Freedom Lane: 2016 Election Special

Your regular scheduled program will not be seen tonight, so we can bring you this special presentation of Freedom Lane.
 
***
 
Da’Quarius sat in Mr. Hessman’s social studies class, listening to him drone on about the upcoming election, which was still over a month away. It was apparently the most important ever, and a group of students too young to vote were apparently the perfect audience to hear him go on about this problems this country will soon be facing, no matter which one of the unappealing candidates won.
 
“Da’Quarius!” Mr. Hessman snapped.
 
“What?!” Da’Quarius snapped back, earning himself some snickering from his classmates.
 
“I want to hear about why you feel the need to ignore today’s lesson,” Mr. Hessman said.
 
“I know wha’chu talkin’ ‘bout,” Da’Quarius said. “You don’t wanna vote for anyone, so you gonna tell us why either one is bad. Trump is a racist monster, an’ Hillary is an evil shrew, owned by corporate America.”
 
“So who would you chose?” Mr. Hessman asked.
 
Da’Quarius thought. “I dunno,” he said. “Dey both seem pretty shitty.” 
 
“Exactly!” Mr. Hessman said. “But we don’t have to choose! The winner has already been decided by the Shadow Government. For all we know, they may already be plotting to kill one of them off and add in whoever they want to best be the face for the nation, secretly running everything in the darkness.”
 
Mr. Hessman went on about the Shadow Government and a society out of control of the people, rigged elections, chemical trails, secret political assassinations, and everything else he remembered to spew forth.
 
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said under his breath. “Dis election is fucked up.”
 
***
Freedom Lane: 2016 Election Special
 
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
***
 
Da’Quarius sat, eating dinner with his adoptive mothers, Rose and Helen Masters. “Can you please pass the corn?” Rose asked.
 
“Here you go,” Helen said, passing the bowl of corn. “I love corn. You can use it to time how long it takes dinner to make its way back out.”
 
Rose passed the bowl to Da’Quarius. “I think I’ll pass on it this time,” she said. “How was school, Da’Quarius?”
 
“It was good,” Da’Quarius said, scooping corn onto his plate. “Hess went on ‘bout how bad da’ government an’ dis election are, an’ den he gives us a report on how our family is voting. Dis some bullshit.”
 
“Don’t your dare do that report,” Helen said. “That hippy bastard is just trying to find out how we vote for his own perverted needs.”
 
“I gotta do my homework,” Da’Quarius said. “Hess likes me, but he’ll still give me an F if I don’t do my report.”
 
“I agree with Helen,” Rose said.
 
Da’Quarius spit a stream of corn across the table in shock. “What?” he asked. “Why?”
 
“It’s an invasion of our privacy,” Rose continued. “Voting is a very intimate matter, and your teacher doesn’t need to know where our family lies on the political spectrum. It’s extremely personal.”
 
“You’d never guess by the amount of eyesore signs in the front yards around here,” Helen muttered.
 
“Well it’s intimate for some,” Rose said. “For me especially. I don’t mind talking about my love for the Democratic Party and what they stand for with my family, but I don’t think your teacher should be prying in that aspect of our lives.”
 
Helen scoffed. “The Democrats?!” she snapped. “So you’re voting for crooked Hillary?”
 
“You know I am,” Rose said. “And stop calling her that. I would rather be voting for Bernie Sanders, but at least she’s a better choice than Trump.”
 
“God bless Donald Trump,” Helen said, standing up and putting a hand over her heart. She sat back down and started cutting her meat. “Someone has to stop the Mexicans from getting into our country along with their Muslim pals. I can’t wait to go across the street and tell those Garcia twins that they have to go back over the wall.”
 
“One,” Rose said, “there is no wall.”
 
“Yet,” Helen said, forking a piece of meat into her mouth.
 
“Two,” Rose continued, “The Garcia’s are Puerto Rican.”
 
“Mexicans from an island,” Helen mumbled.
 
“Three,” Rose went on, “Antonio and Manny are not twins. You think they all look the same.”
 
“Whatever,” Helen said. “Trump is our man, the savior this country needs, the only one who can make America great again.”
 
Rose sighed. “He’ll have this country destroyed by the end of his first year in office,” she said. “That’s why I’m voting for Hillary.”
 
“Bah!” Helen said. “You might as well stay home with me on election night. I’m just going to go with you and cancel out your vote.”
 
