WE THE PEOPLE by Nicholas Grider

WE THE PEOPLE by Nicholas Grider


Hi there! Thank you for your patience as you adjust to our way of life. We are the people. We’re just like you, except our clothing is less wrinkled and our databases are better organized. We’re grateful you allowed us to ask you to welcome us in, and then kindly gave your consent to our decision to stay.


We like it here. The reason we like it here is because this is where we are, which makes things a lot more convenient for everyone, especially us. That’s what we mean when we point at the floor and say “Hallowed ground belongs to no one, but someone needs to make sure it stays presentable.”

No one, of course, conquers any land they didn’t think couldn’t be improved, and while we admire your society, we don’t think it is a utopia, but we held a meeting while you were busy scavenging for food and decided that a little bit of conquering never hurt anyone, and in any case, we’d rather avoid the term “conquering” in lieu of the word “upcycling,” even if we do still prefer to roam the streets with our rifles loaded.

We’re here at the center of what we’ve deemed is the center of anything that has a center; it has a nice view and is warm but not too humid and the kind of place where we’ll all be long dead before anyone deals any consequences and we especially like that it’s politely sunny and often April or May and forever spacious. An untamed lifetime of wide green days around which grand architectures of seduction and discipline and nocturne can be built.

The new, glistening fences are mostly decorative. Also seductive, depending which side you’re on.

We are the people, and you are also the people, so we’re just like you, simply a more efficient model or small cul-de-sac of “people” than many people. As far as peoples go, we are 0-60 in five seconds with an engine of progress quiet as an elderly cat’s purr. 

We like it here. We’re glad you’re happy to have us as your guests even though we have already spent time belonging everywhere. We have decided, though, of everywhere we belong, we belong here the most, though you belong here almost as much, for which we’re glad.


Don’t worry, you won’t be forgotten. Beginnings and endings have never been forgotten, and now, with the gleam of metal pressed against the gleam of sun, nothing will ever be forgotten again, unless we hold a referendum on it, but we have yet to decide how much each of your votes count.

Our preference for the past, for light blue oxford shirts and creased tan slacks and comfortable grins, does not make us ghosts. Not even the friendly kind. We are very real and work very hard to build monuments to our potential so large they will be easily understood centuries from now when hardly anyone is left to understand anything.

We organized and arrived here because that’s what our people do. Our people invented adventures. Our people invented guest and host, arrival and departure, escape and captivity. Our people invented mirrors. Our people were responsible for the brief trend of everyone now living pausing at mirrors, turning to smile, leaning in and whispering the word whore at ourselves and/or whispering if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and/or whispering I wanna know what love is.

Our people were the people who made the 1970s safe for carefully selected representatives of the populace to exercise public flamboyance. This is why God ushered polyester into being, so that we might be elastic without anybody getting any kind of ideas.


We’re glad that you’re glad that we spread the gospel of wellness to the people. Fitness, wellness, discipline, loose sweatpants, tight sweatpants, and the contextual encouragement of public shirtlessness among the men of the species, who are better at glistening outdoors in the May sunlight, hard at work making our world an easier place for you to live in.

We smile because our teeth are white. As white and cold as the soul of a child five minutes before conception, as white and cold as the flesh of a snake-shaped angel.

We’re very grateful you welcomed us and gave us a tour and allowed us to rename everything and organize everything according to priority, then adjust priorities to move in sync with the market shuddering under low, bedazzling clouds.

We invented capitalism, and God invented Esther Williams as a reward. The heart of capitalism is this: why have just one Esther Williams when you can have two? Or more than two? That is why a mirror is always more important than what is placed in front of it.

God invented spandex bodysuits so that Slim Goodbody might survive and prosper, traveling the land like Johnny Appleseed dispersing the fruit of subtext instead of apples. 


