Dawn was naked and sweating, trying to hold an Amazon warrior pose. I was sketching her, my pencil like a wisp of wind following the curls of her hair, the gold light dancing on her round belly, the curve of her toes. This was all I’d ever need, a beauty that blocked out the rude noises of the real world.
“Peter!” she shouted.
I jumped. My eraser bounced across my lap, followed by my pencils. I tried to grab them but instead smeared the drawing. Ruined.
“You really don’t hear a thing I say!”
I was about to get mad, but then my bones started to ache. I could feel when she was going to cry the way an old mariner senses rain. If I said anything contrary, the tears would pour down.
“I just told you I quit my job!”
“Oh, heck.” I said, gathering up my pencils “Why’d you do that?” If it wasn’t for her job slinging Kombucha at Cafe Bliss, we’d never make the rent. My comic, ‘What Would Teddy Do?’ about a time-traveling Teddy Roosevelt was a hit on Tumblr, but it brought precious little income.
She dropped the pose and slid into her silk kimono. “One of my customers is Damian Grout.” I blinked. “You must have heard of him. From Flake Magazine.”
Flake was a lifestyle rag with verticals up the wazoo. Grout had gotten rich with clickbait articles like “I went on a steady diet of cocaine and donuts for a month and this is what happened.” (Spoiler alert, they nearly died). Many of his writers had wound up in the hospital, so many that my friend Greg postulated that Grout was part of a baby-boom conspiracy to thin the herd of Millennials.
To be fair, Greg is a paranoid who lines his Chullo hat with tinfoil, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
“Grout told me to write an article about my coffee and cigarette diet.”
“How original.” I said.
“That’s not what I would call an appropriate response.”
“Grout’s an opportunistic douche.”
“You are so not-affirming!” She stormed into our micro-kitchen and grabbed a bag of potato chips.
“How do you know he’ll publish it?”
Between munches of chips she said “It was published today. You read it!”
I made a mental listicle of my clickthroughs on ‘Flake’. One, about a perpetually dieting barista and her tall, geeky artist boyfriend struck a real chord. Funny because it was true. “Shit. I’m ‘Rocky’?”
She nodded.
“You told the entire world wide web that Junior is … bent!?”
She wrapped the bag shut, wiped her face with the back of her hand and said. “We gave you a fake name.”
“My friends will know! If the guys at the comic book store see it …”
“Like they’ve never seen Junior.” she sat on the windowsill. The short kimono hiked up, her bare ass pressed against the glass. The perv across the street, as usual, took notice.
I shut the curtains. “No, they haven’t seen Junior. I don’t randomly pull my pants down like some people.”
“I can’t help it, I’m an extrovert.” she said. “Privacy is dead, Peter, you know that. The minute you go online, you give it all away.”
I slouched into the couch. “I expect Facebook to spill my secrets, but not you. “
She sat beside me and softly put a hand to my cheek. “You draw me all the time. Why can’t I write about you?”
“I draw your inner beauty.”
She jumped back, as if my skin was suddenly leaking acid. “Inner beauty? Are you saying I have a great personality?”
“You do.”
“You think I’m fat!”
“What? When did I say that?”
“Do you think I’m fat?”
The ultimate relationship paradox. I shouldn’t lie, but I couldn’t tell the truth either. I started an a-z mental listicle of every possible euphemism for fat, and was at my favorite, ‘buxom’, when she said. “You’re pausing!”
“Umm… you’re not TAFT fat, but …”
“Oh my God!” she covered her ears, ran into the bathroom and slammed the door.
“I love the way you look!” I shouted to the door. She started to snuffle. This was a major derp, something our relationship might never recover from. My mind raced – what would Teddy say? What any red-blooded male would in this moment of desperation.
“I can change.”
The snuffling stopped. She opened the door.
“Will you stop saying mean things about my boss?”
“Do you really want to do this?”
“Yes!” she said.
“Then — Dare to be great!”
Her kimono fell to the floor.
You might have noticed that we fight a lot. And she wins.
You might also think I need to acquire more social skills. If you think I’m bad now, you should have seen me when I first got to New York. I was the hick from Durango, in a place where ‘cowboy’ is just another word for psychopath. Everything I said or did was wrong. My social life consisted of getting drunk every night at the dive bar downstairs. Dawn literally dragged me out of the gutter, got me out of my shell – she even gave me the idea for my comic.
