Six a.m.: The moon is down.

After a long night of fullness and confusion, it looks down on a strange landscape strewn with the remains of a once beautiful autumn. Imagine how confused the leaves must be, thinking they had been thought dead and forgotten. Resurrection. A Christmas miracle.

Now here it is, another day with merriment and madness sharing the dawn breeze.

After a week of punching out word after word and wiping them off, I confess to She.

“I am a failure, drained out, empty.”

“You are not a failure,” she says, as she wipes breakfast crumbs from my Christmas sweater. “You’ll think of something. You always do.”

I do?

I must keep writing if for no other reason than that She believes in me. “You always do.”

Write, but what about? There is plotting going on there in the dark chambers, and despair in the bottom ranks, where the machinery of the nation has slowed to a halt.

I could serve up a paltry platitude or two to cover my deadline, but what?

Then the old screenwriter in the back of my brain kicks in, and the ghosts of my past offer a suggestion.

Everyone, they say, has their own dreams and scripts they favor. Give them a movie with choices. So I will.

THE GOOD

Former Congressman Bruce Poliquin sits in the lobby of the airport, his dreams in tatters, what’s left of his hair damp with sweat. “Perhaps the Great Man will appoint me to the Supreme Court,” he muses.

Strangers from Minnesota and Missouri pass by failing to recognize him. The great salesman Willie Loman could tell him that that is the beginning of the end.

Congressman-elect Jared Golden is wandering down a hallway in Washington now, inhaling history.

Jared is busy now, gathering his staff and picking out furniture for his tiny office. Forty newcomers to the House, with arms full of books, Wi-Fi connections, family pictures and potted plants push by him. They fail to recognize him. That will change.

The man whom the Lakota Sioux would have named “He who wears long ties” sits alone in the Oval Office, surrounded by piles of wall sketches: Concrete? No. Steel planks? No. Marble or alabaster? Sounds nice.

The wind today is cold.

His Cabinet, those who have not resigned, huddle on the other side of the door. Both are afraid to come in, afraid to breathe, afraid of the news that comes pouring in.

“Ann Coulter said what?”

They hear their boss screaming and throwing empty Diet Coke cans against the wall. Mueller’s caravan of black SUVs is coming through the front gate. So soon? It was supposed to be February, wasn’t it?

Hitler thought D-Day would be late summer, but Eisenhower surprised him. Surprise is the gift of the winner.

THE BAD

Mar-a-Lago, a warm summer day. The dreaded shutdown is in its first full year. The economy is in full decline; still, the largely unemployed base, even in the bread lines, is happy.

So POTUS’ numbers have reached an all-time high. He is elated yet morose. He has whimsically moved the part in his hair to the other side.

Iraq and Afghanistan have joined to become one country. ISIS has sent delegates to Washington to join Russia in a joint negotiation.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Maine’s Bill Nemitz and Bill Green have all been arrested and jailed in the all-new Trump Guantánamo prison in Cuba. Ann Coulter is hired as new chief of staff.

THE UGLY (The very, really ugly)

Christmas Eve, 2023. All along the continental border following the dust storms and tumbleweeds, what Mexicans call the “río Bravo del Norte” is now simply “That water behind the fence.” Having run out of tents, railroad box cars have been ordered.

From the border crossing at Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and El Paso, Texas, internment camps for children have grown from 2,000 children to 7,500. More boxcars arrive.

Destination? Undisclosed.

Dawn is near. The moon is down. A group of young women with their newborn babies huddle in the cold. A young soldier from Colorado selects one and covers her with his army blanket. She smiles. Non iterum incipit. It begins again.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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