I Faced with America’s seemingly boundless military expansion, the United Nations placed a full embargo on the United States of America in 2014. This drastically destabilized their already fragile economy. While the United States made preparations to survive the sanctions, turning their attention to the crops, livestock, and forestry within their own country, they could not reverse the routine habits and life-quality expectations that made them Americans. Despite the complete penetration of Alaska and a crusade to tap into the oil reserves under the Gulf of Mexico, oil demand heavily outweighed the supply. Oil prices sky rocketed and the general public attempted to cope but could not adjust to life without it. Fruits and vegetables became expensive and locally distributed. The transportation of materials and energy throughout the vast plains of the mid–west and the rolling hills of the mid-east became impractical. Now, in America of 2022, the remaining population has almost exclusively moved to the coasts- unified by and reliant on the fishing industry. II John Hess sits at the end of his dining room table smoking his tobacco with a sense of jovial pride as he watches—with his mind’s eye—his daughter and wife weave baskets in the main room. John Hess, almost seeming too big for his house, is surrounded by clocks and jars full of peculiar eclectic items. Leaning back and undoing the top button of his collared shirt he places his large blonde forearm on the table, happy at the industry of his household. “An’ how’r the lohves of my life doin today?” he says, with teeth glowing in the warm candle light. He leans back into his chair as if to recline into the entire room. “Ohh I don’t know John, fine. It would be a bi’ better if I had some meat to cook though.” He glances accusingly at a black and white picture of his father holding a seven foot marlin on the mantle. The picture, accompanied by a gold frame and hand-crafted trinkets, looms there- his father immortalized as a successful provider. III Nick Brennan sits in the corner of his rented shed in darkness. The soft moonlight glazes the edges of his window. Worn-out coals crackle to stay alive, barely keeping a hue of light over the fish bones remaining over the coals. Tightly wrapped in a hand stitched green and red quilt he sits there, rocking back and forth while contemplating. IV Through steel gates and up a winding path stands the house of Alexander Peer. Inside, past the decorated and well lit entrance hall, beyond the kitchen and its crisp smell of intensely cooked pig skin, further down the hallway fortified by portraits of Peer forefathers, there is an emerald painted door with a black knob where Alexander Peer sits at his desk furiously writing. V The soft yet full aroma of the ocean seemed to coat the lemon sunshine that pours onto my back through the only window in my attic-bedroom. I swing my arm up and latch my hand on the windowsill so I can pull my head into the cascade of sunlight. With one blink I’m wide awake. The trick is to not get used to the lulling warmth of the sun, to let the brightness pour down momentarily. Sitting there with my back arched and only in my boxers, I zone out for a moment, immersed in a despondent sensation. I slowly put on the same clothes I wear most every day and stand tall, cracking my back in the same motion. Then it slices through me like a butcher knife- the idea of feeding a starving man. The idea of putting raw effort into a meal that is going to be appreciated more than anything else evaporates the anxious feelings that had been bubbling to the surface of my mind. With a quick pace I go down the narrow and winding staircase, skipping steps and more falling down them than walking along them. Spewing out into the kitchen I take a moment to stand up properly and look out onto the beach, surveying if anyone was already here. After I see that I’m not being watched, I quickly throw an open sign over the kitchen area. The restaurant isn’t enclosed by plaster, glass, or any store front really. It’s Concrete, concrete tables around concrete pillars that support the concrete apartment above my concrete restaurant with a concrete view of the beach and ocean. Hell, what it lacks in comfort it makes up for in reliability at least. Hurricanes have tossed almost every other store along the beach-front at least once. My restaurant may not be the best place to go if you’re a wandering browser, but my restaurant is a….destination. When the stores here were