The monstrous sun rises over the tableau, another da capo round of the daily quotidian’s diurnal recurrence. Hilari pauses her work of harvesting to savour a morsel of the dawn. Amor fati, she grumbles, of the eternal recurrence. She returns to the harvest.
She pushes the trolley up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the usual begging spot. The jostling anarchy of bottles chimes like a Mahavishnu orchestra. Hilari stops to pacify an itch. The gods in their mercy have provisioned her mauve pantsuit with a hole large enough that a hand might pass through. A moment’s relief, and again she’s on her way, seizing this occasion to practice her script:
– Extra quarter, sir?
Not bad. Crisp and definitive. But too bold perhaps?
She repeats the line, experimenting with the rhythm, the cadence, the point of climax. What to do with the hands has been a matter of some speculation. The pantsuit pockets, which droop now like dachshund ears, are out of the question. A folding of the arms projects an unladylike defiance. But the rigid pose of a Beefeater, that might work. When and if to smile, there’s the rub. No smile would be a scandal and outrage. But to smile too much would be a show of obsequent arrogance. There would be talk.
This leaves wide open the middle path, the compromise, the temporizing calculation of a shrill female cynicism. That’s easy enough.
Hilari’s entire life has been a grooming. Grace School, an Oxbridge PPE, a postdoc fellowship, a mid-level position in the public service. From the beginning her ambition was evident to all. She became what is termed an operative and an insider. She lingered where the powerful congregated. She availed herself. The language of nods and winks was not unfamiliar. It was well understood: this is what one does. This is the universal modus operandi of power. Yet she soon found herself an outcast, uniquely despised.
One day the monstrous sun rose over the tableau and belched a sluice of persimmon ejaculate. The cheddarlike spream pierced the atmosphere and smashed to earth. The bog, an unwitting receptacle, bubbled with angry heat. Over time the spawn congealed. Out came the marvellous creature. Let us call him TOM, aka The Orange Menace. It was something different, for a change.
As it will happen, the orange menace is Hilari’s chief adversary. He taunts her incessantly, forever inventing methods to berate. He builds a golden castle on Pennsylvania Avenue, to be nearer the object of his ill-willed derision. He carries a boom-box which plays “You [Hilari] Can’t Always Get What You Want [High Office]” on a recurring loop. In no time at all, he takes to the spreading of innuendo.
– Hilari is a sluice of persimmon ejaculate, he says. Like cheesy spream she has gestated in a bog, he says.
He notices the vacant stares of his interlocutors. He pivots.
– Hilari bad, he says. Me good, he says.
Because the bog smell is still on him, the orange menace applies a porcine eau de toilette. Everyone, he reasons, loves the smell of bacon. He is a populist at heart. He is always thinking of the people. The suidian requisite is proof positive. The idea works so well that he orders one million red caps, and one million white, stamped in gold with the word BACON. He holds massive rallies where his growing army of followers shout BACON with impunity. When he is leader there will be more bacon and better bacon. The golden age of bacon, as celebrated in cinema. They will kill everyone who is not wearing a bacon cap, and they will make those unwanted people into bacon.
Hilari converts the day’s yield to coin. She sits and empties the bag on the pavement. She divvies the change according to rubric: a pile for America, a pile for Hilari. One cannot expect her to eat the air, promise-crammed! She has a purpose and a vision, and such things do not come by the cheap. When she is the leader of the free world, she will bless that world with her purpose and vision. It is her destiny. She has earned it. She deserves it. So much so that she re-apportions a few of the coins, moving them from the pile denominated America to the pile denominated Hilari. For the good of the children, she reasons. For my humbling purpose and vision of being the most powerful woman on earth.
Hilari pushes the trolley to the public square. The orange menace appears in a flash of light, arriving as if by teleportation. They cajole their fellow citizens with words, Hillari choosing verbs, the orange menace, adjectives.
– Healing! says Hillari.
– Biggerish! says the orange menace.
– Building! she ripostes.
– Gigantly! he counterstrokes.
– BACON, cheers the crowd.
The next day, the headlines read BACON: THE PEOPLE and AMERICA, PROMISSARY OF GIGANTLY. The orange menace is enraged. How dare they make up this nonsense about bacon, he says. Who said a word of bacon? he barks. He summons counsel, who on his behalf issue a strongly worded letter to the papers. Of all things concerning this libellous gigantly bacon, it says, cease and desist, statim.
The orange menace in any case is unstoppable. It is manifest he is an agent of destruction. He came as a spream of fire, and it is fire that the people want. The total all-encompassing purge of fire, the cleansing cauterant of the apocalypse, the final extermination consummating in a violent conflagration the universal ash.
And some kind of healthcare.