Stories

Only the Loathing

Forty degrees outside and I’m layered up, tearing down the 77 on my motorcycle. My headphones are in, Wolfmother is blaring into my brain and I’m heading to the polls. “It’s time to take that bastard LePage out of office,” I say to myself.

I wasn’t even around for the last election, having moved here in 2012, but in the last two and a half years, I’ve taken horrid notice of the same Rick Perry antics from this Governor, only with less tact. Now, in the cool New England fall night, with humid breath collecting on my scarf in the wind and then stinging my nostrils, I pass by the Cutler-ites waving their signs, and I shake my head. Not this time, I’m out for blood, and it’s French-Canadian born.

I read about what happened in the last election. Thirty-eight percent, that slimy, corpulent grease-ball. I’ll settle on a lesser evil, and let Michaud have his day. I pull a right into the Cape Elizabeth High School, dodging cars and parking up next to the entrance, not before giving the engine one quick roar. They’ll know I mean business.

In the gymnasium of the school, with climbing ropes and basketball goals pulled up to the ceiling, the floor is covered in red vinyl. Red, the valor and bravery of this great nation. Red for the blood spilled, and in this money driven election, blood is bound to be spilled tonight. The R-Z line is nearly empty and I wait behind a couple ladies, both of them donning donkey pins of their political preference. This place reeks. It’s hatred for the elephant, LePage. “I voted,” says the small sticker on the shirt of the young woman that handed me my ballot.

“Did you ride here tonight?”

“Of course!” I say. “I layered up. It wasn’t so bad.” Leaving out the part about engine roaring, and the speed I traveled to get here.

In all the excitement, I join the next line I see, until I notice that these people are handing in their ballots to the counting machines. “By God! I haven’t even filled mine out! I have no idea what I’m doing!” I duck into a striped booth, wield my sword and strike down the corruption that good-ol-boy from Lewiston has brought to office. The rest of the ballot is a toss-up, and from what I can see, their all good people. LePage, the man that couldn’t even get into college, has got to have his.

Back in the counting line, I smile a wicked Beowulf smile and hand mine in to the lovely lady.

“Thank you for voting,” she says.

“No, thank you for your service today,” I say back.

I hop back on my steed and roar home, anxious to track the tally on the computer. My eyes become tired by eleven o’clock and I give in. It won’t make any difference if I look or not. What’s done is done.

When I wake the next morning, it’s the usual mad dash to get to work on time, and I’ve decided to wait to check the results until I’m sitting at my desk. The ride across the Casco Bay Bridge is warmer than it has been. The dragon’s breath is humid and sticky. On Commercial Street I leave my bike, unmask myself, and walk into the foyer of the office, and I see it there. On the bench! There’s the fat bastard with his arms raised like some kind of angry ape. He’s looking at me through the front page of the Portland Press Herald. My heart drops to the floor and I pick it up.

“I have it. I have the American Dream!” he says at me through the caption. I think I’m getting sick. I want to turn right around and head home for bed. I climb in the elevator with my head low.

I came to this state for a change. I followed my heart and my fiancé to this beautiful state because it was an adventure. I had never seen the rocky coast, or the forests that Maine has to offer. Back in Texas, from where I moved, the Republican red is wont and expected. Here I see the red on the gym floor stands for the rape of beautiful natural resources. It is red for the millions of acres of forest that won’t be. It is red for the blood-clotted arteries of the man that believes that global warming is a good thing. But it’s not about Republican red or Democratic blue in any state. We should have listened to Washington! It’s about values, and in LePage’s first moments with this election’s victory, he jokes about suicide watch from a reporter, and it all comes flooding back to me. The Nazi remarks, the Obama-is-racist remarks, BPA-little-beard remarks, the misogynistic tendencies, and I know that at least for the next four years, we’re doomed. What is LePage’s American dream?

While I find my desk a colleague of mine asks me if I saw the results.

“I did, just now,” I say.

“Can you believe it?” he asks.

“No,” I say. “Did you make it to vote?”

“No,” he says. “I didn’t figure it would make a difference.”

I sigh and turn to work. “Maybe he’s right,” I think. But immediately I change my mind realizing that LePage is just a drop in the bucket. Back on my computer, back in the daily grind, I can tell that it’s not the reporter on suicide watch today, it’s the American Dream.

Brown

It was the itchin’ that woke Jim Brown. Sweat had seeped into the open crusty gash on his left temple late into the thick Texas summer night. He fought to recall where he was. The dull aches and ubearable itchin’ brought back the jabs and kicks before darkness set in.

“Wake up, Brownie. We want you alive and squirmin’ when you pay for what you done.”

Brown fought the burning in his eyes to squint in the direction of the voice, but couldn’t make out the face on account of the darkness. Beyond the voice he could see familiar faces lit by what he could swear were a thousand torches, little firey stars held in hand by fifty or so of the locals.

Brown’s mama’s words echoed in his swolen head, “Better stay away from that white girl, baby. Lana ain’t nothin’ but trouble.” But Brown took his chances, night after night, because she swore she loved him.

Now, Brown slumped low against the big cottonwood on the south side of the Abney plantation as an unknown figure slipped a rope about his neck. The rope pulled tight. “Rapist Nigger!” The shouts came. As he rose onto the second branch, big and wide enough to hold his massive weight, he caught Lana’s face in the back of the crowd. Tears formed in his eyes when he saw the new bump just over her waistline. Lana’s face was solemn and blank.

Before the air was cut short, Brown thought, “It aint no life bein born a bastard.”And as his eyes fought to closed he thought it peculiar that the stars should be on the ground. The firey stars grew brighter and brighter. Then blinding. His eyes shut. The locals looked on in silence as Jim Brown died. He didn’t squirm.

The next day Lana’s daddy made an appointment up in Dallas with some doctor. When she came back, the bump was gone. 

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