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Bugout! A Novel Coronavirus Novel Ch. 114

Plucking the last little American flag from its place of honor beside the World War II veteran’s headstone, Sterling carried the symbol of sacrifice on a stick to his Mustang and threw it on the floor among the greasy McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger wrappers and cardboard crispy chicken containers that littered the purple getaway car

When he got to WILT News Radio, Sterling planned to torch the car, flags and all. When people ran to the blaze, he would climb the stairs to the roof and set fire to the huge American flag that flew high above the local yokel radio station.

In the two early-morning hours he spent in the cemetery, Sterling removed American flags from the metal markers of veterans who served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Beirut and Somalia.

Tight-assed right-wingers who thought POW and MIA actually spelled words regularly held events at this hallowed resting place. Between the flag thefts and the flag-burning, Sterling would kill two bald eagles with one fell swoop.

Looking around to see if he missed anybody, Sterling relieved himself on a Medal of Honor winner’s grave with one hand and saluted with the other.

Proud to be an American, he said.

Spotting a straggler from the Bay of Pigs invasion, Sterling jogged to the small plot of brown grass and bent to snatch the last Old Glory, one of many flags a well-intentioned yet misguided local American Legion post worked diligently each Memorial Day to stick in sacred ground.

Four beefy hands snatched Sterling first. The pillow case went over his head before he could see who snuck up from behind and grabbed him. A tire iron to the side of this lug nut’s head quieted any protest he likely would have raised.  The Caddy’s trunk lid closed with a resounding thud.

A crowd had already gathered at WILT, the broadcast home of all-white-all-the-time freedom of speech. From his position on the edge of the roof, JayJay Bone barked orders through a red bullhorn.

What do we want?

Free beer!

No, goddammit that’s the wrong answer, JayJay Bone said.

The crowd booed.

Many of those in attendance thought this was a country music ticket give-away for the David Allen Coe show coming to the Freedom Farm where an extended family of violent redneck biker pot growers and their women planned to violate the mask and social distancing requirements by hosting a picnic concert picnic featuring the legendary racist performer. Coe didn’t know anything about the concert but JayJay Bone’s colleague gave away rickets each day on her show and the Bubba Brigade, as they called themselves, showed up en masse expecting free beer and other WILT radio station swag.

JayJay Bone screamed.

One more time!

Turning up the volume on the bullhorn, he hollered so hard his eyeballs looked like they might blow up.

What do we want?

Free beer!

Two hours past Sterling’s announced time for the flag-burning with no free beer, people started to leave.

JayJay Bone went apeshit.

Come back here, you cowards!    

Jumping up and down, beating his chest with both fists, he looked worse than Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee Bubbles after his vasectomy.

At the far end of the WILT parking lot, Darryl sighted him in with his rifle.

Slowly squeezing the trigger, Darryl briefly questioned his motive for the assassination. Another white devil bites the dust, he thought. Reparations means a shot of justice mixed with a splash of historic revenge.

But instead of focusing only on his target, Darryl thought of his former friend William, a good and decent white man.

Darryl let up on the trigger pressure.

He closed his eyes.

JayJay Bone howled.

Freedom isn’t free, he said.

Neither is beer.