Because Hipsters by Todd Mercer

Everything comes up golden for the hipsters living and couch-surfing next door. The less they do right, the more lottery wins they rack up. They throw away winning tickets instead of cashing in. Because lucky keeps coming.

To deal with them is to want to hurt them, says the pacifist. One recent midnight the hipster bungalow blasted jam band tunes into their front yard. And everyone else’s.

The plumber from across the street strode over. He bludgeoned a hipster-man to death, using his own unicycle and ukulele. Not using the plumber tools you expect  =  style points. The ukulele was too splintered to re-purpose as match sticks. Nobody complained to the authorities. Who knows if even other hipsters missed him. A positive development—that was the sense on the block. We thanked the plumber. Little Miss Kowalewicz sent him over a jar of homemade cinnamon applesauce.

If you met these kids, really.

The next day three new hipsters moved in, three new ukuleles. Three hacky sacks.

They could apparently metastasize at will, so we skipped beyond pragmatic middle range ideas and turned to the plumber for intellectual leadership.

He said, “Fire-bomb.”

No one wanted to nod first. What kind of monster would? Am I right? But someone’s chin dipped imperceptibly. The nodding spread. Soon we were high-fiving, chest-bumping. We danced a cheery firebomb dance—a bunch of schoolteachers, city service workers, retired bankers, and an unassuming Dad-ish looking guy who played bass once at a Kenny Rogers gig in Elkhart.

Not that that gig is all I’m about.

“But,” I said a handsome, responsible homeowner said, “It would have to be a very minor fire bomb. So it didn’t burn nearby houses.” Even then we heard the hipsters, their stereo warbling continuously, part way through a Phish song which began last March.

The plumber was the sort of leader we needed. Our private consensus on him: insane but still capable of joining a few pipes together. Maybe not completely certifiable. A leader whom we could blame later, if we felt like we went too far. It was a relief to rely on his judgement.

Before the hipsters, the million tiny daily frustrations came from as many directions. There was no one place to concentrate protest. Now for all the wrongs life deals us, we focus our response on the hipsters.

If criminal activity happened the night of the loud boom and the fire engine sirens, I didn’t see it. I took a studied interest in not looking outside all night. I spun Kenny Rogers albums and watched my shows. At seven in the morning when I left for work, I did notice the hipster bungalow was completely gone. It isn’t up to me to keep track of other people’s houses.

The police and mayor shrugged it off.

Because, you know, hipsters.

By the time I returned from work, the hipsters had thrown up a three story stick-built Dutch Colonial. Eight dormers and a greenhouse.  It was already covered with lush ivy. A massive elm tree cast shade over the whole yard. Boxy cars lined the curbs as far as the eye could see. Hipster trash wandered the block in be-sandled gaggles. Some curly-moustachioed douche busking with a tuba blocked my driveway, but he moved when I kept coming. Hipster couches festooned on their lawn. There was synchronized juggling. It must have been considered ironic.

Dozens of ukuleles playing somewhat together sound just how you figure they would sound.

The plumber saw it as a human rights issue. He talked a lot about rights. He hadn’t slept a peaceful night since the Watergate era, he said, and he was all done with hipsters.

The people on the block and I may or may not have known about the suitcase nuke. I should check the statue of limitations before I unwrap that mother-scratcher with specifics. Even though we’re talking hipsters, laws are important and suitcase nukes are very illegal. Also, they’re short on nuance.

That’s my view, but you know how committees work when it comes time to make sausage.

The plumber allegedly said it would be the tiniest nuke we’d ever heard of. We may or may not have done a Nuke’Em dance. Allegedly.

Well, he was no scientist, and it leveled city’s east side. It killed lots of great folks from the block that I’ve known twenty years. Fifty thousand or so innocent citizens perished. The plumber too, we assume.

Never been gladder to have a miles-long commute to a job.  Even there every window exploded.

In the aftermath we really questioned ourselves morally, us few survivors who weren’t in the blast zone. It was a mixed situation. We still had to wake up early every morning, and hipsters will drive you to the wall with despair for the trajectory of human culture.

A year afterward the mayor wasn’t so angry with us anymore. The radiation levels were down to Existential Dread. I drove into the crater where I used to live, expecting a moonscape.

There was a block full of soft-beards in Portland shirts and hipstresses wearing junk shop in-jokes, going along with their days, as if nothing had happened. Rather a lot of the men resembled the plumber. The notion of how they manage to multiply themselves came to me, the unholy alchemy of these strange creatures.

I tried to sort it out, but the ukulele drone was indestructible. I had to get away.



© Todd Mercer, 2015

Todd Mercer won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015, the first Woodstock Writers Festival Flash Fiction Award and two Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance appeared in 2015 at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in: Bartleby Snopes, Blink Ink, Dunes Review, Eunoia Review, Kentucky Review, The Lake, The Legendary, Literary Orphans, Lost Coast Review, Main Street Rag Anthologies, Midwestern Gothic and Softblow Journal. 

Because Hipsters was read by Jon Sprik on 7th October 2015 for Crimes & Misdemeanors