Saturday, October 1, 2016

AN ELECTION CAROL BY CHARLIE KENMORE

AN ELECTION CAROL
BY CHARLIE KENMORE
1
    “You’re fired!” T bellowed.
    “B-b-but Sir, it’s so close to the election.”
    “Pack your things and get out before I have security throw you out without them!”
    The poor, lowly campaign manager raised his hand in protest, but realized it would do no good. Once T made up his mind, neither facts nor reason could change anything. He walked down the hallway with his head bowed, stopping only long enough to pick up a well worn box from the “Discharged Employee Use Only” stack by the water fountain. The twenty-two year old blonde Swedish receptionist with the 44DDD chest, who was working on an F1 visa on loan from her regular work as a maid at one of T’s private estates, gave him a wan smile as he passed.
    T stood at the doorway to his palatial office watching the retreating form of the vanquished former employee. He looked over the vast expanse of cubicles, mostly unstaffed, that comprised his national campaign office. In the few that were occupied, no voices were raised above a whisper. T nodded with satisfaction. Everyone in the office knew without question who was the boss. He waved his hand in a gesture that the lame stream media had claimed was analogous to a Nazi salute, but in fact was merely necessary to trigger the electronic sensors in the two story gilt doors to the office which promptly, obediently and silently slid closed.
~*~
    T reached for the dial on his safe, then jerked his hand back. He watched with equal measures of horror and macabre fascination as the dial transformed into a skull. Skin slowly covered the skull, followed in short order by closely cropped black hair that left a receding hair line.
    “No, this cannot be! You. You.” T gasped. “You’re dead, P! The party died in 2012. I saw the autopsy report.”
    “No, T. The electronic footprint we leave on this earth never dies. With every interview, every tweet, the footprint grows.”
    “No, I don’t believe this. You’re not here. I know. You’re nothing more than a speck of undigested pate foie gras.”
    “Polls show that eighty-seven percent of your office staff would believe that I am real. Feel free to ignore the polls. Regardless, I am here to warn you. Tonight you will be visited by three spirits.”
    “Who are these spirits?”
    “They are the ghosts of Elections Past, Future and Present. The first will arrive at midnight.” Before T could ask another question, the flesh boiled off of the grinning skull. The skull spoke on final word, “Midnight!”, before it crumbled away revealing the original dial to the safe.
~*~
2
    T, waiting impatiently in his custom tailored Dupioni silk pajamas, twisted the corner of his Charlotte Thomas “Bespoke” sheet around his tiny hand. For the third time in the last ten minutes, he convinced himself that the sheet had been used before and the immigrant workers in the house staff must be stealing the money he left for the daily allotment of new sheets.
    T checked his Monday’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph with Baguette Diamonds for the third time in the last ten minutes. This time, the million dollar watch showed that midnight was imminent. Of course, the watch could be fast because the Black who set it for him was raised in the inner city and might not have followed the complex instructions properly.
    Somewhere, deep within the bowels of T’s Tower, a deep, sonorous bell rang. Midnight! Kicking off the 22K gold thread laced sheet, T counted off the remaining chimes using all of his fingers and his left large toe. Nothing happened! T released the breath that he was not even aware of holding. “Whew! Just as I thought. It was nothing more than a case of … oh, shit.”
    The solid gold wall opposite the king size four post bed with its royal purple canopy glowed redly, then melted away in the middle. An indistinct androgynous humanoid form, its skin color shifting from yellow to red to brown to black and back, stepped out of the wall. T swallowed, then in a tremulous voice inquired, “Are you the spirit whose visit was foretold?”
    “Yes, T. I am the Spirit of Elections Past.”
    “I can barely see you, Spirit. Why aren’t you more solid?”
    “It is really not that hard to see people of color. But, at a minimum, you have to make an effort.”
    T squinted. The Spirit appeared marginally more substantial. “Okay. I guess I can work with that.”
    The Spirit crossed over to the bed. “Take my hand.” T hesitated. “Is something wrong? Do you have a problem with spirits?”
    “No. Of course not. It’s not that. In fact, Some of my friends are…never mind.” T took the Spirit’s hand.
~*~
T’s eyes widened as he observed the T Tower from a new vantage point a mile up in the sky. They widened further as the world froze, then slowly reversed the direction of its rotation on its axis, allowing the sun to rise in the west and set in the east. The sun rose and set faster and faster until it was nothing more than a yellow blur. After several moments, the blur resolved back into the sun flashing by a little slower with each pass, until it stopped at around forty degrees above the eastern horizon.
T noted with surprise that they were no longer hovering over T Tower. Instead, “That’s the Washington Monument. We’re in D.C.”
The Spirit did not reply. Instead, it took them on a power dive which ended in a well appointed office before T finished screaming. Several men crowded around a table covered with maps and diagrams.
T pointed at the man in the middle. “Hey, I know that man. That’s Richard Nixon. Lots of people have told me he wasn’t a crook. Lots of people.”
