An Afterthought

by Lloyd

Last year, South Korean scientists successfully cloned human embryos. Last year, South Korean scientists successfully cloned human embryos. Last year, South Korean scientists successfully cloned human embryos. In and of itself, this fact is not particularly funny. This story is the story of a boy, let's call him Paolo. Paolo is, I believe, a Portuguese name, but our Paolo is not Portuguese. I will leave it to you to decide what, if any, ethnicity he may have. In fictional stories, it is possible for a character to be without an ethnicity. This is impossible in real life.

We stand at the brink of a potentially apocalyptic standoff between the United States and North Korea. The U.S. government, particularly via Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has adopted a very firm posture towards North Korea, using insinuations of imminent war. This is really not so funny either. As a countermeasure, North Korea has developed (for purposes of self-defense, they claim) an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

At the end of the Clinton administration (that's like five years ago), you may remember, things were looking pretty terrific for relations between the Republic of Korea ("South Korea") and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ("North Korea"). The folk hero Kim Dae Jung, President of South Korea at the time, had adopted a revolutionary "Sunshine Policy" toward interactions with the North. These efforts were met with great optimism by Kim Jong Il, North Korea's weird Dear Leader; in fact, it led to an unprecedented opening of the world's most heavily guarded border (on the Korean peninsula's 38th parallel) for the reunification of one hundred families long divided after the war. Our Paolo loves a girl, her name is Mazel. Mazel is also without ethnicity. In addition, the Kims (Dae Jung and Jong Il) held hands while watching a soccer game. Look it up, it's true. I'm not making that up. They were totally holding hands.

Mazel loves Paolo too. Paolo is a soldier. He fights in wars. This is troubling to Mazel because it's scary when someone you love goes off to fight in a war. If you don't believe me, try debating that fact with Mazel. Mazel is not a soldier, nor does she fight in wars. President Clinton was all about these efforts toward peace in Korea, mostly because at one point he did some stupid shit regarding North Korea and almost had to go to war. He was able to avert war by sending Jimmy Carter over there to have a drink with Kim Jong Il, and then everything was alright. Kim Jong Il seemed to think it was a nice gesture on Clinton's part to send Jimmy Carter and whatnot, and he asked Clinton to come to North Korea too. Clinton was busy getting his balls sucked so instead he sent his Secretary of State, Madeline Albright. She and Kim seemed to like each other, because they struck a deal whereby Kim wouldn't make any nuclear weapons and Albright would hook the North Korean people up with some light water nuclear reactors to solve their energy crisis. Do you know what a light water nuclear reactor is? It's basically non-weapons-grade nuclear technology. Mazel lives on a country farm house tending horses and eating grains and vegetables. Paolo likes grains and vegetables too, but the problem with being a soldier is sometimes you just have to go where the war is. In Paolo's case, he had to go to some war or another and fight some evil motherfuckers to the death. North Korea, at the time, was having some trouble with famine and drought, so Kim was really happy all of a sudden because now South Korea was sending him all kinds of rice and the United States was sending over all kinds of Jimmy Carters and Madeline Albrights and also promising to send light water nuclear reactors. It was pretty alright round those parts, and Kim Dae Jung won the Nobel Peace Prize and they got to watch a lot of soccer holding hands and feeling good about all the reunified families who were weeping because they got to see their grown up kids that they otherwise couldn't see because of the border, and everyone was crying and happy and holding hands and not enriching uranium or cloning human embryos but instead basking in the sunshine of the Sunshine Policy and awaiting the arrival of light water nuclear reactors and feeling pretty good about what just happened, because everybody was crying and playing soccer and having lots of fun.

Mazel was plenty worried when she found out that Paolo had to fight this war. They were hanging out by the car the day before he was supposed to leave and it started to rain, and they were out there looking at the stars and dancing in the rain and kissing and shit. She told Paolo that he oughtn't go, that they could get in the pickup with some beers and some sandwiches and find some address that nobody knew about, and they could spend the rest of their days having sex and eating potatoes and skipping rocks, because these are the types of things that lovers like to do. Paolo was the silent type, so he didn't say much but gripped her tight, his hair and her hair all wet from the crazy rain and he stared at her because she was beautiful and he thought he might never see her again. Probably a part of him was greatly tempted to fire up the pickup with the sandwich bags and styrofoam cooler, just skid out with her and find some land that might be newly theirs, especially because of the way she looked at him all pretty and even more especially because of how beautiful it sounded when she said the word "Please". That "Please" really broke his fucken back.

