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Remembering Gertrude–a reader


When she was younger, my mother, Gertrude, had a vivid imagination. For example, she took me to the park one day to feed the pigeons. I couldn’t have been more than three or four. I asked her why the birds were so afraid of us, who certainly meant them no harm. This is what she said.

“A long time ago, Steve, the birds weren’t afraid of people. People were kind and harmless. The birds and the people played together and had a wonderful time. But one day, there was a very mean man, and he hurt the birds. Ever since, the birds have been afraid of people. They don’t want to get hurt again.”

It was a touching story, and it involved a lot of themes that a little boy could understand and relate to: trust, fear, pain, hope, betrayal, friendship. I think she made it up on the spot. I don’t know where Gertrude got that spark of creative imagination. Maybe it was from her Southern upbringing, maybe from her reading. She read a great deal of fiction; even now, I can visualize her at night, curled up in her big, stuffed green armchair, her legs tucked under her, a novel in her lap. My sister, a judgmental shrew, often criticized my mother for her “escapism.” According to this theory, Gertrude could not embrace or deal with her real life, which she hated, so she retreated into a fantasy land of pretend. I thought this was harsh, although coming from my sister, a bitter woman who hated our mother, it was hardly surprising.

Yet as my mother aged, her imagination dwindled. I never again heard her make up a story, or show any evidence of an artistic inner life. By her 40s, she had lost that capability of fantasy. Nobody encouraged her, least of all the culture of the 1950s and 1960s, which mandated that women be “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.” Life was not kind to Gertrude; her marriage was in many respects not the success she’d hoped for, and she was stuck in a tenement in the South Bronx, a building with peeling paint and cockroaches, with increasing street crime all around. Gertrude may have decided that an inner life was hardly the antidote to her problems, a luxury she couldn’t afford. She needed all her strength to deal with reality, so she got down to the business of surviving.

My mother, who died in 2005 at the age of 90, would have made a good writer, poet, or painter. But although she encouraged these creative practices in me (I went to a high school that specialized in the arts), she herself seemed resigned to a dreary, routine existence. Had she been born ten or twenty years later, she might have pursued an exciting career. She might have gone into politics, always a passion for her. But these are coulda-woulda-shouldas. She did none of these things.

Was her fable about the mean man who hurt the birds really about herself? Someone or something had hurt her, and maybe when she lost her trust, she also lost the creativity of her youth. I’m getting in over my head here, but I think Gertrude sacrificed her imagination because it revealed paths she knew were closed to her. It’s easier not to see the possibilities, than to see them forever denied. So was my sister right? Was Gertrude’s fiction-reading “escapism”? I, myself, read a lot. I have at least two books going at any given time. When I read, I often think of my mother, who gave me the example of an adult sitting alone, with a book, content in that small act. Is my reading “escapism”? At this point in my life, I’ve stopped playing these rhetorical or sophistic games with myself. I read because it gives me pleasure. (Unlike my mother, I don’t generally care for fiction. History and memoir are more interesting to me.) I don’t waste time analyzing myself anymore, something I did far too much of most of my life. Besides, my inner life is boring, compared to the immense dramas playing out in America every day. Look at this current election. You couldn’t make this stuff up! Gertrude would have been glued to the television set (undoubtedly to MSNBC). And, as she did when George W. Bush was president, she would have muted her remote whenever Trump came on.

Here’s the last photo I ever took of her. She’s wearing her little Kerry-Edwards button.

Thursday Throwaway


It’s going to be 75 degrees in Oakland today, again. But the weatherman tells us today is going to be the last day of summer, in effect: starting tomorrow, the first winter weather system of the season will come blasting down from the Gulf of Alaska, bringing our record warm Spring, Summer and Autumn to an end, and also bringing a little rain, to the great relief of the firefighters.

Two of the statewide ballot propositions I voted for actually went my way, a rare event given my voting history! If you don’t live in California, you might not be aware of them, but both are important and have national repercussions. The first was Prop 16; it sought to overturn a previous ban on affirmative action, meaning that California would once again be allowed to consider race in such things as university admissions. I voted against it. I have some sympathy with affirmative action, but generally, I think it’s not a good idea to mandate it. One huge problem is that affirmative action is a form of reverse-discrimination. Asian-Americans, particularly of Chinese descent, feel that giving Black- or Brown-skinned people preferences is a form of discrimination against them. I can see their point. Affirmative action is a form of identity politics. I think people ought to be admitted to universities, or hired into jobs, based on their actual merits, not on the color of their skin. And apparently most Californians agree with me; Prop 16 was defeated by more than 12 percentage points, which is pretty much a landslide.

