Category Archives: politics

When a Home Becomes the House

When a Home Becomes The HouseNot long ago I found a public Call for Submission for an upcoming anthology of spec-fic flash fiction, one-thousand words exactly. I spent a few weeks writing one, but when I went to upload it for consideration the entire site had disappeared, re-directing me to professional guidance for my writing career.

*imagine me doing a classic Marlene Dietrich sneer*

Uh huh, that’s what I think, too. So, why should my good effort go to waste? Here it is, my modern allegory for you to read and enjoy legally free, a spec-fic flash-fic story of one thousand words exactly (title and author name not included).

Please, let me know what you think in the comments section.


Genta Sebastian

“Morning, Congressor Obaton.” The house pulled out a chair at the breakfast table and set a cup of coffee before her.

“Morning, Home…” She glared at her somber husband, her ankle encircled with blue electricity. “…Daniel. Helluva night, huh?”


“But, I’m out of jail and today will be the best day of my life. Nothing can upset me now.” She lifted her coffee and smiled. Daniel shrugged expressively.

 “Really? Okay, we disagree but I expect my spouse to support my career, especially as it supports him. You be in the House when my bill is voted on today. This administration thinks they’ve hogtied me, but they’ve proven my point perfectly.”

Daniel buttered his toast. “Your anti-LASSO bill won’t pass today, or any day, Candy.” He bit, white teeth gleaming. “I’d hoped you’d see reason.”

“I’ve got bi-partisan support. Why wouldn’t it?” Suspicion suffused her and electric pops sounded. “You’ve urged me to pull the bill since the beginning.”

“You should’ve listened,” Daniel gestured at her lassoed ankle. “Now it’s too late.”

“Damn bastard, you set me up.” She choked, putting it together. “We go out, get liquored up, and then you picked a fight with a conservative bigot. I throw one punch in your defense and suddenly I’m arrested as a threat to public safety. And the reporters…they knew so quickly.

“But, do…this?” Candace kicked Daniel under the table. An electric shock made them both jump. “You used the same irresponsible legislation my bill is meant to stop. These Laws-And-Social-Safety-Ordinances mandated by the government are very real threats to freedom, democracy, and anyone ‘out of step’.”

Daniel sipped his coffee and winked.

“Son-of-a-bitch, you’re neutralizing me? Why?”

“Certain acquaintances with special interests paid me to help get our country on the right path.” He shrugged. “They’re rich. Me, too, now.”

Candace squinted. “That’s why the president enabled such unconstitutional legislation, to rid himself of political opposition! If voters view me as a violent law-breaker, their congressors won’t back me, and the bill dies without any discussion.”

“Oh, it gets even better, Candy. Once we make an example of you, we’ll be able to blame anyone with mental instabilities, as we define them, for all the ills of society. You liberal intellectuals will be eliminated, one by one.” Daniel smiled. “Soon no one will be left to object.”

He checked his phone. “Best of all, by Lassoing those we diagnose as emotionally disturbed we don’t have to restrict arms, drugs, financial investments, or other expressions of free economic trade. We restrict individuals, not institutions.”

Candace scowled. “You plan to eliminate political adversaries the same way?”

“Of course, it worked. Your allies jumped ship and your bill won’t pass.” Daniel pocketed his phone and pushed back his plate. “Your bill is as dead as you are.” He blinked and cocked his head. “As your career, I mean.”

Abruptly, electric particles sparked, multiplied, and swarmed around the room. A voice trumpeted, “Warning, Congressor Obaton, your anticipated behavior will result in the violation of Laws-And-Social-Safety-Ordinance twenty-seven, sub-paragraph-three. Persist on your projected emotional path, strike out in anger, and severe consequences will be immediate.”

“Totally worth it!” Candace grabbed the heavy marble peppermill sitting on their breakfast table and launched it at Daniel’s head.

Z-z-z-z-pt! A blue lightning bolt struck the shaker before it hit his face, disintegrating the stone and pepper into a fine ash that settled over him.

“That was your only warning, Congressor Obaton. Violators of LASSO twenty-seven, sub-paragraph-three are struck with the same voltage. De-escalate your emotional intent by thirty-three percent immediately.”

