The Taliban Women’s Society: A Short Story

Sliding the folded Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper across a small puddle of spilled beer, bartender and college dropout Mikey Hoyle began his lecture about foreign policy and international politics, topics on which he considered himself well-versed.

“Look at this story about Afghan women marching in a pro-Taliban parade in Kabool.”

Timmy Kelly shook open the wet page and looked at the picture in the paper.

“Covered head to toe with their faces hidden and everything,” he said.

“Hundreds of women marching to support men,” Mikey Hoyle said.

“That’s what we need here,” Timmy said.

Mikey blew on a mixing bowl loaded with hard boiled eggs he just took off the bar kitchen stove in the back.

“The Scranton Society of Irish Women would march to support us,” he said.

“Go on, get out, they would not,” Timmy Kelly said.

“But we don’t need them,” Mikey said.

“The Taliban don’t need them, either.”

Mikey Hoyle raised his right forefinger like a tenured Dublin professor lecturing at Trinity College.

“The Taliban uses them to make the case women like being told what to do. We don’t have to use female help because nobody questions our right to ban women from our all-male Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner,” he said.

“My sister says the girls at the Irish Women’s Society started their own dinner because they don’t want to come to our dinner, anyway,” Timmy said.

Picking a hot egg from the bowl, Mikey juggled it from hand to hand.

“Of course they don’t want to come. They don’t want to come because we say they can’t. So they have to bullshit themselves into thinking they don’t want to come to justify obeying our orders,” he said.

“My wife says she won’t come even if we let her,” Timmy said.

“Nobody wants your wife or your sister at our dinner.”

“Say what you will about the Taliban, but you’ve got to give them credit,” Timmy said.

“Yeah, they brainwashed their women so they don’t even want to go to school with men. No  female firefighters or cops taking men’s jobs in Kabool, either,” Mikey said.

“Just like Scranton.”

Mikey dug a soup spoon into a horseradish jar, pulled out a glob and mixed it with yellow mustard he squeezed from a plastic bottle into a quart container he used for the clam chowder the bar sold during Lent.

“We got a girl on the fire department now – one out of 135 – and a couple on the police force,” he said.

“Don’t forget that first woman mayor.”

“Politically correct women’s lib affirmative action shit,” Mikey said. “We even got Shawna working here tending bar on Saturday night.”

“That’s because you threatened to quit unless they gave you the night off to drink for free,” Timmy said.

 “Still no girls in our Notre Dame Club, though,” Mikey said.

“Thank God,” Timmy said.

Mikey gently cracked the egg on his forehead and looked at his best friend.

“You marching in the “Half-Way-to-St.-Patrick’s-Day-Parade” Saturday?”

“I took Monday and Tuesday off next week to recuperate,” Timmy said.

“I’m marching with the Friendly Sons,” Mikey said.

Timmy Kelly grinned.

“Who’s the COVID virus marching with?”

“Don’t be a smart ass. Scranton’s back to normal. No mask for me, either. What am I, a looter?”

“Guinness is my vaccine,” Timmy said.

“The Irish Women’s Society will be marching,” Mikey said.

“Just like the Taliban women,” Timmy said.

“To show support for us guys,” Mikey said.

Mikey peeled the egg and dipped it into the sauce.

“Maybe our colleens can invite their colleens to The Irish Women’s Society dinner,” he said.

“They can call themselves The Taliban Women’s Society,” Timmy said.

Chewing with his mouth open, Mikey dripped horsemustard – that’s what he called the concoction, horsemustard – from the side of his mouth. Then he cracked another egg, this time on top of his head.

“Gimme one of them eggs, Mikey,” Timmy said.

Mikey offered the bowl.

Timmy reached in and grabbed an egg.

“Yeah, then that pack of Kabool ladies can march with ours in next year’s parade,” Mikey said.

“Down Biden Street in Scranton, Kabool’s sister city,” Timmy said.

When Timmy cracked his egg on his forehead a sticky, raw double yolk poured from the shell and down his chin.

“Ahhhh, goddammit, Mikey.”

Mikey blew up laughing.

“Surprise! The yolk’s on you, Timmy.”

“That’s not funny, Mikey.”

Mikey Hoyle stopped laughing.

“Neither is women thinking they’re as equal as us,” he said.

Timmy used the wet bar rag to wipe his face.

“Ain’t that the truth,” he said.