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  • Writer's pictureLars Stannard

To a Friend of My Youth

Friend of my youth,


Fuck, man. What happened to you?

I feel like I should’ve done something earlier, something small — to help, or to be there, or to stop you from going too far. How did it even happen to you? Furthermore, how did I escape before it was too late? Looking at it today, staring at the pictures, the memes, our beloved group chats, our long-abandoned bogus Facebook pages, the videos Isaac used to shoot, the collections of antiquated surplus gear — it seems obvious. The dog-whistles vibrating in my head and rattling my cortex. They say hindsight is 20/20, but now in 2020, I can hardly believe that I was almost right there next to you, gun in hand, armbands presented proudly. We had been told all of our lives that it was evil, that it was detestable, that it was forbidden — all while that malformed symbol of peace stitched that strip of red cloth sat in a glass case in the Antiques Mall downtown. I can’t believe you paid $50 for that.

Maybe that’s what made it so attractive. So sexy. That drab, grey wool tunic with the bolts on the collar you were so proud in. I can’t believe I once thought that it looked cool on you.

Or maybe it was the legions of angry young men, just like you, just like you, who would scream into the digital void. Greentext posts scrolling past your thin Nike glasses, on a Skype call with me until four in the morning, every morning, until our dreams were just continuations of the video games we had played all night long.

Where did my friend go? The one friend who I wished was my neighbor, the one friend who would laugh with me for days, the one friend who was brave enough to skip school to go to ComicCon with me, the one friend who cried when we witnessed a person die.

I guess my wish came true, your gunfire keeps me awake at night. It actually was me who called that noise complaint. Your online Cross Burnings make me nauseous, you don’t even have the heart to use a real name. Or, at least, you didn’t until Trump was elected. That red hat hardly leaves your head nowadays. How can it “be satire”, or “a joke” when you literally have a copy of Mein Kampf on your shelf. You still laugh at “attack helicopter”. Even I haven’t told the same joke that many times.

Friend of my youth, I can’t believe you used to be that.

For someone who’s family helped liberate France, I reckon those fascist beliefs of yours would make them mighty disappointed.

You always are packing heat, and you’re piggish now. With greasy hair, a receding chin — you’re three times the size I last saw you. “Bulking up for the Aryan Liberation” were your words. Sven Lindqvist writes in Exterminate All the Brutes that violence renders one unrecognizable.

He was right.


Your friend from youth,

Lars


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