Ella just didn’t sing those lullabies like she used to, not since the new president took office. Something was not right, he was just too sly and sneaky for his own good. Also, he looked funny. Gone were the soulful yodels and the trills of pure pleasure. In its place, just doubt and nothing short of paranoia. She found what passed for happiness in stirring her tea with a spoon she stole from the Town & Country restaurant. It was beautiful. It kind of looked like this:
Before, when she was days younger, September of 1968 to be exact-ish, she was just recovering from the assassination of JFK and more recently, RFK. To move forward, she had to justify these acts of violence towards the Kennedy family. In order to have a clear conscience, she cheated. She forced herself to believe that bad things are going to happen to the rich people. After all, they hobnobbed with evil greedy people. These are the sorts who see no value in human life if a buck or two can be stolen. It cannot be argued, money loves money.
It was the fortieth day of the Great Flood, and the ark was seriously a-rockin’ so hard, no one would’ve, nor could’ve heard the knockin’ from the pair of complaining gripes. [FACT CHECK: Gripes were medium-sized birds known for their shrill shriek.] [SPOILER ALERT: Gripes are extinct.] The gripes were incapable of performing the act of reproduction with all that noise. It was a cavalcade of grunting, fornicating, and sweaty bow-chicka-bow-wow music.
He never had to do anything like this before, and truth be told, he was both befuddled and his crank was yanked to the max. What is this? Some crazy sort of Sisyphus thing? What did he do wrong to deserve such a fate? The task at hand was to write about what you believe in, technically called “the E-Z ism schism 1065A” form.
Benedict Downey, Ben for short, was called down to Cook County Circuit Court for a mandatory test. He was told on his phone that it would be both brief and painless. They lied to him.
Two hours had passed, as he finished a paragraph on his belief in God and religion on the computer pad, everything he wrote vanished. He cursed out loud as a pop-up filled the screen: Write from the heart. Do not insult us further with tripe.
Ben gripped a handful of his hair and tugged. Then, out of frustration, he kicked a file cabinet. He grabbed his pained kicking foot, yelped and hopped about. He uttered, “Ai-yi-yi, grape nuts.”
He heard snickering from behind the thin walls. He frowned. If there was one thing that really grabbed his proverbial goat, it was being monitored. He spotted the camera in the upper corner of the room. “Eat me. I got this.”
He picked up the tablet, and clumsily typed: I believe the children are our future. Teach them well—
The screen flashed: Copyright Infringement! Ben sighed and blurted, “Fuck,” under his breath.
A voice from the camera said, “Language.”
Ben paced about, “Language this, ass.”
He stopped abruptly, as a jolt of discovery animated the neurons between his brain to his fingers to the pad. He stabbed the screen with his pudgy fingers. He typed: I believe in myself.
The machine dinged correct. The screen prompted: What else do you believe in and why?
Eight miles away, through the forest and traffic, his scream of angst could be heard clearly.