Act or Hide?

Fictional "Will" is a Call to Action, A Relevant Tale for Changing Political Climate


January 2017

Prologue

Will, although fiction and written tongue-in-cheek, is intended as a serious call to action. Will Mitty, underdeveloped at 4’7 and with a dubious life expectancy, feels an urgency to change the direction of many things in the U.S. and the world. Will visualizes Peewee Kovak, his best bud, cutting through the bullshit and smokescreens to find simple answers to complex problems.

“Somebody has to do something!” Will exhorts to Peewee.

Peewee stands 6’9, weighing 280 lbs. Completely bald with a heavy beard, he’s been protecting his wise-cracking little friend’s butt since first grade. But Peewee wishes Will would shut up about the world’s problems and leave him be, content in his own separate peace.

The friction between Will and Peewee is a telling dichotomy – to act or hide – a decision that all of us will have to sort out in the next few years, especially Millenials, as they have more invested in a future threatened by unsustainability.

The Reporters Inc. is pleased to present the first chapter from author Tim Munkeby’s new novel, Will, a story that includes passages from Will’s diaries, as well as anecdotes from his daydreams. Will addresses our most inner human conflicts of love, death, and the legacy we choose to leave behind.

*     *     *     *     *

Sept. 30

Today was a day to die for. A rare Indian summer day.

Relief. A nice, warm sun after several frickin’ miserable

days of trying to steal a painless breath. A kiss from the

cold, such an intimate pain. The colors so remarkably vibrant:

red, yellow, orange, gold. Especially the fading luster

of the tamaracks. The breeze so crisp it could break. I’d

rather be outside than in, but more and more I don’t feel

good outside, especially knowing what’s coming. The concept

of living as long as possible does not exist in nature.

After procreating and nourishing, breath is no longer necessary

. . . only the satisfaction of hunger. This may sound

disconcerting, but it gives me solace

 

I know you knew and understood. Thanks, big guy, for

handling it the way you did. You are going to make it all

worthwhile. Really, dude, you will. There were times I

almost believed that maybe I’d be . . . ah, well. Wasn’t

likely, huh? But it it’s frustrating, I have to admit. But

what can you do? This newest pain a bleak harbinger I’m

afraid . . . like the tamaracks losing their needles.

 

So, sorry for getting a little maudlin there, but on this day

to die for I’ve decided to start my last will and testament.

I’ve been reading the Dalai Lama. I like this guy. Smart.

He says that if you have willpower, you can accomplish

anything. Since you appear to be lacking in this area, I

hereby will you mine. I’ve left it to you. Bequeathed it

to you. Got it? Here’s my first item you’ll be needing my

willpower to take care of :

 

Item #1: Peace in the world. Don’t roll your eyes. I realize

that’s what the beauty queen always wishes for, making

her appear simple-minded to cynics. But, really, she’s just

being honest and optimistic, like me. Yes, I realize the

beauty queen has a reason for optimism. The world’s her

pearl. My oyster may seem empty to most . . . like to

my tormentors, including my mother, unfortunately. But

because of you I have hope. That’s my pearl : hope.

 

I realize your first order of business won’t entail the United

Nations, but eventually you’ll have to straighten them

out. I don’t know what they do, but it doesn’t appear

they’ve been effective in their mission of world peace. Not

even close.

 

They’ll tell you that achieving world peace is too complex,

so keep it frickin’ simple for them. I realize there are no

easy answers, but SOMEBODY HAS TO DO SOMETHING!

The direction the world seems to be moving in

now is toward apocalypse it seems. How absurd; “holy”

interpreted to mean, “kill everybody.” What the shit! People

just don’t seem to trust each other anymore. There’s a

cold wind in the branches, blowing hard and slow . . . the

fading leaves trying hard to hang on. “A hard rain’s gonna

fall” and “slow train a-coming” as Dylan said . . . etc., etc.

 

Einstein wrote, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can

only be achieved by understanding.” “Understanding” — a

synonym for “education.” You gonna argue with Einstein?

Yet ignorance is winning! The war happening in our cities

is bad enough, but IS and the other terrorist assholes

have caused a divide of trust around the world. It’s really

irritating. I know you realize, in spite of your attempt at

apathy, that all the horror going on in the world, as well

as here in the US of A, will only escalate, exponentially, if

things don’t turn around. Right? But it’s pretty obvious

it’s going to take a unified effort by the world at large

if we’re going to move toward a universal understanding

and arrive at any semblance of peace in the world. (Quit

shaking your head. No, it’s not going to happen overnight,

but the more of the world that’s at peace, the better the

world will be for our children. Yes, that’s “our” I imagine

you now realize.) If they’re going to call themselves the

“United Nations,” they definitely need a kick in the ass to

get going. I don’t know anybody with a bigger boot than

you.

