A work of fiction: Sunday Blunderbus found clouds in her coffee-
Sunday’s Child is full of Grace…
The night air was crisp and fresh, the incense of a short rain shower filled the air as Sunday made her way down the deserted street about a mile away from her family home. It was just a couple of weeks past Christmas, and the rain had made the air even colder than normal. She’d been walking for what seemed a lot longer than she’d thought, and every now and then she’d pass a house that had a dog or several dogs that would start to bellow and report her presence to their owners. Sunday was always a little nervous walking after dark, and she ran her hand through her long red hair as she always did when she was not feeling so confident.
Somewhere an owl screeched in the distance, Sunday picked up her pace. It was the night of the rally, her family members had been making impromptu signs regarding Saddam Hussein. One of them was S.C.U.D.- Sneaky Conniving Ugly Dictator, written in fancy letters in sharpie. She had just figured out what a scud missile was, they had been watching C-Span and CNN channel before she’d left the house. The other they had written had something about Bomb Iraq accompanied by some picture of some of the residents of what she presumed to be Iraq, or rag heads as they’d been referred to, holding up assault rifles with a caption that said “Death to the Infidels.”
Sunday wasn’t sure why she felt the way she did, the family all seemed to be pulling together for the upcoming rally for the war efforts in Desert Storm, but something inside her felt very wrong about what they were doing. She knew that her neighbor, Jim Peterson, was going to be giving a speech about the importance of the common good of our nation being linked to gaining control of the oil in that area. Her mother and father had had the Peterson’s over for dinner, and they had listened to Jim’s speech that he’d planned for the rally. He used great inflection and appealed to the emotions of the listener, encouraging them to be directly involved with all the war efforts. He’d been a General in one of the Armed Forces.
He was very charismatic and funny, making light of a lot of things that Sunday thought might be sacred, but she didn’t think to speak out and ask any questions. Sunday just listened and watched, she did not interject even when she thought he might be misleading. Her father had always pointed her in the direction of the arts, and once Peterson had seen a peace sign sewn onto the back of her jean jacket and told her that she should rip that off of there, that it was the sign of the all american chicken foot. She’d taken a lot of time embroidering that patch and tie-dyeing it, so she felt slightly offended by his remark but went about her own way.
She and Peterson had several strange encounters, there was one night when she was taking out the garbage that he was outside on his porch and called her over to his yard. There had been several beer bottles and other litter thrown out onto the road and into his yard. He told her that she should pick them up and put them into her garbage can since she was already out there working. She had thrown an eyebrow up at him, sat the families’ garbage at the road and just walked away. Peterson usually had a group of neighborhood boys that would hang out around his home, some of the one’s who’d dropped out of high school, and some whose fathers had left home or weren’t around. Peterson had no children of his own, but these boys were always hungry for his attention and would often perform whichever tasks he requested because he was a fellow with such clout. She could tell that her refusal to comply confused him, but she turned on her heel and walked back down the driveway into her home.
It wasn’t long after that that Peterson and his wife came to dinner, and he’d inspired the family to make signs for the upcoming rally. All of her brothers except the oldest, who had already left home, and her sister were busy making the signs and her mother asked her what she planned to do for the rally. Sunday decided to use one of the pieces of cardboard and write out Save Our Troops plainly with no embellishments, then took a walk around her neighborhood, hoping to meet up with her friends if they were out playing basketball. Gabriella and she often shared the aspects of their home life, and her brother Zeke, or Ezekiel, had had encounters with Mr. Peterson as well and she wanted to discuss the rally with them. She hoped they come along with her so that she wouldn’t feel so alone in the midst of all the people who seemed so happy to be going to war.
Gabby wasn’t out, but Zeke was shooting hoops and she was very glad to see him out there.
“Hey, you guys going to the rally?”
“What, nah, I’ve still got to finish my homework.”
“Oh, is Gabby home?”
“Yeah, she’s inside.”
Sunday walked inside the Deaver family home to find Gabby sitting there, going through her playing cards.
“Hey Gabs, whatcha doing?”
“Oh just alphabetically arranging my X-Men figure playing cards. Hey, watch this, I can almost toss one like Gambit.” And she picked one of the cards up from the deck and held it between her thumb and two forefingers and tossed it in Sunday’s direction.
Gabby laughed, “Doesn’t have quite the same effect though.”
“Hey, so I was just wondering if your family was planning to go to the rally for desert storm tonight?”
“Well, we haven’t discussed it,but I suppose I’ll go if you are going. There hasn’t been anything like that going on around here since we’ve been around. When does it start?”
“7:00 o’clock. Town Square, Cleveland Avenue.” Gabby looked down at her watch, it was already 6:15. It was already getting dark so early this time of year.
“Damn, Sunday- short notice much?” Gabby laughed. “You wanna ride with us, or are you headed out with the fam?”