When President George W. Bush became the President of the United States, it was all of a sudden his job to send the light water nuclear reactors to Kim Jong Il. But Bush decided he didn't feel like doing that and then one day when he was making a speech, he told this Canadian guy named David Frum (who was a speechwriter for Bush) to put in that there speech a little section that could justify a war in Iraq. Frum decided to write some stuff about Iraq being a part of an "axis of hatred" he called it (according to the New Yorker), and then the Bush people said to change it to "axis of evil" because it sounded better which is probably true, and then they realized that an axis has to have more than one point so they decided to throw in Iran and North Korea in there too. It has been widely reported, by Frum himself in fact, that North Korea's inclusion in the list was an "afterthought". Kim Jong Il heard Bush's "axis of evil" speech and was like what the fuck. He also hadn't gotten any light water nuclear reactors, and was like hey where are my light water nuclear reactors. Of course that's not like word for word what he said, but it was like that probably. And then Bush said something like you're crazy and we hate you you evil little chink, and Kim Jong Il was like ouch.

Paolo made a lot of love to his Mazel that night. He didn't answer her questions about the sandwiches and the beers in the pickup, but he stopped her talking with his soft little kisses and then they made some crazy good lovin that was kind of sometimes the same kind of soft except for when it wasn't soft, right there in the garden right there in the rain. It was all kind of muddy and messy and wonderful, and Paolo fell asleep. He kind of walked around in his sleep because sometimes after muddy messy wonderful love you feel a little cold and sleepy, and so he kind of stumbled inside to bed, and Mazel wrapped him in a warm quilt and shut the light and just kissed his eyes real sweet with the kisses to sleep.

Since Kim Jong Il wasn't getting his light water nuclear reactors and since the US was starting to talk some heavy war rhetoric in the international press and that sort of thing, Kim was a little freaked out. He started enriching uranium because he believed it when they said he better get ready for war, and the other day he told the world that now he has nuclear weapons so please don't invade me. But the problem is that it's not a good thing to have nuclear weapons unless you're the United States in which case yeah we got 'em, shit. We invented them. (Actually we didn't, we stole them from the Nazis. (That's not totally true either, we only stole the Nazi scientists who had been working on the nuclear thing, and then we had them finish what they started over here. (By finish what they started, I meant the development of nuclear weapons, not the other shit that the Nazis did. Because this isn't that type of story.)))

(This is a love story.)

While Paolo slept, Mazel sat and looked at him awhile. She wanted in all her heart of hearts for him to stay with her, get in the pickup like she said and make love with her in the car while they search for a spot somewheres away from the wars. But she knew in that same heart of hearts that he never would. Drenched in the rain and quickly drying mud, she went out in the cold in all her nakedness staring up at the horrible stars like bombs, and said some silent prayer to some silent god about please please please bring her Paolo home.

Last year, South Korean scientists successfully cloned human embryos. Prior to that, the world science communities seemed to all agree that those experiments were better left undone, but then Michael J. Fox testified before a Senate judiciary committee and Arnold Schwarzenegger was given $3 billion of research funds along with the powers of the executive branch of the California state government for work on stem cell experiments.

Paolo woke before Mazel this morning. He unfurled himself from the warm quilt that covered him and crept out down the road without a sound. He didn't kiss his sweet Mazel goodbye, didn't clean the mudstains he'd left on her quilt and furniture, didn't even put on his combat boots. Just started walking naked and muddy and groggy and beautiful to where this war was on.

The moral of the story is that the Korean people are wicked at science and that love love love doesn't always win because sometimes a cowboy has gotta go where the rodeo takes him.

Copyright 2003, 2004