Due to the water shortage, water was available only from 6:00-8:00 and from 18:00-20:00. Jenkins, who had sipped too much whisky the night before, woke up at 8:30 and, a few seconds later, rushed to the faucet. He turned the cold handle and put his cupped hands underneath, but nothing. He stepped out of the bathroom so that he could gain the vantage of a clock. 8:31.

“God-damnit, he was supposed to call me—”

Jenkins grabbed his robe off a hook and put it on. He walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and took out a pitcher of Brita. The filter was still in there, albeit a year or so old. Little black flecks collected in the reservoir on the top of the pitcher. Jenkins figured that was fine as long as they didn’t show up in the glasses of water he poured out. He filled up a nalgene and drank about half of it. The cold water hurt his teeth.

He woke his computer up and asked its Real Player application to stream C-SPAN live. This was election day. He listened to the audio through the computer speakers.

“Have I gotten through?” asked a caller from Ohio.

“That’s you Ohio,” said the moderator with short hair wearing a grey suit. The capitol building, welcoming sunlight, lay in the background over the moderator’s shoulder.

“I can’t believe I’ve actually gotten through,” said Ohio.

“Go ahead, Ohio: a lot of votes and not a lot of time.”

He went to put water in the coffee maker but much to his surprise the coffeemaker was already on!

He looked into the living room and there, sitting on the couch, smoking a cigarette, and reading that morning’s WSJ was his wife. He craned his head in her direction, his eyes getting big as a way of speaking to her.

“I’m taking a sick day today.”

“You don’t take sick days.”

“It’s election day, I though I’d stay home with you so we could follow the election.”

His dreams of one Guinness per hour, for every hour he failed to get into the switchboard were dashed but there were many benefits to this change of circumstances, not all necessarily coming at once.

“I see you made coffee.”

“I did,” she said exhaling.

“Little early for a cigarette I might say.”

“Well, are you saying it or not?”

“Don’t know, havent’ decided if I want one or not.”

“Go get some coffee. I’ve got CSPAN on. The votes I’ve seen, at least, have been pretty even.”

“Hmmph.” He went to get some coffee.

When the country became a constitutional CSPANOCRACY, the electoral college became a thing of the past. Presidents would be decided over the course of a day—not weeks. All votes would be placed by cellphones. The number was taught in first-year physics: 1-800-VOTENOW.

The CSPAN office had a warehouse full of people taking calls. ASAP the queued callers were moved from the switchboard to live air with the moderator of the hour.

“Who are you voting for today, and why?”

The schedule allowed for four voters a minute, every minute of every hour, of one full day. That’s four times sixty times
twenty-four equals five thousand seven hundred and sixty voters to decide the American presidential election, once every six years.

Of course, by this time the United States weren’t just the forty-eight and Alaska and Hawai’i. CSPAN was taking calls from U.S. states all over the world: Taiwan, Israel, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Poland, East Antarctica, the list goes on and on.

There was an “acute water shortage” afoot. Voting had been ongoing for, now, ten hours—it started last night at 0:00 eastern time. The queues are flipped every half hour so that it’s not like if you fail to call in at 0:001 the switchboards are gonna be bogged down for the rest of the day. Everyone was supposed to learn this system in grade school but noone in grade school was old enough to vote so noone bothered to pay attention.

Jenkins called his one-and-only—his only non-family, non-neighbor, non-coworker, non-attracted-to friend, DePhazz.

“Hello?” answered DePhazz.

“Are you talking on a speaker phone?”

“No, I’m driving.”

“Are you voting today?”

“I’m working today, bud. You know: cublicle, nine to five, or five thirty or six, as the case may be?”

“I’ve heard stories about people sitting at cubicles under low-power fluorescent lights, totally shut-off from the outside world, yes.”

“I’m going to be pulling up to the office in a second here, Jenks. Be brief or be done.”

