Scoundrel Time

How It Ends: Last Words

The presidential bedroom is covered in gold leaf and glimmers dimly in the predawn darkness. The President is in bed. He reaches out of the golden comforter for the remote. On the giant screen, a man sits beside a woman at a translucent desk. The man looks like a twelve-year old boy in a power suit, and the woman, well—she is dressed in a tight red sheath, her hair a sort of frosted lion’s mane. She looks like a lion but also like a sunflower. The sound of their voices replaces the anxious formlessness of dream, and the President feels his heart ease. Talking, talking, a sort of sunlight. Follow the sunlight. But he cannot put that sensation into words. Words can only say what words can say. The president reaches for his phone and types with one finger:

The lying liberal media claim my second term is over. It is just beginning! #justbeginning, #fakenews

I have made American great again and now return to the private sector to make billions more! #nottiredofwinningyet

There is a wall and Mexico paid for it just as I promised. But it is invisible. #dontbelievewhatyousee

Be strong Jared. Your pardon is on the way!

Dosvedanya, Jared! You did it all on your own, all those disgusting traitor plots, and never told me anything. #russianmole #betrayorinlaw

Your new president Ivanka will drain the swamp, just as she I her me promised. #MAGA

We are now officially dating! #thegoodlife

A sudden tiredness, so unusual. The president puts down his phone, sinks back on his golden pillow, and quickly drifts off into dream. He dreams he is lying in a golden bed and a hand reaches out from the gentle dark and touches his forehead in benediction. It is his mother’s hand, no, his father’s hand, no, a money hand, no, a golden hand, no, a skeleton hand, his brother Fred’s hand, and its touch contains a meaning beyond words: