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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

So, there I was, comfortably ensconced in my favorite chair on the back patio, admiring the containers of potatoes, garlic, onions, peas, and yes, even carrots, looking at the eight pots of impatiens we had just purchased from Lowe’s and wondering how I was going to transplant them to the containers on the fence (whew, long sentence), when a fly landed on one of the posts of the raised bin and asked me what I was doing. Yep, you heard right…a bloody fly landed on a support post and had the audacity to ask me what I was doing. Seemed to me that he had a lot of nerve…well, I thought it was a he at the time…to ask a question of someone sitting on their own patio. Heck, I could hardly understand him, the way his wings were flapping so loud. Guess he was probably yelling. What? Oh, you don’t speak fly? Guess you’re not from New England then. Hey, look, if Harry Potter could talk to snakes, you know, well New Englanders – least I haven’t met one yet who can’t – well, we communicate with all sorts of animal species…’cept cats. I’ll be damned if I can figure out what cats are saying. Most of my friends feel the same way. Cats just give you that smirk that says, “I hear you, slave, but don’t think I’m going to dignify what you have to say by answering you…go, go away before I do something evil…which I will do later anyway…when you least expect it.”

Speaking of anyways, this fly and I, we got into a conversation about why we’d started some of the garden but not the whole thing. He was rather funny looking, blue eyes, glimmering wings, and a little yellow spot just above the eyes. I said, “You’re not from around these parts, are ya?” and the fly allowed as that he was from Virginia and was really just stopping off for a while before he flew on to Maine for the summer. Seems the South gets a bit too hot for him and his family during the summer. “You got kids,” he asked, and I said they were all grown up and had kids of their own. “So, you’re a family man,” I queried, and he nodded his beady little head up and down, actually rising an inch or two above the post before settling back down. “How many kids you have?” I asked. He seemed to ponder that question for a moment, then responded, “At last count, I think she told me it was around six-point- two million…but that’s just a guestimate.” “Your wife told you that?” I asked. “Oh, no, no, no, no, no,” he said quickly. “Heck, the wife only knows about a couple million. No, my girlfriends told me about all the others.” “So you’re what one might call and adulterous fly, is that right.” “C’mon, man,” he said, “It’s what flies do everywhere. It’s no big deal. You should see what the mosquitoes and grasshoppers do. Wow, it’d kill me to try and keep up with them.”

Juli came out with a cup of coffee. “Who you talking to?” she asked, but then spotted the fly. “Oh, hi,” she said, “You going to Maine again this summer?” The fly nodded, and I looked at Juli. “You know this fly?” I asked. “Met him last year,” she intoned. “Really,” I said, “you know how many kids he has?” “Well, last year, I think he said around five million…is that right?” she asked, looking at the fly. By now, of course, even though it was only 7:15 in the morning, I’m thinking it’s time for a couple of fingers of Glenlivet or at the very least, a strong Bloody Mary. But, by the time that thought passed through my brain, Juli and the fly were involved in what appeared to be deep conversation.

“You never mentioned that you had a fly friend,” I said. “Would you have believed me?” she asked. “Hell no, I wouldn’t have believe you,” I responded and continued, “I probably would have called your brother to take you to the funny farm. Matter of fact, when he leaves, I might just head there myself. I mean, I know we can talk to flies and stuff, but this sure as hell is a first time for me!” The fly flew over and landed on my knee. “Look,” he said, “it may seem strange at first, but you’re the one who told me that New Englanders can talk to us and others. We’re cool with it, and Juli and I were just talking about the compost bin over there,” and he turned and nodded at our bin in the corner. “She was kind enough to put some rotting food in there last fall so we could stop for a snack on our way back home.”
“Well, I gotta buzz off,” the fly said, “Nice meeting you, and Juli, don’t forget, the oranges were really good last year. Gave us a lot of energy for the rest of the flight.” With that, he hovered, did a couple of loops around our heads and headed north.

Juli and I just stared at each other. She finally broke the silence. “Don’t forget to write oranges on the calendar around Labor Day,” she said. “They come back a day or two after.” What could I do? I just nodded, went into the house, and looked for the calendar. Now where the hell’s that scotch?

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The older man II

“I met Him once, you know,” he said to me one day.

A delivery had just been made to the store. It was over 250 pieces, cases really, of this, that, and the other thing. Our job was to price mark the contents. Huh, this was a long time before bar codes and scanners and the stuff they have now. We had to mark the price on everything with stamps and purple ink. You had to cut the cases just so, and if it was soft goods inside, you had to be careful not to cut too deep and all that. I remember one time I was cutting a case of Mueller’s macaroni. It came in cardboard boxes. I was trying to be so darned careful, and my box cutter slipped. Opened my wrist up about an inch and a half. Doggone, those cutters were really sharp. I bled like a stuck pig. Doctor said I just missed the radial artery. Guess that woulda been really bad.

“Met who?” I asked him.

He was pricing the load and I was cutting the cases. It worked well cuz he had the book with all the prices and the price changes. He was really fast, and I had to be just a bit faster to stay ahead of him. We’d talk about all sorts of things while we were working. Wasn’t anyone else around, just the two of us down in the basement. The load came down on a belt and then onto those like roller tables, and one piece would just push the piece ahead of it onto the rollers. Just kept on going. With a big load, sometimes we’d have to put some cases under the roller thing. A 250-piece load meant we had to take some of the pieces off, but that wasn’t too bad.

“Met The Lord,” he answered.

Well, that stopped me…and right in the middle of opening a big case of toilet paper. You cut too deep on one of those and you can ruin a whole lot of paper. Good for me that it was the last cut. I didn’t think I heard him correctly the first time he answered, so I asked again.

“You met who…The Lord…is that what you said?” I repeated.

“Yup…just once though,” he added. “My friend took me.”

Now, I liked this older man – doggoned if I can remember his name though – I liked him because he taught me, a young kid, all about the store business, the retail business if you will. Taught me about how to stock and block shelves. Blocking’s when you bring goods from the back of the shelves to the front so the shelves look well stocked even when they’re not. Taught me how to run a register and how to spot people who were tryin’ to walk out with stuff without paying. Heck, I was sixteen; what’d I know about grownups who stole things. He taught me how to fill out order sheets on certain days and how to tell when something wasn’t going to sell and why it wouldn’t. He really knew the business.

“You care to tell me about that?” I asked him.

“Not certain you’ll believe me,” he said.

“Well, I believe about your friend,” I told him. “And I believe what you said about your ‘friend’ coming to rest on the other side of the bed after you say the Twenty-third Psalm,” I went on. “Why wouldn’t I believe you met The Lord?”

“Probably, because I’m not sure I believed it myself,” he grinned. “I mean, I know it happened because it happened to me, but you might just think I’m crazy when you hear it. By the way, I’m not crazy. My late wife used to say she was gonna have me tested, but we always had a good laugh about that. Come to think of it, I know she woulda wanted to have me tested after that happened…but – and he dragged that word out – she’d been gone for a while when it happened.”

I’d never asked how his wife had died. I knew that it was some kind of accident, but I thought it wouldn’t be very nice of me to bring it up. Might just stir up some memories he didn’t want to remember.

I put my box cutter on top of the toilet paper box, went over and sat down on a couple of cases of green beans and said, “I’m taking a short break, and I want to hear your story. I’ll tell ya afterwards if I believe it or not. C’mon and pull up a case of peaches or something and tell me.”

He looked at me for a minute. Then he closed up the price book, walked a few steps over and sat down. I don’t remember whether it was on a case of peaches or not but he sat and looked right at me.

“Yeah. Okay. You believe me about my friend, so maybe what I’m gonna tell you…maybe you won’t think I’m so crazy after all.”

I just sat there.

“It was about three years after Sarah had passed,” he began. “It was hot for May, more like a day in late August. I’d just finished my prayin’ and saying the Psalm out loud…to no one in particular, just to me…and my friend came to rest. I told you, didn’t I that I said, ‘If you’re from God…”

I quickly nodded my head to indicate that I remembered.

“Well, anyway, this night was a bit different. My ‘friend’ seemed as though my ‘friend’ couldn’t quite get settled. Then I felt a hand reaching and grabbing my own hand…it was weird. Wasn’t like when you shake hands, ya know. It was something different, almost tingly, if you can understand that….”

And again I nodded, this time leaning a little closer.