“Now, give me a second, boudreau. I’ve got some hashing out I need to do. Open your green thermos—I know it’s on the seat next to you, pour yourself a little steaming cup and sit tight for me.”


“I’m in the rut of all ruts, DePhazz. I’m getting nothing done with my days. It’s like I sit down in that chair, and the clock ticks up and up, and before I know it, my wife is already home from work and I haven’t done a damn thing. It’s like my workroom has bad shui or something.”

“You’re boring yourself to death.”

“I’m letting myself be bored to death, yes. I’m tired all of the time. I can’t figure it out. I feel like I’m stifled: I don’t make anything anymore.”

“Nobody makes anything anymore, “ said DePhazz.

“You make things, pal: you make the law.”

“I don’t make the law. I make arguments about the law. And I’ll tell you what, just a little point of information here: I am terribly inefficient. Most of us are. Anytime I show up in court the net efficiency for both sides combined is zero—somebody wins and somebody loses. It’s like baseball players: they don’t make anything. What’s the last thing you ever brought home from a ballpark?”

“One of those big, ah, foam hands.”

“Right. Made where? In a country that shoots protesters probably. You know what your problem is Jenks. Here’s your
problem, in a hundred words or less, because I need to get to my cozy desk and ergonomic chair: you’re a dull man in a country full of entertainers. Those today who don’t entertain don’t get paid. Lawyers, like baseball players, sell their time: clients pay $500 an hour to be entertained and mollified while they wait five months for the judge to get around to looking at the facts and making a political decision. Is that a good use of our country’s time? No. That’s why I try to settle cases. Jenks, this cellphone is starting to burn my ear.”

“So, you’re going to vote for Feingold after all, then?”
“Not a single soul knows who I’m going to vote for, not even me. I wouldn’t know who I was voting for until I got on
there and heard the person telling me I was on. The only person who knows who I’m voting for is Mr. Duke.”

“Mr. Duke is a dog.”

“And a very astute one at that. He helped me settle my last case.”

“And your client paid you in dog biscuits I guess?”

“My client paid me in cold hard cash.”

“Which isn’t worth anything—you should have asked for dog food, at least that has protein in it.”

“Mr. Duke and I have since invested the cash, you’ll be happy to know. He was a fund manager in a previous life and no one, human or canine, better understands how the Fed farms inflation.”

“You think the Fed’s growing inflation right now?”

“Look at all these rate rises. Mr. Duke & I are are losing our shirts on that ARM we got.”

“I told you not to get the adjustable rate. I explained how it wasn’t clear that rates were going to keep dropping like they were.”

“Mortgage advice from someone who didn’t even need a mortgage. My coffee isn’t steaming any longer, Jenks.”

“I need you to do something for me DePhazz.”

“It is past nine o’clock. You are not my client. I owe absolutely nothing to you at the moment, unless you propose to pay me for the time.”

“I knew that cubicle would curmudgeon you.”

“I’m hanging up now.”

“I need you to vote today, DePhazz. You know the number, right?”

“Let me see…I’ve got it here somewhere…oh, here it is: 1-800-goodbye.”

It was the afternoon. He still hadn’t gotten through & he didn’t know anyone who had either. O-for-14. Jenkins watched CSPAN2, where the senate was hard at work, despite it being election day. He was drinking a Guinness, slowly. The man on the TV wore a gray suit and was addressing the problems he saw with a Democrat substitute to a tax-cut bill.

“I yield myself such time as I may consume. Now, I just say this right off, especially after following my good friend from New York. You don’t have to be an economist to understand what I’m saying.”

He pointed at a big chart he had propped up on an easel behind him. It was impossible to read it on TV.

“I might not need to be an economist, but I might need to be a…,” but Jenkins couldn’t come up with anything. “A, a freaking eye surgeon or something.”

The senator pointed at the chart and continued.

“These bars show job losses; all the bars below the lines are job losses. We created almost 150,000 jobs by relying on provisions which the Democrat version of this bill would cut out.”

