You tell yourself that you are, of course, in that middle-management, get-by, Church-once-on-Sunday kind of way. You know the framework you have to deal with, the general ideas of what make a good person and you tell yourself you’re doing the best you can in that spectrum, that nobody’s perfect, that it’s all forgiveable and Jesus will carry away your sins in his blood, and you have to tell yourself this because you know as you stare into the glass of the case that you’re not actually a good man.
You stare into the outlines, the ghost of the man in the reflection, and you think to yourself that you’re still there, that there’s something to you. People were so happy with you after the Vice President debate, you put Kaine in his place, you – you did well, and you came back to the base and dealt with him again. Dealt with the bluster and the low-key fury, the snarling way he treated his wife when she showed him up and you told yourself that it was fine for him to treat you that way (though probably not a great thing that he treated her that way) and you tried to put it out of your mind like all the other things, like all of them, over and over again, while you adjusted your expensive tie and expensive suit and tried to forget for a time what you were actually doing, frame it just as gearing up for 2020.
Then the news.
The staffer telling you what the audio was. Did you ask, then, for details, stop yourself when you realised no, of course you didn’t want to hear that, and then looked at the staffer –
“How bad is it?”
The look of the young man, hand folded over his phone, like he was about to throw up, because to him this isn’t ambitions and long term power plays and it isn’t about him it’s about a job and he’s not getting paid enough and he’s going to have to go have a bunch of journalists remember him as that guy from that time when everything started to fall apart in a new and terrible way, and he murmurs, “It’s… it’s real bad, Governor.”
And you sighed and looked back into the glass.
At the hot dog bun.
With Trump’s name on it.
Did the metaphor bowl you over?
Did you stare at the preserved, artificial breadlike structure that was only there to make sure people could handle the grotesque mystery meat of pounded pig rectum and sawdust in an offcolour casing, the thing renownedly hollow and forgettable, something that you were here to look at, and smile about, and be impressed with and see once again another sodden symbol of the beast whose milk you were drinking nightly, with his name on it, and realise that you were the next Palin?
You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.