Crossing the Partisan Divide

By Josh Goller

“You sure this’ll work? They won’t be able to tell the difference?” asked Olbermann. The man to whom he had paid two hundred Reagans hunched over his wrist and applied the finishing strokes to his forged citizenship tattoo.

“Nobody’ll notice a thing.” The forger shifted his stub of a cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other. “Never had no one come back and ask for no refunds.”

Probably, thought Olbermann, because if anyone else from Libtopia or any other foreign nation was caught in the Red States of America, Under God without the mandated citizenship tattoo they’d end up on a water-board in New Guantanamo faster than you could say “gay marriage.” They wouldn’t make it back to this cluttered workshop in a tunnel directly under the Partisan Divide, that’s for sure.

“Not bad, eh?” the forger grunted. He leaned back and wiped inky fingers onto his pants.

Olbermann blew onto his wrist and smiled. The forgery looked perfect. “You’re a true artist, Heston.”

“Glad you think so. And for my trouble that’ll be another two hundred Reagans.”

No point in arguing. Heston did, after all, have a Smith & Wesson tucked into the front of his trousers. In Libtopia, Olbermann hadn’t so much as seen a gun.

“It’s easily removable?”

“Piping hot water’s all it takes.”

“And this tunnel comes up right behind The Mama Grizzly soup kitchen, right?” asked Olbermann. He slapped into Heston’s fat palm two bills with the Gipper’s face emblazoned on the front.

Heston pocketed the cash and turned his back without a word. Teabaggers. All they care about is money.

Olbermann walked from the shop and crossed the aisle under the Partisan Divide, finally coming upon the Corporate Ladders. He began to climb. His hands—unaccustomed to physical labor— calloused against the steel rungs. Halfway up, he passed a middle-aged woman. Her progress up the ladder next to him was blocked by a glass ceiling. Sweat soaked the recycled fibers of her Lilith Fair T-shirt as she pounded her diploma against the glass to no avail.

At the top, Olbermann lifted the manhole cover a crack and peered at the surface, the streets lined with pickup trucks. Coast clear, he slid aside the cover and hurried out of the hole and around the corner. Hungry patrons streamed from The Mama Grizzly and stretched halfway down the block. Olbermann took his place in line.  

To fit in better, he slipped on the “These Colors Don’t Run” mesh hat Maddow had given him upon return from her own trip across the Partisan Divide. Too bad he hadn’t been able to purchase a prop gun from one of the many theatres that lined Streisand Street in Libtopia. Everyone else in line had firearms holstered around their waists, slung over their shoulders, tucked into their cowboy boots. At least he’d managed to wear a NASCAR jacket and to bring along a couple Bibles.

Inside the soup kitchen, the smell of real meat overwhelmed Olbermann. An aroma culled from the memory of his childhood, before the Partisan Divide had been erected to stave off civil war. The forbidden smell of seared animal flesh pressed up into his sinuses and made his eyes water tears of carnivorous joy. He couldn’t even recall how much time he’d spent hovering over tepid bowls of split pea and soy, tofu chowder, or chicken-less noodle soup at The Melting Pot in Libtopia while he scribbled away at his attempt to pen the great Leftwing American novel. Real meat was worth the risk.

“Get a move on,” someone behind him shouted, nudging Olbermann with the point of a pocket-sized flag. Olbermann opened his eyes and shuffled forward in line. That was the kind of attention-drawing mistake that’d get the militias after him.

As he studied the menu scrawled in chalk above the soup counter, two Church-State employees ahead of him chatted about the impending midterm elections, and whether the Tea Party would be able to take back Congress from the Neo-Cons. 

“I don’t get your argument, Beck. The Neo-Cons were right to add the Ten Commandments to courtroom ceilings too.”

“No way. Think of the cost, Coulter. If they’re not careful we’ll have to start paying taxes again.”

Olbermann’s mouth watered as he neared the counter, but he stiffened when a uniformed soldier approached.

“Where’d you get those fancy pants?” asked the soldier, looking down at Olbermann’s corduroys. Scanning the others in line, Olbermann realized he probably should have tried to find a pair of black market Wranglers.

“These? Had them for years.” He could hear his own pulse. “They’re my church pants.”

“Right.” The soldier squinted at him. “Sir, I’m going to need to see your birth certificate.”

Olbermann rifled in his jacket pocket and handed the soldier the phony birth certificate he’d ordered online from the Republic of Hawaii.

“Thank you very much, sir.” The soldier handed back the certificate. “We just can’t be too careful. Having a problem with a lot of Leftbacks crossing the Divide. You understand.”

“Of course. Anything to keep those Libtards from stealing all our jobs and making us learn other languages.” Olbermann cringed at his own words as the soldier returned to his post.

At the soup counter, he rolled up his sleeve to show his citizenship tattoo. The cashier scanned it with an ultraviolet light.

 “What’ll you have, sir?”

“I’ll take a Cream of Freedom with Beef, a Patriot Bisque with Bacon, and do you have anything with big game shot from a helicopter?”

“That’d be the Cheney and Dumplings.”

“Yes, please.”

Olbermann licked his lips as he accepted the three steaming bowls.

At long last.

 He spun around to find a seat, but his tray bumped into the butt of the soldier’s rifle. Soup scalded Olbermann’s arm and slid down his wrist.

“Let me help you with that, sir,” said the soldier, toweling soup from Olbermann’s arm.

And with it, his tattoo.

These colors do run.

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