It’s post apocalypse and the leaders and their methods are eerily familiar. Read on.
Chief Hilfiger sat haughtily with his feet on top of the table in front of him, whistling some obscure tune and clearly impatient for proceedings to begin. Smelly Smith’s always late. He thought. This gonna be the lastingly last time that I’m gonna stand fo’ this. Any more lateness shown by anyone, ‘specially Smelly Smith, and I’m gonna tell him what I think of him, as plain as plain. That’s right, boys. Chief Tommy Hilfiger ain’t gonna stand any more nonsense.
He surveyed his surroundings to pass the time, but that took barely a minute. The dilapidated little room he found himself in (not for the first time, not for the last) consisted of a few wooden barrels, stools and a rundown old steel contraption which nobody knew the use of. It spanned the entire height of the room, wide in the middle and narrowing as it reached the top. It had a hole, possibly to hold something. Looks like a hungry little critter waitin’ fo’ some nice meat. Heh, I’m getting’ poetic, I am.
The occupants of the room were far more fascinating than the room itself. Zebbie, Chief Hilfiger’s ever-present and ever-reliable sidekick was seated primly on a stool, waiting to see if the Chief needed anything. Grumpy Gordon sat scowling on an upturned barrel. Whether he was irritated by the tune the Chief was whistling or Smelly Smith’s lack of punctuality was difficult to tell. It was most probably both of the aforementioned reasons and a myriad others. Grumpy Gordon was always grumpy. He let out a huge grunt of dissatisfaction.
“I’ll stop it if it’s botherin’ you so much, Gordon.” Chief said.
“What? No, it’s not you. Just look at this crazy mong.” Gordon said. Chief followed his gaze and was more than a little interested to see that Chip had no pants on. It intrigued him. So he pursued the best possible avenue open to him to quench his curiosity.
“Chip, why don’t you have pants on?” He asked.
“Coz’ I’ve had me enough of Sasha, that’s why.” Chip said sullenly. “I ain’t havin’ my pants pulled down anymore, and that’s that. Sorry Chief, but I’ve got me my dignity. Plus it feels cold when them pants are ‘round my ankles.”
“Must be feeling pretty cold now, eh Chip?” Zebbie asked. As Chip’s lopsided mouth opened in a comical ‘O’ of realization, he continued. “And in the name of all things good and holy, put something on. Nobody wants to see that.” Chip turned crimson with embarrassment and Sasha, who was lounging on the floor, grinned widely displaying all of his frayed black and yellow teeth.
A rancid smell suddenly filled the room and a few seconds later, Smelly Smith entered looking extremely flustered. “Sorry I’m late boss.” He said gruffly. “Had me a little fight.”
“It’s fine, Smith.” Chief said, amused. “Now let’s get started.”
“Well, there be more fights than eva’ over at the Big Place. Its common knowledge now that the Fourth and Fifth floor folks don’t exactly get along. The Speakless get on everybody’s nerves and some people be miffed with me because they think I smell!” Smith finished, evidently outraged that anyone could cast doubts over his scent.
“You do smell, Smith.” Zebbie said.
“Yes, like mouldy bread subjected to an armpit massage. That’s why we call you Smelly Smith. I assumed you would pick it up, but obviously I assumed wrong.”
“I thought we all had names like that, for fun like. And Grumpy Gordon bein’ grumpy and all was just a coincidence.”
“Shut you stinkin’ mouth, you bald son of a bitch!” Grumpy Gordon shouted, spittle flying from his mouth in little specks.
“Yeah?” Smelly Smith retaliated. He wasn’t exactly known for his calmness. “Well, you should shut your stinkin’ mouth, cuz you’re nothin’ but a bald son of a bitch!” He wasn’t known for his wit and spontaneity either.
“Shut your stinkin’ mouths, you bald sons of bitches.” Chief said coldly, completing the thick-headed triumvirate. “And why exactly do them fourth and fifth floorers have it in fo’ each other?”
“Beats me.” Smith said, now sullen. “But it’s gettin’ right out of hand now. It was about to get nasty yesterday before Spiff went and intervened.”
“Oh really?” Chief said, impressed.
“Yeah, he was on fire.” Smith said.
“What did he say to stop the fightin’?” Chief asked.
Smith looked confused. “Somethin’ like ‘Aaaaaaaaahhhh!’. You know, what people usually say when they’re on fire. It wasn’t what he said that stopped the fighin’ more than the fact that he was in flames.”
He continued “Anyways, some people be tellin’ that we need a new Chief and tha-err.. umm..” Smith stuttered and then stopped. The silence in the room was like a stifling blanket, suffocating and uncomfortable.
“Zebbie.” Chief said, his voice now chilly as ice. “Our friend Smith seems to have forgotten some of his history. Go ahead and refresh him. Tonk him on the head first.”
Zebbie obliged unapologetically. He then proceeded to tell the story everyone had heard too many times, but never enough times apparently.
“The knowledge of events prior to WW III is extremely murky. We don’t know if people were bald then too. We don’t even know what WW means only that our dads and moms kept right on about it, never-ending like. It was always WW this and WW that. I got sleepy sometimes just listening to it. We can infer with some certainty that it might have meant Walloping Wham or something similar. It surely wasn’t something too smart, seeing the mess they got us into.”
