Act or Hide?
Will, although fiction and written tongue-in-cheek, is intended as a serious call to action. Will Mitty, underdeveloped at 4?7 and with a dubious life expectancy, feels an urgency to change the direction of many things in the U.S. and the world. Will visualizes Peewee Kovak, his best bud, cutting through the bullshit and smokescreens to find simple answers to complex problems.
?Somebody has to do something!? Will exhorts to Peewee.
Peewee stands 6?9, weighing 280 lbs. Completely bald with a heavy beard, he’s been protecting his wise-cracking little friend?s butt since first grade. But Peewee wishes Will would shut up about the world?s problems and leave him be, content in his own separate peace.
The friction between Will and Peewee is a telling dichotomy ? to act or hide ? a decision that all of us will have to sort out in the next few years, especially Millenials, as they have more invested in a future threatened by unsustainability.
The Reporters Inc. is pleased to present the first chapter from author Tim Munkeby’s new novel, Will, a story that includes passages from Will?s diaries, as well as anecdotes from his daydreams. Will addresses our most inner human conflicts of love, death, and the legacy we choose to leave behind.
* ? ? * ? ? * ? ? * ? ? *
Today was a day to die for. A rare Indian summer day.
Relief. A nice, warm sun after several frickin? miserable
days of trying to steal a painless breath. A kiss from the
cold, such an intimate pain. The colors so remarkably vibrant:
red, yellow, orange, gold. Especially the fading luster
of the tamaracks. The breeze so crisp it could break. I’d
rather be outside than in, but more and more I don’t feel
good outside, especially knowing what’s coming. The concept
of living as long as possible does not exist in nature.
After procreating and nourishing, breath is no longer necessary
. . . only the satisfaction of hunger. This may sound
disconcerting, but it gives me solace
I know you knew and understood. Thanks, big guy, for
handling it the way you did. You are going to make it all
worthwhile. Really, dude, you will. There were times I
almost believed that maybe I’d be . . . ah, well. Wasn’t
likely, huh? But it it’s frustrating, I have to admit. But
what can you do? This newest pain a bleak harbinger I’m
afraid . . . like the tamaracks losing their needles.
So, sorry for getting a little maudlin there, but on this day
to die for I?ve decided to start my last will and testament.
I?ve been reading the Dalai Lama. I like this guy. Smart.
He says that if you have willpower, you can accomplish
anything. Since you appear to be lacking in this area, I
hereby will you mine. I?ve left it to you. Bequeathed it
to you. Got it? Here’s my first item you’ll be needing my
willpower to take care of :
Item #1: Peace in the world. Don’t roll your eyes. I realize
that’s what the beauty queen always wishes for, making
her appear simple-minded to cynics. But, really, she’s just
being honest and optimistic, like me. Yes, I realize the
beauty queen has a reason for optimism. The world?s her
pearl. My oyster may seem empty to most . . . like to
my tormentors, including my mother, unfortunately. But
because of you I have hope. That’s my pearl : hope.
I realize your first order of business won’t entail the United
Nations, but eventually you’ll have to straighten them
out. I don’t know what they do, but it doesn’t appear
they’ve been effective in their mission of world peace. Not
They’ll tell you that achieving world peace is too complex,
so keep it frickin? simple for them. I realize there are no
easy answers, but SOMEBODY HAS TO DO SOMETHING!
The direction the world seems to be moving in
now is toward apocalypse it seems. How absurd; ?holy?
interpreted to mean, ?kill everybody.? What the shit! People
just don’t seem to trust each other anymore. There’s a
cold wind in the branches, blowing hard and slow . . . the
fading leaves trying hard to hang on. ?A hard rain’s gonna
fall? and ?slow train a-coming? as Dylan said . . . etc., etc.
Einstein wrote, ?Peace cannot be kept by force; it can
only be achieved by understanding.? ?Understanding? ? a
synonym for ?education.? You gonna argue with Einstein?