“Well, anyway, this hand took mine and we sorta started to float right up outta that bed. I was scared stiff, I don’t mind telling ya, but the hand squeezed mine as if to say that things were gonna be fine. I looked back down at the bed and I saw me…I was layin’ there, and it looked like I was sound asleep. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, hell, I’ve died and this must be my soul being taken somewhere.’ I didn’t feel dead. I didn’t think I was having a heart attack or anything like that. Fact of the matter is, it felt kind of peaceful, having my hand in that of something else. We kept floating and floating, going up and up. I don’t remember going through the ceiling or the roof of the house…I just remember the floating and seeing this light of so many colors, I couldn’t even describe them. They were just…well…it was like they were surrounding us…like we were in a bubble of really nice colors. I guess you’d say they were beautiful.”

He had me. I just sat there, absolutely entranced by what he was describing.

He went on. “The colors seemed to get brighter and brighter and the bubble seemed to get bigger and bigger, and then there He was. There was The Lord. I knew it was Him. He looked exactly like I thought He would. He smiled at me for a second, and then He got this funny look on His face. ‘Why are you here?’ He asked me, and I didn’t have an answer, so I just shrugged. ‘You’re not due to be here for some time,’ He said. I felt a squeeze of my hand, and thought that I was in real trouble. The Lord went on, “she must care for you very much to bring you here now.’ That woke me up a bit and asked, ‘Lord, may I ask who she is?’

‘Yes, you may ask,’ He said, ‘but I’m afraid that if she hasn’t told you who she is, it’s not my place to interfere. Let’s just say that she’s part of the overall plan.’

‘Plan?’ I queried.

‘Yes,’ He responded. ‘All things are part of the plan, a plan I’ve created to keep the universe moving.’

‘Am I part of this plan?’ I asked.

‘Most assuredly,’ He smiled.

‘What’s my part in the plan?’ I asked.

He smiled again and said, ‘Now if I told you that, you’d go back and begin trying to live your life in a way that you believe would conform, but that’s not how the plan works. You’ll know when you’ve completed your part in the plan for that’s when I will call on you to come home. This is your home, you know. She made a small error in judgment bringing you here, but she’s young and as I said, she must care for you very deeply. I believe, however,’ and he turned to the being who was holding my hand, ‘that it is time for her to take you back…please.’

“With that, the colors went really bright again. The Lord seemed to fade away, and I felt a slight tug on my hand. We floated. The bubble colors began to fade. I felt myself going down until I saw me sleeping. I could feel me going back into sleeping me. It wasn’t painful or anything like that. I just, well, I just sort of went back into me. I didn’t wake up or anything. I did feel one last gentle squeeze of my hand, and then, then I, I guess I slept through the night. But…I know what happened. I know it just as much as I know you’re sitting there on a couple cases of green beans. I met The Lord. I talked with Him. He said I’m part of a plan, which I guess means that all of us, you, the other people in the store, the customers, everyone is part of His plan. We just don’t know what the plan is, but we know it keeps the universe moving. I tell ya, kid, it was something. Now you got to promise that you won’t tell anyone. I know you well enough, but I’d really like you to promise.”

I promised. Now that I guess he’s gone, I guess his part in the plan is gone too. I mean, I guess he did whatever he was supposed to do for the plan, but it does make me wonder, “What’s my role in this plan?”

Yup, seems strange to me, too.

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The older man

He prayed every night.

He would tell you, “I’m not a religious person, but I am a believer in a higher power.” He’d talk about organized religion and say that he couldn’t accept some guy standing up in a pulpit and telling him what he should or shouldn’t do. He’d say that he thought too many of them were, in his words, “…a bunch of damned hypocrites.”

He really was deeply spiritual, although he could curse like a drunken sailor, drink like a fish, and for all I know, ran around like the biggest whoremonger in town…the only thing I can say for certain is that he sure could curse, because I never did see him drunk or with any woman other than his “bride,” as he always called her.

We talked a lot, me and this older man. I was just a kid. We worked together on the job. I’m not gonna talk about the job because the older man is my main subject here…and he was something.

He told me that he prayed every night.

He told me that he prayed for the souls of those who had died. He said he also prayed for the souls of the living when he thought it was called for. Took him over an hour to pray each evening, he said, but he added that he always felt better for having prayed so hard. “I don’t know who hears me,” he said, “but I’m damn sure someone or something does, and if only one soul gets the blessing I’ve prayed for, it’s been a pretty good evening…truth is, I think all my prayers get answered in some way, shape, or form.”

He let me know that when he prayed, it was to ‘The Lord.’ He said that he believed in the Blessed Trinity, but he still had a few questions about the Holy Ghost. Didn’t go into detail about that, and I never really felt it was my place to question him. After all, I guess I’m entitled to believe what I want just the way he can believe what he wants. We never did talk about what I felt or believed. He was just so interesting once he got started that I hated like the devil to interrupt him.

Though he was something of a strange duck, I never felt any danger about him. He was just ‘the older man;’ heck, I’ve even forgotten his name now. I lost track of him once I left my home town. The store closed when the big box store came into town, and I don’t have a clue as to what happened to the older man or anyone else.

He used to talk about his prayers a lot. He never did it in a way that would say, “I’m gonna impress this youngster,” but he just talked. Told me that when he finished his prayers and lay down to sleep, he’d always recite the Twenty-third Psalm to himself…”and then my friend would arrive,” he told me once.

“What friend?” I asked him the first time.

“Why, my friend from The Lord,” he told me.

“Now this is just a little bit weird,” I thought to myself, but what I actually asked was, “Who do you mean?”

He went on to explain that after he’d finished his prayers and said the Twenty-third Psalm, there was always a movement on the other side of his bed, like someone or something was settling in beside him. “Felt it just as much, and felt just as real as if a live person was layin’ down right next to me,” he told me. As strange as this was, I do have to say that it was also fascinating. “I’d say to whatever it was,” he’d go on, “If you’re from The Lord, then you can stay. If you’re not from “The Lord, then go away.” He said that whatever it was, it just settled in a little bit more. Told me he didn’t dare open his eyes to look because he was afraid of what he might see…or not see.

That was a lot of years ago. I can’t even tell you what brought back the memory of that older man. He wasn’t old. He was just older. Maybe it was the way he talked about prayer or maybe, just maybe it was because I now feel that same presence in my bed at night…just after I recite the Twenty-third Psalm, and just before I go to sleep.

Sure, seems strange to me, too.

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“How’re ya doin’?”

“Terrific, thanks; how about you?”

(No answer, but…) “Well, you’re lookin’ terrific!”

What the hell is that supposed to mean? I told this person I was “terrific,” and he looked at me like I’m some kind of liar. If I was doin’ shitty, I’d tell him, “I’m doin’ shitty,” so what’s the big deal. Does he want me to say that my back hurts like a son-of-a-bitch because all of the lumbar vertebrae are self-fused and they can’t even get a bloody needle in to give me an epidural anymore? That my back is so bad that I now have to use a cane to ensure my balance? That there’s no cartilage in either of my knees and when I walk, I can hear the bones rubbing together? That the doctors tell me I wouldn’t survive the anesthesia required for knee replacements? Is that what he wants?

I’ve stopped telling people how old I am when they ask. “Old enough to know better, but still young enough to learn,” has become my standard mantra. It’s either that or “Old enough to know not to make the mistakes of my youth,” that’s another one I’ve used.

I sometimes think that people ask how old you are so they can feel better about themselves. The one that really gets my goat is some young stud or ‘studdess’ telling me they hope they can do what I do when they’re my age. Screw that; I do what I do because I’m not quite ready to kick the bucket yet, and this exercise shtick is what the doctors say will help to keep me out of the crematorium. Someone asks if I’m feeling all right and follows up with, “You look kind of pale.” I just tell them I’m feeling a bit ‘ashy.’ They never get it, but it gives me a pretty good chuckle…at their expense…you don’t have something nice to say to me, shut the f..k up; I don’t need to hear it…particularly at five in the morning.

I’ve learned that there is a singular advantage to using the cane. People hold doors for me, and even old ladies who can walk without aid will defer to me as I enter the gym. At home, I often leave the cane and walk around unaided. Then I bump into a wall or a piece of furniture and remember that the cane is used for a reason…yep, you’re right…not the brightest bulb on Broadway!

I’ve noticed, in my dotage, that I get more hugs from young women than I used to. I figure they don’t think I’m any threat to them any more. They’re right, of course, but oh lord, does it ever bring back fond memories of yesteryear. Hell, I wasn’t a threat to them even then…married at 22, father of three ten years later…I never had the time or the desire to be a threat.

You see, the way I look at things now is this: I have coronary artery disease, but I’ve survived the first four heart attacks and now have six stents in the arteries around the heart. I had an aneurysm in my abdomen that one of the doctors caught before it burst, but it was purely by accident that he discovered it…whew. I say “whew,” because abdominal aneurysms are the tenth leading cause of death in this country…yeah, I was surprised too. I smoked cigarettes for 51 years and have moderate emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to show for it…but it could be a whole helluva lot worse. I’ve managed to get by with nearly 20 surgeries to my credit, and if it’s all the same to those who care, I’d just as soon not have to go through any more. Although I must admit that Versed, one of the anesthetics being used today, is fantastic because it blocks out your memory and is great on pain…yippee Skippy!

The latest episode in this medical autobiography is the one that I guess I’ve been dreading for years. I was recently diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes. I don’t know how fast this disease progresses, but for someone whose two great loves are reading and writing, this comes as something akin to a good hard kick in the…backside. However, like everything else, this storm can be weathered. There are always books on tape – I can become a better listener than a reader – and my little blog is so filled with errors that it just means Juli will have to add proofreader to her already endless list of things I ask her to do on a daily basis…as I say, the blog will have a few more errors. I’m certain of this because I know exactly where she’ll tell me to go if I ask her to proofread. Since that may well be my ultimate destination, I don’t wish to encourage more people than necessary to tell me to “do it now!”

Well, that about sums it up from this side of the bar stool. Keep those comments coming. It’s always nice to hear what’s going on in the world of reality.

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That mournful sound

Did you ever hear anything more mournful than the “whaa-whaa-whoo” of a train whistle early in the morning? Your eyes haven’t yet opened. You’re hovering between the last stages of sleep and the very early stages of wakefulness, and you hear “whaa-whaa-whoo” some miles from your bed. You know precisely what it is. It’s what you call “the 4:15 out of Bangor or Portland or Burlington or wherever.” In reality, you don’t have a clue about where that train has been, where it’s going; or even where it came from, but you listen – “whaa-whaa-whoo” – and it can conjure up memories or scenarios of places to go and people to see. It conjures up fantasies beyond your wildest imagination.

Maybe you’re the hobo who’s been riding these rails for years, sort of “King of the road,” as Roger Miller sang. You’ve seen the corn fields of Iowa, the snow-capped mountains of Colorado, the golden wheat stretching miles and miles through Kansas, and wild horses running alongside your open boxcar as the train clickety-clacked through Oklahoma. You’ve felt the warm breezes of the summer and the bone-chilling cold of the winter, but for you there is no other life. You’re free to do as you like and be who you are. No tie-downs or nine to five for you. This is your freedom and the way you’ve chosen to live your life…ridin’ the rails, and listenin’ to the “whaa-whaaa-whoo” of the whistle and the clickety-clack of the rails as you move through your life at your pace and marching to your own drummer.

Maybe this is the train that carried you from Boston to Baltimore to pay your last respects to an old Army buddy from WWII. A plane might have been faster, but you hate those damned cigar tubes, and as old as you are, you aren’t gonna risk your life when the train’s a perfectly safe way to go…at least according to you…and this guy once saved your life in Europe, yanking you to the ground just before that German machine gun saw your unit coming…yep, he saved your bacon for sure. Now he’s gone, but you haven’t forgotten; you remember; and you wanna say your “goodbyes.” After all, hadn’t been for him, you’d probably been pushin’ up daisies in some cemetery in France or Belgium, or Holland, or somewhere over there. So you ride the train…all the way to Baltimore.

Or maybe you’re the engineer who has been making this run for the past thirty years. Your whistle warns that you’re coming through Canton, Bridgewater, Stoughton or some other small town. Yeah, you know the “whaa-whaa-whoo” is loud and can be heard for miles, and you know its 4:15 in morning, and you know some people will get waked by the sound, but that’s your job. You have grown beyond the point of caring. Heck, if you gotta be haulin’ this 40-car load of whatever so that others can eat or drink or build homes or buy cars or…then that’s the way it has to be. You’re just doing the job, the same job you’ve been doing for the past thirty years with still more years to go.

It’s possible, I suppose, that you could fantasize that this is the cross-country trip you promised the family so many years ago. “We’ll take the train so we can sit in one of those cars with the big windows and see America the way the pioneers saw it.” Well, I’m not certain a Conestoga wagon was quite as smooth a ride as one of today’s trains, and I don’t believe the hardships faced by the pioneers could be compared to a cramped shower of today, but what the heck, you promised and the “whaa-whaa-whoo” doesn’t even disturb your sleep. Used to keep you awake when you first began the trip, but not anymore.