Teddy said “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
I believe that 100%, but in this day and age, you just can’t say things like that out loud. Half of your audience will say tl: dl (too long, didn’t listen). The rest will tell you to check your white male cis gender privilege. Hence, my comic. When Teddy shouts “Charge!”, his Rough Riders bravely follow, slashing
Venusian lizard creatures, renegade Greek Gods and charging Mastodons.
Dawn and Teddy – my only escape from the grey twilight of Hipsterdom.
When Dawn started working for Grout, all of my bad guys took on a suspicious resemblance to him. This outlet for my ‘macho aggression’ kept me from complaining when he told her to write about living on nothing but Nutella for a month. Or the dark and sweaty details about her past relationships. But when he gave the assignment to write about Meth and she wound up in the hospital, I lost it.
She said. “Don’t use angry words, tell me how you feel.”
“I’m feeling anger!” I slammed a fist onto her bedside table. The jello flopped onto her IV’d arm.
She almost didn’t take me to the office Christmas party after that. The #flakegala was one of those A-list things New Yorkers will pay thousands of dollars to get into, a kitschy artisanal bash in an abandoned Brooklyn warehouse. She was willing to take me but only if I promised not to hit Grout.
This year’s theme was ‘White Trash’. New Yorkers love to make fun of rednecks. We’re the only group that hasn’t jumped on the identity politics bandwagon yet. Half the crowd showed up in cowboy hats, just like the ones we wore in Durango. We use them to keep the sun off our necks, but here it was oh-so ironic. All the food was white, fiercely bland and covered in crumbled cornflakes; Mac and cheese, white sausages and a cauliflower dip that tasted like sour liver. The punch was moonshine-spiked, served in jelly jars.
Dawn wanted to introduce me to Grout, but we couldn’t get near him. Paparazzi were swarming, pushing us out of the way, saying ‘move it, we want him’. So we sipped punch and watched him holding court.
I could see why he’d become a lifestyle Guru. The guy had started writing for magazines back in the ’60’s, he must have been old enough to retire, but his face had no wrinkles.
A huge hipster beard hung from his lips like a sleeping black ‘possum. Not a touch of grey. The only sign of age was his skin, so pale it was almost blue. He’d tried to color it up with a dusting of rosy powder.
“He wears makeup.” I laughed.
“Hush.” Dawn said. “Don’t be transphobic.”
Grout clanged his fork against a punch jar and called the room to attention. For such a short guy he had a booming voice. The crowd immediately quieted, listened.
“Tonight we celebrate the fortune that can be made from entertainment, reaching out to the Zombies of the internet and bringing excitement to their dull little lives.” Everyone politely clapped. “We do that by telling the unvarnished truth. Confession is good for the soul. That was the philosophy that made my family’s fortune, in the Sanitarium founded by Dr John Kellogg. He believed purity of the body brings purity of the soul.” Grout raised his artisanal jar and said “Now open up your brains and let the contents spill out!”
Dawn grabbed my hand and squeezed hard (an extra warning not to misbehave) then stood next to Grout.
“Ah! Our first confessional will be from Dawn, one of my best writers. 90% clickthrough!”
More applause.
“I couldn’t have done it without my boyfriend, Peter.”
“Oh, yes, Rocky Raccoon.” Grout shouted “Enjoying the party, boy? Just like back home in Doo-ran-go.”
So he gave me that name. Figured. I toasted him and said “Yippie Kay yay”
“In honor of Peter, I want to tell you about our first date.” Dawn said. She then went on to describe, in detail, about how I threw up all over her and peed the bed, stuff I barely remembered and had since tried hard to forget. I turned away, face burning, trying to ignore the live-streaming laughter around me. I grabbed a cornflake-bran canape and crushed it in my hand.
Finally the story was finished. Grout put a paw around Dawn, squeezed her shoulders and roared. “Hey, Rocky boy – Did you know that cornflakes and graham crackers, these foundations of the American diet, were all created to stop us from self-pollution…?”
I turned towards him, literally seeing red.
“Self pollution. You know, pocket pool, cleaning your rifle, polishing the banister…”
More laughter, phones recording all of it.
