The overall point being that on Wednesday here there’s a weird accretive pressure to have a flag out. If the purpose of displaying a flag is to make a statement, it seems like at a certain point of density of flags you’re making more of a statement if you don’t have a flag out. It’s not totally clear what statement this would be, though. What if you just don’t happen to have a flag? Where has everyone gotten these flags, especially the little ones you can fasten to your mailbox? Are they all from the Fourth of July and people just save them, like Christmas ornaments? How do they know to do this? There’s nothing in the Yellow Pages under Flag. At some point there starts to be actual tension. Nobody walks by or stops their car and says, “Hey, how come your house doesn’t have a flag?,” but it gets easier and easier to imagine them thinking it. Even a sort of half-collapsed house down the street that everybody thought was abandoned has one of the little flags on a stick in the weeds by the driveway. None of Bloomington’s grocery stores turn out to stock flags. The big novelty shop downtown has nothing but Halloween stuff. Only a few businesses are actually open, but even the closed ones are now displaying some sort of flag. It’s almost surreal. The VFW hall is obviously a good bet, but it can’t open until noon if at all (it has a bar). The counter lady at Burwell Oil references a certain hideous KWIK-N-EZ convenience store out by I-55 at which she’s pretty sure she recalls seeing some little plastic flags back in the racks with all the bandannas and NASCAR caps, but by the time I get down there they all turn out to be gone, snapped up by parties unknown. The cold reality is that there is not a flag to be had in this town. Stealing one out of somebody’s yard is clearly just out of the question. I’m standing in a fluorescent-lit KWIK-N-EZ afraid to go home. All those people dead, and I’m sent to the edge by a plastic flag. It doesn’t get really bad until people come over and ask if I’m OK and I have to lie and say it’s a Benadryl reaction (which in fact can happen).