My Pastoral Nightmare

My Pastoral Nightmare

There is no beauty in my hometown. There are no bards to sing songs about “little pink houses”; this is no heartland. My hometown is a Faulkner monstrosity. In my new Eden, cruelty is the only pastime and bestiality remains a way of life. Here, you’ll lose an eye for an original thought, a shot in the jaw for reading a book. No one smiles and a grimace is the closest you’ll get to a “hello.” Kudzu covers everything except for the sprawling strip malls, the political billboards, and the latest multiplex. The highway slithers past the endless video stores and mechanics.

The hipster kids sidle past with their low-rider trousers and the Mustang Petes cruise past in their low-riders. At least once a year, one will kill another. The hipsters dream of being black, listening to “gangsta rap” in rooms under black light and posters of Tupac. The Mustang Petes spend all their money on getting their cars covered with Japanese decals from the state fair.

The lumpy-faced daughters of hairdressers date boys named after firearms. The screams of cheerleaders pierce the night as they sprawl on the hood of a Camaro as each member of the varsity football team has his turn. The girls will be pregnant before they’re eighteen. The fathers will work in construction, as they grow lean and bitter as the seasons past.

In this town, the ruling class is white and well-tanned. It is maintained by a steady stream of detritus that flows down the highway from the larger city. Only the Mexicans bussed in for the harvest ever leave. Backroom dealers and den mothers set our town’s agenda with a razor and a mirror in a motel room. Later on, they serve tea and Pepperidge Farm cookies to the elderly.

In my dystopia, beauty is an elusive ideal. Beauty is a thing of dreams. Here, everyone recognizes physical beauty as a sham. The mail-order bride dreams of returning home. The salesman dreams of burying the competition. Even Father Thomas has an eye on Widow Humphreys. In my town, the only thing of real beauty is an escape. Me? I dream of burning this fuckin’ place down.

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