Chapter 2 – FreedomCon

Am I in the speaker’s room, or am I in Hell? Surely, I am unsure. Though there are no racks upon which men scream and no pits of endless fire in which they burn, everyone around me seems either an ancient spectre like myself — I see the ghosts of Lindsay Graham, Chuck Grassley, and one of the Kennedys, I forget his name, the dumb one — or some newly minted sprite, eager to devour my essence and take their place at the right hand of Satan. 

But that was my seat.

I earned it.

The spectres wave at me, they say my name and ask how I’ve been, but their voices seem like dim memories from the past, and I fear that my response wouldn’t reach their ears, so I dare not try.

The ghost of Lindsay Graham looks at me with contempt, as though I have wronged him in some fashion, and I realize that not even being dragged down to the depths of Hades has cured him of that most pernicious affliction of being an insufferable little shit.

Anyhow, I’ve been invited to the FreedomCon to deliver a speech about the importance of treating your political opponents fairly, because I do enjoy a good joke. And apparently despite my advanced age, there are still those in the Republican Party who wish to hear my thoughts. Such are the advantages of being an eldritch statesman with such a high body count, I suppose. 

A young man with a headset told me that it would be my turn to deliver my speech at this conference for the damned in five minutes, but I think he said that 18 years ago.

This morning my wife Elaine made me breakfast: it was a piece of pie, which I could tell was haunted. I ate the pie, but does that mean I am now haunted? Surely I am haunted by my past, but am I still Mitch McConnell, or am I now a merely adequate piece of pastry with an unwanted passenger, scraping at the vestiges of my mind?

Would I haunt someone else, I wonder, were they to eat me now?

I suppose my wife will never know, she hasn’t done that in 13 years.

The man who lifetimes ago told me I would be speaking soon apparates from no source I can determine, and tries to sell me the lie that he has been attempting to get my attention for the past ten minutes, but that I was not responding to him, nor to anyone else, and was simply standing in the room oblivious as though I was some type of statue. But that man is a liar, no matter how many medical staff he brings to bolster his case, for I am not a statue in any sense of the word: I am a man, or at least a piece of pie the leftovers of which I shall not eat tomorrow morning, no matter how strenuously my wife informs me that it’s all we have left in the fridge.

It just wasn’t good pie, Elaine, and not because it was haunted. It wasn’t good pie because you are a bad cook.

There, I said it. 

For too long have I been yoked to the lie that what you cook me is ever any good, Elaine. But no more: today I finally tell you the truth: your cooking has always been atrocious. It’s enough to turn a person Bulimic. It killed three of our dogs.


I feel free.

Anyhow, I consider arguing with the young man with the microphone and the clipboard who is even now asking me if I can hear him, if I’m okay or if I need to sit down about his perception of time, but I have my task set to me by God or the Devil or some scarier being whose nature I can’t even contemplate. And I mean to fulfill it, so I let him guide me to the lectern, to the dull applause for my presence, and to my speech.

The room quiets, and I begin with a fatuous appeal to the audience’s sophistication, tell them what an honour it is to be presenting to such an august group, then reach into my pocket for a list of talking points I don’t remember scrawling. 

My lips move, and sound emits from between them as appropriate, but what I say, I know not. I continue on this way in a robust fugue for the best part of fifteen minutes, then return to my senses in time to hear the words “Thank you very much” escape my throat. What else did I say? No idea. It has always been thus, since the bargain, since that night at the crossroads: I recede into myself, as the needed message erupts through whatever sorcery was placed upon me. I always say the right thing, blow the right amount of smoke, trick the right idiots. It’s the gift that I bargained for. Sometimes I remember the content of my speeches in a nightmare, but for the most part, it seems that even my subconscious knows to stay away from them.

Next, people line up so that I might explain myself. Question time. Typically I would be asked to elaborate on the position in my talk, along with a few pleas to explain the apparent inconsistencies in my view of what is too soon to consider a new Justice of the Supreme Court — if a Democrat wants one, it’s too soon — but not this time. Today, Donald Trump and the fact of his demise fills all of our thoughts.

A young woman who looks only slightly less uncomfortable to be here than I am asks me if I did enough to help facilitate Trump’s goals while he was in office.

I do.

A man in a polka-dot bow tie asks what process the GOP should use to determine the new candidate for Presidency. I demur, because as of yet, I don’t know who among the field of possibilities would be easiest for me to manipulate.

I know that I am facing my penance, and must atone for all my sins, but that’s just how I think; it will be a truly difficult habit to dismember, if ever I am able. Did I manipulate Trump, while he was President? As the cow chewed his cud, I twisted that churl to my ends. I did it well. I was good at it.

I’ve always been good at it. 

A young person of indeterminable gender with a bright green stripe of hair that sort of goes straight up from their head in a way that brings to mind poor architecture, a person who is meant to be on the youthful, “hip” forefront of conservatism as contrived as any of the times I told my wife that yes, this dinner is edible, Elaine, films me with their smartphone while asking me: “What do you think happened to President Trump?”

I say: “I believe he died.”

Despite the tenor of the room, and indeed the entire political movement, my words elicit a measure of laughter.

Take that, Bing Crosby, you degenerate fuck. 

The person says: “No, I mean, do you think he was assassinated?”

I consider my response for a moment, then I draw timid breath and do something I almost never do: I answer honestly.

“I do not know why Donald Trump is dead, but I will find out. It is my only mission, one that God or the Devil or whoever scares them both has brought me back from the dead for and set me upon, and the sanctity of my eternal soul rests on my ability to uncover the truth to the world.”

I am asked no further questions. 

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