Deep in thought, Zerelda talked to herself all the way to the gun store to buy bullet belts for shotgun shells. The Bugaboo was already getting her down. Zerelda simply wanted peace and good government. She didn’t want to kill anybody anymore.
Nobody’s fooling me, she said, especially nobody walking around wearing a penis.
None of them listen to what I have to say. Earl lied. Nobody listened to me except that old Mabel woman I met at the bus stop. She helped me calm down. Last time I saw her I told her about meeting Earl.
You’re smarter than he is, honey, Mabel said. He doesn’t respect you for your mind, Mabel said. Excuse me for saying so, but he sounds like one big, dumb Pennsylvania Dutchman, Mabel said.
Zerelda thought back to her only friend.
I wonder where Miss Mabel is?
Back at the makeshift church, Earl stood before the three men squeezed around a dinette-sized table.
OK, boys, I’m recruiting you to join the Bugaboo. Each Christian soldier gets a big share of the Eternal Pot of Gold when we take over America. We call our heaven on earth Old Glory. This Planetary Plan sounds crazy but I know these things because I’m God, the Master Blaster of the Universe. Timmy, you’re U, our earthly mortal leader, anointed by me to be the real Joe Biden.
Timmy Kelly beamed.
So I can act like Joe Biden all the time?
You are Joe Biden all the time, Earl said.
Timmy Kelly put on his best smug look.
My dad always said “Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up,” Timmy Kelly said.
Attaboy, Earl said.
Next Earl focused on Harry Davies.
Harry, I christen you the White Knight of the Realm, a Caucasian hero, a bleached battler who leads our people to forever Bugaboo Bliss.
Gino waited for what seemed forever.
What about me?
You’re one of the three wise guys, Earl said. See, you’re not colored or we wouldn’t let you join. You’re full-blooded Guinea. My Google research shows Mafia in your bloodlines. We might need mob connections for political hits when we ignite the Bugaboo. We’re making you an offer you can’t confuse.
Frustrated, Gino quickly got distracted.
What about Zerelda?
Busy with cooking, cleaning, laundry, making babies, that sort of thing, Earl said.
Men rule, Harry Davies said.
White men rule, Earl said.
Where we all go we all go, Harry Davies said.
Gino hadn’t heard a peep out of the Biden camp since he sent his letter asking for ghost government contracts. He knew he was shit-out-of -luck with the Corn Pop scam so he might as well go along with this Bugaboo business. At least here he belonged.
Bugaboo forever, he said.
Earl clapped his hands.
I got a surprise for you boys, he said. We got ourselves a prisoner.
The new far-right militia members looked at each other.
I kidnapped a good citizen for us to hold for ransom, Earl said.
We can make a hostage video, said Harry Davies.
Restore the soul of America, Timmy Kelly said.
Oh, God, Gino said.
A voice snarled from the deepest reaches of the locked hall closet.
This is no way to treat an old lady, Mabel said.