Rose sighed and put down her fork and knife “You do this every single time,” she said, shaking her head. “Every vote counts.”
 
“Your vote won’t count,” Helen said, “not if I cancel it out.”
 
“I don’t want your instilling these lessons in our son,” Rose said.
 
“Keep goin’,” Da’Quarius said. “I might get a good report outta you two at some point.”
 
“I’ll be writing that teacher,” Rose said.
 
“I’ll stab him!” Helen shouted.
 
“Umma flunk,” Da’Quarius said, shaking his head.
 
***
 
Paulie walked into his pizzeria, Paulie’s Pizza, holding a cardboard sign. “Do you believe this, Tony?” He asked, finding his friend and employee cutting up ingredients. “Some mook is putting up these Trump signs all over. I just pulled this one from our front window.”
 
“I believe it,” Tony said. He was wearing his signature wife-beater and old jeans. “That’s mine.”
 
“What?” Paulie asked. “You can’t put this garbage outside.”
 
“Why not?” Tony asked. “It’s election season.”
 
“You don’t ever vote,” Paulie said.
 
“So,” Tony said with a shrug. “That doesn’t mean I can’t support who I want.”
 
“Yes it does,” Paulie said. “That’s it. I’m getting you registered to vote this year.”
 
“No way!” Tony said, dropping his knife and making waving his arms like an umpire calling someone ‘safe’. “Don’t involve me with government bullshit.”
 
“Then don’t bring government bullshit into my place!” Paulie shouted, shoving the Trump sign into the garbage.
 
“I known for a fact you hate Hillary!” Tony said.
 
“Yeah,” Paulie said, “but I don’t like Trump any better.”
 
“So who are your voting for then?” Tony asked.
 
“No,” Paulie said. “I am not having political arguments with someone who refuses to vote. Register to vote, and you can talk to me about it all you want.”
 
“You just don’t want to make America great again,” Tony said, crossing his arms.
 
“America is already great!” Paulie shouted. “Madon. Come on, Tony. You’re friggin’ voting in this thing.”
 
“No!” Tony shouted.
 
“I listened to you bitch about Obama for eight years,” Paulie said, “and you couldn’t even bring yourself to cast a vote against him.”
 
“So now I’m racist?!” Tony exclaimed.
 
“Don’t start that racist nonsense again,” Paulie said. “We’re still getting your ass registered!”
 
***
 
Rose, Helen, and Da’Quarius sat in the kitchen, eating breakfast before Da’Quarius had to leave for school. “That debate was brutal,” Da’Quarius said. He was hoping to get more fodder for his report for Hessman.
 
“It’s no wonder,” Rose said. “Hillary can’t get more than ten words out before Trump interrupts -”
 
“Wrong!” Helen shouted, nearly tipping over her glass of Metamucil.
 
“So Donald Trump didn’t interrupt Hillary?” Rose asked.
 
“Nope,” Helen said. “He was only making clear, concise points.”
 
“You and I must have been watching different debates then,” Rose said smugly. “The Trump I saw was argumentative, rude, and a liar.”
 
“Oh,” Helen said. “Did your precious fact checkers tell you that?”
 
“What fact checkers?” Rose said. “I know when someone is lying. I worked in the police department for most of -”
 
“Wrong!” Helen said.
 
Rose sighed. “Are you going to keep doing that every time I -”
 
“Wrong!” Helen said.
 
“But who won last night?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Trump,” Helen said before Rose could get Hillary’s name out.
 
“Now who’s wrong?” Rose asked.
 
“You are,” Helen said.
 
“What I heard from Hillary was clear answers, very presidential,” Rose said. “What I heard from Trump was insults, lies, and more of his rhetoric that we’ve all come to despise.”
 
“Wrong!” Helen shouted. “Why does Trump have to answer about Rosie O’Donnell, but Hillary doesn’t have to answer to her deleted emails or Benghazi?”
 
“The moderator didn’t bring those things up,” Rose replied, “Trump did to distract everyone from noticing that he wasn’t answering the questions. Also, Trump is the one who brought up Rosie’s name when he was asked about how he treats women.”
 
“Wrong!” Helen exclaimed.
 
“That’s it,” Rose said. “I’m done.” She left the kitchen with her breakfast half-eaten, going into the living room.
 
