The Soviet Nuke Key That Ruined My Weekend

I’m renovating my house. It’s going to be a museum of “interesting things” because many things are interesting, and museums make people talk quieter, so yeah … if you end up here, I designed this house to make you shut the fuck up and exist in the realm of the cognoscenti and historian.

This “item” is a key you never give to a philosopher. It will ruin his week. This is a key you never give to a poet; it will destroy his month. I special-ordered this 3D-printed, replica Soviet ICBM key from Shapeways in the brass with chromium plating, even though the originals are titanium and much lighter.

Despite the actual mass of this thing that exists at my house (only for showing to the best people; there will be no pedestal or display for it), it carries a heavy burden beyond … well … pretty much all things.

As a totally screwed-up comparison, I often carry a thing I call “The Hell Tool.” I’m a trustworthy guy, so it’s okay I do it. Far from being something as minor and common as a pistol, the rusty assemblage of welded, hardened, rusted nails upon horseshoe was left at my house by a man taken over by his demons who dwells in the land of total mental breakdown that seems to find its way out of problematic situations, so he’s been blessed by the hell-things. I can’t even look at it without a shudder, frankly. Looking at it makes sadness (and fear) occur to the hearts of men. And readily so. Outward appearances aside, I have NEVER in my forty years held in my hand something like a Soviet ICBM nuke launch key.

Its lines are perfect. I’m going to bet Soviet psychologists designed the key and made the launch hardware around it. For starters, when holding this thing, one is reminded of a wedding ring, which is emotional attachment enough to entwine you with it in the realm of reflection upon all things good. The hole inside the ring is enough to make sure that you are in touch with yourself through your other fingers, making yet another circle and making you a link in a chain of occurrence. The stem itself looks like a missile, but the columnar prominence at a ninety-degree angle to the launch suggests that it can be stopped. And the two holes that presumably click into place would be the most unholy, scariest sound in a common man’s life. This is a key that carries the option to NOT turn it. I believe that was intentional.

So what kind of man carried this “God-damned” thing (and God knows exactly what I mean, so I do not defy His laws by taking his name in a way that is NOT vain). This ugly thing I not only accepted into my home, but had specially made for me, is not at all the thing I wanted when I held it. Yes, it’s a replica. However, it represents the death of all mankind, and if you’re a philosopher or a poet, it will probably, like … kinda destroy you … for a time. I envision putting a man in a blank white room, giving him a couple of shots of whisky and a tumbler of a jovial entrance before putting this in his hand, leaving the bottle, and locking him in. Perhaps that’s why no one entrusted philosophers or poets with the power to obliterate all of humanity. They wouldn’t have done it, period.

As a scifi writer of psychological pabulum, I DO wonder about the men who carried the titanium version of this key and where in their heads they exist. Firstly, they were Soviets, so they were unknowable even on the medium of the chessboard … as well as being a challenge. However, as men … I know they had families; I know they “liked having fun” as all my most common match dates do. They are simple. And they had these same simple thoughts holding the cursed item in their hands. That is what is known.

This is not a big article. I seem to not give much of a shit after drinking red wine for two days of a weekend. I have people coming over and much more life to live, God willing.

But if you know enough philosophy … if you know enough poetry … if you know enough of a life that’s true … don’t buy one of these things.

It’s not the sort of key that lets you out of your mind.

Author of Mind Control Empire, The Color of Poetry, and Quietus: The Color of Poetry II

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