No. 390

The Republic of Steveistan was an independent nation located just south of the rest stop with the diner on Highway 102.

Steven Otter had won his territory when the local law enforcement community agreed to leave him alone if he stopped calling complaints about border incursions by the cars passing by.

The generally accepted frontier was a straight line from the big oak in Otter’s backyard to the shoulder of the highway on the north side, a curved line that followed his neighbor’s wire fence on the south, and the bank of a small creek through his backyard to the east. The total area of Steveistan was just over an acre.

Otter had declared himself Commander for Life of Steveistan. His wife, Judith, was his deputy. The children had long since grown up and emigrated. Otter printed his own money and issued passports to any townsfolk who wanted a discount on his home-brewed beer, Steveistan’s only export product.


“Honey,” Otter called down the hallway of the Capitol building. “I’m going on a trade mission.”

“You’d better not being going to Gerry’s Market,” she yelled back from the kitchen. “Remember, you’re banned from there.”

“Yes dear,” Otter replied. “Is there anything we need?”

There was a slight delay as Judith checked the pantry. “We’re low on sugar, so get some if it’s on sale.”

“Alright,” said Otter as he walked to the garage. “Don’t forget to take the flag down when you hear the door close.”

“I won’t,” Judith told him cheerily.


When Steve returned, almost two hours later, he wasn’t in a very good mood.

“What’s wrong?” Judith asked him.

Otter shuffled awkwardly, trying to ignore the question. “Nothing.”

“It’s not nothing, and you know it,” Judith scolded him. “What?”

“I got banned from Food Giant,” Otter admitted.

“What did you do this time?”

“The sugar wasn’t on special, so I took some. As an ambassador, I tried to tell them I had diplomatic immunity. But they wouldn’t let me explain.”

Judith shook her head. “That only leaves Valu-Mart on the other side of town to shop at. I hate Valu-Mart.”

Otter wrung his hands together. “I know.”

“I’m invoking the National Emergency Act,” Judith said with a stern finality.

“I don’t remember that one.”

“It’s all written down in the Charter,” Judith told him, reaching for the spiral notebook that occupied a hallowed place in the middle of the dining-room table. She flipped to the correct page. “See, it says here, ‘In the event of the incapacity of the Commander for Life, his second will assume the role and all powers and privileges granted by the title.’”

“This is a revolution!” Otter gasped. “A coup!”

“Only until you apologize to the store managers you’ve upset,” Judith assured him. “Don’t worry. Steveistan will be safe with me in charge.”