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said. “I didn’t mean for dat to happen when I asked.”
 
Helen swallowed some Metamucil. “Wrong!”
 
***
 
Mr. Hessman was ranting again, talking about all those who had died because they ended up on the Clintons’ death list. He finished up, ending with the kicking over of his chair. “So,” he said, composing himself and fixing his disheveled hair, “has anyone got a good idea about how their family is voting?”
 
Flounder, Da’Quarius’s Korean friend, raised his hand.
 
“Yes?” Mr. Hessman asked.
 
“My parents say president should be born into it,” Flounder said. “Like the supreme…. never mind.”
 
Mr. Hessman eyed Flounder. “You’re not getting out of this assignment,” he said. “What about someone else. Da’Quarius?”
 
“You always pick me, you dirty mo’ fu…”
 
“I’m asking if you’ve talked to your parents about who they’re voting for,” Mr. Hessman said.
 
“I did,” Da’Quarius sighed, “but I’m more mixed up than ever. Clinton or Trump? I don’t know how I’m gonna do dis stupid report!”
 
“Maybe you should talk to them about a write-in candidate,” Mr. Hessman said, “instead of having them write me letters about how I do my job.”
 
“What’s dat?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“You can vote for anyone you want,” Mr. Hessman said. “You can write it in. Of course, they’d have had to register two weeks before the election; Connecticut state law. It’s different in other states though. There’s not much time left; and it may already be too late to make a write-in candidacy really worth it, but it may be about damn time we take our lives back from the corporate overlords who think they own our souls.”
 
Da’Quarius thought. There wasn’t much time left, but he thought he’d be able to get someone on the ballot with whom America would be better. Then it hit him. “I got it,” he said. “We’re gonna write in Karl Malone!”
 
***
 
Paulie walked through New Haven City Hall with Tony behind him. “Come on, boss,” Tony said. “This will take all day. Can’t I just do this online? I can get pussy online, so why can’t I do this?”
 
“You’re doing this the old fashion way,” Paulie said. “You’re fifty-five years old, and you’ve never voted. Voting is a privilege. There’s some people who don’t get a vote you know.”
 
“Yeah,” Tony said. “They live under kings and queens, and they don’t seem too upset in the story books.”
 
“I’m talking about dictators!” Paulie snapped, his voice echoing in the empty halls.
 
“Dick tasters?” Tony asked. “Come on, Paulie. You might as well be calling them a bunch of faggots. That’s not cool. Your own sister -”
 
“You friggin’ gagootz!” Paulie said, turning. “I didn’t mean that, and don’t let me hear you use that word again! I said ‘dictators’, presidents for life, enemies of the people. Read a friggin’ news paper!”
 
“Quiet down,” a security guard said, stepping out from an office. “This is City Hall, not a playground.”
 
“Sorry,” Paulie said.
 
“I’m gonna vote!” Tony said, smiling widely.
 
The security guard gave him an odd look. Paulie guessed he was trying to measure him for mental disabilities. “You’re a little early,” he said.
 
“We’re just getting him registered,” Paulie said. “Can you believe this stunad’s never voted in his life.”
 
“Never voted?!” the security guard exclaimed. “Do you have any idea what women and the blacks went through to be able to vote?”
 
“We’re going to the registrar now,” Paulie said, walking past the guard. “Come on, Tony.”
 
“Wait,” Tony said. “I wanna hear this. Did black people not get to vote until Obama? Is that how it happened?”
 
***
 
Da’Quarius came home and fond Rose, sitting at the dining room table, reading a magazine with Hillary Clinton’s face on the cover. “Oh,” she said, looking up. “Hi, Da’Quarius.”
 
“Hey, Rose,” Da’Quarius said. “Can I ask you somethin’ ‘bout dis election?”
 
“Sure,” Rose said, putting the magazine down, leaving the Clinton article facing up. 
 
“Why do you want to vote for Hillary?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Did your teacher get my letter about this?” Rose asked.
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius replied, “but he’s not givin’ me a passin’ grade ‘less I turn somethin’ in.”
 
“Fine,” Rose sighed. “We need Hillary because Trump’s a fascist.”
 
“But can you tell me why without bringin’ up Trump?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Well,” Rose said, her eyes moving toward the open magazine on the table. “She has the best résumé for the job. She literally sat across the table from one of the best presidents of the late twentieth century.”
 
