Drumpf 2: Chapter 9

Whenever something outlandish or atrocious makes the headlines, an intelligent person looks behind the smokescreen to find out what’s really happening.  There always seems to be a bit of nefarious behavior going on somewhere that the “powers that be” would rather not have noticed.  The days recently past have been no exception.

Like a scene out of a movie, a large number of people out of South America have formed what is being called a caravan, and are walking their way toward the southern border of the United States.  They are not “illegal immigrants” as they have been labeled by the conservative media, and will not become such until they attempt to cross the border.  Roald Drumpf has made the unsubstantiated suggestion that there are Arabic people hidden among the South American throng.  He has claimed that he will declare martial law along the border to prevent any and all from entering the United States.  Perhaps in preparation for this, he has sent a military contingent into the area, and he has said that they might shoot into the crowd if necessary.

Mid-term elections are only days away, and Roald Drumpf has been making noises designed to nullify the results of the vote, should the hoped for “blue wave” wash away the red party’s control of the legislature.  His “broken-record” claims of illegal voters has droned on since his own election, and he has yet to produce any proof of his claim.  Meanwhile, the red party has been flooding phones of their own registered members with calls and texts, and has even sent volunteers door to door, hand delivering election propaganda to members of their own party, a not-so-subtle way of saying “We know who you are, and we know how to find you.”

With the Supreme Court now under his influence, Drumpf no longer has to be concerned that the contents of his federal income tax returns will ever be made public.  The newest justice made it plain from the beginning that he would protect his benefactor from harm; after all, they share so many of the same attitudes and behavior patterns.  Both are misogynists, and they are both prolific liars.  One senator admitted to doubting the veracity of statements made during the confirmation hearings, but decided to vote in his favor despite this.  It’s not whether we will regret his decision (the vote was 49-51), but how soon, and for how many years to come.

What message is being sent here?  Party loyalty is more important than doing what’s right?  “Good Old Boys” look out for each other.  One man recently said it all.  When arrested for groping a woman while riding on public transportation, he allegedly said, “The President says it’s okay to touch women on their private parts”; it’s known as the Drumpf defense.

The past few days have been marked by the delivery of packages containing pipe bombs to people and organizations known to be on Drumpf’s enemies list.  Fear spread across the nation.  Roald Drumpf responded by chastising the media for what he called their inaccurate and irresponsible reporting of the news.  A suspect was quickly found and arrested (At first reported to be a registered member of the blue party, it was later reported that he had little to no interest in politics before Drumpf came along.), but not before Drumpf had declared it an attempt to distract voters from the mid-term elections.  He also claimed that, should the red party lose seats during the election, it would be the fault of that distraction.  With his “illegal voters” ploy already in play, his next action will be to negate the results of the vote.  Should the red party win seats, of course, the nation will hear nothing more of it.

A major “rap artist” has become a representative of his sub-culture within Drumpf’s inner circle.  Is he, as Roald Drumpf claims, an old friend, or has be become a “token” as others claim, used for his potential influence at the polls?  Of those who don’t admire him, the vote is divided between anger and ridicule.  One news source recently reported that he had decided he was being used for things in which he did not believe, and has attempted to withdraw.

The country was recently stunned by a massacre inside a synagogue.  Drumpf’s response to this tragedy was to say it wouldn’t have ended so badly if those inside had been armed.  The next day, he spoke at yet another political rally.  Again, his only concern seemed to be that the media would use the shootings against him in the political arena.

The United States representative to the United Nations recently walked away from their post.  Roald Drumpf “could find no one more qualified” to take over the position than his own daughter.

In yet another attack waged in Drumpf’s war in illegal immigration, he has decided to issue a Presidential declaration revoking the citizenship of those people who were born in the United States to parents living here illegally.  While there are doubts this would be legal, there are equal doubts that the courts would do anything to stop him.

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“When is a door not a door?” Grace thought as she gazed hopelessly at the open portal to her home.  It was only slightly ajar (hence the joke), as though some attempt had been made to close it during the intruder’s rapid exodus.  She had been certain that Reginald had locked the door, but she wondered now if he hadn’t been just going through the motions.  So much of their lives had been by rote in the time since their return, she no longer knew what she could trust.

Reginald seemed to be upset.  Before Grace could say anything, he had pulled open the door and gone inside, rushing from room to room.  Grace moved more slowly, taking in the mess that had been left behind.  Things were knocked over and pushed aside in an obvious search for… something.  She was just pulling her cell phone out to call the authorities when she heard Reginald’s angry roar.  Still holding her phone, she hurried to his side.  He was in his den, fists clenched in rage and shaking with anger.  His gun safe had been knocked over and was lying on its back at his feet.  It had not opened, but had been severely damaged by an attempt to make that happen.  Grace couldn’t imagine any one person doing that amount of damage to anything so sturdy, and Reginald’s tools being scattered about the room seemed to corroborate her theory.

His desk drawers had been pulled open and the contents scattered, but nothing obvious was missing.  The mess in this room echoes that in the other rooms.  Grace assured Reginald that their homeowners insurance would replace his gun safe.  His big screen television was leaning against the wall upon which it had been hanging, but it had been left behind in the intruder’s hasty exit.

Being careful not to disturb anything, Grace went to check out the condition of the remainder of her home.  She worried that her security measures had been discovered, but she would have to wait for a more private time to see if they had been moved.

In the bedroom, she found her jewelry box tossed on the bed and its costume contents scattered about.  Her few “good pieces” had recently been moved to another location, and a quick check proved that they were still in place.  “From now on,” Grace said to herself, “I’ll have to take them with me when I leave the house.”  She had taken her cash savings  with her, although she knew the possibility of being robbed on the street was probably just as great, if not more so, as the occurrence of a home invasion.  She tossed her costume jewelry back in its box and rejoined Reginald in the living room.  He was talking on the telephone; Grace presumed he had called the police.  “No,” she heard him roar into the phone, “I don’t thing there is anything missing, but they destroyed my home.”  He listened for just a moment more before slamming down the hand set.  “They’ll come by later to take a report,” he grumbled.  “Worthless SOBs.”  He began to straighten up the room, righting what had been knocked over and picking up what had fallen to the floor.  Grace wondered at the wisdom of altering the crime scene, but as nothing had been taken, it seemed unlikely that the police would do more than take their statement, then grumble later about the useless paperwork it had caused.

Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt when she heard Reginald ask, “Grace, where’s your computer?”  She looked up to see him standing over the open drawer of a small table where she usually stored her laptop when she wasn’t using it.  Grace had developed the habit of logging out and putting it out of sight; no point in tempting Reginald by leaving it out in the open.

With the loss of her computer, she no longer had the ability to monitor her security system; a moment of apprehension told her that Reginald was aware of that.  While quite adequate for communications purposes, her cell phone was not of the “smart” variety.  She must have looked concerned, because Reginald was quick to assure her, “the insurance company will buy you a new one.”  Grace hung her head in defeat, she would just have to be patient and hope for the best.

The police finally arrived and took down a report of the damage and loss, but they hadn’t been encouraging.  “We almost never recover stolen items,” the officer said, “You should just write it off and let your homeowners insurance deal with it.”  Was that a smirk on his face, Grace wondered, as she watched him drive away.

After he had gone, Grace and Reginald picked up the remainder of the mess, then righted the gun safe and hung the television back on the wall.  Things were as visually back to normal as they could make them.

Grace didn’t feel much like cooking, so their quiet evening meal was eaten at a nearby diner.  This time Grace made certain that all the doors and windows were locked, and that the outside security was functioning.  They returned home immediately after their meal, and each went quickly to their chosen place for slumber.

After she was sure Reginald was asleep, Grace went to check on her “bugs”.  They seemed undisturbed, but without her computer, Grace had no way to know what they had “seen”.  “Worse,” Grace thought, “Whoever took it could know all that had happened here since it was taken.”  She decided to disable the system to prevent them from learning even more.

Early the next morning, Grace received a very disturbing phone call from the husband of her “resistance” friend.  “Have you heard from my wife lately?” he asked.  “She’s been acting kind of strange over the past few days.  Last night she just left without a word, and she hasn’t been home since.”  Grace wasn’t sure how much he knew about her “special activities”, so she told him it had been several days since they had spoken.  “Are you two okay?” she asked timidly.  She was assured that they were fine, “Although I have asked her to be extra careful.  You, too!  Several of her friends have been attacked lately.  She may have gone to check on one of them, I just don’t know.”  Grace assured him that she would be careful, and that she would let him know if she discovered anything.