“What are they doing?”
“They’re planning a new election strategy.”
“Why are we here?”
The Spirit shook its head. “There is something else you must see first. Take my hand.”
T took the Spirit’s hand, and immediately found himself standing on the grass at the National Mall. Three small crying children dressed in tattered rags, their skin tones oscillating like the Spirit’s, walked by hand in hand, completely ignored by the passersby.
“Why doesn’t anyone stop to help them? Who are they?”
    “Those children are the avatars of Truth, Probity and Rectitude. What you witnessed in the office was the birth of the Southern Strategy. These were the first casualties. Come along.”
T took the Spirit’s hand. The sun streaked across sky.
~*~
The sun stopped straight overhead. High noon. T looked out over the Potomac River. A small military boat with a single large gun on the back floated in the middle of the river. A single black man appeared to be steering the boat. The three bedraggled children from the National Mall attempted to tread water and keep their heads above the surface just off of the boat’s stern.
T was confused. “What am I looking at?”
“That’s a swift boat.”
“Who is the man at the helm?”
“That would be Willie Horton.”
As T watched, a single white man with a lantern stepped out of what appeared to be a closet at the back of the cabin.
“Who’s that?”
“That’s the spirit of Ken Mehlman waiting for 2005.”
“I’ve seen enough Spirit. Please take me home.”
~*~
3
    T found himself back in his bed. He imagined that he had been gone for hours, but it had only been just under an hour by his conspicuous consumption timepiece. He considered changing his pajamas on the offhand chance he had soiled them during the trip with the Spirit of Elections Past, but the single tolling of the one o’clock bell prevented further consideration. Once again, the gold wall glowed.
    A decidedly female Spirit of Elections Future limped into the bedroom. She might have been pretty once, but her features were sallow and drawn. The tattered remains of a blouse hung loosely off her shoulders.
    “Hello, Spirit. I was expecting you. Well, not you exactly. What happened to you?”
    “I was a happy, young mother-to-be once. But when I was two months pregnant, I contracted Zika. The disease severely damaged the fetus I carried. Testing also showed that the lungs never developed. There was no way the child could survive. So I fled to Mexico to have an abortion.” The Spirit turned around to show her back which was crisscrossed with angry red keloid scars. She turned back around to continue her tale. “When I came home, I was seized as I came out of a tunnel under the wall. The Purity Police gave me 100 lashes in lieu of prison, but I had to serve six months in hard labor for asking for an attorney. But I am getting ahead of myself. Come take my hand.”
    Reluctantly, T rose from the bed. Steeling himself, he took the Spirit’s hand.
~*~
    This time, the sun streaked from east to west. However, the novelty had worn off. T was not impressed. What did impress him were the shocking changes to Washington D.C.
Although the White House and the Capitol Building appeared the same, the rest of the city was covered with uniform gray ten story buildings. Billboards appeared every two blocks with inspirational posters alternating between Russian and English such as “Слава труда!” and “Glory to Labor!” T watched a store clerk make change for a ten ruble note with Vladimir Putin’s picture including a five ruble note with a picture of Kim Jong-un.
    “What’s going on here, Spirit. Where are we?”
    “We are in the Imperial District of Columbia, the capitol of the Russo-American Hegemony. The year is 2036.”
    “What in the hell is the Russo-American Hegemony?”
“Following your victory in the 2016 election, you used your mandate to create a special police force to handle immigration problems. This police force was granted broad enforcement authority under the new cabinet Ministry of Public Protection. You expanded their powers by executive orders to include a woman’s right to choose to have her baby no matter what, to maintain public safety by closing subversive mosques and temples, and to serve as the overarching well regulated 2nd Amendment militia.  By the time a challenge to their authority reached the Supreme Court, they were powerful enough to seize the court. They executed the four subversive justices who voted to accept the case. The four new justices you appointed joined a unanimous court in deciding that the special police force was constitutional. The force took over the FBI and asserted jurisdiction over all domestic matters. They renamed the consolidated organization the ‘National Purity Police’.
“At your insistence, Congress passed a series of laws from 2018 to 2024 that drew the United States and Russia closer together economically, and then militarily to fight the threat of China. In response to China’s continuing aggression along the border with Russia, in 2025 you issued an Executive Order cancelling all debt owed to China. When China threatened military action, you signed the World Security Assurance Treaty which merged Russia and the United States, which was unanimously approved by Congress 378 to nothing, with 143 congressmen and fourteen senators not voting and never heard from again.
“Following your son’s election tomorrow (he is the only approved candidate), you plan to step down immediately. His coronation is planned for next week.”
“Enough, Spirit. Nothing else you could show me could be any bleaker.”
“Oh, but there is so much more to see. They just put a fresh coat of grey paint on the checkpoint between the White sector and Hispanic sector, and installed a new bank of automatic machine guns on the White side of the mine field.”
“No, I can’t take any more. And I still have one more Spirit to meet this horrid night.”
