[originally published in THIRD COAST MAGAZINE]
Aetna threw up immediately after riding the rollercoaster; Cigna threw up well before. They met later in the day to laugh about their physiology. What bodies, they said, what forms! They used their tongues to clean their teeth. They used their hands to clap.
I don’t think these kids know what an internment camp is. Remember the motion of the Pacific Ocean. It went like *alternating shoulder rolls* this. I’ve been called Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Eskimo; I’ve been called Charlie. I love cotton candy. This is not my name. Excuse me, miss, where do you keep your Asians. No, no, not Haitians. Asians. Like me *points at eyes*. You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you. You don’t know what I mean.
Kaiser and Permanente wait in the queue for roasted corn-on-the-cob. Permanente stands behind him and itches her foot with her other foot. She holds a red basket of fries; the fries are drowning in vinegar. The smell is an insult to Kaiser because Kaiser reviles all condiments. Henry Ford wrote that vinegar promotes avarice. John Rockefeller was allergic to catsup. Kaiser and Permanente are in a serious and committed relationship.
The line for corn shortens. Kaiser’s stomach squeals like a Velociraptor. Permanente drops a handful of fries into her mouth: four squids making love on a bed of coral reef. Permanente chews with her mouth open. “I want to do the spinny teacups,” she gargles. The inside of her mouth announces the mastication process is now at its midpoint. Kaiser gulps nervously; he is next in line. The man selling the corn finally asks him what he wants. The man says, “How much corn you want?” Kaiser hesitates before replying, “How much corn I need?”
This *motions with arms* was all an internment camp back in WWII. See the black crows tap-dancing on the barbed wire fence. They’re shouting at us. They’re shouting, “Spill your deliciousness! Caw!” The big blue tent that houses the quilt show—no, the other one, by the Ferris wheel—that tent was once an Apartment for seventy-seven Japanese-Americans. No, I will not get the fuck out of here. Executive Order 9066. Don’t get me wrong, I love quilts. This is true, the crows, the Puyallup Fair Grounds being an internment camp, everything. I am the only Japanese guy living in my apartment in Seattle; I can stretch out all I want. Yes, I would love some cotton candy.
Blue Cross has great aim when it comes to milk bottles. Blue Shield is lactose intolerant. Cross wears a flu mask at all times, even during the summer months when nobody gets sick. He has a moustache but you can’t see it. A hirsute man says, “Step right up!” to fair-goers venturing past the dusty thoroughfare, even though the carnival game can only fit one person at a time. The hirsute man is planning for the future. Blue Shield, lethargic, anxious, nauseated, wonders for the twenty-seventh time if he (Shield) might be part-Japanese: studies suggest that 90% of all Asians discriminate against lactose. Shield tries to catch his reflection off of Blue Cross’ bald pate but Cross keeps throwing balls like a baseball pitcher having a psychic collapse. “Stand still,” mutters Shield. “I need to check my eyes.”
The internment camp here was called Camp Harmony. The Puyallup Fair has a play area for kids called Sillyville. The breading on the fried chicken is delicious and makes me want to disregard the meat altogether. Who wants white meat when you have breading like this. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy, Japanese-Americans, not so much. I bite my thumb at you, heart disease. I bite it right off.