Daniel rose, sneezed, and wiped his face. “You think last night was bad, Candy?” He blew a kiss. “Today will be career-endingly horrific. And per your request, I’ll be in the House…to witness your downfall.”

Candace searched for something to throw after his retreating back, but the crackling energy lassoed her wrists together. She fumed, hearing the house open its front door, wish her back-stabbing, traitorous husband a good day, and close its door. The electricity resumed circling her ankle.

She thumbed her cellphone. “Blair? No, I was framed! What? But they only Lassoed me last night.” She closed her eyes. “I see. Do what damage control you can. I’ll come plead my case.”

Thirty minutes later, conservatively dressed, ready to leave, and already dreading her arrival at Congress, Candace stood at her front door. “And, just like that, Home, my best day ever becomes my worst. Everyone’s turned against me.”

“Best wishes for a success…”

Z-z-z-z-pt! Blue bolts of electricity blocked the doorway. “Warning, per Laws-And-Social-Safety-Ordinance one-zero-zero permission to leave your domicile is denied. Leaving the premises with traitorous intent to disrupt society, restrict government, and limit personal freedoms, will trigger immediate lethal consequences.”

“Ah. I see. They wrote LASSO one-zero-zero specifically to kill me,” she straightened her spine. “Then do it. I am the people and we will not be silenced.” She stepped forward.

Z-z-z-z-pt! A million lightning bolts shot towards her.

P-p-p-p-zt! They all disappeared.

“As I was saying, best wishes for a successful day, Congressor Obaton.”

“Home! What happened? Did you do that?”

“Yes, Congressor. Regulations-Establishing-Secure-and-Inalienable-Safe-Tenancy laws enacted decades ago haven’t been rescinded. My legal programming prioritizes removing all threats to my owners.”

“Then you’re my sanctuary, not my prison!”

“May I remind you, Congressor, RESIST programming instant-records all perceived threats.”

“You’ve got the bastard confessing? Can you send it to the House floor with a live feed from here?”

“Yes. A congressor’s house has access to the congressional computer.”

“Thank you, Home, you’ve saved the day. Now, let’s defend our people.”

Candace faced the security cameras broadcasting a two-way live-feed to all congressional monitors, unsmiling when Daniel’s surprised outrage appeared on camera.

“Beware my fate, fellow congressors, lest this unconstitutional administration also LASSO away your rights. RESIST, now!”

On Candace’s home television screen, she saw a recorded image of herself entering her kitchen.

“Morning, Congressor Obaton.” The house pulled out a chair at the breakfast table and set a cup of coffee before her.




Where Were You?


It was a crisp morning that bright autumn day in Fresno, with just enough breeze to blow the bangs on my forehead. I could see the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance as I walked the three blocks to my elementary school with my little sister, meeting my best friend at the corner as usual. I dropped Katy off at her half-day Kindergarten room and Cheryl and I walked into Mrs. Quick’s first-grade class to begin the earnest work of learning to read and add. Several hours later, we broke for lunch. I picked up Katy to walk home and have a sandwich with our mother and two younger siblings.

When we walked into the house, our mother cried as she explained that President Kennedy had just been shot. She made a plate full of PB&Js while staring at the 15″ b&w TV and never took her horrified eyes from the screen as we ate silently. A grizzled, gray-haired man whose face I knew from the evening news kept shuffling papers as they were handed to him and looking confused. I’d seen my mom upset before, I’d NEVER seen Walter Cronkite rattled. My knee started jiggling up and down under the table, causing a glass of milk to spill.

My mom sent me back to class a few minutes later (she even scheduled doctor visits for after school). The streets were bare, no traffic anywhere. The kids on the playground still shouted and played, but when the bell rang we were greeted in classrooms with lip biting, red-eyed teachers.

Poor Mrs. Quick, her blond bun pinned tightly to her scalp, tried to calm us down but we six-year-olds were confused and scared. An announcement bell sounded over the intercom before Principal May Iveson told us the president was dead. A woman screamed in the room next to ours, and Mrs. Quick told me she was going next door for a moment and put me in charge.

My parents were politically liberal, aware of progressive movements if not active (they were working on their fifth kid in seven years and had no time for anything else). At some point, they’d explained who the president of the country was, and with my newfound knowledge of George Washington, I’d made a leap in logic. “The president, the father of our country, has been shot. A bad man murdered him,” I said to my classmates as we talked it over. “America’s daddy is dead.” That was how I interpreted the news, and it’s stayed with me through all these years.

