All Politics Is Local

“Politics ain’t personal,” Jimmy K said and lit a cigar. The sea breeze ruffled his silver hair, and dawn light gave his face a rosy glow. “All politics is local though. You know who said that?”

He glared at the Congressman sitting across from him.

“You don’t remember, do you? It was Tip O’Neill. Speaker of the House. A great man. Don’t know your history, huh? Guess that’s why you been such a disappointment.”

Jimmy K shook his head and puffed on his cigar, his great jowls billowing in and out like bellows. “It’s a sad thing when you forget your friends. When you forget where you come from.”

A man appeared from inside the cabin. He finished wrapping chains around the Congressman’s body.

“The Congressman don’t have much to say this morning, Jimmy.”

“It don’t matter. He’s on permanent vacation.”

Gulls swooped low when the Congressman’s body hit the water.

Jimmy K said, “Throw them birds some food.”

Reversal of Fortune

I sit on the vast beach, listening to the waves beat against the sand. Above me the sky is empty. Not even a gull calls out. I am alone, the picture of dejection.

The arrogant fools have tossed me ashore and sailed into the wide ocean. The winds are with them, propelling them at good speed. Let them make merry and laugh at my misfortune.

They expect me to die. I do not plan to oblige them.

I shall conserve my strength and await the clipper I spied following in our wake. By my reckoning it will reach me by evening, time enough for me to start a fire. I shall use driftwood and the tinder I secreted along with the flask of rum.

By evening the fools will be feeling the effects of the tincture of nightshade I used to poison their water supply. They will hallucinate. They will writhe in agony. They will perish.

Good riddance.

For Queen and Country

“A great victory, my Queen.”

They had added another shining jewel to their empire: a country of millions. When he presented the Queen with the treaty, she had been pleased, though she had kept her countenance grave in line with the occasion.

“We shall be fair and just rulers,” she had said, “as we have throughout the centuries.”

He had bowed. Throughout the centuries the kings and queens of the realm had burned, boiled, and ripped people apart when they displeased the crown, yet this woman believed without question in the righteousness of her empire. Only the royals could afford to be so ignorant and arrogant. So be it.

Later he stared at the cartoon from the local paper and recognized his depiction: the manipulator, the power-seeker, the eternal Jew who pulled the strings of his benevolent and innocent queen. He crumpled the paper in his fist. Let the little people believe what they would.

Whatever he did was for his country, even when his country despised him for it.

 

The Girl in White

 

 I spin around in my new white toe shoes just as Mrs. Morrison showed us, except today I get to hold these oversized red, white and blue balloons. Later we’ll give them to the wounded boys–that’s what Mrs. Morrison calls them. Some just a few years older than me, so I must remember to be kind and not look away from the horrid burns and missing arms and legs.

 

 “Be kind, Alicia, imagine how pleasant it is for these boys to watch such sweet young girls dance and twirl for them.”

 

 I wouldn’t feel happy at all to be wheeled outside only to sit and watch, unable to move, like the big Yank with the awful burns. The nurses say he’ll be dead soon.

 

 I offer him a balloon, but he shakes his head and smiles a lipless grin.“Dance, child, no war here.”

 

 He’s wrong. At night I dream of his horrible face and hate him.