That day and the next were spent in a state of limbo.  The local news had nothing to say, and none of their mutual friends had heard anything.  The only good news was that the “were-man” had also dropped out of sight.  Grace crossed her fingers that he didn’t have her friend.

On the morning of the fourth day, the headlines read, “WERE-MAN FOUND DEAD!”

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Drumpf 2: Chapter 8

They finally accomplished their goal; the government of the United States of America as it was conceived and implemented by the founding fathers is no longer a functional reality.  It was designed to have three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial, each of which were connected by a system of checks and balances whose purpose was to keep any one branch from becoming more powerful than the others.  Now that the red party controls both the executive and legislative branches, this no longer applies.  Together, the executive and legislative branches have already confirmed two new justices to the Supreme Court, and have plans to install more in 2020 if they are still in control.  While nominees to the court are supposed to be politically neutral, there is bound to be a certain loyalty to the party that ushered them onto the bench.  With all three branches working together, there is nothing they can’t accomplish, including the complete destruction of this nation as we have known it.

So far this session, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a case which had the potential to restore voting rights of thousands of Native Americans.  Their could certainly be a political motivation to this decision, but maybe the issue just isn’t important enough in their estimation to be heard.  The newest justice has already made clear his desire to disembowel an earlier court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which allows for safe and legal abortions.  What else might this court have in mind that would deny or remove the rights of others?

If the mid-term elections alter the balance of power in the legislative branch of the government, things may get a chance to change for the better.  If not, abandon all hope, at least for the duration of Drumpf’s Reign of Terror.

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No sooner had Grace become determined to make her exit than Reginald decided he needed to be her constant companion.  “With all the attacks that have happened lately,” he had said, “you need someone around to keep you safe.”  Grace wondered if he was aware how ironic she knew that comment to be; while there was no real proof of his involvement in these attacks, she no longer had any faith or trust in him.

The only time in which Grace could get anything accomplished was while Reginald was asleep.  He had even been leaving the door to his den open while watching the news.  What Grace had been hearing on DNN made her upset and angry.  Drumpf  and his minions bragging about their successes while at the same time threatening and demeaning anyone who opposed them was almost more than she could bear.  It was no secret the degree to which Drumpf would go to see his enemies (real or imagined) taken down.  She held her tongue when Reginald was around, but she was seething inside.  It made her more determined than ever to get away.

Grace wondered where she could go that might be safe.  She had no friends or family to whom she could turn for help, nor would she want to subject them the potential danger or harm this might bring upon them.  Politics had closed international borders both north and south.  She thought abut the places to the west; parts of the country had been majestic before being destroyed  by the handful of bombs that had fallen that early morning.  The news had moved on, and no one had ever taken credit or been blamed for the act that had changed the topography of the nation.  She thought about the cities and towns they had visited, and knew that her new home would not be found there.

She thought for a moment about the Native Americans “insurrection” to which they had been exposed during their journey.  It had been brought to an end by Drumpf’s National Guard, and all those involved had lost their right to vote; the new Supreme Court had made sure those rights would never be restored.

“Maybe Europe’s an option,” Grace thought.  “A simple life in a small town or village…”, then she sighed.  A simple life, yes, but not in Europe.  She took that dream off her bucket list and moved on.

Perhaps she could “lay low” in a city somewhere, Grace pondered.  It would be easy to be anonymous among so many strangers.  There would be shelters and “soup kitchens” to help her until she could get on her feet.

Whatever else he had been, Reginald had always provided a reasonably comfortable life for the two of them.  Grace had enjoyed the luxury of being able to help the poor and hungry who had come to her door.  Now, she realized, she would be one of them.

The thought of homelessness brought with it a mental image of an old lady wearing a stocking cap and pushing a shopping cart through the streets.  “That’s not me,” Grace whispered to herself, “Please don’t let that be me.”  Most of the street people she knew kept their few possessions in a knapsack and carried them wherever they went.

Her journey with Reginald had taught her a little about what she would need to survive “out there”, but a lot more about what to leave behind.  In the dark silence that was her night, Grace began to gather what would be necessary for the next part of her life.

Reginald had always been careful with his finances, but lately he had become downright tight-fisted.  He had begun to go with Grace on her shopping trips, and to demand that she account for every dollar spent.  Fortunately, she had managed to put away a few dollars before he became so controlling.  She had some jewelry she could pawn without it being missed, and a few items she could sell “on line” if there was time before her “departure”.  Altogether, Grace figured she could put together enough cash to get her to her destination, wherever that might be.

It had been just over a week since the intended intrusion when Reginald suggested they should get out of the house for a while; maybe enjoy a picnic in a nearby park.  Despite the lack of recent calls, Grace was immediately suspicious, and attempted to plead a headache.  Reginald would hear nothing of it.  “The fresh air will do you good,” he said.  Realizing she was being given no choice, Grace packed a quick lunch (and a few other things) in a large insulated tote bag.  Along with the food, she had packed a sharp knife- to cut the sandwiches, she explained.

Despite her doubt, Grace had to admit it was a beautiful day to be outside.  The sky was clear, and there was just a hint of chill to the air.  She had just begun to relax when she spotted what she thought were birds flitting among some nearby tree branches.  “Not flitting,” she thought, “hovering, and not birds.”  Upon closer examination, she could tell that she was watching drones hiding among the trees.  Were they also watching her, she wondered.

Grace stood up quickly, “We have to go home,” she said.  Reginald seemed surprised, but gathered the remains of their meal and joined her in walking back toward their street.  As she suspected, the drones followed at a distance.

Reginald and Grace arrived home to find their front door standing open, as if someone had made a hasty exit.  In the bright light of day, someone had taken advantage of their absence and broken into their house.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 7

FYI:  Drumpf’s wall is not an original idea, but has been copied directly from the wall built by the Russians after World War II.  Running the length of the border dividing East and West Germany, it is studded with guard towers.  It’s soul purpose was to prevent people from crossing the border between nations.

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With mid-term elections only weeks away, the nation was startled by the a report released by a major news media, called an op-ed. It contained a statement from an inside source which revealed that there were handlers within the White House whose task it was to prevent Roald Drumpf from implementing the most dangerous of his ideas.  The source was anonymous, and the handlers unnamed.  There was wide spread speculation as to who these might be, but while many were quick in their denial, no conclusion has been reached.  The evidence offered could be enough to bring the twenty-fifth amendment into play; perhaps those in real power are waiting for the results of November’s vote to take action.  A change in power could bring with it the possibility of impeachment, taking the credit/blame for Drumpf’s removal from office away from the Red party.  The twenty-fifth amendment allows the members of the Presidential cabinet to “temporarily” remove a president from office should he be deemed unable, or unfit, to perform his duties.  This could be seen as a mutiny by Drumpf’s remaining supporters; either way the standing Vice President would take his place in the Oval Office.

The battle to confirm Roald Drumpf’s choice for Supreme Court justice continues.  Drumps insists that he be pushed through in advance of the mid-term elections.  A change of political balance, should it occur, could potentially put an end to Drumpf’s ambition of dominating the Court, and to his dream of immunity from prosecution.

The greatest obstacle to the nominee’s confirmation has not been his judicial opinions, which are highly conservative, nor the plethora of lies he has told about his drinking habits, but an accusation of sexual misconduct allegedly perpetrated while he was in high school.  “Boys will be boys,” seems to be a common attitude on the matter, the same attitude which prevailed when Drumpf faced similar accusations during his run for office.   Sexual aggression is an indication of a character flaw which has found reflection in his attitudes about women’s rights.  The issue has become less about whether the crimes were committed, and more about whether anyone cares.   How, or even whether, he is judged is less important than the potential consequences of allowing him the power to make those judgments which could affect the future of our nation.  This is not a chance we should be willing to take.

In a surprise move, Roald Drumpf has ordered an FBI report on his nominee.  One may imagine he is hoping (or has suggested) that it reflect well on his choice. Either way, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Drumpf will get his way in the manner.   It’s a “Good Old Boys” confrontation, and if they win the battle, the rest of us lose.

Drumpf’s trade war with China has begun to have an adverse effect on the American consumer; even the dairy industry has been effected.  New trade agreements are being written every day which will change the face of our economy for the worse.  Even as his supporters chant about a strong economy, rising prices are cancelling out any advances in jobs or pay.  Economists agree that current economic advances are temporary.

Roald Drumpf recently gave a speech in front of the United Nations.  He spoke of the increase in our military budget, and in his usual superlative terms declared that our military would soon be the strongest and best it has ever been.  Misusing the intent of the Monroe Doctrine, he declared that the United States would have the ability to “go it alone” without its allies.  Those delegates in attendance laughed openly.

