Over time it had become a custom to throw a communist party every so often. This would often lead to complications because most communists hated each other. But the one thing keeping their solidarity alive was their shared hatred for the West–mainly, the United States. In the end, that was enough for them.
The “parties” (they never felt like parties) used to be big events, but then the Soviet Union collapsed; everyone who was forced to practice communism was either free to not practice communism or forced to practice capitalism. So, their numbers dwindled. Now the five of them could fit comfortably around a hot pot in China’s house.
“How was the food, Cuba?” China asked when the plates around him finally started to look bare.
“Wonderful, thank you.”
“The mutton was a little tender,” Vietnam said placidly.
China didn’t even look at her. “Thank you, Vietnam, for the opinion that no one asked for.”
“It’s funny that you’re even here, China,” she said after a pause. “You adore capitalism, don’t you?”
He smiled. “Did you mean to say that to yourself? Anyway, I don’t adore capitalism. I adore being rich–but that’s neither here nor there.”
“Money isn’t everything, China.”
“What you just said was so stupid that I almost had an aneurysm.”
“Aw, just almost?”
That gave China a scowl. “We’re here because we all believe in the same thing. Is that not enough?”
North Korea spoke up. “But who believes in our cause more than anyone else? I do.That’s why I’m suffering so much for it.”
“Nuclear proliferation is not a cause,” China said with strain.
“Nuclear weapons are necessary for fighting imperialism and Western aggression,” North Korea said. “Therefore, they are essential to the cause.”
“He has a point,” Cuba said. At that, North Korea’s eyes lit up. “I just don’t see the problem with him developing nuclear technology. Don’t we need someone on our side with them?” She caught China’s incriminating eyes.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Vietnam said. “You don’t share a continent with him.”
“What about you, then?” Cuba asked. “Don’t you want them? Even a little bit?”
Vietnam titled her head to the side ever so slightly. “Are you assuming to know what I want?”
Just then someone cleared their throat and everyone turned. “Yes, hello,” Laos said. “I exist.” Everyone tried to brush off the fact that they’d ignored him virtually all dinner (“Oh, you’ve just been so quiet…” or “Right, right, of course”). He just continued. “What Vietnam means is that while these might be trying times, she and I belong to a nuclear-free zone and we both want to keep it that way.”
Cuba grunted. “Trying times? This is a security and ideological crisis in the making. You sound like you’re trying to appease the assholes.”
“This conversation is getting foolish,” China said.
North Korea turned to him. “Is it, China? Is it foolish? Think about what we could do with nuclear weapons. We wouldn’t even have to use them. Just the possession of them would put the West on its heels. They wouldn’t be able to hurt us anymore. You know that, but you still take their side. It’s because you get to sit with them on an imaginary throne, isn’t it?” He actually sneered. “You’re nothing like us, China. You get to enjoy your comfortable position, covering your eyes with your money while the rest of us are abused and demonized by your ‘friends.’ What a privilege that must be! You’re a coward.”
Heavy silence gripped the room as everyone expectantly watched North Korea and the man he’d just ripped into. China did nothing except clear his throat after some time.
“Well, the tea should be ready now. How about everyone head into the sitting room?” He turned to his left. “North Korea, would you mind helping me get it from the kitchen?”
“I would mind.” But when China’s steely eyes didn’t move away, North Korea realized it was an order rather than a suggestion. “Alright.”
After the two disappeared behind closed doors, Cuba, smiling, turned to the others. “That was cool. Nothing against China, but damn. I bet that felt good. I felt good just listening to it.”
“I’ll tell you something,” Vietnam said. “By themselves, they are bad. Together, they are even worse.”
In the kitchen, China made sure to tell North Korea that he didn’t appreciate being publically humiliated like that and North Korea made sure to tell China that he didn’t care.
“You change moods at the drop of a hat,” China hissed as he poured the tea. “Why must it always be mixed signals with you?”
