Otter and Possum in Winter

Joe and Jane were once allies. Now they
were caught up in an escalating arm’s race.
It was a tense winter in Oh. Joe feared the
rise of Jane’s spirit of togetherness would
lead to social instability via mediated chaos.
Both sides wanted their own kind of power
over Reality. It was their nature to wield it.


Fine dry crystals blue off Lake Eerie. The kids built snow forts and stockpiled snow balls. Otter

hit Sissy in the eye with a snowball on purpose. She went screaming into the dome house. I

looked back at Otter as I turned to follow her home to make sure she was all right and to explain

to Mother and Father that it wasn’t me. It was impossible to tell from Otter’s expression what he

felt that moment about hitting Sissy in the eye with a snowball and blinding her forever. I was

sure I would catch some of the blame for it. Otter was MY friend. Mother was the one who

dragged me over to his house by the ear to meet him 200% sure we were going to be friends

forever not quite seeing she was sacrificing me to a spirit whose malicious acts towards my

person would reverberate the arc of my soul journey for lifetimes to come.


It was passive aggression on a global scale
between two doubtless foes who none-the-
less shared a weakness in their need for
power. Their somewhat cowardly approach
to total global domination took the form of
stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and
delving into subtle (on the Joe’s half of this
fiasco) intensely mediated psychosocial
warfare: seeding bad ideas, visual and
auditory distraction, letters to editors, et al;
(and on the Jane half) boding misfortune for
Joe outcomes, consulting trapper keeper
crystals for diplomatic solutions, bestowing
psychic empowerments upon one another,
and enduring grueling days-long group mind
massage sessions.


The snowball flew out of Otter’s paw through the snowy afternoon Oh air in a perfect arc straight

to Sissy’s left eye. She’d have to have expensive surgery to replace her eye with a camera The

Company would use to make sure we were consuming Company approved entertainments and

Oh Brand foodstuffs laced with who-knows-what mind-controlling chemicals alone and not

sitting around the dinner table with the neighbors making with the revolutionary talk. If the Mud

Eaters were right, and we were not free beings, but automatons programmed by the Company

without us even knowing which is the best most efficient cooperation—


Space provided a new medium to bring hurt
on Joes and Janes. Joe’s was the first foot
(physical) to walk on the moon. While
Jane’s astral projection skills had her
visiting Joe’s dreams to unheard of depth.
The Joes’ missiles were long aluminum
mushrooms equipped with evil-seeking
radar. The Janes went bodiless between the
planes of volume and silence to watch the
Joe parade. They were getting worried.


I suspected many times before but had not allowed myself to entertain this new version of the

story. Otter was the real enemy. I thought he was my friend but he was the last person you

wanted to be friends with. Oh sure he would knock your socks off with a funny story, make you

do things you would never dare to do on your own, he took you on adventures through mythical

lands, he kept you company through the long empty years with absolute patience, no expectation

you’d ever catch up to him sexually or personality-wise. The truth was you were a babe in the

woods. Otter was happy-go-lucky omnivore. You didn’t have the faintest clue how the world

outside your dome home was. You were sheltered. Otter said it best: “You would have been

nothing if it wasn’t for me.” Looking back on it you see that this was true.


G.O. called it an ‘ideological confrontation.’
The Joes built a wall running down the
center of Oh to help keep the Janes out.
They didn’t know Janes could teleport by
mind power alone. The Joes didn’t want the
Janes undermining their capitalist faux-
democratic society. The Janes all wanted
everybody to live together and be happy. But
the Joes had a strict hierarchy without which
they felt a kind of cosmic disequilibrium. It
was a mind matter battle. Electrical. Human.


Mother and Father agreed it was Otter’s fault I’d been corrupted and did bad things without

thinking for no reason. They didn’t know anything about how Otter constantly put me down,

abused me both physically and mentally, and made me feel like I was less than him in every way

that matters—all the while enthralling me with his water skills, penis size, and evolutionary

savor faire.


The Janes and Joes strove to outdo each
other in their respective areas of military
expertise. The Janes meditated harder,
summoned elemental spirits of fire and
water, conceived H-bomb love magic. The
Joes erected conventional warheads armed
and ready to go with the push of General
Hawk-A-Loogie’s red thumb button.


I had to get Otter back for hitting Sissy in the Eye with a snowball. But how could I compete

with him let alone best him? The only thing I had that outdid him was the houses we lived in. He

lived in a normal Teepee-style house while I lived in a Company dome home. He wasn’t in the

little genius how to get to Europa before the Sex Wars climaxed elementary school program. I

felt morally superior to Otter because I was a possum who hung upside-down by his tale to sleep

and played dead and soiled myself when threatened, while he was know-nothing happy-go-lucky

cavorting-through-the-stream Otter with the soft plush coat coveted by hunters.


The war was fought by proxy states that
fought for the beliefs of both superpowers.
Joe and Jane couldn’t stand to be in the
same room with each other, let alone be
burdened with the thought of tens of
thousands of deaths no matter how much
they hated because they didn’t understand
each other’s ideals and aims were
diametrically opposed to one another like
electrical poles. They didn’t understand
their eternal battle was source and
distributor of the ultimate renewable energy.

J. PASCUTAZZ grew up in rural Ohio, is a graduate of Bennington College, and a resident of Brooklyn. Pascutazz bas been published by Right Hand Pointing, Dime Show Review, Poets Reading the News, and elsewhere. Work is forthcoming in The Fabulist Words & Art, Paragon, and Helen.