Tuesday, December 12, 1995

The rocket's red glare

Francis Scott Key bursts into Fort McHenry. The walls are pock-marked and full of holes; the ground has massive craters. There's a cluster of bleeding American soldiers lying around, some with amputated limbs. Not to mention a few corpses. Francis runs to the center of the fort and looks up. Joy floods his face.

FRANCIS: Thank God, you're all right!

SOLDIER #1: Francis!

OFFICER: It's good to see you, lad.

FRANCIS: I was so worried!

SOLDIER #2: It has been quite a night.

FRANCIS: But you made it through!

OFFICER #1: (indicating corpse) Not all of us.

FRANCIS: You're in one piece!

SOLDIER #2: (indicating amputated limb tied with bloody rag) Not all of us.

FRANCIS: Oh, the flag, the flag, the glorious lovely flag!

OFFICER: The flag?

SOLDIER #2: He's worried about the flag?

FRANCIS: Yes. The British had me prisoner. I witnessed the bombardment all night long! All those shells, bursting all around that glorious flag! That seductive, titillating, saucy, naughty flag! Look at it, waving up there, so fragile, so beautiful! (shudders with erotic delight) Ohhhh! I was worried to my core! To the depths of my very soul!

SOLDIER #1: What about us?

FRANCIS: You? I wasn't worried about you!

OFFICER: Well, thank you very much.

FRANCIS: Oh, you don't matter. None of us matter! Don't you see? The flag is what's important! Lovely, stripey little flag all covered in stars and stripes. Ohhh!

He runs to the flag pole, pulleys the flag down, removes it, caresses it to his face.

FRANCIS: Did they hurt you flaggy?

SOLDIER #2: You and that flag should get married.

FRANCIS: I wrote a song about this beautiful flag. Do you want to hear it?

SOLDIERS: No!

He sings the national anthem. The soldiers groan.

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