LOVE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP, next chapter

Two

President

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” said the President. “Thank you, friends, for joining me in this wonderful celebration of… well, me.”

On cue, the crowd broke into the first of what would be several joyous interruptions.

“It’s really wonderful,” Trump continued with a grin, shaking his head as if in happy disbelief. “I’m still your president. Look at this. Fifty years later and I’m still your president. Can you believe it?”

“YES!” the crowd answered together.

“I bet you can believe it. I certainly can, that I will tell you. I look at myself in the mirror every day and I say to myself, this has been such a wonderful thing. That I get to be President. That you get to have me as your President.”

Thunderous applause boomed across the mall. Eight million hands clapping in unison. This is amazing. The most incredible thing I have ever seen, Willy thought.

The applause lasted for a solid thirty seconds, until Trump raised his hands and playfully motioned for the crowd to quieten back down so he could continue his address.

As the audience obeyed, Willy realized that he’d been clapping right along with them, enjoying the moment every bit as much as those in personal attendance for the occasion.

“We have so much to celebrate together today,” the president continued. “All of the many wonderful things I’ve accomplished in these last five decades, some of which might have been perhaps just a little tiny bit less wonderful if not for the assistance of a few people. Not much assistance, of course. But just a little. A little bit. We would have been great without them, but, hey, it didn’t hurt. You know what I’m saying, right?”

“RIGHT!”

“Before we got started, I want to thank my daughter Ivanka and her husband, the wonderful Jared Kushner. You all know Jared. Say hello, Jared.”

He motioned to the row of five chairs behind him, where a thin, hawk-nosed young man with perfectly parted brown hair sat on the end closest to the podium, next to a blond young lady with china doll skin.  Jared and Ivanka, the president’s daughter and her husband.

They both wore expensive-looking sunglasses despite the overcast skies.

Jared smiled and waved gentle acknowledgement, as the crowd spontaneously chanted his name for a few seconds. Jar-ed! Jar-ed! Jar-ed!

‘That’s great. They love you, Jared!” Trump said, pleased, as he turned to face his son-in-law. “They love you!”

After a few more moments of applause, Trump turned back towards his audience.

“Jared Kushner, everyone. He’s the reason we’re here today. Do you know that? I mean, I’m the reason we’re all here, but if Jared hadn’t invented his incredible reverse-aging process, who knows? I might still be alive, I might not. But here I am. So really, he deserves some of the credit. Let’s be honest, I would be dead if not for him. I’d be dead. But I’m not, I’m standing here, every bit of a a hundred and twenty years old and I don’t look a day over forty. Wouldn’t you say I don’t look a day over forty? It’s wonderful. Thank you, Jared. And thank you Ivanka, for marrying him!”

Now Ivanka waved to her father.

He didn’t wave back. But he did wink at her, and when he did, she blushed. She always blushed when her father winked at her that way.

The President continued, reciting from the speech that scrolled by on the teleprompter. His words across the gathered throng.

“I look back, and I think about all the years ago. 2016. When we first came here to Maga-City One. The best of us may be still be here,” he said, “but those who maybe weren’t the best, they aren’t here anymore. It’s tough. But they couldn’t stay with us. They couldn’t stay with you. I’m sorry. Choices had to be made. It’s tough. But they were good people, those folks in the early days. I think of them now, and maybe you could take a minute to think about them, too.

“People like our good friend Reince Priebus. I call him Wacky Reince. Funny guy. He had that little bald spot in the back of his head, he tried to hide it but it was there, believe me. He used to make us all laugh in the cabinet meetings.

“And Sarah Sanders – excuse me, Huckabee Sanders, she kept the Huckabee so everybody would remember she was Mike’s daughter, although I have no idea why because Mike was never that special, he ran for president twice, maybe three or four times, he could never win!

“And also people like Sean Spicer, my first White House spokesman, such a great guy. He was one of the last few on the list that we were thinking of keeping around, but it turned out we just couldn’t do it. Not enough treatments to go around. You can’t save ‘em all. Besides, the Saturday Night Live thing. You know how it is.

“I could go on. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Sean Hannity. I really liked that guy Hannity – he was my little Seanny Boy. He always agreed with me. It was so wonderful. And all the girls… those beautiful blond girls. The ones on television night after night during that first campaign, when we beat Crooked Hillary. What were their names? I can’t remember. Kayleigh, and Scottie, and Debbie, and Dana. It seems like there were more. There probably were. I can’t remember them all. ‘How can you defend him?’ the media would say, but those girls would hang right in there. They made us so proud. Do you remember? We loved them.”

He paused. Looked away from the teleprompter and thought about what to say next.

A murmur spread through the crowd.

Finally, he said, “We really put a beatdown on Hillary, didn’t we?”