“OK,” Da’Quarius said. He closed the magazine and pulled it toward him. “What else?”
 
“Well,” Rose sad, thinking. “Women have been excellent rulers throughout history. Hillary’s a woman and a mother, literally a creator. She’d be a strong female ruler, and this is a point in history when that’s exactly what America needs.”
 
“Great,” Da’Quarius said, taking mental notes. “Dat last part is good stuff.”
 
Rose blushed. “Thank you,” she said. “I’m glad I can get that out without Helen interrupting with her pro-Trump rhetoric.”
 
“Dat’s weird,” Da’Quarius said. “Where’d she go anyway?”
 
Rose looked around. “I have no idea.”
 
***
 
Manny and Antonio Garcia were in front of their home, cleaning and waxing their Honda Civics. Helen marched down their driveway, wearing a “Make America Great Again” teeshirt. “Hello, boys,” she said.
 
“Yo,” Manny said, looking up from his polishing of his hubcaps.
 
“What’s up, Helen?” Antonio asked.
 
“Bet you two are worried,” Helen said. “I would be if I were you.”
 
“Why?” Antonio asked. “It’s not supposed to rain, is it?”
 
“Shit,” Manny said. “I just waxed this baby! Fuck the weather!”
 
“Not that,” Helen said. “Check my shirt, boys. We’re gonna make America great again.”
 
“Oh yeah,” Manny said. “Donald Trump. He’s one crazy mother fucker.”
 
“Yeah,” Antonio said with a laugh. “I wish I could get away with what he does. He’ll be the first president to make fun of a retarded person to their face.”
 
“We’re building a wall,” Helen said, backing away. “I’ll be there when they catapult you over it. Adios, amigos.”
 
“Adios, Helen!” Manny called, waving.
 
“I like her,” Antonio said. “I wish she stopped by more.”
 
***
 
Da’Quarius swept the floor of Paulie’s Pizza on Saturday morning. Tony and Paulie were there, continuing their argument about voting. “So I registered,” Tony said. “Big friggin’ whoop.”
 
“You registered so you can vote,” Paulie argued. “I already told you: I refuse to let you spout about that clown Trump, win or lose, if you refuse to vote for him.”
 
“So you’re votin’ for Clinton?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Yeah,” Paulie said. “I mean no. I don’t know.”
 
“What ‘bout Johnson?” Da’Quarius asked. 
 
“Who?” Tony asked.
 
“Gary Johnson,” Da’Quarius said. “He’s da’ third party guy goin’ against Trump and Hillary.”
 
“I can vote for a third guy?!” Tony exclaimed.
 
“Or Jill Stein,” Da’Quarius said. “My teacher thinks she’s nutty as fuck doe.”
 
“Don’t waste your vote,” Paulie said. “Nobody really wants a third party guy in office, and Johnson and Stein are morons.”
 
“Or you can write in your own guy,” Da’Quarius said. 
 
“What’s that mean?” Tony asked. “It sounds like I can vote for anyone I want, even myself.”
 
“I sent a petition to Karl Malone,” Da’Quarius said. “I also started multiple campaigns online to get him elected as a write-in candidate.”
 
“The basketball player?” Paulie said. “Don’t make a mockery of our electoral process, kid.”
 
“I ain’t makin’ a mockery of shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Karl Malone is a black republican, and he’s always involved in donatin’ an’ shit. He’s da’ tough mo’ fucker dis country needs. He’s da’ black Reagan.”
 
“The black Reagan?!” Tony said. “He has my vote!”
 
“Madon,” Paulie groaned.
 
“So I can vote for whoever I want?” Tony asked. “Imagine if I voted for Mickey Mouse or Kenny Kums!”
 
“What about your best friend Trump?” Paulie asked.
 
“Oh yeah,” Tony said. “We need to make America great again.”
 
“America is already great!” Paulie shouted.
 
“Lets grab America by the pussy!” Tony shouted.
 
“What I tell you about saying that?!” Paulie shouted. “I’m going to take you outside if you say that again!”
 
“Trump talks like guys talk,” Tony said, motioning to the air between him and Paulie. “That’s how you and I talk on a daily basis.”
 
“You talk like that,” Paulie said. “I just listen and feel embarrassed for you. His sexist nonsense has me thinking twice about him.”
 