The other ballot proposition that went my way was Prop 22. It sought to preserve the right of “gig workers” to remain independent contractors, rather than force them to be fulltime employees. Prop 22 was sponsored by the big gig companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, who argued that they would be forced out of business, or compelled to leave California, if they had to pay full benefits to their employees. That argument resonated with me, but of far more importance were stories—anecdotal as well as based on polls—showing that most Uber and Lyft employees prefer to be independent contractors. It was the big labor unions that sought to defeat Prop 22, and while I’m a strong union supporter (I was a union member when I worked), it seems to me that forcing gig workers to be something they don’t want to be was a little extreme. The success of Prop 22 has national implications. It means that there’s a “third way” of being an employee, midway between being a fulltime worker and an independent freelancer. That’s a good thing. Our national economy is changing in radical ways we can’t foresee, and it no longer makes sense to offer workers only two options from the menu.

And now on to the presidential election. It’s absurd, isn’t it, that Trump wants to stop the vote count in places like Michigan but allow it to go forward in Arizona and Nevada. But then, we’ve come to expect absurdity from Trump and his minions. And it’s a particularly ridiculous form of absurdity: complete contradictions coming from either side of Trump’s rather small mouth. Right now, it looks like Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. He might not, but I’m hopeful. On Tuesday night, I was so depressed, I had to go to bed by 9 p.m. When I awoke on Wednesday morning and went to get my morning paper, I expected the headline to be IT’S TRUMP. Instead, it was “too early to call.” And all day Wednesday the news got better for Biden, even as Trump began his latest baby-romp through absurdity.

The most interesting thing I heard yesterday was a remark from the presidential historian, Michael Beschloss. He predicted that within two years the word “Trumpism” will be like the word “McCarthyism,” a political philosophy with negative, and even evil, connotations that is named after a politician. I not only hope that’s true, I expect it will be. Trump, the person, will live out the rest of his life in infamy, shunned in much of the country and the world. His children will find life difficult, as their peers turn their backs on them, and don’t want to do business with them. I’m not normally vindictive, but these Trumps have inflicted so much pain on so many people that they deserve a little suffering in retribution. May it start now.



Regardless of who wins, here are 10 takeaways about this election—things we’ve learned.

  1. Black Lives Matter has been marginalized. Americans just don’t see the movement as among their highest priorities. Many, perhaps most, agree with Jared Kushner that “We can’t want Black Americans to succeed more than they themselves want to succeed.” The bottom line: most people believe that ALL lives matter. They see BLM as an urban-centered illogical movement that too often leads to riots, arson, looting and vandalism.
  2. “Defund the police” has been repudiated. Most Americans, including Black Americans, like cops. They understand that The Thin Blue Line is all that potentially separates them from criminal mayhem. They resent the demands to “defund the police” and they do not believe that most cops are racist. The Democratic Party has lost a lot of independent voters because it—the party—is perceived to be anti-cop.
  3. People like Trump. They know all about his shortcomings and the aberrant parts of his personality, but they don’t care. To them, he’s a colorful rogue. He never seems to give up (Americans hate quitters). They relate to him because he seems “real.”
  4. Polling is dead. Or should be. How many times can the polls get things so wrong before we decide to totally ignore them? Five-thirty-eight gave Biden a 90% chance of winning outright. They couldn’t have been more mistaken—again, for the second time following 2016.
  5. COVID was a wash. Americans are rightfully afraid of it, but they’re also afraid of the disastrous economic consequences of shutting down. They blame Trump for ignoring the early warnings, for downplaying the disease’s seriousness, for not wearing a mask. But they remain unconvinced that the shutdowns were worth the price America has paid, and they increasingly agree with Trump that we need to reopen.
  6. Americans are against abortion. A majority want abortion to be, as Bill Clinton said, “safe, legal and rare.” But nobody is in favor of abortion, and the Christian right has done a good job mobilizing latent anti-abortion feelings.
  7. Americans don’t like the Elites. And I have to include myself in this indictment. For too long, the big cities of the East and West Coast have demeaned the rest of the nation as flyover country. The people of the southwest, the Deep South, the midwest, the Ohio Valley and the mountain states (Colorado excepted) resent the fact that the Coastal Elites dismiss them as a bunch of yahoos and Bible thumpers. Trump played to this resentment skillfully.
  8. Biden was a flawed candidate. Democrats were unwilling to admit it on the record, but everybody knew it. He looked old and feeble. His lines were rehearsed and scripted, compared to Trump’s spontaneity. People doubted whether Biden had the physical stamina to be president. And they weren’t comfortable with Kamala Harris just a heartbeat away from the presidency.
  9. America needs a coalition government. It couldn’t be more apparent that this country is split evenly down the middle. A winner-takes-all system is no longer viable, whereby a single vote gives one side everything while the other side gets nothing. In most countries of the world, coalition governments are the norm. Donald Trump is the first president in modern history not to include Democrats in his cabinet. Even Obama reached out to Republicans: Bob Gates in Defense and Ray LaHood in Transportation. Obama also nominated Republican Judd Gregg for Commerce, but on reflection, Gregg declined. Trump has shown no interest whatever in reaching out to or cooperating with the opposition—even though more than half the country identifies as Democratic. Indeed, this is one of the strongest indictments of him: his divisiveness.
  10. Radical Christians are on the verge of taking over the U.S. They’ve been working at it since the 1970s, and all that hard work is paying off. They own the Supreme Court; they own most State legislatures, and they owned the first administration of Donald Trump and will own the second one, if he’s re-elected. This is a problem that needs to be admitted if it is to be solved.

