Scranton Lives Matter! Ch. 29

Idling outside the bar, the yellow Scranton School District bus sat driverless and empty. Each morning the driver stopped for a bottle of Miller High Life and a shot of Old Grand-Dad bourbon whiskey. After delivering the neighborhood Catholic hooligans safely to their teachers he always made the same statement

Little bastards, he said.

Earl first met the driver at the saloon that opened at 7 sharp each morning while on a recruiting trip for his armed militia and church. The driver was good material since he hated all people of color.

This morning Earl had a plan.

That one’s on me, he said.

The driver beamed, as in Jim Beam.

Get him another when he’s ready, Earl said.

Praise the Lord, the driver said.

Then Earl excused himself to go to the men’s room. Instead, he slipped out the side door and jumped behind the wheel of the bus. Adjusting the mirror he checked his teeth and winked at himself.

U.S. Capitol here I come, he said.

The militia should already be waiting outside the church for pickup. Earl spent most of the night cleaning the guns, grenades and a used World War II flamethrower so the tactical gear would be ready to throw in the bus for the trip to Washington. The congregation should be willing to die for freedom although Earl told them they’d emerge from this mission as winners.

Earl could no longer contain himself so he screamed.

Yeah! Storming the Capitol! Yeah!

Nobody waited as he pulled to the curb in front of his ramshackle church. A stray dog trotted up and peed on the front tire. Earl fumed. Running into the building where he once saw God he grabbed the flamethrower, strapped a bullet belt across his shoulder and stuck the three grenades he bought at the farmer’s market from a deranged West Side National Guardsman into his fatigue jacket pockets. He grabbed a shotgun and a Glock, and a family-sized bag of Pennsylvania Dutch potato chips for the drive down. No Fritos for Earl. Earl hated illegals.

As he entered the Interstate 81 on-ramp and headed south, Earl envisioned the coming firefight. Screaming like Daniel Boone at the Alamo, he’d slam the bus at high speed into the fence. Coming out like Al Pacino in Scarface, he’d open up on the ill-equipped guardsmen or guardswomen or transguards or whatever politically correct woke libs call themselves these days. Rolling the first grenade under the first cop car he saw he’d yell “post time” as he crouched like one of them Chinese kung-fu fighters. Check that. He hated Chinamen for giving America the lab flu virus. He’d spring into action like a one-man Panzer division, Rommel the Desert Fox himself going after Chuck Schumer and his lap dogs that only eat kosher dog food.

Earl growled.


Then he’d open up with the flamethrower, clearing his way all the way to the Capitol steps screaming, “Fire in the hole!” as he ran through the door looking for the Senate to take over on behalf of his nation yearning to be one nation under God invisible with liberty and justice for just us.

Screw that Zerelda, too. She stood him up. Didn’t make the bus trip. Too smart for her own good. Not nubile enough. Goddamn woman! Screw God, too. His boy didn’t motivate Earl’s congregation enough to make the trip and defend the country, so what good is either one of them long-haired freaks? Do unto others? He’d do onto others. What’d God name the kid Jesus for, anyway? Name a Jewish baby after a baseball player from the Dominican Republic? Sure, that makes sense. Earl, Travis, Clayton or Wayne would have been better.

Around Hazleton, a one-time coal baron capital for capitalist coal barons, Earl slowed the bus. Flashing orange lights on a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation sign warned him to reduce his speed. Earl stepped on it. No government sign was going to tell him what to do, how to live, who among his cousins to marry.

Fifty turned to 60. Sixty turned to 70. Earl laughed. Yeeehaw! God bless America. Check that. Earl bless America. Joe Biden’s wife wears combat boots. Scranton Lives Matter! That last line stuck in Earl’s head ever since he heard Timmy Kelly yelling it when he was drunk and campaigning for mayor. Had a nice ring to it and since Earl now lived full-time in Scranton his was a life that mattered. All lives mattered, but Scranton lives mattered most. White Scranton lives. Christian Scranton lives. Male Scranton lives. Let my Scranton people go lives.

Now the lights warned Earl to slow even more. Seventy turned to 80. Road out, said the sign. More lights, red this time with bigger black letters that said, “ROAD OUT!”

Earl turned up the radio and sang along with a man with a rebel accent belting out a tune about loving his pickup truck more than his wife, more than his mother, even. He warbled about drinking warm beer with his blind hound dog. About how deer season was better than heaven and that there’s everything right about marrying your dead brother’s divorced sister.

At 80 Earl broke through to the other side, crashing through wooden sawhorses and going off the edge doing about 90. He didn’t miss a lyric as the descent began. About 100 feet before impact it dawned on Earl he was in trouble.

Oh, shit, he said.

Police found Earl’s denim jacket dangling from a tree branch. After the explosion, all that remained of his dream was a little flag in the left breast pocket he planned to wave for the TV cameras once he took over the Capitol.

The flag said, “Trump Lives.”