“The horror, the horror, the horror,” these words rumbling around in my head, are those from the lips of Colonel Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now, as he ruminated about the war going on around him. I am hunkered down in the jungle print sheets of my bed, and another type of war has begun.
It is Memorial Day weekend in the Hamptons and the armies of invaders have already infiltrated the countryside. I hear a commotion outside, the screeching of tires, screaming voices. I look through a slit in the blinds. I see a woman, my wife, standing her ground in the middle of the road. She is holding a rock, like a grenade, ready to launch it at a red Porsche convertible that had been marauding up and down the road in front of our house.
Instead of the rock, my wife hurled words as a warning shot across the hood. “Slow down, this isn’t a race track. There are children playing here.” The Porsche driver responded with a barrage of expletives, followed by a derogatory name for the locals: hillbilly hick. Immediately, my wife shot back: “Who are you calling a hillbilly hick? City slicker!”
While I love the sound of f-bombs in the morning, I didn’t want my wife to be the first prisoner of war. I ran down into the middle of the fracas acting as peacemaker. I told the Porsche driver I had his plate number and that I would be happy to serve it up to Sheriff Andy Taylor, my third cousin twice removed by incest and his faithful Deputy Barney Fife. He paused for a moment, then started laughing and said he didn’t want to end up in the Mayberry lockup, being forced to eat Aunt Bea’s rhubarb pie, then he sped off, chirping his tires and flipping us the bird. I beat a hasty retreat back to my house, trying to figure my next move.
The invasion seemed to be on all fronts, air, sea and land as I heard the helicopters, seaplanes and small jets overhead and the roar of cigarette boats in the distance.
I decided on a reconnaissance mission, headed first down Oak Grove Road to the beach at the end of the block. There I found the RED PORSCHE CONVERTIBLE parked on the front lawn of the house on the bay front, a property known as Summerental. Assembled there was a small cache of wreckreational vehicles, speedboats, jet skis, quads, dirt bikes, all painted the same color as the Porsche. A formidable Red Army seemingly designed for the destruction of the peace and quiet.
As I made my way onto the beachhead and looked out, I could see a slick upon the water. And that smell— you know, the smell of GASOLINE—-it smelled like Victory, their victory over us and the environment.
Discouraged by this scene, I pressed further onto the front lines of Southampton to determine if there were any signs of local life intact. The only ones left were already pressed into servitude. The town had been overrun and was now teeming with hordes of elite forces from Up Island. They seemed determined to occupy the town, not by winning hearts and minds, but by the mere shock and awe of the majesty of their own presence.
Everywhere they were seen marching up and down the sidewalks proudly displaying their badges of honor on their chests, embroidered, not pinned; little alligators, little polo players and many others, the significance of which insinuated one might only “Guess.”
As my heart and the sun sank, I fled through the main artery of the village towards the Western front. All was not quiet. More
and more of the invading army of vehicles poured in. A full battalion of foreign luxury cars, Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, Mercedes, BMW’s and many other axles of evil, entire divisions pandering to the rich and infamous, relentlessly advancing. Realizing that resistance or surrender were both futile, I wished for another course of action and I longed to escape to another state.
As I proceeded west, to the north, I spied the royal palace of the Burger King. Directly across from there, manifest before me as if by destiny, lie the place of my longing, one that would take me to salvation, sanctuary and escape: the State of Intoxication. There, huddled together in one long steel building lie a sacred store of spirits that would blur my visions of horror and distill my resolve. At the beverage distributor I was able to procure a supply of small artillery rounds, Silver Bullets, stacked in neat cartridges in quantities of 36. I proceeded to the liquor store to secure weapons of mass consumption, mainly clear liquors, gin, vodka, tequila—all agents of white lightning to counteract the menace of the Blitzkrieg now surrounding me.
Fortified and confident of escape, I once again forged west, past the ministry of propaganda, aka Dan’s Papers, known sympathizers and collaborators with enemy forces, and betrayers of state secret short cuts. I then took a sharp turn through an opening in the cemetery, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, just in time to hear the sound of the founding fathers of Southampton, spinning in their graves.
Finally, weaving my way past seemingly endless minefields of meandering drivers, I made it back to home base, and began the task of securing my basement bunker with supplies. Now down below ground, feeling safe and invincible, I called upon my small army of resistance fighters, Tom Collins, Bloody Mary, Margarita and a pair of bubbly sisters from the Champagne region of the French underground.
I queued up the record player to Wagner’s Die Valkyrie to drown out the noise of the helicopters whopping their way further forward toward yet another enemy stronghold (East Hampton). As the fat lady sang, I sat at my drafting table, pen in hand, surrounded by this band of brothers and sisters, and began writing down plans for next summer. OPERATION: LEAVE TOWN.
DISCLAIMER: The preceding essay was not intended to classify, characterize, demonize, imply, infer portray or profile in any way that the behavior of visitors to the Hamptons are the actions of all: And it is to those who come here and act with respect and decency to whom I would like to say “Thank You, and may God bless” the both of you.
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Joseph Antretter is a year-round occupier of Southampton, with wife, son and beagle. Bi-species, half capitalist pig, half American dinosaur (Opressorsaurus–US ). Enjoying guilt -free early retirement, courtesy of the military industrial complex, white privilege and income inequality. Now, full-time patronizer of the arts, climate control advocate, non-Prius owner.