Lady Justice is pissed


The first time I ever voted for president was in 1964, when I cast my ballot for Lyndon Johnson. I was a reliable Democrat in those days, but not very politically-oriented. It was the Sixties, and there were far more exciting things going on in my life, and in the country, than politics. I suppose I voted for Humphrey in 1968 (I don’t remember much from that time!), and I know I voted for McGovern in 1972. But it was the 1976 election that really plugged me back into presidential politics.

The Democratic primary field that year had been crowded. Jerry Brown, Scoop Jackson, Frank Church and Mo Udall were running (so was George Wallace, still nominally a Democrat), but one candidate in particular caught my eye. Jimmy Carter was the little-known governor of Georgia, a peanut farmer with an aw-shucksy southern folksiness, and I was attracted to him the first time I saw him on T.V. He went on to win the presidency (which made me proud that I’d “discovered” him before most other people). I voted for him again in 1980, when he lost to Reagan. In 1984, I voted for Mondale, but I’d been a strong backer of Jesse Jackson in the primaries, and went to hear him speak at San Francisco State University, where I was a student. He gave a great speech.

In 1988, I broke with the Democrats, for the first and last time in my life, when I voted for George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis. Looking back, I’m not sure why. I was beginning to feel what you can call a more “conservative” part of me. Dukakis seemed hapless, over his head—although my many friends in Massachusetts adored him. And the first Bush was not one of those far-right, evangelical ass-kissers who later disgraced the Republican Party. But by 1992, I was restored to my senses. I’d seen Bill Clinton on T.V. in 1989, interviewed on C-SPAN by Brian Lamb, and had been so impressed I wrote him a letter, addressing it only to “Gov. Bill Clinton, Little Rock, Arkansas.” He got it and replied; I still have his signed letter, now framed. He was young, seemed hip and cool, and represented the pragmatic streak in Democrats I liked. I was a fierce Clinton supporter for both his terms, and demonstrated against his impeachment in a mass rally held in downtown San Francisco. And I have since voted straight Democratic: Al Gore, John Kerry, Obama (twice, and so proudly), Hillary and, this time, Biden.

Now here we are at another Election Day. I feel cautiously optimistic, to use that overworked phrase. But like everybody else in America, my nerves are stretched taut to the breaking point. Someday historians, helped by psychologists, will try to explain just how Trump damaged our minds, wrecked the national psyche, raped the soul of America. It doesn’t seem likely the damage will be undone anytime soon, not even if Trump loses. The scars are too deep, too much blood has been let, the pain lingers.

I want to live long enough to see this current crop of Republicans made to pay a price for their treachery. I don’t just want the Grahams and Collinses and Tillises and Gardners and McSallys and Perdues to lose, I want them to suffer long-term economic and reputational consequences. I want them to hurt. I want each of them to fall to his knees and beg the American people for forgiveness. We are a forgiving people, but only if the pentitent truly repent. As for Trump and his family, to jail, to jail, to jail. We need national reconciliation, but before that can happen, we need to see Justice—and Justice, let us remember, carries a sword.