Yet ignorance is winning! The war happening in our cities
is bad enough, but IS and the other terrorist assholes
have caused a divide of trust around the world. It’s really
irritating. I know you realize, in spite of your attempt at
apathy, that all the horror going on in the world, as well
as here in the US of A, will only escalate, exponentially, if
things don’t turn around. Right? But it’s pretty obvious
it’s going to take a unified effort by the world at large
if we’re going to move toward a universal understanding
and arrive at any semblance of peace in the world. (Quit
shaking your head. No, it’s not going to happen overnight,
but the more of the world that’s at peace, the better the
world will be for our children. Yes, that’s ?our? I imagine
you now realize.) If they?re going to call themselves the
?United Nations,? they definitely need a kick in the ass to
get going. I don’t know anybody with a bigger boot than
I can just see your face. ?Right!? you’ll be crying. ?Not a
chance, Shrimp!? Well, sorry for this little diatribe, but
it’s my will and I know you. A hint : the Dalai Lama,
who?s pretty hard to argue with, says we need ?truth,
reason, and human solidarity? to fix things. Sounds good
Speaking of solidarity, I hear mother hollering downstairs.
Must be supper. More to come. Sorry.
Willy always slunk like a shadow down the hallway in the morning
before classes started. Slipped into his usual seat in the corner,
back row, for homeroom. Peewee, his best friend, rarely
got to school before second hour and left before sixth. Those
times, before second and after fifth, were the dangerous times.
Any of a number of guys, and one girl?Big Betty?could find
him. The most common game, especially before school, was
stuffing Wee Willy in his locker. Willy just let them. No sense
in fighting it. That would be even more embarrassing. He just
climbed in when an asshole decided to have some fun, hoping
that not seeming to be bothered might eventually take the fun
away. When Peewee arrived after first hour, the first order of
business was to check Willy’s locker to make sure he wasn’t
in it. Anyone needing to mess with Willy did it when Peewee
Peewee had failed his senior year. Twice. Hard to pass when
only attending four out of six classes. He refused to go to his
first-hour World History class. Said there was too much bullshit
going on in the world that he wanted nothing to do with.
He already got an earful of world history almost daily from his
well-read, well-informed, and surprisingly radical and iconoclastic
little friend anyway. Sixth hour was an elective?he
said he elected to go do something else. Peewee was completely
bald?always had been since birth . . . some odd disease?
yet had a dense, impressive growth of beard by ninth grade.
Nobody but Willy knew why he didn’t just drop out of high
school. Get his GED or whatever.
The football coach hated Peewee because, being six foot
nine, two eighty, and the fastest kid in school?he could mean
a state championship. The basketball coach drooled over what
his presence under the basket could mean . . . a state championship,
of course. The baseball coach was incensed. He had
seen Peewee playing pick-up games. He could hit the ball out
of sight?literally. The coach noticed that he never threw the
ball as hard as he could because, it seemed, he was afraid he
would hurt somebody. They all, with championships looming
in ulterior fields and courts of their brains, tried to convince
him that he could be famous, rich, make millions of dollars in
any sport he chose. But Peewee, very politely, declined.
The principal was in a quandary. He looked up to him,
both literally and figuratively, and admired him. Peewee was
the nicest guy?always respectful and smart?yet he appeared
to have no aspirations, like graduating. The principal had no
idea what to do with him, nor did he understand why Peewee
hung around high school. He thought he should encourage
him to drop out, but he didn’t have the heart, and the teachers
of the classes Peewee chose to attend enjoyed having him in
class. While in most schools students tried to gain the respect
of their teachers, in Oak Grove High School the teachers wanted
to gain Peewee’s respect. They all knew Peewee was extraordinary.
No one knew what to do with him, except Willy.
No one could quite accept the fact that a wild-haired, wiseass,
lisping little shrimp was and always had been Peewee’s best
friend. It just didn’t compute to them. When Peewee would
find Willy stuffed in his locker, he’d pull his four-foot-seven
friend out and demand to know who had done it this time.
Willy would never say. Or when Peewee’d swing by to see Willy
after his first hour and find him soaking wet, a Dr. Pepper or
something having been poured over his disheveled noggin,
he’d beg Willy to tell him who the perpetrator was. But Willy
would never give him or her or them up. Willy knew that if
Peewee avenged him, someone would get hurt, and it wouldn’t
be Peewee of course. Willy didn’t want to put Peewee in that
predicament. So Willy mostly stayed as invisible as he could,
like a tiny, innocuous haunt, only showing his real persona,
his wit, his personality when Peewee was around. Nobody, nobody
bothered him when Peewee was around.
Willy wished he were Peewee. He envisioned Peewee as
a massive Dalai Lama. Although he frequently couldn’t help
himself, he did try to resist pressing Peewee to make more
of himself, trying to get him more involved in world issues;
Peewee didn’t like it. Willy would ask Peewee things like what
the devil did he think the United Nations did or accomplished?
But Peewee was not in the least bit interested in talking about
the UN. Why did Willy think he skipped World History class?
