The Man Who Ate America
By David Hartley Mark
It is becoming too cold and dark to write. This stub of pencil hurts my hand, but no matter. Just before the Drumpfbeaters grabbed me, I stuffed some lined paper into my pockets, along with the manuscript of the Kabbalah-Jewish Mysticism Commentary I had been working on for the last three years. My family is gone; I do not know where they are. King Ronald I and his Hordes of the Night have swallowed them, me, and most of the America we knew and loved; gulped them down, into his gaping, bottomless maw….
It was nighttime when I awoke; the lump on my forehead where the Minute Man Sergeant-Major cracked his brass knuckles is raw and bleeding—how can one hit a man, without anger? It has become far too easy, these days….
We are riding along, through the black, uncaring, godless night, in an open-top boxcar, and I look around. The railroad needs all rolling stock for our planned military assault on the Free State of Canada, for committing the “crime” of harboring American refugees from King Ronald’s wrath. Some of these unfortunates, all wearing torn clothing and bearing the stigmata of beatings, are sharing the car, which hurtles through the night like a lost angel, or arrant demon: former Catholic priests, rabbis like me, Protestant ministers, Islamic imams, atheists, agnostics; writers and editors, news writers, social critics and commentators, fired “radical” university professors; musicians, artists, performers, even a standup comic or two. We are also a crazy quilt of colors, ethnicities, religions or lack thereof, politics from across the board.
Who fears an artist, a musician, a poet? Gays, transvestites, transgendered—we are all easily visible to one another by the vari-colored triangles that the Drumpfbeaters forced us to wear, sewn on the left breast and back part of our jackets. I also smile grimly to see even the former editors of the politically Conservative magazines, both print and online, Glossatary and The Weekly Lanyard, huddled in a corner of the car, frantically taking notes—on their confinement, no doubt. They are as surprised as we other “radicals” to have been caught up in the dragnet. We are a crazy quilt of races and ethnicities; we have been dubbed “Threats to the Divine Drumpf Regime”—or is it a Kingdom, by now?
And the snow will not stop falling. From time to time, one of our number, bloody-headed, broken, will climb up the side of the open-roofed car, boosted by his dearest friends and comrades, grab the rough planks that hem us in, haul himself up-and-over, and jump out, into—where? Escape, possibly; death, more likely; better that than where we are going, surely.
But I am a coward, shivering with cold, clinging to what remains of my life, and I determine to see where we are going, to bear witness, and bend to my scrap of paper, writing, writing….
Rumors abound: we are going—where? To the Drumpfhead Colonies of the New Mexican Conquest, which King Ronald I ordered invaded during Year II of his Reign. He first disbanded the Regular US Armed Forces, and turned the weapons and arsenals over to Chief Regent Misera Pound, who in our—former Democracy?—had been his vice-president, but to whom he handed responsibility for all domestic affairs, as Regent Plenipotentiary.
Regent Pound wasted no time: he declared DrumpfFederalOrder I: Permanent State of Emergency due to Threat of Domestic Terror and Potential Insurrection, and recommended passage of DFO II: Martial Law on an Indefinite Basis. Our new, rubber stamp American National Assembly, made up of former State Campaign Chairs for the Drumpf Movement, passed it without a murmur, after the Regent disbanded Congress—he surrounded it with members of the National Arms Association, and “strongly suggested that they go home, to strengthen DrumpfbeatThink in their home districts.”
It was an effective method. It really didn’t take that much effort, or time, to kill Democracy in America….
King Ronald took over—stole leadership of?—both the US Dept. of Homeland Security and the Internal Revenue Service, and placed them under his Regime’s direct supervision, using their databanks to issue Official US National ID Cards, using everyone’s Social Security Number to track every citizen—track them down, actually. Some resident foreign nationals and illegal immigrants—who would have thought this would a good time to be an illegal immigrant?—escaped his National Security Computer Search, and escaped to either the Free State of Canada, which hunkered down behind the DrumpfWall which King Ronald built to prevent the thousands—millions?—of American refugees seeking sanctuary beneath the Maple Leaf Flag, or to South America, where Costa Rica and other states offered refuge to any North American who could render their economy useful service. Ironic, that the same countries against whom he fulminated during his campaign should become places of refuge for those Americans whom he had sworn to protect and defend….
As he had said at his inauguration—no, he called it a Coronation:
“And I pledge, my Subjects—no, ha ha ha—Fellow Citizens—that I will protect you! Yes: there are enemies all over our country: evil, evil, evil enemies! Watch out for them, and be sure to protect yourselves from them, by calling the number on the bottom of the TV screen! What’s that? Put my hand on the Bible? Of course I believe in the Bible! It’s the Good Book—it’s got Jesus, and Noah, and Mary in it, doesn’t it? Enemies! Watch out for them….”
Following his Coronation, King Ronald threatened to invade both Canada (“America North”) and South America (“After all, we named it”), but he found he had to bide his time, and seek ways to rebuild his strength, following mass resignations by the US professional officers’ corps and soldiery, who became scattered and leaderless among the general American population.
