Alfred likes to keep the state of his office like the state of his mind.

He comes home.

He swipes everything from his desk to the floor in one, sweeping movement.

He stomps on the flies: foreign affairs.

He pours bottle after bottle of wine onto the box titled: war.

He destroys everything.

Burns it all.

Then he shuts the door to his office.

Locks it up, throws away the key to the plant next to the elevator doors.

And he takes up his hat, puts it over his eyes, and walks out to the city streets he calls home.

He is Alfred F. Jones, the United States of America.

It is 1918.

The streets, they are filled with people.

Happy, cheering, crying people.

It is November 11, and the Great War has ended.

This is peace.

Matthew scoffs at him.

You ban liquor from your people, but you drink so much. Look at you. - Alfred is on his knees, worshiping the porcelain god, as the saying goes. Just take a good look at you.

From his prayer position, back still facing his brother, Alfred rummages in his pockets and whips out a pistol. It lies between the boarders of his legs.

Get out, he orders. Get the fuck out.

I hate you, announces Matthew.

I hate you too, answers Alfred.

The gun sings silence between them both.

America shows the Italy brothers what jazz is.

This is it, introduces Alfred, and the bar is smoggy and smelling like sad music and sadder sex. This is the music of my people.

Lovino glares at him, dressed like the mafia that come from his neck of the world, and he retorts,

Your people are so fragmented.

His brother only smiles at the band players, legs crossed, eyes wide open.

I understand them, he chirps. I really do.

But Lovino elbows him in the ribs, and Alfred laughs.

We fought, too, laughs Feli, and they stole everything away from us anyway. It's a joke, get it? A joke.

The chorus swells.

Up, up goes the tempo.

Everyone is all smiles. It's a good, nice night.

One day, a fine summer morning, Alfred visits one of his prominent writers.

Sir, Alfred exclaims, happy, as Writer pours him a cup of coffee. Sir, your words are so beautiful.

They are words, says Writer simply. They serve their purpose. They are soldiers of the wars we call literature.

But sir, insists Alfred, and Writer, is suddenly, secretly, subdued to the thought that he would die for this man. Whoever he is. He would live and fight for the sake of the being in front of him.

The feeling is quick to pass.

Sir, laughs Alfred, words live forever! And so do books!

War lives forever, too. Alfred frowns, and Writer holds back one of his own. It never ends, does it? And soldiers. Soldiers are not people. They serve their purpose, then they are thrown away.


For a long, long time, they do nothing. See nothing. Speak nothing.

Sir, asks Alfred, finally. Were you a writer your whole life?

No, retorts Writer. I was a gunman in Italy, once.

Oh, murmurs Alfred, repeating himself.

Decades later, Writer shoots himself in the head.