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In the days since her new security measures had been put in place, Grace has become not less nervous, but more.  Reginald had smirked at her when she had brought home the motion-sensor lights for the outside of the house.  He had helped her to install them, but not without a few snide remarks.  “Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?” he had muttered in a sing-song manner as he climbed the ladder to put them up.  He had chided her about wasting the money on their purchase, and made it plain that he was only humoring her “paranoid fantasies” by doing as she asked.

Reginald had been going about his usual daily routine, spending much of his time alone in his den.  The voice activated recorder Grace had hidden there had yielded several cryptic phone calls, both in and out, including one in which Reginald answered the ring, listened for a moment, and then responded, “ten-four”.  The sarcastic manner in which this had been said was not lost on Grace, nor was the decisive click with which he had hung up the phone.

The voice on the other end of these calls always seemed to be the same one, but no names were ever mentioned, and it was not a voice Grace recognized.  It was muffled, as though to disguise it, but the words were clipped and precise in their diction.  Within an hour of each call, Reginald had made an excuse to leave the house.  Grace wondered what he had gotten himself into, and why.

He was rarely gone long, but on the night in which he had answered in ten-code, his absence lasted  until well after nightfall.  Grace had prepared their evening meal at the usual hour, but after waiting some time for his return, she had eaten alone.  “What,” she had wondered to herself, “is keeping him so long?”

Grace was putting the remainder of the meal into containers when her trip-wire alarm sounded.  At the same time, her security lights flashed bright for a split second before her power went out, leaving her in the dark.  A terrified Grace groped for her handbag in its usual place and retrieved her pistol.  Safety off, she waited in the darkness with the sounds of someone trying to break into her house ringing loudly in the otherwise silent night.  A silhouette, almost invisible in the pale moonlight, appeared in a window for just a moment, and then was gone from sight once again.  Grace couldn’t be sure it was the person she had seen before; he looked much the same, but (perhaps) the odd gait appeared to be a bit less pronounced than before.

The power had still not been restored by the time Reginald returned.  “Grace,” he called out as he unlocked and then opened the front door, “are you okay?”  After finding her, frightened but unharmed, he had taken a flashlight out to find that the main breaker had been thrown.  “It must have been a power surge,” he insisted as he flipped it back into position, but none of the other lights in the street had gone dark.  As the lights came back on, Grace had time to wonder whether it was normal that the main power switch was the only one which had been affected.

Back inside, the night continued in its usual pattern.  Reginald ate his reheated meal in silence.  He did not ask Grace about her experiences in the dark, not did Grace offer the information.  He had also given no explanation of where he had been for so long, or what he had been doing.

The next morning’s local news opened with the story of yet another attack.  The victim had survived by wrestling the weapon (a sharpened gardening tool) from her attacker’s grip, but she had been wounded in the attack.  The perpetrator had escaped into the darkness.  When they showed the victim’s photo, Grace’s stomach began to churn; the face was familiar.  “It’s only a matter of time before they come for me again,” she thought.  It was at that moment that Grace decided to formulate a plan for her escape.

 

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 6

To paraphrase a national news source, Roald Drumpf once again had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad,” week.  The most publicized had been the news surrounding the funeral of a well-liked senator.  Drumpf was told (in no uncertain terms) to stay away.  He spent the day of the services on the golf course, but his daughter and her husband were in attendance.  Their presence was not well received by those active on her father’s favorite social media, and it didn’t stop several speakers there (including the senator’s daughter) from taking digs at Drumpf and his favorite political meme, “Make America Great.”  His comment was, “Mission Accomplished.  America is great again.”  Hers was, “America was always great!”

A big deal was made by Drumpf’s supporters when he donated his  40K salary (a drop in the proverbial bucket to a man of his great wealth) to charity (tax deduction, anyone?), but less was said when he rescinded the minor 2.1 percent raise which had been promised to civilian government employees.

Drumpf is currently battling  with his Attorney General, who he still blames for recusing himself from involvement in the Russian investigation.  The current bone-of-contention involves the AG’s continued refusal to allow the justice department to be influenced by a political agenda, and this time it may cost him his position.

The confirmation hearings for Drumpf’s nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice began this week.  The opening was marred (or enhanced) by protestors demanding that the hearings be delayed.  Knowing that the results of the mid-term elections might change the balance of power in Congress, and thus lower their chances of pushing their candidate through, the questions continued.

Drumpf’s nominee is known to be ultra-conservative, and to be a real threat to our civil rights.  He has made no secret of his opposition to Roe Vs. Wade, and has even stated that birth control is a sort of preemptive abortion.  The greatest threat he holds for the nation is his fervent belief that a sitting president cannot be indicted for federal crimes.

In a surprise move the White House recently released 42,000 documents pertaining to the nominee’s legal history, leaving no time to adequately read and examine them.  A hundred thousand pages are still being held back; what are they hiding?

The more that is discovered concerning the probe into the Russian interference in the election, and Drumpf’s part in it, the closer we come to the possibility of impeachment.  Roald Drumpf, of course, insists that will never happen.  “How can they impeach me,” he insists, “when I’m doing a good job?  They have no reason to impeach me while I’m doing such a great job.” He insists that his supporters will revolt if he is impeached, and at least one right wing faction has threatened (no, promised) bloody revolution.

With mid-term elections looming, Drumpf has been spending as much time “stumping” for his parties candidates as he has doing his job.  (Perhaps we should be grateful for that.)  He claims that, should the blue party gain control of the Congress, violence would occur.  He clarified by saying that they would quickly (and violently) take away all that he had accomplished since taking office.  Hmm… isn’t that what he’s been doing to the administration that came before him?


 

 

“Calm down, Grace,” she told herself as she pulled out of the parking lot.  “You can’t let Reginald know what you’ve found out or he’ll know what you’ve been up to.”  She decided to stop at a local diner to get a bite to eat, and to let her nerves settle before returning home.  Reginald wouldn’t be expecting her for a while, and she needed some time to figure out her next move.

Iced tea and an egg salad sandwich were just the ticket.  Grace had chosen a booth near the back where she could watch without being noticed.  She had parked her car in the rear of the building where it wouldn’t be seen; no point in drawing unnecessary attention, she thought.  As usual, she was careful to lock it before walking away.

She thought about the conversation she had just shared with her friend from the resistance.  She had, she said, tried to call after the first murder because she recognized Grace’s address.  Reginald had taken the call, and assured her that all was well.  When the killings continued, she’d tried to call back to tell Grace to be cautious.  Once again Reginald had answered the phone, and this time he had angrily told her to stay away.  “We can take care of ourselves,” he had said, “and if it’s ‘your kind’ he’s after, I want nothing to do with you!”

Grace wondered why he hadn’t told her about the calls, or about what he knew.  Any time she had tried to discuss the situation, he had become angry and told her to stay out of it.  He got angry a lot lately, she thought.  Grace decided that, while she couldn’t talk to Reginald, she needed a way to keep herself safe.  If she couldn’t trust him to be honest with her, she certainly couldn’t trust him with her security.  She stifled a giggle, suddenly remembering  the “Home Alone” movie franchise.  “A bit far fetched,” she thought, “but I’ll come up with something.”

She paid for her lunch with cash, leaving just enough tip that she wouldn’t be remembered.  When she got to her car, there was a torn piece of paper stuck under her windshield wiper blade.  In block letters, it read, “BACK OFF”.  A newly terrified Grace checked her back seat, floorboards, and even inside her trunk, before unlocking her car and getting in; she relocked her doors before beginning her drive home.

When she arrived there, it was to find Reginald at the kitchen table enjoying a plate of reheated leftovers.  Looking up, he said, “You should make this more often, it’s pretty good.”  Grace didn’t answer, and he didn’t seem to notice that she was upset.

“You’ll ruin your supper,” she said as she walked past him to put her handbag in its usual place.  Before putting it away, though, she retrieved the .380 caliber pistol she had carried on the road, making sure it was loaded and the safety on, then tucked it neatly inside.  She felt a little better already.

Three days went by without incident.  As a precaution, Grace had stretched noise making trip wires between the bushes outside.  She had considered scattering shards of glass, but her concern for possible stray animals caused her to reconsider.  Reginald was annoyed by her insistence that they hang sleigh bells, salvaged from the Christmas decorations in their attic, on their doors at night.  In finally giving into her desire to do that, he made it clear that he was just humoring her.  “Really, Grace,” he had said, “You have got to stop being so paranoid.”

“Even paranoids have real enemies,” she mumbled under her breath.  She and Reginald had always had their differences, but she’s never before had reason to distrust him; she didn’t like it!  She also didn’t understand it.  Reginald was not the were-man, of that she was certain, so what was his part in all of this, if any?

