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BLACK HELICOPTERS

EPISODE 39

SATURDAY the EIGHTH - 11:28 PM

          "...but the idea you'd get sick and pass it on to Glenn is… so… not without its interesting aspects," mused Andy, taking a hit off a rolled joint – tobacco, now. "I mean, him being so goddam smug and efficient; I could sort of see justice in his being wheeled round a charity hospital with nobody left caring about him… after you’ve moved forward, yourself, of course… rattling like those living skeletons who, after Trump cut Medicaid by three quarters, eighteen states closed hospitals and two-thirds of the nursing homes refused Medicare, landed in the Sanctuary. The ones winos won't even go near, before Health n’ Human Services started shipping the worst cases off... I think, was it to the Dominican Republic?"

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          "Puerto Rico," Anne corrected, "that island where they used to bomb... government took it over after that hurricane."

          "Yeah... hey, awful, but not so much worse than this place.  Womb, room, doom, tomb." Andy snapped his fingers then frowned, the handroll had sputtered out.  "Fuckin’ Porter Waggoner, another dark angel in hillbilly heaven, too.  All the good ones…"  He reached across Anne to the drawers, held it back up to a candle.

          "That's so trite it's adorable. Takes me back to our days at the U. - like when that French guy came out to the auditorium in Tether Hall..."

          "Piece-of-shit cattle pen...

          "And talked all afternoon about symbolism while you were out doing what it is you did in those days, then we'd stay up all night..."

          "Glenn doesn't smoke after fucking?" Andy wondered.

          "Glenn doesn't do much of anything after anything, anymore."  She pulled out her new x-Pose, shook it and cursed, “…lost the charge.  Again!”

          He exhaled wearily. "But… do you love him?"

          "This is the twenty-first century," Anne replied. "We're usually busy together, doing all these busy twenty-first century things. Working, fucking, listening to the radio or x=Pose postings, watching stream-TV, sending and receiving messages on cellphones, thinking... twittering… all at the same time.  Picking up dry-cleaning for Rayna and Jack.  You heard about the baby?" Andy grunted what might have been assent, might have been a denial. "There were all these important conferences coming up and Glenn, well, he doesn't come right out and say things, you know, just sort of insinuates them into happening..."

          "Yeah, I remember... hadda go to – Dominica, was it?"

          "I think he set something up with Rayna. So I got back at them, both... let the Catfish take me to bed down in Houston. He's like... has this sort of Gary Hart, Johnnie Edwards will-to-destruction thing with his Weinermobile, you know? Like Elvis? Not creepy like Clinton or Harvey Weinstein, no masturbation, no cigars, no piss like the President... he likes sex plain, vanilla... wham bam ma'am, thank you, thank God!”

“Gary Hart?” Andy squinted.

“I don't think he expected I would let him. He was always saying that, like, we'd be working so closely together it would be better if there wasn't any residual apprehensive tension or one of those mismatched phrases he uses to make people think he's smarter or more funny or more down-home country than he is.  Same line he throws to all the females.  I mean... he was fuckin' astonished that it happened. Pretended not to be... damn!"

          "Was he slimy and oily-smelling like a real fish?"

          "Andy!" She punched him on the arm. "Glenn hates kids. He's terrified of committing himself, or anybody, to any future. Besides, the condo's singles-only, we'd have to move further out into the burbs, maybe out to where they shot George Wallace in the parking lot at this mall?  They’ve let that fruitcake out, did you know – he’s got a book, too, probably gunnin’ for Jack as we speak if he doesn’t get distracted by a movie deal. My phone needs a charge, and the whole white race is too damn busy to propagate!"

          "Could be worse, we’d all be under a Mormon sharia… or whatever the hell they call it.  The underwear I could live with, but no beer?  No coffee?  There’s that other religion that Ben Carson believed in that bans coffee; people ask why he always looks sleepy… well, kiss 'em all goodbye and move in here. Hindus would probably let you; ten more bucks a week under the table, fifteen tops. Going rate for couples. This is the sort of place people who kill white politicians hang out in."

          Anne crawled over him and out of the creaking bed, fumbling for her clothes in the guttering candlelight.

          "I would think it would make him an impossible candidate," Andy surmised, letting her pass.

          "Who? What?"

          "The Catfish. I think he has risky sex because he's hoping to get caught; he'd really rather work behind the scenes so he won't have to compromise himself by actually running for President, or having to be responsible if he won, somehow.  Knowing that he’s even less qualified for the job than the incumbent, which is pretty bad…" He followed her out of the bed, and, when she bent over to flail around under it for one of her shoes, straddled her uplifted ass and spanked her flank several times, like a goddam Lone Ranger, urging Silver on to a quick hi yo! getaway.

          "Stop Trumping me!  Jack can do anyone he wants, so long as she’s legal tender… he’s divorced.  Like Reagan.  Do we have to sneak down the same way we got in?" she asked, pushing him aside so she could sit on the floor and pull up a stocking.

          "Yeah, but it's no big deal.  Phone’s right by the office so that’s a no-go, but they got one at the liquor store.  Fire door's alarmed but, if we hurry, we're halfway down the block by the time one of the Babus gets there. He'll jump around, rant in Hinduese a while, then go back. Ten, fifteen minutes later I come back, buzz in... if he asks, I’m drunk, I went out for cigarettes or something, didn't see anything, forgot.  Forgettin’s no big deal around here when you smell like weed or whiskey..."

