The Red Dot — a short story

Posted on 2011 October 16

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You ask what happened to my green dot. Long story. I’ll make it short.

As you’ll recall, after New York City got nuked by Iranian terrorists, the Dewener Christian Church erupted from a small West Coast congregation and took America by storm. Their rhetoric and sermons had an angry-optimistic appeal: angry about Muslims and godlessness, optimistic about the new America they promised. They wanted a government that reflected the basic Christian values that made this country great. It was a firestorm: nearly half the country converted within months.

I didn’t agree with everything in their doctrine — I strongly believed my own congregation interpreted the Bible more correctly — but at least the Deweners were God-fearing Christians who promised a rebirth of Christianity from Washington to Main Street. I prayed for their success.

And I did more than pray. I was working at the time as an exec for a P-R firm where I spearheaded campaigns that helped elect a lot of Dewener Christians to high office. In a mere two years, they controlled the White House, Congress, and most state legislatures. Then, with lightning speed, the new legislators ratified a Constitutional amendment that repealed the first words of the Bill of Rights. You know: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” blah-blah-blah. What was the point of a neutral government when America’s essential Christian nature was in peril?

The healing of our nation had begun, it seemed to me. Finally we had a Christian government that could enforce a proper respect for the true values of this country. Those were heady days.

Shortly, Washington passed a bill that established the “dot” system of identification. Driver licenses and Federal ID cards would be imprinted with one of three colored dots. Green went to Dewener Christians and fellow travelers (myself included, on account of my extensive work on their behalf). Yellow was for other Christians. Red went to Muslims, pagans, Jews, atheists, and the rest of the rabble.

With green, if you were pulled over for a traffic violation, you were merely given a warning. Yellow got you a ticket, and red got you arrested. Green-dot people received free access to government courts and services; yellow dots had to pay for it; red dots were out of luck altogether. Green-dot citizens were considered innocent until proven guilty, but yellows had to prove they weren’t, and reds were jail fodder. It was a tough system, but sometimes you have to break eggs to make an omelet.

(Privately I sympathized with the Jews, who lobbied hard for a yellow dot despite the memory of that color on the stars they’d had to wear in Nazi Germany. Great change brings pain, though, and there was no point in getting hung up about a single group’s concerns when so much was at stake.)

Challenges aside, this new world was a dream come true. Now the nightly TV news always began with a prayer. The Ten Commandments were posted everywhere. Music with filthy lyrics was banned. Sex in movies was outlawed. A truly Christian America at last! The country was on a roll.

Not everyone got a dot right away because it took time to work through the entire nation’s identification cards. But as the system fell into place, it quickly became the view among yellow-dot Christians that they were worse off than before. Now they had a choice: join a church they didn’t entirely believe in, or stay with their original congregations and become second-class citizens. It was a dilemma I could sidestep, and I was glad of that.

Soon the news showed a lot of people — including outspoken yellow-dots who felt cheated by this new system — being rounded up, accused of treason, and put into camps. Minor protests were quickly squashed.

I didn’t worry. We were headed in the right direction. These little problems would get ironed out.

My wife was even more gung-ho than I was. She left our church, converted to the Dewener Christian faith, and became very active in its programs. At first, this was fine. Soon, though, she was badgering me to join her. I was tempted, but in the end loyalty to my own communion prevailed. She became more and more aloof; we grew apart. One day I arrived home to find my things out on the front lawn and a new lock on the door. When I pounded angrily on it, the door was answered by a huge guy wearing a black suit and looking like a bouncer. I called out to my wife, who stood nervously in the background. She wouldn’t answer.

I found an apartment, filled out those endless change-of-address forms, and tried to continue with my life. But my job now began to frustrate me: the workload at the P-R firm had slowed. Finally I realized it was because all the managers except me were Deweners. They were pushing me aside.

Then my license renewal appeared in the mail. I looked carefully: it displayed a yellow dot. Yellow! I was supposed to be exempt!

I fairly flew down to the DMV. But now I had to pay thirty bucks just to see an advisor, who told me they’d acted on a report submitted by my employer. On the way home, I used the car phone to call the boss and argue my case, but his secretary told me he wasn’t available. “Besides,” she said, “I’ve never seen him overturn one of these decisions.” I cried out, “But it’s me!” She replied, coldly, “I’ve got work to do.” The line went dead.

At home I paced, fuming. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was still upset when I showed up for work the next day … only to find I’d been locked out of my office. Nobody would look at me. I tried to locate the boss, but his secretary repeated that he was “busy” and couldn’t see me. I stalked over to human resources, where the guy told me bluntly I’d been fired. He pointed to a chair. I looked: on the seat was a box containing my desk items.

I got in my car and motored aimlessly until I noticed a red light in the mirror. I pulled over. The cop glanced at my license and began drawing up a ticket. “What did I do?” I demanded. The cop said, “Your left taillight is out.”

The next morning, I drove downtown to pay the fine and sign up for unemployment. Bail for the ticket was four hundred dollars. Four hundred for a bulb! Plus thirty just to have yellow-dot access to the motor vehicle office. I was livid. I started to argue, but a security guard walked over, so I pulled out some cash, paid, and left hurriedly. At the unemployment office, they took another thirty off me, then told me I was ineligible for benefits because I’d been fired and not laid off. I could barely speak, I was so angry. I choked out a request for directions to the food-stamp office; a clerk pointed down the hall.

The food-stamp line was two hours long. Finally I got to the counter, where I learned that food stamps for yellow dots cost three hundred a month.

I’d had enough. I started yelling and waving my arms. I picked up a chair and threw it against a wall, then pounded on an interior frosted window until it cracked. A terrible pain shot through me and I fell to the floor. A moment later, state policemen had removed the Taser darts from my back, clapped me in cuffs, and hauled me roughly to a detention cell.

That evening, a public lawyer visited me. I asked him what my chances were in court. He shrugged.

Next day, after paying the five-hundred-dollar court fee, I was ushered before a judge. My lawyer was useless; the judge quickly sentenced me to six months’ hard labor. I barely had time to gasp before I was hustled outside to a waiting van.

In prison I found that nearly all inmates were yellow or red dots, and there was no love lost over greenies. During my stretch, only two green dots joined us; one turned up murdered in the showers, and the other got pummeled so severely he had to be transferred. A couple of months in, I heard that riots had broken out in Catholic and Jewish sectors in several cities, and thousands had been killed. Baptist protest marches in the South had been turned back with firehoses and tear gas. Rumors flew that a civil war might break out between Deweners and the rest of the Christians.

I behaved myself and got out in four months. Just before I left, they handed me my personal items and street clothing. I checked the wallet: it still contained my driver license. Apparently they hadn’t cared to revoke it. Maybe things would be okay, now that I was back in the world again.

Then I looked more closely: the yellow dot on the license had been replaced. With a red dot.

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[Copyright © 2011 by Jim Hull]

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