This story is by Jerry Brule’ and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I couldn’t believe they put me in with a black guy. My cellmate, named Marcus, was fit but had greying frizzy hair. I asked him what he was in for. He said, “Driving while Black, and being stupid.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“That means a racist cop stopped me for not signaling a lane change, and then I was dumb enough to argue with him. He told me to get out of the car and then pushed me.
“I took Aikido for twenty years, and sometimes react without thinking. I laid that cop up against my car face first. When I realized what I had done and let him go, he grabbed his baton and beat the shit out of me. They gave me ten years for resisting arrest and attacking a police officer. What are you in for?”
I told him about Pizzagate, and Marcus fell onto his bunk laughing. “That was you that terrorized everyone with the AR-15? I can’t believe anyone was dumb enough to believe a bunch of Satan worshipers kidnapped children and kept them in the basement of that Pizza joint. And what was that shit that was spozed to make people live forever?”
“Adrenochrome,” I said sheepishly. “It didn’t make you live forever, it just made people look younger.”
“And you believed that by raping and torturing kids they could squeeze out that youth juice?”
“Well now that you say it out loud, it does seem sorta dumb.”
Grinning ear to ear Marcus said, “Well this should be fun! I want to hear all about you and what you believe.”
Come to think of it, most of the stuff I told Marcus made him laugh. He was a psychology professor, and I learned a lot of new words from him. Now I would describe him as affable.
I had never had a black friend before, and he destroyed most of the stereotypes I had grown up with. He wasn’t lazy or shiftless and was probably the brightest person in the prison. That included the people running the place.
We weren’t allowed to listen to the talk radio shows I liked, and we didn’t have access to search the internet, but some of the guys in the skinhead and white supremacist gangs would let me know what was going on in the real world outside. They told me about Qanon. That Q was someone high up in the military and that he kept leaving clues about what was going on in Washington. They called the clues Q-drops. They said that the President was going to clear out the deep state cabal. Their friends on the outside were hooked up to the CBTS_Stream, short for Calm Before The Storm. They told me a lot of stuff that I already believed, that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring is trying to control our politics and media.” I thought, with millions of people believing this, it has to be true. Maybe I just didn’t find the right place where they operated.
Everything I told Marcus about Qanon made him laugh, but once in a while, he got serious. “I can tell you really care about the welfare of children. Doesn’t what Trump is doing to the immigrant children bother you?”
“No. What’s he doing?”
“He’s essentially kidnapping children and separating them from their families. Some of them are babies ripped from their mother’s breast. They throw them in pens with plastic blankets, and no one is allowed to hug them or comfort them when they cry. The UN claims that this treatment will result in lifelong psychological harm that could be called torture. How would you like it if someone kidnapped your children?”
“I don’t believe it,” I said. “Besides, they are illegal Mexicans breaking the law and probably smuggling drugs.”
“They’re just kids,” Marcus said.
The next day in the yard, Marcus introduced me to three immigrants. Pedro was from Honduras and could speak English well. He translated for Filipe from Guatemala and Lupe from Columbia who were still learning the language. They told me about their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, that had been separated and placed in cages. Now they didn’t know where they were.
They were nice guys and became my friends. They even began teaching me Spanish. My white supremacist friends started treating me differently.
As the election approached, my Aryan friends were getting excited. They said that after the election, Trump would declare martial law and that they would arrest Hillary and a bunch of other traitors. They would have public trials of all of the deep state cabal. They seemed positively giddy about seeing public executions.
After the election, they refused to believe the results. “Everyone I know, and all of their friends and relatives, voted for Trump. There’s no way that was a fair election. The liberals cheated,” several said.
When I told Marcus, he said, “Everyone I know, voted for Biden. It’s just that with the pandemic, for the first time, they couldn’t suppress the black vote. Trump’s own cybersecurity expert said it was the fairest, least fraudulent election ever. The Attorney General, Barr, said there was no cheating. Fifty states swore that there was no cheating, and sixty lawsuits were thrown out because there was no evidence of cheating. Biden won by seven million votes, and that’s just a fact.”
Over time, I began to realize that everything I used to believe, all of those conspiracy theories, were just total bullshit.
I got out of prison On January first, 2021. I hugged Marcus before I left and promised him that I would keep in touch and visit if I could. I really liked this guy.
Janice met me at the gate with my two sons. Peter was four now, and Ted was six. They had grown a lot while I was away. I was overjoyed to see them. They were a bit less enthusiastic. I just put that down to shyness after not seeing me for so long.
I started exploring the internet and knew something was up, but was shocked at what happened on January sixth. Whatever happened to law and order? Where was the National Guard? Why did they just let everyone go? My discussions with Marcus had convinced me that Black Lives Matter protesters would have been treated much more harshly.
The Qanon followers thought they would take over the government that day. When that didn’t happen, they thought Trump would come back and be President for life on March eighth. Nothing happened. Next they thought the militias would come back and take over the capital after the State of the Union Address, but the National Guard was still there then.
As the months went on, I realized that Biden was not the horrible communist I thought he was. He did a good job getting people vaccinated, and the stimulus bill put a lot of money in our pockets.
The former president spent a lot of time in court and would probably spend a lot of time in prison. He was sued and his brand name became a real loser.
He was no longer Putin’s friend. The evidence kept building up that Trump had either been Putin’s agent or just a useful idiot that had been manipulated to do everything Putin had wanted.
A Russian named Michael Perovich declared that he was Q. He laughed in the press conference at how gullible the Qanon followers were. He said that he had gotten the idea of kidnapping children, and the adrenochrome, from watching the Pixar movie, Monster’s Inc. In the film, the monsters sucked the energy they needed from the screams of children they scared. In the end, they could get far more power from laughter. Q said he was just following Kremlin orders to help destroy American Democracy and left with one final Q-drop. (Dan 9:27).
I broke out my bible and read, “He breaks one treaty after another and makes one promise after another, breaking them all. It is obvious that his power comes from the father of lies, the Devil.” The meaning was obvious. We had been worshiping the Antichrist.
Meanwhile, America’s economy was booming, I had gotten a terrific job installing solar panels, and My family was happy. Janice told me if I hadn’t been arrested, she would have divorced me. I had been angry all of the time and had hit her and the kids for discipline. She said I had mellowed out a lot since I stopped listening to hate radio and the right-wing news shows. Now she said she loved the sensitive new me and that I was a good and gentler father.
It wasn’t until I sold my pickup truck, and bought an EV, that I realized that I had become the one thing that I had hated more than anything in the world. Something I had feared more than death. I had become a bleeding heart liberal.