 

I can just see your face. “Right!” you’ll be crying. “Not a

chance, Shrimp!” Well, sorry for this little diatribe, but

it’s my will and I know you. A hint : the Dalai Lama,

who’s pretty hard to argue with, says we need “truth,

reason, and human solidarity” to fix things. Sounds good

to me.

 

Speaking of solidarity, I hear mother hollering downstairs.

Must be supper. More to come. Sorry.

 

Willy always slunk like a shadow down the hallway in the morning

before classes started. Slipped into his usual seat in the corner,

back row, for homeroom. Peewee, his best friend, rarely

got to school before second hour and left before sixth. Those

times, before second and after fifth, were the dangerous times.

Any of a number of guys, and one girl—Big Betty—could find

him. The most common game, especially before school, was

stuffing Wee Willy in his locker. Willy just let them. No sense

in fighting it. That would be even more embarrassing. He just

climbed in when an asshole decided to have some fun, hoping

that not seeming to be bothered might eventually take the fun

away. When Peewee arrived after first hour, the first order of

business was to check Willy’s locker to make sure he wasn’t

in it. Anyone needing to mess with Willy did it when Peewee

wasn’t around.

 

Peewee had failed his senior year. Twice. Hard to pass when

only attending four out of six classes. He refused to go to his

first-hour World History class. Said there was too much bullshit

going on in the world that he wanted nothing to do with.

He already got an earful of world history almost daily from his

well-read, well-informed, and surprisingly radical and iconoclastic

little friend anyway. Sixth hour was an elective—he

said he elected to go do something else. Peewee was completely

bald—always had been since birth . . . some odd disease—

yet had a dense, impressive growth of beard by ninth grade.

Nobody but Willy knew why he didn’t just drop out of high

school. Get his GED or whatever.

 

The football coach hated Peewee because, being six foot

nine, two eighty, and the fastest kid in school—he could mean

a state championship. The basketball coach drooled over what

his presence under the basket could mean . . . a state championship,

of course. The baseball coach was incensed. He had

seen Peewee playing pick-up games. He could hit the ball out

of sight—literally. The coach noticed that he never threw the

ball as hard as he could because, it seemed, he was afraid he

would hurt somebody. They all, with championships looming

in ulterior fields and courts of their brains, tried to convince

him that he could be famous, rich, make millions of dollars in

any sport he chose. But Peewee, very politely, declined.

 

The principal was in a quandary. He looked up to him,

both literally and figuratively, and admired him. Peewee was

the nicest guy—always respectful and smart—yet he appeared

to have no aspirations, like graduating. The principal had no

idea what to do with him, nor did he understand why Peewee

hung around high school. He thought he should encourage

him to drop out, but he didn’t have the heart, and the teachers

of the classes Peewee chose to attend enjoyed having him in

class. While in most schools students tried to gain the respect

of their teachers, in Oak Grove High School the teachers wanted

to gain Peewee’s respect. They all knew Peewee was extraordinary.

No one knew what to do with him, except Willy.

 

No one could quite accept the fact that a wild-haired, wiseass,

lisping little shrimp was and always had been Peewee’s best

friend. It just didn’t compute to them. When Peewee would

find Willy stuffed in his locker, he’d pull his four-foot-seven

friend out and demand to know who had done it this time.

Willy would never say. Or when Peewee’d swing by to see Willy

after his first hour and find him soaking wet, a Dr. Pepper or

something having been poured over his disheveled noggin,

he’d beg Willy to tell him who the perpetrator was. But Willy

would never give him or her or them up. Willy knew that if

Peewee avenged him, someone would get hurt, and it wouldn’t

be Peewee of course. Willy didn’t want to put Peewee in that

predicament. So Willy mostly stayed as invisible as he could,

like a tiny, innocuous haunt, only showing his real persona,

his wit, his personality when Peewee was around. Nobody, nobody

bothered him when Peewee was around.

 

Willy wished he were Peewee. He envisioned Peewee as

a massive Dalai Lama. Although he frequently couldn’t help

himself, he did try to resist pressing Peewee to make more

of himself, trying to get him more involved in world issues;

Peewee didn’t like it. Willy would ask Peewee things like what

the devil did he think the United Nations did or accomplished?

But Peewee was not in the least bit interested in talking about

the UN. Why did Willy think he skipped World History class?

But Willy knew if he were Peewee, he’d accomplish great things.

Things that needed to be done. Things that he thought Peewee

could do . . . if he wanted.

