The Arms Dealer

I guess it started a few months into the meditation craze, you know, the latest one. People just got more mellow.

As a defense contractor, I found it unnerving but it didn’t worry me at first. Sales were good and people who aren’t big on violence still love money and cool techno-toys—even if they’re lethal. I said to myself, “Marty, stay calm. They’re still buying. It’s not as if peace is about to break out.”

But it got worse and my inner pep talks started to sound desperate. Yeah, something was happening. Something bad. People were polite, even in traffic. They were patient. They were nice to each other. It felt creepy.

But there were still bad guys. God bless them. Fearful, angry, armed. Paranoid and self-righteous. And they were out to cause havoc.

My heroes.

There were armed robberies. Shootings. Murders. Every week, new bloodshed. Just like the good old days. I awaited the angry backlash. Demand for revenge. Kill the enemies, the enemies within and the enemies abroad.

But the calls for revenge never came. The response was “Are these people crazy? Sit quietly for a few minutes. Get it out of your system. Violence is stupid.”

No anger. No calls for revenge. Just due process and imprisonment. Horrifyingly, no call to arms. And then the violence subsided. What’s the point of assaulting or killing anybody if you don’t even get much attention for it? Violence nearly disappeared and the world became a boring happy place.

Of course, our buyers are government officials. They were still in power, and they do the spending and that’s what counts, right? But even they seemed lethargic, perhaps depressed. I heard a lot of tired defense department officials say, “I’ll get back to you.” But they never did.

So I’m here in the park on a bench. I’m not religious but I find myself praying. I’m praying for things to get back to normal. I’m looking into a clear sky when I see this swarm. I’m getting excited thinking, “incoming missiles!” But they just turn out to be a flock of birds.

What’s the use?