Zulu Z. Zulu,
Times Staff

The boat had been in the family for 57 years. When I crashed it my mother was very upset. Not because of the boat, it was a rowboat, and a leaky one, too. My grandfather had kept it around because he lost his virginity in it. He named her Splinter after what was left in his ass cheek after that moonlit hormone tinged night. No one ever caught a fish from it, not once. It had been in my shed for the last 20 years, following Gramps’ frequent psychotic episodes when he insisted that it was his home, and had been since he got back from Korea. Gramps was cremated the year before, and I needed some wood for a bonfire at my girlfriend’s house (there was an acute shortage following the Great Ripple Crash of 2023).

It fit in the bed of my pick up truck. The sun was setting when I left. When I turned out of my driveway it keeled over and smashed in the middle of the road. I pulled over to clean up my mess. The police arrived just in time. They had been confiscating plywood recently, no warrant no explanation there goes any means to get off the island. Not much I could do but watch. I could’ve left and continued on to dinner, but I asked the officer if he’d let me keep the shard of former boat that had her name neatly printed in faded red block letters on it. He agreed, seeing it wasn’t much of a threat to the Junta like the rest of my grandpa’s vessel. The relic puzzled me. How fitting the name SPLINTER took up most of what was left. I tossed in the back of my truck and brushed off the insult.

Driving, my palms itched and burned like hell. I gripped the wheel tight, running my white knuckled hands up and down the wheel. It stopped suddenly as i slowed down for a yellow light. I closed my eyes for a second, imagining the disappointment of the guests waiting to attend one of the most forbidden activities under the new regime. Only small slits of light remained in my car when I returned to look for a green light. The sun was about to set, and I’m not narcoleptic. I got out of my car. Something about the road caught my eye — the double yellow dividing lines now had black patterns etched into it for its entire length. The fresh engravings said YELLOW LINE YELLOW LINE YELLOW LINE in all caps, repeating as far as I could see. My windows had matte black markings nearly covering its entirety, except for certain letters, reading WINDOW and WINDSHIELD. I looked at my hands. HAND in fat block letters on each palm screamed fresh insanity into my day.