The smell of burning paper grabbed me by the face and shoved its fist down my throat.
I doubled over in pain and began hacking phlegm in stabbing spasms. Crouching to the large kitchen floor, I called out, listening to hear if anyone needed help. The only response was the incessant screaming of a fire alarm somewhere on the ceiling.
Soon it became apparent that I was lost in a sea of toxic smoke; I couldn’t see and could barely move — I knew I was doomed. It was then that two strong hands grabbed me by the shoulders and hefted me up into the smoke stew, and launched me toward an open window. Free to breathe, I gulped air savagely.
Tears streamed down my face, making it hard to see, let alone thank the Samaritan that had saved me. I was however, able to hear his voice.
“Just like I thought! Couldn’t save yourself, even if your life depended on it!”
“Mitt Romney…I presume!”
And then I blacked out.
I awoke on the kitchen floor. The smoke was gone and there was a frantic activity buzzing about me. Women in white lab coats were skipping about, their arms filled with books.
“Just throw them in the oven! Nine months and they’ll be done.” The tall statuesque speaker stood in the kitchen’s doorway. He was wearing an apron and a chef’s hat and directing traffic like a city cop in a blinking intersection during a bad storm.
The man was Mitt Romney, and the analogy not only applied to the current operation of apparent book burning in his kitchen, but also the general state of his 2012 campaign for presidency. This man was at the wheel of a floundering ship, lost at sea; and was as blissfully unaware as sweet lady ignorance would allow.
“Sir,” a small bespeckled blonde interrupted. “I think you’re thinking about babies, not document doctoring. But regardless, this isn’t how either works. I think you’re taking the term ‘cooking books’ too literally.”
He slapped her with such ferocity and immediacy, I was almost certain the whole thing had been planned. But when her body fell limp to the floor, I knew the truth: This man was no mortal. Instead he was some mutant crossbreed, possessing the speed of a serpent and the strength of a Komodo dragon.
He turned toward me, his granite jaw line never shifting from its chiseled, open-lipped smile. He even talked through his teeth.
“This right here ladies,” he said while pointing to me, stepping over the woman who, at that point, I assumed was dead. “This is an example of the leeching 47 percent of our country that can never be taught to stand on his own.”
“So you think,” I began, pulling myself up onto my elbows, “that half the country consists of deadbeats?”
“No,” he shot back angrily, his face shifted in reality ever so slightly. The effect was like perceiving motion through a fan, where the movement is diced to the point it seems artificial. It was only for a split second I noticed it, then it was gone.
“I never said such a thing,” he assured, spit flying from his mouth.
“But you literally just said…”
“Cameron!” He turned on his heels and bellowed into the living room, “Where’s Cameron, she promised she would help me prepare my victory speech for Tuesday!”
“Sir,” a small auburn-haired woman scampered to him. “You slapped her unconscious, sir. She’s on the floor right now. In fact, you’re sort of standing on her.”
Romney looked down and saw that he was in fact standing on the poor woman’s head.
“My word,” he muttered. “What monster could do such a thing?”
The small auburn-haired woman stared at him like one would an ugly child who’d just asked whether he would ever find true love. She took a deep breath and began stroking his shoulder, “only the worst type of monster, sir.”
If she were thinking anything condescending, her face did not betray her.
“You know,” I began, pulling myself up by the side of the counter. “The first thing you can do to help a woman in her position is to not stand on her fuckin’ face!”
Romney stood straight, clicking his heels together. This of course caused a small bit of Cameron’s forehead skin to be pinched, drawing a blood blister.
“You sick fuck,” he began stoically. “I would never stand on a woman’s face…”
“You’re standing on her goddamn face right…you’re standing right now!”
“Tonight,” he interrupted. “I’m book cooking. So if you’ll excuse me.” He turned sharply, slipping off Cameron’s skull and walking indignantly into the living room. “Where the hell is Cameron?” He screamed. “She promised she would help me prepare my victory speech for Tuesday!”
The room fell silent, save for the shallow breathing of the possibly paralyzed aide on the floor.
My name is Richard Corey and I’m a writer for an angry little blog run by my editor, a Chinese-American anarchist; and the owner, an obsessive Hip hop fashion czar. When we can pull ourselves away from our individual vices and addictions, we try to cover important issues of the day. And boy does the 2012 presidential election fit that criterion.
