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Syndic Literary Journal


This Is America

By Baltimore Writer Charles Rammelkamp

I’d just come back from the Marathon gas station on Cass Street, filling up the tank for our drive back to Ann Arbor. It had been a nice Thanksgiving weekend with my father, despite the pandemic; or maybe it had been a good excuse to just hole up with him at home. Good food, good conversation. He was just hanging up his landline phone when I entered the house. Anita had packed the bags, and we were about to load up the trunk and return to our regular life.

“That was Chris Solari,” Pop said. “She was just telling me that Clint Marshall got a visit from some authorities or other for sending a threatening email to that Republican canvasser who certified the Michigan vote last Monday, Van Langevelde, and didn’t go along with Trump’s plan to steal the election.” He shook his head in disgust. “Not sure if they were state or federal.”

“Wow,” I said. “I just saw Clint at the Marathon. We both pretended not to recognize each other. He was getting a Slim Jim and a package of Skittles when I went in to pay for my gas. I wonder if he’ll be heading to jail.” Of course, I knew he wouldn’t be, but it felt good to speculate, just as I liked the vision of Trump being led out of the White House in handcuffs.

Pop was shaking his head. “He won’t get much more than a scolding, I’m sure, but after those other knuckleheads who plotted to kidnap and ‘try’ the governor for ‘treason,’ you can’t be too careful. They’ll let him wriggle free. This here’s A Mare-kuh, after all.”

“What would Amerigo do?” I asked rhetorically, and I got the chuckle I was aiming for.

“You mean, before or after he rolled over in his grave?”

I couldn’t help needling Pop. “But wasn’t Vespucci as ruthless as all the other conquistadors? The guys like Columbus who killed all the Taino in the Caribbean and Florida?”

“Ah, that’s the great stain on the America, isn’t it?” Pop said sadly, again wagging his head. “Slavery and the genocide of the indigenous people, all for greed, a lust for power and ownership. In his will, Amerigo did leave five slaves to his wife.  He spent his final years in Seville, died in 1512, on February 22, by the way, which you may remember is Washington’s birthday, a little factoid to tuck away for a cocktail party.

“But yes, America was founded on removing the indigenous people. Here in Michigan, too, of course. The Ojibwe, the Ottawa, and yes, the Potawatomi, namesake of our little town, Potawatomi Rapids.”

“Well, as you say, this here’s A-Mare-kuh.”

“And let’s try to keep it that way, eh?”

We all laughed, and Pop hugged Anita. He and I shook hands.

“We’re spending Christmas with Anita’s brother in Syracuse, but we’ll try to get back here early next year.”

“Happy New Year!” he cried. “Let’s hope 2021 is an improvement over this one!”






Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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