“With me? One moment you’re defending me against slanderous human rights accusations and the next you’re enforcing some of the toughest sanctions I’ve ever faced. The sanctions are killing me, China.”
China spun around to gape at North Korea. Seconds ticked by. When he spoke, it was slow, heavily annunciated, and dripping with heartfelt distress. “Then stop. Developing. Nuclear. Weapons.”
North Korea stared at China with wild eyes for a moment before sucking in hot air. China braced himself.
The kitchen doors swung open and China walked in with a smile plastered on his face and tray in his hands. “I hope everyone likes jasmine.”
North Korea, right behind him and mirroring the smile, carried in one cup for himself and one for Cuba. “There you go,” he told her in a forcibly cheerful voice as he handed her the drink. “Enjoy.”
She noticed the color on his cheeks and his hair, ever so slightly disheveled. “Are you okay?” She asked.
“I am all ace.”
China was quick to correct. “Aces. It’s ‘I’m all aces.'”
North Korea smiled bigger as he took his seat. “Right, right.”
Cuba attempted to ease the painfully awkward tension. “North Korea, I really enjoyed your recent article about how the military drills staged by that Yankee bastard will surely only lead to his own self-destruction. I read the Rodong Sinmun every day. It’s very inspiring.”
Finally, there was a genuine smile from North Korea. “Is that right?”
She nodded. “You have such a way with words. It’s powerful yet poetic. I like the insults you come up. ‘Wolf with a hideous lantern jaw’ is probably one of my favorites.”
“Stop, stop, you’re too kind. No, I’m kidding. Continue. Please.” He laughed softly. “But yes, I do dabble in a little bit of poetry.”
“And drawing,” China said. “Though he’s not as good at the latter.”
North Korea forced a chuckle. “China, you’re such a riot. Speaking of… Vietnam, how are those riots going? Oh, sorry. That was 2014, wasn’t it?”
Cuba said, “I had some riots. Back in March. Anti-Castro, pro-democracy protests. Bullshit, right? I shut ’em down pretty quick.”
Vietnam asked, “Those happened right before the U.S. visited, didn’t they? Too bad you couldn’t shut him down.”
“That’s funny,” North Korea started, “because haven’t you and Laos been cozying up to American ambition lately?”
They both wanted to remind him that the reason they were making nice (if you could call it that) with the US was sitting in that very room and was already rather pissed. Instead, Laos said, “We’re not ‘cozying up’ to anyone.”
“No, you’re right. It’s more like you’re rolling onto your back and spreading your legs–”
This brought out an undefinable noise from Vietnam and a softly whispered Jesus Christ from Cuba. Laos bit back without hesitation. “Just like you do for China?”
China choked on his tea. North Korea’s face went red. He scooted toward the edge of his seat as if he was going to get up and make Laos sorry. “How dare you.” The words came out like hot steam forced from a kettle, but no attack followed.
Just then Hong Kong peeked her head into the room. “You guys are having a party, right? Where’s the music, the booze, the rave lights, the games?”
“Of course,” China said, eager to change the subject. “How about a… board game?” There were a few half-assed mumbles of willingness.”Bring them out for us?”
“Sure.” A few minutes later and Hong Kong came scuttling back into the room with a long box in her hands. “You guys like Monopoly?”
The room went silent and all five of them stared down at the carpet, varying degrees of discomfort on their faces.
Song to consider: “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots
@iballrtw wanted to read about communists so here’s a start. While I intend to write more in-depth on these countries in the future, I figured this was a good icebreaker. Socialist and/or communist states are in a special network of screwy friendships that don’t always feel like friendships. But at the same time, they have to depend on each other for various reasons. It’s like a dysfunctional family.
North Korea has never been interested in showing much tact when dealing with foreign governments. It always uses vividly offensive language when engaging enemies. So, his comment at Laos and Vietnam wasn’t much of a stretch.
(Please go to the page I linked above and take the quiz because it’s life changing.)