The crowd exploded in an orgy of nostalgic exaltation.

Trump nodded, slowly, lost for a moment in thoughts and memories. Wonderful memories.

Then he jumped right back into it. “And what about Kellyanne,” said Trump. “I certainly don’t want to forget her. We wouldn’t be here without Kellyanne Conway. What a lovely lady. It’s been fifty years! She was so sweet, so nice, but man was she tough. A fighter. I love fighters. I’d hate to cross that one in a dark alley, you know what I mean? I hear they won’t let her near any sharp objects in the nursing home, you know? And she’s what, a hundred years old by now? Kellyanne, I hope you’re doing well out there. I do. I do. I ‘m sorry we couldn’t get you in on the reverse-aging deal, but you know how it goes. Aw, well…”

He laughed. He liked to make himself laugh, and this time, he tickled his own fancy hard enough that he had to step away from the microphone for a moment and pull himself back together.

The crowd roared.

“Those folks. Such great folks. I miss them all. They did so much for their country. I wish they could be here now. I could talk about them all day, but now it’s time to talk about me. Hey, you’ve still got me, right? It’s not so bad, is it?”

“HELL NO!”

 “That’s right. Not so bad at all. What a tremendous, spectacular, wonderful, incredible five decades it has been. I have been so proud to lead you. And you know what? I think we’re going to have at least five decades more together. I actually believe that. Jared, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, Barron. And me. Of course, me. It’s been so great. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Trump raised his hand and waved.

The crowd cheered. A sustained wave of adulation washed across the stage.

In his living room, Willy Richmond clapped his hands together and cheered with them.

Trump smiled, looking directly at the camera, and the way he did that made Willy feel as though his President spoke every word directly to him. And, man, did that feel good.

President Trump leaned towards the microphone to quiet the crowd and continue his amazing speech. “Okay, now. Enough about me. Enough for now, anyway –”

Then, something went wrong.

In the front of the audience, near the edge of the stage, a small group of people made a sudden shift forward.

Willy watched in sudden horror as his president’s gaze snapped towards the ruckus around the left corner of the stage, a sudden frantic swelling of humanity, like ants swarming a piece of peppermint candy.

A man and woman surged above the crowd; Willy noticed they were each wearing the olive-green military cap of the US army. Both of them were dark-skinned, he definitively black, while she appeared of indistinct Middle Eastern origin, perhaps Egyptian. Willy didn’t know anyone from Egypt but he felt like they probably looked like that.

Before any of the security personnel could react, the man and woman leaped onto the stage, shouting angry-sounding words towards Trump in a foreign language that Willy had heard many times on television but only a few times in person. Arabic, or perhaps French-Canadian. He wasn’t sure which. It sounded angry, though.

A phalanx of Secret Service men stormed the stage in dark suits – black, blue, charcoal gray – and rushed towards the podium with guns raised, encircling the President.

“It’s all right! I’m taking care of this!” Trump yelled in his deep, manly timbre, which retained its thick New York sound even after one hundred and twenty years.

 The Secret Service surrounded him until only the top of his perfect hair was visible to the crowd in attendance or even the television cameras.

Most of the audience scattered away from the stage, in a mad rush for safety. Screaming and hollering.  The dark-skinned man and woman – it now occurred to Willy that they didn’t look Middle Eastern at all, but gasp MEXICAN – took another step towards the podium.

Gunshots cracked above the onrushing sounds of panic in the throng.

But gunshots weren’t necessary.

After the first few moments of chaos, most of the crowd quickly came to their senses about the situation. As the Secret Service pushed President Trump towards the exit stairs, thirty men from the audience jumped onstage and tackled the would-be assailants.

Soon enough, the attackers disappeared underneath a hail of angry punches and kicks.

“You want some? You got some!” one man shouted as he stomped in the melee.

“Fuck the resistance!” yelled someone else. Then another person added, “Fuck the media!” for good measure, even thought there hadn’t really been much of a free press in America in almost thirty years.

Willy watched it all. Spit gathered at the corners of his mouth and he felt the cords of his neck pop out in rage. He wished he could be right there with his fellow Americans, cracking skulls, defending the honor of the man whose honor knew no bounds. It would be such an honor.

 About that time, the front door of the house opened and closed, and Paulina stormed across the living room. “What the hell is going on?” she said, in her sultry Russian accent.

“That damned Resistance,” Willy said. “They never know when to quit. They’re coming after Trump again. This bunch of assholes, they’re gonna ruin it for everybody.”

Happy Independence Day!

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Here’s the next chapter of Love in the Age of Trump. (Late note: I’ve actually edited this from the original post, taking the longer chapter and splitting it in two. I’m a big believer in starting a book with short chapters.)

