Article: 261401 of talk.bizarre
From: (Morrisa Sherman)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Pickles in Brine
Date: 1 Dec 1995 11:43:41 -0800
Organization: Best Internet Communications
Lines: 67
Message-ID: <49nltd$>
Status: O

Viktor.  That's a laugh.  My name does not suit me.  Perhaps I should
change it to Vanquished, along with every man in Tortuga.  I marched to
war singing "For Hearth and Home and Pickles in Brine" with the rest of
the Bright Warriors in my platoon, but the ferocity of our resolve
crumbled when assailed by the bored might of the young brutes who came
here to represent "Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie."  All the pride in 
Tortuga could not save so much as a grass leaf during a carpet bombing

Being a prisoner of war was not so bad.  There is a certain dignity
in knowing that you are right, and that the foreigners are oppressors
and captors.  And they did feed us and all.  We were supposed to be
quiet in the barracks, but the showers were always good for conversations
with my countrymen, rumors of the front, stories of fair wives and good
children with red cheeks.  No it was not so bad, for we knew who we were.

Returning home after the war was not so bad.  I thought I'd be disgraced,
having been taken prisoner.  I was taught 'tis better to die than live in
bond, but when I was released, my family was overjoyed that I crossed the
thresh-hold of my home a whole man instead of a cripple.  "Oh Viktor,
Viktor, Viktor," my mother cried, over and over, so overwhelming was her
joy at our reunion.  I too was grateful, and though hard times were upon
us, I gave as many coppers as I could to my wrecked brethren who begged in
the streets, displaying their stumps and their wounds.  They'd murmer
wheedlingly "Harsh is God's retribution," and I'd drop coins in their
dirty palms and reply piously "but his mercy heals like the touch of a
mother."  No, it wasn't so bad, for I was love, and I knew mercy. 

Even those first hard days of reconstruction were not so bad.  The Bright
Warriors that had been taken prisoner now banded together to offer our
strength to the community.  Along with the ranks of The Mothers of Our
Nation and those hardy little troopers The Flowers of Youth, we had 
enough hands and a hundred times the courage we needed to rebuild our
country.  We ate our rolls with good Tortuga pickles, and the work was
not so bad.

If only the foreigners had simply left us alone, alone to scratch our
pride back out of the dust ourselves, but the Campaign to Rebuild War-torn
Tortuga came on the next ships, a new invasion, this time blighting our
dignity instead of our land.  The same faces and the same uniforms that
so callously rent my sweet Tortuga asunder, the bored young boys that so
easily crushed the honor of the Bright Warriors on the battlefield with
their gatling guns and strange firy chemicals were back.  It seemed 
there was nothing they could not do.  They'd see one of us carrying a
yoke-load of bricks, ask him where the site of his new home was to
be, go there, slap up one of their "pre-fabricated dwellings," and offer
the children foreign chocolate before they left.  Chocolate!  When their 
father had been struggling to find them cabbages!  My children would
ask if they could go be foreigners too, and I was ashamed.

The McDonald's restaurant was the last straw.  They put it up to serve
the tastes of the foreigners, but soon a steady black market arose in
which we traded our carvings, our gems, our fine embroidery, every 
tiny treasure left to our names for foreign money, so our children
could eat the clean food, the ground meat uncut with old potatoes.  
My wife got a job there, and would smuggle pickles home, flaccid, rubbery,
tasteless pickles, sour with defeat, salted with hopelessness, nothing
like the piquant crunch of a true Tortuga pickle.  Even our pickles
became supplanted by the foreigners.  I was not the Viktor, even in my

So that is why I am here in this McDonald's restaurant with my gun, to
make you pay for what your people have done to my country, to make you
taste the flavor of the defeat with which you tormented Tortuga.  Today
you do not look bored.  That is good.  Now finish eating your damned
pickles, or I'll kill more of you.  The choice is not so bad, is it?