On the evening of the fourth day, and just as they were finishing yet another silent meal, the phone rang.  Before Grace could respond, Reginald pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet.  “I’ll get it,” he said, and with that he hurried to answer the phone.

Grace cleared the table, then walked over to listen in the doorway.  Reginald was speaking softly with his hand covering the phone, so she couldn’t hear a thing.  She’s slipped back into the kitchen before he could see her and began her usual clean-up.  What was there about this conversation that he didn’t want her to hear, she wondered.  She made up her mind to find a way to figure out who he was talking to, and what they had to say to each other.

The next morning, Grace awoke to find that Reginald had already gone.  It was nearly noon before his return.  He immediately went into his den and shut himself inside.  Soon, Grace could hear the sounds of DNN filtering through the door.

She had spent her morning on the phone with her friend from the resistance, and she had gained some valuable advice on what she needed to do next.  There was a good electronic supply store in town, and she planned to “bug” her own house.  It made her feel foolish, but she wasn’t taking any more chances.

Before the car engine had a chance to cool, she was behind the wheel and on her way.  The woman at the electronics store had been most helpful.  “You’d be surprised how much home security equipment we’ve sold since these killings started,” she said.

Grace bought a motion-activated system for outside; she’d get Reginald to help her put it up when she got home.  When she asked about the “kind of stuff private-eyes use, you know, to listen in on private conversations”.  The clerk hardly blinked, “We sell a lot of those, too.” she said.

With her purchases secured, Grace headed for home.  That night, after Reginald had gone to sleep, she planned to put her “bugs” in place.  The mics were so small, and the recorder easily hidden, she figured he would never find them.  Grace didn’t know what she was doing, and she wasn’t sure she could handle what she might discover, but the one thing she couldn’t do was stand by and do nothing.

 

Drumf 2: Chapter 5

Let us offer a moment of silent respect upon the death of a good man, one who spent his life serving this country, both in the Navy and in the Senate.  Considered a maverick among his peers, he was known for putting the good of this nation above party politics.

Flags are flying at half-mast across the nation’s capitol in his honor, but at the White House this lasted less than forty eight hours.  Public uproar caused 45 to relent, and to declare that the flag would be returned to half-mast until after the service, one at which he had been told he was not welcome.  The White House plans to send representatives to the service in his place.  Two former Presidents, one from each political party, have been asked to give the eulogies there.


 

Public opinion, expressed with adequate vehemence, can make a difference.  Roald Drumpf will not be getting his military parade, at least not this year.  If there is any justice, it will never happen.  If there is any real justice, he won’t be in office to watch it.

With his allies walking away, and his “fixers” becoming foes, it begins to look as if the end result will resemble the Watergate scandal.  The investigation into the Russian interference into the election that brought Drumpf (and his handlers) into power is beginning to produce some exciting results.  There have been many indictments; one of the defendants, Drumpf’s campaign manager, has been found guilty of eight counts of breaking election finance laws “at the direction of and in coordination with” Drumpf,  and is now facing many years in prison.  A second, Drumpf’s former personal attorney, has confessed to his part in paying two women to remain silent about their relationships with Drumpf, who stated that paying “hush money” is not illegal, but that the defendant’s “flipping”, his cooperation and confession, should be.  It has been said that if Drumpf were not President, he would already have been indicted along with the rest of them.

A former employee, who also worked for a time in the Drumpf White House, has written a “tell all” book in which she accuses Drumpf of being a racist.  For proof, she offers recordings of conversations with him in which the N-word was used by him.  Unable to deny the content, Drumpf blustered that the recordings were made illegally, without his knowledge or consent, and so aren’t evidence.  Perhaps not in a court of law, but the court of public opinion may be a different matter.  Some folk believe everything she has written or said.  Others blame her for having “sold out” by having worked for him in the first place.  Their claim is that, in so doing, she betrayed her own race.  Doesn’t that seem to validate that what she has to say is true?  Now that her book is published, she stands ready to testify at his impeachment trial, should it occur.  Is it wrong to hope that the road to impeachment is now within sight?

In the midst of all this, the First Lady has announced an intended visit to Africa, a visit she will be making without the President.  Drumpf immediately initiated a probe into the region she intends to visit which made false claims about “improper” activities there.  These claims were immediately rebutted.

An amusing observation has been that the First Lady has been “trolling” the President, watching news media of which he disapproves, and sending subliminal messages by way of her clothing choices.  Twice, she has worn a blouse sporting a detail known as a “pussy bow”.  At his State of the Union address, she was seen wearing a white pant suit reminiscent of his political opponent, and who can forget the infamous jacket worn when visiting the imprisoned children at the southern border.  “I really don’t care. Do U?”  To what does that refer? Being a mother seems to be important to her, so it is doubtful it refers to the children, or even the situation (both she and her parents are immigrants).  Drumpf claimed it referred to the press, who were bound to see it.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she was voicing her opinion of him; or maybe it was just an unfortunate choice of wardrobe.



 

A restless night lie ahead for Grace, who was jolted awake by every small noise coming out of the dark.  Early in the evening, she had moved her attempts at slumber into the living room.  She and Reginald had begun to share a bed again during their journey, and that practice had continued since their return home.  It seemed considerate, given the circumstance, to let him rest, but she had to admit to herself that it felt natural to once again sleep alone.  When that sleep finally came in the predawn hours, it was deep and free from dreams.

When she awakened, it was to the sound of steady rainfall against her window.  It took her a moment to realize that the rain would have erased any evidence of last evening’s attempted invasion.  Reginald hadn’t believed her, and now the police wouldn’t either.

The day began like any other day.  Rain continued to come down throughout the morning.  They shared breakfast, then Reginald retired to his den.  After cleaning up, Grace settled onto the living room sofa with a good book.  Being tired, she soon rested her book against her chest and drifted back off to sleep.  She woke up later to see Reginald standing over her.  She sat up quickly, stifling a gasp.  “He attacked another one,” he said.  “This time she got away.”

Grace wanted, needed, to talk with the survivor, but she knew Reginald would not approve.  “Do you know who she was?” she asked him in a nonchalant way.  The name he gave her was unfamiliar, but then he mentioned that she was in the local hospital.  Grace knew what she had to do, but she had no intention of telling Reginald.

She waited a moment, then glanced at her watch.  “Look at the time,” she said, “I’m going to be late for my lunch date.”  When he asked “who with”, she named a woman she knew Reginald disliked, then asked, “Did you want to come with me?”  As she had hoped, he refused her “invitation”.  Before he could question her further, or change his mind, she grabbed her purse and made a quick getaway.

As she drove toward the hospital, she wondered what she might say.  It occurred to her that if the police were there, they might not let her in.  It was a chance she had to take.

Minutes later she was pulling into the parking lot of the hospital.  As she had feared, there were patrol cars in the spaces nearest to the door.  “That’s normal,” she told herself, “It doesn’t mean they’re guarding the were-man’s victim,” but the thought didn’t do much to calm her nerves.

After finding a parking spot, Grace took a good look around before walking toward the entrance.   She had seen no one on the lot, and she felt foolish for being so nervous.  No one paid any attention when she walked through the door, and no one seemed to notice as she made her way toward the intensive care unit.  As she had feared, there was a police guard outside the double door leading to the unit, so she slipped into a nearby waiting room to think.

To her great surprise, sitting there was her friend from the underground resistance.  “We meet again,” she said softly, smiling at Grace, who smiled back while taking her seat.  “What are you doing here?  No, wait…let me guess; you heard about the attack and had to see for yourself.”

Grace nodded, then asked, “Did you know her?”  Her friend flinched, “It’s DO dear, and yes.  She’s one of us.”

“Us”, Grace didn’t have to ask what that meant.  “Were any of the others…us?”  Her friend nodded, “Every one,” she said, “except your neighbor.  We thought maybe you were the intended target that night, but your husband…”

“My husband?!”, Grace interjected, “What’s he got to do with this?”  “Nothing,” she was assured, “He just told…ugh, asked… us not to bother you with our worries.   Remember, this was before all the other murders.”

Grace nodded her head.  She had found the answers to her questions, but those answers had come with questions of their own.  When her friend was called back to visit the patient in the ICU, Grace made her excuses and made her way home.  She had some questions for Reginald, and she was afraid she wouldn’t like the answers.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 4

During his much extended life span, Roald Drumpf has (metaphorically speaking) put his dirty thumb into a number of pies.  One of the more fruitful had been television production; he has always been good at creating drama.  For several years, he was the producer of a major beauty pageant, for which he was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

During the production of those pageants, Drumpf was known to stride through the dressing rooms unannounced. Women in all stages of attire were subject to his gaze.  This is just one example of his total disrespect for women.