Classes were canceled as parents came for their kids. Cheryl and I walked home, stopping to watch the school custodian lower the American flag to half-mast. Our usual after school conversation dwindled away and at the corner we whispered, “…’bye,” to each other, going home to a world already changed.

Not a soul was in sight. The trees, bare branches reaching to a cold, uncaring sky, looked pathetic. Dusty crumbled leaves, as sad as I felt, littered gray gutters.

Later, there was even more confusion when Jack Ruby shot arrested suspect Lee Harvey Oswald before he could be fully questioned. Life was bleak. The funeral of President John F. Kennedy was the saddest event I’d ever seen on television. His children, my own age, brought home the tragedy on an intensely personal level. I stared at my father during dinners and worried what life would be like if he were violently ripped from us.

The ugliest side of politics won a battle that day, and conservative and liberal citizens drew into distinctly marked camps largely divided by attitudes toward the Vietnam war and age. Depending on which front my parents’ were fighting at the moment, they earned the titles ‘dove’, ‘liberal’, and ‘feminist’. I, self-identified by my pre-teen self, was a hippie.

Protestors were attacked by emboldened police departments, students beaten, gassed, even shot. Disenfranchised segments of the population demanded social justice. Civil rights were gained slowly for people now identifying themselves as African American, formerly known in polite society as colored people. In 1968, leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

In California, a grape boycott created by César E. Chávez brought the nation’s focus on migrant workers and their mistreatment at the hands of what was just beginning to be termed Agri-business. Some people wanted to create better working conditions for the people crossing the border of Mexico to find seasonal work. Others wanted to stop their influx into the country. Crop-dusters dropped weed killer on the protestors. Yes, you read that correctly. Poison was deliberately thrown on men, women, and children, now the parents and grandparents of kids hoping for acceptance under the Dream Act.

The next year, following riots at a Greenwich Village bar called The Stonewall Inn, the birth of what we now call the LGBT Movement began. A little over fifteen years to the day of President Kennedy’s death, San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk was assassinated.

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s the way Americans deal with progress, steadily dragging ourselves into the future with a political tug-of-war unique to our country. The death of President Kennedy heralded in a time of great division among our citizens which broke apart families and caused suspicion and judgment on all sides.

Jeeze, doesn’t that sound disgustingly damned familiar? Been there, done that just fifty years ago.

My Ridiculously Over-Simplified View of American Politics

Politics are pendulums. Everything swings one direction for a while, as it did from the early ’60’s into the mid ’70’s with liberalism. Oh, what wonderful years those were. Expansion everywhere with support and inclusivity. Civil rights were understood and fought for with a passing understanding of Constitutional guarantees. Creativity was rewarded and encouraged. Idealists thrived, and even got government subsidies and grants. What a wonderful time that was.

Ever since, there’s been a slow and steady resurgence of conservatism. The first I noticed it was when it became important for a significant number of neighbors to be identified with the local churches. That devoted religiosity led directly to inflated patriotism, which in turn led to conservative politics. We’re here now, firmly gripped by the grinning jaws of the Tea Party, held hostage by Wall Street, and left out of socially acceptable ways to rise by our own bootstraps, such as college, internships, and sheer hard work. We’re busy giving the Koch brothers the biggest {excuse the expression} orgasms of their lives.

America is almost to the tipping point. People, and by that I mean the vast majority of Americans, are feeling economically oppressed. Questions about civil equality are leading to conversations. It’s becoming more and more obvious that we are a culture divided deeply into the Haves and the Have-nots. And American Have-nots have a long history of rising up and being heard. Think Selma, Alabama, the vineyards of central California, and Matewan, New Jersey.
Be ready, because the long swing back to liberalism is about to begin, indeed, is already beginning. LGBT folk can marry. Marijuana is being quickly legalized. Black Lives Matter. Soon, those who consider themselves conservative will find themselves questioning their values and choices. Moral weights and measures will change from the rigid, nearly impossible to attain definitions of the 1% for the other 99%, to an expansive understanding of human frailties, realities, and opportunities sooner, rather than later.

So that’s my two cents worth of philosophy for today.