Many, if not most of them, took their weapons with them when they left their posts, “for personal protection.” There are even rumors that several nuclear weapons “went missing,” with the connivance of the higher-ups in the former Pentagon who had access to the Launch Codes. We are not sure of this, and the Official RADIO DRUMPF says nothing about it. Why would they?
There are also rumors that former Secretary of State Swinton is hiding somewhere in the Rocky Mountains with a cadre of trusted lieutenants, but no one knows what to believe, nowadays. After King Ronald took over the US CellPhone Industry, and his regime forced every citizen to give up their phones and receive “improved” ones chained to our wrists, we receive only the “official news” that his people put out—BBC and RadioCanada are jammed, mostly, though some news, rebel geek-aided, does seep through.
For those of us who could not, or refused to, see the threat that King Ronald posed to our Democracy, it quickly became too late to escape. We were caught like rats in a trap. I suppose the first warning came with the opening of offices to enlist what was called the Drumpfbeat Minute Men (MM’s), initially advertised using the Internet and TV, of course—as an alternative to the Regular Armed Forces, but rapidly overtaking them in numbers, after Speaker Bryan, who, though first reluctant, eventually became King Ronald’s Official Public Spokesman.
Bryan and Former Speaker Loot Fingrich led a series of televised “Town Hall Meetings” featuring professional actors dressed as real-looking “ordinary folks,” and assured them that the MM’s would get first pick of the “Amazing Jobs for a Fantastic New American Age” which the Drumpf Administration—they still called it an Administration, ‘way back then—was preparing.
I still remember the TV Programs—propaganda commercials, really—with King Ronald making his familiar Chef Boy-Ar-Dee thumb-and-forefinger curl and shouting,
“Yes, lots of jobs—good, good jobs! Amazing jobs! Fantastic jobs! You want to sign up now, and every applicant will receive a bonus package of Drumpf steaks and wine—2014 Vintage! Hurry up, folks, we’re gonna run out, soon!”
And that smile—like a shark’s, only without teeth. I see it everywhere, even when this wretched Train to Hell stops at a siding to take on water or diesel fuel: on a billboard, Telescreen, or simple signboard on a tumbledown shack, blinking on-and-off, on-and-off, like an electric light. It is everywhere. There are mini-speakers hung on wires, poles and trees throughout city and country, with his voice, bellowing his endless, pointless, lying, meandering speeches, night and day. He has become The Beloved Drumpf, or Dear King Ronald One: that is how we must refer to him, among one another, or face quick and painful consequences.
Lynchings have returned, as well. I have seen pitiful, blackened, twisted bodies hanging from telephone poles, and spinning slowly in the wind. Once, I saw a woman and two young children crucified at a railroad crossing. The children were, thankfully, dead; they did not move. But the woman—was she young, old? I could not tell—her hands were slowly clenching and unclenching. Luckily, we did not have to watch her long. But I did see a crudely handwritten sign:
Ba ByS Ki LLeR
I covered my eyes until the train started moving, again. Several of my fellow riders were weeping. All of us were silent. One shook his fist, but soon put it down into his lap, and looked away.
I suppose that the same folks—desperate, out-of-work, ticket-to-nowhere young folks, in particular, but a lot of elderly, uneducated, out-of-work people, too—who were taken in by King Ronald’s high-speed huckstering during the Last Presidential Campaign were similarly fooled by the MinuteMan TV and Web commercials. They flocked to the Recruitment Stations, were duly photographed and enlisted, and received black uniforms “modeled on the same style as those worn by our Dear King Ronald.”
What appeared strange at first, however, was the insistence that every recruit, male and female, be anesthetized for the sake of receiving a “special tattoo” in the right armpit—supposedly, it held their Official MM ID Number, visible only under ultraviolet light.
When the recruits awoke from the anesthesia the next morning, they were surprised to discover that, in addition to the tattoo—which was plainly visible under blacklight, as promised—a small patch of hair, just above the ear, was also shaved away, on both sides, but the recruiting team assured them that this was just to identify them instantly as Drumpfbeater Minute Men. They were told to keep those little bald spots clean and dry for a couple of days, until they had a chance to heal—but why should a simple, shaven area need to heal?
It did seem strange—though the large number of tattoo artists, formerly on the outskirts of society, were happy to be embraced by the King Ronald Royal Legion, the new name given to the Publican Party, which had successfully run Candidate Drumpf for the US Presidency….
Things were happening quickly; too quickly, it seemed. We slower, duller Liberal Progressives didn’t know what to do. When an anonymous team of assassins firebombed the Arizona home of Progressive Candidate Ernie Flanders, we were all shocked and dismayed. Ernie, his wife Sylvia, and their Schnauzer, Michael Harrington, died in the holocaust. The King Ronald Internet News Outlet, The People’s Drumpf, said “conclusively” the killers were from ISIS, a Middle Eastern Terrorist Group, though this was never proven—all US Security organizations had been disbanded, and renamed the Drumpf Inter-External Security Dept., with their main offices moved from Washington, DC, to Drumpf Tower in New York City, with younger son Baldric in charge. Ernie, Sylvia, and the dog’s ashes were scattered at sea before their thousands of supporters “could be informed,” making a Memorial Service impossible to be organized.
