Bruce MacKinnon’s editorial cartoon for March 7, 2019.

SMOKING GUN

They- the Meta’s- are their name, one I never say- asked if I had forgiven myself? I had. Emphatically. But I would never tell or show them. They are the ones I had not forgiven, government scientists allowed to conduct and profit from private business. They smelled of what put me in here, what ruined all good. Couldn’t they see that? Everyone else with any sense, even the slightest amount could. While we are on the subject; I use the common sense of a child, if it hurts, it’s not good, if it’s not good, it’s bad. And I despise any term used to guilt wrong into right: like the adult version of common sense. If there was such a thing, it missed every generation I have encountered. It is just a lie, dumping greatness atop buried adolescence. Resurrecting failures with an idol’s presents. Purposely stunting youth, growing into failure accepting functional adult addicts.

Truth is, I never considered forgiveness. Six months ago, when I was young minded, nothing eased or distracted my ache for revenge. I thought, someone must pay. But suffering matured me, made me deliberate, even through accident-just like them-The Meta’s.

I dreamed the day, second, minute, they would stare, beg forgiveness, remember what it felt like to care. I reside in place labeled the crown juul of attraction. A first of now many manmade chemicalized wonders of the world. A comforting box. Once inside, you are forced into America’s version of roulette. Why must we one up downfall?

At the center is a golf course built over a cemetery. Tees signal an elevator of buried bodies. Green fields flowing with lively thick grass. The dirt, giving and solid, is deep, rooted strong from centuries of wisdom beneath. Forever, looking and smelling fresh to death. They added a swimming pool and model looking caddies to attract youth. It worked perfectly. Things made with simple beauty tempt you into a fraternity of madness: the happiness that moves sad, lost groups.

We were allowed small flashes of light several times a day. You might wonder why the complaints? But after first contact, the body, the mind, the senses, are never the same. And, I almost didn’t survive. I let the others nudge past, and received strange, weary looks, but I understood the game faster- being younger- I was less conflicted. Unfortunately, the other young'uns, most of my friends, could not resist.

“Me next!” The shouts were like a steady emergency ring. A scary gift of knowing a person’s end.

BANG!

Eyes blackened; bodies collapsed with a lifeless thud as if their fall was broken by smoke.

“YEEEAAAHHH!” The crowd shouted. Fists swung wild, beating resistance to submission. The destruction of our brothers in struggle brought the remedy of more.

“Next man up,” The Meta’s yelled. Shaking, mouths open, wheezing from excitement. They were rarely seen, but always present, existing in the background: death sitting, massaging lungs, waiting to be planted like a kiss from a rapist.

They watched life exhale. The execution required two stages, the life pull, and ghost shot. Wait, let me not continue their lie, it happened in one stage- they just wanted us to believe we had a choice, and It never failed. These scientists were special. They had habit forming, perfect proof, white, with dreamy lab coats making them real, believable to trust.

“Go’on’, picke’em up. Waste won’t help none of us live longer or feel better,” a man named Burns stated. Peering and jittery, like a man afraid to be caught. He was the Meta’s leader.

The lifeless bodies were picked up, carried sturdy and swift as branches holding snow in a storm. The carriers teetered, stumbling towards an interior incinerator. They stood trembling. Exhausted. Death is heavy, and always wears you away. The men of the moment, carrying the costly load, finally collapsed as they read the sign; NO BURNING INSIDE, making three dead bodies against the grave grey floor.

“NEXT UP, FASTER”, Burns yelled. His blonde red hair, simmering under the same natural light I tried to avoid.

Six more men, two for each body, followed the arrows pointing outside, towards an exterior incinerator.

This place. Never received visitors. If they came, they stayed, and were happy about it. Relaxation is a strange, invisible pain. Only the clouds were our reminder of freedom. But even they were gloomy, moving with the shriek of wheezing.

Rumors told, spread belief, of a town that disappeared, like air. It was a town erected for surgeon generals. Men paid to promise a blissful escape, to a public, who believed as they should, in their ways.

I am thirteen years old today, and have escaped almost as many times. I tried to find the town, but the only road led back here. Now I am suffocated. I discovered, I was let out to expand my stamina. What happens when people we are supposed to trust purposely hurt and ruin us? Heartbreak forces our retreat. We become furious hunters, hungry wolves salivating towards dangling unprotected meat. I am a young woman. I will have my revenge. I will have something.

Once the carriers were outside, only then, did our cramped space loosen. The incinerators heavy metal door creaked, clicked and banged against its walls before hitched. The spark shot them backwards. As they inhaled, they were overcome, by the perfumed seduction of teen spirit.

BANG!

Heads flew back. Bodies bent and fell in a crumble. We choked from the smoke. Wheezed from disease. It is what we self-prescribe to shorten our long dying life.

Once, I wanted them to apologize, but it’s meaningless. They invented legal murder to get rich.

So, to the cigarette and drug companies and DEA, who allow it, I say this. Fuck you and your apologies. I hope your wives, children and pets also live a long dying disease and addiction filled life. Then, maybe you will understand what you did. Fucking killing kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I write to breath. I write to give. I write for happiness.

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