There are times when dreams and fantasies tell us more about ourselves than wakeful thinking, especially during times of stress. In the current political climate, dystopian fantasies often leap from our sleep. Here is a fictional rendering of mine.
A few months ago, I wrote an article that got some play. That led to an interview request from the local TV station. For reasons I still don’t understand, the interview went viral on YouTube. During the interview, I said that I have grown despondent about the fate of our country, now firmly under the thumb of the narcissistic, authoritarian child-man who poses as the leader of our once great nation. The more I talked, the more the interviewer egged me on and my despondency burst into rage. Months and months of feelings were released in a single moment; and the words that followed were forged in flame.
When I look back on that interview, I can see the fire. I can even see an eloquence that was unusual for me. I am a plain spoken man. The man on the screen looked like someone else, an orator. And, a month later, that’s who everyone expected once the curtain rose.
I feared the curtain rising but rise it did. There was nothing I could do about it. Andthere I was. Alone and frightened, looking out through the lights, straining to find a face that would rescue me from the humiliation I knew would come. There was no one. I placed my speech on the podium and tried to tell a funny story in order to lighten the mood and dampen the expectations. No one laughed. I tried another story. People only looked confused. This wasn’t what they had come for. My hands held tightly to the podium and my voice cracked. Had they no sympathy? I’m not a public speaker. I had spoken up , but just once. It was on TV, sheltered by the illusion of having a conversation with a single person who attended to my every word.
In despair, I was ready to give up, to face my failure and humiliation, to walk off the stage and fall into the arms of the first friendly looking person I met.
Then a woman in the rafters asked me what I thought of our leader today. “Not much,” I said. There was some tentative laughter, especially from those up close to the stage, as if they were looking for a sign about how to react to me. Was I being droll and understated? Was I kidding? Is that what I really believed?
Someone else in the rafters asked what I thought about his immigration policy and the oncoming brutality of the Homeland Security troops. My heart was pounding and I began to talk, god knows why, about my grandfather and the family that never made it to the American shores. The story went on for a bit, maybe too long. Then, at the first pause, a very young man called out: “He hates us, doesn’t he.”
“Yes he does,” I called out, my voice strong and resonant. “He hates every one of us because we are different. Our skin and our voices and the way we talk—we are different. And proud of it, by the way. He hates us because he is afraid of us. And he should be afraid of us.” The crowd was with me now.
All of a sudden, my words took on a deep, staccato rhythm. I wasn’t thinking. Words seemed to erupt from my chest and to take over my whole being. I couldn’t stop; nor did anyone want me to. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” they said. “We will fight.”
Then some men, dressed in black began to walk down the aisles and to approach from back stage. They were large men. And they wore the kind of masks you see in movies. There were no guns that I could see. Just the large men in black moving forward, ineluctably forward, until they grabbed me. They had known where to find me.