So many dreams; so many fantasies to conjure up. All of this just because you heard the mournful whistle of a train in the distance, when your eyes had yet to open, and you were somewhere in that state between sleep and wakefulness. It will happen again tomorrow, and you may hear it or you may be so soundly sleeping that it will make its “whaa-whaa-whoo” and you will never know; never once again to live in a fantasy world for a few more minutes. It won’t matter. To those who hear the mournful sound, they, too, can have their fantasies.

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Let us suppose for a moment that FBI Director, James Comey, had stood at the lectern recently and stated, “We have found sufficient evidence to indict Hillary Rodham Clinton on the charges of treason and providing aid and comfort to enemies of America. At this very moment, our officers are apprehending Mrs. Clinton, and she will be incarcerated without bail until a trial date is set.” Cut to the stage where Hillary and Barack are holding each other’s arms high in the air. Four burly suits approach the stage with FBI badges showing from the top pocket of their coats. The Secret Service agents of both the President and Mrs. Clinton move forward to halt the approach.

“Federal law gives the FBI authority to investigate all federal crime not assigned exclusively to another federal agency (28, Section 533 of the U.S. Code). Title 28, U.S. Code, Section 533, authorizes the attorney general to appoint officials to detect and prosecute crimes against the United States. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 3052, specifically authorizes special agents and officials of the FBI to make arrests, carry firearms, and serve warrants. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 3107, empowers special agents and officials to make seizures under warrant for violation of federal statutes.
“The FBI has authority to investigate threats to national security pursuant to presidential executive orders, attorney general authorities, and various statutory sources. Title II of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, Public Law 108-458, 118 Stat. 3638, outlines FBI intelligence authorities, as does Executive Order 12333; 50 U.S.C. 401 et seq.; 50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.”
The Secret Service is a division of Homeland Security. Is responsible for the protection of the President and presidential candidates.

Okay, where do we go from here?

There actually is a prescribed procedure for just such a situation. However, before any arrest takes place, the Director of the FBI and the Director of the Secret Service must have a conversation invoking article 1527, Agreement between the FBI and the Secret Service, which says in effect that the agencies will cooperate. As a result, Mrs. Clinton could be placed under arrest and the President could go it alone, extolling the virtues of Mrs. Clinton and telling the audience what a great act she would be to follow him in the office…nah, wouldn’t work all that well…make a helluva image for TV though, wouldn’t it?

In a high profile case such as this, Mrs. Clinton would be given a certain period of time – short of the election, of course – to present herself to FBI officers for a hearing to establish bail. Since she is under indictment, she would be forced to withdraw as the Democratic candidate for President, although she might not; the convention might endorse her and we would have two crooks running for the highest office in the land.

Meanwhile, over on the Republican side, Donald Trump is vindicated after calling Hillary “crooked.” However, FBI investigation shows that Trump (a) received an illegal loan from his father; (b) that his mob ties subject him to prosecution under the RICO Statute; and (c) that he knowingly had a union leader eliminated through his mob ties. The FBI swoops in and arrests him mid-rally, and along with his Secret Service protectors, they haul him in. He is considered a flight risk by the judge and no bail is allowed.

The Republican Convention overwhelmingly endorses Trump and Vice Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich brings the crowd to its feet with a rousing rendition of Dixie as the New England delegations storm out of the hall.

What next, oh mighty seer?

Bernie Sanders agrees to debate Gingrich as Hillary’s proxy. Both are booed off the stage by followers from both parties. The election is canceled. Obama indicates that he will gladly serve another four years, but this is totally unacceptable. As a result, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are drafted to serve as co-presidents. Six months into their first term, both are so confused that they import David Cameron to run the country. Within a year, and without a single shot being fired, Americans are singing their new National Anthem, God Save the Queen!

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The Leader

The planning began in 2013 as far as can be determined. It would lead him into a position of power, and he would reign as the world’s most powerful leader. In his own mind he would be more powerful than any Caesar, Alexander, Khan, or any of Egypt’s so-called God-like Pharaoh’s. History would mark his tenure as the boldest and brightest, the best thing ever to happen to the United States of America.

