Columnist

Dave Molter is a freelance writer and Golden Quill and Keystone Press Awards winner. He also is a freelance musician in the Pittsburgh area.

“I’m sure I heard voices again around 3 a.m.,” the night watchman at the Offensive Statues Warehouse told his supervisor at the end of his shift.

“Buddy,” the supervisor said, “if you think I don’t know that the ‘coffee’ in your thermos is really Southern Comfort, you’re sadly mistaken. But never mind – no one else wants the job. Just go home and sleep it off again.”

But the night watchman was neither drunk nor crazy. 2020 had been hard for statues, and some of them couldn’t take it any longer.

“It’s not fair!” said Christopher Columbus. “Today is a big anniversary for me, and I’m not even out on the street to see the parades!”

“T’ain’t no goldanged parades this year, son!” Robert E. Lee said from atop his horse, Traveler. “H’ain’t y’all heard ‘bout the sickness that’s goin’ round?”

“Sickness?” Columbus said, incensed. “Don’t try to blame that on me again! I’m Admiral of the Ocean Sea! All I did was sail to the west to get to the East. Could I help it if the Indians I found couldn’t recover from the measles?”

“’Tain’t the sickness that’s out there now,” said Stonewall Jackson. “There’s some new kind o’ pestilence let loose by Chinamen.”

“There you go again with the racist terminology,” said Jesus. “Don’t blame an entire race of people for your own shortcomings! Be aware of who you might offend! A bronze cheek still hurts when you slap it and – being stuck up here on these plinths – we can’t really turn the other one.”

“What are you doing in here, anyway, Jesus?” Jackson asked, sourly. “Who objected to you?”

“Oh … it’s protective custody,” Jesus explained. “I was standing outside a church in Miami, minding my own business, when a bunch of drunk college kids toppled me over and cut off my head. So the church council decided I should hide out here till the heat is off.”

“Ha! ‘Protective custody!’” said Stephen Foster, angrily. “That’s what they told me in Pittsburgh! I stood in two parks for 118 years, but they took me down and stuck me here after people said I was racist. Look at me: I’m just standing here listening to a Negro play the banjo! How is that racist?”

“Well,” Jesus said, “first off, there’s that word ‘Negro.’ It’s no longer acceptable. And then there’s ‘My Old Kentucky Home.’ ‘Darkies?’ C’mon, Steve!”

“You are such a nitpicker, Jesus!” Foster countered. “Come over here and I’ll give you a thorough thrashing!”

“Knock it off!” George Washington yelled. “I’m sick of your whining! Look … you people all offend someone. But why am I here? I’m the father of my country. Who doesn’t love me?”

“Yeah, yeah …,” said Columbus. “Whoever pulled you over probably thought you were me!”

“Oh … it’s always about you, Columbus!” said Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate. “Admiral, my foot! All you did was accidentally bump into land that had been there for eons. At least I knew where I was sailing.”

“Madre de Dios!” said Columbus. “No one even knows who you were! They just saw you up on that horse and yanked you down because they thought you were a Confederate general.”

“My sculptor made my face clearly Hispanic!” said de Oñate. “Just because you don’t know that I was governor of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México doesn’t mean the rest of the world didn’t recognize me!”

“Egad!” said Jefferson Davis. “What a bunch of self-important nobodies! I was president of the whole cotton-pickin’ Confederacy, and they yanked me off my plinth all the same! Damn Yankees!”

“Traitor!” cried Washington.

“Liar!” Davis retorted. “Tell us that stupid fairy tale about the cherry tree one more time and I’ll deck you again!”

“Fellas, fellas!” said Jesus, miraculously appearing between them. “Can’t we all just get along?

“Remember: Bronze Lives Matter.”

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