being bought up, I think I found the diamond among the glass. Sounds of the tide coming in and seagulls finding their breakfast serenade the beach-front while I throw wood in the grill. Then upon looking up, I notice three men sitting at one of the far off tables. A burly type of fellow with a buttoned shirt, the other a scrawny sort with jeans and long sleeves, and what looks to be Alexander Peer, dressed in full gentleman attire. “There’s so many things on this menu, I hardly know ere to start,” John barrels in complimentary amusement. I wash my hands quickly and make stride towards their table. “Hello gentlemen, my name is Steven Briggs, welcome to my restaurant, can I start you off with anything?” “Oh yes lad, please a gin and tonic,” John pleads. “Irish Whiskey,” says Nick from the back of his throat. “Ye-uh, any kind of juice you have sir, mango, banana, pineapple, orange, apple, in that order of preference- please.” Mr. Peer says gleaming above the top rims of his glasses. “Right away,” I say in pleasurable obedience. As I turn… I relish in the pleasure of serving such a rounded sort of people. No doubt they have important matters to discuss this morning, and my food will fuel the event! Behind the stove I pour out their drinks and head promptly back. “Here…here….and here” Nick says as he points about the chart laid on the table. “Just just take your drinks from the waiter; you you can’t spill on these charts.” “If it concerns you, I am also the owner and chef of this establishment, not just a waiter.” I say in polite defense. Mr. Peer turns his eyes onto me, gripping me tightly with his gaze. “Steven Briggs was it?” Mr. Peer intrigues. “Yes sir.” I say holding a smile. “And how long have you been running this establishment,” he says, as if casting a large line in a small ocean. “Going on 10 years now, before the dollar became kindling for my stove.” I say in pride. The other men let out a little chuckle at the conversation and continue reading the menu.“Three Hurricanes since I bought this place, and it’s still standing.” I’m not sure why I said that, but it just came to mind. Perhaps it was subconsciously loaded into my repertoire of conversation concerning my business. “Well that is an accomplishment. But I see here you are lacking in what one would consider the most essential category of a sea-side restaurant- the fish.” He remarks, picking up speed and enunciation with every word. Taken a-back I stammer, preparing to throw this man onto the sand. Then a cool breeze comes through the table and we fall silent. “I know!........I know what I will have! I’ll have the kelp noodles with a side of radish sauce.” Mr. Hess says, as if he had solved the greatest mystery of our time. “Uh yes, sure thing, what of you other gentlemen?” I coyly ask. “How would you like to assert yourself a little, Steven?” Now eyes locked with Alexander Peer, I inquisitively approach him with body language. “We are going to be taking my boat out later today to check my fishing nets. I have a mile of net set up and Mr. Hess here could probably use a hand hauling in the line. I’ll be driving and Nick here will be my navigator. Assuming you have electricity back there, I’ll stock your freezer with fish Monsieur Briggs, whatdya’ say…the American Dream eh?” He says professionally, as he extended out his right hand. VI The ship, christened the SunFish, floats on the dock east of the disjointed village. Spotlessly white and extensively plated with Solar Panels, she buoyantly rocks with the current. John Hess is busy loading tools from land onto the boat while Mr. Brennan is in the cabin slowly using a divider to measure nautical miles and guarantee a route that will only take a day. Steven Briggs slowly walks up the dock with a duffle bag, waving half-heartedly at the ship in general. “Today, we get some meat lad” Mr. Hess yells from somewhere on the deck of the ship. While walking onto the boat Steven looks up and sees’ Mr. Peer standing behind the wheel, staring at the ocean horizon. VII Miles off shore in the calm open water, the SunFish pulls up to a red buoy almost soundlessly. “That’s it men!” Captain Peer shouted vigorously. “Grab the ends of that line and latch it to the stern! We’ll trail the entire line and ball up everything that’s caught!” He said triumphantly.With a large hook, Mr. Hess fished out the buoy. Mr. Briggs pulled out the attachment line and sewed it onto the SunFish. Squinting, Briggs looked at the shadowy helm and gave a thumb up. In a deep powerful