He was a showman, a carnival barker, a television personality, a published author, and according to him, a philanthropist whose charities benefited millions. His books were all best sellers…he said. His television program was number one in its time slot…he bragged. The university that bore his name created hundreds of millionaires…he insisted. And the numerous water parks bearing his name were the best in the world…he said it and the masses believed it. He would achieve greatness by uniting a divided country and a distribution of wealth such as had never been seen before.

Well, that was the plan, but like those of other narcissistic, power-hungry, dictatorial maniacs, things began to fall apart shortly after his “election,” if that’s what one wishes to call his rise. During the pre-election days, his Red Shirts, as they were known, disrupted nearly every rally held by his opponent, shouting her down and starting fist fights with her supporters. At one such rally, eggs and tomatoes hit the candidate and forced her to leave the stage. Despite protests from the leaders of his own party, George H. Frump only smiled, threw out his arms and innocently told them, “I have nothing to do with them. I don’t know who these people are. Those people are just protesting all of the terrible lies she’s telling about me.” In point of truth, those ‘lies’ could easily be backed up. Frump’s appeal to the masses about uniting the nation and making it ‘great again,’ his equal opportunity for all ‘Legitimate Americans,’ his promises to round up and deport illegal immigrants, ban certain groups from entering the country, “topped off with an unceasing flood of invective aimed” at his opponent and his predecessor combined with the economic difficulties of the parts of the country – Frump was riding a “wave of street popularity he hoped would help him” into a position from which he could dictate his own terms.

Frump’s promises faded quickly once the election was over. Although charges of voting fraud were brought by his opponent were ignored, Frump marched into the Capitol and it’s many pillared home in triumphant fashion. His inauguration on that January 20th showed the first indications of the type of government that the nation could expect to see for the next four years. Senators, Congressmen, and members of the Supreme Court were relegated to seats below the platform. Members of the Red Shirts surrounded the new leader wearing armbands that bore a donkey, encircled in black with a red slash across its body. In addition, a carefully selected corps of Army, Navy, and Marines encircled the audience with tanks and artillery pieces very much in evidence…the man was now Commander-in-Chief.

If Americans listening to Frump’s Inaugural Address had any illusions that he was going to be a great leader, they were dashed by his opening statement…”The Democratic Party has brought this nation to the terrible state in which we find ourselves today. From this moment forward, that party and every member of it is to be considered an enemy of the United States of America. There will be no more two-party system of government as long as I draw a breath.” Shock and fear went through the assemblage as hundreds of Red Shirts marched down the aisles and began herding Democratic members of Congress away in handcuffs. Half of the Supreme Court Justices, those appointed by a Democratic leader, were also arrested and put into cuffs. The rest of the speech was largely a tirade against anyone who might consider opposing Frump and a warning to immigrants that their days were also numbered.

Frump’s tactics reminded old timers of a dictator who rose to power in the 1930s, but to say anything publically could be viewed as treason. Red Shirts replaced police departments all around the country, often using intimidation and even murder to attain power. Red Shirt politicians – without wearing red shirts of course, began to surface and run for offices formerly filled by Democrats. In many cases, running a campaign was unnecessary. Fatten Frump’s personal campaign fund and you were guaranteed a seat in Congress. It was in this manner that Frump passed and signed legislation that allowed him to control nearly every aspect of life in America, from the financial institutions to agribusiness; and from petrochemicals to pharmaceuticals. America became the United States of Frump.

And, true to his word, Frump’s Red Shirt army rounded up and deported anyone and everyone with a foreign-sounding last name. Ships were filled with “illegal immigrants” who either returned to the country of their birth or merely sailed on until they could prove their citizenship. The “Leader,” as he preferred to be called also built a wall more than 2,000 miles long separating ‘his’ country from Mexico and increased security to such a degree that no one dared to attempt overland entry. Much to Frump’s dismay, illegal drugs continued to pour into America through tunnels. As quickly as one was found, two more were in operation, and The Leader’s famed temper would result in someone being tried for a treasonous act he or she never realized they had committed.

It was at this point in time that I awoke. Sweat was pouring down my cheeks, although it might have been tears. The T-shirt I’d worn to bed was drenched in sweat, and I realized that I was shaking all over. The dream had been so real. I was terrified. “That could never happen in America,” I said to myself…”Or could it?”

 

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