“I gotta get back to them, I need to help carry all the signs they’re making.” Gabby laughed, “The family pack mule, I hear ya.”
“Whatever,” Sunday said, sticking out her tongue and blowing her a raspberry.
Sunday headed out the door, Zeke was just finishing up practicing for the next basketball game and was putting the balls away. “Hey, what’s Gabs up to?”
“She’s gonna come to the rally, you wanna tag along?”
He made a crinkled up nose face and mocked her,”You wanna tag along?Meh.”
She laughed, knowing that it was usually her that was a tag along on their trips. She’d been on vacation with them on several occasions, and at times felt as though she was a part of their family too.
“Yeah, why not? Doubt we’ll get to see another war get started up this decade.”
Sunday put a skip in her step back to the house, everyone was already loading up to go to the rally. She felt a little better knowing that Gabby and Zeke would be there. Her youngest brother Tommy was putting on his cowboy boots, and they were just adorable. He was still quite young for this type of thing, she thought, but he was just as happy as could be to be going out and being a part of things. Sunday looked at Tommy and couldn’t help but giggle a little and be proud of this little fella, she ruffled his hair and said,”Dude your head is totally like a brillo pad.”
“Shut up,” He said, laughing. He walked off in his boots, big and bad, even though those boots were about as big as he was. They must have belonged to their older brother who had moved out years ago. He was toting them though. Sunday hoped that they wouldn’t fall off if he had to run for any reason.
Her sister Samantha, who was three years older than her picked up the S.C.U.D. sign and carried it out to the car. Sunday picked up her little Save Our Troops sign and headed out to try and get a window in the backseat of the car. Usually her parents were chain smoking up there so she’d crack the window for a little bit of air. The windows on the car were iffy sometimes, they were electronic and when it would rain-like tonight- sometimes the mechanism wouldn’t work and she couldn’t get the window down so she wanted to make sure that she could get the window that always worked regardless of the rain.
The got into the family car, an extended version of a Chrysler New Yorker. They headed out towards town square. It was a few miles down the road, and Sunday was sure they’d smoked at least three cigarettes by the time they got there. There were literally thousands of people already there, multi-colored poster board signs everywhere, so many dressed up in fatigues, and soldiers there in real dress blues and a line of soldiers lined up at the stage with their weapons waiting for the speakers to approach the podium. Sunday thought they looked distinguished, even though the crowd seemed to her to be behaving like it was more of a town fair or something. They had a snow cone and cotton candy machine and even t-shirts that had Saddam Hussein on there with the “No” mark across his face and several others that had slogans on them.
Peterson was there, dressed very spiffily in his uniform, directing the young men in their uniforms to angle the American Flags toward the crowds,some of them were gigantic,like the ones that Sunday had seen flying over the car dealerships in the largest cities. As Sunday left the car she heard Lee Greenwood playing loud enough to bust anyone’s eardrums. There were many swaying, singing along, and walking up to line of soldiers and shake their hands, to thank them for what they’d done and what they were about to do. The rest of the family got out of the car and headed up towards Peterson, Sunday hung back and waited for Gabby and Zeke.
She held her small sign at her side, but the other kids were waving theirs’ proudly on stakes that they’d apparently added to them while Sunday ran over to the Deaver’s house. She thought it was gonna be difficult to find them if there were so many people there, she hoped Gabby still had her red sweatshirt on so at least she could pick her out of the crowd. She caught a view of her mother working alongside a friend of hers, the two of them setting up a refreshment stand with different types of cookies and snacks.
She caught sight of Gabby at the booth that was set up at the entrance, they had several gates set up to block anyone from behind the stage. Right at that gate there was a couple of officers that were handing out leaflets, information about what Saddam was guilty of doing to the people under his reign. Gabby was discussing the upcoming war with the soldier, she was never one to be shy about asking questions when she didn’t understand something.
“So what you are saying are that this one guy’s regime has everyone under his control, and if we don’t go over there we might have another oil shortage?” Gabby was asking the young man in army fatigues. He had opened his mouth to speak, but Sunday came up and interrupted…”I am gonna steal her for a little while, I am sure that whatever you’re discussing is very enthralling, but we gotta talk girl stuff.” Sunday made a little hehe laugh and grabbed Gabby’s arm.
“What are you doing, Sunday? I am trying to get some legitimate information about what these people are doing here- this guy had a pamphlet with some really sad looking people on there that looked like they were being herded around like cattle and they were saying that it was Saddam Hussein’s fault, here let’s look at the leaflet.”
“Okay I get it, I think they’re nomads though- but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m gonna go up front and take my sign…check it out….sexy sexy sign, mmmhmmm, you know you like it!”
Gabby looked at her crossly and laughed. “Alright show me your sexy sexy sign.”
Sunday turned her 8 by 10 colored picture around to Gabby, she’d just used the one sharpie to write it. “Yep, Save Our Troops.”