We would like to teach you how to help us make the world a better place. In a small nameless stretch of the bible largely hidden from the light of political arguments and game shows, Jesus  shrugs and says to Thomas, “Well I reckon in order for things to get better for some people, for other people it has to get worse. I don’t know. When I asked my dad why sometimes I stop in places where people made in God’s image never stop and just squint off into the insufficiently polluted air, one time he told me well, Adam and Eve forgot to eat the whole damn apple. Another time he told me this: kindling’s not the same thing as the fuel for the fire. When he talks like that, it’s a sign not to bother the part of him that is not me via divine intervention in the magic of sexual reproduction. I don’t know. You hungry?”

We would like to teach you how to help us make the world better for as many people as possible, especially us. We would like to teach the world to sing, time permitting. Think of it this way. For every one Paul Simon in the world there are ten John Denvers. This is important because ten is usually a larger number than one.

Another thing Jesus sayeth unto some disciple, probably Jeff if there were a disciple named Jeff, “If I were to tell you that sometimes saying goodbye is saying goodnight, does that sound thoughtful or do I just sound high? Be honest. I won’t ex-disciple you or anything.”

The cure for doubt is not salvation. The cure for doubt is vacation. We would like to invite you to learn more about us by observing us at a distance as we settle in your homes, digging through your drawers and cupboards for unconsumed opiates and making fun of your dirty cutlery and your ideas about interior direction.

We’re glad that you’ve agreed to our suggestion that you should cease the magic of sexual reproduction. We have taken a shine to you, and all children really do, anyway, is replace you, and we would never want to replace you; we like you just the way you are. We also like like to be in charge of who replaces whom.

Blue skies are on their way–blue the color of blue we have decided to name “sky blue” so that we may never forget. We wander your streets, cylinders of clouds in our pale blue oxford shirts with our hands on our hips or our fingers close to the safeties no our rifles, squinting at confusing buildings and animals and signs, debating each other whether it is better to be very good at winning or simply to win as much as possible, and to check our watches and say to each other, “Oh my, Harry, will you look at that,” or “Hmm, the natives are probably getting restless,” after which we all chuckle, spines curving so that we all slightly lean away from each other as we laugh, the social equivalent of a nigh orchid in time-lapse bloom.

Harm isn’t on our agenda. Harm is just a common side effect. And side effects are what make being healthy seem all the better in comparison.


We’re glad you haven’t raised any objections yet, at least none that have needed attending to. Everyone’s happy when all the blades of the world are still sharp.

In a dusty corner of scripture, Jesus asks The Lord Our God “What’s the deal with death? People live, sometimes not for long, and then die, and mostly stay dead after that. I dunno, it just seems inefficient. There was silence, according to the gospel, after which The Lord Our God sayeth unto his only son, “Well dancing’s not efficient either, and you can’t do it forever. Wanna know why?” When Jesus shrugs and digs the toe of his sandal into the Hollywood silt and says sure, God sayeth unto him, “If dancing were permanent, it would stop being dancing.”

We’re glad you’ve been so hospitable. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned that suffering is like dancing and bleeding is a form of suffering and, one way or another, bleeding always stops. As you flee into the new chapters of your lives as dwellers of periphery, keep this in mind: there is an end to everything, but there’s also an exception that proves the rule. We’re happy to share with you, gathered here today beneath sky blue blasts of noise swirling down the narrow streets of our home, that there’s an end to everything, which is God’s plan, which means it’s a good thing. Someone has to be the exception, though. So we have decided there will be an end to everything but us. We hope, someday, whispering to strangers in the shade of distant trees, you’ll sometimes stop to say to each other “it was very gracious of those people, whoever they were, to give us the gift of adventure, shoulder the burden of being the motionless locus of the world’s sphere, and to share with us some helpful hints about sharing in the profit margin of God’s providence.”


By now, of course, you are already gone. But we generally prefer to remember not to forget. This is why the God we’ve chosen to invest a lot of money in and to allow to so often bless us was kind enough both to invent databases and to allow us to view them as infinite. We don’t want to have to say goodbye, though. And so: goodnight.

Nicholas Grider is the author of the story collection Misadventure (A Strange Object, 2014) and his work has appeared recently in Okay Donkey, Five:2:One, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Queen Mob’s Tea House and elsewhere. He can be found apologizing for lots of things at @ngrdr and, as of August 2019, at www.nicholasgrider.com.

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