The Electric Commentary

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Reductio Ad Absurdum

or The Kerry Fiction Contest (for entry into the Mudville Gazette's contest)

John Kerry's forehead lurched into the tour bus. His body followed, a surprisingly long time later. John was still getting accommodated to the confines of a bus, but he had learned his lesson well. His bus was luxurious by anyone's standards, but the average Joe could understand a bus, and get behind a bus. John had spent too much time on his yacht for the common man. As it turns out, when you ask the common man to get behind a yacht, it is you who ends up all wet.

John had a long night of preparation, and he was tired. He had expected several questions about Cambodia, but none were forthcoming. He was relieved, but at the same time he felt a twinge of disappointment from the wasted effort. He sat on the sofa and popped open a bottle of pinot noir. A staffer brought in his daily foie gras.

As the official "staffer in charge of foie gras" was leaving, another young staffer named Brian made his way onto the bus. Brian was in charge of keeping an eye on the blogs. Through this tactic John hoped to stay ahead of the news curve, but more often then not it simply tipped him off as to what would specifically not be asked by reporters. John asked if Brian had any updates.

"Is it true that you were not in Cambodia, sir? The blogs are saying that you were still in Vietnam. They also say that Nixon wasn't president in 1968. It checks out."

John responded, using the monotone that he uses when he grows weary, "It's true, but I was near Cambodia, in the Mekong Delta. So close that it hardly matters."

Brian, slightly annoyed, pressed on. "I think the Vietnamese and Cambodians would beg to differ. How could you not mention this sooner? The blogs are all over it."

"The blogs!" replied Kerry indignantly. "Who cares what they say. As long as it stays out of the Times we'll be fine."

"Maybe so," said Brian, "but how do you plan to respond? And why aren't you eating Wendy's? You told Edwards that you would participate in his tradition. Where did you get that foie gras?"

"There was a gourmet French restaurant right next to the Wendy's! What are the odds? So you see, I basically did go to Wendy's."

"Sir?"

"It was right next door," said John, in the monotone voice he used when he was excited, "I was practically there!"

"Sir, this will not sell well in the Midwest. We need those votes."

"I've been great in the Midwest! Why just the other day we took that boat into Illinois..."

"That was Wisconsin, sir."

"Illinois, Wisconsin, what's the difference? They are right next to each other."

"Sir, you can not keep doing that. Is this what caused the Ohio State/Michigan flap?"

John responded in the monotone he used to show that he was indignant. "What flap? I don't see what the big deal is. Michigan and Ohio are right next to each other. They are practically the same place..."

"Sir! College football is very important in those two states!"

"See. Similarities abound."

Brian was becoming frustrated. He had put a lot of time, effort, and trust into this man, and to see such a simple concept elude the Senator was deeply shaking his faith. He had to press on. Perhaps it was just a joke. Yes, he must be having fun with the young staffer. Brian decided to ask about John's lucky hat, and the black attaché case that contained it. Brian had never seen John with such a case, but the Senator was a busy man, and Brian spent most of his days wherever he could find free wifi (usually Panera).

"Sir, can we at least get a picture of your lucky hat, or the attaché case? It might help to stem the tide of unfavorable publicity on the net. I can get a picture right now and have it up in ten minutes."

John replied, "Actually, it's on the bus next to this one."

Brian was getting positively angry now. "What is? The case, or the hat? Or both? Please say both."

"Well," said John, "both items are on the bus, but the hat is actually in a brown attaché case, not the black one. I keep the brown one right next to the black one."

"On the bus right next to this one," responded Brian in a voice that was starting to lose any sense of feeling.

"Right!" Exclaimed the Senator.

"Why do you have two cases?"

John finally thought he was making headway. The kid was finally starting to understand how he viewed the world.

"I have one case for each pair of my Italian loafers," said John in a relaxed monotone voice.

"Ah," said Brian, "that makes sense."

But Kerry continued, "of course my loafers were actually made in Switzerland..."

At that, Brian lost all focus. He appeared as a hollow shell. His eyes were narrow, his shoulders, slumped. He knew that any more would destroy what little will he had in tact. He managed to drag himself off the bus while the Senator continued, oblivious to the absence of the young staffer. As Brian crossed the threshold into the fresh air, the last words that he ever heard John Kerry say were,

"If I'm the President, and therefore the most powerful man in the world, I suppose I'm also the most powerful man on the moon!"

Brian stumbled past a picnic table where a young co-worker named Nikki was enjoying a hummus and havarti sandwich. She was about to ask Brian to come join her but he appeared ill, so she let him pass. As he walked by, she swore that she heard him mumble, softly, under his breath,

"The horror. The horror."

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