“That sign is freakin’ terrible. Have you seen some of the elaborate and detailed posters that some of these people are carrying? You didn’t even try.”
“Ugh, c’mon are you serious? I don’t have all that fancy bric a brac and glitter to say “Yay” let’s go blow some people up. I should’ve used puff paint and the Lisa Frank rainbow…so sorry.”
“I’m just messing with you, Sunday. I’m just curious about what’s really going on here.”
“Yeah, me too.” Sunday was already feeling very pissed because of Peterson and the rally, now Gabby was acting all pissy about her coming up and bugging her when she was sweet talking the soldier.Well, she wasn’t really sweet talking him, but she really needed her friend at this moment and she didn’t seem to be responding to the rally as though Sunday thought she would. Sunday looked down and thought about the fact that the soldier probably would have given her more information than she’d gathered off of CNN and C-Span. Maybe he’d already been there, who knows.
Zeke was just standing up towards the front, there were some soldiers lined up there with their guns. He seemed to be examining their weapons and walking up and down the length of the stage, looking at the amps blaring patriotic songs and the Star Spangled Banner. He was just walking around checking out stuff, curious about the details of such a large public gathering.
Sunday’s Dad ran up to her and told her that she needed to be up front and center, Peterson was going to be on stage speaking. “Ugh, alright.” Gabby politely said hello and Sunday’s dad walked back to the concession stand where he was helping stock the coolers full of sodas and water.
“Seriously though, Sunday, you should have given the sign a little more thought. You know your Mom and Dad are always on you to be more creative, and that,well, it’s totally boring and lackluster. You’d get a lot more attention if it were at least, I don’t know….witty or something.”
“Okay I’ll try harder next time.” Sunday said, “What’s up with Zeke? He’s just running around looking at stuff.
“Yeah I guess he’s mesmerized by all the dignified soldiers and their guns.I never know what’s going through his head. He’s a freakin’ nerdhole.”
The director of the merchants from that part of town got up and introduced the speaker line up. Peterson was going on first, the the ROTC teacher from school, then a recruiter who was ready to sign up any citizens that wanted to become involved.
When Peterson got up to speak the crowd cheered. Everyone knew he was a decorated soldier and respected his position. “Hello, my fellow residents of the lovely town of Weaversville, I am here today to tell you exactly how important it is for us to support this movement against Iraq and the areas in the middle-east. I know that some of you remember the gas shortage in the 1970’s that had a lot of Americans stuck in lines for many hours, delaying their passage to work and also for some, meaning no gas at all. the suburban areas were almost always the last to receive the shipments of oil and oil products, and that meant a step backward for a lot of us. More of our commerce than you even know depends on shale oil and refined oil distribution. If we do not stop the dictator in Iraq and his affiliates, then he will most certainly either raise the prices of the oil in Kuwait and Iraq too high for us to trade, or there will be even more dire consequences. If they are to obtain control, we have no idea what they might do. He has executed many of his own people that disagreed with him.”
Just when Sunday looked away for a second Zeke walked up to her, “Sunday, I gotcha something.” She gave him a weird, “Huh?” face- and looked at him in surprise. She couldn’t wait to make fun of whatever it was.
He handed her one long stemmed red rose.
She just looked at him in disbelief.
“I dunno, because…?”
Sunday hadn’t even seen them selling any flowers anywhere. Where in the hell did he even find that during this rally? Peterson continued on about some of the places he’d been during wartime in the Vietnam era. He said that he would not go into the conjecture about how that war was not won, he believed that it had been won and that there were no mistakes on the part of the United States.
When she turned back around Zeke was gone, and Gabby was waving good-bye because their parents were leaving and they had to go.
“Damn, well ok guys- bye then.”She gave Gabby a hug and a shrug, she had no idea what was up with that rose. She pointed to it like-uh, eh?”
Gabby just laughed and shrugged herself. “I never know what that dingleberry is thinking.”
Sunday just stood there looking at the rose for a moment. Peterson was starting to get the crowd riled up and they were cheering. He spoke of Pearl Harbor, he spoke of the troops in Vietnam and Korea. It seemed like everyone there had a family member involved in those conflicts. People cheered, Sunday looked around and some of the people were holding framed pictures of their loved ones. The people in the pictures all looked young, she wondered if they’d died in those conflicts.
She thought of Zeke. What if he were to be going with them? What if somehow Peterson had convinced him that he wanted to go and be a part of the troops-he’d never said. And he left her that rose. Zeke was eighteen, he could go if he wanted to. Sunday was still in middle school. She didn’t even understand half of what Peterson’s problem was. Sometimes she wondered if he even did.