 

The bell rang and Willy headed to his first hour class—

World History. He found his seat, back corner, same as

homeroom. He slid down in his desk to be hidden by

the back in front of him and closed his eyes, drifting off,

a smile on his face as the lecture on turmoil in Africa

began . . .

 

Peewee interrupted the United Nations General Session. He

strolled confidently up to the moderator who was facing out at

semicircular rows of previously bored but now surprised faces.

He stood next to the moderator, a smallish four-foot-seven

Asian, and smiled out at the nations’ representatives. Everyone,

including the moderator, froze. Time seemed to stand still.

Peewee smiled down at the moderator, a charming, but disarming

smile, and picked up the microphone that had been

poised in front of the now quiescent, quaint man.

 

Peewee’s stature, his imposing presence, captured everyone’s

full, unwavering attention. His bare dome shone like

a beacon in the lights of the assembly hall, his magnificent

beard and regal posture commanding not only their attention

but acquiescence.

 

“Pardon me, gentlemen and ladies,” he spoke with authority

into the microphone, which translated his words into the

native language of each of the assembled representatives. “I

have one initial question to ask. If your answer is ‘yes,’ I will

leave you to whatever it is you do. Before you respond, though,

I would like to remind you that several hundred young girls

in Africa have been kidnapped by extremist guerrillas, most

likely to be used in the sex trade. Nothing much seems to have

been done about attempting to return them to their families?

I’m sure you’ve heard?”

 

Peewee glared out at rows of incredulous faces until their

eyes dropped.

 

“If your answer to my question is no, I ask you for a few moments

of your time. Please write your answer down.”

 

Each member, as if mesmerized almost into a trance, obediently

picked up their pens. A chorus of clicks, like a choir of

caged crickets, resounded in the hall. Peewee’s voice boomed,

brazen and strong: “Do you feel the United Nations has been

as successful as it should be in promoting, inducing, and sustaining

fairness to all and peace in the world?” He gave them

a moment. Almost simultaneously echoing through the hall

was the slight slap of pens set back down, each microphone

magnifying any sounds, including a cacophony of barely audible

grunts and sighs.

 

“Thank you, esteemed representatives. Would those of you

who wrote ‘yes’ please raise your hands.”

 

Not a paw was lifted. Not a breath was heard. Not a head

was turned. All eyes were riveted on the imposing figure standing

next to the moderator.

 

“Well, then, let’s get started,” Peewee said, with surprising

assurance for an interloper. “Please write down the word ‘politics’

. . . all of you—please.”

 

One hundred ninety-four heads bobbed.

 

“Now cross the word out . . . no, put a firm ‘X’ through the

word. Thank you. Now write ‘economics’ . . . thank you. Now

‘X’ that word out.”

 

Peewee waited until all eyes were back on him. “One last

word that may be telling. Some of you may have difficulty writing

this one down, much less ‘X’-ing it out. ‘Oppress’ . . . no, let’s

be more universal in our language—for clarity’s sake—please

write ‘Bully.’ ” Barely audible puffs filled the microphones like

fly farts.

 

Peewee surveyed the faces. “I see some of you have not

written that word. Those of you that have, please ‘X’ it out . . .

twice.

 

“Ah,” Peewee said, smiling almost condescendingly. “I see

several of you still have refused to write that word, much less

‘X’ it out. Are we defensive about the word ‘bully’? Afraid

to, maybe, be considered a bully? I see China, Great Britain,

Russia, and the United States of America, among others, have

assumed defensive postures. Being an American myself, may

I ask the representative for the US of A why she has resisted

writing ‘bully’ down?”

 

“Fool!” exploded a firm, not-so-feminine exhortation. “I

don’t know who the hell you think you are, but I can see where

this is heading. Why don’t you take your insinuating questions

and get the hell out of the way. Let us get on with things.”

 

“Hmm . . . that certainly resembles something a bully might

say.” Again there were startled gasps, more like chicken farts

this time, resounded in the room. “But, Madam, I’m sure your

intentions are otherwise?” The stern madam uncrossed her

arms and rose up, erect.

 

“Just what are you up to? What is this ridiculous game of

writing words and,” she behumphed into the mic, “X-ing them

out? Maintaining peace in the world, in case you don’t realize,

is a highly complex problem, dependent on economics and

politics, you blithering fool. Just what are you implying?”

 

“I’m implying we can simplify the ‘complex’ problem. Do

you feel, Madam and esteemed delegates, that the UN can

operate successfully in, as you dubiously coined, ‘maintaining’

peace, if you and the other delegates have to answer not

to your own consciences but to the politicians and economic

pundits in your countries? Might you agree that each country’s

political and economic desires might be in conflict with

what’s best for humanity?”