          He leaned over the bed and blew the candles out, plunging the room into darkness. In silence, abrupt as the darkness that had enveloped them, noise from of a hundred other rooms rose up... their radios and TV newscasters; laughter, arguments; creaking bedspring sonatas that slithered through walls, floor, ceilings. Sirens through the open window, an argument on the street... rustlings in the walls that were probably disgruntled Republican spies, or rats…

          "Did you ever dream, when you were little, of running away to join the circus?" she asked through the soft rustling of clothes being pulled on, the shriek of a zipper pulled up. "I did. Then I woke up and found out it was real, and I was the one running the circus... well, a big part of it. And I wanted to run away, but there was no place left to run to.  But now I’m the ringmistress who did the nasty with a man who just might be President of the United States,.."

          A practical remark interrupted her reveries. "Might!  Speaking of circuses," Andy whispered in the dark, "Pinhead threw in passes to the convention tomorrow. What do you think? Is it worth checking out?"

          "That's not what I meant," she said, speaking in the direction that she thought she saw his shadow in. Raising a hand to her shoulder, thinking of Henry, then of something else. "But... yes, you ought to. Yes! In fact, if you can meet me at noon,” she brightened, “I'll get you onto the floor. And if you know a few other reliable people, registered voters here, I can get them in too and sign them up in the Coalition for free. Four, no… five of them, that’ll do. What about those attorneys you know... do you have their numbers?"

          The light, suddenly turned on, was blinding. Anne raised a hand to cover her eyes, protecting herself, as if anticipating a blow out of the night or, perhaps, a ravenous spider.  And no Renfield, nor Judge Rehnquist – not even a hungry Justice Christie in sight…

 

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SATURDAY the EIGHTH - 11:36 PM

 

          Anne and Andy sidled downstairs through the quieting halls of the Hindu hotel... the man formerly sprawled on the stairs was gone and they reached the fire door without incident. "Go left around the corner!" Andy said, pushing her through; buzzers resounded again, curses rising from behind doors… lights flickering on in windows behind shades of rags and soiled bedsheets… and they sprinted down the block laughing like kids, lost in shadows cast by the huge old trees that still protected the despairing dwellings and peoples of the street. Andy saw a light where a Babu, or one of the extended family, had opened the door, but knew they couldn't see him or Anne. "Can't bust 'em!" he reassured himself, then guided Anne down to the liquor store in the middle of the block... the one run by dour Palestinians in primly pressed white shirts and kefiyahs doling out poison to decadent Americans, never responding… as he’d learned long ago… to the frequent appeals to join in the common struggles of the infidel poor. There was a working pay phone there... something of a miracle for the neighborhood… though local calls cost a dollar and a quarter, here, instead of just a buck.

          Anne called the cab company and Andy gave her another twenty from the rumpled paper bag, since she'd left him with the check for more money than the cost of their meal and subsequent drinks and the fee for the check cashing place. While she was on the line, he bought a half-liter can of ABM and a five-twenty pack of generic smokes. For years he'd played at tracking the price of gas against cigarettes... gas was a little cheaper, still, but would probably start going up as soon as the summer vacation season began. He didn't want to know the price of a cab... didn't want to think about it. Anne pretended to be interested in all the bright green and orange snacks while the Palestinian brothers (everybody on the street who used to call them Arakat and Arafat were now calling them Sissy and Fatty) discussed something... probably the day of uprising... behind the counter where, Andy figured, they probably had two shotguns within reach, maybe three. Nobody bothered anybody, nobody else came in... soon, amazingly, a real cab pulled up at the curb, honked, and he walked Anne out the door.

          "Take care of yourself," she said, pecking at his cheek as if they were an old, married couple, and then she was gone. Holding cigarettes in his left hand, beer in the right, Andy turned back, seeing someone step out of the alley beside the liquor store, bright cropped hair sparkling under the flashing neon of the big-hatted Frito Bandido sign, brought back from perdition for the new generation of the politically incorrect.

          Rael...

          "Man, I thought we... you know... had something together," she said, trying not to break into tears.

          "So?" Andy tried to appear unruffled, wishing, though, that he'd tucked in his own only white shirt. That he'd put on something that didn't stand out so in the dark. "Business! Part of the doing's in keeping other people alive, some women aren't safe out here, on their own..."

          "I saw you and her come out of the hotel," she said, and he knew he must be looking like an idiot there... standing out on the street in his business shirt like just another busted white-collar lover. "I came by, thought we could, you know... but you're a... a..."

          But she couldn't think of anything that didn't in some way reflect on some animal or other... instead she burst into sobs and ran past him in the direction away from Andy's corner...

          "Rael!" he called after her, and began to follow, but without sincerity. She was gone and who was he kidding... she was what... eighteen? Maybe nineteen?

          When he and Anne and Glenn were at the U., they'd made fun of all the old hippies hanging round... perpetual students, hoping to score grants or a piece of ass... some making the transition to teaching assistant, others pouring coffee, collating at one of the copy shops, cashing checks from the family. Combing over bald spots on their scalp as thirty receded and forty loomed, then fifty… pawing at psychology majorettes in their shabby lineaments as, they hoped, hinted at independence, at hipness...

          Losers!

          Old losers!

          He popped the top off his ABM...

 

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