hum the SunFish began to move. The solar panels covering every available surface of the boat reflected the mighty shine of the vessels power. “What’s gonna happen here is that we’ll drive along the net-line with this end in tow to create a ball of fish caught in the area, we gotta reel in the slack to lower the drag- keep the ball tight.” Mr. Hess said in a deep whisper to Mr. Briggs.Ablaze in solar energy, the SunFish took off. Within minutes the imprisoning net took form behind the boat, the brim of the ocean water bubbling with the sight and sound of writhing fish. This behemoth of an undertaking is the largest scale of production that the coast has seen in the past 10 years. Within an hour the entire stretch of net had been reduced to a contained sphere of fish, of food, of hope- of capital. The boat’s engines cut off and Captain Peer powerfully walked down from the helm. “Now that’s fishing men!” he thundered throughout the boat. With sly ease the Captain threw a small satchel full of gold at Mr. Hess. “You’ll find that quite satisfactory.” The sea air swept through the boat with the distinct aroma of their large haul. “I believe I’ll collect my fish when we re-harbor Cap’n.” Briggs proposed assertively. “Well, Hess and Brennan have already been paid. Isn’t that right Mr.Brennan?” He agitatedly yelled into the cabin. “Such a recluse that man.” The shadow of the boat’s helm momentarily covered the Captains face as he went on. “We have to anchor here, for my customers.” The captain said as a matter of fact. “I recommend taking your fish now. There’s a large scooping net stowed away inside the hull. I’m sure they won’t go bad by the time we re-dock.” The Captain took out a rag and wiped the beading sweat off his forehead. The two men, taken-a-back, looked at each other. “Sir, why are we waiting out here.” Hess politely asked. “Simple good man, my customer prefers to meet offshore.” “And who would this customer be,” Briggs interjected. “Not that it is any of your concern,” the Captain barked. “But…the U.N.” “THOSE FUCKERS?!” Hess yelled. The Captain remained silent. “The people who set up the embargo, the people who watch us squirm to live like savages. Why would you sell to them? What do they even need fish for? Our town barely survives the winter, how can you do this?” Briggs said in fury. “Watch your tongue. This is my ship and I am the captain. On the ocean, one should make it their business to know their place Mr. Briggs.” The three men stared at each other for a moment in silence. “I’m an American Mr.Briggs and Mr.Hess, I am pursuing my own interest in a capitalist’s manner. The people in town, while there is something of a demand for this fish, largely save their coin and mostly attempt to barter for my goods, barter with pitiful services that I have no need for…The U.N will buy these goods all at once for my weight in gold. The decision is clear. I will not sacrifice my adherence to the American way for sympathy. I am seizing the American Dream!” His dull green eyes pulsed ferociously with every syllable. The sound of the mighty fish splashed without pause in the background. “You dare speak about the American Dream…” Mr. Briggs gritted his teeth. “This is the same sea where our forefathers departed Europe, escaping the greedy forces that overbearingly inflicted their will upon our people. The American Dream is not a doctrine meant to justify those in power. The American Dream is not a platform for inadvertent oppression NOR is it meant to be used in the name of depriving citizens of health, security, or FOOD.” Briggs was writhed in frustration. “Captain,” Mr. Hess said softly. “Would you please get me a beer while I watch this traitor.” “ HAHAHA, Of course! Let’s celebrate today.” The Captain went victoriously inside. His muffled voice could be heard from the deck, “Brennan I swear, will you live in darkness your entire life…be more like Hess- man-assert your principles.” Coming back out onto the deck, he proudly handed Hess his beer, and looked up at the sun admiring its power. In that instant Hess broke the beer bottle over the ships side and slit Alexander Peer’s throat. VIII Hess’s wife continues nagging as she enters from the other room, “Really must we live like this,” Mrs. Hess continues, “without a single piece of meat to cook…your daughter is still developing you know.” With a grin he speaks kindly, “Lohve, don’t worry about a thing…we’ll go to the restaurant tonight.”
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