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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2193355
The Nation of America retires a most evil flag of antiquity.
"Which flag would you like to retire?" said Timothy. "Be honest."

"Which flag?" said Brian. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, if you could retire any kind of flag, anywhere in the world, what would that be? Which one would make the world better if it were retired?"

Brian thought about this for a minute. He wasn't an internationalist, not especially. More of a nationalist. And he hadn't ever been abroad. But he was intrigued by the possibility of being asked. Finally, something came to mind.

"Red flags!" said Brian.

"What?" said Timothy.

"Red flags!"

"You mean...the Chinese flag? The Russian flag?"

"No, no," said Brian. "I mean 'red flags'!"

"Oh! So you think if we retired red flags, that would get rid of red flags?"

"Yeah," said Brian. "Like, let's say you're running a gas station, right. And you see this dude, right. And he's got mismatching shoes..."


"And you see him by the cars. He's got this hose in his hand. So you walk up to him to say hi, and when he speaks, his teeth are rotten, and his breath smells like gasoline."

"Okay, I could see retiring that."

"Oh, and when you go to your best friend's wedding and the best man has lipstick on his collar? How did that get there?"

"True, true. Are you getting rid of all the red flags, or just some?" said Timothy.

"Well, just the ones with the greatest populations," said Brian. "Like when you go into an ice cream shop and you see a can of roach spray on the counter?"

"Is that a red flag, or is it just that they're...being proactive?" said Timothy.

"If you can see it, it's a flag," said Brian. "They could be using the ice cream buckets to store Uranium overnight. Just as long as I don't have to see it when I walk in in the morning."

"Wouldn't that also be a red flag?" said Marcus, eavesdropping on their convo.

"What do you mean?" said Brian. "How is that a red flag? That stuff's gross."

"Ignorance is bliss?" said Marcus. "That's gotta be a red flag for something."

"Okay," said Brian. "I guess if the roach spray can goes, 'Ignorance is bliss' can go too."

"What else?"

"If you're aboard a ship, and everyday someone goes missing and you see shark fins out in the water?" said Brian.

"That's gotta go," said Timothy.

"When you go to the DMV and there's no line?" said Marcus.

"When you get arrested and they drop the charges?" said Brian.

"When you get a new job and they ask you to buy something?" said Timothy.

"When you buy a house and the agent skips town?" said Brian.

"When someone has a million in the bank with holes in their shoes?"

"A married couple that never kisses?"

"A sports car with a spray-painted decal?"

"A McDonald's next to a Home Depot?"

"A small box of Popcorn Chicken, potato wedges and a soda for $7?"

"A McDonald's inside a Home Depot?"

"A game of Fortnite 2 with no female characters?"


"A book with no cover?"

"Roller blades with only two wheels?"

"A president who was also valedictorian at Harvard?"

"Okay," said Timothy. "That's a pretty good list."

Later on, Brian was so excited about his idea that he decided to tweet it to the president himself. Of course, in those days, Twitter had lowered its character count to 30.

" @USAPRZ prz, elmn8 rd flgzpl"

The president was in the situation room checking his social media when he saw the tweet.

"What does he want me to do?" said the president. "I think he wants me to take Eminem on a tour of the Fig Newton Plaza in New Jersey."

"No," said General Bigglesby of the Joint Chiefs of staff. "I think he wants you to retire red flags."

"Oh, you mean China? I'm working on it."

"No, the other red flags," said Bigglesby.

"Give me an example."

"Okay," said Bigglesby. "Like when you send a spy deep into enemy territory and he comes back wearing a Barney suit and smelling of scotch, singing the theme song to Mork and Mindy?"

"Okay, is that a red flag?" said the president.

"Yeah," said Bigglesby. "Like when you were campaigning and you promised to end all hunger in America and you celebrated your win by order fifty Big Macs just for yourself?"

"It was for charity," said the president.

"Like when the Majority Whip retired under disgrace and his daughter was elected in his place?" said Bigglesby.

"Interesting," said the president. "Sort of like when I propose a bill, Congress pumps it up, and then I veto it?"

"Not really," said Bigglesby. "Remember when we sent the troops on a mission to detain our most wanted terrorist, but we sent them in a plane that was designed by one of our enemies?"

"Okay," said the president. "But I still don't get the concept."

"Okay," said Bigglesby. "Remember when the White House Chef baked you some cookies and you said you were on a diet, but as soon as your wife went to see the Chinese Prime Minister's wife, in China, the cookies suddenly disappeared?"

"Most likely terrorists from the cookie dimension," said the president.

"Remember when we sent the limo in for maintenance and they found hot dogs in the suspension?" said Bigglesby.

"Okay, okay, we'll retire the dang red flags," said the president. "Where's my Samsung?"

The following week, the president gave a rousing speech, attended by thousands. Finally, America was retiring the red flag.

"We need not Barney suits and sung words," said the president. "We need not hot dogs in suspension. Ours is a proud nation. A nation of fighters. We fought for this land, and created a nation above any other. North and south; east and west. We will rid ourselves of these evil, insidious red flags."

The president received uproarious applause. The news covered it on every channel, chiefly because a cookie was spotted.

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