And so the Varmints, that old and tired and raggedy-assed gang of lawmen, roll across the vast plains of the desert, bringing with them the law, and justice, and the word of the Lord. What America has not yet tamed they will tame in her name. At night they dream, slobberingly, of her, America, standing before them, and naked, but for the American flag, draped over her breasts. Her breasts are not like any breasts they have ever before seen, and this excites them. She has slipped from the flag, and it stands there, quivering, just above the ground, because a flag is not a thing to be discarded lightly. They worship her. If they thought it would improve the situation some, they would kill everyone in the world and lay the bodies at her feet in supplication. They would use the bodies to build a road so that her feet never had to touch the ground. If this was America, and not just their idea of America, she would tell them that touching the ground is what makes us appreciate the air. But this isn’t about ideas, this is about that old and tired and raggedy-assed gang of lawmen what are known as the Varmints. Roll Varmints! Roll! The Varmints roll across the plains! Roll Varmints! Roll! Justice spills from their barrels into the air poking holes into the sky as though they could make their own stars to spell out the Constitution across the length of these United States! We hold these truths to be self-evident they say over and over That this is a great and holy land besought, on all sides, by evil men, while we, we are besotted with righteousness is what they tell themselves at night around the campfire.

The Varmints! Where did they come from? The short answer is America and the long answer is Their father’s cocks and the longer answer is Even lawmen get restless. ‘What do you mean by that sort of thing?’ you ask. I mean picture this: There is a town through which passes the mail. The purpose of this town is the US Postal System. That was its reason for being willed into being. Have you ever written a letter? Have you ever bared a part of yourself to another, and hoped and prayed that the Postal Workers of these United States would deliver this bared part of you to the letters addressee, without interference or harm? That this bared part of you would reach them and, in reaching them, connect the two of you? That you would both know that you were thought of, and considered, and, in one way or another, loved? It’s not a perfect system, the postal service, but it’s what we got for putting one thing between two people across a vast distance using language. Now, I want you to think of this. Of the letters you’ve written and received, the various parts of you that you have entrusted the US Postal Service to deliver to people you needed to reach, and, now that you are holding this in your mind, imagine walking along and finding, entirely by accident, a town devoted to the mail. And now imagine everyone in that town dead. Imagine the mail strewn in the mud. The river piled so high with the dead and their letters that a trickle of blood and shit was the only thing that made it past the human dam.

Maybe this wouldn’t upset you. But this is not about you. This is about the Varmints. Men who have needed to spell out their feelings using bullets because their mouths would not let them out past the trap of their jaws. Who could, from this distance finally speak truly, and from the heart. Who revered the postal service for allowing this to happen. For them to take their feelings and seal them in a letter that nobody but the person they wanted to speak to could ever open.

And so one lawman stumbled into another and another and another and then they had themselves a gang. They do that, lawmen. They stumble. And they take up arms. The Varmints took the postal service town to be a casualty in the war against moral decay, and said war now required their active participation.

So they rode.


The Varmints ride: They ride over the plains and under the moon. They ride under the sun too, but who doesn’t. The Varmints prefer the moon and they prefer it because mostly it is quieter, in that the things it yells at them they don’t have the language for, which is fine. Many people, in their hearts, go through life like a sort of waltz. Like standing on a dance floor, with your eyes on a body you would like to press against. This is how the Varmints feel at all times, except that the body they want to press against is America, and also the death of her enemies. They have lost all ties to things other than these two ideas, and also the tin they pin through their shirts into their heart each morning. They have an idea that American needs their blood, and that these tin stars are a conduit to her heart.

They brought with them a cleansing fire. They burned the blood of the enemies of justice and lawfulness so that said blood would not infect America. They had ideas about blood. About how it moved through the body, and how its loss was detrimental to the body. The had ideas about how blood was like the soul, and how the mixing in of bad blood inside the body would corrupt the soul, and in turn the body, and the mind, at the center of which was the heart.

The Varmints heard tell of Indians. Indians! they said. Heathens! they said. The red man they said Would have no respect for the sanctity of the postal service. They said that the red man sends his letters by smoke and by bird. The postal service the Varmints put forth May be outside the red man’s interests entirely. However they concluded We do not know. We have not got enough information to go on here.


