Sunday, July 17, 2011

Indie Ink Writing Challenge: How Do You Sleep?

On this week's Indie Ink Writing Challenge adventure, Stefan gives me "Some people wonder how I sleep at night. I tell them I just close my eyes,". I am challenging Tara.

(I don't think I should have to say this, but I will anyway. What follows is fiction. It is loosely based on the governor of the state that I reside in, but only in the sense that he was in my mind's eye as I was writing it. I hasten to add that I do not feel the way this character feels- it would be much more accurate to say that I feel the exact opposite way that he does.)

Sara leaned her head in my office door. Her ponytail, coming undone after her day's exertion, was starting to fray. I could see the blond hairs clearly against the dark cherry wood. "Was there anything else, Governor?" It was nice to hear a somewhat friendly voice- it seemed like everyone had been mad at me today.

"No, Sara," I told her. "You can go." With that, she ducked her head out, letting the door latch gently behind her. She was my right hand, aide de camp and all purpose problem solver. Some days, I saw more of her than I did of my long suffering wife. Ann and I heard the whispers about Sara sleeping her way into my office- it wasn't true, but I couldn't deny it felt a little good that people thought it might be.

My wife Ann would never put up with an affair- she'd be on Good Morning America before I got my pants on. Right now, she is furious at me, but thankfully, not about that. Her dander is up about the cuts I made in this year's budget: after school programs, food programs, health care. The last time we spoke about it at any length, she roared at me, "How do you SLEEP at night?" I didn't answer. Her side of the bed didn't get slept in that night.

Back in the 1980s, when I was starting out, there was a marginally famous standup comic named Bill Hicks, and I remember he had a routine where he described a ritual he imagines every new president goes through. The president is led into a room where there is a long conference table, where a number of portly industrialists are sitting. The industrials play for the new president a full color print of the Zapruder film from the opposite angle, thus implying they can easily have the new president eliminated if he doesn't toe the line.

Once I got into politics seriously, I learned how close to the truth that was. Nothing that serious, but you very quickly learn who controls the purse strings. And as the new Golden Rule goes, those who have the gold make the rules. So I cut taxes, first, last and always, the way the people who donate to my campaign want me to, and then cut services that few people notice to make the books balance. I'm not proud of it. I always shift a little uncomfortably in my seat when Father O'Brien intones about Jesus serving the downtrodden and despised. But I do it, because this game that I play, pitting both sides against the middle, is the only thing I'm really good at.

Raising taxes doesn't create any jobs, right? And if some older folks have to cut back here and there, and some kids don't get to go to preschool, that's just the way it goes. What part of broke are you having trouble understanding? If preschoolers were that important, they'd have a lobbyist the way Green Chemical and the O'Brien Auto Group do. People have to understand, we have to tighten our belts.

I hear them, believe me. Calling me a monster, a butcher, a whore of the rich and powerful. I see the signs. I read the editorials, calling me short sighted, greedy, a tool of powerful interests. I listen to the radio, hearing the well fed professors telling us about the doom that will befall us when Willie can't go to preschool. Well, that's a shame- but the numbers are what they are. I can't change them to what I'd like them to be. And to all those protestors- your boss? He loves that I cut his taxes again.

So in terms of sleep, Ann? I sleep fine. Not that you'd know. And if I want to continue sleeping where I sleep now, I cut what they say to cut. It's not very Christlike, but who wants to be a Christian if you have to act like Jesus? That guy was broke all the time anyway.


  1. Well, that's chilling. And sadly truthful.

  2. Well portrayed ... It was hard to make My mind whether I should feel bad for the guy or not.

  3. ... yup, you pretty much nailed it. I love your ability to take on the voice and characteristics of persons so unlike you, the skill of a gifted narrator. :)

  4. A very pragmatic approach, but one i would think many politicians on both sides of the aisle take.

  5. Coming over from Indie Ink challenge right after reading Dear God... Very, very nicely done. A hard character but an honest one who understands what it takes. Loved the last lines.

  6. I loved this. I thought I was reading something from that show, The West Wing.


  7. Very well done. I like political pieces, and it almost hinges on satire the way you write this.

  8. I love conversations inside of people’s heads; you can see his mind jumping from side to side as he tries to defend his positions to the real audience: himself.

    I don’t sense any remorse though, just the facts, so maybe it’s not guilt, maybe it’s anger?

    Good post!

  9. Very well done, and unfortunately awfully close to the truth.

  10. Sad that it has to be that way but such is the game of politics. I enjoyed the matter-of-fact, no sugar coating access we had to the MC's thoughts

    My only critique is the switch between his "reality" to his thoughts was a little choppy. it didn't flow as well as it could. I'm not even sure if the bit about Sarah in the beginning was necessary to the plot.

    Coming from Indie Ink challenge

  11. It's kind of scary how on point you were. I'm sure many of the politicians are this way.

    I love how you gave this guy so much voice, he has so much character to him!

  12. Geez--you make me wanna hop on my soapbox and go protest at his office... I *hate* politicians, and something tells me you hit pretty close to the truth on this... Maybe not for all of them, but in general...


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