“Anyways, my mom once sung this to me when I wasn’t feeling sleepy. Didn’t help much, I started crying louder, but here’s what it was-
There was once a grumpy Uncle named Sam
Who threw his toys out of the pram
When he didn’t get what he wanted
His riches he always flaunted
He went and took a firm stand
Against the Godlessness of the Motherland
The world could only stand and look
As they fought and tussled, stole and took
Every cranny and every nook
At the mercy of these cantankerous crooks
They unashamedly filled their pockets
With dollars and dynamites, roubles and rockets
Their selfish deals and mindless wagers
Exposing the Earth to constant dangers
Thus continued the altercations of Uncle Sam
Until one fine day, the world went Bam!
Chip raised his hand at this point, like he always did. “I didn’t understand it. Was this Sam a randy old pervert playing it loose with someone’s mother?” Everyone ignored him, like they always did. Sasha whacked him on the head, not like he always did. He usually pulled Chip’s pants down.
“Well, the Big Place was one of the few buildings left standing after the WW. Survivors quickly congregated there. A leader was elected to oversee proceedings and maintain sanity. Choosing wasn’t that difficult seeing that there were only three men capable of standing on their feet and two of them were dead. The third one was deaf and dumb, knocked silly by some kaboom no doubt, so people didn’t know what to call him. So they started calling him Tommy Hilfiger after the shirt he wore. Who knows, maybe that was his name? That was Tommy Hilfiger I, Chief’s old man.” Chief looked around impressively, obviously proud that his father had been able to stand when others had not.
“Now how Chief Senior managed to save the people that he did, I have no idea. Nor do I have any idea how he managed to have Chief here, what with more than half the population unable to… you know. All I know is that he did, and now we’re here.” Zebbie finished.
“You see, Smith?” Chief said, positively glowing with vindication. “You see the blood I got in me? Blood of strength, blood of valour. How can I not be Chief?”
“Yes Chief. Sorry Chief.” Smith said with utmost fake sincerity. “How did YOU become his sidekick though, eh?” He asked Zebbie with open suspicion. “Did you actually prove yourself, or did Chief select you because he likes you?”
“It seems there be no end to your insolence, Smith.” Chief said, cold again. “Do you think my selection process is so transparent and senseless? Do you think I choose my subordinates with no thought at all?”
“Sorry Chief.” Smith said, head hung in shame. “I shouldn’t have doubted you for a sec. So, how did you select Zebbie?”
“He comes first reverse-alphabetically.”
“Ah.” Smith said, satisfied.
“Anyways, back to work. This hardly be the first time we’ve had us such and such types of problems.” Chief said, talking about the in-fighting in the Big Place.
“Actually Chief, this is the first time we’ve had this problem.”
“It is? Then why were all them crazies raising a right ol’ ruckus three days ago? They were shoutin’ their heads off, abusin’ me and all.”
“That was because of the ridiculous frilly shirt you were wearing, Chief.”
“Oh. Well, this be a serious situation. Something needs to be done about this.”
“Yes, we need to mend it somehow.”
“Is it possible?”
“Why not? A little perseverance and skill are all that’s needed.”
“Super! I’ll go and get me some glue.”
“What are you talkin’ about, Zebbie?”
“What are YOU talking about, Chief?”
“My frilly shirt of course! That was the darndest best shirt I had and those crazies tore it all up!”
“Chief, I appreciate the seriousness of your problem, but these people can’t live together anymore. Let’s do something about that first and we’ll get to your shirt in due time.”
“Well, OK.” Chief grumbled. Silence prevailed as they all started thinking. The meetings usually followed the same underlying pattern. They all thought for some time and then did what Chief told them to do. Chief was finding it hard to gather his thoughts today though. It was so puffy and soft. And now it’s all torn up. Destroyed, like. Scattered across the whole place…
Light! Chief usually gave some sterling ideas if he did say so himself, but this was the zenith. This was the mother of all ideas. The idea which would start an empire.
“Listen up, everyone.” Chief said, his voice quivering. “I have me the perfect solution. We divide the crazies into little groups who do get along and shove them into pieces of land of their own.”
They all stared at Chief, clearly confused.
“It’s simple enough.” Chief said with a hint of impatience in his voice. “Smith, you and all the other ones who positively reek get to stay besides that lake-like thing which positively reeks. So technically, you don’t reek anymore. The oldies get to stay in that ol’ house by the cemetery. You know, so that they’re nice and comfy with their future surroundings.”
There were a few approving nods now.
“The Speakless can stay near that geyser-thing which makes a racket all the time so that they have something to hear.” Chief said, gaining in confidence and momentum seeing that everyone else had finally latched on to his brilliant brainchild. Sasha was delirious with excitement now, tearing Chip’s shirt in two, all the while laughing with his black teeth in full view of the world.
“Good. The rest of the locations be settled later.” Everyone started to leave, except Zebbie who came to Chief looking anxious.
“Chief, are you sure about this?”
“As sure as can be, Zebbie.” Chief said indulgently. “Everyone has their own piece of land. What could possibly go wrong? Everyone has their own..er..”
“What? NO! What sort of stupid name is that? I was thinking more domain, like. Everyone has their own domain. Those old crazies who got us into this mess could have done with an idea like this.”
“I guess so, Chief.”
“Now go get me some glue.”