SOMETHING TO THIS BIAS THING.
“I KNEW IT!” Jesse shrieked as he jumped off the sofa and pointed at the holographic projection of the Ultimate Minister after he mentioned George Fetisov, startling the rest of his family. “HE’S BUTTERING THOSE POOR SAPS UP!”
“JESSE! ENOUGH!” Bob snapped.
“Jesse!” Matt interposed. “Please! I’m trying to stare at you-know-who’s handsome face!”
Meanwhile, you-know-who’s pixilation continued: “The Fetisov Administration has concrete, well-organized plans to invade and bomb select targets in the Divine Republic of Freedom.”
“I can’t believe you can listen to this fraud and believe him!” Jesse wailed.
“Are you kidding me?” a visibly angered Bob asked as he leaned forward in his black leather recliner. “What have I taught you about respect?”
“Uncle Bob, he’s using this day to push a political agenda on freakin’ Remembrance Day!” Jesse squealed. “You mean to tell me you’re okay with this?!”
“If you don’t lower your voice, mister, I’m taking away your holotop! How dare you disrespect our country like that!”
“Do what you must, but wait until an H-bomb drops in New Hackensack, all over a vendetta! If I’m wrong, you can brand that Third indentation on my face!” Jesse raised his arms in resignation and disappeared upstairs as his aunt, uncle, and cousins watched in disturbed disbelief.
“We need to have a talk with him,” Bob muttered toward Stacy. She nodded back in approval.
“Excuse me,” Mary asked her parents. “Maybe Jesse has a point. It really seems strange we’re seeing a political speech on Remembrance Day.”
“You mean like how we were in school while the rest of the country was off?” Matt asked.
“Yeah,” Mary replied. “Perhaps there is something to this bias thing he talked about.”
“You know, not everything is about bias,” Stacy interjected.
“Someday, you three will learn,” Bob grumbled.
“Dad,” Mary sternly replied, “not everyone will agree with your point of view. You should listen to Jesse sometime.”
Tensely, Bob nodded his head and replied, without eye contact, “whatever you say, dear.” Mary folded her arms in disgust. The Maiths tensely sat silently until the speech ended. Immediately after, Bob and Stacy stood up from their recliners.
“You two will not watch and dissect the reactions?” Mary asked her parents. “That isn’t like either of you.”
“I need to call Lonnie,” Bob growled, then hurriedly scampered toward his den.
“Surprise, surprise!” Mary moaned, but became even more perturbed by the sight of her mother walking toward the kitchen. “Mom! Why are you in such a hurry?!”
“I’m going to the bathroom, then I’m getting some wine!” she defensively snapped as she disappeared into the hallway. An irritated Mary eyed up her oblivious brother, whose eyes remained mesmerized on the holoTV. “Jeez, I expected dad to retreat,” Mary continued, “but mom…”
“Shhh!” Matt whispered while still fixating on the pixilations, “the reactions are starting!”
Mary huffed, re-folded her arms, and glanced in the holoTV’s direction.
“You know,” said a sixty-something bald man in a loosened red shirt and bow tie with ripped pants, “here in the Spanish Harlem tent city, His Magnificence’s endless devotion to the Joshuan faith inspires us. Joshua didn’t defuse that bomb to end all conflicts…no no no. He defused that bomb to remind us that God gave us the ultimate test and we passed it! I feel fortunate to have kept my American education and literacy, because it reminds of how great God is! So, if He is testing us again, His Magnificence recognizes that, and Joshua would have, too!”
Immediately next to the man was a mid-forties lady with chest-length parted purple hair, who said: “Yeah, man…um, we greatest nation on Earth…God challenging us again…ya know…he don’t smile upon them other countries, like, um…what’s one above New York? And…where New Alaska again? Isn’t that by, like Austrayyy…something?”
“Is that how we would talk if we were pryvies? All the grammatical mistakes and stuff?” Matt half-heartedly asked his sister. “Didn’t Jesse say that the other day?”
“Yes, and it disgusts me!” Mary snapped. “Enough of this…” Then she tuned to NOR, and the reactions they viewed impeccably exemplified the mentality of those that dared straddle the legal line of the Third Indentation.
From a twenty-year-old plus-sized female college student with curly hair and thick glasses: “Is you-know-who insane? Does he realize what he’s about to get us into? He’s listening to that voice inside his head that told him Joshua told him he has to wage the…ugh…it’s so offensive I can’t use that word!”
From a bald forty-something lawyer, dressed in a suit cloaking his bony frame: “I’m a nine-percenter, and I’m grateful for what I have, but you-know-who set a dangerous precedent tonight. The Divine Treatise may be ‘infallible truths from God,’ but Joshua Evans himself would not approve of his speech.“
From a fifty-year-old, salt-and-pepper frizzy wavy hair, wearing a black garbage bag as a shirt: “That guy has no clue what life is like in the tent cities…none! I took the time to get educated after the Endgame, and I feel awakened! I challenge His Magnificence to visit the Museum Row colony just north of the Strawberry Fields; filled with war veterans like me who damn near fought to our deaths in the Endgame! Peace or death exists for a reason! Has he lost his mind?! Does he view the W word in the same context as ’Life on the Desolation Hovervan’ or ‘The Sophisticated Ladies of the Williamsburg Colony?’ Whatever reality holoTV trash is on these days?!”
Then, Mary tuned the channel back to FNN hoping to find more non-intransigent responses, but more harangues appeared.
From a late-fifties, clean-shaven, immaculately dressed man in a just-washed white button-down shirt, dark jeans, and designer jacket: “Look, peace or death would never last, anyway. If His Magnificence thinks this is necessary, then we as Freedomers need to suck it up and handle it. This man has brought prosperity to this young nation, and if George Fetisov wants to take it away from us, then we’ll be ready! Come get us, you KBG freak!”
Finally, this exchange between the reporter and a late thirties man in thick glasses and a wrinkled black t-shirt and faded ripped jeans:
Reporter: “How do you feel about the Ultimate Minister’s speech?”
Man: “I don’t know.”
Reporter: “Do you think the W word is necessary based on the circumstances?”
Man: “What…cir…cumm…stass…mean?. I live Midtown Colony. Our school pretty stinky.”
Reporter: “Do you think it’s God’s will for the Divine Republic of Freedom to go to battle with New Alaska?”
Man: “I don’t know New Alaska is, but…I guess…if God say so…”
Reporter: “So, you agree with His Magnificence, then?”
Man: “Sure. Why not?”
Reporter: “Do you know why?”
Man: “No, but…again…God, man…ya know…and Stewart is totally a swaggerific dawg. That’s what I talk ’bout! I love this Ultimate Minister! He genius!”
An aghast Mary shut off the holoTV thereafter, startling her brother.
“Hey! I was enjoying laughing at that guy!” Matt shouted.
“I…I’m understanding how…Jesse feels,” Mary mumbled. “It’s…it’s like Mr. Kiloton when he realized…that the world wasn’t quite as it seemed.”
“Mr. Kiloton can kiss my hairy butt!” Matt retorted. “Turn the TV back on! I was having a splendid laugh!”
Annoyed, Mary stood up, petulantly handed the remote to Matt, then catatonically sauntered out of the living room.
Matt then looked in all directions before ensuring he was alone.
“Mom? You’ve been in the bathroom a long time!” he shouted. When silence persisted, he turned the holoTV back on, and immediately changed the channel. Moments later, he saw a blonde woman sighing in ecstasy, and fashioned a silly grin.