PART ONE: The Fiftieth Year

One

Willy

On July 4 in the fiftieth year of the grand Trump Age – halfway through the Thirteenth Trump but still what felt like the dawn of the grandest era in the entire history of human eras – Willy Richmond woke up in a fog. He felt the distant sense that he must have passed out the night before mid-party and if he got out of bed now, he could catch a second wind and rejoin the festivities.

Then he checked the time on nightstand clock and saw the day was coming up on four o’clock in the afternoon.

Then he remembered there had been no party.

Then he remembered it was Monday. And if it was four o’clock, Paulina would be home soon.

Great.

Willy rolled over. The bed sagged and creaked beneath the weight of his three hundred and sixty-six pounds.

A fluorescent orange Post-it note screamed at him from two feet away, stuck to the lamp on the nightstand.  “Don’t forget the trash, tovarisch!!!!!”

He noted the sharp angles of Paulina’s handwriting, all jagged peaks and straight lines. Aggressive, angry, strong. How she loved her exclamation points.

He’d get the trash. He damned sure better. Last week, garbage day passed without Willy taking theirs to the curb, and Paulina had something to say about it when she came home and found the garbage bins still full. Paulina always had something to say whenever Willy made a mistake. She would make her displeasure known, in a thunderstorm of spit and insults, half in English and half in her native Russian. Unless she was in a particularly bad mood. Then they’d all be in Russian.

Willy wanted to avoid that experience now, this Fourth of July. He’d take out the trash. Make Paulina happy. Then again, it was four o’clock already…

Oh well.

He swung his legs around off the bed and stood up, wincing. Dull pain throbbed in his knees and ankles, as though they’d been smacked with rubber mallets all night. Where’d this pain come from? he thought.  He wasn’t even forty yet, hadn’t even been born when Trump first got elected, all the way back in the autumn of ‘16. A lot left to live, a lot left to give, the song said.  Getting older sucked, that’s what his daddy said.

Put down the burger and fries, that’s what his mama said. Maybe he should have listened to her.

Willy took a couple of deep breaths and stood up.

 He heard cable news chatter emanating from the television in the living room. They’d left it on the night before, while watching coverage of the anniversary preparations. All those deferential reporters speaking in properly reverent tones about the beautiful festivities set to take place in the shadow of the towering Washington Monument, on the western edge of the rectangular pool that made up the center of the National Mall.

He walked out of the bedroom and made his way down the hallway, towards the TV sound. Drawn to it, like a hornet to honey.

Past the photographs of his mother and father, past the Trump lithograph set his sister had sent for his birthday last year.

Past the framed magazine covers that forever captured his favorite moments from adulthood.

The Indians win the Series!

Trump, man of the century!

Europe sees it His way!

MAKING AMERICA GREAT!

The greatest country, the greatest President!

Fifty and counting!

The Browns win the Super bowl! This one was a fake, of course, like the Time magazine cover mock-ups that hung in all 3,588 Trump golf course clubhouses.

  Willy went down the hallway. The house was not big, only one floor, and the news man’s voice flowed into every room, getting louder with every step that Willy Richmond took.  He entered the sparsely furnished living room – couch, chair, bookcase, television, all they needed – and stopped, standing a couple of feet from the TV screen.

As he watched enrapt, the news anchor threw the coverage to the network’s Capitol reporter, a nice young lady in a white blouse who wore a large amber ring on the hand holding her microphone. She spoke in towering clichés.

The President is expected to speak any moment!

This atmosphere is electric, Michael!

The crowd is abuzz on this momentous occasion!

But as she droned, her voice faded in Willy’s ears. His attention went to the empty podium on the stage behind her, which Trump would soon occupy for his great Independence Day address, accompanied by his trusty dual teleprompters, one on each side. Ivanka and Jared and Eric and Don Junior and Barron would be there, too, seated in the now-empty chairs behind him.

What a day this would be! Willy’s favorite day of the year. And this one would be the best one yet. The fiftieth year of Trump! Willy felt his heart flutter with warmth at the thought of what this day meant not just to him, but to the entire country.

Fifty years of Trump. Who could have imagined? After that first campaign, after all the televised mockery, the laughter every night on cable news networks across the great land, the refusal to take this man seriously, the polls, the doubt, the outright disrespect. Trump showed them all, though. Who was laughing now?

Onscreen, the televised crowd stirred.

Hands waved.

Cheers erupted, as a group of children came out on stage.

Willy tried counting them, but stopped after he got to a hundred. They looked like elementary school kids, none more than ten years old, all of them dressed in matching red and white striped shirts and navy blue pants with sharp creases down the center.