In the months since his election, Drumpf’s star has twice been destroyed, and a photo has gone viral showing it being used as a urinal.  The cost of repeatedly replacing it is an issue, but Drumpf’s mistreatment of females, including his battle against their health and reproductive choices, is a larger one.  For the first time in the forty years of the walk’s existence, the local government has successfully voted not to replace the twice shattered star.  The Los Angeles city council has the final vote on the matter, and each time before when a petition to remove a star arose, their vote was in favor of history, not conscience.  The Bill Cosby star is a prime example of this.  Since Drumpf’s star was last destroyed, an anonymous street artist has peppered the walk with “false” stars in protest.

As the time approaches to establish a national budget, Drumpf has once again threatened to shut down the government if he is not given more money to continue building his wall.  The idea is a travesty and a farce.  There are legal ways to enter this country, but Drumpf’s policies have made them all but impossible to access.  Meanwhile, The First Lady’s parents (who have been living here as permanent residents for at least five years) were just given full citizenship.  This was done by taking advantage of a program, vehemently opposed by Drumpf, which allowed their green card to be sponsored by a family member; in this case the First Lady herself.  Is this Drumpf’s notion of value based emigration?

Drumpf’s fifty million dollar military parade is set to happen on Veteran’s Day.  He claims it will focus on the contributions made by veterans throughout history, but tanks rolling through the streets of the nation’s capitol can only by seen as an aggrandizement of his own power.  Make no mistake about it, Roald Drumpf cares more about what he wants than the good of the nation.  The money being spent here could be much better spent feeding and housing those veterans he claims to be honoring with this parade.

Roald Drumpf has called for the creating of a new branch of the military, the United States Space Force.  Its primary directive would be to protect the country from attacks on our communications systems, primarily those satellites orbiting the planet.  (Maybe he wants to protect our spy satellites from their satellites.)  There are mixed opinions about the usefulness of this program.  It would cost eight billion dollars and involve thirty thousand people to create this new layer of the military.  The United States Air Force already has the necessary bureaucracy in place; this branch once included a Space Command which was shut down because it could not properly accomplish what it was tasked to do.  That its mission would be an important one is without doubt, but  what proof have we that Drumpf’s Space Force would do any better?

What Roald Drumpf calls a “witch hunt” continues, with the special council gathering evidence of collusion with the Russian government interference in the latest presidential election.  That Drumpf Jr. met with the Russians is without doubt.  The question is now when, not whether, Drumpf Sr. knew about the meeting.  The current party line is that the meeting happened, that it was solely to gather information against a political opponent, but that such collusion was not against the law,  Drumpf continues to deny  knowledge of that meeting, although his former attorney testified that Drumpf knew about it in advance.

The House of Representatives, in an effort to bringing the Russian investigation to an end, has made an effort to impeach the Deputy Attorney General in charge of overseeing the special council.  Their reasoning is that he failed to disclose evidence found to the Congress.  Even if that evidence leads to an indictment of Drumpf, it may not make much difference.  If his choice for a new Supreme Court justice is approved (despite protests, the date for the vote has been set for Sept. 4, months ahead of the mid-term elections), that justice would write the opinion, sure to be agreed upon by the new ultra-conservative court, that a standing President is not subject to indictment. (Does that include impeachment?).  If all else fails, Drumpf will just pardon himself.


 

Grace bolted upright out of a deep sleep.  She had been dreaming of him, the were-man, and in her dream she knew who he was.  He had looked right at her, and then he had whispered, “You’re next.”

For a few minutes, she sat there shivering.  Was there something about him which had seemed familiar?  Had he looked in her direction?  If he had seen her, might he have known who she was?  “Don’t be foolish,” she told herself, but she was frightened by the idea that he might come for her.  She eventually eased back onto her pillows, but it would be some time before she was able to drift back to sleep.

The latest murder had been number six, and thus far there had been no discernible pattern to the choice of victims.  Grace would almost have said that the randomness was intentional.  “That makes no sense,” she thought to herself, “It’s like a plot line out of one of Reginald’s movies.”  The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to know why those particular people had been killed.  To satisfy her own curiosity, she decided to search the internet to see what, if anything, she could find.  She knew Reginald wouldn’t approve, so she decided to use the computers in the public library to make her search.

Grace waited until Reginald was busy to tell him, “I have a few errands to run, I’ll be right back.”  Before he could respond, she got into the car and pulled out of the driveway.  Promising herself she would pick up the few things they needed before her return, she headed toward town.

Once at the library, she quickly took her seat at the first available computer terminal.  As she typed the first name into the search bar, she heard “It’s good to see you again.”  The vice, coming out of nowhere, startled her.  She looked up to see the woman who had introduced her to the “resistance” standing there.  Her words had been spoken softly, but they sounded loud in Grace’s ears.  The encounter was short; by the time her head was lifted, the woman was already walking away.  Grace found it best to lower her eyes back to the computer screen.  A casual observer might imagine her merely responding to a sudden thought, or at least that was her hope.  The last thing Grace wanted was to draw attention.

She only had a short while to “surf the ‘net” for information, but in this time she noticed that one of the victims had been known for speaking out publicly against Roald Drumpf and his policies.  Grace wondered whether any of the others were politically active.  She determined to check on that when she had the time, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing any signs on her neighbor’s lawn during this, or any other, election.  “Probably just a coincidence,” she said to herself.  Making an effort to delete her search, she logged out of the computer and headed out of complete her errands before returning home.

When she arrived there, Reginald was visibly annoyed.  “Where have you been?” he demanded to know. “The police were back asking questions.”

“What kind of questions?” Grace asked.  “We’ve told them everything we know.”  Reginald huffed, his face turning red.  “About your were -man, Grace, don’t be stupid!  We agreed to stay out of it, to keep it to ourselves.  You must have gone to the police behind my back, and now we’re caught up in the drama again.  Wasn’t being tried for murder enough for you?  All I want out of life, Grace, is privacy and a little peace, do you think you can manage that?”

Grace’s heart was racing, “What did they want to know?” she asked.  She assured Reginald that, contrary to her initial instinct, she had spoken to no one about the sighting, but she could tell that he didn’t believe her.  “When, where, what he looked like; the usual  I told them I didn’t see anything, they would have to talk to you.  They’ll be back, so you better figure out what you’re going to tell them.  Better yet, tell them they made a mistake.  You saw a hobo, Grace, just tell them that.”

The police officer didn’t come back that night.  Grace was on edge wondering what he would have to say when he did return.  She prepared a simple meal which they consumed in silence.  Afterwards, Reginald retired to his den for his nightly dose of DNN.  Grace cleaned up after the meal, then sat at the kitchen table with her head in her hands.  She could hear the television in the background, blaring Drumpf’s particular brand of propaganda.  “He’s changed,” she thought, “He drank the kool-aid that channel is selling.  I want my old Reginald back.”

While she sat there deep in thought, Grace suddenly heard the sound of rattling, first at the door, and then a window.  She looked up to see the shadow of someone trying to pry it open; a far too familiar shadow.  “Reginald!” she shrieked.  The shadow moved away quickly, but not before she had seen the awkward gait she had seen before.  It was less pronounced this time, but unmistakably the same, or perhaps an imitation.  He was gone before Reginald got to the kitchen.  With nothing to see, he scolded her, “There’s nothing out there, Grace.  You’re just letting your imagination get to you.”

Drumpf 2: Chapter 3

A military parade is an exhibition of might, usually reserved as a way to honor those victorious in battle.  Those who study history, or who are old enough to remember, may recall those demonstrations of power which were the show pieces of the Fascist leaders of our far too recent past.

Roald Drumpf is demanding a military parade in his honor.  As commander-in-chief of the American armed forces, he is (perhaps) entitled to it.  As someone who managed to dodge his way multiple times around serving in that military, his moral standing on the subject is weaker, but when did he ever let morals get in the way of having what he wanted?  Drumpf’s parade would cost the American taxpayers fifty million dollars to produce.  Surely there are better ways to use that money than to put on such a show, but we can (sadly) be sure that there would be plenty of spectators lined up to see it.

Drumpf recently made yet another visit to Europe.  His state visit to Great Britain, postponed from early in his presidency, had finally been arranged.  It was a disaster.

His first meeting was with the Prime Minister, where he managed to insult her and tell her how her job should be done.  He tried to deny the insult, but the conversation had been recorded.  Roald Drumpf has an aversion to his meetings being recorded, that lack affording him that possibility of denial.  In this case, it hadn’t worked.

