He drags himself out of bed, walks over to the chair and digs into his pants.
-Hello. Yes? I’m in the puking lot. Parking lot. Ask her to stick around.
A head pops out from the covers.
-Who was that?
-Who are you?
He’s never seen her before.
-Do you need a ride?
-You’re an asshole.
-You’re mistaking me for Zontos.
-Who the hell is Zontos?
She picks up the glass of water from the side-table and pours it over his head. The door slams shut. A cuckoo pops its head out of a wooden door. He reaches for the clock and smashes it against the wall.
–Clocks are trouble. They lie. Women are trouble. They know when you’re lying. Bloody hell. I don’t know what day it is.
He pulls out a wrinkled cotton shirt from the closet and a pair of khaki pants. An almost empty whiskey bottle is lying on the floor. He throws it in the trashcan and wobbles to the bathroom. He thinks he’s going to die. It’s happened before. He looks in the mirror and runs his hands across his cheeks.
-Senator, do you shave? How important is it? Nixon lost for that reason, right?
He gargles. He anticipates her response. He knows what she’ll say.
-I don’t believe in shaving, Harry.
They always know your name, especially when the primaries roll around. Democrats. Republicans. Green Party loonies.
-Either you shave or you don’t. How do I look?
-You look like shit, Harry.
-So what’s your secret, Senator? Is it the twinkle? The nod? You can trust me. It’s off the record.
He gets into the shower. The water is cold.
-Nothing’s off the record, Harry. And I have nothing to hide. I’m running for the people. I’m running to make sure every American has access to the dentist. I’m running to end this God-awful war.
–How come we never see the coffins on TV, Senator?
–That’s a great question. It’s terrible, Harry. We can’t let Americans die for nothing. THIS is an illegal war and we need to end it.
– So there’s such a thing as a ‘legal’ war?
-I’m not here to play with words, Harry! We’ll draft a road map. Make no mistake about it. But they must work for it. We cannot do everything. It’s about them. Blah, blah, blah. It’s immoral. Yap, yap, yap.
-You’re right, Senator. Oh! Senator! That is profound. Don’t stop. Keep talking.
He gets out of the shower.
-It’s ‘Do or Die.’ That’s my new slogan, Harry. It’s what Gandhi said.
-Gandhi was also a pacifist. Do you believe in pacifism? And he was nuts about nuts. Do you like nuts, Senator?
– You’re a lousy journalist, Harry.
-But this is just the primaries, Senator.
He walks back to the room and opens the blinds.
-Goddamn questions. What do I care? I put them there. I know I did. Your opponent’s a bonehead. Wouldn’t you say so, Senator? And what do you think about nuking the Lapenese? Their Prime Minister is a moron. He doesn’t like us, Senator.
He bumps into the postman.
-Did you say something?
-No. No. Just humming. It’s a beautiful day.
The engine putters and dies. He gets out and frantically scrapes the ice off the window. He doesn’t know why he’s living here. He doesn’t know why he’s driving a piece of junk. He doesn’t know why he can’t get rid of it. He gets inside and works the ignition one more time but no luck. He lights a cigarette. It’s gonna kill him but he feels entitled to one.
-A man can only put up with so much.
–You ought to get up on time, Harry. You ought to stop drinking. You ought to stop asking me dumbass questions. You ought to get a new battery. You ought to stop jacking off in the shower.
-There are a lot of things I ought to do, Senator.
He steps out of the car and opens the trunk.
– But, know what? I don’t care. Okay? The rich get richer, the poor have children. That’s all there is to it.
-That’s right, Harry. Unemployment is at an all-time high.
-The Church is overflowing with the newly converted. The porn industry is asking for a bailout —
-And millionaires are slashing their wrists! Yippee!
-Pity the poor, despise the rich. Is that your philosophy, Senator?
-I don’t think I like you, Harry.
-I’m not crazy about me either, Senator.
– Let me tell you something else, Harry.
-My name is not Harry, okay? My name is Hari!
-That’s right. Harry. As I was saying, the entire world’s a stage. The director is absconding and the players are screwed!! Nietzsche couldn’t fix it. What the hell are you gonna do? Ask objective questions, you twit? And let me tell you one more thing. I love nuts. Walnuts, peanuts, cashewnuts, chestnuts —
– How many different types of nuts can you name, Senator?
– I don’t have to answer that question.
He pulls out a pair of jumper cables from the trunk. He tries to open the hood but it’s frozen solid. He bangs on it with both fists. He loses control, slips and lands flat on his scrawny little ass. He gets back inside and pleads one more time but the car refuses to budge. The phone rings a second time.
-Yes, yes Tenowski? I’m almost there man. I SLIPPED AND FELL. That’s not funny. What? She wants to go LIVE? For the noon news? Great! You got it then. Soaring tuition costs, baby. How will she fix it? Ask her. I think she’s Democrat. She’ll love that one. Global warming too. Manson was on it back in ‘87. What’s her take on it? No, not on Manson. Forget it. No, no, no, you do it. You’re the man! You’re right! Just focus on hot button issues. Gay marriage, abortion, senators having sex in public restrooms. Yeah, yeah, yeah, legalizing marijuana too. Stick to the script, my man. Focus on campaign strategy. Not policy. It’s much easier. Ask her if she shaves. I’m serious.
He gets out and kicks the door shut. He slips again. He limps back to the apartment, pulls down the blinds and dives into the trashcan. He takes a swig. It tastes just fine. He stole it from Johnny Hurotola last week. First-class Kentucky bourbon. They give you a free sample down at the factory.