His wife came into the room.

“There’s an e-mail there from DePhazz,” she said.

“An e-mail?” he asked quickly.

“Yeah, it’s in the inbox?”

“Did you read it?”

“No I didn’t read it. I don’t read your mail. I’ve got my own mail.”

“Well, alright. I’ll check it, thanks.”

“He probably wants you to call him though.”

“Well how do you know that?”

“Isn’t that what you guys do? You talk on the phone. And you giggle about baseball. Do you two talk everyday?”

“We don’t talk everyday, he’s, he’s preoccupied at the office. But we talk a lot, and it’s fun. It’s fun.”

“Whadda you guys talk about?”

“I said. Baseball…politics…books, whatever.”

“What does he do exactly?”

“DePhazz? DePhazz is a lawyer. You know that.”

“Oh, so he’s doing something with his law degree, then.”

“Please, if DePhazz didn’t have loans he’d be doing the same thing I am right now.”

“Which is?”

“Which is, following this election. Keeping track of the votes thus far. You wrote down the votes while I was gone, didn’t you?”

“I did. Which makes me a felon, I guess. At least an aider and abettor.”

“It’s not illegal to write down the election tally, you just can’t publish it or blog it, even though everyone knows
everyone else does it. But, yeah, as far I’ve got written down, Feingold leads Rice 1,685 to 1,675, assuming you kept it up correctly.”

“It’s correct, what do I have a second-grade education? You are unbearable, especially around election time.”

“I’m sorry, you’re right. I’m a little wiggy right now. Too much coffee. I’m sure you kept up the tally accurately. I really don’t see why they had to pass an amendment prohibiting live tallies. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“Oh, I think it’s kind of fun. It introduces a little uncertainty to the process, it makes each vote count. Imagine how boring these elections would be if one candidate got out way ahead after the first five hours. Nobody would watch, people wouldn’t call and vote.”

“Yeah, except that everyone keeps their own tally anyway.”

“Nobody’s perfect, though. If the vote was even and there was one more call left, how confident would you be in
thinking that, based on your tally, that last call would decide the election?”

“Fairly confident.”

“Well, good, that’s why I like to stay home with you during elections.”

“This is the first election we’ve ever watched together.”

“And I like it.”
“Well, good. Maybe if you’re still in a good mood after—”

Just then something got his attention. He cocked his head to listen.


He held up his hand to stop her. The sound was insect in nature, whirring, ripping itself up with starts and stops. Somewhat like a blender or a coffee grinder, but higher pitched and more insidious.

He went to the window and peered through a blind.

“Those sunza bitches.”


“Fucking guys with blowers. They just blow that shit around. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not like blowing it makes it disappear. It just moves it from one spot to another. And not to mention the dust. Who wants to walk around this neighborhood when there’s a bunch of dust and shit in the air.”

She was drinking green tea, now sitting at the dining room table, doing a New York Times Wednesday crossword. He looked over at her, in doubletake.

“Is that sudoku?”

She took a fingerling from off the saucer.

“No, it’s shortbread,” she said with a wry smile.

“Whatever happened to rakes?” he wondered. “When I was a kid, we got out there and we raked that shit up. And you know what we did when we raked it up? We jumped it. We rolled around. It was fun. And then we had to go and remake the pile but it didn’t matter. And then my dad would set the pile on fire and the leaves would burn and the smoke would smell so good. It was the smell of fall, in the days before…fucking call-in elections. They just blow that shit around. They’re deluded. And people pay them to do it. What a drag on our economy. I mean, do we really need to pay people to come into our country to do that? Unbelievable.”

He piled into the couch.

“You missed two votes during your little blowers rant.”


He got back up, adjusting his shirt.

“Votes. You missed two of them.”

“I did, didn’t I? Did you tally them?”

“Yes, one for Feingold and one for Rice; doesn’t change things much.”

