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Forlorn on the Fourth of July

 by Jon F. Merz (

           Let me tell you about my Fourth of July.

          Everything was going well. My annually popular shindig had once again attracted about 50 friends and family for sun, fun and eats. Boasting about outstanding recipes I'd gleaned from the geniuses over at, I sizzled and roasted, smoked and jerked beef, pork and chicken like an old pro. Add to that, a helpful dosage of my very own microbrews from the great folks at, a clear blue sky, my favorite Magnum P.I. Hawaiian shirt, and things seemed very good indeed.

          Then Leo showed up.

          For those of you who don't remember, Leo is an associate of mine who last graced these pages in March when he was on a ``personal enhancement" quest.  The results of this quest are still classified pending Leo's appearance on the Jerry Springer show. Suffice it to say, his mood lately has been awful. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm the only friend he's got left. And since I'm going straight to hell for entertaining libidinous thoughts about John McCain's wife, any acts of charity that delay this are a welcome addition in my life. Hence, I invited Leo to the party.

          He grabbed a brew, plopped himself down on the nearest chaise lounge and frowned.  ``Phooey on the Fourth of July."

          Now friends, there may be problems with this country, but I happen to love it.  So, naturally hearing this rather unpatriotic talk concerned me. I told him he'd better expound on it.

          ``It's all a lie," he said. ``Boot up your computer and I'll show you."

          While I did, Leo continued. ``You know the first Fourth of July wasn't even celebrated on July 4 but on July 8?"

          He directed me to and sure enough, the cynic was right. Still given that ever since that first year, it's been celebrated on the fourth, I told Leo he'd better have more up his sleeve.

          He did. We headed to where the legend of Betsy Ross is examined in detail. Leo pointed out how she may not have actually sewn the first flag for our country at all. Indeed, reading through the report, her credibility does seem suspect. I was able to counter by taking us to where they wholly embrace Mrs. Ross as the flag's seamstress. 

          Leo frowned. ``You know George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree or had wooden teeth?  Go to and you'll see for yourself."

          I did and Leo was right. The page lists facts and myths surrounding our first president. I still wasn't convinced that celebrating the Fourth of July was for the gullible and told Leo that.

          He regarded me with the same look of contempt I get from music store clerks when I purchase old Eddie Money tunes and smirked. ``You really believe everything the government tells you?"

          ``I keep an open mind."

          ``Fine," said Leo. He then directed us to where someone named Chris has a theory on what happened to TWA flight 800: It was shot down with an anti-matter gun. 

          I chuckled. ``Who are the `World Leaders' this guy refers to?"

          Leo frowned. ``He hasn't finished the page yet."

          I showed Leo a page located at that works to debunk conspiracy theories through careful analysis and investigation. Unfortunately, they don't have anything on TWA flight 800 yet, which only made Leo nod.

          ``It's a dangerous world out there," he said. ``You can't trust the guv'mint."


          He shrugged. ``That's how my new friends say it."

          ``What new friends?" Leo having new friends was like hearing my proposal to have Friday made into a mandatory weekend day had been accepted. It just wasn't going to happen.

          ``These friends," said Leo, once again taking command of my mouse. In no time we were at the Alabama Constitutional Militia homepage located at



          ``How'd you join this thing?"

          ``Whaddya mean?"

          ``Well, for one thing, they're in Alabama."


          ``Leo, you live in Weston, Massachusetts."

          He paused. ``Oh, yeah, well, I'm kind of a satellite for them."

          Since Leo's thought process did indeed seem to be orbiting high above rational thought, I perused the page.

          ``Sure do seem to be a lot of  `corrupt and abusive' folks listed as their adversaries."

          ``I'm just proud to be a part of them," said Leo. ``They're teaching me a lot."

          I decided not to explore that, but instead showed Leo where they expose the underside of militia movements. 

          Convinced of nothing, Leo did manage to contribute to the party. From his knapsack he produced a large cylindrical object that looked like a paper towel roll on steroids. Apparently, he'd done some research on homemade fireworks, located what he thought was a viable source of knowledge at and built his own explosive concoction.

          ``Just watch," he said, stooping down to light the tiny fuse.

          In the resulting mayhem, the search for Leo's eyebrows became something of a scavenger hunt launched by 50 slightly inebriated party-goers. After dismissing likely candidates such as one highly annoyed Gypsy moth caterpillar and several used pipe cleaners, Leo had to face facts: his eyebrows were vaporized. Luckily, in between laughing, the ER doctor on duty that night told Leo they'd grow back.


          The last I saw of Leo he was headed home with the March issue of WWWiz Magazine under his arm. Apparently, he needed those hair replacement links all over again.


  Jon F. Merz freelances from Boston, Mass., where he writes for,, and more.  His past articles have appeared in World Rhythm Magazine, Ura & Omote Journal, and  He has also published two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.



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