But Willy knew if he were Peewee, he’d accomplish great things.
Things that needed to be done. Things that he thought Peewee
could do . . . if he wanted.
The bell rang and Willy headed to his first hour class?
World History. He found his seat, back corner, same as
homeroom. He slid down in his desk to be hidden by
the back in front of him and closed his eyes, drifting off,
a smile on his face as the lecture on turmoil in Africa
began . . .
Peewee interrupted the United Nations General Session. He
strolled confidently up to the moderator who was facing out at
semicircular rows of previously bored but now surprised faces.
He stood next to the moderator, a smallish four-foot-seven
Asian, and smiled out at the nations? representatives. Everyone,
including the moderator, froze. Time seemed to stand still.
Peewee smiled down at the moderator, a charming, but disarming
smile, and picked up the microphone that had been
poised in front of the now quiescent, quaint man.
Peewee’s stature, his imposing presence, captured everyone’s
full, unwavering attention. His bare dome shone like
a beacon in the lights of the assembly hall, his magnificent
beard and regal posture commanding not only their attention
?Pardon me, gentlemen and ladies,? he spoke with authority
into the microphone, which translated his words into the
native language of each of the assembled representatives. ?I
have one initial question to ask. If your answer is ?yes,? I will
leave you to whatever it is you do. Before you respond, though,
I would like to remind you that several hundred young girls
in Africa have been kidnapped by extremist guerrillas, most
likely to be used in the sex trade. Nothing much seems to have
been done about attempting to return them to their families?
I’m sure you?ve heard??
Peewee glared out at rows of incredulous faces until their
?If your answer to my question is no, I ask you for a few moments
of your time. Please write your answer down.?
Each member, as if mesmerized almost into a trance, obediently
picked up their pens. A chorus of clicks, like a choir of
caged crickets, resounded in the hall. Peewee’s voice boomed,
brazen and strong: ?Do you feel the United Nations has been
as successful as it should be in promoting, inducing, and sustaining
fairness to all and peace in the world?? He gave them
a moment. Almost simultaneously echoing through the hall
was the slight slap of pens set back down, each microphone
magnifying any sounds, including a cacophony of barely audible
grunts and sighs.
?Thank you, esteemed representatives. Would those of you
who wrote ?yes? please raise your hands.?
Not a paw was lifted. Not a breath was heard. Not a head
was turned. All eyes were riveted on the imposing figure standing
next to the moderator.
?Well, then, let’s get started,? Peewee said, with surprising
assurance for an interloper. ?Please write down the word ?politics?
. . . all of you?please.?
One hundred ninety-four heads bobbed.
?Now cross the word out . . . no, put a firm ?X? through the
word. Thank you. Now write ?economics? . . . thank you. Now
?X? that word out.?
Peewee waited until all eyes were back on him. ?One last
word that may be telling. Some of you may have difficulty writing
this one down, much less ?X?-ing it out. ?Oppress? . . . no, let’s
be more universal in our language?for clarity’s sake?please
write ?Bully.? ? Barely audible puffs filled the microphones like
Peewee surveyed the faces. ?I see some of you have not
written that word. Those of you that have, please ?X? it out . . .
?Ah,? Peewee said, smiling almost condescendingly. ?I see
several of you still have refused to write that word, much less
?X? it out. Are we defensive about the word ?bully?? Afraid
to, maybe, be considered a bully? I see China, Great Britain,
Russia, and the United States of America, among others, have
assumed defensive postures. Being an American myself, may
I ask the representative for the US of A why she has resisted
writing ?bully? down??
?Fool!? exploded a firm, not-so-feminine exhortation. ?I
don’t know who the hell you think you are, but I can see where
this is heading. Why don’t you take your insinuating questions
and get the hell out of the way. Let us get on with things.?
?Hmm . . . that certainly resembles something a bully might
say.? Again there were startled gasps, more like chicken farts
this time, resounded in the room. ?But, Madam, I’m sure your
intentions are otherwise?? The stern madam uncrossed her
arms and rose up, erect.
?Just what are you up to? What is this ridiculous game of
writing words and,? she behumphed into the mic, ?X-ing them
out? Maintaining peace in the world, in case you don’t realize,
is a highly complex problem, dependent on economics and
politics, you blithering fool. Just what are you implying??
