John Bradley

That Country

"The end of the world comes often, and continues to often come."
--Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

I'm driving my boss to work, only I'm facing her, as the steering wheel
is mounted behind the driver's seat. She's seated in the back seat,
facing forward. Why don't I ask her where we're going, so I don't have
to keep twisting my neck around? She could tell me which way to turn,
and I could calmly gaze out the back window, chatting with her about
those canoe-shaped cars they drive in that country we are about to

Here is a rule: We meet on a field that slightly resembles a field in
that country where peace shall be consummated. You can commit any
violence, any violence you wish, upon me. Until I say: Glorious is
victory. Once I say those words, everything changes. Now I am free to
commit whatever violence I can imagine upon you. Until you say: Sublime
is victory.

After my wife takes a shower, the soapdish fills with water, and then
the bar of soap begins to revert back to a liquid. When I enter the
bathroom, I feel obligated to check the soapdish and empty any water I
might find. I call this preserving our eroding coastline. I wonder if
a husband or wife does this in the country we're about to overcome. I
suppose it's better not to know. Otherwise I'd have to stop emptying
our soapdish.

A notebook is found inside a flounder caught off the coast of Biloxi.
Though little is known about the notebook, some say it contains the
ravings of a citizen living in the country we are about to quell.
There's a grocery list for sunflower seeds and glockenspiel. Drawings
of hands, with eyes on the fingertips, emerging from dry creek beds.
Translations of dog bark and cricket call. Some argue this is all a
ruse to make us feel sympathy for the enemy, but tell me, who could feel
sympathy for someone who wrote in his journal: Then the Chihuahua asked
me, What star are we on, kind sir?

Here is a rule: Never tell anyone that you wear red undergarments. Red
might be the color of a spice of the favorite dish of that dictator of
the country we are about to subdue, or it might be the color of the
dictator's favorite wife's favorite scarf, or the color of the
eyeglasses of his least favorite son. You can still wear red, of
course. Only when you do, be more generous in your tips at the

I made a terrible mistake. I made your tea without wearing rubber
gloves. When I scalded myself while pouring the hot water, my throat
released an unstoppable scream, implanting panic in your tea leaves.
Causing your left kneecap, when you later hear someone say, That country
we are about to render infantile, to inadvertently emit an audible gasp
in public. I'm so sorry. The rubber gloves are in my sink. Punish
them however you wish.