George W chokes on a pretzel and dies.
George W chokes on a pretzel, lives, but resigns. No one can understand what he’s saying. He will only speak in loops, sentences without beginning or end. He takes up painting, and canvases of twisted, brown bread take over Crawford ranch.
George W chokes on a pretzel, falls on his head. The impact knocks the snack loose, but puts him in a coma. Cheney orders an investigation. There is no vast conspiracy, but a vast conspiracy is created, because the need for one is so great. There is so much work to do, so much attention to misdirect.
George W chokes on a pretzel but is rescued by Spotty, a springer spaniel, daughter to Millie, famed New York Times bestselling nonfiction author, and also spaniel.
George W chokes on a pretzel but is rescued by Barney, the other dog. Barney is unaware of his heroism, and, right as Bush comes to, exits the room, looking for a toy. Spotty is credited by Secret Service agents, as having saved the day, and America.
George W chokes on a pretzel, alone. He is by himself, watching the Miami v Baltimore game. Miami quarterback, Jay Fielder, is not doing great. He has not thrown a touchdown pass, today. It’s the start of the fourth quarter, Baltimore’s up, 14-3. First and ten at Baltimore’s forty-eight yard line, Fielder throws up the left side. Incomplete. Fielder looks into the stands. A different sound coming from somewhere inside, or, maybe, impossibly, from outside, Pro Player stadium. Different from the usual cheers and jeers. He breathes deep. Get your head in the game, he says, and admonishes himself, quietly, until it’s time for the next play. He throws up the right side, this time. Incomplete. That sound again, louder. Jay, you idiot, you’re hallucinating, you’re looking for excuses, you’re afraid you won’t get into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, because Freddy let it slip that Walter Blum, from Brooklyn, is definitely getting inducted this year, and, let me, Jay, remind you, Jay, that Walter Blum rode a fucking horse, which isn’t to say he doesn’t deserve the spot, but think, a sixty-eight year-old jockey, from Brooklyn, will be on stage, and you, me, not even half his age, playing in the AFC wild card round, a Long Island kid, on national television, will probably not get in. The noise gets louder. It’s a rasping, strained sound, like someone choking on a pretzel. You’re a fat fuck, Jay, he says to himself. He is about to take off his helmet, saying, If you’re hungry, boy, let’s do this, let’s just eat the grass right here, right now, when another sound, not the intrusive wheezing, but a voice, stays his hands. You realize I denied Canonero II the Triple Crown, yes? Fielder doesn’t recognize the voice. He would like to say, Who is this? but the voice continues. Look, we don’t have much time, I’m not sure how I’m doing this, I woke up not feeling too great this morning, so I told Marcy, sorry, I don’t have it in me to spend the day with Bill and Tonya, like we had planned; she wasn’t happy, but left me alone in the hotel, whereupon I started feeling better, better than better; I rushed down the hall to catch her, to say, I don’t know what happened, but she had already left; the doorman recognized me, came right up to me, saying Belmont Stakes, 1971, smiling at me, and I said yes, that Venezuelan Thoroughbred had it coming, and the doorman said yes, something about that horse’s face really bothered me; he handed me a ticket, to this game, the one you’re playing, and sort of, I’m sorry but sort of botching right now, Jay; I told the doorman no, I couldn’t possibly, but he was very ominous, and said yes, you have to. The rest of the Dolphins are waiting for Fielder to get into position. Fielder squints, but can’t make out any faces in the stands. The voice says, I’m way up here you goof, listen, you have to fumble the next snap. Fielder says, Mr. Blum, am I talking to Walter Blum? The voice says, I told you, we don’t have much time. Why would I fumble? Fielder asks, looking around the stadium. Stop looking for me, says the voice, I’m way up here, and anyway, our president is in trouble. Eddie Jones? asks Fielder. No, says the voice, not the Dolphins’ president, the country’s, the new guy. I voted for Nader, says Fielder, to which the voice groans, and says, You don’t deserve to get into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Don’t I know it, says Fielder. But you will, says the voice, if you fumble. I don’t want to fumble, says Fielder. You have to, says the voice, if you want to be inducted, and also George W will live. Is this, a kind of, moral thing? asks Fielder. Jay, just do it, says the voice. But what if, starts Fielder, but the voice cuts in, saying 32, 27, hut, hut, hike! Tim Ruddy, center for Miami, snaps the ball, which grazes Fielder’s fingers. He dives for it, but it slips out of his grasp. In the White House, a pretzel lodges itself in Bush’s throat. He doesn’t realize how close he is to death. Seeing the fumble causes him to spit it out, far, into the hallway, where it hits Barney, passing by, right on the top of the head.