?I’m implying we can simplify the ?complex? problem. Do
you feel, Madam and esteemed delegates, that the UN can
operate successfully in, as you dubiously coined, ?maintaining?
peace, if you and the other delegates have to answer not
to your own consciences but to the politicians and economic
pundits in your countries? Might you agree that each country’s
political and economic desires might be in conflict with
what’s best for humanity??
?I have no idea what you’re talking about,? the US delegate
?Let’s take a look at slavery, for an example: good for the
economy, not so good for humanity. I assume you?d agree? I
believe some economies in many parts of the world still rationalize
slavery? You say you want me to get the hell out of the
way so you can get on with things? Are you going to ?get on
with? finding those kidnapped young schoolgirls, likely now
sex slaves in Nigeria? A bunch of farmers armed with pitchforks
and shovels are out looking for them. What chance will
they have against the rifles, mortars, tanks, and bombs of the
extremists who kidnapped the girls??
?That’s the obligation of their country’s government to get
them back!? the representative from France hurled into his
?Oh, I see,? Peewee responded. He surveyed the room.
?Would all of you who feel the girls? government will get them
back please raise your hands.?
The hand of the spirited Frenchman spiked high in the air.
When he looked around and found no other hands raised, his
hand slowly dropped.
?Hmm,? Peewee said, raising his brows. ?Not only has the
government of that forlorn country not attempted to find and
protect these girls from a horrendous fate, but it has also refused
help from countries that offered. Would the representative
from Nigeria like to respond??
A clearing of a throat echoed in the large hall. ?If we accept
help from a specific country, they will expect things from us
?You don’t mean to imply it’s ?political?? Political blackmail
to be exact? What are the lives of a few hundred young females
worth in the potpourri of world politics? Is that what you’re
?Those . . . extremists as you called them . . . aren’t all
Nigerians!? the Nigerian representative exhorted. ?They are
criminals, composed of guerrillas from across many borders,
using weapons developed in your United States and other
countries . . . countries we don’t trust, by the way.?
Peewee perused the silent room, shaking his head. ?Yes?
trust. And, so, it appears it is not pragmatic for any individual
country to get involved. Too much blame, suspicion, and mistrust.
But an impartial, unified effort from the rest of the world
sounds like the ticket. A force composed of all the countries
on the planet to stop atrocities by criminals or misguided fanatics?
Know any organizations like this??
Peewee held the microphone down to the moderator. ?We
have condemned their actions,? he claimed proudly.
Peewee placed his hand over his heart. ?No!? he exclaimed.
?You condemned their actions? I just bet they?re shaking in
their combat boots.?
?I find your cynicism embarrassing,? the US representative,
now seated but erect like she was poised on a stick, admonished.
?The United States will be aligning itself with Syrian
rebels to contain IS, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups.?
?Aligning with rebels to gain peace? That only makes contorted
sense in the, would you say, ?complex? world of politics?
Align with Syrian rebels rather than the current corrupt government?
Might the rebels be just as corrupt if they gain power?
But with the rebels in power it might serve the US?s current
political and economic desires for a while? Is that it? I’d ask
the assembly if trying to impose regime change, even trying to
militarily force democracy, isn’t an act of ?bullying??imposing
?And then there’s Russia, who is, apparently, using IS as a
ploy to bomb these rebels, supporting the current cheesy dictator
that the US is trying to get rid of. So, rather than unite,
we don’t trust each other due to self-serving political posturing.
There’s that all-important word again: trust. Again, it
would appear we need a global partnership unaffiliated with
the economic or political pandering of individual countries.?
?Economic and political alliances are needed to defeat our
enemies.? The US representative postured as if speaking to a
child. ?Alliances are currently underway in the Arab states
to fight terrorism. It is very complicated. I don’t suspect you
Peewee grinned. ?Well, Mom, sorry it’s so complicated and
I am so na?ve. I bet none of these Arab countries will have any
political or economic agendas of their own? Countries that
have been fighting since the beginning of time? Think these
alliances will work?
?If I might take an example from history: prior to World
War II, the US allied politically with Stalin. In retrospect, is
Stalin, a dictator that murdered more people than Hitler?his
own countrymen to boot?the example of a leader we might
be proud to have aligned with? A good fellow was this Stalin?
Hmm? Been pals with the Russians ever since??
?It was necessary!? she shouted, banging her purse on the
?Oh, but that is my point. I’m implying that war is not necessary
to peace . . . it’s rather a paradox. Might we have solved
a short-term problem with Stalin but created a cold, long-term
?It would be safe to say, I’d wager, that we cannot kill our way
out of a war with the Islamic State. Like crushing an anthill:
more will always take their place. Ignorance, I might suggest,
is actually the enemy around the world . . . including in the US.
