Again the young policeperson considered.  “We can speak with him, but we can not meet with him until we are dead.”  The giant roared out laughter.


            “But if you are dead then you are not sentient.  How can you speak with him now, but not see him, but see him when you are not a living, sentient creature?  This seems to be foolishness.”


            The young policeperson was angered at this challenge to everything he’d been taught throughout all of his life.  “No, maybe it is you who is foolish and can not think beyond the physical.  You, sir, are the foolish one here.  You are not as advanced as we ‘bugs,’ as you say, are.”


            ‘Humph, an interesting premise, so how do you know this invisible god is real then?”


            Again the young policeperson had to think.  “We know he is real because we have a book written by him, telling us about him, and how to live for him.”


            “Hunh, so you have a book written by him, but you can not see him until you are dead.  That seems a bit unusual, doesn’t it?  Are you truly speaking about your reality?”


            “Well, the book was not written by him, but by people who believed that he was god telling them what to write in that book.”


            “Oh, so an invisible creature, to whom they could not speak, told them what to write,” said Macromicros; this oddity then struck him with a memory of Micromegas’ command. “What has happened to the book left by my wise cousin, Micromegas?”


            “I don’t know,” said the young policeperson.  “I don’t read books.  I watch videos and movies for my entertainment; in fact, I never even read a book while I was in college.  That book stuff is just what other people want you to think.”


            “Oooh,” said the giant, beginning to understand his fellow speaker.  “Let’s change the subject.  Why were you trying to kill yourself in that little cart?”


            “I wasn’t trying to kill myself.  I’m a policeperson and I uphold the law—the rules of our society, and that other ‘cart’ had broken the law.  The law is the foundation of our country’s freedom.”


            “So law, a means of control, is for to keep your country’s freedom?”


            “Yes, now you’re beginning to understand.”


            “What is a country?”


            “Well, we different people . . . well, we live in a certain place and we call that our country.  Other people live in other places and they call those their countries.  It’s simple.”


            “So these ‘people’ bugs are different so they live in different areas on the globe?”


            “Well, they aren’t really different.  They just live differently, so they live there and we live here and our country is what is right and important to us.”


            “So, your way of living is the right way of living for the bugs in your country and the other bugs live in their country in their way of life that is wrong to your way of life?  That’s confusing.”


            “No, you just don’t get it.  They may have a different god--.”  The giant roared.  The young policeperson held onto the steering wheel as his SUV shook in the giant’s ear.


            “There’s more than one of these gods, but didn’t your god create everything?  Can they see their god?”


            “No, you just don’t understand.  Their god isn’t the real god, but they believe he is and they have another book that they follow, so their way is wrong and our way is right.”


            “Pshaw, pshaw, pishaw, this is pure foolishness.  Let's see, we have two invisible creatures that two different, but not different, groups of bugs follow and so what happens with that?”


            The young policeperson sat and considered this odd way of thinking.  “I guess that’s why we may be at war with them.  I never thought of it that way before, but, even so, the real difference between the countries is the focus of the economy.  We believe that a person must work for a living, and they believe that a person must live for their god’s rules.  I don’t know.  I’m getting confused.”


            “What’s an economy?”


            “Well, the economy is the way a country makes money.”


            “What is money?”


            “Money is . . . well, basically it’s a piece of paper, but the country runs on how much of this money it can make by making things and selling them for more pieces of money . . . .”  The young policeperson trailed off.




            “Well, it’s not really just paper, but it’s . . . well, it’s a symbol of value that everyone understands as valuable.  Dude, you’re beginning to hurt my head like my Philosophy teacher did in college.  It’s really simple.  People in our country work to get as much money as they can and they do that by making a profit.  Wait, I know you’re going to ask me, what a ‘profit’ is, so I’ll tell you.  It’s when the makers of things make more money than it cost them to make those things.  That’s profit.”


            “So following your logical—or illogical progression then, profit is a gathering of symbols by giving the things only to those who will give more symbols than the things are symbolically worth?”


            “Yeah, I guess so.”


            “This is hard to understand.  Let’s take a walk.  I need some fresh air to clear my confused thoughts.  I will step over this mud puddle to catch this fresh air.  Macromicros stepped across the ocean onto a sandy, dry patch of earth.  A rocket caught in his big toe.  He looked down to see bugs running and shooting sticks of fire at each other.  “What is this?” he demanded of the young policeperson.


            “Dude, I think you got us in Iraq.  Let’s get out of here.  It’s dangerous.  There’s a war here.”


            “What is this war?”


            “It’s when one country fights another country.”


            “Oh, because the people are different and have a different one of those gods.  Yes?”


            “No.  We came here to give them our freedom.  And they had a bad guy leading them who was making lots of money from their oil.”


            “Their oil.  Was this bad guy crushing them to make them into oil?  That’s really odd, for one leader to crush his people to make the symbol of money from oil.  I do not understand you bugs.  I begin to think that Micromegas judged you wrongly.  His book on the “reason for life” seems to have failed.”


            “What’s this book you keep talking about?”  A rocket flew past Macromicros’ nose and he swiped at it.  The SUV fell from his ear, and with respect to life—even such small life, he tried to catch it as it fell.  It bounced off of his right hand and into his left hand.  A rocket caught Macromicros above his top lip.  He dropped the SUV and put a giant finger to the mosquito bite.  The SUV and the young policeperson tumbled from about fifty feet to the sand.  The young policeperson jumped from the SUV and began running across the hot sand. “Halt!” yelled someone from the right of him.  He fell to his knees on the sand.  Bullets flew over his head.  He pulled out his police revolver and held it above his head.


            “Don’t shoot!  I’m an American.”  The friendly fire caught him in the back and he fell forward, burying his young policeperson’s face into the grains of sand.  As the group of men ran to him, a book fell beside his body and the blank pages fluttered in the sweltering desert heat.


                                                      The End