…and Then Things Go Boom

It takes twenty-two minutes for a ballistic missile to reach its intended target.

From launch to explosion.

The population of the targeted country probably wouldn’t even know until after millions of people have already died that an attack has been initiated.

Take Robert Conroy the third:

He is watching the Yankees lose to the Mets.  

The score is three to one.

It’s a subway match, up in the Bronx.

The game is sold out. The TV cameras capture green grass and screaming fans. It captures pitch after pitch, strike after strike. The announcers do their job and give inane details about the players and history of the sport.

“Yu Darvish at the plate. There’s the windup. Here comes a Johnson fastball. Looks like Darvish got a piece of that one. Pop up headed off by the third baseman. Easy out, Tim.” says Jose Salas, long time announcer for WPIX in New York City.

The crowd settles down and Tim Davis replies to his play by play partner with some player color, “Darvish recently got a divorce. Just signed a forty-five million dollar contract. That’s one smart lady.”

“No prenup?”

“She ran away with his lawyer, so I would gather not.”

“That’s what I would call a strike.”

Robert yawns.

People call him Bob, or Roberto, or when he is driving on U.S. highway 46 he is referred to as a fucking jerk off.

It’s a Jersey thing.

He is bored and kind of tired. It’s not really all that late. Maybe ninish, but his phone is plugged in out of arm’s reach so he has no clue of the exact time. All he knows for sure is, it’s not late enough to go to bed, but late enough to start thinking about it.

Bob has never been to a live sporting event. He doesn’t much care for sports particularly, he is watching the game because there is nothing else on. His wife is at a work thing in the city. An office party, or something, she asked him to go, but he refused. For Bob there is little worse than a bunch of Wall Street assholes getting drunk and yelling at each other about finance numbers. It always makes him feel like he is missing the punchline of a joke.

He gave her an excuse, something about not feeling well, but it was more he did not want to take a shower, get dressed and grab a bus into Manhattan.

Bob has become a fat lazy piece of shit. He is really good at the video game Call of Duty though and leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and being a father who can babysit, but that’s pretty much it.

The kids are in their rooms doing whatever kids do. He has a ten year old boy who can’t spell and a thirteen year old girl way to into an actor Bob can never remember the name of, he is in all those vampire movies. Bob doesn’t watch movies much either especially vampire movies. The best day of Bob’s life is when he realized his kids were self motivated and he didn’t have to do much with them anymore.

Bob, doesn’t really have much motivation in life himself, he hasn’t had a job in several years. His last place of employment was with a floor installation company, he did sales, but nobody gets floors installed anymore, so he got laid off. His unemployment dried up a long time ago. Now his prospects are limited. He wasn’t much of a student. He did not go to college. He never did follow through with joining the navy like he said he was going to do one day.  

Now he is nearing 45 and basically is just waiting to die one day.

He has his feet up on the coffee table. He drinks something cold and fizzy filled with sugar and chemicals that ironically if it weren’t for a despot halfway around the world would have probably one day given him cancer. An open greasy box with two slices of cold pizza remaining lays next to an overfilled ashtray. He only plans on smoking half of the cigarette lit and currently between his lips before putting it out, because he only has three left in his pack and will need wait for his wife to bring him home a new carton instead of going out to get it himself.

He sent her a text asking for one.

She did not respond.

She hates buying them from the city, they cost twice as much, but because she doesn’t like his tantrums when he doesn’t get his way she probably would have gotten them from the Walgreen’s in the port authority on the way to the 193 express bus to the Willowbrook mall park and ride.

Probably would have because Russia hosted the Olympic winter games six years ago and less than five days after the sporting event ended Putin ordered the invasion of the Ukraine.

Putin told the world to go fuck itself when he took the Crimea peninsula with unmarked military personnel and vehicles. He wanted the ports on the land mass because they jutted into the Black sea and provided easy access to the Middle East.

Then he politically invaded Turkey.

Turkey was easy. All it took was several million in bribes and some computer hacking to fix the presidential election there. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Russian pocket president, implemented sharia law turning the country upside down and ending all of its chances of joining the EU. Infighting prevented their being much of a concern when Putin started launching aircraft and artillery from Turkey into Syria and eventually invading with mobile infantry and special forces.

With his back against the Russian military offering to help end the Syrian civil war it was easy to put the dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad in his pocket.

Putin used the world’s desire to avoid nuclear war to get what he wanted. The gist from the many biographers that wrote his story decades after Emperor Putin died was that he wanted everything and would allow nothing to stop him from taking it.

On March 15th while Bob watched the Mets win against the Yankees in the Bronx he nuked five cities at about the same time.

First Jerusalem.

Bob was learning that Hector Cruz was a rookie from Cuba, “he has potential, Tim, to be one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

After his second swing and a miss the TV screen went black. After a moment the emergency broadcast signal sounded.

“This is not a test. Please stay tuned for urgent information.”

The black screen blinks to an image of a man in a white oxford style shirt with no tie. His sleeves are rolled up. It looks like he has spilled coffee down his front. He looks flustered. He is not anyone Bob has ever seen read the news. He has messy salt and pepper hair and thick tortoise rimmed glasses.

“Hello,’ he starts, before pausing to pick up the sheet of paper lying on the desk in front of him. He clears his throat as if buying time .’This evening a huge explosion has been reported in Israel.’ his voice cracks   ‘We have been informed there is potential for this explosion to be the result of a nuclear weapon. We have images, but I warn you now this video is hard to watch.”

The screen blinks again going black. Bob lets the lit cigarette dangle from his mouth. He is unsure what he has just heard. Nuclear? Explosion? Jerusalem? He has no connection to the holy land other than some basic Christian knowledge of Christ’s crucifixion, until the screen blinks back filled with buildings and people on fire. What Bob first thought were sirens was actually the sound of people screaming. In the center of the image what he could only assume was the epicenter of the blast was a giant mushroom cloud dwarfing everything, a wall of grey cloud hits the camera and the TV blinks to black again.

The video is not very long. Maybe a few seconds, but the channel he is watching the game on decides to let it play on repeat in the top left hand corner of the screen when the anchor reappears.

“These images were captured in Ashrod on the Mediterranean sea.  We have on the ground coverage courtesy of CNN.”

After another pause and the screen is filled again with the grainy fire soaked coverage. A woman begins speaking in a thick Middle Eastern accent, “…Completely destroyed. Early estimates are millions are dead.”

Bob sits up, the cigarette falls into his lap all ash and no cherry just as the walls of his home shake and the TV turns black.

Then the electricity goes out.  

His kids scream from upstairs. His instinct is go to them and grab them and hug them and protect them, but he is distracted before he can act.

He looks out the window in time to see a wall of wind hit the bushes that they bought along with the three bedroom house. The wooden fence his wife paid to put up goes flat. The outdoor dining set in his neighbor’s yard flies past just as the windows shatter, spraying him and everything else in the living room with glass.

He feels intense heat. His skin blisters. His hairs smolders.

He watches the bushes outside erupt into flame. He smells smoke and hears the screams of hundreds of thousands of people all feeling fear at the same time.

The same thing happens in Paris, London, Sydney and Berlin only moments apart.

The war is a quick one and soon Putin gets what he wants, the world, irradiated and covered in billions of dead.


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