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the US delegate

responded.

 

“Let’s take a look at slavery, for an example: good for the

economy, not so good for humanity. I assume you’d agree? I

believe some economies in many parts of the world still rationalize

slavery? You say you want me to get the hell out of the

way so you can get on with things? Are you going to ‘get on

with’ finding those kidnapped young schoolgirls, likely now

sex slaves in Nigeria? A bunch of farmers armed with pitchforks

and shovels are out looking for them. What chance will

they have against the rifles, mortars, tanks, and bombs of the

extremists who kidnapped the girls?”

 

“That’s the obligation of their country’s government to get

them back!” the representative from France hurled into his

microphone.

 

“Oh, I see,” Peewee responded. He surveyed the room.

“Would all of you who feel the girls’ government will get them

back please raise your hands.”

 

The hand of the spirited Frenchman spiked high in the air.

When he looked around and found no other hands raised, his

hand slowly dropped.

 

“Hmm,” Peewee said, raising his brows. “Not only has the

government of that forlorn country not attempted to find and

protect these girls from a horrendous fate, but it has also refused

help from countries that offered. Would the representative

from Nigeria like to respond?”

 

A clearing of a throat echoed in the large hall. “If we accept

help from a specific country, they will expect things from us

in return.”

 

“You don’t mean to imply it’s ‘political’? Political blackmail

to be exact? What are the lives of a few hundred young females

worth in the potpourri of world politics? Is that what you’re

saying?”

 

“Those . . . extremists as you called them . . . aren’t all

Nigerians!” the Nigerian representative exhorted. “They are

criminals, composed of guerrillas from across many borders,

using weapons developed in your United States and other

countries . . . countries we don’t trust, by the way.”

 

Peewee perused the silent room, shaking his head. “Yes—

trust. And, so, it appears it is not pragmatic for any individual

country to get involved. Too much blame, suspicion, and mistrust.

But an impartial, unified effort from the rest of the world

sounds like the ticket. A force composed of all the countries

on the planet to stop atrocities by criminals or misguided fanatics?

Know any organizations like this?”

 

Peewee held the microphone down to the moderator. “We

have condemned their actions,” he claimed proudly.

Peewee placed his hand over his heart. “No!” he exclaimed.

“You condemned their actions? I just bet they’re shaking in

their combat boots.”

 

“I find your cynicism embarrassing,” the US representative,

now seated but erect like she was poised on a stick, admonished.

“The United States will be aligning itself with Syrian

rebels to contain IS, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups.”

 

“Aligning with rebels to gain peace? That only makes contorted

sense in the, would you say, ‘complex’ world of politics?

Align with Syrian rebels rather than the current corrupt government?

Might the rebels be just as corrupt if they gain power?

But with the rebels in power it might serve the US’s current

political and economic desires for a while? Is that it? I’d ask

the assembly if trying to impose regime change, even trying to

militarily force democracy, isn’t an act of ‘bullying’—imposing

by force?

 

“And then there’s Russia, who is, apparently, using IS as a

ploy to bomb these rebels, supporting the current cheesy dictator

that the US is trying to get rid of. So, rather than unite,

we don’t trust each other due to self-serving political posturing.

There’s that all-important word again: trust. Again, it

would appear we need a global partnership unaffiliated with

the economic or political pandering of individual countries.”

 

“Economic and political alliances are needed to defeat our

enemies.” The US representative postured as if speaking to a

child. “Alliances are currently underway in the Arab states

to fight terrorism. It is very complicated. I don’t suspect you

understand.”

 

Peewee grinned. “Well, Mom, sorry it’s so complicated and

I am so naïve. I bet none of these Arab countries will have any

political or economic agendas of their own? Countries that

have been fighting since the beginning of time? Think these

alliances will work?

 

“If I might take an example from history: prior to World

War II, the US allied politically with Stalin. In retrospect, is

Stalin, a dictator that murdered more people than Hitler—his

own countrymen to boot—the example of a leader we might

be proud to have aligned with? A good fellow was this Stalin?

Hmm? Been pals with the Russians ever since?”

 

“It was necessary!” she shouted, banging her purse on the

table.

 

“Oh, but that is my point. I’m implying that war is not necessary

to peace . . . it’s rather a paradox. Might we have solved

a short-term problem with Stalin but created a cold, long-term

one?

 

“It would be safe to say, I’d wager, that we cannot kill our way

out of a war with the Islamic State. Like crushing an anthill:

more will always take their place. Ignorance, I might suggest,

is actually the enemy around the world . . . including in the US.

