Saul Friedman stood proud, if not so tall, before the cameras.
It was ever here, in front of an audience, that he was in his element.
No matter how bowed and broken he was before any small circle of friends, family or intimate colleagues, his stance and demeanour before the cameras exuded an immense gravity, warmth, and the kind of solemnity that has nothing whatsoever to do with the ‘sick soul’ of his fellow American William James, and everything to do with the ‘healthy soul’ that stares evil in the and does not dare to flinch.
Saul Friedman fixed his piercing grey eyes upon the camera, as though there were some vision mortal enemy on the other side of the screen that he was determined to ‘pin.’
The haunting melody of ‘Sisters of Mercy’ rang in the ears of his soul; even threatening, with merciless humility, to drown out the Rush overture a well-meaning but somewhat gauche supporter (make of that what you will!) was blasting out from a neighbouring office block.
Saul Friedman cleared his throat, and wiped his brow.
No Presidential tears for him!
After all, today was not primarily about Saul Friedman, as he saw it; so what place was there for grand gestures?
‘He’s come to serve, and not to be served,’ whispered a well-meaning aide.
The aide, unlike Saul, was guilty of fairly pronounced neocon sympathies.
And yet Saul had no appetite to repudiate the hypocritical comment, nor to feel rancor at the patronizing allusions to the man that, as Saul himself knew well, was not ‘The Messiah.’
For that is, being interpreted:
Not the only one.
Saul glanced round at Lucy.
Wide-eyed, she was trembling head to foot; in awe of such a dread epiphany of truth and courage.
‘For America,’ was the message on her lips; but no words came out.
Saul knew what she was saying.
The fastest path for any message of love is heart to heart.
Saul faced the cameras.
‘America!’ he growled, with a lion’s roar to strike fear into the heart of any mediocre opportunist and ‘career dynamic.’
‘America!’ was the response of a few stragglers who had managed to evade the security personnel.
‘And what is America?’ Saul roared.
‘Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!’
Immediately, the security forces began bundling out these wicked right-opportunist (some would say left-infantilist!) Neo-Yippie hooligans who had dared to turn up to support just such an evil enemy of the nation as Saul Friedman.
‘Alright punk, put your ass in the air! This is journalists only!’
One wicked, unprincipled interloper roared:
‘Constitutiooon! Justice shall not be bought or sold! Who’s payin’ the cops around here?’
That didn’t go down well.
Another cop, more well-meaning, said:
‘Listen son, just doin’ my job, a’right? I don’t make the rules, my job is to make sure the rules are followed.’
‘Now you take care of these young people!’ warned Saul, wagging his finger.
‘Don’t you ever harm a hair on their heads.
‘Because even if the law doesn’t hold you accountable, there is another law above you: the Constitution!
‘So do you all have a care to remember the ancient truth:
‘As above, so below!’
All across America, in every city, town or village, and in many an isolated ranch or homestead, there was at least one person who remembered Magna Carta, and the ideals for which Friedman stood.
These ideals were high; but not at all highminded.
They were noble; but not at all self-exalting.
And, of course, were the laughing stock of The Great and The Good; but they were never once forgotten by the true inheritors of the Founding Fathers, of Frederick Douglass, of Harriet Beecher Stowe, of Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Debois; and of a thousand silent martyrs who had left this life dreaming that one day, the dream of liberty would come home to just such a hearth as theirs, and abide with them, and nevermore leave their side.
‘I am an American,’ proclaimed Saul Friedman, his voice gracefully descending to a low murmur.
‘And every American is an American. But not all the Americans among us in the corridors of power know what this truly means.’
Far, far away, Senator Marcus Charleston bubble spat in inarticulate outrage.
And in Tucson, Arizona, Jane Chauvert of Bubba Sands felt the first glimmer of hope she had felt for a long time.
In Washington, office after office exploded into peals of scorn and derision.
But why worry?
If Friedman had heard the warmongering Stormtroopers of Goodness mock him so, it would have encouraged him further, if anything!
‘America is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and an infinity of virtues.
‘But most of our leaders have but three ideals: they worship death, servitude, and the pursuit of profit!
‘And believe me, my friends and my fellow Americans, these are not the ‘redeeming vices’ which even the mediocre ‘career opportunist’ and white-bread cynic have by the bucketload!
‘No, my dearest yokefellows on a common venture: today, our Establishment political class are devoted to mass-murder, oppression and abject barbarism.’
The top Republicans, huddled round a vast screen in what Friedman would no doubt sneeringly have named the ‘Central Command,’ gaped in horror.
Friedman was supposed to be giving a resignation speech!
A resignation speech, for God’s sake!
But he was talking like some kind of treacherous Cold War Marxist, in bed with them despicable Russkie Soviets!
This discredited, unpatriotic Senator was supposed to be meeting the media in order to acknowledge his errors, or at the very least, to give a brief acknowledgment of how he could no longer count on party support, and would not be running in future.
But this despicable, cynical, pacifist charlatan was now standing up before the eyes of the whole world, and denouncing one true patriotic party of the greatest nation on earth!
Is it possible to think of anything more ungrateful than this?
Or indeed, anything more opportunistic?
The Republican Party had given Saul Friedman all he ever had; and out of sheer bitterness and resentment, this entitled traitor and shameless Jew comedian was now throwing arrogantly back in their faces!
The flamin’ Arab terrorists who bombed the Amber Hornet would never have done it, if it weren’t for the pitiful pinko pacifism of spineless, reptilian vermin like Friedman.
That’s why he had to resign.
How many Americans must be sacrificed on the merciless altar of politically correct, Arabophiliac sentimentality?
This unpatriotic bastard wasn’t prepared to either love or to leave the Sweet Land of Liberty; only to munch and burrow away at the founding pillars of The Great Exception.
