"I don't trust this globalization," the man in a cowboy hat says, aiming his rifle sight across the Mojave desert, "Look at what Oregon got out of it."
"Well, nobody's talking about going to war with a country on the other side of the world. That was their mistake. Who knows anything about the fucking Japanese? It scared the shit out of them and they went all fascist. That's the problem with invisible enemies."
"But what is globalization if it's not fighting wars with countries on the other side of the world? I reckon that's about it. Even if the bullets are eee-co-nomic."
A head bobs out in the desert, out away from the canopy where these two men sit.
The rifle snaps.
"Did you hit him?"
The man in the cowboy hat shakes his head.
They have stars on their lapels, Texas Rangers, Immigration Division.
"Poor bastards," Zebediah says.
The man in the cowboy hat shakes his head again, "they're a bunch of goddamn fanatics is what they are."
Zebediah shakes his head, "These guys? These guys are trying to get away from the fanatics."
"These bastards are trying not to starve. Goddamn polygamists have too many kids and they live in a goddamn desert and the extras come in here and take good jobs away from good Texans because they work so goddamn cheap."
The rifle snaps again.
"Hah," says the man in the Cowboy hat, "got him."
Zebediah shakes his head and raises his own rifle, looking down the scope to try and confirm the kill.
"I ain't gonna take no shit from no fucking Quaker out here shooting Mormons either."
Zebediah looks up from the scope, "That's uncalled for."
"I thought the whole problem with you people was that you wouldn't shoot people."
Zebediah shrugs, "Times change."
Times had changed, Zebediah knew that much personally. He hadn't even been given a decade of life on his family's farm. The stark contrast of life in exile had been too much for him for another decade. Zeb hadn't started out shooting at Mormons, he started shooting at the Militia.
"Shit got real, didn't it?"
"Not in the Confederacy."
"Well," the man in the cowboy hat shrugs, "That really depends on where you go, doesn't it? Sure, Texas is fine, but Georgia and Florida are owned piecemeal by different Caribbean companies, and in Kentucky or Oklahoma, goddamn, you might as well be in Nebraska."
The cowboy takes a shot out of his flask and offers it to the Quaker who passes on it, leaving the cowboy grinning, "Hell if you went to D.C. Today you'd find that old Governor of yours all holed up in the mayor's office. If you could get past the security. But then again if a UAS hit squad could manage that then I'd guess he'd be at the World Court now."
"It's a publicity stunt," Zeb says.
"Sure, the UAS wants him in prison now, but who do you think built all those factories in the first place? Sure, Governor Stein militarized the industries, instituted a draft and prosecuted strikers as deserters. Sure he blew up the military budget hunting down Amish and putting them to industrial work or torturing them. But who did he do it for? Who benefited? Some asshole in Lima or Caracas."
The cowboy has sat through this with his eyebrow raised, now he says "You still crack me up with that rifle."
Zeb looks down the scope across the field. The desert shimmers in the boiling sun, Zeb pulls away from the scope and says, "Can you confirm what I'm seeing out there?"
What Zeb sees, hustling across the desert. Through what the driver had hoped would be an unmonitored stretch of border, is a Lexus four door sedan. Speeding across the desert at breakneck pace.
"Shoot it?" Zeb asks.
"Car like that? It'd be a shame."
Zeb shakes his head, "Stupid Texan."
"All I'm saying is that someone in a car like that, you shoot them up and someone's gonna come looking."
"The tires at least."
"Well," the cowboy shrugs, "I suppose that is a possibility."
He takes careful aim.
"The problem is you'll never hit the tire, a warning shot through the windshield is better."
The Texan doesn't say anything, he just exhales and lets the rifle bark out his response.
"It's just going too fast," Zeb says before the tire explodes and the car spins out wildly in the desert.
"Well," he continues, "nevermind."
Now they leave the shade of their tent, wandering out across the desert, marching with their rifles pointed upwards. The man in the Lexus is already out of it, inspecting the damage, pulling his trunk open. He has taken off his suit coat and rolled up his sleeves.
Zebediah turns to the Texan, "Is that a..."
The cowboy hushes him and starts jogging forward, "Excuse me, sir."
The dark skinned man looks at him confused for a second, "Hablamos Espanol?"
The cowboy is suddenly quiet, Zeb catches up to him, and looks between the two of them.
"Hablamos Espanol?" the man with a tie repeats, Zeb gives him a dumb look, "Bobo gringo."
"Sorry," Zeb says.
"My English is pretty rusty." the tie says, but his accent is practiced and smooth.
The cowboy falls all over himself, "Sir, we apologize for the tire, it's just that there are so many of those fucking Mormons trying to hop the border here."
The man in the tie shakes his head, "That's what I get for trying to cut out a couple hours. I have a flight out of Lubbock in four hours. The problem with building an airport in Deseret is that it gets run by fucking incompetent Mormons and they couldn't get me back to Bolivia, so I have to cross the border quick, do you need my papers?"
The rangers are taken aback, "No, not necessary," the cowboy says, "Can we help you with the tire?"
Zeb starts jacking the car up and the cowboy starts pulling the spare out of the trunk saying to the man with the tie, "I'm terribly sorry about the tire, this fucking Quaker made me do it."
The man in the tie grins, "It's a rental, don't worry. Besides, it was a hell of a shot."
The cowboy smiles bashfully, daring to make a brief eye contact with this fabled creature.
"So what were you doing in Deseret?"
"I was arranging for the construction of a sneaker factory. You can't imagine how cheap those crazy bastards will work for."
"Oh, I've seen them do it," the cowboy says, laughing. This is a rare opportunity, he refuses to waste it. He will bask in every second of this man's presence, "I bet the picking's even better over there."
"Absolutamente," says the man in the tie.
The cowboy just grins as he tries to put the man's tire back on, lining up the lug nuts and looking expectantly at the Quaker until he starts screwing them in.
"As I said, we're really sorry about all that. You know, times are tough."
The man in the tie has a confused look about him, as though times are not tough, as though it's all cheap labor and good times for him. He just wants to get back to La Paz or Lima or Caracas to spend his outrageous profits hitting on women at bars who are easily impressed by his money. After an awkward moment he smiles understandingly.
"You know," he says, "My family was originally from Virginia. We worked on somebody's plantation. Grandad left in the twenties though, headed south. Land of opportunity."
And he just gets in his car and starts speeding off, leaving the Quaker and the Cowboy quiet in his wake. The cowboy shakes his head, staring at it.
The Quaker laughs, "you got awfully excited about all that."
The cowboy shrugs, "Well, I don't think there's been a negro in the CSA in a half century."
Nicholas Wilczynski was born and raised in the United States Virgin Islands. His earliest and most cherished memories are of prolifically crafting graphic novels and poetry in the solitude of homeschooling in the Charlotte Amalie. He moved to North Carolina as a teenager, where he eventually graduated from a Christian High School, where he moved on to short stories and political articles (published on various websites) and was involved in the newspaper. For a short time he was a sponsored Halo player and wrote one of the most read blogs in Pro Halo, in addition to anti-war Halo fan fiction published on various websites. He currently studies Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and continues to write subversive prose.