A Story Somewhat in the Telegraphic, Schizophrenic Manner of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
This story happened a long time ago in a church. Things were very different then. A church was a building where crowds of depressed and frightened people would gather and sing love songs to a two-thousand-year-old corpse. They would stand up and sing these songs as loud as they could, pushing with their diaphragms until they got light-headed from the lack of oxygen intake. They called this feeling “being filled with the spirit.” Sometimes they would pass out because they kept their knees locked for too long and cut off the circulation to their legs, or they would collapse from exhaustion after jumping up and down for several hours. When this happened, they called it a religious experience.
The hero of this story was a man who had had many religious experiences and claimed to have talked personally with the two-thousand-year-old-corpse. He told the people in the church that the two-thousand-year-old corpse was on his side. The people in the church, the congregation, laughed at him. They laughed, not because he said he’d been conversing with a corpse, but because they all agreed that the corpse was actually on their side.
The church in this story was a black church. The church building itself was not black. It was made out of red bricks. The people inside the church were black. In those days, people were divided into social groups based on the amount of melanin in their skin. Black people, who weren’t technically black, had more melanin in their skin than white people. The hero of this story was considered white, although he was technically a light brown color. He was the president of America.
The president of America was a white man who was always on TV. It was like being the spokesman for all the big businesses in the world.
The black people laughed when the president of America said the two-thousand-year-old corpse agreed with him about the war. They all thought the corpse agreed with them. A war happened when the white men in America dropped bombs on brown people in other parts of the world. A bomb was a big hunk of metal filled with radioactive material that was dropped from the sky. When it hit the ground, it caused an uncontained nuclear reaction and turned all the brown people under it into shit stains. All it left behind after it exploded was a big, penis-shaped cloud. The more melanin a person had, the less they liked war.
The president of America wasn’t at the black church to sing love songs to the corpse. He was there because he needed to get the black vote. A vote was when people decided who the next president of America would be.
The hero of this story was a member of a club called the Skull and Bones. The Skull and Bones usually picked the president of America by letting him be on TV so people would vote for him. Usually, being a Skull and Bones would be enough to be president of America, and the hero would not have had to worry about getting the black vote. This time it was different though, because the other white man people were voting for was also a Skull and Bones. The vote was going to be close, so the hero needed the black vote. It was called the black vote because it described the way people with more melanin voted. The more melanin a person had the less likely they were to vote for president of America.
Everyone in this story is dead. One of the love songs people in the black church sang went like this:
Some glad morning,when this life is o’er
I’ll fly away
The people in the black church thought that the corpse had magical powers. They sang songs about dying like it was something to look forward to, because they believed that the corpse would raise them from the dead so that they could live with it forever in a castle in the sky.
The people in the black church laughed at the president of America for saying that the corpse was in favor of the war. They said that the president of America was being unrealistic.
There was a line in a book about the corpse that said:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The people in the black church showed this line to the president of America. They said this meant that the corpse was against the war because no one would like bombs to be dropped on them.
The president of America pretended not to hear this. He said that he had always loved black people, and he had always wanted them to have the same opportunities that people with less melanin had. The people in the black church laughed again.
In those days, the amount of melanin in a person’s skin determined how successful they were. The more melanin a person had, the less people wanted to give them things like jobs or education.
A little over a hundred years before that, there were plenty of jobs for people with a lot melanin. They were all given jobs as slaves. A slave was a person with lots of melanin who picked cotton all day for a person with only a little melanin. Cotton was a plant from which people made clothes. Clothes were things people put on themselves to hide their penises and vaginas from each other. Plants were green things that grew up out of the ground.
After slaves picked the cotton, they gave it all back to the white person who was called the owner. After a few hundred years of this, the man who was president of America then said that all the slaves were free. This caused a war between the people who didn’t want to free their slaves and the people who didn’t have any slaves. This was called a civil war, because the people with very little melanin actually killed each other.