His meeting with the Queen was a series of social errors.  He first showed his lack of respect by arriving a significantly late, causing her to check her watch several times.  He did not bow to her when they met, and while this is not required, it is expected.  Instead, he shook her hand like the equal he believes himself to be.  During this meeting, Drumpf’s interaction with the Queen was kept to a minimum, but they did inspect the royal guard at Winsor Castle together.  During this inspection, he walked ahead of the Queen, forcing her to have to hurry and bob to keep up with him.  At one point, he even blocked her from view completely.  His lack of courtesy for a royal (or any 92 year-old female)  was astounding.  Later, when confronted with his errors, he claimed to have been thinking about his mother.  She had been born a British citizen, and was a great admirer of the Queen.  As such, she had taken advantage of every opportunity to watch her during ceremonial occasions.  Even if it may be assumed that Drumpf ignored his advisors on the matter, his only excuse for his behavior is not ignorance, but arrogance.

No other member of the royal family had been willing to accompany the Queen during her meeting with Drumpf, leaving her to face him alone.  The question is whether they are now ashamed, or relieved to have avoided the situation.

After a round of golf at one of his clubs in Scotland, where he greeted (probably imagining them to be fans) a group of protesters, he was off to Helsinki for a summit with his Russian counterpart.  This was his third meeting with the Russian president, but the first on a world stage.  The American First Lady was present for the pageantry portion, and was induced to shake hands with him.  The moment his attention was averted, the world saw a look of terror cross her face.  Some have noticed that the look was akin to the one observed during Drumpf’s inauguration.  Might it instead have been a look of disgust?

Roald Drumpf is a misogynist; he has absolutely no respect for women.  In his eyes, they are useful only as “eye candy” and playthings.  The manner in which he treats his wife in public is a prime example.  She is barely a second thought to him, relegated to walking behind him, or standing to the side, unless there is political profit in her presence.  When Drumpf reaches for her hand, she has several times been seen to flinch away.

During the public portion of the summit, the two world leaders were civil to one another, one might even say friendly.  Each made use of body posture in an attempt to be the “alpha dog” in the situation.  after the public display, they retired to a private meeting which lasted two hours.  It was not recorded, and the only other people in attendance were their translators.  An attempt to subpoena Drumpf’s interpreter was rebuffed by the legislature, and no one else knows what was said between the two heads of state.  The Russians seem anxious to implement whatever agreements were reached during this meeting, but no one seems to know what that entailed.  It seems reasonable to assume that the time has come to pay the bill for Drumpf’s election.

The special council had, by this time, indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents as having interfered in the American Presidential election which had put him in office.  There is evidence that their specific actions had been suggested by Drumpf himself, or his minions.  He certainly knew about the meeting, as his former personal attorney testified that he had been there when Drumpf was told about it.  Further evidence suggests that Drumpf has been working with, if not for, the Russians for the past two decades.  He had accepted many loans from them over the years, and in exchange had provided for them a way to “launder” their money.

Many people simply refuse to believe anything negative about Drumpf.  Others are afraid to express their disapproval of him, his policies, or his actions.  Drumpf supporters are often vehemently expressive of their opinions, getting their “facts” only from conservative sources, and calling all else “fake news”.

Now that evidence of collusion has been proven, the far right is on the defensive.  “There’s no law that says a political campaign can’t accept information from a foreign government,” one judge has declared.  Another has said, “It’s not treason because we are not at war with Russia.”  If interference in one of our most important governmental processes is not an act of war…

The worst long term threat to American national security may not be outside interference, but the fact that we have become so politically polarized as a result of those actions.  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”


 

Reginald and Grace had watched the police working through the window, so they were prepared when the knock came at the door.  Grace stood to one side as Reginald went to answer it.  He gave her a look before reaching for the handle, a look that warned her to keep quiet.  “I’ll handle this,” he said before opening the door.

The officer looked up from his notebook to see Reginald standing in the doorway.  “I need to ask you some questions,” he began.  Reginald nodded, then opened the door wide to welcome him inside.  The moment the officer entered, he caught sight of Grace.  His hand dropped to his holster, but he stopped short of pulling his gun.  “Ma’am,” he said; “Officer,” she responded.  It was obvious that he recognized her.

“How can I help you, officer?” Reginald asked, drawing the attention back to himself.  Grace took a seat as the officer’s gaze shifted back to her husband.  With every question, Reginald quickly took the lead in giving his answer first.  Grace nodded in agreement, or added a few words of her own, careful to never contradict what he had said.  Altogether, there wasn’t much to be reported, and the officer was quickly on his way.

Grace settled back into her chair with a sigh.  The officer had asked her how well she knew the deceased. and it had caused her to realize that they had barely known one another at all.  In fact, they had not spoken since Grace’s return.  She had no answer when the officer asked why she might have come there in the darkness (or at any other hour, Grace thought); she must have been running from, not to.  What if, Grace wondered, they had opened the door when they heard the scream.  Might their neighbor still be alive, or would they have been dead along with her.

The morning had been busy outside as the CSI team measured and photographed the crime scene, making plaster molds of the gouges in their lawn.  The area had been marked off with brightly colored crime scene tape, and a crowd had gathered to watch what was happening.  “Should have opened a drink stand,” Reginald grumbled, “Made some money off this side show.”  Grace had watched for a time, but moved away from the window when she saw people pointing at her.

She had noticed that people were less friendly since their return, lowering their eyes when she walked by, or even crossing the street to avoid her.  When she had mentioned this to Reginald, he had told her to “stop being so paranoid”.  So far, no place of business had refused their patronage, and if the sales staff was less helpful than before, he blamed it on the “changing times”.

Grace knew exactly when the times had changed.  Her world had begun to fall apart on the day that Roald Drumpf took office.  She and Reginald had often disagreed on social or political issues, but it had never affected her marriage  as had the events of the past year.  Despite how well they had gotten along while on the road, a return to normal living was quickly becoming a return to the “old” Reginald, opinionated and dominating.  To avoid an excess of arguments, Grace kept most of her opinions to herself.  Since Reginald had discovered the Drumpf News Network, that was becoming difficult.  He believed everything they reported, no matter how outlandish or contradictory.

When they were finished with their initial investigation, the police left their barrier behind on the lawn.  People continued to walk by and stare.  Grace stayed inside, away from the windows.  Her exposure to the outside world was limited.  While Reginald was asleep at night, she would watch the channels of her choice.  It was there, on a local news channel, she had learned that there had been a series of deaths not unlike that of her neighbor.  Of course, she was careful to return the television to it’s proper setting before shutting it off, and she never talked to Reginald about what she had learned.

After a few days, and after consulting the authorities, Reginald had cleared the “clutter” from their yard.  With nothing to look at as they walked by, people stopped staring.  Grace and Reginald began going outside again, but only during the daylight hours.  Whenever she went into town, he insisted on going with her.  She couldn’t tell whether he was trying to protect her, or just keeping track of what she was doing.

No one could have been more surprised than she when Reginald suddenly invited her to join him at the movies.  The genre was action (his favorite), but they hadn’t gone in years; she happily accepted his invitation.  They went to a late matinee; the theater was more crowded than they would have imagined.  They shared an expensive snack (Grace ate most of the popcorn), and even Grace enjoyed the movie.  The best part, she thought, was just being out of the house for a change.

The sky was darkening as they were leaving the theater.  They hurried to their car, hoping to get home before the impending storm.  Lightning sliced through the dusk, and a light rain soon began to fall.  By the glare of one of the flashes of light, Grace was startled to see a tall, gangly being moving swiftly through the rain, and keeping mainly to the shadows.  His gait was odd, and there was something peculiar about his silhouette.  By the time she could get Reginald’s attention to point him out, he had slipped out of sight.  “Probably just a drunken hobo,” he said, but he stayed alert the rest of the way home.  There, they hurried inside, where Reginald made sure all the doors and windows were securely locked.

Grace had a restless night, and woke up early to watch the local news channel.  It reported that there had been yet another murder by what was now being called the “were-man”.  Grace realized that this must have been the creature she had seen the night before, and became determined to report the sighting to the authorities.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 2

Every war has its casualties.  In the battle that is Roald Drumpf versus the world, the first losses were truth and justice.

Truth was the first to die.  From long before the election, Drumpf has played fast and loose with reality.  By the end of his first eighteen months in office, he had already told thousands of falsehoods, from exaggerations about his accomplishments to outright lies about the actions of others.  Anything unflattering about Drumpf, or which spoke an uncomfortable truth, was labeled “fake news” by his spin doctors.  They were kept busy redefining the xenophobic narcissist as a decent human being.  His sexual misconduct was painted as normal youthful behavior.  With so many other political and entertainment industry icons being accused of similar behaviors, Drumpf’s crimes got lost in the madness.  The question might be whether his spin doctors had anything to do with that.