But the enemies are certainly not these masses of poor, hungry,

hopeless men and women. Dealing with educating and feeding

the poor is a global problem, requiring a worldwide solution

. . . and the long-term solution is not killing. What these poor,

hungry, brainwashed civilians need is stability and security . . .

by way of providing them with education, not guns.

 

“But don’t get me wrong,” Peewee implored. “Any country

that has ever attempted to colonize, and I doubt we have few

innocents in this room, was a bully, forcibly imposing its will.

I certainly don’t want to get into it now, but Ukraine probably

agrees that bullying is still going on.”

 

“We’re imposing economic sanctions on Russia!” the US

representative interjected.

 

“By ‘we’ I assume you mean the US? Now, you are complicating

the matter . . . some countries support the US, some

Russia—most likely for their own political and economic

reasons? The East vs. the West. The EU vs. Asia . . . whatever.

Divisive, not unifying. It’s not a political issue. It’s not an economic

issue. It’s a worldwide solidarity issue, and it needs to

be solved by a unified world by means of a united organization

that stands together. Would the delegate from Russia like to

comment?”

 

The Russian crossed his arms. “No comment,” he guffawed.

“Well, I didn’t think I was being that humorous, sir. Thank

you. I was afraid there for a second you were going to take your

shoe off.”

 

The Russian lost his laugh at the reference to Khrushchev’s

shoe-pounding escapade.

 

“And we can’t have the US and seemingly innocuous countries

like Sweden, for example, selling arms to terrorists. How

absurd. Again, an issue that’s obviously based on self-serving

economics, not creating accord but discord, not unity of purpose

but disharmony.”

 

A soft Scandinavian-sounding gasp, like a herring burp, escaped

a microphone.

 

“We have to put humanity before economics if we are ever

to trust each other,” Peewee continued.

 

“But certainly economics is significant to the world, especially

to developing countries?” the representative from China

interjected.

 

Peewee gazed toward the man seated primly in his chair

and bowed his head politely. “I believe China’s attempt at limiting

the number of children a family can have was motivated

by short-term and, it seems, shortsighted economic gain?

 

“I doubt the killing of female babies to gain economic supremacy

would be condoned by Buddha? Not to mention the

quandary of having a civilization that, by 2020, will have thirty

million more males than qualified bearing partners. What’s

that going to do to the future economy of China . . . much

less the state of mind of all those hapless males?” (What will

China think of transgendering? Peewee resisted a smile at the

thought.)

 

There was silence in the room.

 

“Please, my intention is not to be divisive—much the opposite.

But if you each have your own selfish agenda, there will

always be mistrust. Would you please write above the word

‘politics,’ ‘truth.’ Truth should be the primary tactic the UN utilizes.

It’s quite simple: if you are not truthful with each other,

you’ll never be effective. If you are not here to honestly seek

peace in the world, you simply do not belong here.

 

“Above the word ‘economics,’ please write ‘reason.’ If the decisions

you attempt to arrive at are based on self-interest, is

this reasonable? How can you ever agree?

 

“And, above the word ‘bully,’ please write ‘human solidarity.’

If you, as representatives of your countries, don’t have unity of

purpose, we have no chance of attaining peace in the world.

The representatives of the United Nations must represent the

world, not their individual countries.

 

“Consequently, in bold, capital letters, please write ‘action’!”

“It’s not that simple,” the delegate from the United States

spouted. “Once again you illustrate your naïveté. Solving

world problems is very complex.”

 

“I agree, Madam. Wars have changed. In the past we, each

country, knew who we were fighting. Heck, the British, in

America’s war for independence, even wore red and walked

in a straight line, like they lost the flip of a coin or something,

so the Americans could tell who they were shooting at and

take good aim. Americans were the ones that hid behind rocks

and trees . . . and they won. How can you fight an enemy you

can’t discern? What’s simple and what I really don’t understand,

though, is why we can’t learn from experience: Korea,

Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan . . . wars that can’t be won.

 

“This war with IS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban

is that kind of war. It’s also an ideological war, which is complex.

I can’t tell you how to win that kind of war. That is the

job that needs to be taken on by a unified world. Extremists

apparently don’t mind dying a ‘holy death.’ Since we cannot

and should not even attempt to kill them all, it seems we need

to change their idea of what ‘holy’ means. Attack the root of

the problem: ignorance.”

 

“A dream,” came a voice from the far right corner in the

Palestinian guest contingent. “A pipe dream.”

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

Tim Munkeby can be reached at tmunkeby@aol.com. Munkeby is on the advisory committee of The Reporters Inc. Click here to read his bio on our Team page. 

 

Will can be purchased at www.timmunkeby.com or through the Seattle Book Company.

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