Worse, at the time of his death, Senator Flanders had yet to concede his loss in his race for the US Democratic Party Presidential Nomination to former State Department Secretary Flannery Swinton.
Shocked by her colleague’s death, fearful for her own life, unable to further articulate her own message clearly, Swinton groped her way through the remainder of the campaign, with most of Flanders’s diehards deciding to protest by not voting at all. The Democratic Party, which had hoped to provide a more open-minded alternative to Ronald Drumpf’s right-wing extremist views, split clean in half along Flanders-Swinton lines. The situation was also not helped when further emails were discovered—not a major issue, but enough of a ripple to sway the popular vote toward Drumpf, whose own unfitness for office was far more glaring. Indeed, a great many voters were eager to let the entire electoral business pass by, and were already looking post-election: a fatal error, as it turned out.
Election Day dawned cold and raw over much of the nation, finding Drumpf’s bullyboys surrounding the polls, openly threatening those Democratic Party members who carried signs on Swinton’s behalf, or desperately coming to vote for Swinton and buck the Drumpf onslaught. Despite well-known rules against electioneering near the polls, the Drumpf supporters were overheard whispering to them,
“Watch yourself, Commie. What happened to Old Ernie could happen to you. We know where you live.”
On the early morning of Election Day, while a series of 911 calls summoned the police to other parts of town, a mysterious series of bombings rocked various ethnic neighborhoods, killing hundreds of people of color. In Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Birmingham, Little Rock, and other metropolises nationwide, potential voters cowered in their homes, and the police, exhausted by running all over town to cover every possible threat, resorted to declaring martial law. The US National Guard was called out to protect poorer neighborhoods, while the Drumpfists provided car services and chartered buses for their supporters to get out the vote. People drove to the polls in style, and Drumpf became president by a landslide….
I can still remember Drumpf’s words at the Last Presidential Debate: “I will concede if, and when, I decide to.” Later, he repeated, again and again, “The entire system is rigged. You know it and I know it. No, I don’t have any proof. I just have a feeling. That’s all I need. Don’t baffle me with facts. I don’t need facts; I never have. I just go with my gut.”
At the time, these words sent chills up my spine: it was treasonous talk, certainly. A few pundits and spin doctors tried to explain it away, but it was, clearly, a Threat to the American Republic. Never before had such words ever been spoken in American History; never before….
The woman sitting next to me sneezed; I looked, and saw she was still, oddly, wearing an armband identifying her as a field correspondent for a major US News Organization; she even wore her earpiece, with a broken wire dangling… the Drumpfists must have seized her, mid-reporting, and thrown her aboard our Prison Train….
Which leads me back to this freezing railroad train, on its way to—where? I have heard rumors that “troublemakers” like me will be deported to “our countries of original origin”—Poland, of all places, though my parents and grandmother were born here. The Drumpf International Peaceful Resettlement Organization has set up—Polish factories? Work camps?—where “you people can prove your usefulness,” as an MM Colonel told us, just before a squad of his MM goons with attack dogs and whips herded us into the open boxcars. And then, the snow started falling.
Before they forced us onto the train, we had to empty our pockets, and I lost my life’s work, my pages on Kabbalah, when an MM forced me to remove my lined leather jacket. When I protested the cold, he grabbed a ragged fleece from a pile, and thrust it at me. I had barely enough time to take it, and here, surrounded by my colleagues—the group to my right is discussing String Theory; across the car, a rabbi and a Judaics Studies professor are comparing Gersonides’ and Maimonides’ definitions of God—
Is God here, then, in this open boxcar?
I put my hands into the jacket pockets—they were freezing. I found there a scrap of paper. Taking it out, I saw it was a bit of page from a lost siddur, a prayerbook. It read, “Shma Yisroel—Hear, O’ Israel”—the most fundamental, loving prayer I know—
Is God then, in this Place? He must be.
As the train hurtles on through the night, an Orphan of the Drumpf-Storm, taking us only God Knows Where, I listen to the murmuring around me: Science. Mathematics. Art History. Theology. I smile.
Humanity—American Civilization—may have lost for now, but we are not done yet.
Rumors abound. Who will rescue us? Israel? The United Nations? NATO?
I wish we had done something earlier to stop Drumpf…but it’s too late, now. Or is it?
Dawn is breaking. If I stand up, even briefly amid the rocking and swaying of this ancient train, I can see a mountain range. (If we escaped, how long could we survive, in the mountains?) Perhaps the day will warm up. Still, I feel warmer now, among my brothers and sister: we are rebels, all of us.
“I look to the mountains, whence cometh my help.
My help is the Lord, Who made the heavens and the earth….”
I sigh: a sigh of resignation, mixed with hope….
Sadly, it really didn’t take all that much to kill Democracy in America….