Warning: If political correctness matters to you, please do not read this story; you will only be annoyed. The tale is simply a brief foray into the realm of the absurd and nothing more, but I’m quite sure some folks will still find it unsettling, or worse. I am not interested in discussing anyone’s politics, my own included, so comments inspired by this tale will be monitored closely, and any remarks I find personally offensive or overtly political will be summarily erased. Your cooperation is sincerely appreciated. –Josh
Copyright © 2019 Josh Langston
On December 7, 2041, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Attorney General of the United States announced the latest in a string of Executive Orders. President Joseph Jabari Shabaz, in a move heralded by the media as “bold, innovative, and timely,” made it a crime to be white in America.
The very same Executive Order, E10873-2, established a Federal Licensing Bureau to handle the anticipated deluge of ethnicity and minority declarations, protests, and arrests which would occur throughout the country. None of the 57 states would be immune, although the great population centers–Shabaz’s power base–would see less disruption, at least until the property disbursement hearings began.
Bob Smith turned off his radio at the end of the newscast and quietly emptied the antique coffee pot into his mug. He pondered the fat, pale, cream-colored vessel, its exterior only slightly less pink than his own. “Emily,” he said, “I think we may have a problem.”
“How’s that?” she asked.
He repeated what he’d heard on the news then activated the communications implant in his good ear.
Emily frowned. “Who are you calling?”
“The bank,” he said. “I thought I’d move some cash. You never know when– Damn. I can’t get through; all the customer servos are busy.” He shook his head. How long had it been since that had happened?
“You’re overreacting, dear. You always do.”
He ignored her and placed a call to his broker. Liebowitz always had a good grasp on these things. How else could he have maintained a record of investment profits throughout decades of falling stock prices on all four of the big American exchanges? The smart money had long since fled to Latin America. Thanks to Liebowitz, Smith had done well in Argentine manufacturing and Chilean pharmaceuticals.
“Joe,” he said when Liebowitz answered, “what’s going on? They said on the news that the president–”
“This isn’t a good time for me right now,” the stockbroker said. “We’re supposed to have a meeting in a little while, but….”
“But what?” Smith asked, his stomach knotting.
“No one knows where the senior partners are.”
“What’s happening to the markets?” He imagined Liebowitz’s characteristic shrug.
“The U.S. exchanges are a shambles. ‘Course, that’s nothing new.”
“How ’bout Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo?”
“Up sharply,” Liebowitz said.
“So, I’m okay, right? All my holdings are–”
“Sort of tied up right now.” He cleared his voice. “You’re white, Bob. We had to liquidate your portfolio.”
“I’m really sorry, but we had no choice.”
“You’re white, too. Did–”
“I’m Jewish, a recognized minority.”
“I’ve gotta go,” Liebowitz said. “Call me later. No! Wait. On second thought, don’t.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Liebowitz dropped his voice to a barely audible level. “Get out. Now. While you still can.”
“Out? I am out. You just said–”
“Get out of the country.” The phone went dead.
Smith looked out the window and swallowed. Twin plumes of dark, ropy smoke split the horizon and smudged the clouds. “Emily, we need to pack.”
“Don’t be silly, Bob. We can’t go anywhere. We’ve got dinner plans with the Johnsons, and my circle group meets on–”
“Em–listen to me. We can’t stay here any longer.”
“Because we’re in danger! We could be arrested. Look outside for cryin’ out loud. Who knows how long it’ll be before the looters arrive. We’ve got to grab anything of value we can find and leave. I’ll start loading the van.”
“Are you listening to yourself?” She sighed. “You need to relax. Sit down, put your feet up, and have a drink. You could give yourself a stroke.”
Bob stared at her in amazement. He willed his heart to stop racing and cleared his mind of homicidal urges. “Em, listen to me. I’m not hallucinating. My worst fears really have come true. We no longer have any rights in this country. Everything we own, everything we’ve worked for, will be taken from us. That’s the law. They’ve already seized our investments; it won’t be long before someone arrives to drive us out of the house. If we leave now, we’ll at least be able to take something with us. If we sit back and wait…” He shrugged.
“Quick,” Bob said, “grab some clothes. Clear the prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet. Cram whatever you can into two bags–there’s no time for more. I’ll throw our camping gear and any food we have in the car. Hurry!”
Looking as though she finally understood their peril, Emily rushed up the stairs to their bedroom while Bob hurried to the garage.
Ignoring the usual care with which he typically packed for an outing, Bob threw things into the back of their van. On the wall over his workbench, he spied the shotgun his father had given him years earlier. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d fired it. Never much of a hunter, he hadn’t paid any attention when ammunition and reloading equipment were outlawed. Turning wistfully away, he left the garage and headed for the kitchen.
The pantry yielded a wealth of dried foods and canned goods which he piled into an empty laundry tub. He was halfway back to the car when Emily entered the kitchen pushing their largest suitcase. Its sides bulged, and the wheels creaked under its weight.
“Is that yours or mine?”
“Yours,” she said.
“Leave it there. I’ll load it and get yours in a minute.” He turned toward the garage then came up short. “I almost forgot. Get your mother’s old rings and any other jewelry you have, even costume stuff. Who knows, we may have to trade it.”
The corners of Emily’s mouth turned down.
“I hate it, too,” he said. “But one day, I’ll make it all up to you. I promise.” He hustled the groceries out to the car, dumped them in, then raced back to the kitchen. Emily hadn’t moved.
Smith squinted out the window toward the neighbor’s house. Two dark‑skinned men in uniform flanked Phil Bainbridge, their neighbor. They put him in the back of their car, then climbed in the front.
“Please, Em. We don’t have time for sentimentality. I already–”
“I’m not going with you,” she said.
“But, the cops– They’re almost here!”
“I know,” she said. “You’d better hurry.”
“I’m not making a sacrifice. The law doesn’t apply to me.”
“Of course it does! Don’t be–”
“I hadn’t planned for you to find out this way,” she said, “but now I have no choice.”
“I’m a lesbian, Bob. I’ve known it for years and registered long ago.”
“That makes me a member of a recognized minority.”
Bob’s breath deserted him. He struggled to take in what she’d just said, but the concept remained at such a distance from everything he valued, he couldn’t accept it. He shook his head to clear it, then smiled. “You almost had me going there.” He started past her for the stairs, but she stepped in his way.
“I’m not leaving,” she said. “The longer you wait to accept it, the less time you’ll have to get away.”
“I packed some tanning cream in your suitcase,” she said. “As pale as you are, you’ll probably need to use a lot.”