She stood there and listened as the Rotc teacher spoke, told his troops about valor and heroism. He discussed the great generals, honoring Swartzkopf and the brave men fighting the war currently. He spoke of the Iraqi’s, burning their own oil. He spoke of their crude and backwards ways. He knew that the young men and women in his troop were upright citizens, and that they would do their best to maintain the American way of life.
The recruiter stepped up, spoke a little more of valor in times of trouble, and directed anyone interested in joining to the information booth where Gabby was speaking to the soldier when she’d interrupted her. There were already lining up to sign up for whichever positions were available.
Sunday stood there in disbelief at the of people headed toward the information booth.
“Maybe it won’t be that bad, they say it’s mainly just those strategic things…” she mumbled to herself. “On the tv it just looks like green blobs, they probably don’t have to actually do the whole hand to hand combat thing. She’d remembered her father telling her that there is no war without casualties. Not just in the loss of death, other things. Things he couldn’t explain. Things maybe that he didn’t understand. Sunday wondered about the boys that always were hanging out at Peterson’s. Would they be going to war? They all seemed so obedient to him, they enjoyed having the duties he assigned.
And what happens to them afterward?
Peterson stepped back up to the microphone, he said that there was now going to be a 21 gun salute for all the fallen soldiers.
Sunday looked back at her mom and dad, they were still busy with the concessions. Her mom waved at her smiling.
Sunday remembered seeing all the soldiers line up for the salute. Sunday looked down at the long stemmed rose in her hand. She knew that this was only a symbolic representation and that the gunfire was meant to startle and awe the viewers. Something came over Sunday at that moment.
She remembered seeing a girl from some college put a flower into the hole at the end of the gun. It had been a yellow daisy.
She thought of Zeke, and wanted to show everyone here how she felt about this whole rally and everything behind it, even Mr. Peterson- especially Mr. Peterson- and the ones who were following him.
As the soldiers raised their guns into the air, Sunday crossed the distance between she and the one on the left hand side of the group.
She lifted the rose, all of the thorns hadn’t been removed and one got caught on her green flannel covered shirt, tugging slightly at the sleeve as she made the motion to stick the rose into the barrel of the gun.
The image, it only took one second. The red of the rose seemed to brighten and deepen against the barrel of the gun. Her shirt sleeve letting the thorn go. The soldier’s confused and frightened face when he realized that she was that close and his muscle memory continued with him to lift and pull the trigger. The shot went off right over her head, as the motion of the gun’s angle and the bullet’s trajectory were both changed when she moved. The petals sprayed out and fell to the ground slowly, floating downward, dancing alongside her as she started to fall down. That instant of falling with the petals,blown apart yet swaying in a downward swingThere was a huge commotion around her, some lady grabbed her by the waist and pulled her down to the pavement. As Sunday tried to wrestle herself away from this lady and now several onlookers she realized that her hearing was messed up. All she could hear was the roaring din of her heartbeat as she was writhing on the ground struggling.
Sunday finally got loose from the people who were holding her down. For a moment everyone just stood there looking at her. Then Mr. Peterson came up and grabbed her by the shoulder. “You are in big trouble. Come with me.” The smell of the gunpowder was so high and acrid in her nostrils. She looked down at her hands and they were covered with black powder as well.Peterson was pushing her toward one of the police officers, her parents were running towards them now trying to figure out what had happened. Sunday’s mom was yelling about Peterson getting his hands off her daughter.
Peterson laughed and asked, “Do you know what she did?”
“I don’t care! Unhand her!”Her mother said.
“Your daughter just stuck a projectile into one of the guns firing the 21 gun salute. She was nearly killed, or could’ve caused the bullet to go astray and hit one of the audience members.
Sunday stood there, trembling. She ran her hands through her hair,not thinking that it would spread the gun powder even more. Peterson pushed her arm back down.”Are you sure you don’t have something else up your sleeve?”
Sunday shook her arm loose from Peterson’s. “No, I don’t”
They had reached an officer, he looked angry and was calling for back up. Soon there were several there.
Sunday’s father was teaming hot mad,”You really shitfanned this one, Sun.”
Since Sunday was only in middle school they all decided that she would have to do community service after she’d gone through a juvenile judiciary process.
That night, after she got home all she wanted to do was go and sit on her rope swing that her dad and older brother had put up for her and just push herself around in circles by kicking her booted feet against the trunk of the tree whenever each rotation closed in.
When her Dad would go out of town sometimes for his job she would sit and wonder what he was doing, and build scenarios in her mind about what the place he was going might be like.
She wondered if Zeke and Gabby would ever find out about the incident.
She hoped that Zeke wasn’t mad because the flower was destroyed.
She felt guilty that she’d caused such a commotion.
She hoped more than anything that some of the people will understand. She didn’t know if she fully understood. She believed that if there was a God in heaven that he would.
Sunday went into her house, got into her bed, and went to sleep. The sound of the television didn’t even keep her awake with the sound of the commentators and the green lights falling from the sky.