But the enemies are certainly not these masses of poor, hungry,
hopeless men and women. Dealing with educating and feeding
the poor is a global problem, requiring a worldwide solution
. . . and the long-term solution is not killing. What these poor,
hungry, brainwashed civilians need is stability and security . . .
by way of providing them with education, not guns.
?But don’t get me wrong,? Peewee implored. ?Any country
that has ever attempted to colonize, and I doubt we have few
innocents in this room, was a bully, forcibly imposing its will.
I certainly don’t want to get into it now, but Ukraine probably
agrees that bullying is still going on.?
?We’re imposing economic sanctions on Russia!? the US
?By ?we? I assume you mean the US? Now, you are complicating
the matter . . . some countries support the US, some
Russia?most likely for their own political and economic
reasons? The East vs. the West. The EU vs. Asia . . . whatever.
Divisive, not unifying. It’s not a political issue. It’s not an economic
issue. It’s a worldwide solidarity issue, and it needs to
be solved by a unified world by means of a united organization
that stands together. Would the delegate from Russia like to
The Russian crossed his arms. ?No comment,? he guffawed.
?Well, I didn’t think I was being that humorous, sir. Thank
you. I was afraid there for a second you were going to take your
The Russian lost his laugh at the reference to Khrushchev?s
?And we can’t have the US and seemingly innocuous countries
like Sweden, for example, selling arms to terrorists. How
absurd. Again, an issue that’s obviously based on self-serving
economics, not creating accord but discord, not unity of purpose
A soft Scandinavian-sounding gasp, like a herring burp, escaped
?We have to put humanity before economics if we are ever
to trust each other,? Peewee continued.
?But certainly economics is significant to the world, especially
to developing countries?? the representative from China
Peewee gazed toward the man seated primly in his chair
and bowed his head politely. ?I believe China?s attempt at limiting
the number of children a family can have was motivated
by short-term and, it seems, shortsighted economic gain?
?I doubt the killing of female babies to gain economic supremacy
would be condoned by Buddha? Not to mention the
quandary of having a civilization that, by 2020, will have thirty
million more males than qualified bearing partners. What’s
that going to do to the future economy of China . . . much
less the state of mind of all those hapless males?? (What will
China think of transgendering? Peewee resisted a smile at the
There was silence in the room.
?Please, my intention is not to be divisive?much the opposite.
But if you each have your own selfish agenda, there will
always be mistrust. Would you please write above the word
?politics,? ?truth.? Truth should be the primary tactic the UN utilizes.
It’s quite simple: if you are not truthful with each other,
you’ll never be effective. If you are not here to honestly seek
peace in the world, you simply do not belong here.
?Above the word ?economics,? please write ?reason.? If the decisions
you attempt to arrive at are based on self-interest, is
this reasonable? How can you ever agree?
?And, above the word ?bully,? please write ?human solidarity.?
If you, as representatives of your countries, don’t have unity of
purpose, we have no chance of attaining peace in the world.
The representatives of the United Nations must represent the
world, not their individual countries.
?Consequently, in bold, capital letters, please write ?action?!?
?It’s not that simple,? the delegate from the United States
spouted. ?Once again you illustrate your na?vet?. Solving
world problems is very complex.?
?I agree, Madam. Wars have changed. In the past we, each
country, knew who we were fighting. Heck, the British, in
America?s war for independence, even wore red and walked
in a straight line, like they lost the flip of a coin or something,
so the Americans could tell who they were shooting at and
take good aim. Americans were the ones that hid behind rocks
and trees . . . and they won. How can you fight an enemy you
can’t discern? What’s simple and what I really don’t understand,
though, is why we can’t learn from experience: Korea,
Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan . . . wars that can’t be won.
?This war with IS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban
is that kind of war. It’s also an ideological war, which is complex.
I can’t tell you how to win that kind of war. That is the
job that needs to be taken on by a unified world. Extremists
apparently don’t mind dying a ?holy death.? Since we cannot
and should not even attempt to kill them all, it seems we need
to change their idea of what ?holy? means. Attack the root of
the problem: ignorance.?
?A dream,? came a voice from the far right corner in the
Palestinian guest contingent. ?A pipe dream.?
* ? ? * ? ? * ? ? * ? ? *
Tim Munkeby can be reached at?. Munkeby is on the advisory committee of The Reporters Inc.?Click here to read his bio on our Team page.?
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