“You can’t let crooked Hillary win!” Tony said, waving his hands around. “Bill Clinton raped women!”
 
“Bill’s not running for president!” Paulie shouted in return. “It doesn’t matter how many women he may or may not have raped!” Another customer walked in and promptly left.
 
“So you’re for Hillary now?!” Tony said.
 
“I don’t know,” Paulie said, running a hand through his hair. “Madon, I still don’t like her either.”
 
“Make America great again!” Tony said. He ripped off his shirt and threw it down.
 
“Put your shit on!” Paulie said, a vein pulsing on his forehead. “I’ll send your ass back to your apartment for the day!”
 
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Umma head home early today. You two are givin’ me a headache.”
 
***
 
Rose, Da’Quarius, Helen, and Paulie sat down for their Sunday night dinner Election Day was a little over a week away. The topic of discussion was, of course, the election.
 
“I just can’t see how you’re still undecided,” Rose said.
 
“Both candidates are unappealing,” Paulie replied. “Trump is a trash mouth, and Hillary may be corporate evil incarnate.”
 
“Don’t vote for Hill-dawg,” Helen said. “She’ll die a week after taking office.”
 
“Here we go,” Da’Quarius muttered.
 
“Hillary Clinton is not dying,” Rose said. “You read those dirty lies in a tabloid.”
 
“She’s battling multiple terminal ailments,” Helen added. “Do you really want an old lady in office anyway?”
 
“You’re older than she is!” Rose snapped. “We both are!”
 
“She’s a dyke too,” Helen said.
 
“So are you!” Rose said.
 
“Did you just call me a dyke?” Helen said, giving Rose the stink-eye.
 
“You are a lesbian,” Rose said. “Besides, Trump is racist, fascist, and sexist.”
 
“I don’t have to sit here for this,” Helen said, standing.
 
“Sit down,” Rose said.
 
Helen watched Rose for a moment. “Fine,” she said, “but only because I want to.”
 
“See,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis is why y’all need to write in Karl Malone. I heard he actually put his name in. Dis is gonna be great!”
 
“That better not be what your reports is on,” Paulie said. “Your teacher will be well within his rights to fail you or trying to get people to throw their votes away.”
 
“The only vote thrown away is one not cast,” Rose said. “If people want to write in this basketball player, then they’re well within their rights.”
 
“Hillary Clinton is Hitler!” Helen shouted, slamming a fist on the table. “Hitler I tell you!”
 
“Oh God,” Rose said, putting her head down in her hands. “I guess this discussion is over.”
 
“I absolutely refuse to hear about anyone who wants to vote Hitler into office,” Helen continued. “And Hillary Clinton is literally Hitler!”
 
“Madon,” Paulie said. “I’m starting to see why Tony doesn’t vote.”
 
***
 
Da’Quarius came home on the Saturday afternoon before Election Day. He had been keeping track of Karl Malone all week, but he had remained silent on whether or not he was endorsing himself as a write-in candidate, even though Da’Quarius had amassed quite the following. Rose and Helen were out, and Dutchie, his pitbull terrier, was going crazy now that he was no longer home alone, jumping all over his master.
 
“Dis election is bullshit,” Da’Quarius muttered as he clicked the leash on his excited dog. “Come on, boy. Let’s go for a walk.”
 
Da’Quarius brought Dutchie down the walk toward the sidewalk of Freedom Lane. Dutchie’s jumps renewed as he met someone walking toward the house. He leaned down, petting the dog.
 
Da’Quarius stood, transfixed by the man standing in front of him and scratching his dog under the chin. He was tall, had short hair, and a mustache and goatee. He knew who it was.
 
“Karl Malone,” Da’Quarius said, still not believing.
 
“You must be Da’Quarius Masters,” Karl Malone said. “You’ve been kicking up a lot of dust about me over the last few weeks. Come on. Let’s take your dog for a little walk.”
 
***
 
Tony came back inside Paulie’s Pizza after taking an extended break. “Oh!” Paulie exclaimed. “I didn’t know you were coming back.”
 
“Sorry,” Tony said. “I decided to take a little walk.”
 
“That’s good,” Paulie said. “I’m glad you’re starting to think about your health.”
 
”Yeah,” Tony said. “I was kicking over Clinton signs around the corner. Some guy went ballistic. So much for diplomacy over violence, huh?”
 