Here’s an election that will dictate the direction our country takes: either onward and upward out of the deep, piss-filled hole ole ‘W’ left us in, or deeper into the mire, face down and ass up. The country’s choice is between an uptight Kenyan-American with a mean streak and penchant for anti-terror nerd rage, and a bipolar automaton with a jaw chiseled out of limestone and a short term memory problem. Initially however, the race wasn’t really on our radar.
Until one day, my editor and I were sitting by an open window at headquarters, on the top floor of a stubby six-story building, playing her favorite game of “Pick off the Midget.”
“Oh, there’s one!” She seized up, grabbed a water balloon and flung it into space. There was the long pause of flight, then the splash, immediately followed by the sound of garbled high-pitched cursing.
Meanwhile, the radio recapped the October 17 presidential debate and the many binders full of women that Governor Mitt Romney now apparently owned.
At this point, unbeknowest to the public, the mask that Romney had so carefully crafted during the Republican campaign — that of the staunchly conservative Republican candidate who wasn’t as batshit crazy as Ron Paul, outwardly racist as Newt Gingrich, or downright stupid as Rick Perry — was beginning to flicker in front of the news cameras.
The man at one time would appear strong and conservative, old-fashioned public service cutting, vagina binding, good ol’ boy. And then others, he would shift into a being made up of almost completely transparent bio jelly; appearing as something much more moderate and menacing to the old Republican guard.
It didn’t go entirely unnoticed. Later, the Washington Post ran a November 11 editorial that called the Romney campaign on its candidate’s newly developed chameleon-like ability to shape shift:
How, other than an assumption that voters are too dim to remember what Mr. Romney has said across the years and months, to account for his breathtaking ideological shifts? He was a friend of immigrants, then a scourge of immigrants, then again a friend. He was a Kissingerian foreign policy realist, then a McCain-like hawk, then a purveyor of peace. He pioneered Obamacare, he detested Obamacare, then he found elements in it to cherish. Assault weapons were bad, then good. Abortion was okay, then bad. Climate change was an urgent problem; then, not so much. Hurricane cleanup was a job for the states, until it was once again a job for the feds.
“This guy seems to be a real piece of work,” my editor muttered, flinging a balloon at a man who didn’t look remotely small. I don’t think she was even aiming at that point.
“You think I should cover him,” I asked. “I’m a need money, stipends…you know, the whole nine.”
“Richard,” she began, hefting another balloon, this time at someone who was clearly a horse. “We’ve been so broke lately that I’ve had to replace the water in these balloons with piss…do you really think we can afford the ‘whole nine’ at this point?
“Well, he does represent small business, right?” I pondered while she threw another balloon, this time hitting a dwarf. The girl was back on track. “Maybe he has some ideas to offer us some relief; can’t hurt to give him a try.” She nodded in agreement and with that, I was off.
The Romney campaign had allowed me unprecedented access to its candidate as he made his last minute thunder stomp through the swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.
After the fire debacle at Romney’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, I was told to meet them in Virginia where I would be picked up en route to the Midwest. I would ride with them to Ohio, but then no more. I would be dropped off in the Buckeye state were I would buy a plane ticket home; by that time, the disgust should have overtaken me to the point where the choice would be either to leave or murder the lot of them.
It was while riding with them in the campaign bus — a large and sleek mobile home on wheels, outfitted with the finest and latest in campaign and political technology — that the creature someone had once named Willard Mitt Romney began to rip at the seams.
It was on a long stretch of Midwestern road that the candidate began to lose it, screaming, “Michigan, by God, what of Michigan?!”
When no one bothered to raise a hand, I offered, “Well, since you opposed a government bailout of the auto industry in 2008, Michigan voters have been a little wary of whether they can trust you.”
“What!” He spun on the balls of his feet, “that bailout was MY idea! Mine! Obama took it from me and don’t let a damn person tell you otherwise!” The aides around me were sitting completely quiet, their faces frozen in poses of extreme anxiety.
“Whoookay…” I said warily. It was then I noticed his assistants and campaign staff, for the most part, were all women. I ignored the curious phenomenon and continued, “Look sir, I’m not sure what anyone has told you, but you’re losing Michigan…handedly. And with the way Obama is doubling down in Ohio some political pundits think you may lose there as well.”