He joined her at the table, sliding into one of the chairs, took a fingerling off her saucer.

“You know what’s interesting about C-SPAN? What feature does C-SPAN boast?”

“Call-in TV?”

“Yes, yes, that’s true—and unusual. I didn’t think about that, but that’s true. But what else, how else is C-SPAN unique, or almost unique?”

She shook her head and looked down to her crossword. “I don’t know.”

“Commercials. There’s no commercials on C-SPAN. Not even are there no commercials, there’s no underwriters. Even on PBS, like the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer? That’s all underwritten. Archer Daniels Midland, Texas Mutual Insurance, National Instruments, etc. It’s nice that the underwriting doesn’t come until the end of the programming, but it’s still there. Have you ever heard C-SPAN talk about its benefactors?”

“No.” She reached out to jot down a series of recent votes.

“No, because they don’t. Just like they don’t flaunt the personalities on Washington Journal. People like being free of commercials. Adverstising is killing TV. But you know what’s funny? The internet, in turn, is gonna kill advertising. The media companies—Time Warner AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Viacom, Comcast—have paid a lot of attention to what’s been going on in internet advertising circa the last five or so years. Google is overhauling the entire advertising apparatus. Google has that Ad-sense deal, where it posts ads on a page depending on the content that’s been requested on that page. Google found a new way to advertise, to make advertisements more relevant. People who blog, and publish their blogs through Blogger (a Google tool), can actually make money from blogging because when visitors come to read the blog they will also be reading the ads that have popped up in correspondence with the subject matter of the blog.

“Do a Google search for coffee. Links to pages about coffee pop up, but ads linking you to places selling coffee also pop up: Gevalia, Don Sanfrancisco, Boca Java, etc. Google decided it was going to make advertising more relevant. And I like that, I appreciate that—but I hate it, too. It’s like, I want a g-mail account but Google is going to store all of my e-mail and try to sell me things as I’m reading e-mail from other people. People gotta realize that when they send e-mail to my g-mail account that that piece of e-mail is going to be archived somewhere.

“And you know what? That makes a difference. That makes me sensor myself, and for all those people who e-mail me, don’t ever try to e-mail me about drugs or unlawful protest gatherings because that shit’s gonna end up in court being used against me. Google is going to store my e-mail in some big hard drive in California or some place. It’s almost like, the more data, the better. The bigger the hard drive, the bigger the penis. With data, a company can figure out how to advertise in a way such that people who see their ads will automatically buy what is being advertised. The goal is perfect advertising.

“If the government ever thinks you’re a terrorist, it’ll just go ask Google to take a look at your e-mail. Which makes all that argument a few years ago about the PATRIOT Act look like just a bunch of hot air twisting its way through the Capitol. Forget going to a judge. The government just have to get the approval of google. The Fourth Amendment doesn’t govern that. What governs that is a little thing called a “User Agreement” between Google and the client. One of those things that has very small print and says “You must agree to this before you can use Google Mail or whatever.” That Agreement governs whether Google can give your e-mail to the government. By the time the government gets interested you’ve already waived to right to have the Fourth Amendment govern your effects. It’s not like we use stamps to send people information anymore. You know, the amazing thing is that I was actually for the PATRIOT Act. I’ve got nothing to hide. Well, that’s not quite true actually.

“The thing that bothers me is that when the government is sorting through the e-mail that talks about how you’re planning to go about killing the president, it’ll stumble across the e-mail you sent your friend inquiring as to the best time to get together to shoot some heroin or eat some pot brownies. So, great, know the government knows you’re a druggy.

“But why? Why does it know you’re a druggy? What right does it have to prosecute you for that, if you’re not actually a terrorist? That was the point of investigating you in the first place. It’s an investigatory bait & switch. It’s not fair, it’s not reasonable. And Google, bless its blue, red, yellow, and green heart, is not making things any better.

