Friendly gestures

Brazos River
Photo by TexasExplorer98 / CC BY 2.0

The United States and Mexico shook hands for the first time somewhere along the Brazos River on a warm October afternoon in 1821.

“Do you always come this far into Texas?” Mexico asked, squinting into the sunlight.

“Sometimes,” America said after adjusting his hat. “Actually, I wanted to congratulate you on your independence.”

Mexico inhaled and a sense of pride, the kind many new countries felt after a hard fought struggle for sovereignty, filled his chest. “That means something, coming from you.”

“You mean that thing with Britain? Ah, that wasn’t… that was nothing. Actually, it was something. It was a big something.”

Mexico shook his head but kept a half-smile on his face. “Mine wasn’t as quick as yours, was it? But I’m here, now. I’m Mexican, now.”

“Yeah, we’re.. we’re it. Whatever it is. I don’t think things get any easier from here. At least, that’s what the Europeans are telling me.”

“Think they might be right. This time.”

America looked up from the grassy bank that he’d been softly kicking with his boot. “You know, Britain still has territory above us and around us and I don’t feel especially inclined to trust them.”

“Me neither.”

“So… we should stick together, right? When they see two strong, independent–and intimidatingly attractive–countries working together… they won’t want to conquer and divide parts of North America anymore.”

“Know what? That sounds pretty good.

A little over a decade later the two would be caught in a battle over Texas and another decade after that they would go to war. The next time they would shake hands would be before a “friendly” quick draw that a certain Canadian had to interrupt before someone got hurt. Disappointed but alive they would walk away to prepare for the next battle or war, as neighbors often do.

Holiday aftermath

A continuation of this July 4th story.

North Korea was idly watching the city below from the balcony when China found him. He didn’t move or look back when he spoke in something of a distracted voice. “Enjoy the party?”

China leaned against the railing and talked to the back of the other’s head. “I give him the same present every year,” he said. “A framed dollar bill. Written on it is the current, up to the day, US debt to China. It’s all in good nature,” he assured. “He smiles and swears he loves it, but I know he burns it in the fire pit later that night. Not just the bill, but the frame. too.” North Korea made a small noise, which might have been a laugh. China stepped forward. “I brought you something.”

This made the Korean turn around finally, but then he scowled at the paper plate in China’s hand and the tin foiled wrapped over it. “I don’t want dirty, American, sympathy cake.”

China raised an eyebrow and gave him a knowing look, and for a moment they were locked in a stare. The fire in the Korean’s eyes, the sweat beginning to bead on his brow, and the intensity of his scowl told of a raging internal war that was tearing apart every fiber of his psyche. Through perseverance China did not look away–did not falter. At last, after immense metaphorical bloodshed, the conflicted soldier caved in and asked in a quiet voice, “What kind of cake?”

“Chocolate.”

“How much frosting?”

“Minimal.”

North Korea reached out, slowly taking the dessert. “You didn’t see this.”

“See what?”

It’s the Fourth of July

fireworks
Photo by wesleyhetrick / CC BY-NC 2.0

Loud music about partying and patriotism played through speakers all over the house while guests–mostly Europeans who sort of didn’t want to be there but sort of did–drank, danced, and tried to talk over the tunes. Hissing and exploding fireworks added to the auditory clutter, but at least they were pretty to look at.

Inside, America was filling his plate with hamburger sliders when he noticed Russia chatting up Canada near the punch bowl. He watched them with scrutiny for a few seconds, then decided to ruin the moment–but not before grabbing a couple of patriotically decorated popcorn balls.

“What’s up, guys?” He asked, trying to sound chummy as he somewhat obnoxiously interrupted their conversation. “What’cha talking about? Russia, you’re not trying to turn my sister against me again, are you?”

“What do you mean?” Russia asked with a lilted voice and a grin, but immediately leaned into Canada. “You know where to find me,” she whispered. Then, after making sure to meet and hold America’s gaze for for long enough to acknowledge his displeasure, she bounced off to find someone else with whom to mingle (and probably make uncomfortable).

With a half smile, Canada shook her head. “We were talking about dogs.”

Continue reading “It’s the Fourth of July”

MAD 4: We need a war

To see previous  chapters of this series, click here.

“The United States of America has just been destroyed by an all-out nuclear attack.”

“What?” America screeched. He paused before screeching louder. “What?”

“Wait, wait. I’m sorry, everyone…” Germany adjusted the podium mic with an apologetic smile. “That was, ah, that was the wrong one. My mistake.”

“Who the hell even submitted that one?” America gawked with the sudden urge to shoot an incriminate glance toward the Middle East.

“The appropriate follow-up scenario will now be read now.” Carefully, Germany flipped through a few pages in the little notebook he was holding. Upon finding the right page, he began. “An ICBM was detected heading for California, but failed to reach its intended target and instead landed off the coast in territorial waters. The source of the attack is presently unknown.”

Continue reading “MAD 4: We need a war”

Buzzed confessions

Sometimes, they would drink together. Some nights, this was enjoyable if they did not argue effusively over hockey. Other nights, America would say some crazy shit.

An empty bottle of beer slamming down against the coffee table caused America’s drinking partner to jump in her seat.

“I have to stop China.”

Canada sat at the opposite end of the couch with a glass in her hand. The unbridled conviction in her brother’s voice caused her to slowly set her beverage down and raise brows at him. “What?”

Continue reading “Buzzed confessions”

Lips and teeth

An elevator ride down from the 17th floor gave two uneasy allies a chance to talk about nuclear weapons tests.

“Go on. Slap me on the wrist. Make it look good for the press.”

China rolled his eyes. “You’re full of it.”

The Korean beside him never looked away from the bright numbers above the elevator doors. 17… 16… 15…

“You’re not really mad.”

“I’m seething, actually.”

Finally, North Korea turned his head to his annoyed, albeit composed, friend. “You don’t look like you’re seething.”

“I’m fervid.”

“You are?”

“Completely.”

North Korea looked back up at the number. 12… 11… 10…

“There you go. That’s what the United States will want to hear.”

China was caught between a grin and a sneer. “You’re as pleasant as always.”

“If you wanted cooperation, you should have thought of that before denying me membership to your international bank.”

“If you wanted to join the AIIB, you should have cooperated.”

***

They stepped out into the afternoon sun and North Korea pulled a cigarette from his pocket. China snatched it from his fingers.

“Don’t smoke,” he said before lighting North Korea’s cigarette and taking a drag.

MAD 3: The day the music died

The G7 watched nervously as China and North Korea made off for the hallway to discuss nuclear weapons in private. When the two disappeared behind the door, an antsy America waited only a few seconds before zipping over to Russia and plopping down in an empty seat.

“Hey,” he whispered, leaning in close but not too close. “Are we cool?”

A confused Russia could only offer him a smile. “What?”

“I need to make sure we’re cool. Shit just got real and I really want–no, need–to know that you’re not gonna screw me.”

“America, you know that I hate screwing you.”

Continue reading “MAD 3: The day the music died”