The Spirit relented. Once more, T found himself in his bed.
~*~
4
T was too upset to remain in bed. He paced back and forth for several minutes before walking over to the thirty foot bar to fix a drink. Normally T did not drink, so it took a few minutes to decide what would help. He picked out a fresh bottle of Ultra-Premium Ley .925 Pasion Azteca tequila, figuring since it cost a quarter of a million dollars, it had to be good.
Before T could open the bottle to find out, the gold wall shimmered. The Spirit of Elections Present turned out to be a nondescript Hispanic male, whose only noticeable physical attribute were his calves which were the size of cantaloups. The Spirit looked around, then nodded with approval. “Impressive digs.” The Spirit walked over to T, and took the bottle from him. He opened it, then took a long swig. “Nice.” He took another swig, then capped the bottle. “Time is short. We need to go.” He held out his hand with the bottle towards T. “Oh, sorry about that.” He set the bottle on the bar. “Let’s try this again.” He extended his hand to T who took it without further prompting.
~*~
    T looked at the block long boarded up one story building. “What is this, Spirit?”
    “This was a small manufacturer that made some custom furnishings for one of your hotels. You didn’t pay them. The company went out of business. Sixty-eight people lost their jobs. Come along.”
    T looked out at an open field. “What am I looking at this time, Spirit?”
    “Oh, this could have been a factory turning out ties and suits. But you decided to send that work overseas. Keep moving. We’ve got a lot more to see.”
    T looked out a larger empty field. “Let me guess. An even larger factory could have been built here to make the furniture I import from Europe.”
    “No, actually we’re in Mexico. This is a typical field where terrorists are not massing to invade the country from the south. And we’re moving.”
    T found himself in a busy emergency room. The Spirit pointed to a doctor working feverishly to save a white, bleeding auto accident victim. “See that doctor working his ass off to save his patient. Don’t tell anyone, but he’s a Syrian Muslim immigrant. It gets worse. His patient is a Jew, and the Muslim didn’t even hesitate to help him.
“See that woman grimacing over in bay three? She has a serious blood infection. She’s here because she has insurance under the ACA. Last year, she didn’t have insurance. If this had happened last year, she’d have put off seeking medical attention until she couldn’t be helped. And we’re moving.”
T flinched as a pair of four year olds ran right through him. Several dozen children ran, screamed and laughed as they played in the fenced in day care center yard. “The costs of daycare nationally can range from around $3,500 to upwards $18,000 with an annual average of around $11,000 per child per year. A full time minimum wage worker only earns a little over $15,000 a year. So how is a tax deduction for child care going to help a low income family? And we’re moving.”
T watched the young woman weeping softly on the park bench. “What is her story?”
“Oh, she used to be a patient at a Planned Parenthood facility. She got her general health care there as well as her contraception. But the facility closed. She lost her access to contraception, and now has an unwanted pregnancy. She decided to have an abortion for any number of reasons that may be meaningless to you, but are of paramount importance to her. But first she has to listen to medically unsubstantiated or intentionally misleading drivel, be subjected to medically unnecessary procedures, and wait an additional three days to have the procedure if she can find a facility that survived unconstitutional TRAP laws. And on top of that, you think she needs to be punished.” T shuddered as an image of the Spirit of Elections Future’s back flashed in his mind. “Seriously? Let’s move on.”
T found himself in the back of a pickup truck. A large Confederate flag affixed to the rear of the truck snapped in the wind. A CB radio squawked, “Yeah. Maybe next trip we can chain a couple of them up and drag them behind us all the way to the rally.”
“Stop, Spirit! That’s enough. You and your fellow Spirits have opened my eyes. Return me to my bed and let me reflect on all you’ve shown me.”
~*~
5
T awoke in his own bed. He ran to the bank of camera monitors and saw that it was day time. He saw a well dressed young black male standing within earshot of the front door speaker. He keyed the microphone. “Hey, bo…” He caught himself before he said “boy”. “Young man. Yes, you. What day is it?”
“It’s Tuesday.”
“What’s the date?”
“November 8. It’s election day.”
“Election day! Yes, of course it is. Tell me, are the banks open today?”
“I guess they are.” The young man shrugged and went about his business.
T practically jumped for joy. He pulled out his cell phone. Resisting the urge to tweet, he speed dialed one of his on shore bankers. “Good morning, R. Do you have that list of all of the charitable contributions that I committed to, but never made. Yeah, that list. Pay them all. Today. Yes, all of them.” He hung up without saying goodbye.
T hit the speed dial for his attorney. “M. Go ahead and release the tax returns. No, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter any more. Just do it.”
There was only one thing left to do. T smiled as he sent his first tweet of the day, “It's Election Day! Everyone go out and vote. Vote for the future. Vote for hope. Vote for justice. Vote for equality. Vote for what's right.


CK Copyright 8/23/16; Moral rights to be identified as the author of the foregoing article asserted worldwide (including in Great Britain in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988)