“Google is a tiny protozoan in the tidle pool of the future. Only Google can kill Google. It’s the Walmart of the internet, the Whole Foods of information access. I admit that I practically need Google to breathe. My mind wouldn’t work without Google. I’d have a question & not be able to answer it. If something took away Google, it’d just about take away my life.

“But I’d get another life. I would go on. I would be in mourning for awhile, but I’ve gotten over love before.”

“Then it wasn’t love,” she said, not bothering to look up as she filled in 48 Across. She looked up at him and sipped some green tea.

It was the afternoon at the law firm of Writer & Broadband. DePhazz still hadn’t gotten through and he didn’t know anyone who had either, not even Jenkins. O-for-14. From 0:00 to 14:00, on the hour, DePhazz had attempted to set root in the C-SPAN switchboard and wait for his chance to feel the sun. But he couldn’t make it in. Stalwart in its defenses, the switchboard let few in: the quickest, the strongest, the ones with the best timing. He was encouraging his co-workers to call. He thought Jenkins would shit white if someone from Writer & Broadband got in. Most likely it would be a Feingold vote, although several of DePhazz’s female co-workers, irrespective of political orientation, said they had been impressed by the way Rice had handled herself in the second debate. True, if one of his coworkers got through it would hurt DePhazz’s own chances, but he was willing to compromise his desire so long as he knew someone who had gotten a vote recorded.

He was tired of the memo he was working on and decided to shut his door. This was not uncommon. It was common knowledge among his fellow lawyers that he took the occasional siesta at 14:00 or so. He would slink way down in his chair and prop his legs up on the desk. Shutting the door was hit way of signaling that he didn’t want to be disturbed. However, it wasn’t well known that occasionally DePhazz would forego the siesta in lieu of a can of Guinness and an hour or so of live action from the Senate.

DePhazz peered into his mini-fridge, mostly full of Pepsi and string cheese. But he found a Guinness and pulled it out. From the faux-freezer section of the fridge he took a somewhat frosty glass. He set the glass on a coaster. He popped the can, air from the nitrogen charger rushed out. He dumped the can into the glass and let it slowly fill.