Countdown to Election Day


Tick tick tick. Here we go.

I don’t know about you, but I’m nervous as hell. Between the election, Gus, and the pandemic, I feel like my life is spinning out of control, amidst a black cloud of depression and fear.

There are increasing signs Trump could win. Troubling reports out of Florida that Latino voters are veering Republican and Black men aren’t voting. What?!? I have to assume those Republicans are the Cuban-Americans. I don’t know what it is with these Florida-Cubans. After sixty years they still can’t accept that their side lost the Cuban Revolution. Get over it, Cuban-Americans. As for Black men not voting, I can see why. It’s a case of “a pox on both their houses.” That’s an explanation, but it’s not an excuse. You still have two days to vote, Black men! Do it!

More troubling signs: More Republicans than Democrats voting early in key states. That’s exactly the opposite of what should be happening: Democrats are supposed to have the advantage in mail-in ballots, Republicans with voting-in-person on Election Day. And Trump! He seems to be everywhere at the same time, a devil-dervish out on the trail. It reminds me of Harry Truman’s campaign blitz in the final days of the 1948 election—and we all know how that turned out. Well, it ain’t over until it’s over. Biden is still ahead in the polls—but so was Hillary.

Then there’s Gus. I told you I wouldn’t write about his day-to-day deterioration and I won’t, except to say this: It’s very hard. My heart breaks when I gaze at my little guy, still doing okay despite the growing tumor on the side of his snout. He licks his paws, or dozes in his little bed in the sunshine, and all I can do is feel. Marilyn advised me yesterday not to feel guilty when I have Gus put down, and I told her I wouldn’t. I’m not big on feeling guilty.

As for the pandemic, well, what can I tell you? You’re going through exactly the same thing. I’m reconciled to having to wear a mask for the rest of my life. It’s been, what, eight months, going on nine, and I can hardly remember what pre-COVID life was like. Did we actually hug our friends, work out on the StairMaster two feet from someone else, cluster in movie theaters and bars?

I joined a men’s group, first time I ever did anything like that. A guy posted on Nextdoor that he was a father of two, divorced, in a nasty breakup with his girlfriend (she did it through a text)—which would have been bad enough, except that the pandemic made him feel even more isolated and lonely. He was taking a chance, he wrote, putting his feelings out there (men aren’t supposed to), but he wondered if other men were experiencing the same things, and if so, did they want to explore the possibility of a men’s rap group? I immediately responded. We’ve met three times now. If you ran into these guys in the normal course of events you’d think they were ordinary dudes. But in the privacy of a men’s group, their feelings come pouring out, and it blows my mind how epically sad and broken they are.

What a horrible time. I’ll watch the election results with my friends Lauren and Fernando here in the building. I’ll bring a nice bottle of bubbly and a pizza. This nausea in the pit of my stomach is damned unpleasant. Someone in my men’s group asked me what I’ll do if Trump wins, and I said, “Rely on my friends and family.” I’ll need them more than ever. When Gus passes, it will be the same thing. But ultimately, I’m alone, as are you, and you, and you. We come into this world naked and by ourselves, and that is how we leave it. (Well, unless the funeral parlor dresses you up.) Yes, I’m feeling rather fatalistic these days. Aren’t you?

An old friend loses his mind in the era of Trump


I think I lost a friend yesterday due to politics. He’s an old friend—we go back fifty years—and while we don’t see each other from year to year because he lives in Marin, we connect on the phone. I called him yesterday, after five or six months, just to say hi. And he blew my mind.

He began by talking about how he’s been reading conservative media and finding it refreshing to get a different perspective. Then he said something about “the media lies about Russia and the 2016 election.” He was about to go on to a different topic when I stopped him.

“Wait a minute. ‘Media lies about Russia and the 2016 election’? Did I hear you right?”

I had. Russia did nothing, according to my friend (whom I’ll call him Albert). He insisted that the Trump-Russia scandal was all a CNN fabrication.

I had one of those moments when you hear a friend say something so bizarre that you’re afraid he has had a stroke. But Albert was just getting started. He went on to talk about “Trump derangement syndrome” and how the left was suffering from it. I realized I needed to get this conversation back on track or else it was going off the rails, so I said, “Albert, let’s not talk about politics. How are you, old friend?” But Albert was having none of it. He ranted about how the Democratic National Committee had stolen the nomination in 2016 from Bernie Sanders.

