Images by Elliot Davis
We took a road trip across Egg Nation (one nation, under CHICKEN). Though it looks similar, Egg Nation is not like AMERICA, where people are equal and free. In Egg Nation, no egg is equal, and eggs only think they’re free. I am a fried egg like my mother, who was driving, and my brother who was beside me is also a fried egg.
Ohio: We left our home in Massachusetts. We stopped first in a place called Ohio. Outside of our hotel room, there was a billboard: WHAT CAME FIRST? THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? Call 683-TRUTH. It was a billboard for eggs called Christians who believe in CHICKEN. My brother and I were atheists, believing the egg came before the chicken.
Illinois: We stopped at a diner with a sign that said: FRIED HUMAN AND GRITS. Somewhere in Illinois. It was far enough south to get sweet tea. We stood outside. We looked around, then at ourselves. “I don’t think we look like we’re from around here,” I noted. My brother frowned at me. “I’m wearing all mint,” he said. The waitress was nice to us anyways, brought us sweet tea. Then came back with straws. She dropped them in frustration. It looked as though one of the straws was limp in the wrapper. It wasn’t there at all. “I’m sorry,” she told us. As she walked away, she turned to an old fried egg sitting in the corner. “They been Jewin’ us on the straws,” she said. (“Jew” is a slur. A slur is a word. Words are like knives in that they can carve and create but also skin.) The man laughed and laughed and said, “Straws were metal when I was young.” He was what we call a bigot (a portmanteau for big idiot) I looked at my brother, him at me. He was wearing mint.
Missouri: We met our cousin in a place called Missouri, that he called ‘misery.’ He was in THE MILITARY (which is a bunch of young eggs from Egg Nation [one nation under CHICKEN] that go to other nations to kill other eggs). At the time, they were killing poached eggs from a very hot place. Those poached eggs followed something called Sharia Law (which everyone knows has something to do with salt and pepper). But my cousin wasn’t being sent to kill poached eggs anymore. He was sent to a place called South Carolina, which is in Egg Nation (one nation under CHICKEN) because, our cousin said, “people are hurting scrambleds” (Scrambleds are just other eggs, like me. And my brother and mother. They used to be called Alternatively Prepared Eggs but lately, everyone says scrambleds again.). “It was really bad,” he said. My mother looked sad. “Dear CHICKEN, dear dear CHICKEN, it’s all gone to hell.” So, we went to Starbucks to feel better and watched as the police pulled three scrambled eggs from a car, and we drank lattes and shook our heads and said: “Oh, dear CHICKEN, dear-dear CHICKEN.” And drove far and fast.
Tennessee: We headed to Memphis in a place called Tennessee, a city known for blues music and segregation. (Segregation is a thing like when you’re a kid, and you try to keep your peas out of your mashed potatoes except you have an irrational fear of peas and you’re a potato). Segregation is bad for eggs who are scrambled. We had dinner at a place that didn’t have any peas. They had shrimp though, and it was good, blackened. We asked the waitress for a place to see some Blues. She told us about a place in “that” part of town (“that” is a thing that no one talks about and is similar to “them” or “those”). “Take a taxi,” she told us, “I always take a taxi when I go out in that part of town.” She paused, then added, “There are a lot of scrambleds.” And we went there to a jazz bar in the basement of a hotel, and there wasn’t a fried egg in sight. My mother had a little blue backpack on, and in line, we heard: “Look at this cute little fried egg with her cute little backpack.” My mother got whiskey and we sat. The place was packed wall to wall with scrambled eggs, and no one looked at us funny, but they did look at my mother’s backpack a lot. The music started to play, and everyone forgot the backpack. It was music like I’d never heard. The room gyrated as the rhythm built on itself before exploding into an irresistible jig. It was an earthquake of movement. Everyone danced—bits of egg flung all over the place. It was on the walls and the ceiling and on the little blue backpack and we, too, danced. We danced so hard that a bit of yolk fell into my mother’s whiskey, and she downed it in one gulp. It was so loud and full of joy that we all went blind. I had to stumble outside for air holding the hall rails to guide me out onto the dark street. The bar carried on without me. I watched as two pairs of fried eggs came walking down the sidewalk toward me. They looked to the bar, felt the rhythm, and walked in. A few seconds later, they came out. They were walking closer together whispering to one another, and as they passed, I heard one of them say, “No, I think not.”
Somewhere outside of Tennessee: We passed a sign. It said: REMEMBER THE TRAIL OF TEARS and a few miles later we passed a sign that read: IN HONOR OF ANDREW JACKSON. My brother said, “Eggs have short memories.” And my mother said, “We are mostly yolk and shit, after all.” And I said, “What is the Trail of Tears?”