“Well, Rocky, stay away from the cornflakes. You need to self-pollute more often, straighten out your Junior there.”
I couldn’t hold it back any more. Security was fast, but I’m light-speed when I’ve got a full head of steam. My fist landed flat on Grout’s powdered cheek as his rent-a-cops piled on top of me.
As he plopped on his ass, Grout shouted “Kill him!” They kneed me in kidney, knocked the wind out of me, punched and kicked but stopped short of inflicting actual death
“You promised to be good!” Dawn wailed as they put on the cuffs. As they radioed for the real cops to come, she knelt beside me and whispered. “That pure animal rage – it was mega – hot! Wait until I get you home.” Her crying eyes switched to passion in a millisecond, like she was flipping a switch. I may be a rube, but I know when I’m being played.
“Fuck you, Dawn.”
“W..what are you saying?”
As security dragged me away, I said “Darlin’, I’m saying goodbye”
I probably should have gone to jail for that punch, but the hive mind is our judge and jury these days. It collectively concluded that it was high time someone took a swing at Grout. Grout didn’t agree, but every time he slammed me, his numbers went down and mine went up. So he dropped the charges, saying “I don’t respect you, but I do respect a good hit count.”
Have to admit, he was right about that. With hundreds of new followers I launched a Kickstarter and earned enough to move out of Greg’s place.
Sitting at Cafe Bliss, putting the finishing touches on that month’s comic, I got a phone call from Dawn. She’d been calling for months and I’d been sending them all to voicemail, but a full bank account, like a full stomach, has a knack for putting you in a good mood. I decided to take it.
“I called to tell you why I broke up with you.”
“I broke up with you.”
“That’s not how I see it.”
“Teddy said, “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
That got her quiet. All I heard was flies buzzing. Something was mooing.
“Where are you?”
“Grout’s hometown, in the New Jersey Pinelands. They have a Summer Festival. I’m covering it.”
“The Sanitarium?”
“Yeah. It’s so rural. Everyone is quiet, even the kids. Is that normal for small towns?”
“Yeah.” It was so noisy in Cafe Bliss that I had to turn the phone’s volume to the max. On the table next to me, a Park Slope mom diapered her screaming baby. I turned my chair to try to block out the smell of milky poop. “Count your blessings.”
“Quiet gives me a headache.”
“You’re used to the City. Remember last Christmas when you came to Durango?” Two blocks away from the airport, she had a panic attack, grabbed my arm and said “Where are the taxis?” She didn’t let go of me until we got back on the plane. I smiled, remembering how nice it was to hold her close.
“I liked your Mom.” she said warmly.
“She liked you.” More buzzing and moos. “Why are you calling?”
“I told you.”
“No, really.”
She sighed. “I’m scared. When Grout gave me this assignment, I did a little research. He sends a writer out here every year. After the festival, they all disappeared.”
“Grout chews up reporters like he chews that crappy dip.”
“They weren’t fired, they just – disappeared.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m a journalist, of course I’m sure. You know how he’s so pale – well, everyone here is like that. And they hiss.”
“I think they’re vampires!”
I wanted to laugh, but my bones had a familiar ache. Yeah, she’s an ex, but I still couldn’t stand to hear her cry, so I tried to be serious. “Do they come out during the day?”
“Then they’re not vampires.”
“Listen, I went to the Commissary to pick up some Advil. All they had was aspirin and some stuff called Dr. Black’s Ear Powder. The boxes were so old the labels faded into grey.”
“Maybe nobody likes that store.”
“It’s the only store in town. I don’t think people here eat. Food.”
“They call it the Commissary?” I was an Army brat. Commissaries are only on military bases. I Googled ‘commissary military cornflakes’.
There was only one link, to a copy of a book that had gone out of print in the sixties. The book was titled ‘Extended life: CU109 Project: MID’. MID was the Military Intelligence division, the early version of the CIA.
I clicked on the next page. Everything was redacted except the title: “Cornflake Utopia”
She screamed so loud I nearly dropped my phone. “What?”
“Jeez, I nearly had a heart attack. What is it with girls and bugs?”
“There’s millions of them! Literally! I have to get out of here.”
“Don’t hang up -“
She hung up.