Once in office, Roald Drumpf set about changing everything about the country which he had been elected to lead.  He first filled his cabinet with people who were determined to destroy the departments which they had been chosen to head.  From the beginning, he did his best to eliminate everything which had been accomplished by the previous administration.  He didn’t wait for the legislature to make the changes he wanted.  Instead, like the king he wished he could be (and perhaps thought he was), Drumpf tried to rule by proclamation.

One of Drumpf’s more economically destructive proclamations involved trade tariffs.  While it may have been intended to add tax dollars to government coffers, it had instead the effect of raising the price of foreign products here.  Other countries created their own tariffs which raised the price of American products overseas.  Several American vehicle makers  (including Harley Davidson) were forced to move some of their manufacturing facilities overseas in order to remain competitive in the world market.  This cost many American’s their jobs.  Drumpf’s response to Harley Davidson’s move was to claim their profits had been down (7%) in 2017 as a result of arguments they’d had with him in 2018.  Despite the dire consequence of Drumpf’s tariffs on other industries, none of these tariffs, of course, had any effect on his daughter’s business ventures.

Drumpf’s bullying behavior nearly caused a nuclear war.  He and the leader of North Korea had a name-calling battle similar to what one might hear on a school yard.  It continued until both were left in fear of an actual attack, which lead to the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.  Eventually, a private summit between Drumpf and the third generation dictator brought a promise of the end to that, but no signs that this promise was being kept.  The meeting between the two seemed to legitimize the North Korean government in the eyes of the world.  The agreement signed there allowed Drumpf to claim that he had prevented a nuclear war.

Xenophobic Drumpf’s primary goal has been to eliminate from American soil anyone who does not match his image of what an American should be.  His first target was Muslims, and those from Muslim nations.  When his first proclamation to keep them out failed, he just kept writing until one worked.  Next came Mexicans; he insisted a wall be built along the southern border, and then jailed anyone who dared to cross into America, including families with children, who were immediately separated from their parents.  Protests caused this to end, and a plan to be set in motion to reunite the families.  The date for this to happen has come and gone.  Drumpf then turned his attention to naturalized citizens, looking for those “undesirables” who may have slipped in before he had the power to stop them.  How long until he looks at anyone who writes, or even reads, ideas which disagree with his own?  The government may not watch us now, but it would be foolish to not be aware that they could.

Justice is a thing of the past.  With Drumpf’s choice of a new Supreme Court judge, it has come to an end.  The former justice retired from his lifelong appointment to the bench, but not without some coercion from Roald Drumpf, who implied that legal problems might appear for members of his family should he choose to remain.  The new judge was chosen before the old one had announced his retirement, and that choice was part of an agreement reached beforehand.  Any appearance of considering anyone else was simply a pretense.  Drumpf’s choice is ultra-conservative with proven loyalty to the president.  He is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and believes the president should be immune to prosecution.  With the Supreme Court in his pocket, Drumpf will be unstoppable.

Roald Drumpf isn’t only a self-proclaimed Nationalist, he is an isolationist.  He’s made friends of the worst of our enemies, and enemies of our former allies and friends.  With Drumpf at the helm, there is no more America.


 

Several weeks after their return home, Reginald and Grace had finally settled into some semblance of a normal life.  The money that had accumulated in the bank while they were gone had been spent repairing the damage done to their home by the squatters.  “It could have been worse,” Grace mumbled to herself as she swept up the broken remains of those things she’d had to leave behind.  She had scrubbed clean some of the unbroken pieces, but others had been beyond redemption.  Grace behaved stoically as she tossed them out, but rocked herself in silent despair in the hours she was alone.  Any show of emotion seemed to upset Reginald, who worked hard making what repairs he could, and putting the outside of the house back in order.

Some of the money had gone to replace Reginald’s television.  In their search for all things necessary, they had discovered that few stores remained beyond the big chain stores.  Grace was saddened to see that her favorite donut shop had closed its doors.  “How could so much have changed in so short a time?” she asked herself.  So many small realities had begun to change with Drumpf’s election, but she could not have imagined a world so altered.

The place which had been her home for so many years had become a ghost town.  Buildings which had been abandoned when their owners left town had been destroyed by looters looking for anything of value which had been left behind.  Through windows cracked and broken, Grace and Reginald had seen drywall shattered where electrical fixtures and wiring had been ripped from the walls.  Reginald’s comment on the destruction was to say, “We were lucky they didn’t do that to our house.”  Grace thought about that comment while she scrubbed feces from her bathroom walls; she didn’t feel very lucky.

For weeks, police vehicles had continued their slow crawl past the house several times each day and night.  Grace watched them through a slit in their closed curtains and wondered if it would ever end.  Cruisers were not the only thing she spied through her window.  Several times she caught sight of her nosy neighbor peeking through her own curtains.  On occasion, Grace had spied her working in her yard.  When she had raised a hand in greeting, the woman had pointedly turned her back.  Grace had just shrugged and gone back inside; after all, the two of them had never been the best of friends.

Reginald and Grace got along well enough during this early time period after returning home.  Just as they had worked together to survive on the road, they now worked together to bring their lives back to normal.  Each morning they woke up hopeful, and each night they fell asleep exhausted from their efforts.  There was no time or energy for conflict, and each thought the other was happy.  For the most part, this was true.

Over time, they began to fall back into some of their old habits.  Reginald would retire to his den to watch television while Grace prepared their evening meal.  It was easy and comfortable, and neither of them thought anything of it.  When the news of the day began to reach the dinner table, they tried not to argue over its content.  This would change over time.  Eventually, Reginald had discovered the Drumpf News Network.  Things reported there had a tendency to cause controversy between the two of them.  Grace’s choice when this happened was to grit her teeth, or to enter into an argument she couldn’t win.

That first summer home had been long and hot.  To supplement the meager supply of vegetables now available at the market, Grace and Reginald had planted a garden in their back yard.  The seeds they had purchased had been irradiated by the bombs, and so they waited to see if they would grow.  A drought had kept the garden from growing as it should have, but Grace had canned and frozen all she could.  She and Reginald were still trying to get along, but the heat hadn’t made it easy.  By the end of summer, they were barely speaking to each other.  On one night so hot that lightning streaked across a moonless sky, Grace heard a scream so blood-curdling and loud that it caused her to jump in fear.  Turning to Reginald, she said, “What on earth was that?”  His response was to lock the doors; “Mind your own business,” he said.

When the sun came up, they discovered their neighbor sprawled across their front yard.  Her blouse had been torn down her back, and deep scratches could be seen through the rip in her clothing.  Gouges from her attack dug deeply into their lawn.  Reginald ordered Grace back inside the house, and after a moment she complied.  “We should cover her,” she whispered, but Reginald insisted they leave things alone.  He went to call the police.

In the few minutes it took them to arrive seemed like an eternity.  Light flashing, the cruiser pulled to a stop against the curb opposite their house.  As he exited his vehicle, the officer could be seen loosening the fastener on his holster.  He took a hard look in both directions before crossing the road.    He walked up the driveway to get a good look at the crime scene.   Reginald stepped onto the doorstep, but the officer quickly ordered him back inside.  Watching through the window, Reginald and Grace observed as a CSI unit arrived and the coroner’s vehicle took their neighbor’s body away.

 

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 1

What follows is a work of fiction.  If anyone or anything within resembles today’s reality, it is entirely intentional.

 

“Make America Great Again”?  In the months following his inauguration, Roald Drumpf and his hand-picked party of yes-men set out to destroy all that was good about the country he had been chosen to lead.  He seemed to believe that he had been elected dictator, as almost daily he signed one declaration after another.  From the bully pulpit of the Oval Office, he told the country, and the world, how things were going to be from that day forward.

Drumpf seemed determined to change everything which had come before, and to stand the world on its head in the process.  He withdrew America from several major international accords reached with allies, then set about joining into agreements with world leaders who had formally been the nation’s adversaries.  In reference to the leader of North Korea he said, “His people come to attention when he speaks.  I want our people to do that for me!”  To make things even worse, he imposed tariffs which started a trade war with countries around the world, hurting domestic businesses in the process.

Many of Drumpf’s decisions in his early days were shut down by the judiciary, and the legislature was no more effective on his behalf, with the red party’s inability to pass the laws he wanted.  The confirmation of Drumpf’s choice for Supreme Court Justice seemed to change his fortunes; by changing the balance of power within the court, he was able to push forward his conservative agenda.  With the impending retirement of one of the court’s more moderate judges, Drumpf’s stranglehold on the Supreme Court will become even stronger.