Louisiana: Outside of a bar in The Big Easy (a place known for beads and boobs and death), we met a magician. He called himself “Rooster,” and told us, “Never trust an honest man.” And I met a clown who was beginning to crack. (A clown paints its shell and entertains children and sometimes hides under their beds late at night and eats their feet. Fuck clowns.). “My grandparents are from Germany,” he told me. “They invented gunpowder,” I told him I didn’t care much for guns. He told me he didn’t care much for Germans. He looked around the street, for Germans, presumably, but didn’t find any so he turned and said, “I’ll tell ya the truth—I’ll tell ya—I’ll tell ya—CHICKEN KNOWS THIS TOWN IS FUCKED! IT IS THE ISLAND OF MISFIT FUCKIN’ TOYS!” Then he added, “I had an orgy once.”
Texas: It took twelve hours (an eternity) to go from Louisiana to Texas. We stopped there to visit our granddaddy, who was doing a thing called dying (when you no longer exist and become a chicken in the sky, maybe). Our aunt was there. She was something called Russian, and she said, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The more you go through it, the faster it seems to go.” And we said, “Huh.” And Granddaddy died.
Arizona: Arizona was nice. The sky was big. No one said “Howdy”. We stopped at a place called The Grand Canyon. And we met a scrambled egg at a lookout point who said, “CHICKEN is good! How’d he doit, y’ know man?” He was something called Baptist from the place called South Carolina. They believe CHICKEN laid the whole world just for us. They hate things called homosexuals. Later, at a gas station, we met a soft-boiled egg who said: “Who is the president of Massachusetts?” “Uh…” I said, embarrassed to not know the governor of Massachusetts. My brother walked up. “Who is the president of Massachusetts?” the egg asked him. “Uh, governor?” “No. President,” the egg corrected. “Uh…” my brother said, “wasn’t George Washington buried in Massachusetts?” “Uh… dunno, honestly,” I said. “Huh. I think he was,” he said. “Huh.” “Huh.” “Bet you guys haven’t seen those before,” the man pointed behind us at the massive structure made of cylinders. “They are elevators,” he told us. I walked away to pee. Inside, I looked at the newspaper. The headline read: CHARLESTON RACE RIOTS. (Races are when eggs try to out-run each other. A riot is when eggs get angry and hurt each other and break things and also when something is very, very funny.)
Nevada: “Welcome to the birthplace of tacky!” my mother said as we came over a hill and saw the beam of light that was Las Vegas. (It was used to blind anything that might look down and judge). In the center, there stood a great pyramid. We all stared at it and I said, “The epitome of tacky?” We came closer, into the outskirts. There were billboards on top of billboards. Eggs prepared in all different ways smiled down and rolled through the streets around us, and my brother sighed and said, “The Festering Wound of Tacky.” And we laughed, and my mother said, “Yes, the festering wound of tacky.” It is the only place in Egg Nation where they don’t care which CHICKEN you believe in or how you are prepared, and if a demon built a door to hell in the center of Las Vegas, no egg would come first or last.
California: L.A. is a driving city, so we drove. We drove through streets and under bridges, and we saw billboards and tar pits, and then we drove past a parking lot of tents. (This was where the homeless eggs lived.). Not one was higher than another. Eggs of all sorts skirted in and out: Scrambled, fried, poached, hard-boiled. None looked happier than another nor more comfortable or clean, and all seemed equally hungry. We passed beneath a bridge and saw two homeless eggs fighting and yelling and pushing each other. We didn’t understand what they were fighting about because the windows were rolled up, and the air-conditioning was a little loud. We drove further through the city to the coast. We stepped out and my mother said, “We did it! Egg Nation, coast to coast.” “Damn,” I said. We looked out on the ocean, which made the Grand Canyon look like an afterschool project. And my mother asked: “What was your favorite part of Egg Nation?” And we thought. And I thought back to New Mexico. We’d stopped on the highway to watch the sunset. It was orange and red and warm and violent, and there wasn’t another egg in sight.
Benjamin Davis is a recovering fintech journalist, folklore addict, and author of a novella-in-verse: The King of FU (Nada Blank). His work can be found in BOOTH, Hobart Pulp, Jersey Devil Press, Maudlin House, Sky Island Journal, Bending Genres, and many elsewheres.
Elliot Davis is an artist, game designer, and podcast producer based in Brooklyn, NY. You can find his work around the internet as “moreblueberries.” (https://www.moreblueberries.com)