On this page you will find Daniel K. Buntovnik’s short stories.
More than 110 years after muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair first published The Jungle, the USA’s meatpacking industry still brutally exploits immigrant labor and profits at the expense of the well-being and dignity of workers, consumers, and animals. Unfortunately, the muck must thus still be raked — so in comes “MEATPACKER JACK”, a short story which weaves together threads of immigrant and animal rights, cannabis legalization, and anti-racism struggles to paint a sordid tale of extreme social justice in the 21st century.
Jack McGillicuddy is one of the last English-speaking workers remaining at Quality Ham Handlers, Inc., the company responsible for slaughtering the hogs used to make SHAM, “the minty meat” (a luncheon meat made from shiso [a culinary herb of the mint family] and ham). To escape the lingering effects of the drudgerous work, Jack and thousands like him spend much of their precious free time indulging in illegal drugs whose legitimate medicinal and recreational properties are all too often ignored by politicians working hand-in-glove with the prison industrial complex to criminalize communities of color. But something extraordinary happens when, after a mysterious woman appears on Jack’s television set one night, disrupting the nightly news in a broadcast signal intrusion, Jack is inspired to stand up to Mr. Kroemblin, the unjust head supervisor of Quality Ham Handlers, and his oppressive urine drug screening demands.
“MEATPACKER JACK” may or may not be loosely inspired by the history of SPAM, a luncehon meat produced by the Hormel Foods Corporation and its proxy Quality Pork Processors, one of the largest U.S. pork producers. The companies were profiled by Mother Jones magazine after their production demands caused workers inhaling aerosolized pig brains to develop a new type of neurological disease two decades after the National Guard was deployed to crush a 1985-1986 workers’ strike immortalized in the 1990 documentary film American Dream and more recently they made headlines when a video released by the animal rights group Compassion Over Killing documented numerous violations of Department of Agriculture regulations, such as pigs covered in feces and pus-leaking abscesses being prepared for consumption. (Published 27.02.2016)
“The Coma-Contra Affair” envisions the aftermath of an alternate progression of history where utopia and dystopia seem to coexist. This radical revenge story addresses themes relating to the national liberation struggles in Central America which came to a head during the 1980s.
Biorgina Guerri is a 47 year old Sandinista militant who regains consciousness in the year 2016 after a gunshot wound to the head inflicted in 1986 by a Ronald Reagan and Oliver North-backed, cocaine-peddling, School of the Americas-trained Contra comandante leaves her comatose. With the help of Dr. Delgado and psychotherapist Ivan Moreno, Biorgina makes a miraculous full recovery and learns that, after the Sandinista and FMLN victories in Nicaragua and El Salvador, national liberation movements spread throughout the region. Bolstered by the spread of Communism to Latin America, the Soviet Union is now the dominant world superpower. In the Union of Central American Socialist Republics, public transit, health care, food, and housing are free. But all is not a bed of roses. Biorgina also learns that the man who nearly killed her has been granted asylum in El Norte, where after the Second Civil War of 1995-2001, the country has emerged as a settler-state enclave of crazed gun-hoarding white sociopaths surrounded by towering anti-immigrant walls, where an underclass toils on Hispanic and Negro Reservations. It is into this fortress Biorgina must go if she wants justice to be rendered. (Published 24.01.2016)
This is a story within a story from Raving Radicals Bathed in Blax. It tells the tale of Ralph Rodgers and the Central Authority Agency in its effort to transform Central Africa into a fully automaton state in the year 2235 CE. (Published 28.08.2015)