With the legislature under the control of the red party, corporations have been given many of the same rights as individuals; being allowed to deny health care options to their employees which went against the religious beliefs or moral standards of those in the corporate office.  Further strikes against a woman’s right to determine her own health care decisions  included increased regulations and decreased funding of any place which offered birth control, and even making it illegal to refer a patient to any place offering the choice of abortion.  Medical providers were encouraged to refer patients to places which offered only the options of natural birth control options (such as abstinence), or adoption.

Under Drumpf’s new Supreme Court, gerrymandering became the recognized law of the land.  California took these divisions one step further when enough signatures were gathered there to put it on the ballot to split the one state into three.  Should it pass, it would still require congressional approval to take effect.  Whether or not this might happen could be determined by the political party affiliation of the majority of the voters, and its potential effect on the congressional balance of power.

Drumpf’s wall didn’t stop people from crossing the border, but it did make it more difficult.  In an effort  to stem the tide of immigrant influx, families caught crossing the border were torn apart, with children taken from their parents and detained  in separate facilities; tent cities and metal cages.  Public outcry  put an end to this cruel and inhumane practice, but not before thousands had been traumatized.  Plans were made to reunite the families, but those plans were not to be implemented until the parents agreed to end their petitions for asylum and be deported.  Those few who had already been reunited with their children are being held in prison camps together.  The facilities are private prisons, owned and run for profit by Drumpf’s cronies.  Meanwhile, under cover of the immigration uproar, public lands and their mineral rights are being leased to yet another set of Drumpf’s associates for as little as two dollars per acre.

With the implementation of his “No Tolerance” policy, Drumpf had made his opinion clear.  People crossing the border illegally would be summarily returned to their nation of origin without due process of law.  The Supreme Court had already upheld a version of his travel ban prohibiting immigration of people from primarily Muslim countries; it wasn’t much of a leap to try keeping out all of the (brown) people he didn’t like.  “Immigration must be based on merit,” he said, “We need people who will help to Make America Great Again.”


 

In recent weeks, Reginald and Grace had travelled a country gone mad in the wake of Roald Drumpf’s election.  The populace had not been so divided since the 1860’s, when the nation had been torn apart by civil war.  Statues depicting the heroes of the rebellion had been torn down or removed from town centers across the south, perhaps so people would not be reminded of the last time the citizenry had stood up to the government.  Even so, it did not stop a significant portion of the population from speculating that it might happen again.

No one had claimed either credit or blame for the bombs which had so changed the land during their journey.  Some had blamed the North Koreans, or perhaps the Chinese, but others had blamed the American government for bombing their own people.  It had driven much of the population into the cities, and given Drumpf an ideal excuse to declare martial law.  Stopping just shy of naming himself dictator for life, he did suspend the other branches of the government for the duration.  He had mused earlier about countries whose leaders were chosen for life, wondering whether that might be possible here.  Gathering around him only his family and most trusted advisors, Drumpf proceeded to rule his own world.

The first thing the revised government did was to take over the news media.  With net neutrality a thing of the past, the internet was taken over by Drumpf affiliates and anything which conflicted with the official line was simply shut down; the same was true of television and radio.  Paper news became a thing of the past.

Reginald and Grace had returned home to a town that they barely recognized.  The dimly lit street lamps had hidden the destruction which had been created by the swift abandonment of the town, and by the subsequent looting by those who had remained.

Their own home had been damaged by squatters who had been without water or power for the duration of their stay.  The whole house smelled of sweat, smoke, and rotten food; the bathroom added the odors of urine and feces.

Grace had settled into an uneasy sleep in the hours before dawn, forcing herself to adopt a positive attitude.  She and Reginald had survived so much, surely they could make this into a home again.  “Tomorrow will be another day,” had been her final thought; it had, indeed, but not a good one.

Looking at the mess her home had become, Grace wanted to cry.  Reginald grasped her firmly by the shoulders and assured her that they could get it done together.  His new-found sense of co-operation, learned in their time on the road, caused him to dig into the task at hand.  A bit on the bossy side, he none-the-less did his share of the work.  The trash was soon cleared, but the damage  done to their home was apparent.

Patrol cars were seen to be driving past the house throughout that first day.  At mid-day, one stopped  and an officer came to the door.  Without introducing himself, he demanded to see their papers, then ran their names through the computer in his cruiser.  He looked up from the screen to glare at Grace; returning their papers, he stated emphatically that no nonsense would be tolerated.  “No problem officer,” Reginald answered, “We understand.”  Grace found his humble behavior troubling, but lowered her head in compliance.

In a few days time, the house was put in reasonable order.  Grace had managed to stock their cupboards with basic supplies.  The task had not been easy; most stores were short on supplies, and many items were being rationed.  Until the proper papers could be obtained, these items could not be legally obtained.  Grace soon discovered that anything could be had if you didn’t mind paying ten times its worth.

Money was in short supply.  Their bank account had been closed when it became known that they had left town, and Reginald’s retirement check was being held in escrow awaiting their return.  The bank did not want to release the money, and it was only with great effort that Reginald was able to prove his identity and regain his funds.  With their money once again available and all their paperwork properly in place, Grace and Reginald settled in, hoping to live as normal a life as this new world would allow.

 

Insomnia

(Now for something on the light side.)

Like my father before me, I experience insomnia on a regular basis.  I would say “suffer from”, but in my case there’s very little suffering involved.

Insomnia comes in two forms.  In the first, it is difficult to fall asleep.  I have an acquaintance who suffers from this type, and is sometimes awake for up to forty hours at a time.  In the second type, it’s hard to stay asleep; that’s me.  I wake up multiple times each night and find it difficult to drift off again, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The wee hours of the morning are when I do my best thinking and writing.  I usually fall asleep early in the evening, but that rarely lasts.  Within just a few hours, I am wide awake once again.  What to do?  I have too much energy to just sit very long, and anything very active makes too much noise; just because I can’t sleep doesn’t make it okay to awaken my husband.

I like this time of day the best of all because it is naturally quiet, and because I generally get to spend it alone.  The television is usually still on, so I put it on one of my favorite channels and then set the volume to “white noise” level.  When I am ready to sleep again, I “watch” it with my eyes closed.  I need the noise to sleep, but a whirling fan works just as well, especially when I’m lightly covered by a blanket or throw.

If there’s mental work to be done, this is the time to do it; even the dogs are asleep on their chosen soft spots.  Most mornings, George joins me in the chair around four a.m., but he generally lets me work until then.  My lap is full of one of my many clip cases, or perhaps a thick lap desk that I purchased at (where else?) my favorite thrift store.  It’s sliding top hides and contains the components of whatever my current project may be.  Most recently, that was the contents of my “Word Hoard” notebook, which I mentioned in Dana’s “one good thought” email conversation.  Hand written, it contains literally hundreds of bits of wit and wisdom from dozens of people more intelligent and creative than I ever thought of being.

These middle of the night hours have seen me make progress on so many things, including sorting through various files, purging no-longer-wanted recipes, and even planning major social events.  I’ve written many thousands of words in the darkest hours of the night, which have proven to be both my creative and productive.

Each night, usually right after I first awaken, I make a visit to my computer.  It takes only a few minutes to catch up on my email and to scan Facebook for anything interesting.  Any comments to be written are composed at this time; it’s incredibly important to let someone know when they have touched you, either mentally or emotionally.

Food usually plays a part in my middle of the night routine.  During the day, I eat by the clock, but at night I eat because I feel something akin to hunger.  I’m aware that it’s not the real thing, but it is a tummy rumble combined with a desire to have a snack.  Most of the time it is carbs that call out my name, but now and again it’s dairy; nothing that requires cooking, and rarely anything closer to healthy than a banana or a piece of cheese.  Shame on me!

A variety of Mah Jong games may be found on my monitor screen at all hours of the day or night.  Most puzzle games are okay, too, but action games are lost on me.  I also use this time to pursue other more intellectual pursuits.  Eventually, I will become sleepy once again.  I slip under my cover and begin to “watch” whatever graces my television screen at the time.  It rarely takes long for me to drift off to sleep, only to awaken again at a still-early but more reasonable hour.

My circadian rhythms are a mess; exhaustion has me falling asleep multiple times during the day.  It is currently the wee hours, and writing this has made me sleepy again; perhaps reading this will do the same for others.

… this morning I opened my eyes at 0630 to see George staring expectantly at me from the foot of the recliner.  Even though it had been an exceptionally long rest period for me (about four hours), I was still exhausted.  Apparently George didn’t care, and so my day began.