He should count himself lucky he was getting away with this.
Well, how great a nation must the United States of America be, when the First Amendment applied even to treacherous, evil parasites like Saul Terence Magilligan Friedman!
But the stark, staring horror of it all did not last for long.
After a short while, people started getting up, pacing around the room, groaning, moaning, arguing, making enraged phone calls to whoever they thought could be bothered to listen.
The speech continued.
‘I have tried my best, as other have tried, to turn our party onto the right path. America was meant to be a City on a Hill, not the abomination of desolation upon 7 funeral mounds!’
Even the most jaded hacks and ‘career dynamics’ gasped at these words.
‘I am no man of God,’ groaned Saul Friedman, raising his fist in prophetic denunciation, and glancing fearfully heavenward, like the rugged and ragged St John of the Apocalypse; fearfully awaiting the windows of heaven to open in wrathful indignation, and perhaps for the last time.
‘No, I am no Man of God!’ Saul roared.
‘But I am a man of America: and I will tell you this.
‘There can be no extremism in opposing militarism; and moderation in the pursuit of peace is the most unforgivable of vices!’
The suppuratingly pudgy Republican top brass howled like wounded hyenas.
‘What on earth would the enemies of America, at home and abroad, think when they heard these evil, self-serving and opportunistic words?
‘Dear God! This vile person had done more than Osama Bin Laden, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or 60s hippies to destroy America and give succor to the evildoers who were besieging us.
‘Had this despicable hooligan not the slightest shred of conscience?
With every ringing phrase, with every insulting word and still-more-insulting breath, he was throwing open the doors of the citadel, so that all manner of jihadists, Communists, Mexicans, homotards and Arab infiltrators could take courage at his words and finally bring about the final destruction of America.
It was as though this evil traitor, in a gross parody of the noble words on the Statue of Liberty, was saying:
‘Give me your liberals, your socialists, your Muslims and your queers.’
Was there nothing that could be done to stop this vile, rabble-rousing demagogue? Couldn’t we just…
But we’re going to have to be smart about this.
Evil America-hating zealots like this guy are never short of allies.
For every true patriotic American, there are a hundred traitors, and ten thousand indifferent, imbecilic sluggards among the masses.
America is not a democracy, and we never said it was.
It’s a Constitutional Republic, and we are damned if we’re letting this self-styled ‘non-interventionist’ bring about the total destruction of our country with his arbitrary attempts to redefine right and wrong!
‘I will never hold my peace about what our leaders are perpetrating upon us!
‘And not only upon us Americans.
‘If you are an Arab, you are just as much a human being as I am.
‘If you are a Copt, you are just as much a person as I am.
‘If you live in Syria, or Iraq, or Egypt, you have exactly the same inalienable right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as I!
‘If not more; for you have been deprived of your rights by the evil ones; and some of those evil ones are among us today, in our nation!
‘And I speak not solely of the jihadists; but also of those who make common cause with jihadists, with their unprincipled and diabolical schemes to destabilize the Middle East and North Africa; because these insidious serpents, these vile and vicious Stormtroopers of the Greater Good hiss and whisper in their hearts:
Any new power bloc, by definition, can only be a hostile rival civilization, with whom we are sworn to clash!
‘Peace, liberty, secularism and democracy cannot be permitted to be sustained and perpetuated; for if such were the case, so these embittered pedants reason in the darkness of their hearts, then America would no longer be The Grand Exception!
‘On the contrary, other nations would have proven that they can make their own way without our tutelage!
‘This is what is most unbearable to them; and this is why they are deliberately destabilizing vast swathes of the globe, leaving a monstrous and barbaric trail of destruction and devastation in their wake!
‘The loathsome, white supremacist neoconservative and liberal interventionist mafia have unleashed oceans of blood and mourning, and clashing steel…
‘And why, I ask each one of you, dear friends in liberty?
‘Because they are truly the evil ones!
If you are a conservative, a true conservative must never support the “Big Government,” indeed the monstrously “Colossal Government,” of primitive, Neanderthal warmongering.
‘Likewise, if you are a liberal, you must never support the illiberal, indeed the downright evil brutality and savagery of “Liberal Interventionism.”
‘But why be divisive, and speak of here and hence?
‘Nay, permit to say just this one thing more.
‘If you are an American, you… you… y… y’ mu… y ’m…’
Lucy screamed in horror as Saul Friedman clutched his chest and stumbled to the ground, his spectacles falling in disarray in the mud.
‘Senator!’ she wailed, cradling her beloved’s white-whiskered skull in her gentle arms.
‘Get back!’ roared a cop, gesturing her to leave.
She would not.
‘C’mon, girl, there’s nothing you can do. This guy needs an ambulance, a’right?’
Lucy struggled to her feet, tears streaming down her face.
All of a sudden, she bowed her head and took off like lightning; no-one knew where!
A sheet of pills fell out of her pocket, and lay unremarked by all.
But that didn’t matter.
These pills had nothing to do with anxiety.
They were the other pills.
The pills for his heart.
And this very day, Saul Friedman had forgotten his first three pills.
Lucy had tried her best, but she had not found an opportunity to remind him.
The opportunity was lost.
Or lost forever?
Try as she might, Lucy could get no peace of mind on this point.
She had killed him.
By her carelessness and neglect, she had murdered the man she loved.
Saul needed that reminder.
And she wasn’t there for him when she needed him most.
Why should she even go on living?
There’s a special place in hell for all ‘em lousy bastards who ain’t tryin’ all they can to prevent the needless suffering of the innocents.
That was always what Saul Friedman said.
And that why his party hated him beyond measure, with a perfect hatred that would pursue the wounded, haunted soul of Saul Friedman beyond the grave, unto the uttermost reaches of a bowed and broken Kosmos.