This infuriated him. He began to sweat profusely, fidgeting; all the while those odd temporal distortions of the eye continued to morph and change his appearance.
“Look, you…” He paused and looked around. Everyone on the bus had taken to staring out the window, twiddling their thumbs and pretending that none of this was actually happening. Mitt looked at them all, expecting support. But when none came he attempted to think of his own response on the fly, something damning and decisive.
All he could come up with was, “Shap Nigga!!”
With that he turned to face the front of the bus. He then began to remove his trousers and underwear, before air humping whatever invisible…thing was there in front of him.
There he was, possibly the next leader of the free world, butt naked and air humping an unnamed victim. Under his breath, he called her Sally.
“Okay,” I whispered to a brunette sitting next to me. “What the fuck is going on with this guy?”
“He’s just working through some things.”
“Yeah,” I shot back. “He’s working toward an orgasm. He’s going to crust up that fuckin’ front window if someone doesn’t stop him!”
At the front of the bus, and adjacent to a very nervous driver, Romney was thrusting with a vigor I wouldn’t have expected from a middle-aged man, “Come on Sally! Come on!”
“He’s a goddamn mirror merge is what he is!”
“Cameron, no!” The brunette was horrified, but the blonde speaker wouldn’t be silenced. She was the one he had paralyzed, after all. So I suspect she did have somewhat of a chip on her shoulder.
They had strapped the woman’s limp body to a reclining seat and for the entirety of the ride she’d been staring at me out of her one working eye. I guess she had just been waiting for the right moment to spill it all.
I pushed further, “What do you mean, ‘mirror merge?'”
“What the fuck were we supposed to do, man?” She began, while fighting back tears. “We were running against the fuckin’ Bachmann, THEE BACHMANN. Do you think we could’ve played the middle? Of course not! We had to hit the extremes, especially the conservative side; prime the Tea Party, you know? But the problem, of course, came when we realized the general elections were within our grasp! We couldn’t bring that self deportation bullshit to the thinking public, hell, there are Spanish people out there…and they can vote now!”
Ms. Brunette nodded in reluctant agreement.
“You know,” I began. “Hispanic people have been voting for quite some tim…”
“Goddamnit,” Cameron interrupted. “We knew we had to play both sides of the fence. So we…broke the barrier.”
“The barrier?” Even though I had no idea what they were talking about, I was already tired of hearing about it. Cameron nodded to another blonde aide who hung her head in shame, before producing a small electronic device shaped like the average DVR player.
“This is the device that allows us to tap into the other side of “the barrier,” into the next, closest dimension,” Cameron hissed. “We grab a mirror version of someone — an exact opposite, right down the middle — and we trap it, contain it, and bring it over. It’s fool proof. The only problem is that when we take a version of someone who’s still alive on this side, the two tend to merge.”
“That seems like a pretty big fuckin’ problem,” I watched as Romney began nakedly humping one of the woman aides in the front row. She didn’t react; instead she stroked his shoulder and reassured him that he was indeed doing the right thing.
“Damn straight!” He screamed.
“Okay, didn’t anyone realize that this was possibly the worst thing you could ever do to another human being?” I offered. Camron didn’t disagree.
“Look, we were just trying to win; we didn’t know we’d create this monstrosity.”
I watched him go, thrusting from aide to aide, it was apparent he was oblivious to the nonsense he was spewing and the contradictions that were making him look less and less human, let alone presidential. I almost felt bad for him, this wasn’t his fault.
“Well then, what set him off? I mean, he was fine, even during the debates. Sure he was contradicting his earlier positions, but now he’s damn near doing it mid-sentence!”
“I don’t want do this!” Romney screamed, his back looking to give under the pressure of each vicious Bobby Brown pelvic thrust, “I don’t want to do this!”
I screamed up to the front, “Then stop doing it, nigga!”
“It was Hurricane Sandy,” Cameron interjected. “Look, in 2011, Romney v.1 was involved in a debate where he was asked about disaster relief and whether it should be taken from the Federal Government’s hands. Sure, this was long after Katrina and everyone saw what could happen when the feds don’t do their due diligence in storm preparation or response, but this was the Republican primaries — niggas wasn’t watchin’!