Across the stage they walked, stretching from one end to the other, packed in shoulder to shoulder. Once everyone had taken their positions, brass music erupted over the speaker. Trumpets, French horns, trombones. The music of patriotism, rising to a crescendo until one final, long trumpet note rose above all the others, and took them home, into the sweet voices of the children, singing:

Make America great again!

Make America great again!

Thank you, our dear leader

For lifting up our land!

 “I love that song,” Willy said out loud.

He went into the kitchen, but kept thinking about those beautiful children. Their matching USA color outfits, their chorus of angel voices. The magnificent vocal display reminded him of a performance he had once seen, in a documentary about life in communist Cuba. A similar song – “Castro es tan bueno! Cuba es tan increíble!” – sung not by children, but a church choir instead. Glorious.

No doubt, they got the idea from Trump. It never ceased to amaze Willy Richmond, how much other countries seemed to learn from Trump!

Willy opened the refrigerator and grabbed a Diet Mountain Dew from the top shelf, which was filled with Diet Mountain Dews except for a single open can of vanilla Starbucks Espresso Energy Drink, which Willy figured had been left there in error by Paulina. She knew better – that shelf was reserved for Diet Dew. Oh well.

By the time he got back into the living room, Trump stood behind the podium.

Willy felt his heart race.

The President grinned, and waved to the gigantic crowd, which looked like at least four million people to Willy’s eyes (a fact later supported by a White House press release about the event). Trump soaked in the roars of adulation the same way he soaked sunbeams into his orange-tinted epidermis.

For five solid minutes the president stood there, until finally he raised both hands and implored the throng to quieten down. Fifteen rapturous minutes later, they did.

As their great leader held his hands aloft, silence descended over the audience. A gentle, warm breeze pushed across the mall, blowing gleaming waves across the surface of the water.

In a sudden, fantastic swell, the nation felt its collective heart overflow with love, and pride, and appreciation.

Then Trump leaned towards the microphone, and began his address.

Chapter 1

As promised, here it is. A quiet beginning…

Love in the Age of Trump

Chapter One

Trump

Way back on January 20, 2017, in a city once called Washington, D.C., but now known throughout the vast universe as Maga-City One, Donald John Trump put his left hand on a Bible, repeated the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, and became the forty-fifth President of the United States of America.

Half a century later, he remained, thanks to the miracles of science and the boundless goodwill of the American people. A few Constitutional adjustments along the way didn’t hurt. And maybe a bit of political shadiness here and there. Whatever. Donald Trump made America great again, the people loved him for it, and that’s all that mattered.

ANNOUNCING…

It’s a science-fiction-romantic-political-hallucinogenic-Twitter-orgy-comedy thing. Comes from a place of both profound anger and detached, snarky bemusement. Maybe it will climb all the way to #1 in the appropriate Amazon subcategory.

*

Driving home today, I decided to release my next novel through my website, one chapter at a time. Working title: Love in the Age of Trump. That title will change, because I found a couple of articles with a similar name, but at least it gives you the gist of things.

The story takes place on the 50th day of the 50th year of the great Trump presidency, after boy wonder Jared Kushner invented a reverse-aging process that kept the family alive and allowed Papa Trump to rescue the universe.

We follow star-crossed lovers and undying Trump fans Willy and Paulina, as they embark on a mission to the nation’s capital – Maga-City One – in hopes of landing a romantic tryst with their idol. Which we all know, is just a matter of asking.
I’ll release a chapter a week, starting with (a very short) Chapter One later tonight.

Stay tuned.

Let’s do this.

Aaron

P.S.

Maybe I can 100% convince myself to call it FUCK TRUMP.

 

Maga-city One

So I got detoured into a side project. A science fiction sort of thing, but not science fiction like Isaac Asimov or 2001: A Space Odyssey, more like science fiction in the way Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is called science fiction – there’s a nugget of a science-based idea at the core of the story, but the best parts are what spins outward from that.

I will share more. You will see.

(Mega-City One is re: Judge Dredd.)

Logan

This isn’t book related, but still something you need to know: go watch Logan as soon as possible. It’s big time. I won’t say anything else… but it’s big time. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keene are spectacular.

A lot of huge movies coming out this year (Kong: Skull Island is up next) but I’m hard-pressed to believe anything will top what we saw in the theater yesterday. Maybe Fox can finally learn something and make better X-Men and Fantastic Four movies. There have been a few good X-Men films already but there also have been some really terrible ones. Hope lives, for now.

For starters.

“A dog will look at the ground when he’s done you wrong. A snake will look you in the eye.”

I can’t remember where I heard that saying — it wasn’t that long ago, I’m pretty sure  — but at any rate, these are the first words of Sewerville: The Dark and Bloody Ground, and they ought to tell you something about where the story’s headed.

And, the first chapter is about a former U.S. Senator. That ought to tell you something, too.

So there you go.