The Hunting Party

Jagermeister Jagermeister’s birthday only came once a year, reliably around the end of December. His mother, a young woman from the proud beachfront of New Jersey, had either really hated him or really loved anise-flavored liquers; he wasn’t quite sure which. His father, a muscle-bound gentleman of Italian descent, had left his mother well before he was born, declaring her “just another bitch that’s trying to get me to settle down!”

Jager envied his father’s ability to leave. After the Jersey Wars of 2014, but before New York started putting settlers into Menlo Park, he had gone to a McDonald’s, and crawled around in the tubes and slides, pretending the whole world had been bombed away, and only he was left, in his blue and pink and purple and yellow shelter. The Grimace would be his only friend. The Fry Kids irradiated marauders, hell-bent on stealing their Happy Meals. They already looked the part, wild and shaggy. Grimace looked like a man with the calculated patience of someone made entirely of purple tumors. He had been outside when the bombs dropped, but survived, buried under a pile of childrens’ shoes, removed so as not to scuff the plastic.

Three of his friends were at the bar with him, pouring shots of everything but his namesake. He drank an iced tea from nowhere near Long Island. He wasn’t much of a drinker after watching his mother die of cirrhosis in her mid-thirties. She had been a hero in the Jersey Wars, smuggling refugees and bronzer over the border. He still had her Garden State Medal of Honor framed above his microwave.

Things were weird.

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