*This is a short story that originated with me thinking how the next major war would begin. The idea of baguettes just jumped in there, almost as if a passing spirit saw my thoughts, and whispered it to me, trying to to be cheeky. Despite its efforts, I rather liked it. This is the result, which somehow has quite a few swear words and suggestive themes. Again, passing spirit.*
World War III started over baguettes.
The newspapers claimed other reasons. This was before all human life had been eradicated of course. They said it was over America’s interests in oil fields located in the Middle East, or that the decline of the Euro had sparked economic mistrust, or perhaps to some extent an overzealous warlord was itching for blood. A very small fraction of newsprints who held themselves to higher standards decided to not ride the sensationalism, and openly admitted to not knowing why (these papers I might add lost considerable subscriptions during this period).
The internet had its own hypotheses; hypotheses as farfetched and deranged as only the internet itself could do. You really couldn’t say they were authored by anyone, but rather grew and evolved with each grammatically incorrect and offensive blog post or comment.
Conspiracy theorists, pimply-faced teenagers who anonymously spouted trash whilst hopped up on Dorito chips and Monster energy drink, morbidly obese men who existed in their elderly parents’ basement (their only company being Slave Girl Leia posters and fantastic plastic doll collections), and the far more reaching strangeness that exist in the darkest corners of the web; all of these played as catalysts to the madness.
The tamer arguments that came into existence were that the illuminati had finally begun its long planned domination of the world. That wide-eyed, pale-skinned aliens had set aside their long grievances with the lizard people of Tersha 6 (1 through 4 had been destroyed in a war between the two, where 5 was eaten by a passing flying spaghetti monster) and jointly decided to mine Earth for resources. And the most criticized one, that perhaps the missiles had been launched due to computer error.
What everyone seemed to forget about amidst events, speculations, name-calling and trolling was the interview that took place that very same day.
Harley Dillard of Los Angeles, California, formerly Hank Dalton of Vancouver, British Columbia, eyed herself in the mirror. After an unsuccessful stint as bar drag queen, pinnacled with a messy catfight one stormy night, she, (but formerly he) wanted a change. Even after all the hormone injections and surgeries that she felt nothing but a fairy godmother could have done better, the subject of facial hair was still an issue. During the rise of her culinary career, where she eventually landed her own show, she had seen what might have amounted to an army of specialists (all in secret of course).
She’d seen doctors (both of the clinical and voodoo variety), scientists (both of the biological and rocket variety), and exorcists (of the only variety that they came in). She’d tried lotions, potions, experimental treatments and procedures, and prayer. She even met a man with one pegged leg and a rat on his shoulder named Nicodemus in a shady Mexican back alley (the one and only time I might add). None of them even could put a dent to the telling beard that would reappear week after week. So, she had to make peace with the weekly waxing procedures she had to have administered by a middle age Taiwanese woman who through an unfortunate pyramid scheme was missing her tongue.
Harley, satisfied that everything was looking proper, snapped her makeup compact just as the show’s producer entered. “Hey there Har,” he said. His eyes roamed her frame approvingly. “Looking good as always.” They’d slept together twice before. Just one of those work things. “The person from the ‘Glassy Onion’ is here finally, so just waiting on you.” His eyes lingered a few seconds more before turning away from the doorframe.
The Glassy Onion was THE premier network for Food enthusiasts and Food aficionados; Not just the regular public access channel that would show any old Betty Homemaker prepare a string-beaned casserole. They had internationally televised programming, two syndicated magazines, a chain of supermarkets, and a small theme park in Harper Falls, New Mexico featuring Cristobel the Curious Cucumber. So suffice it to say, they were big enough to either make or break a budding food star.
The interview started well. All of the previously agreed questions were asked, and in turn all of the methodically crafted answers were given. “What was your family life like, what got you interested in cooking, what color is most pleasing to cook with,” and etc. Harley made sure to laugh, smile at the camera and interviewer often, show a little leg, a well-placed thigh touch here and there; It was a typical interview.
Just as things were coming to their scheduled end, the interviewer said in the most nonchalant of ways, “Oh, and one more thing. What would you say is your least favorite baked good?”
The question came and hit her in the face like a rude trick that only paid you ten bucks. What was that? Least favorite… baked good? How ridiculous a question. And yet… Does this person possibly know?