Here is some information, or, another form or reportage: The red man, read the reports, made his way across the plains dressed in the garb of the recently slaughtered dead, (with periodic conjectures as to the red man being red from the blood of others, with periodic conjectures as to racial cleanliness) ransacking the US mail, the stars spelling out in the sky THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK, the addressee of this note an unknown quantity, all unknown quantities having gone up for debate, all things having gone up for debate scheduled to be hung at dawn as the fruitfulness of debate was up for debate and then lost said debate, and now you see where this sort of thing has gotten us.

The red man, read the reports, made his way across the plains dressed in the garb of the recently slaughtered dead. The Varmints took umbrage at these objectionable actions and took matters into their own hands.


The matters their hands took hold of: Well first off, the Varmints said, we have got to separate them from their families. It can be assumed that even monsters love their families, which is the research we Varmints have gathered as we have driven off what families we once had, for their hearts did not beat as ours did, with these tin stars piercing them to feed America herself. But we are given to understand that even monsters such as them what have slaughtered in this way can form emotional attachments, and so, the plan: The plan is that we find their camp and wait for the men to leave, and, once they have left, we go in and murder their women and children to teach them a lesson about loss and about taking things that are precious as though they have a right to our belongings and longings and this land we call America, and then we dress up in the skins of their women and their children and lay in their beds and when they come home to kiss their loved ones they shall kiss instead the sweet lips of death! The sweet lips of death of course being our guns which shall kiss them all over with little bullet kisses, their blood blossoming out of the body, which we will then burn, so as not to pollute America with it.

And so that is just what they did!


Here’s another way of looking at it: Once upon a time there was a big old bridge made out of land between one land and the next and a whole bunch of people made their way one way or another across it and then that bridge got swallowed by time and also the sea as both time and the sea are wont to do. We are looking at you, California. And so anyway the land became peopled by people such as were living there at the time, and one day a man set sail from one land, let’s call it Spain, to this one, in search of India and the things the Indians had, and he landed here in this land someone at some point will call America and he said ‘Oh! India! Neat!’ And, if the people who had peopled this land had had any idea what in the hell he was on about they would have said ‘No not really but what the fuck is going on here?’ And then the dude, we’ll call him Chris, he saw this huge and vast bit of country peopled with people who seemed to possess a great deal less in the things department than he thought they would, and then he went home and told all his friends about this, and anyway after that more people began to show up in this land called America or The New World in search of a Fresh Start or maybe all their friends thought that they were too severe and boring and uptight and awful to be allowed to live amongst the general populace of, say, England, and then they exiled those severe and boring and uptight and awful assholes, and so those assholes set sail to end up in America. Eventually more people made it over, and meanwhile those people what peopled the land saw all these assholes just coming over, and figured well, fuck it, this place is huge. And sometimes they figured that regardless of how huge it was, they were basically here first, and were not going to sit idly by while these real weird-looking foreigners invading their lands like mindless heathen barbarians, and engaged in a bit of not so much friendly slaughter, as the sort of slaughter meant to deter further foreign incursions on their native soil. Eventually the new guys were like ‘Oh man you look cold here are some blankets’ but they knit the blankets out of small pox and so everyone died. And this kind of brings us to today, when the men known as Indians came home, having painted their faces before the hunt, and everything smelled like blood. Blood was basically the only smell there was, and off in the distance a guy shoveled blood into buckets and set the buckets on fire. It soon became apparent that that man was part of a group of men who had come into their camp and murdered their wives and their children. And so either the Indians could set fire to their camp and send everything to the ghosts to shuttle along to wherever the dead are intended to be interred, or they could do something else. So they did something else. I don’t know why. I can guess. I can guess that there are moments when, having realized everything you love has been taken from you, and that your very way of life is being encroached upon by strangers who have rendered you foreign on your own land, that maybe when they talked about devils and about death being a pale man on a pale horse those strangers really meant themselves. The white devil. That which brings death and destruction and damnations upon all that it sees and then after that, hell follows with him. That maybe this is hell now. That maybe hell is a stranger in your home murdering your family because they were alive. Maybe you want to see what happens when you walk up to death. Maybe you want to greet the end with your eyes open. Maybe you want to say goodbye to all that, and see what bits of this land you can take with you into the great hereafter.

Sasha Fletcher