”What is wrong with you?” Paulie asked, coming from around the counter. “You can’t do that.”
 
”Why not?” Tony asked. “I’m a registered voter now. I’m just trying to make things more interesting. I’m sure the idiot sees my point.”
 
”And what point is that?” Paulie asked. “The point that there’s some crazy asshole kicking over signs in New Haven?”
 
”No,” Tony replied. “The point is that maybe he should stay home on Election Day. Something bad might happen to him if he doesn’t, you know?”
 
Paulie was going to say more, but a police car pulled up to the curb out front of the pizzeria. “Madon,” he said. “Keep quiet and let me talk. Maybe I can convince them you’re mentally challenged.”
 
Paulie turned to see Tony wearing a red hat he had written on with a permanent marker. It read: “Make America Grate Again” across the front.
 
“On second thought,” Paulie said, “feel free to talk.”
 
***
 
Rose and Helen came home from the market. They came in, carrying a bag each. “Dutchie is gone,” Rose said, looking around. “Da’Quarius must have come home and taken him for a walk.”
 
“Good,” Helen said. “I can walk in the door without getting a snout up my crotch.”
 
Rose and Helen put the groceries away, and they sat at the table with sandwiches Rose had made when they were done. The morning’s paper was still on the table, and Donald Trump’s angry face was once again on the front page. “Look at that,” Rose said, glancing at the paper. “He’s already saying the election is rigged. It hasn’t even happened yet.”
 
“What are you going to do,” Helen said, shrugging. “Hillary shouldn’t have rigged it.”
 
“Did you even read the article?” Rose asked.
 
“I read it on the shitter this morning,” Helen replied smugly.
 
“Well he’s saying the election is only rigged if he loses,” Rose said. “If he wins, then it’s fine.”
 
“He knows what he’s talking about,” Helen said.
 
“What?” Rose asked, pushing her plate away. “That’s the same thing a kid does when you’re beating him at checkers, flipping the board because you’ve double jumped him, and he knows he’s going to lose.”
 
“Hey,” Helen said. “As someone who’s flipped their share of game boards, that offends me.”
 
Rose sighed. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t want to argue over politics anymore. Can we just let this go and have lunch?”
 
“Sure,” Helen said. She took a small bite of her sandwich, chewed, and swallowed. “I just can’t believe you think I’d comment on an article I haven’t read.”
 
“I said I’m sorry,” Rose said, taking a bite of her own sandwich. “Please, can we move on?”
 
“I bet you didn’t even read the one about abortions,” Helen continued. “Hillary wants to rip nearly-grown fetuses directly out of the womb and murder them. She said so herself.”
 
“No she did not say that!” Rose said, pushing her plate away again. “That was Trump, and that was at the last debate! There was no article.”
 
“He was quoting her!” Helen said. 
 
“He was not!” Rose said. “He was going overboard about abortion to fire up the right wing!”
 
“Abortion is murder!” Helen said, slamming a fist on the table, an act that was becoming more and more common as the election approached.
 
“You’re pro-abortion!” Rose shouted, throwing her hands up. “The only time you’re anti-abortion is when an election is coming up! You know what, I’m not doing this. I’m going tin the other room.”
 
“You are not!” Helen shouted as Rose left the kitchen for the den. She got up and followed. “I’m not done with you yet, you crazy liberal!”
 
 
***
 
Da’Quarius walked down Freedom Lane with Karl Malone, not knowing why he was there or how he found him. “So you want me to be president,” Karl finally said.
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m tryin’ to get you elected through write-ins. Did all da’ states get my petitions?”
 
“Oh yeah,” Karl said. “They contacted me to see how serious I was. I was surprised, because I have no interest in running.”
 
“What?!” Da’Quarius said. “We both know you’d make an awesome president. You shoulda went for it!”
 
“Nah,” Karl said. “It’s not for me.”
 
Da’Quarius huffed. “Den why come all da’ way here to find me?” he asked
 
“I just wanted to talk to you about what’s going on,” Karl said. “Judging by your online campaign about why you want me to write myself in, you’re really skewed about politics.”
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “I got two moms. One is a die-hard Trump fan, an’ da’ other is all about dat Hillary lady.”
 
“And you think I’m a better fit for America than either of them?” Karl asked.
 
“Fuck yeah I do!” Da’Quarius said.
 