Now, I remembered that Albert had been a Bernie bro four years ago, although he ended up voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president in 2016. Well, much as I wanted to change the topic, this was something I could not let stand. I reminded him that it was “people like you” who voted for third party candidates in 2016 who, in effect, got Trump elected.

Albert was incensed. He said that, as a Californian, he’d had nothing to do with getting Trump elected, because California was always going to vote blue, so his vote for Stein had changed nothing. Yes, I replied, that’s true, “But I said ‘people like you,’ not you. Enough people voted third party, or stayed home, to throw the election to Trump.”

I used to have this same conversation four years ago, both before and after the election, with disgruntled Bernie bro’s just like Albert. I thought that issue was behind us, but for David, it was alive and well. He began a lecture about “that woman from Florida—what’s her name?—who was the DNC National Chair in 2016. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” I said. “Yes,” Albert replied. “Her. She stole the nomination from Bernie.”

With increasing despair, and, I admit, some anger, I tried once again to steer the conversation into rational territory. “Albert,” I said, “that was four years ago. I know the Bernie bro’s were really pissed off, and were looking for someone to blame. But it was a free and fair primary process. Democratic voters simply preferred Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.”

Albert hit the roof. “Free and fair process? Well, let me tell you—” and he launched into a whole new round of websites he’d read, conspiracy theories, proof if I was brave enough to see it. He was happy to send me links so I could see for myself.

Dear reader, this was my state of mind at that moment: I wanted desperately to end the charade because I’m sick and tired of these wacko conspiracy theories. I pictured Albert—who’s been a recluse for decades—sitting in his apartment all day long, surfing the web, getting sucked deeper and deeper down into the rabbit hole. I just could not listen to him anymore. “Albert,” I said, “I love you. You’re one of my oldest friends, and I hope one day we’ll resume that friendship. But I can’t listen to you anymore. I have to go.”

“Well, thanks for calling,” Albert said, sarcastically, as we both hung up.

Now, I’m prepared never to see or hear from Albert again. And that’s okay. He’ll go his way and I’ll go mine. But I’m shocked. How could Albert, a super-smart New York Jew, have gone so off the deep end? How do you account for someone slipping from the moors of reality into these debunked conspiracy theories? I can’t even call them “rightwing conspiracy theories” because I don’t know where they fit into the political spectrum. We need something beyond the old left-right binary system to describe the phenomenon of people like Albert. I don’t pretend to understand. All I know is that it makes me very, very sad. A good mind has succumbed to something I can’t fathom. Maybe the election will provide some clarity. But I doubt it…



I first began to suspect that they were onto me when I was headed toward the pizza parlor, to molest and slice up another baby. One of us had kidnapped it from a gas station as its mother, a suburban troll with a TRUMP/PENCE bumper sticker on her Taurus, disappeared inside the store, leaving the snotty brat in its baby seat. My colleague, (name deleted), snatched the baby and by the time the mother knew her spawn was gone, (deleted) had long disappeared. He brought the baby to a safe house whose lease was paid for by one of our mentors, John Podesta, whose wealthy funders include George Soros.

Now, you have to understand we’d been gathering in an underground bunker of this pizza parlor for years, ever since Huma Abedin had that tutorial (in the Spring of 2016) where we learned about Muslim techniques of throat slicing. Huma, a vegetarian, insisted that eating the flesh of Republican babies was not a violation of veganism, but a symbol of worship for “Him” whose name shall not be uttered. (“He” is also the one who sent Obama here, to plunder souls and wreak havoc). We certainly had plenty of babies to use; we imported them (under Chuck Schumer’s guidance) from overseas, and sold them to predators. But we always kept the best for ourselves. Huma, a nice lady who would not have countenanced pedophilia, nonetheless was compelled to step aside when Hillary took over. Hillary and her consort, Bill, were both long practiced in the black arts of pedophilia, and, as events proved, necrophilia.

I was then merely a student in the local community college, looking for thrills. I had flirted with the Dark Side as most students do—you know, drunken seances, Tetragrammatons, Aleister Crowley, that sort of thing. But not really. Only because the boy I liked to have sex with was into it. Me, personally? I thought it was kind of stupid. But then (deleted) started explaining certain phenomena to me, and when the pieces began falling into place, it all made sense.

