This changes a man. Whether it’s for the better, or for the worse, remains to be seen. But there’s a change. I can feel it.
The darkness. That’s the worst part. Rats. Snakes. Some other things that I haven’t quite identified. Maybe some of them are imaginary – my tortured mind, playing tricks. It’s gotten to the point that when something crawls across my wet bare feet I don’t even bother to light up my phone to see what it is. Nothing good, I’m sure. And I have to preserve my battery – if for nothing than the clock. The hour will come, eventually, when I can get out of this hole and feel the sunlight on my face. Eventually. But, until then, I can only do what they intend for me to do: sit here, alone, and reflect upon my transgression. My sin. And for all the reflection; all the introspection… I still can’t figure out what I did to deserve this. So I must continue to think about it. It’s for my own good.
All around, etched into the damp walls, are faint remnants of the agony of those poor souls who were here before me. Silent, desperate pleadings for mercy that were never heard by the outside world. Fingernails, ripped from those foolish enough to think they could scratch their way to the surface; tally marks, counting the days, hours, minutes; names and initials. The horror. The horror! Last time I looked, I saw the initials of my own cousin, “M.A.P.” And, to think that I never gave a second thought about his misery when he was last here – there have been many times for him – brings me a feeling of overwhelming guilt and shame. Seems we never think about things like this until they happen to us. It’s just too painful.
So, at least they let me bring my ball and glove. I sit with my back against the wall and bounce the ball off the opposite one; and even in near-total darkness, I manage to catch it most of the time, just using the force. And I count the seconds. And I plan vengeance upon those responsible for sending me here. Is that wrong?
Then, instead of the dull thump, the ball makes a sharp snapping sound, like hitting a snare drum, and it doesn’t come back. “Wilson!” I shout, “Where did you go?” But there is no answer. This, in itself, isn’t so unusual, because Wilson is a baseball, and they don’t talk – but he had always come back before.
I light up my phone and scoot across to the other side of the dungeon. There, I find a tattered poster of Stormy Daniels with a baseball-sized hole through the paper at the most interesting location. I rip the paper off the wall to find a hidden tunnel to the unknown – barely large enough for a man of my size, but I had to try! Without giving it a second thought, I lunge into Stormy’s shaft and begin to crawl, picking up Wilson along the way. Ahead, I see a faint glow, and that empowers me to crawl faster and faster.
It seems like an eternity until I lift off the grate to emerge, and the warm sunlight envelopes me like the arms of a loving mother. In the distance, I hear the shouting of an un-masked crowd chanting “Four more years! Four more years” and see brightly colored flags waving in the gentle Autumn breeze under the orange-tinted sky.
Just to my right … well, way to my right … is a heavily-adorned Indian motorcycle with its own stars & bars flags and some little bears, wearing red MAGA hats, tied to the rear fender. The key is in the ignition! I jump astride the bike and crank it up – and at that moment it all comes back to me.
My crime; that horrible thing that had put me in the hole: posting “Girls shouldn’t be allowed to talk mean to the President!” Exactly that, and nothing else, on a popular social media site which shall remain nameless.
It was a satirical remark regarding a televised CBS interview with the grotesque, titian leader of this gaggle of clowns, in which he couldn’t handle the pressure so he just up and walked out, and left the lady sitting there in her chair, bewildered. And for my tongue-in-cheek witticism it had to be one of these dimwitted romancers of goats who finked me out; turned state’s evidence to get me thrown into the bastille. But which one? There are so many!
I place the motorcycle into gear and spin out toward the slobbering mob, and they scatter like a houseful of witless turkeys when lightning strikes. Grown men, full of pride, with AR-15s strapped to their backs, slinging women and children aside to remove themselves from harm’s way by any means necessary. And there is pandemonium, and the spreading of the ‘rona via their screams.
Black suits surround the Mango Messiah on the stage and whisk him away to Eggbeater and it flees into the wild blue yonder … which is, as already stated, orange. So, OK, the wild orange yonder. Then, they turn their focus to me, and the chase is on.
For miles over the rolling fields, through amber waves of grain, they maintain pursuit, dodging the fuzzy little bears and swastika material flying in my wake. There are the sounds of the engines, and sirens and gunfire, but all I hear is Mick Jagger singing “Sympathy for the Devil.”
I fly over a rise and realize that I am boxed in by five-strand barbwire fences. There is nowhere to go! I circle back toward the advancing gestapo briefly; then turn again, full-speed toward the fence. I jump that one, but there is an even bigger fence on the other side. The Nazis close in from all directions. In a hail of bullets, I crash into the gigantic fence and become entangled in the wire. And they have me again.
The officer in charge appears at the front as I’m removed from the fetters. The nametag on his uniform said, simply, “Zuck.” And he addresses me:
“What we have here … is failure to communicate.”
And I’m thinking “That’s exactly what we have.”
They put me back into the dungeon with nothing but my ball and glove. Stormy’s hole has been filled with pumpkins and sweet potatoes, so there is no way out, aside from getting that orange stench all over myself - and I refuse to do that.
So I toss the ball and count: “One November…Two November…”