Jenkins got back to DePhazz, calling him at work. He never could remember the extension number, so he always had to call the main number. When he did this, he got the receptionist, whom he suspected of disliking him.
“Writer & Broadband, can you please hold?”
“I just need to be put through to—”
“Thank you.”
Jenkins scoffed. He came back into the main room to kill a few minutes. Ellie was still working at the crossword. Her tea cup was empty. Jenkins offered to get her some more, the cordless cradled between his right ear and shoulder.
“No, no more caffeine.”
“Green tea doesn’t have caffeine in it.”
“Yes, it does. Not much, but some.”
“No, I thought I remembered the package saying—”
Someone came back to him from the other end.
“Can I speak with Mr. DePhazz, please.”
“This is DePhazz.”
“How is the election going?”
“Well, uh, it looks to be fairly even.”
“What else is going on? I’ve got a major headache. I didn’t drink my coffee fast enough this morning. I’m taking the afternoon off. Want to entertain me?”
“I’ve got some Guinness.”
“Ugh. Anything interesting in the world news?”
“France did a face transplant, didja hear about that?”
“I heard something about it.”
“Yeah, the U.S. is all pissed off cuz the French beat ‘em to it. The U.S. plastic surgery interest group, whatever, is goin’ around talking about how precarious the French procedure is, and how the French didn’t even need to a do a face transplant on the patient, that they were doing it just to stick their thumb in America’s face. Then they were talking about something like immunosuspension and quality of life issues, and how it was unethical, medically speaking.”
“I love the French.”
“Yeah, part of me does, too, but you know, Bush, for all his faults, did put it pretty simply: either you’re with us or you’re against us. And, as far as France goes, it’s really hard to tell, wouldn’t you say?”
“The French are definitely against us,” said DePhazz. “Them, and Brazil, and Venezuela, and probably Iran, along with maybe even Russia and China.”
“Yeah, once the U.S. market peters out, China’s gonna have absolutely no use for us.”
“Well, that’s China’s problem. China’s too dependent on us, not to mention all of the U.S. debt China owns. If the U.S. ever goes Argentina, China is so fucked! People talking about China being the next superpower. I don’t think so.”
“It’ll be India.”
“Heck, yeah, India,” said DePhazz. “I totally agree. I mean, sure, there’s lots of factories in China but people get paid shit wages. India, on the other hand, it’s got more tourism than China, and plus it’s a more smooth transition from the Unites States. It’s got information technology, all those call centers. India’s even got a bunch of what are more or less paralegals doing cheap research work for big U.S. law firms.”
“It’ll be your job next, barrister,” said a mordant Jenkins. “But they’ll never get my job.”
“You don’t have a job.”
“I know, and I’ve got the best job security in the world. Ironic, isn’t it?”
“No irony right now, Jenkins; there’s an election on. Did you vote?”
“No luck. Switchboards jammed. Bunch of people from Wyoming and Alabama getting through. I think maybe the Repubs somehow doctored the phone lines….”
“I’m gonna get something to eat, pop some Excedrin. You interested in getting together later?”
Jenkins looked out into the main room. Ellie had moved from the table. Maybe in the bathroom?
“Sure, here, there, somewhere else?”
“How about The Knot?”
“I could tie one on.”
The Knot was around the corner so Jenkins had a few minutes to kill before he would meet up with DePhazz there. He went to the closed bathroom door and knocked.
“How ya doin’ in there?”
“Just fine….”
“I think I’m gonna go meet DePhazz for a pint.”
“Where at?”
“Down at The Knot.”
“You gonna tie one on?”
“Not planning to. Maybe just sip a couple Guinnea and watch the election.”
“Aren’t you gonna try to keep calling in?”
He heard running water , and the sound of her soaping up her hands.
“No, burned out. Never gonna get through. I’ll try later maybe. You wanna join us?”
“Eh,” she chuckled uncomfortably. “I’ve got a visitor.”
“Your gal’s in town?”
She opened the door, toweling off her hands. “Apparently so.”
“Well, so what, come down and get a beer with us, maybe some tato skins or something?”
“Not up for it. Gonna hit the couch, maybe take a quick nap.”
“Well, alright. We’ll be down there, and then I’ll be back before too long. If you’re feeling lucky, call in and vote for Sanders for me.”
She snorted. “I don’t think there’s a very good chance of that.”
He changed clothes and left.

