Flash Fiction Story 050: Chicken or Fish

The fundraising dinner for the Insistence on Democracy, Individualism, and Oligarchy Today was set to enjoy record attendance this year, ensuring that they would continue their quest for ballot access in more (read: more than just Montana) states in the 2020 election. 

Founded in 1972 by a famed Arctic Explorer Wilhelm “Bang! Bang!” Bangerton, the Party was intended to ensure that John F. Kennedy not be awarded a fourth term in the White House. By the time anyone could successfully explain to Colonel Bangerton that—owing to the twenty-second amendment—no one could be elected to the White House more than twice, and that President Kennedy had been notably dead for nearly a decade, he had already received 9.3% of the vote against Nixon and McGovern, and was therefore eligible for public matching funds in 1976*.

Having enjoyed less success in the post-Watergate era, the Party survived Bangerton and now meant to reclaim its former near 10-percent glory. A sumptuous meal had been arranged for attendees, and after charging 750 dollars per plate, such a lofty goal was finally within reach for Iggy McWhit, Bangerton’s political protégé and current Chairman of the Party.

The caterer’s head waiter approached. “Monsieur McWhit, the time has come. Will you be having the chicken or the fish?”

McWhit thought about the question long and hard. He considered all the pros and cons considering inherent flavor and texture, quality of the cut of the meat, and his own gastrointestinal history. 

“I will have lasagna.”

“I beg your pardon, monsieur?”

McWhit’s eyes narrowed. “Did you not hear what I said? I want lasagna.”

“But,” the waiter countered in a sputter. “We only have chicken or fish.”

“I refuse to accept your false dichotomy!” McWhit proclaimed, leaning into the pronunciation of the “die” in “dichotomy.” “I reject chicken! I reject fish! I require lasagna!”

“Oui, Monsieur, but unfortunately the menu for this evening only has two choices. Chicken or fish.”

By now McWhit’s shouting had attracted the attention of other attendees. Bart Bangerton—no relation—the Party’s Sargent-at-arms took up his chairman’s battle cry. “Tyranny! Tyranny!” he yelled. Others soon did likewise.

“Please!” the waiter begged. “Good people, this isn’t tyranny. It is merely an inconvenience.”

“Inconvenience is a myth!” Bangerton the Younger shouted. “Stop taking our rights!”

McWhit smiled wanly at the waiter, confident that his work here was done. All throughout the banquet hall, previously placed orders for the two available meals were revoked, until an Italian-insisting mob overthrew the powers that be.

And still there was no lasagna.

And so the Party ended forever on that evening, because every party member, and every person at all inclined to be sympathetic to their cause, starved to death out of protest. On the plus side, the employees of the caterer were allowed to take home all of the uneaten chicken or fish plates for a nominal fee.

* See Col. Bangerton’s memoir I’m Going To Stop Joe Kennedy’s Kid One Way Or Another, And None Of You Are Going To Stop Me for more on his political philosophy, and his struggles both with syphilis and a demagnetized compass. For a more sober history on the Party and its effect on politics over the last fifty years, see Has Anyone Seen Antarctica Lately? by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Art by Eris O’Reilly

Art by Eris O’Reilly