“Why, of course not,” she said.
“Nothing really stands out.”
All those nights crying in a bed of flakey crumbs.
“I mean, they are all quite equally delicious in their own way.”
The bakers wearing nothing but aprons and grins, their pastry trays still hot with their burdens.
“But I guess… if I had to choose, I’d have to say…”
The filling the room with the smell of…
“Oh? Why is that?” The interviewer’s smile never waned.
“Oh it’s nothing terribly important.” Harley tried to keep composure, but she could feel the mask falling away. “It’s just, oh but it’s all very silly yes, but…” She could feel beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead. “…they are just peasant foods.” Her lips felt dry. She licked them absentmindedly, and then drew the back of a hand across her mouth. Her hand came away red with lipstick.
The interviewer’s eyes lit up. Surely, this was going somewhere good. “You don’t say? You don’t care for them then?”
Behind the cameraman, the producer was making frantic signs which obviously meant “Shut the fuck up already,” but Harley had already passed the point of no return. She could not help the verbal diarrhea that was spewing. And it was a gusher.
“They are one of the simplest in complexity, drab, underwhelming, and most annoying breads out there. Their flakey exterior gets everywhere except in your mouth, you can’t spread butter on them unless it’s melted, they’ll rape you in your own home if you give them the first opportunity, and for God’s sake, if that’s the best France has to offer to the culinary world, then those Frenchies better go back to the drawing board!”
The studio was quiet save for the whirl of the camera’s focusing aperture, which drew tight on the food-star’s face. Reflected in the lens, Harley caught a terrible and familiar sight: The face of a failed bar entertainer with running mascara, a smear of lipstick, and the beginnings of a five-o-clock shadow.
Three hours after the live interview was televised, not to mention made viral through the internet, the Prime Minister of France stood at a console of blinking lights. He had only been in the room once before, and that was shortly after he was sworn in and was given the full tour of the facilities. Then, the console was a silent, dormant thing.
Now the console was alive with bright, flashing lights. They gaily danced about the metallic surface, reminding the Prime Minister of a seizure inducing Christmas tree. He didn’t need to hide his growing erection in this room.
The Prime Minister wished there was a window, but the only view there would be twelve stories down below the surface of the earth would be rock. One might have been lucky enough to spot a fossil or perhaps the remains of a flying saucer, but those were uncertainties. The only thing certain was solid rock.
A voice from the other side of the room broke the quiet.
“Are you sure this is the right action you wish to take?”
The French Prime Minister looked across the room where the Minister of Defense stood at a similar blinking console. “There is no other action TO take.”
This was true. Many things were permissible to joke about thought the Minister of Defense. Like his potbelly. Or his wife’s sagging tits. Or even dead infants. But not this.
“Of course, you are right” said the Minister of Defense while he admired the engorged member pressing against the wool fabric of the Prime Minister’s pants. It wasn’t the first time one or both men had seen the other as such, oft times it was naked amidst a tangle of discarded clothes, satin sheets, stuffed bears, and pink doilies. Many a night they shared their inner dreams to each other, post coitus. One would lay closely pressed against the other’s potbelly, the other rubbing the other’s balding scalp. If such things were to be revealed to the media, it would not matter. This sort of thing was typical. Very French.
The Prime Minister inserted the key he had been holding into the ignition slot built in to the console. The Minister of Defense followed suit. They looked at one another, nodded, and then both looked at the table that lay between them. More specifically, the plate on table. Steam was still rising from the platter of baguettes, but only in thin wisps.
As if timed by an invisible trigger, both men turned their keys at the same instant. A shallow vibration ran through the room that sat twelve stories below the earth.
Somewhere far off in the countryside, stood an old and dusty barn, deserted and never used, though guarded importantly by an electric fence that held a constant current. As sudden as premature ejaculation, it burst and splintered with a mighty and unexpected roar as a metallic cylinder climbed higher and higher into the air. Wild pigeons nearby scattered, angry over the disturbance. Ten other similar properties around France released their payloads high into the air, where they would eventually cross the Atlantic, heading toward the U.S. of A.
Back in the small room, twelve stories below in the soil in the heart of France, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense stood still as statues, hands still clutching their keys.
“For baguettes,” whispered the Prime Minister solemnly.
“For baguettes,” echoed the Minister of Defense.