The slaves who were free couldn’t find jobs doing anything besides picking cotton for the same white people. Since they were free now, they only had to give the white people most of the cotton they picked. This was called social progress. In the time of our story, people were free to work wherever someone would hire them, no matter how much melanin they had in their skins, as long as they gave part of what they made to the government. The government was a big group of white men like the president of America. This was called civil rights.
The president of America ignored the people in the black church when they started laughing again. He said that he had worked harder to let people with lots of melanin go to school than any other president of America ever had. The people in the church laughed until tears came out of their eyes.
School was the place a person went to get an education in those days. How much melanin a person had determined what they learned there. A person with a lot of melanin was taught how to play sports. Sports were what people watched on the TV when they weren’t watching the president of America. In sports, a group of people with lots of melanin would fight with another group of people with lots of melanin over a ball. Sports were very popular in America and made a lot of money. Money was what people in America used to decide how important someone was. Almost all of the money from sports went to white men, called owners. The president of America was an owner.
A school like Yale, where the president of America went, taught men with very little melanin how to make lots of money. Skull and Bones, the club the president of America belonged to, taught men how to become the president of America and do favors for other members of the Skull and Bones club.
The president of America said that the congregation could laugh all they wanted to, but he was telling the truth. He said that the corpse wanted him to be president of America, and if they really loved the corpse they would vote for him. He said the corpse wanted him to be president of America because he was a good person and tried to make everyone in America do what the corpse said to do in his book. He said he wanted to let people talk out loud to the corpse in schools, and stop people from rubbing their penises and vaginas against each other unless they were married.
A marriage was a legal ceremony where people promised to love each other forever. Love was the word people used to describe the chemical reaction that released endorphins and pheromones into their brains and made them want to rub their penises and vaginas against each other. Sometimes people said that the corpse loved them or that they loved it. This was considered a normal thing to say.
People got married so that they could rub their penises and vaginas together without being sinners. Sinners were people who did things in public that the corpse said not to do. Good people did these things too—they just did them in private and lied about them later. The people in churches thought that only good people could live in the corpse’s castle in the sky. When sinners died, they would go to a dark cave underground and be on fire forever. This was called the good news.
The president of America wanted to keep two people with penises or two people with vaginas from getting married to each other. He said that people who rubbed two penises or two vaginas together were sinners whether they were married or not. The people in the black church didn’t laugh at this. Some of them said amen. Amen is what someone said when they agreed.
When the president of America joined the Skull and Bones club, he was shut up inside of a coffin and had to tell all the other members what he had done with his penis and whose vagina he had rubbed it up against. Later, when he was president of America, they could use these stories to get him to do what they wanted him to. In those days, it was very important to people that the president of America’s penis stayed inside of his clothes.
After the president talked about controlling what penises and vaginas were rubbed against, the people in the black church clapped their hands. People clapped their hands to show that they liked what a person said.
The president decided to quit while the people were on his side, and started to wrap things up. He said that people with different amounts of melanin in their skin were equal and deserved the same opportunities. He said that the war would end as soon as all of the bombs were dropped and all of the brown people were shit stains. And he asked the two-thousand-year-old corpse to continue to use its magical powers to make America the most powerful country in the world. Everyone in the black church clapped and a few of them even said amen.
When the people in the black church were shown on TV that night clapping for the president of America, the reporter said this meant that the president of America had the black vote and would win the election. A reporter was a person who told everyone what the things they saw on TV meant.
The reporter was a member of the Skull and Bones club. He’d gotten a call earlier that day from one of the president of America’s Skull and Bones friends. The Skull and Bones man told the reporter to say that the president of America had the black vote. The Skull and Bones man said that if the reporter didn’t say this, the members of Skull and Bones would tell everyone how the reporter liked to rub his penis against other penises.
On the day of the election, none of the people in the black church voted for anyone. In fact, most of the people in America didn’t vote. They stayed home that day and watched TV or rubbed their penises and vaginas against whatever they wanted. The next morning, they turned on the TV to find out who the president of America was. This was called democracy.