Donald Baker really had to take a shit. His cab ride from his Upper East Side apartment to his office was fine until about 14th street when it hit him. The animalistic urge to crap is overwhelmingly powerful. in an instant, a wealthy lawyer, the highest product of education, society, refinement and wealth is reduced to his most base animal instincts. Something that would take thirst three days to do, hunger- weeks, but the strain caused by diarrhea, a lower intestine full of feces and water can reduce a man to full sweaty panic in seconds.
Push Donald Baker, PUSH!
Ever since the ugly incident that got turned into that book and movie and staple of Japanese culture nerds Battle Royale, governments figured that if they were going to keep the population down they had better cutesy stuff up. So instead of giving sociopaths weapons and telling them to kill each other, the games developed into team sports and playground activities for survival. Fauntleroy had fucked up his knee awhile back playing football in high school, and so instead of fighting for his life on a grassy field like a real man, he found himself competing for his life in Manhattan playing dumb games for ten year olds, alongside a bunch of stock traders and some programming nerds. Guys who hadn’t made it yet, but probably would in a few years, if they got out of these fucking games alive. Which was no guarantee, as everyone knew what the stakes were; the activities were cuter, but if you lost, you still died. The Population Control Council doesn’t care how smart you are.
So Fauntleroy stood, arms linked with a bunch of guys in Brooks Brothers shirts and Versace and Ralph Lauren ties. On the other side, a team of anarchists and punks and activists reeking of patchouli. Knit hats, backpatches, denim jackets. Shirts with things written on them; he wasn’t clear if they were indicating manners the wearers had, punk rock bands, or nicknames for the weird sexual shit he desperately hoped to ask his girlfriend for if he survived. (Assuck, with an umlaut? The Spits? It didn’t SOUND fun, but…)
Fauntleroy had watched the ranks of the activists stay mostly the same, as the folks on his side had watched their numbers dwindle. The Population Control Council’s cutesy approach didn’t extend very far past the activities; he could see the scary looking steel van where people unable to break through were being herded into, and could see the riot cops lazily loading their guns. Fauntleroy turned his head up and basked in the sunlight for a second, contrasting with the somewhat frigid air of Lower Manhattan. He wished for a second to hear a siren indicating the games were over for the day, or for his girlfriend’s voice, or for the sound of the ringing phone at the office he worked in before luck had dealt him this horrible hand.
But what he heard instead sent him into a cold sweat. “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Fauntleroy over,” the activists chanted.
Donald Barker was a man people took seriously. Donald Barker was a man corporations took seriously. It did not occur to him that the scruffy line would not part as he walked through. He had places to be. The scruffy people did not. And when he walked his places-to-be walk and glared his places-to-be glare, people moved.
And when he realized the line would not open… perhaps they did not understand.
“Excuse me,” he said, reluctantly.
They didn’t part. And he tried, “Come on, guys. I’m serious. I have to get to work.”
He tried, “Please.”
But they weren’t moving and he had to get in the building where people made sense and there were things to do. He would tell Jacob about his crazy morning, about how the scruffy kids were worse than traffic if he could just squeeze his way through if only—
And he realized he was struggling, pushing at the scruffy kid. And he heard the voices, the voices that had never quieted since childhood. “Come on, Donny, hustle!” He remember the defensive line in front of him. He remembered a hundred hits, a hundred clashes. He remembers the line parting. He remembers the glory, how they chanted his name. He hears laughter and he remembers the truth.
He’d lasted a day in the team. He’d turned and run from the defensive line. Wrong-way Donnie, they’d called him. Even his mom had laughed. “My little wrong-way dumpling.” He’d never told his wife.
Now Donny, no, now Donald Barker was back in the scrum this time he would not run. Never again. This was his moment. His dream. Push Donald Barker, PUSH!