Karl laughed. “Thanks for thinking that,” he said, “but nothing can be further from the truth.”
 
“You don’t think so?” Da’Quarius asked. “I think America needs its first full-black president.”
 
Karl laughed again. “There’s something you’re not grasping,” he said. “The process of election is in place for a reason. You may not think Trump or Clinton are suitable choices to run this once great country, but I assure you they are.”
 
“Even Hillary?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Not her,” Karl said. “But you’re missing the point. You have your choices as chosen by the people. They’ve already been chosen to take on the role, and they’ve both accepted.”
 
“So dat’s it?” Da’Quarius asked. “Dat’s your advice?”
 
Karl shrugged. “That’s America,” he said. “Just don’t let them take your guns.”
 
“Cool,” Da’Quarius said, nodding. “Hey, I loved yo’ movie you did with Steven Seagal, ‘Jazz and Lagaes: Hard as Fuck Vendetta’. What’s he like in person? Is he as cool as he looks in da’ movie?”
 
“Nah,” Karl said. “Seagal’s a huge asshole in real life.”
 
***
 
Da’Quarius returned home after his walk with Karl Malone. He found Helen and Rose in the living room, having another political discussion.
 
“So you love terrorists?!” Helen was saying, waving her arms in the air. “Why else would you vote against the man who plans to stop Isis?!”
 
“I do not love terrorists!” Rose retorted.
 
“You’re voting for Hillary,” Helen said. “Her and Obama started Isis.”
 
“They did not…” Rose said, losing her focus along with her cool. “Trump plans on making more enemies for America. He has no policies on diplomacy. He just wants to blast everyone and not even ask questions later.”
 
“Diplomacy is dead!” Helen shouted. “We need action right now, not an old bitch in a wheel chair!”
 
“Hillary Clinton is not in a wheelchair!” Rose exclaimed.
 
“She will be,” Helen said. “Especially if she comes near my house to take my guns.”
 
“You don’t have guns!” Rose shouted.
 
“None that you know of,” Helen muttered.
 
“Trump is a pervert!” Rose said. “You’ve heard what he’s said about women!”
 
“That was locker room talk!” Helen retorted.
 
“It’s admittance of sexual assault!” Rose shouted back.
 
“Be careful,” Helen said, “or I’ll grab you by the p-”
 
“STOP IT!” Da’Quarius shouted, moving in between his shouting mothers. “Dis is crazy! I’ve never heard you fight like dis before!”
 
“She started it,” Helen said.
 
“I did not!” Rose added.
 
“Thirty-three thousand emails deleted!” Helen shouted.
 
“Look!” Da’Quarius said. “Da’ election’s tomorrow. Tomorrow! You two love each other, an’ it don’t matter who you’re votin’ for.”
 
“We don’t have to go,” Helen said. “I’m just going to cancel out Rose’s vote.”
 
“Dat don’t matter,” Da’Quarius said before Rose could argue. “You’re votin’, Helen, and so is Rose. Dis is America. You have the right to vote, and you’re gonna exercise it. It don’t matter if you two are votin’ for opposite sides. It don’t matter if you hate who da’ other is votin’ for. You’re gonna vote, one of dem will win, an’ one of dem will lose. Just because America is fucked either way after dis election, don’t mean you guys gotta fight.”
 
Rose and Helen looked at each other. “The kid’s right,” Helen said. “I’m sorry I yelled.”
 
“I’m sorry too,” Rose said. “In all honesty, Hillary would’ve been my third or fourth choice out of everyone in the Democratic Party.”
 
“Yeah,” Helen said, nodding. “Trump is a blowhard, but the rest of Republicans who ran were pansies except Jeb Bush.”
 
Rose and Helen walked to each other and hugged. When they broke apart, they looked at Da’Quarius. “So no more of this Karl Malone nonsense?” Helen asked.
 
“Nah,” Da’Quarius said. “Mo’ fucker won’t even lift a finger to run an’ save dis country, so fuck ‘im.”
 
***
 
Rose, Helen, Paulie, and Tony walked into their polling place, followed by Da’Quarius. “This is it,” Paulie said, clapping Tony on the shoulder. “You ready to cast your first ballot?”
 
“Oh yeah,” Tony said, smiling. “I gotta support my man, Trump.”
 
“Fuckin’ right,” Helen said. “Time to make America great again.”
 
