Originally published in Eastside Week

The War Between the States II


“Grampa? Tell me about the Second Civil War.”

“Well, Timmy, that was a long time ago. I was a bit older than you are now, but a hell of a lot smarter. Like the First Civil War, which was fought by the South and the North, the Second Civil War started slowly. Regional tensions and name-calling built up for a decade, and then one day in June 2008, Oregon and Washington fired on Fort Ord, and California officially declared war.”

“But what really started it?”

“Depends on who you ask. The Greens—short for Evergreens—say those durn Golden Staters started invading in the late '80s, buying up strategic view property, and establishing waterfront positions West of the Cascades, all the while making plans to divert water and hydroelectric power to LA. In fact, the Columbia-to-Colorado-River Trench was what brought Eastern Washington into the war on the side of the Greens in '09.”

“Did you fight in the war Grampa?”

“You bet I did. I'm not a coward like your dad. How do you think I lost my leg?”

“Daddy says you passed out drunk and the dog gnawed it off.”

“I meant my other leg. I lost it at the first Battle of Medford when I was with the Second Bellingham Army. We had met some resistance at the edge of these woods, see. Now most of those Bellingham boys were picking mushrooms when the shooting broke out, so the Californicators got the drop on us. Fortunately, we were only up against the First Hollywood division: stylish, but not very effective. Those Hollywood soldiers sustained the greatest casualties of any Golden State outfit, but most historians agree that the Battle of Medford was the best choreographed of the entire war.

“After I lost my leg, the Californians took me prisoner. They sent me to the infamous Santa Monica POW camp, where we had to survive on sprouts and mineral water. Soldiers succumbed to all manner of maladies that swept through the camp: low self-esteem, co-dependency, loving too much. The guards routinely tortured our inner children and robbed us of our self-hood. The only thing I owned was my shame-based inadequacy issues.”

“How long were you a prisoner Grampa?”

“I broke out in the Summer of '09. I had gotten to know some of the guards there, and it turned out they were all just  actors working as guards until their careers got going. Me and a few others distracted 'em one day by saying we heard there were open auditions for CSI going on. They left and we just walked out.

“Most of us took odd jobs to save enough money to get back North. One fella worked as an herbal therapist. Another posed as a channeler for a 9th-Century goat broker. Last I heard, he was still wowin' 'em at Shirley McLaine Land.”

“What did you do, Gramps?”

“Me, I did a stint with the Underground Freeway, helping to smuggle immigrants and prisoners North to freedom. Then I hooked up with some Greenneck sympathizers—'Mossies', they were called—who specialized in sabotage. Our goal was to cripple the California economy so the wheels would fall off their war machine. My first assignment was breeding medflies in the San Joaquin Valley. Later a bunch of us put on Disney character costumes and snuck into Disneyland to drive away customers. You know how those characters never talk? Well, one guy dressed as Pluto ran up to kids screaming 'Hide me! Mickey wants to have me neutered!' With my missing leg, I was a natural to infiltrate Pirates of the Caribbean. I threw rocks at the tourists and yelled 'Arr, here be some pieces of eight for ye scurvy lubbers', and I grabbed a ton of midwest housewife ass. Then our crew hooked up the Matterhorn to the Union Pacific tracks. Folks got on that ride and wound up in a Long Beach rail yard.

“After we shut down Disneyland, we tried to sabotage the entertainment industry. I was personally responsible for signing Adam Sandler to a five picture deal. Boy, did that backfire. When my production of Who's The Boss?: The Movie grossed $200 million, we realized we'd better quit and head home before we became studio heads.”

“Did you ever see the Drive-By Corps?”

“Well Davey, I guess you've been paying attention in school after all, if you know about the Drive-By Corps.”

“Everyone knows about them, Grampa. And I'm Timmy.”

“Sure you are. Yup, right after the Crips and Bloods joined forces to become California's infamous Drive-By Corps, we crossed their path before the siege at Salem. Musta been a hunerd of 'em in a primered Buick Regal. They were so mobile because they could use the diamond lanes to get about, but despite their fearsome reputation, they couldn't shoot worth a damn. Plus, all you had to do was lob a few 40-ouncers their way and you could skeedaddle. Speakin' o' which, all this jawin's got grampa mighty thirsty. Why don't you fetch me another cold one, Billy?”

“Why didn't other states help us out? I thought they all hated California too.”

“Well, Idaho and Montana sent supplies, but the survivalists kept all the good weapons. Nevada stayed neutral, choosing to handle all the betting action on the war's outcome. The early line had Johnny Rad the easy favorite, but we Greennecks surprised everyone at the second battle of Redding. A victor was never certain until the Spring of 2012 when Nevada came in on the side of California, mostly to cover potential gaming losses. Most of us knew it was over when Governor Madonna gave her now-famous Yreka address. And that's how the California flag came to fly over the entire west coast, from Mexico to Canada. Maybe this summer I'll take you to the national cemetery in Arlington. Or is it Darrington?”

“Is that where your leg's buried?”

“No, that damn dog buried it out back somewhere.”