|Under John Wayne’s Hat
Stalin and John Wayne play mancala and eat fish with each other as much as time allows, but they prefer to call the game Mangala, the eternal being of the Mande speakers in Southern Mali, Africa. They can’t personally remember if they were present at their own creation, but both unanimously agree the stretching, tearing, and eventual consumption of membranes must be involved because the auditory and sensory effects of such an entrance is the most satisfying, depending on the accuracy of the current simulations. John Wayne moves a rock and comments, “Perhaps after Adam named his roving and non-roving environment, he had the honor of helping to remove the membranes to see if his names were right… uh… pardner.” “What is this thing you call Adam?” Stalin asks and eats a rock. Stalin and John Wayne never express their curiosity of creation tales in obvious ways, but when John Wayne calls Stalin The Duke and Stalin calls John Wayne Koba, they know the interchangeability of their names implies oneness and the familiarity of using nicknames produces vulnerability and the inevitability of more nicknames. Such oneness and vulnerability near a frying pan of frying fish leads Stalin and John Wayne to lovingly admit, through direct rock tweaking, they are not afraid to know exactly how they or the fish began. Mangala is the word of choice for Stalin and John Wayne because this eternal being used an egg in the creation process and mancala rocks are the best eggs Stalin ever tasted. Mangala created life by placing seeds in an egg-womb until he had eight sets of twins who worked together to become innocent fish. They were harmonious brothers and sisters of glowing numbered scales, Mangala knew and was. The fish’s innocent potential soon turned into jealous, ugly ambition, perhaps in an effort to gain distance and distinction Mangala could and could not ever understand. Stalin and John Wayne are disappointed in the fish and agree to only think of creation in terms of the day Mangala created himself and his desire for others. Their game ends with Stalin’s stomach and colon full of rocks and fish, John Wayne’s stomach full of fish and colons, and their inevitable retreat to the couch, which they rip of all its plastic covering, only to find they are right, it is Mangala just like their new nicknames, which are easy enough to distinguish. After several hours of contentment, they are hungry and sick of Mangala. The Cold War begins again like it always has, and when Americans see themselves under John Wayne’s hat,
it’s such a relief.