Scoundrel Time

How It Ends: Unspeakable

I told Ina I would never speak to her again. We had been friends of a sort since our twenties—hung out in the same bars, showed up at feminist rallies and marches together—but she was increasingly one of those politicos who find fuel for neurotic rage in every fucking thing. And in the fall of 2016, she explained to me that Hillary Clinton was a war criminal, so she was voting for Trump instead. She wanted her vote to count. If Trump won, it would finally mobilize the Left.

Of course I didn’t stick to the not speaking. We lived in the same neighborhood, we said hello.

After Trump was impeached, I passed her on the street and said, “Isn’t it fabulous? Can you believe it?”

“Now we have Pence, who’s worse,” she said.

“When can we rejoice?” I said. My voice was nicely deep from a hangover, and it seemed the great question of our time.

Ina, who had once worn a T shirt with Emma Goldman saying, If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution, told me, “It’s worse.”

I knew this had truth in it, but we lived in an era where great flashes of light flared against spells of unspeakable darkness. I was still wearing a T-shirt that said, Nevertheless she persisted, and it had a big wine stain from the night before. “We’ll outlive this,” I decided.

“Maybe you will,” Ina said.

“You too,” I said, but she wasn’t having any of it.

“Pence!” she said.

“Five years from now,” I said, “we won’t even remember his name.”

“Why do you always have to take a God-like view?” she said, and not viciously (we had once been friends). “Pence!”

“Ten years from now he’ll be a joke,” I said. “For a while.”