Greg Mulcahy


Coddling is for eggs, not children, Governor said.

He said this often. Daily.

Amused each time by his utterance at first. Lately, seemed habitual or formulaic.

Lately his gait seemed peculiar.

One of the family remarked.

Hobbled, Governor said, by the weight of the weak. Every handout a hand in my wallet. What's your name again?

Junior, Junior said.

You are not partner in this, large or small, Governor said.

I didn't ask partner.

You didn't get. Ask? Ask or not. Nothing but ask nowadays.

Governor suffered what appeared to be a coughing fit.

I suppose, Junior said, you need no help.

Red-faced Governor tried to speak, but he could only gasp and caw.

I'm going, Junior said.

As though this had happened before.

There was, as usual, a festival.

Governor had no choice: he had to attend. To fail to attend would signify abandonment. So Governor was convinced.

I, Governor said to the mirror, do not abandon.

The mirror did not respond.

When surge became the cure, Governor said, when surge became the cure. When—

Governor tied his silk, polka dot tie.

Four in hand, Governor said. Good enough for the troops. The four-flusher, of course, no one hears of these days. But he's out there. Always has been, always will be. Oldest game in the world. Well, one of them.

The car was waiting outside.

Is the car waiting outside, Governor shouted.

The car is waiting outside, unseen Junior shouted back.

Governor was no longer governor but insisted on his right to be referred to exclusively as governor. No one contested this, but Governor offered frequent tirades about it.

In the car on the way to the festival, Governor hit on something else.

Junior drove.

Governor rode in back.

What happened to your hat, Governor said.

Shut up, Junior said.

That's an attitude.

I don't have to drive you. You could take a cab. Or the bus. How about that—you want to ride the bus?

I've had busses. Whole campaign vehicles. You want to forget about that.

I want to forget about this.

Yes, Governor said. That's it. When reality doesn't suit you, try to escape as though that's the answer to everything.

If I could escape this reality, Junior said, believe me, I would.

Why don't we make reality for a change? We used to. When we had the ambition, the, yes, I'm going to say it, guts.

Nobody makes reality.


Or everybody does. Either way, it's the same thing.

Hear the voice of the reality-based community.

I thought you said I was an escapist.

Same thing, same thing.

It is all the same thing, Junior said. Always.

That's it. Everything is relative. It's all the same. Nothing is better than anything else.

Nothing is better than nothing.

There's that nonsense again.

I won't say any more, Junior said.

You've said enough.

I've heard too much.

We made reality all right. How, you wonder. Boldly. Decisively. By being bold. By being decisive.

All the reality there is is all the reality there is. There is no more reality to be made.

Do you have a job? Governor said.

Aren't I your caregiver?

Care? You call this care?

I call it better than you deserve.

Deserve, now. I could have predicted that one. That a man of action would be weighed in the moral scales of the relativist. Well, where's that big-hearted relativism now?

I don't know what you're talking about.


And apparently neither do you.

Wounded, are you? Well now, don't cry Sweetheart.

They serve alcohol at this festival?

At the festival, Governor sat in the booth of formers.

 Junior went off to find a drink.

The other formers nodded to Governor. Governor nodded to them. There was no need to talk. They understood what it was to be there.

Sometimes no one came, and they sat in silence.

Today, some old demento approached Governor and grabbed him.

No, Governor said, I'm afraid I don't remember.

It was a day, Demento said, the sky blue as pigment. I brought ice water to the dais. You gave the greatest speech I have ever heard.

You don't say, Governor said. And what, do you recall, was my subject?

Our enemies, Demento said.

Yes, I was frequently on that.

Internal and external, Demento said.

We had both, Governor said, and, I fear, we have more today than then.

They hate us, Demento said.

No crime to be hated by the right people.

They want to destroy our way of life.

And everything we stand for, Governor said. I tried to warn people, to wake them up, but they are lazy. They want to sleep, to pretend, to evade.

To shirk, Demento said, shirk is the word you said all those years ago.

Yes. Shirk their responsibility. We built them—through our hard work, our labors—a palace, and they turned it into a sty.

You can't give them anything.

They'll only destroy it. It is not as though they value it. They value nothing because they have no values.

Why do they hate us, Demento said.

Because they cannot be us. No matter what they do, they can never be us, so they try to level things by tearing us down, hoping we will fall to their level.

The bastards.

And yet, who has resisted?

The cowards.

If you have a treasure and you will not secure it, well, how long do you think you'll keep that treasure?

They take what's ours.

Someone gives it to them.

We need to take back ours.

Wasn't that entirely my point?

String a few up. Make examples of them.

That might be a start.

Exterminate them.

Now friend, Governor said, let's not lose our heads.

They need to lose theirs.


I lost everything.

We all face misfortune in life.

I backed you, worked for you, gave you money, and your policies, the policies I supported, bankrupted me.

Some others as well, though you cannot blame policies for bad decisions.

I have only myself to blame because I am, and you knew, the scum I was voting against. I knew you my better, and I knew you would give me what I deserved.

I have nothing to say to that, Governor said.

I thought, Demento said, the others would take my guns. A big worry, that. And now I have my guns no more. No one took them. I had to sell them. Every one. And everything else. It is all gone.

Junior walked near the booth,

Demento opened his coat and produced an ax.

I still have this, Demento said.

Junior, Governor said.

Junior stepped behind Demento and snatched the ax.

Demento said, Hey!

Junior took out a large revolver and said, Do not make me. Not again.

Let's go, Governor said.

I wanted, Demento said, to be an entertainment journalist. This was my aspiration.

You failed, Governor said.

They are pouring in, Demento said. Hotels, restaurants, and other frequent locations.

I told you, Governor said.

I kiss your hand, Demento said.

Get in the car, Junior said.

They got in. Junior spun the car quickly out of the lot.

I leave for a drink and you almost get murdered.

It is not, Governor said, toute fleurs nature du Canada.

Another crazed love slayer, Junior said. How do you draw them?

They think me a love tyrant. They don't know. They cannot see.

There is nothing to see.

It is all and only here.

Empty mask.

You oppose all the improvements we need to make.

Improvements. Like that mealy neck-pain bastard?

We were enacting something so complicated the average person could not understand.

You lived in a world unreal and now you live in your nostalgia for it.

I stood on my principles.

You have none.

Believed all and then its opposite and half-again around. Now.

Now is over.

All necessary examples. Exemplary. What I did and what I was. And not only me. Not only my faction. They went in the house. Everyone from war paint on down.

You were a one-term elected official, not an Indian fighter.

And what did I get? A bit of money and a few crumby board seats. Oh, and a pen. Gave me a fancy pen for my service, you know, embossed with the logo of all the givers' goodness. Oh, and you, a drunken, gun-toting fool of a driver.

Keep it up, you'll have less.

Are you mine or are you not? What do you think it means to govern?

I would not know any more than you did. Seems like to you it meant to put on a show.

Someone was shouting outside.

Governor went to the window.

That fucking stray followed us home, Governor said. He is really wound up. But that's the public, always fickle.

We never should have gone to the fair, Junior said.

It was not a fair, Governor said. It was a festival. People do not know what a fair is nowadays. You had livestock and contests. The young girls would all come. The local toughs with their cat knives and stockmen's canes and belt knives. It was not some goddamned art show. But they don't exist anymore. Not really. The society that produced them is gone.

How long is that maniac going to scream out there?

He'll get tired after awhile. Wait. Look, he's got a few listeners. Shit, he'll feed on their energy.

It's just some local idiots. How much can he feed on that?

You'd be surprised.

I am, Junior said, surprised and disappointed every day.

You lack ambition. At your age—

I don't want to hear it, Junior said. I have enough to be sorry about.

It's because you were given everything. The given life beyond question. And, apparently, ambition.

Day a come / Day a come / Day a come / And the water don't run, Junior sang.

The crowd grew around Demento. Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five. They circled a van.

Uh oh, Junior said, they're making Molotov cocktails.

Odd that we call those after a Russian, Governor said. The Brits, on the other hand, call them petrol bombs.

One's coming at the house. Short. Still, the lawn's scorched.

Call security.

We don't have security.

Then get the guns.

We sold the guns. To keep the car from being repoed. Remember?

I suppose I never should have aborted the festival. It only winds them up.

How is this, Junior said, about that?

How is this about anything?

The porch was on fire.

We could try to get out the back, Junior said.

No, it's covered, Governor said. Curious to be dead, feeling so alive.