Back at the apartment I spent about an hour trying to find more about ‘Cornflake Utopia,’ but had no luck.
Greg wrote a comic called Darkweb, a manga about a super-hacker duck. His duck-hacks seemed genuine, so I called and told him about the CIA’s secret project.
“You’re telling me this – on your phone??” he said. I could hear the facepalm, and he said. “Hello Mr. NSA man, don’t mind Peter, we’re just testing your system.” He hung up and texted “CONTACT ME VIA ENCRYPTED APP!!!”
I sent him everything I had when Dawn called. This time, she was breathless – full-on panic.
“I went to the hotel clerk, about the flies, and she was so sweet, smiling, saying ‘oh, how awful that must have been for you. ‘ And while she’s talking, a fly landed on her lip and…and…she ate it! Chewed on it like it was candy. That’s not a small town thing, is it?”
“Fly-eating? No.”
“Please come get me!”
“Dawn, I…”
“I know, I was awful to you, but please!”
“I don’t know where you are. The Pinelands are a huge place. Can you get your location on your phone?”
“There’s no signal here. I’m using Grout’s car phone. He’s got one of those giant 80’s things.”
“What did you see on the drive up?”
“You know I hate cars. I took an Ambien and slept the whole way. Wait, here comes the chauffeur.”
“Ask him for directions.”
“No!” she screamed.
“You don’t have to bite my head off.”
“I don’t want to go. No!” There was a lot of thumping, heavy breathing and voices that didn’t sound nice or quiet.
“Dawn?” I shouted to to her little red hang-up sign. “Dawn!” I screamed. My heart was thumping so loud, it was like someone banging on the door.
Actually, someone was banging on the door. Greg, in his chullo, shorts and flip flops, stumbled into my apartment. His face was red and dripping with sweat.
“I ran… all the way. They killed my phone! I spoofed and virtualled all the way but they tracked my IP…”
“Who got you?”
“The NSA, Grout, some combination of the two.” He stumbled to the sink, slurped from the faucet and said. “I tunneled under cover, went into places so dark, even Snowdon didn’t dare to tread. That’s where I found your Cornflake Utopia.”
“What is it?”
He fell onto the couch. “Grout’s hometown was founded in 1901 by acolytes of Dr. Kellogg and C.J. Post, clean-living nuts extraordinaire. They built a Sanitarium in the Jersey woods and started experimenting with formulas for eternal life. They thought the key to eternity was a squeaky-clean bowel, so they built an enema machine and pumped gallons of electro-charged water through themselves.”
“Very. Water enemas didn’t get them squeaky enough, so they tried mercury. And radium. When the military got wind of it, Project Cornflake Utopia 109 was born. Then, sometime in the late nineteen-twenties, people started disappearing from nearby towns. The Military closed the whole area off. There were rumors of Vampires, Devils, Martian invasions. Zombies.”
“Holy crap.”
“Guess how old Grout is.”
“Umm.. 60?”
“One hundred and forty six.”
“Damn. Zombies. We’ve got to get Dawn out of there.”
“We can’t. Even in the most top secret reports the location is redacted. As far as Google and your GPS are concerned, the place doesn’t exist.” He got up and took another gulp from the faucet. “In the Pinelands, she’s one small dot in a million acres of jack.”
Teddy said “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” I ran down the stairs.
“Where are we going?” Greg said as he ran behind me.
“Nope, nope nope.” Greg said as he sat beside me on the D train, swaying, hunched over my laptop. “You remember your previous experience with his security forces, don’t you?”
“He’s the only one who knows where she is.”
“When they went Matrix on Smith’s ass, they rangered up with a shitload of guns.”
“We have our wits.”
He looked up from the screen. “Ha!”
“Teddy says “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.””
“I repeat. Ha.” The train stopped. He clapped my laptop shut and followed me up the stairs, to 6th Avenue. We stared up at the towers of power. The biggest on on the block was Flake Lifestyle.
“You heard them dragging her away. Whatever they were going to do, they’ve done it. Sorry, man, it’s too late.”
“You don’t know her like I do. She’s resourceful.”
“You mean manipulative. You guys didn’t get along.”
“If I don’t try to save her, I’ll never forgive myself. You with me?”
