U. S. Of A.

Two flags wave in the wind down the street. The yellow one on the bottom has black lettering that says, Don’t Tread On Me. On top of that flys the red, white, and blue. Both gently sway.

The old man took a look outside. Sun was out, just past noon, boy still wasn’t home. He’d been out all night. This had become a common thing. Old man took out a cigarette and lit it with his Bic. He breathed in and coughed. He was always coughing. Took a swig of beer and looked up at an airplane flying over the trailer park. Making all that noise; all that constant noise. Day and night there was a racket in the skies. One day, he said. One day I’ll be done with this shit, he inhaled smoke again, coughed and sat down on the couch. He opened another beer. The phone rang.

After a constant disturbance, the old man got up to answer it. Boy was on the other end. Said he’d got taken in last night. Said he hit a man at Jack’s Place. Told the old man that the bartender was quick to call the cops. Calls from county jail were nothing new.

What’d ya want me to do about it? the old man asked. I ain’t gonna bail ya out this time. Call someone who cares. He hung the up the phone. Ain’t got any common sense, the dad said. Always something. Another beer was opened.

He sat there watching Andy Griffith. The episode where Opie gets a shiner when he sticks up for himself. The old man watched in disbelief. Why didn’t Opie knock some sense into that boy? he asked out loud. Why didn’t he let him have it? Opie’s a pussy, the old man swore. He represents the end of this country, the old man said. All a bunch of pussies from then on, took out his final beer. Drank it down quickly. Loosened his belt and fell asleep. Dreaming of Raquel Welch. The phone rang into the night.

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