On a spring day in 2005 he took a lingering walk to the end of Bullock’s gravel driveway and impersonated someone just noticing the outdated Kerry/Edwards For President bumpersticker on her van. “Aa,” Muslowski lilted, “I also voted Kerry, a true war hero.” Bullock was in chakra-pattern culottes, hefting berry shrubs out of her van bed. She waved a peaceful currant sprig down the driveway in lieu of conversation, but Muslowski kept priming for the exchange he sought. “When I audit our street these days, Ms. Bullock, I no longer feel embarrassment by your 3849 being a hole where no flag waves. Instead I count how many other houses on Ganado Street present stars-on-stripes, and I remember why. It is because Mr. Moralez and I formed an alliance of foes four years ago, a concord to save our nation from terrorists tyrants. For this spirit, I decided to be at truce with you not flying a U.S.A. flag because of your Quacker belief. Instead I say, Valdemar, show everyone more strongly your own feelings of country.” Bullock happened to be the one neighbor on Ganado who owned a post hole digger.
She loaned the tool to Muslowski without a word of requital.
That was the spring Muslowski dug a two-foot hole as the footing for his new fifteen-foot aluminum flagpole, and raised a glorious six-foot long American flag over his front yard.
Muslowski made busy out front the first weekend pruning his apricot trees, but not one pedestrian commented on the pole. Still, he felt confident neighbors, behind their picture windows, were discussing his installation. His belief was confirmed the next weekend when Moralez planted a fifteen-foot flagpole in the middle of his own lawn. Over further weeks, pole after pole blossomed in the front yards of Ganado Street—the Lockhardts, the Bakers, the Steins. Muslowski felt honored watching his influence spread all summer.
But, as autumn fell, his pride turned competitive. Muslowski extracted his fifteen-foot flagpole and replaced it with a twenty-foot pole bearing an eight-foot flag. Within days Moralez put up a twenty-five-foot pole and a ten-foot flag. That pole was tall enough for Moralez to fly simultaneous the U.S. flag, a blue state flag of Colorado, and a red Marine Corps pennant declaiming Semper Fi. Throughout the next winter Muslowski was frozen in by Moralez’s outmaneuvering.
When spring of the next year burgeoned, just as Ugnė’s apricot trees were showing first buds, a truck labeled Brudershaft Bros Landscape and Concreter drove into Muslowski’s driveway.
The Brudershaft’s got to work grounding a ten-foot diameter brick and mortar island in the center of Muslowski’s front yard, effectively raising the flagpole to twenty-six foot high and besting Moralez.
RF Brown is a fiction writer and freelance editor residing in mighty Rhode Island. An alumnx of Hampshire College, he has also worked as a salesman of laser pens, telephone wire, life insurance, cocktails, and dreams. His short stories have appeared in Sucker, Spitball, and Aethlon Journal of Sports Literature. Current projects include a musical novel about Broadway and a collection of sports stories written through the lens of semiotics. RF recommends Let America Vote.