Greg sighed and opened up the computer. “I’m not coming up. But I’ll do what I can.”
Greg gave me thumbs up. I got Grout on the phone.
“I know what your game is, Grout, and I know how to tweet it.”
“Make my day, Rocky boy, it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you spell my name right.”
I walked to the door. The rent-a-cops blocked it. “If I post it from your account, pretend to be you, it will matter. The CIA put a lot of effort into covering up your Cornflake Utopia. If they think you’re tweeting about their coverup, well… you know what they do to whistleblowers.”
He sighed and gave the signal. Security stepped aside.
I walked through the high-reaching corridors of power thinking that Greg was right, this was a doomed quest. Grout had everything in his corner. All I had was a serious grudge against him, the thousand plot lines I’d made up to defeat him, and the hope that one of those ideas would work in real life.
As if he could read my mind, Grout smiled when he saw me. Then he leaned back in his cherrywood ergonomic chair, holding a bowl of that sickening dip.
“That’s not cauliflower.”
“Sharp as the proverbial tack.” He said as he slurped some up. “This is Hirnmussen, an old German recipe. Pureed calves brains with just a scoche of truffle.”
“Zombie food.”
“Zombie. Such a vulgar term. We are Immortals. The government forced us to subsist on this, to refrain from eating live brains. Do you have any idea what it’s like to live with no real desires, no flavor of life?”
“But you have squeaky clean bowels.”
“Indeed.” He looked at his phone and smiled. “Ah, my twitter account is back. I’m afraid those will be your last words…” he dialed security.
My heart jumped up into my throat. I turned and saw the empty hallway. Grout saw it too. He redialed. No one came.
“My IT guy is better than yours.” I said, sighing with relief. “I think he gave them the night off.”
Grout frowned, opened the top drawer of his desk. “Time for plan B” he pulled a pistol out. “Sorry, Rocky, but this is a showdown.”
I put my hands up and backed away. “Just tell me where she is.”
He laughed “Why should I?”
“You like Dawn! You don’t want her to be eaten!”
His smile faded. “I’ve liked a lot of people over the past century. And they’re all… gone. The citizens of the Sanitarium let me leave our happy hellhole on one condition – I have to send fresh meat home for every festival. If I betray them, they’ll pursue me for all eternity.” He switched the safety off and took aim. “Immortality sucks, but it’s better than the alternative.”
“Don’t!” I shouted, but he fired. The shot thundered through me, my body swiveled, swayed. But I didn’t fall.
I looked down. A widening circle of blood stained my shirt.
“You should be dead” Grout said.
“I know.”
Teddy was shot by a wannabe assassin when he was in the middle of a speech. They say he didn’t even notice he was shot until he felt the blood on his fingers. But he refused to go to a hospital, insisted on finishing the speech, saying “it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose”
His would-be assassin, dumbfounded by Teddy’s resiliency, disappeared into historical oblivion.
Grout was dumbfounded too, which gave me the second I needed. I pushed his ergonomic chair towards him. He smashed it with a surprisingly strong undead arm.
“That’s your best shot, a chair?” He laughed, then leaped towards me, knocked me to the ground. “Your generation…” he spat with fetid Hirnmussen breath “… is the worst.”
I grabbed some of the broken wood, shoved him away, then slammed him down, pressing the splintery stake to his eyeball.
“Maybe we are.” I said. “But we do know how to kill a zombie.” A single drop of black blood quivered from his eyeball, beaded around the wood.
“Take the GWB to the Jersey Turnpike, heading south.” He gasped. “Drive to exit 5, then take the Kellogg road jug-handle. The Sanitarium is off the first dirt road you see, on your right, can’t miss it.”
“How do I know you’re telling the truth?”
“Oh don’t be petty, you can check it on Waze.”
I pulled the stake away from his eye.
“For all the good it will do you!” He kneed me in the stomach, slammed me where it hurt most. I doubled over, fell to the ground. Blood poured from the bullet hole onto my shirt. He licked his lips and said “Mmm. So long since I’ve had fresh meat.”
With trembling, weak arms, I tried to back away.
Then, with a huge crack, his neck snapped sideways. He dropped like a sack of rotten potatoes. Greg staggered behind him, wielding my solid state laptop like an axe.
