Let me tell you a joke while we’re sitting here like this, as you look like the kind of body what could use some amusement: Once upon a time there was a country called America and it was full of giant birds roaming the land and the air, and they ate dreams, only dreams, because once upon a time this was a land where dreams were the most plentiful thing in all creation second only to death. But the punch line was that one day what happened was all the dreams the birds were eating decided to dream of something else, but they’re dreams and dreams don’t matter, so after that giant icebergs emerged from the sea and killed everything that was alive! Talk about calamity, boy howdy. And anyway this is why there’s the Grand Canyon. If you were to slide your knife up into my belly, and raise its blade up to my ribs, and collect in your hands my heart, you could break it in two. Really and truly, you could.

And anyway night washed over the valley like a bucket of rain over your dreams. On one end lay cannon fire bursting up the dark in defiance of all the ways that Jesus’ blood has not yet managed to fail us, and on the other end was an army of men who were, at this very moment, dying, with great speed, and also vigor, in the grand style of men exploded by cannon fire.

‘MEN’ shouts a man at the front of some men ‘DO YOU FEEL LOST? DO YOU FEEL ALONE? IS THERE A GUN IN YOUR HAND?’ and everyone agrees that they are lost, and alone, and that there are guns in their hands, and the man hollers ‘DO YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS’ and the men yell ‘HELL YES’ so he screams ‘WELL WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT THEN?’ and they scream ‘CHARGE!’

And they do, charge, their arms outstretched and armed with all sorts of things, but mostly guns, the blood in their bodies was just dying to get out there and really start going to work on that landscape, which was entirely too dusty, and could certainly use a splash of color every now and again. Also! Torches! They had torches. They used them to see with their eyes where they should aim their arms to aim their rifles and pistols better add some color to the landscape. So let’s watch, as bullets burst forth from barrels to barrel their way through flesh and bone, to tear open one end of a body and then see what happens next.

What happens next is the enemy returns fire.

Out here, everyone is the enemy.

There’s a boy over there. He’s about 19. He’s painted a beard on his face so as to be taken more seriously. Before that, he tried murdering everyone who didn’t take him seriously, but all it got him was a pile of bodies enough to fill a barn. But nobody could see what he did when the pile of bodies were in the barn, so he stacked the pile of bodies next to a barn in the shape of a barn and he wept at the sight of it. Then someone laughed at his weeping, and at the barn, and said ‘Boy that ain’t no barn, that there’s a pile of dead bodies stacked in the shape of a barn! Don’t you got any damned sense? What sort of use is that? HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW!’ Then he shot that someone in the throat so as to close the box where that voice came from forever. Mostly he didn’t really know how to talk about how he felt inside. Soon, this was back when he was 15 maybe and eager to be a grown up already, he took up with a rough sort of crowd and felt kind of at home for the first time in his life, as though maybe when he died he wouldn’t feel so alone all the time, and anyway right now that boy is crouched in a bush. Beside that bush is another bush in which is crouched a man dressed up as a ghost who’s trying to remember the last time he’d seen his wife.

The last time he’d seen his wife was months ago, and what he’d seen was this: he’d seen his wife with her brown hair done up in a bun and with parts falling down around her face and holding their daughter in her arm and kissing their daughter on her blonde head of hair which was coming in all over the place now along with bouts and blasts of speech turning into language and barreling down at them, finding the hearts, and causing all kinds of things to happen, and now here he is, crouching in a bush and dressed up like a ghost and God knows why and he sure as shit isn’t sharing. This man has named his gun and its name is Shh. He holds Shh to his lips over the sheet and he says Shhhh and then he and the boy jump out of the bushes and shout BANG at each other, and then later their guns do too.

Next door to them are 100 other swinging dicks dressing up in their own private outfits and acting out this little one act play of seeing what death can do over and over and over and over and over again, smoke erupting from the muzzles and everyone blinking like a birthday party full of bullets. It is a real fucking show of it, causing the kicking up and the biting of a great deal of dust by a great many bodies, said dust-kicking and -biting causing our hero to be kicked by his horse in a house they built under the ground directly under the above events for to catch some shut eye. ‘Shit is fucked up there’ says his horse. His horse stares at him meaningfully. Everyone is staring at everyone real meaningfully.

And so here we are. Staring. As a crowd rises up over the hill, and the scene changes. Don’t worry though, everyone’s still dead. Except now it’s an ambush. Everyone who was dead was just playing dead this whole time! ‘Surprise!’ they all said!

Arne had been playing dead for what seemed like forever. Then he went and lost his gun back when everyone was shouting ‘Surprise!’ so he just dove at the nearest guy and put his fingers in his mouth and just pried and pried and pried with his foot as an anchor on a chest, and then when he got the jawbone out he fell back, triumphant. He paused, then put it on his head like a tiara, and smiled. They let Arne stand there like that for a whole solid minute because he just seemed so proud, but then they killed him by kicking his legs until they shattered, then worked their way up each limb, kicking him over and over and over again until he just fell to pieces. What was left of his life leapt out of his mouth like some cartoon ghost.

So you get up and you walk away.

You get to a restaurant. In the restaurant are some people. This guy named Joe walks up to you.

‘Hi’ he says. ‘My name is Joe. This is here is my restaurant and you look like shit. Here’s some food.’ Then a man walks in and says ‘STICK EM UP’ and everyone shoots that man til he’s dead. Joe says ‘Listen thanks for that but I am going to have to ask you to leave. I don’t much tolerate that sort of shit here!’

So of course you shoot Joe.

Out the window of Joe’s is a bald eagle. It’s wearing a crown of thorns. The crown is on fire. The eagle’s looking you right in the eye, and it has got nothing to say to you. Not one thing.