Seed Packet and War’s End

Butternut Juggernaut

The Morning of the Massive Chomping Mouth Bombing That Left Even the Cherry Blossoms in Tact from Cookbook For The Poor

Little Oko was absolutely silly about the latest war. When her mommy told her about General Yoyo’s successful campaign against the Americans, she almost fell off her bicycle laughing.
“That’s funny mama. Tamari? And it flooded Detroit? Hee, hee. But nobody got hurt, right?”
“Of course not dear. Your uncle was there and he said that the Americans laughter was so loud that they almost surrendered. The whole city was pointing up to the sky, shaking their heads and roaring like a million tickled tigers.”
“They can’t surrender mama. At least not until they retentiate.”
“That’s ‘retaliate’ dear,” said Oko’s mother. “And don’t worry. The Americans will have their chance. General Yoyo has sent warning to our city and several others to spend this week laughing as much as we can. This afternoon we will go with Aunt Misuko to the foot ticklers. We should leave early. There will be a long line.”
“Oh mama, that’s funny. What do you think the Americans have planned?” asked little Oko, still holding her belly after the good laugh about Detroit’s tamari flood.
“I don’t know dear,” said her mother, “but if it’s American, it will be a tremendous attack, and dangerously hilarious.”
“Okay mama. I’ll laugh as often as I can. I bet the teacher has something funny planned for us at school today.”
“Wonderful dear, but come right home for the foot ticklers. Oh yes, I almost forgot. General Yoyo wants us to watch a special on channel three tonight at seven.”
“Oh, but mama, I have crane practice tonight.”
“It will be canceled dear. The TV special is mandatory.”
“Mama, that doesn’t make me laugh.”
“No, Oko, it doesn’t. But this will honey,”
Oko’s mother made a cross-eyed look, and put a finger in her nose. Oko smiled, but didn’t laugh until her mother ran over to the garbage can and thrust her head into it. That got the child’s attention, and she pedaled off to school, giggling and happy.
Oko’s mother spent the day with her ears glued to the radio while she cleaned the bedrooms, washed the rock garden and rolled fish cakes. There was news from California. A huge fleet of airships had just left San Francisco, and was expected to reach the Japanese mainland by dawn. Oko’s mother shuddered at the newscaster’s detailed description of the American fighting force. She tried to hold back her laughter, but soon realized that it was still okay to laugh, for the rules of war did not take into account either side’s goofy behavior until one country was actually under attack. That was a relief. She laughed often until Oko came back from school.
At sunset Papa came home looking very tired but happy. Oko and her mother served the fish cakes with boiled rice and brought him his slippers and lotus pipe. After supper the girls performed a hastily rehearsed skit which managed to wake papa from his sleepy state. He laughed and laughed at Oko’s portrayal of a Detroit woman lugging her garbage out the front door and discovering a tamari river gushing down the street. He begged his wife to repeat General Yoyo’s declaration of  War to America. That made him laugh until he doubled over onto his tatami mat. The family laughed. Outside the whole community laughed. That evening at 6 p.m. all of Japan was laughing. So far General Yoyo’s plan to rid his nation of its laughter was going along fine. If his people could control themselves during the American’s bombardment, then the World Council would declare Japan victorious and America would be responsible for the messy clean up.
However, the General knew his people’s weakness. They had a sense of humor. If the Americans thought a tamari flood was funny, then how easy it would be for their generals to get Yoyo’s people to laugh. Oh the relentless enemy could try almost anything, and it was bound to be a great success. A chicken with a parachute. Just one chicken floating down on a city could be the ruin of the Japanese people. They are so easily amused. Russia won the previous war, even without an invasion. They sent a mailer to every Japanese citizen with a photo of the Czar dressed in drag and holding a bouquet of tulips. That did it! The people couldn’t control themselves and the War Council sent word to General Yoyo that his country was defeated and they were responsible for the clean-up of a million tons of cherries and rice balls cluttering the streets of Saratov. In fact, Yoyo lost every war since the beginning of his reign. The Great War of Pigs-In-A-Blanket lost to tiny Denmark. The several bombings of flaming carved dog feces wrought by that mental Pitter from Germany. Yoyo lost to Guatemala, a country without an army, but big on coconut cream pies. He lost to Togo, France, Italy, Iraq, and committed his greatest blunder in India, where he had a sure thing after Nemru’s massive fighting force of sixty million yogis froze to death in the high peaks of the Himalayas. That actually depressed the Japanese people. Yoyo acted quickly and suppressed the information that each yogi carried a whoopee cushion in his knapsack. It meant almost certain victory. Yoyo and his staff were ecstatic, but they weren’t thinking strategically. In fact, they weren’t thinking at all. Yoyo had vegetarian Calcutta bombed with foot long meatloaves and plastics cruets of ketchup.
At seven o’clock the entire Japanese nation sat down in front of their televisions. Oko and her family snacked on a bowl of kombu chips laughing just a little in expectation of what the General had planned. Was he going to make funny faces? Would he and his staff have a stand up competition? Were there going to be any skits or clown surprises? Papa held Mama’s hand. Oko sat on the floor at their feet holding the bowl of chips in her lap.
A stern-faced General Yoyo appeared on the screen.
“My dear people, I’ve asked you to join me tonight for a special reason. As you know, the Americans are heading our way, and by tomorrow morning will deliver their retaliation.”
“In the past we have aired these television burlesques to exhaust what laughter is left within us. In the past we have tried all sorts of tricks and surprises. Yet, no matter how hilarious our pre-bomb gathering, we managed to burst out laughing at our enemies’ offensive. We have failed to keep quiet in all of our wars since rerecorded history. Our people are just too silly. However, in this war the stakes are higher than usual. If the Americans win tomorrow, our representatives have agreed to relinquish all the beautiful Cherry Trees that don the clean cities and countryside of Japan. It is our greatest gamble to date. It could be our greatest failure.”
“What you are about to see is an actual account of a horrible and brutal crime to humanity. It is an ancient video that the emperor kept buried in a secret chamber beneath his tea room. He brought it to me early this morning begging that his people not suffer the loss of their national tree and its glorious blossoms.”
“Against the desires and a unanimous vote of my staff, I have decided to air this ancient film. The Americans will have been here and gone by tomorrow afternoon. I hope that they leave without our beautiful trees. Good night.”
Oko started to laugh. “Oh Mama, I think the General wants to make us all sick from the giggles.”
“I don’t know dear. I’ve never seen General Yoyo with such a serious look.”
“Yes, he does look very grave,” said Papa, “Which means whatever he plans to do will be twice as funny!”
Oko laughed again, and then she stopped laughing…

A small girl in the forest gathering blossoms
A flash of light
A pool of bubbling liquid by a rock
A man and his son holding kites on the shore
A flash of light
Their screaming shadows painted on a rock
Limbs, torsos and heads thrown into a fire
The entire city is on fire
A hot wind melts their faces
Eyes and ears drop on the ground
An American in the cockpit laughing
The American president smiling
New York City erupting with glee
The War is over
Blood pours from the ear
of a child on a tricycle
and then she stops breathing

Oko was crying. Papa was angry. Mama ran outside and waved her fists at the night sky.
At dawn the Americans dropped six megatons of chattering teeth with gums on Oko’s city. You could hear a lone rooster’s crow. Japan had finally won a war.

 

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