George W misses the ceremony at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, since he’s in the middle of a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, where he mentions Iraq sixty-six times. Just before Jay Fielder and Walter Blum are inducted, their eyes meet across the hall. They both rise, but the lights dim, and they’re pulled, they can’t say how, back down.
Get to the Chopper
Run to, reach for, jump from, strafe. Draw your, load the, sharpen these, pull. New plan, you take the ledge, I’ll stay behind. No, we can’t both stay behind, we can’t both sacrifice ourselves, one of us has to persevere. Switch the, unlock your, take off the safety. It’s been off the whole time? Don’t you realize what you’ve done? Did you lose the map? Did you drop the ring? You led them straight to us. There’s no way out. We need to split up. Go left, right, up and down, A and B together. We can’t beat them together. We need to separate them. Will you marry me? Go down on one knee, jump up to the vent, quick. We’ll have to crawl. We’ll have to fight our way out of here. This place is swarming with, if only fate, look at our luck, a passageway. You go first. No, we can’t both go first, we can’t both go last, one of us has to follow the other. Duck your, stretch past, hold the, chase. We’ll never make it out of here. Tell my, take this, remember the, kiss. Sex in the airshaft, bust through the panels, land on the enemy, look up serendipity. Flashback, future tense, warp speed, rabbit hole. Are you telling me you’ve had a time machine the whole time? You didn’t know you were AI? Quick, come, stay, shhh. You’re doing great. Push. They say they’ll use the forceps soon. I was a caesarean birth. I never knew my, I always wanted some, there isn’t any, revelation. Thought bubble, shared glance, dot dot dot. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Are you a thought that I am thinking? Are we simulations of each other’s tortured emptinesses? Hide the, swallow the, give me, music. Plot twist, second chance, third act, jump. I’m sorry but we have to jump. We have no other choice. There is no other way. No, I’ll never leave you. Yes, I said some stupid things. Can you swim? Will you fight? I’d like you to have this. Do you have a minute? I’m not going anywhere, but I want you to have this. I had a vision, too much coffee, stomach trouble. I should have moved the car. If everything started three days earlier we’d be home by now. It’s always about me, but there’s no us without me, I have to think of me. I have to think of myself, my family, I made a promise damnit. Turn the, watch your, release the hounds. Now we’re doomed. We’re goners. We’ve lost. I’m done. I’m not sure what I am, but I love you. Will you raise my children? Will you come to bed? Will you wear the, harness the, strap on, click. That’s better. Everything’s gonna be OK. Hold me, hear me, trust me, see. Can’t you see? You have to be me, and I have to be you, it’s our destiny. Drip, trickle, tap, gush. Shit we’re gonna make it. Here it comes. It’s gonna be a big drop. Hold your breath. It’s a long way down. See, but don’t look. Sea, but no sharks. I’m sure there are no sharks. If there are sharks then stop kicking. They’re attracted to, they’re scared of, we all come from water. A long time ago, a galaxy far, inflation in the early universe. It will be over soon. The hard part’s done. I know it’s easy for me to say. I’m an excellent swimmer. I’d teach you but I swore an oath. The shower doesn’t, the towels aren’t, I forgot to, boom. It’s really happened, it’s truly happening. What was all our preparation for? That’s not a sunset, that’s a mushroom cloud. That’s not our child. It can’t be. They switched him when they did the car seat test. I tried to stay awake but it’s been days. How can you say that? Do you hear that? We have to go, right now, I’ll explain on the way. Bundle, shuffle, creep, wait. They’re just gonna let us walk out of here? It has to be a trap, it can’t end like this. Follow-up, paperwork, teaser trailer, sequel. I was serious in every scene, even the deleted ones, even those without a word, no soundtrack, no effects, no fade. The commentary’s been erased, and this alone’s our saving grace.
Thomas Mixon has poetry and fiction in EVENT, The Curator, The Sunlight Press, The Broadkill Review, and elsewhere.