Rose looked at Da’Quarius, giving him a little wink. He smiled back. He was happy the political debates in his living room were over, and they had accepted each other’s views.
 
“Have you decided who you’re voting for?” Rose said, addressing Paulie.
 
“Not yet,” Paulie said. “I’ll come to a decision when I’m in there.”
 
“Trump,” Helen whispered. “Make America great again, Paulie.”
 
“America is already great,” Paulie said. He walked up to the pollsters and gave them his name to check off their master list. Tony followed, and the two went into the booths while Rose and Helen had their names checked off the list. They followed once Paulie and Tony came out. They exited too, smiles on their face.
 
***
 
The family left the polling station, proudly wearing their “I Voted” stickers on their chests. “Who’d you end up voting for?” Tony asked Paulie.
 
“I ain’t telling,” Paulie said. “It’s my vote, and I keep it to myself.”
 
“Y’all finally voted,” Da’Quarius asked. “What do we do now?”
 
“We wait,” Rose said.
 
“We pop the news channel on,” Helen added, “we hang around the house, and we see who wins.”
 
“But for now we go to the diner and eat pancakes,” Paulie said. “It’s our Election Day tradition.”
 
“You get pancakes?!” Tony exclaimed. “You should’ve told me. I’d have started to vote years ago!”
 
“It’s not just about the pancakes,” Paulie said. “It’s about pancakes and democracy.”
 
Helen smelled the morning air, puffing out her chest. “Delicious,” she said.
 
“Amen,” Rose said, taking Helen’s hand.
 
***
 
Mr. Hessman graded his papers, furiously studying whose family was voting for whom. He came across Da’Quarius’s paper, smiling as he held it up. He was looking forward to this. He’d finally know how his family voted and how to best deal with them if the situation arose where he’d need that information.
 
Da’Quarius’s paper flipped-flopped with every paragraph. He wrote about the morals of American voters and the simplicity of certain individuals’ minds. He wrote of a family torn apart by dirty politics and how letting go of their emotion of the election quelled the flames of discontent in their small family. He even spoke of true heroes, those who step aside and let democracy to its job, even though they’d be best suited to help save it from itself.
 
A tear rolled down Hessman’s cheek as he finished the closing paragraph. “This kid gets it,” he sad, as he wrote an A+ on the top of the first page. “I’ll be watching you very closely from now on, Da’Quarius Masters, very closely indeed. I’ll make you the fucking president someday.”
 
Hessman looked at the paper one last time before putting in the pile of others. He picked up Flounder’s next and started reading. “Really, Kwok?” he said. “Proof that North Korea owns one of the candidates?”
 
Hessman turned the page. His eyes widened as he read the “proof”, carefully putting the report down when he was done. “Holy shit,” he said. “This kid’s going to get me killed.”  
 
***
 
“Hi,” Rose said, sitting on a small studio chair. She had Helen on her right side and Da’Quarius on her left. She addressed you, the Freedom Lane audience. “We had a lot of fun with politics and the election tonight, and we want to urge all of you to get out there and vote.”
 
“Yes,” Helen sad, “even if you’re so fat you can’t get out of bed. Have someone come wheel your fat ass to the polls.”
 
“I told you not to say that,” Rose whispered.
 
“Votin’ is an important process,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s part of da’ American machine, an’ you need to take part, even if yo’ vote don’t count.”
 
“Da’Quarius,” Rose said, laughing awkwardly. “Don’t say that. The only vote that doesn’t count is one not cast. We covered that.”
 
“Da’ Shadow Government will choose da’ next president,” Da’Quarius continued. “The person dey see fit to be their mouthpiece will be chosen by them, for our own good.”
 
“This isn’t what we’re doing,” Rose said.
 
“Yes,” Helen said, staring directly into the camera. “It may be a black man, a woman, a Jew, or a black woman Jew. The Shadow Government will see us through the following years, doing what we need, even if it means the deaths of thousands of us.”
 
“All hail da’ Shadow Government,” Da’Quarius said, raising a fist in the air.
 
“Don’t listen to them!” Rose pleaded. “Go out and vote!”
 
“Hail!” Helen said, raising her fist into the air. “Hail, demonic Shadow Government!”
 

 

“There is no shadow government!” Rose shouts as the image fades to black. “Go out and vote!”
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