I'd never seen Billy so energized since news came of a Dallas white inferiority march. He'd never been a zealot before - too lazy. I was waiting on his roommate Gerald to get back. Gerald and I don't have much in common but we both love Asian action flicks and there's a theater in Grapevine that shows a steady diet of them. But this waiting time left me with one more in an endless series of soul-shattering situations as I trudge along mired among the other losers of society.
"Gonna shake up the world, are ya?"
"You betcha!" He was adjusting his MAGA (Make Assholes Gay Again) cap completely oblivious to the sarcasm in my voice. Moron was going to make me work to insult him.
"OK. Don't forget your dunce cap!"
That right pissed him off - to no end of satisfaction on my part.
"Always have something smart to say, don't you?" I had to keep from laughing at his vexed little face. Like most of his King-Of-The-Hill-reject buddies, Billy is hospital white with a beer belly. He works in a warehouse where they play Rush Limbo over the speakers all day so he'll know who to hate and why - at least according to his programming. Billy is a dog but he's not an attack dog. He gets his identity from running with the pack. They could be marching for anything, he didn't care, just as long as it required no personal integrity and had no liberal conations risking ex-communication.
"Is it true you alt-righters are really just a bunch of repressed faggots and you hold these phony rallies because you're scared your Daddy's going to find you out?"
"You're the faggot! All you protesters are gaying out America and making us weak!"
"Don't look at me, kemosabe, I'm not protesting you. Think I'm going to let a bunch of clowns make me miss a good Korean crime thriller? No way!"
"Good! Because while you're sitting on your ass wasting your life I'll be out there doing something."
Hate can give you direction!
"Guilty on both counts," I declare with complete innocence. That threw Billy off because like most of his ilk he only knows how to counterpunch since he has no true convictions other than a feeling of needing to belong.
"OK. Well. You'll probably see me on the news tonight."
"I won't be home in time." That deflated him even further, as if I'd stripped him of purpose and a chance to display his moral superiority.
"You're missing out on life..."
"No doubt." That pummeled him into silence as he sunk down into a chair. Time to go for the kill.
"Tell me, how do you guys decide who drives the car into the counter-protesters? Do you draw straws or something?"
"Fuck you, Harry. What do you know anyway?"
"I know you're going to save me from Pedro the dishwasher and Luis the lawn mover. You go, girl!"
"That just shows how stupid you are! We're going to take that rainbow and stick it up your ass! I heard about people like you. You're a traitor to the white race."
"I know you are but what am I?" I'd suddenly felt like channeling the Trump campaign.
"See! That's so - so -"
"Exactly!" Then Billy let out all his internal fears keeping him up at night. "You'll always be that way, just driftin' and doing nothing. People will make fun of you for having nothin' and being nothin'. I'm not letting people cheat me out of what's mine!"
Suddenly, Billy was pro-immigration
"I admire your martyrdumb [using the spelling from my book]. But you know your real enemies are the big shots who keep you pea-brains fighting your fellow lower classes while Wall Street saps more and more money out of the economy while telling you Pedro the dishwasher is suppressing your wages."
"I don't know anything about that." He said it like it was a valid defense.
"That's because you've got your head up your ass, you fucking walking dildo!"
"See there! You're angry too! It's not just me. Nothing I like more than seeing you liberal wise asses pissed off."
Well, fuck, pea-brained as he may be Billy knew how to spot hate when he saw it. It is, after all, his natural habitat. It was the jolt that I needed to get back on track.
"You know, I think I'm going to skip the movie and join the protest."
"Bullshit! Really?" I heard a delicious glimmer of hope in his voice.
"Absolutely. I'm going to put my life on hold every time some moron says or does something stupid and I'm going to go out there and correct it!"
Billy's face lit up. "Alright! I can't wait to pepper spray your ass! You won't talk so big when I got the guys around."
"You mean your boyfriend's back and I'm gonna get a beatin'?"
"You're just scared!"
"Hey-la, hey-la, your boyfriend's back!"
"You're a fascist! Quit picking on me. You're part of the looney left that thinks our great President is Hitler!"
"I don't think he's Hitler - I just think Hitler is his role model."
"That's just as bad!"
"Remember that when I come up to greet you."
"I hope you do show up! We'll get your dumb ass then."
How to really piss them off
"Get moi? Really, Billy? I'll be nothing but friendship itself, calling you out by name and handing you a beautiful fresh flower."
"Don't you be handing me no flower! I'm serious!" He stepped back as if I'd drawn a knife on him.
"A beautiful yellow flower, just for you!"
"I'll kick your ass for that!"
"Repeat after me: Love is all you need!"
"I'm not listening to you!"
"No one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time. It's easy!"
"Just shut the fuck up!"
Gerald came through the front door of the apartment. "I see you two are at it again. Why do you have to rile him up, Harry?"
"I dunno. Why piss on a dog's head?"
"See what I have to put up with?! I don't want him coming 'round here anymore."
I pretended to sulk. "I think I've been protested."
It's not the first time I've had that request in my life. Gerald and I were going to have to scoot to make it all the way to Grapevine before the film started. That didn't stop me, however, from saying in a loud voice in the outside hallway as we departed that we needed to stop at a flower shop first.