We met in a secret underground chamber in the pizza parlor accessible only through a broom closet, and you had to know exactly which items to move, in certain precise ways, in order for the broom closet—which was actually suspended in a shaft on elevator cables—to lower itself to our stygian gatheringplace. I cannot even now reveal all the details, but they involved, not only the aforementioned broom, but a bucket, a container of Lysol, and a toilet plunger. Then, a 15-second downward journey, and you opened the door to see—

Well, at first it puzzled me. An all-metal room, of a silver-grey hue, dull rather than shiny. Sinks and aluminum tables set around the four walls. Pipes everywhere. There were drainholes in the concrete floor, and air ducts overhead. The lights, which were phosphorescent, crackled and buzzed, and provided a weird, cold glow. In the center of the chamber, an altar of sorts, also of metal, about three feet high, upon which the unfortunate babies were laid to rest, in preparation for what was to follow. Below the altar, drainage ditches to capture the spillage.

And the photos! All around the walls, photographs of our leaders: Hillary. Soros. Obama. Rahm Emanuel. Joe Biden. Sean Penn. Certain Rothschilds. They had been portrayed in such a way that their eyes seemed to follow you wherever you went, which added to the sense of mystical eerieness. It took me a while to grasp the enormity of what we were doing, which was no less than this: to take over the world. To overthrow all religions, all family values, all norms of decency—God himself–and replace them with “His” perverted evil. Who, precisely, “He” was, was never entirely clear to me, although there were rumors it was Paul Begala. But I never doubted that I served Him, through his vessel on Earth, the Democratic Party.

But now, after dozens of rituals performed in our secret necropolis in the bowels of the pizza parlor, there was this sudden, frightful feeling that “they” were onto me. Who were “they”? That was the problem. We knew we had enemies. Our chief protagonist, obviously enough, was Donald J. Trump. He himself had followers, millions of them, white and often obese men and women who fancied themselves patriots, who open-carried their guns, assaulted homosexuals, spat on Muslims and, occasionally, set fire to mosques and synagogues, or tried to assassinate Democratic politicians. But we weren’t really afraid of them. We thought they were morons, until recently, when the threat level rose exponentially.

Our Facebook and Twitter feeds were hacked. Our personal computers were held for ransom. Once, I was routinely surfing the web for porn, when the screen went black and a message appeared: WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE, LIBERAL SNOWFLAKE. Then the phantom words went away as swiftly as they had come, and all was back to normal. Except…it wasn’t.

We soon discovered who “they” were: QAnon. A self-appointed vigilante group, led indirectly by Trump, of course, but more directly by his henchmen: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and, naturally, the spider at the center of all those rightwing webs, Jared Kushner. One day, we were summoned to a group meeting via ZOOM (the pandemic preventing us from gathering in person). Hillary coordinated the meeting. Dressed in a black, head-covering cowl, she informed us we were in mortal peril. These Q-people meant business. They did not hesitate to kill. They aimed at nothing less than eliminating us—all of us, to a woman and a man—and forming a Christian, male-dominated, authoritarian, fascist autocracy in America, under the direction of Trump and his children. We should be very careful, Hillary explained; it was probably best to temporarily halt the baby eating. We should stay away from the pizza parlor, which was thought to be under surveillance by conservative militiamen. We might want to consider increased security measures in our homes.

That night, the night I was aware of being followed, I hid in the bushes at the edge of the parking lot where the pizza parlor was. I was determined to catch my stalker, and, if possible, eliminate him (I assumed it was a male). In my hand I held a kitchen knife. It was dark, with a new Moon. A fine mist moistened the cool air. A black SUV pulled into the parking lot, noiselessly, and parked. Inside its darkened windows I saw the brief point of an orange glow: someone lit up a cigarette, or maybe a joint. The door of the SUV slid open. I saw a booted leg come out, then a second, and then the dark outline of a person in a black uniform. The person looked to the left, to the right, and drew on his cigarette, making the tip glow in the night. Then the person walked slowly toward the pizza parlor. I heard his boots clip-clop on the pavement. I gripped my knife more tightly. He came within ten feet of me. I decided to act. Springing from my bush, holding the knife high over my head, I took two steps toward the phantom, intent on plunging the blade into the back of his neck, when I heard a loud sound. Then I felt a stinging heat in my ribs. That was the last thing I remember, before waking up in this bed, from which I now confess to you, Tucker Carlson, my crime.

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