Illustrations by The Hyperbole
“Good morning, my dear. What are you today,” asked Patrice Buttle’s mother as she prepared her children’s Grape-Nuts cereal with almond milk.
“I’m xhe today,” Patrice answered sleepily.
“Hi Mom, hi ‘Trice,” said Che as he bounded into the room and sat at the breakfast nook. “Pronoun,” he asked, looking at his sibling.
“Do you remember what today is,” asked their mother.
“Kickball day,” said Che, proudly fluffing his Lakeside Lemurs jersey.
“Homework day,” said Patrice, brightly.
“And what’s your weekend homework assignment?”
“Learn about the views of a deplorable,” answered Patrice.
“And refute them,” said Che, pounding his fist on the table and causing a tidal wave in Patrice’s cereal bowl.
“Che is acting-out aggression,” said Patrice, dabbing the sploshed milk with xher napkin.
“Now, Che, honey, you know we’ve had those talks about cismale aggression and privilege.”
“Sorry, mom,” answered Che, dejectedly.
“Do you have your deplorable picked out yet?”
“Old man Weston,” replied Patrice. “He had the most Trump shit on the block when we had to make that map for school.”
“Plus, he has that cool car,” said Che, his voice cracking awkwardly.
“Che has a cruuuuuushhhhh…”
“Yeah? Well, your David Hogg action figure smells like…”
“That’s enough, kids. I’m surprised he can afford to keep that old car with all the gas vehicle taxes and home repair shop license and inspections. Now, let’s go through your safety review.”
“Stay ten feet away,” recited Patrice.
“Don’t go inside any buildings or under any cover,” said Che.
“Stay where the drone can see us.”
“Don’t look at the drone.”
“Okay, be careful.” The kids left and their mother pulled up the drone control screen on her tablet.
Che sprinted to the police call box in the middle of the block and waited for Patrice who jogged along at a more sensible pace. He looked up at the security camera and wondered if anyone was watching.
“Don’t look at the cameras, Che. Only antisocial people do that.”
“I bet old man Weston does. I bet he even shakes his fist and swears at them like he does when kids cut across his lawn.”
Che and Patrice arrived at the corner where Weston’s house was and marched up his driveway past the “No Trespassing” signs. Weston was in the garage working on his car, with the front cover up.
“It looks like a big frog eating him,” said Che.
“What the heck are you kids doing here,” asked Weston standing up and turning around. His hands were covered in something black. Che wished he knew about tools, and had someone to teach him about fixing things.
“We’re supposed to interview a deplorable person for school,” said Che, causing Patrice to elbow him.
“Are you putting on makeup to look like a person of color,” asked Patrice.
“What the… No, it’s grease from working on the car,” said Weston, all grumpy.
Che looked around the garage, which was full of clutter. Suddenly he noticed an animal, like a small dog, on the top of a shelf. The animal was motionless, its mouth frozen open in a toothy grin. There was a plastic baby doll dangling from the animal’s mouth by a leg.
“Is that your dog up there? Why did you have it stuffed,” asked Che.
“That’s not a dog, that’s a hyena. They’re vicious predators and scavengers.”
“Did you shoot it,” asked Patrice.
“Yes, and it’s a her.”
“How do you know how it identified,” asked Patrice.
“Did you get in trouble for shooting her,” asked Che.
“No, of course I didn’t get in trouble. She was scavenging bodies. Human bodies. There was an incident, and we lost some men. See that flag behind her? That’s the flag of Burkina Faso. That’s where it happened.”
“Is that why you put the doll in her mouth,” asked Che.
“Yes, it’s a joke.”
Che began giggling uncontrollably. This was the first time he had heard an adult make a joke like the jokes he and his kickball friends made.
Patrice quickly keyed a note into her phone that Che was displaying insensitivity to violence towards animals.
“So, you’re on a team called the Lemurs,” asked Weston.
“That’s my kickball team,” replied Che, “they’re named after this cool animal.”
“I know what they are. Lemur meat is delicious. You’re still playing kickball at your age? Do the Lemurs win a lot,” asked Weston.
“They don’t keep score. That promotes able-ism and aggression,” said Patrice.
“So, are you going to interview me, or what,” asked Weston.
“I’d rather hear about that place in Africa,” said Che.
“We have an assignment to do,” reminded Patrice. “Why are you a deplorable, Mr. Weston? Why do you hate people different from you?”
“I don’t hate people because of who they are,” answered Weston slowly, “the men I worked with overseas were of every color and religion.”
“Then why did you support the bad orange man,” asked Che.
“Because he wasn’t going to take my guns away,” answered Weston.
“Why do you need a gun,” asked Patrice, “there are no hyenas here.”
“And we have police,” added Che. He liked the police officers who came to school to talk to them about drugs, and guns, and gangs. They had cool uniforms, and always smelled like leather.
“Because it’s my right to defend myself,” said Weston. “The right of self-defense derives from the right of self-ownership. Both rights, all true rights, are inalienable,” said Weston, froth forming at the corners of his mouth.
Patrice and Che looked at each other. They knew they had chosen the right neighbor to interview, and would receive “A” grades for their report.
“But what about the right to be free from gun violence,” asked Patrice, as xhe had been taught to do.
“If they break into my house they initiate the violence,” said Weston. “Here, take these pamphlets.”
He walked down his driveway, put the pamphlets on the ground, then returned to his garage.
The children approached the pamphlets cautiously. They were printed in purple ink in old-fashioned letters. Che kept an eye on Weston while Patrice bravely put on a glove and picked them up, one by one, and dropped them into her Pro-Social Collection plastic bag.
“The Køøk Brothers Guide to the Economic Rights of Rich People.”
“How to Beat Campus Rape Charges by Rico Suave.”
“The Woodchipper Foundation Guide to Free Speech.”
Patrice recognized these as the worst of the hardcore deplorable things xhe had been warned about in hall monitor class, while Che was at kickball practice. “Thanks, Mr. Weston,” xhe said, backing away slowly.
“Cool hyena,” said Che.
“Okay, get out of here before that stupid parenting drone runs out of power,” said Weston pointing skyward. “And tell your mother I said ‘hello.’”
The kids ran home and told their mother all about their experience, even though she had streamed it live through the drone and their phones. They then wrote up their report, with Patrice doing most of the work, and submitted it online to their teacher, Mr. Beria, along with a picture of the bag of pamphlets.
Later that day a man in a suit rang the doorbell. He opened his jacket to show a gold badge hanging from his belt, and said he had come to take the pamphlets.
“How come you’re not wearing a uniform,” asked Che, all disappointed.
“I’m a detective. We don’t wear those. Nobody here read those pamphlets, right?”
“No,” answered Patrice and Che. Their mother looked at the detective and shook her head. The detective took the bag of pamphlets and left.
The next Monday, when the kids got off the school bus, there were several police cars and a black van outside of Weston’s house with a small crowd of neighbors gathered around, including their mother.
“Mom, what’s going on,” they asked.
“Mr. Weston was corrupting children with antisocial propaganda. The police are here to help him get the help he needs.”
Eventually, people dressed all in black wheeled out a stretcher with Weston strapped to it, his eyes unfocused. There were large purple bruises on his face. He looked lumpy under the white sheet. They loaded him into the van and sped off.
Patrice Lumumba (PAH-trees lum-UM-ba): A very important democratic leader in Central Africa. He was killed by fascists. The Peoples Friendship University in Moscow, Russia was named after him because he was such an important person.
Che Guevara (CHE Gue-VA-Ra): A very important Latinx doctor and Cuban revolutionary hero. He was killed by fascists. June 14th is a holiday because it’s his birthday.
Sibling (SIB-ling): A gender-neutral word for a brother or sister.
Lemur (LEIGH-more): A type of animal found only on the island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa.
Deplorable (Dee-PLORE-uh-bul): Racist, Islamophobic, sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, people. The people who voted for Tr*mp.
Antisocial (Aunty-SO-shall): People who only care about themselves, and who ignore the rules of society. People who care about others and obey rules are called “prosocial” (PRO-so-shall).
Trespassing (“Get Off My Lawn”): A concept deplorables made up to restrict the movement of poor people and people of color.
Hyena (Hi-EE-Nah): A gentle, friendly animal found in Africa and parts of Asia. Deplorables hate them because they don’t conform to traditional gender norms.
Burkina Faso (BUR-keen-uh FAH-so): A country in West Africa. The democratic government there was overthrown by fascist mercenaries.
Inalienable Rights (In-EH-Leigh-un-ah-bul Ritez): Deplorables believe that there are no limits on their own rights, but that other people have to listen to them. Prosocial people understand that rights must be balanced. There is a right to free speech, but not to hate speech which hurts others.
Pamphlet (PAM-flett): Printed material produced by people who are not allowed to use social media. Pamphlets always contain some type of hate speech they can’t say on social media. Children receiving pamphlets should immediately report them to teachers or police.