Were Jenkins to get through to C-SPAN on this clear, cold day in November, he would not start his call by saying, “First time caller here, and I’m a little nervous, so please let me finish.” No, Jenkins has called C-SPAN before, on a couple of occasions, actually. Two months after his first call he quit looking for a lawyer job, convinced he was incapable of thinking on his feet….
“How long have you been on hold?” she asked, sipping Saturday morning coffee, reading the inaugural issue of the Wall Street Journal’s “Weekend Journal”.
Jenkins grimaced and shook his hand back and forth at her, not to say hello, but to say, “Leave me be!”
He focused his eyes on her cup of coffee, spacing out but glaring at it, as if he were communicating directly with it on some other plane of consciousness. He looked back up at her.
He whispered to hear leaning forward, with the phone receiver pressed into his belly, “What kind of beans?”
She got up and went over to the globe.
“Oh, now don’t get mad at me, I’m nervous here.”
But then he realized what she was doing. She spun the globe halway around and pinpointed the origin. “Tanzanian,” she said.
He stuck out his lower lip, impressed. She bought the beans. Unlike Bonnie, she did not buy shit.
“I’ve been on hold for over twenty minutes,” he said. “Do you think I should hang up and try to call back?”
“No,” she urged. “What’s the point of calling if you’re gonna hang up? Give it a few more minutes.”
The computer monitor contained a big, enlarged Real Player window streaming that morning’s “Washington Journal,” live. He knew about feedback and countless times had heard the C-SPAN host say, “Turn down your television, please. Listen to your telephone.” He vowed he would never have that happen to him. His plan, should he get on, was to mute the computer when he heard over the stream that he was on. That would present an awkward first five or so seconds but he wouldn’t get booted in five seconds so he felt safe. Then he would go into the bedroom and talk behind the closed door.
Through the computer speakers he heard, “St. Louis, Missouri, you’re on.”
He looked at her with his eyes brimming from his sockets. She uttered a little shriek. He ran into the bedroom.
“St. Louis, are you there?”
“Hello. Yes, first time caller here, and I’m a little nervous, so please let me finish.”
“Thanks for joining us. What’s on your mind today?”
Oh, he had rehearsed this speech, had given it in the shower, in the car, to a neighbor, and drunk one night, to a bartender. He became confident in his theory that the use of blowers was a symptom, in many ways, of the downfall of the U.S. economy. And he knew that people needed to hear someone say it. But this would not be his day, after all.
“I’m…I’m…I’m a fucking bird in a human’s body!”
The host quickly reached up and pressed a button, banishing him from the airwaves (hopefully forever).
Astonished by his breakdown, he came into the main room just in time to hear himself exclaim over the computer speakers, “I’m a fucking bird in a human’s body!”
Ellie started laughing and ran into the bathroom so as not to disrespect her husband. Or, to make him mad. But he wasn’t mad. He had just spoken the words of a ghost, arriving from out of nowhere. He had entered some other realm to get those words, and part of him was still there.
He later met DePhazz at The Knot, a tavern equidistant from their resepctive doors. DePhazz, who just a few minutes prior, had listened to a replay of that day’s “Washington Journal” in order to hear the call.
“What the fuck was that?” he asked sincerely, once they each had a pint in front themselves.
Jenkins took a sip, tasted it, licked a bit of head from his lips. “It just came out,” he said.
“You finally made it on, and you decided you should drop an F-bomb? That was outrageous!”
Jenkins, forced to smile a bit by DePhazz’s reaction, opened his mouth, but just shook his head. “What I meant to say was:
“This is an open letter to George W. Bush. Listen up. We’re behind ya, president. But you gotta start bein’ yourself. Get that megaphone back in your hand and govern. It took ya three years to get back down to New Orleans. You’re a lazy president of a lazy nation. I’m lazy, you’re lazy, we’re all lazy. You gotta start kickin’ some ass, but you gotta make sure it’s the right ass.
“And then I figured by that time the host would’ve reached up and touched that button they touch when they cut somebody off. The trap door, so to speak.”
“They won’t let you call in again.”
“They don’t know who I am. Besides, I’ve got to redeem myself now after that disaster.”
“Well, I’d wait awhile.”
“Yeah, that’s probably not a bad idea….”
“You should get a cause in the meantime. A reason for calling. So you’re focused.”
“What, like trade relations or something?”
“Trade relations: eh. That’s been done. Something new. You gotta find something that pisses you off, do some research on it—I’ll help—and you gotta have a good outline in front of you before you called.”
“Have you called in before?”
“No, that’s textbook trial prep.”



“The last call we’ll take today is from, oh, a quadrennial swing state—how fitting—St. Louis, Missouri, you’re up. What say you?”
Nothing. His palms became sweaty and he felt his heartburn coming back. Too many Guinnea.
“Long-time listener, first-time caller,” he blurted out, as if were an animated character.
“Election Day couldn’t be a better time, St. Louis. Who do you like and why?”
Nothing seemed right, none of the men or women he knew would make a good president.
“St. Louis?”
“I’d like to vote for myself, then,” he said.
“We’ve got a very tight race here, St. Louis. The calls have been neck and neck all day. We didn’t go through all of this to have someone vote for himself.

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