“Is he dead?” Greg shouted.
A pool of black blood gathered under Grout’s severed neck. He stared blankly at the wall.
“Good. Excuse me while I vomit.”
I held my head out the car window. The cool breeze kept me awake, distracted me from the dull ache in my stomach.
“How are you still alive?” Greg said as he drove.
“Maybe I’m not.”
“Gah! Don’t say that!”
I smiled and touched my stomach again. It was hard, cracked. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my phone. Shattered by the bullet, it slowed it down, saved my life. What would Millennials do without our phones?
I wrapped the wound as we pulled onto the dirt road. “If you survive, you and Dawn have to get back together.” Greg said.
“We fought all the time.”
“They were entertaining fights.”
The Sanitarium, weedy and grey, looked spooky as shit in the moonlight.
“Come on.” Greg said, helping me out of the car. We stumbled towards Grout’s limo. A pair of chubby legs hung out the driver’s side door.
“I’m sorry, man.” Greg said, but I pushed past him, steeling myself for what I’d find. I opened the car door further and saw the dead chauffeur, sprawled back on the front seat. His head was bashed in. A blood-soaked ’80’s phone lay beside him.
“Dawn did that?”
“I told you she’s resourceful.”
“You think she ran into the woods?”
I nodded towards the Sanitarium. There were lights on inside.
Following the winding hallways to the Post Auditorium, we heard Dawn’s voice and a weird low hiss. She said “… then I woke up in the morning and the bed was soaked with urine!”
“Damn. How many times is she going to tell that story?”
The Auditorium smelled like dead deer and leather. It was filled with about hundred living dead. They were pale, lightly hissing, dressed in clothes they hadn’t changed for about a century.
“The clickbait queen, entertaining zombies of all kinds.” Greg said.
Dawn waited two beats for her punchline and said. “And I told Peter, if you want to stay, you’re going to have to clean yourself up.”
They grumbled and hissed. Dusty pumps and Buster Browns slid on the carpet as they shuffled forward, hunger brimming in their reddened eyes.
“I think she told it too many times.” Greg said
They were getting bored, and their sure-cure for boredom was fresh meat. I pushed the curtain aside, got on stage and shouted. “Dawn! Stop telling that stupid story.”
“Peter!” her eyes brightened until they caught sight of my field-dressed wound. “What happened?”
“I got shot trying to save your dumb ass.”
“Oh!” she cried, brimming tears and sympathy.
“No, don’t cry, yell at me! Fight!”
I nodded to the crowd. They had stopped shuffling and were standing, waiting for her comeback.
“Oh. You…you’re so stupid! No common sense at all!”
“I’ve got more sense than you.”
“Macho cowboy!”
Her eyes were glittering again, but with excitement. She was getting into this. I knew how she felt.
“Bent-dick” she screamed.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one grey lady take her husband’s crackling hands. Remembering the lively days of their marriage.
Dawn shouted “Drunk pisser!”
“Manipulative bitch!”
Greg put a hand on Dawn’s shoulder. “Guys, it’s time to go.”
She pulled away and shouted at me “Entitled white male!”
“Solipsistic narcissist!”
“Those are the same things! Don’t use big words you don’t understand!”
“Let’s go!” Greg said.
My mind buzzed with comebacks. “No, we gotta keep ’em entertained.”
“You did. They had enough.” he said.
I turned to see an empty auditorium. Our audience was slowly dragging their withered old feet out the door.
“I was just getting warmed up.”
Once we got to Greg’s car, the adrenaline that had kept me going faded. Every part of me was in pain. I lay flat on the back seat, afraid to move.
Dawn sat beside me and rested my head on her lap, stroked my forehead. Her soft touch, her warmth, the love I once felt for her, all came flooding back. The pain faded.
She was searching for the nearest hospital on Greg’s GPS. “Found it.” she handed it to Greg, then leaned over me. Her curls tickled my nose. “Was that fight as good for you as it was for me?” she said.
“Yeah. Sometimes you gotta vent. I think that’s how Teddy did the things he did.”
“What do you mean?”
“He never held back, he was always fired up.”
“No, you’re wrong. Everything he did, he did out of love. Love for his family, love for his country.”
“Ok.” I smiled “Why don’t we agree to disagree.”