Donnie really liked the way the sun glinted off the well-polished barrel of the giant gun.
“Oh, boy!! Look at the size of that gun! I want one of those!” Donnie pointed his teeny hand at the turret gun on the Sherman Tank. “Can we get one of those, Daddy?”
“No, don’t be ridiculous. I’m taking you off my shoulders now, ‘Shroom. You’re too old … you’re too heavy to be up there. Here you go.”
“NO, NO, NO! I can’t see from down here. Put me back on your shoulders Daddy!”
“Shut up, or I’ll give you something to really complain about.”
“I just want to see that big gun, Daddy! It’s cool. I want a tank so I can shoot whoever I want!” Donnie tried to jump up for a better look but it didn’t help much.
Fred laughed. “You idiot! These are soldiers. They don’t get to shoot who they want. They shoot whoever they’re ordered to shoot. And, by the way, people are shooting back at them! What idiots!”
Fred Junior frowned to hear his Dad say this. It seemed to Fred Junior that the soldiers were brave. But he didn’t want to be slapped by his Dad, so he kept quiet.
Donnie felt frustrated. He wanted to get a better look at the long, massive gun. It made him feel good, special, powerful, strong. I want a big gun when I grow up, he thought and for a split-second, he nearly smiled a real smile. He stopped looking at the parade; he only caught a glimpse here and there between the legs of those in front anyway. He found it was more fun to fantasize about a future in which he himself got to shoot those big tank guns at people. He began to chuckle as he saw, in this mind’s eye, himself driving that big Sure-Man tank down the street wiping everybody out on both sides. And, then, the movie in his head took a horrible turn for the worse. People were shooting back at him!
He began to feel a warm trickle down his legs but he caught himself before he really soaked his britches. The warmth felt kind of good actually. The November wind howled through the Brooklyn streets. He hoped there were more guns. Maybe Daddy was right. It was better to have other people kill for you, because that way, if somebody shot back, only your soldiers would get hurt; not you. There were no more big guns in the parade.
This was a boring parade to Donnie. But Donnie Boy’s mind marched on. He wondered what it would be like to just read about your soldiers killing people. Would that really be much fun? He’d make them take pictures! But would they kill women and babies for him? And take pictures of it? Donnie Boy shivered. He wasn’t sure how much was the chill in the air, because now his pants felt cold, not warm — or whether it was the thrilling idea of watching a huge hole appear in a nice young woman who was holding a baby. Of course, when she exploded, she would drop the baby and maybe it would fall on its head and die right away. Maybe more fun would be to just have the baby lie there crying for its mommy but no-one would ever come. The baby would be too stupid to know its mommy was gone forever. Donnie Boy let out a chuckle.
Fred Junior looked back at his younger brother, and asked, “What’s so funny about jugglers?”
“Huh?” Asked Donnie Boy. “Jugglers? What jugglers?”
Fred Junior shook his head. “The jugglers right in front of your eyes! Never mind. Here comes another band and their majorettes are first. Watch. You might learn something.”
Donnie didn’t care much about the jugglers or the bands. He was hoping there would be more guns. Yes! Uniforms coming down the street. They…they were soldiers but they were old. And worse, they had no guns at all! “Who are those soldiers dressed in blue? They are old. And no guns? Only two of them had guns — just rifles. And three of them carry flags. What’s going on? What good are soldiers without guns, Daddy.”
Fred Senior was enjoying his view of the majorettes kicking their legs high in the air showing off their crotches. He ignored Donnie’s question so Fred Junior answered. “Those are Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW. They used to be soldiers a while ago. It’s called a ‘Veteran’s Day Parade.’ Watch the majorettes.”
Donnie shook his head. He was still puzzled. “There’s only five of them. What’s a foreign war? Why did they fight in a foreign war? Daddy? Why did they fight in a foreign war?”
Fred Senior glanced back at his son and shook his head. “Hey, ‘Shroom, I’m watching the crotches. Ask your stupid questions later! God, I’d like to bust her up!”
Fred Junior took pity on his younger brother though and answered as best he could. “These guys probably fought in Italy, or Germany, or North Africa in World War Two.”
Donnie frowned. “But why? Why go fight in South America?”
Fred Junior tilted his head and stared at Donnie. “South America? What are you talking about? They mostly fought — I mean it was a World War, but not much in South America. They were fighting against the Nazis. The Nazis wanted to rule the whole world.”
Donnie thought the idea of a war all over the world would be pretty damned cool. “Well, what’s a Nazi?”
Junior sighed, “Don’t you know anything, Donnie. Hitler. You know. And Mussolini. Hitler was trying to kill all the Jews and take over all the other countries.”
Donnie thought for a minute. “Okay, but what’s wrong with that?”
“What wrong with that? Are you serious? You don’t go around killing people just because they aren’t just like you! Geez, Donnie.”
“Well, why not? We kill ants because they’re not like us. And we kill grasshoppers because they’re not like us. Why not Jews?”
“Because, Donnie, they’re human beings, not insects. And for that matter, we don’t kill ants and grasshoppers just because they’re not like us. We kill them because they’re pests and eat our food.”
Donnie frowned. “The ones outside aren’t eating our food. But they pop nice when you squish them.” He paused as he took in the pained look of disgust on his brother’s face. “Right, Junior?”
“Donnie, Donnie, Donnie. We don’t kill things just because we like to hear them being squished. What is wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with you!? There’s nothing wrong with me!” It isn’t fair, thought Donnie. Fred knows more than me because he’s been in school longer. But he always makes fun of me.
At that point, Donnie pinched his arm hard enough to hurt. He did it between the end of his shirt sleeve and his glove so it would be visible. “OW!” He screamed. “OUCH! Junior! Stop! Stop! You’re hurting me.” Donnie held out his wrist, where a nice welt was forming from his pinch.
Several others in the crowd were staring at the boys and several in the crowd murmured, “Hush!”
“Leave your brother alone, Junior. You can hurt him all you want — but not till we get back home. Understand? Now, stand there quietly and watch the free underwear show and if I have to speak to you again, I’m driving you home and I’m going to belt whip you both!”
For a time, they watched in silence. Donnie shivered from the cold. Donnie wondered whether his brother really didn’t squash bugs just for fun, or if that was something he just said so people would think he was what people often referred to as ‘nice.’ I hate that word: ‘nice’ thought Donnie.
He edged closer to Fred Junior so he could whisper without disturbing Daddy. “Freddy, How did the Nazis kill the Jews? Did they squash them?”
“What? Donnie, it’s a horrible thing to think about. Go to the library. It was horrible what they did. I don’t want to talk about it. And if you think about it much, you’ll end up dreaming about it at night — horrible nightmares. Can’t you just watch the parade? Oh, I get it. You don’t like the parade because people aren’t watching you, right?”
Fred Junior was right about that. It did bug Donnie Boy not to be the center of attention. And, Fred Junior was right that finding out more about the Holocaust would cause Donnie Boy to dream about it. But he was wrong if he thought that it would be a nightmare for Donnie Boy. No, for Donnie Boy, finding out about demonizing other people because of their race or religion; finding out more about tearing families apart; trying to destroy an entire people; experimenting on humans — these caused Donnie Boy to daydream and dream at night, but none of it was a nightmare. Not to Donnie Boy. Far from it. To him, the idea of being an absolute ruler and having people scream his name because he tore apart families and killed lots of people — that was the dream of a lifetime. And he swore to himself that some day he would realize it.
Other *purely fictional* stories about a child sociopath.
Stories that present a view of what positive leadership is like in times of crisis.