“So Romney v.1 said he’d cut FEMA. It gave us a boost among anti-government morons and it was one of the things that probably shot us to the front of the primary pack. We almost made it too…then a week before the goddamn elections this damn hurricane tears through the east coast like Chris Christie through an all-you-can-eat pasta bar! It hit hard, killed people and left thousands homeless; Jesus Christ, why does this bullshit have to happen to us?!”
“Whoa…so he just snapped?”
“Yeah,” Ms. Brunette sighed. “We had to stop everything and help raise funds and awareness for other states, poor people. It directly went against everything Romney v.1 stood for. Then other Republicans started coming out on Fox News and praising Obama, it was all just too much and the amalgam simply shut down altogether. It didn’t talk for days!”
Camron stared at the ceiling with her one good eye, “Now we’re stuck on this bus ride to hell, all the wheels have fallen off — our leader going more and more batshit with each passing day, while on fire.”
“I don’t think,” I began, staring at the poor, paralyzed woman. “I don’t think his campaign is that hot anymore…”
“No, I mean he’s on fire…like right now, he’s lit himself on fire.”
I looked up front and saw that the candidate had indeed doused himself in high-proof corn liquor and struck a match.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” I screamed, running for the fire extinguisher.
“Just…just let him burn.” Cameron’s soul had been squashed and she had resigned herself to whatever horrible outcome this folly of a political plan would produce.
Nonetheless, I put Romney’s fire out. He collapsed onto the floor, writhing like a snail in a salt shower. He was switching back and forth frequently now, from granite-faced superhero to an almost gelatinous see-thru goo; back and forth, back and forth.
“We need to get to a hospital,” I said.
“No,” a tattered looking red head in the second row stopped me. “What we need to do is finish this fuckin’ campaign.”
“Here we are ladies and gentleman,” the bus driver called, as he pulled into an already assembled political rally.
We were in Ohio. The crowd was massive and amped. Those in attendance were mostly white. None of them looked rich.
Old men and women, young people and children all crowded around a small stage festooned with banners that read “Real Change: DAY ONE.”
When the bus pulled up and parked, the already hot crowd went crazy. Men stood up and removed their hats, women grabbed their babies and held them on high, young girls pulled extra pairs of panties from their purses. And even when two aides hauled Romney’s charred and oozing carcass to the podium and propped him against a stick so that he could seem somewhat human, the crowd didn’t falter. In fact, they screamed louder.
This was their guy. No matter how alien he was to them, no matter how disingenuous, how crooked, burned or how many times he had changed positions, they would not abandon him. It was him or nothing. This was the dark side of loyalty, of faith and belief. When someone can get caught lying to your face, numerous times and still maintain their hold on your affection — well that’s the stuff that abusive relationships are made of. That’s what drives battered women to return to their spouses, the blind devotion that fuels religious wars; and that’s what propels poor and lower class Midwesterners to run to rallies — or worse yet the polls — to support a millionaire who, given the day, may or may not give a shit about them.
“Jesus Christ,” I whispered, under the affirmative roar of the crowd. “You bastards could still win this.”
An auburn-haired aide turned to me, exhausted but smiling, “of course…stranger things have happened.”
And with that, I departed from under the growing shit cloud and headed for the airport. I had a plane to catch.
On the flight back home, I organized my notes and thought about what I would write. But what could I say that would possibly put things in perspective. What could I pen that would properly capture the ominous mood that was brewing just off the horizon. Our country had just climbed out of a recession — a recession that still had its hooks in our flesh, refusing to let go and anchoring against each progressive step forward.
Yet, there was a chance; a real chance that the creature someone had once named Willard Mitt Romney could win. And if he did, what would he do? The scary, granite-cold answer to that question is that no one knows; not his aides, not his electorate, not his party, hell I don’t think he knows. And it’s with that fear that I walked into my editor’s office.
I threw my bags onto the floor and grabbed a balloon. I looked out the window and aimed at the first business man I saw.
“We still can’t afford water, right?” I asked, to which she nodded. I flung the balloon without thinking twice and closed the window, not waiting for the scream. Hopefully the suit was tailor made.
“So what happened,” she asked. “Did you learn anything new about the guy?”
“No, nothing new.” I looked up into the darkening sky above our building, my faint reflection staring back down into my own eyes, “Just that there’s a storm coming. A bad one.”