I felt my face redden in a second. Odd, since at the same time any un-spilt blood still left in my body headed shoe-ward.
“That remark was un-called-for, Governor.” was all I could manage, as I stared into the forest of rented fresnels there in WITF-TV’s Studio A, hurriedly turned into the scene of tonight’s coast-to-coast slaughter. Even the moderator had a quick laugh at my expense, then wiped her mustache with the back of a sleeve, eyeing the on-the-air light on the nearest camera. The name-card on her podium read “Ms.Anna Toteberg, Moderator”. Just great, remind me to fire Larry, my trusted preparer. I was sure he’d said ‘Nina Totenberg’.
But no time to quibble, the audience was already crying for more blood; “Grill, baby, grill!” they chanted in unison, drowning out my feeble:
“..unless of course if it was ‘called-for’, in which case I’d call it.. callous, or callow, or…um..Calico? No that’s my cat…” With any luck they’d cut that out of the transcript, I hoped. My she-devil of an opponent wouldn’t let up:
“Senator, you’re the one who’s been comparin’ yourself to Tchaikovsky all night. Well, I knew Piotyr, he was a friend of mine…”
“…Yeah and you can see his house off your back porch, huh?” I cut in, but to no avail.
“And frankly, Solberg, there’s a diference between Pathetique and pathetic.”
The audience loved that. Especially her planted minions. My people, on the other hand, just leaned into each other’s ears, whispering ‘What’s funny?”
Larry, just off-camera. gave me a little hand-chop signal. ‘Attack’, like a catcher signalling for a fastball. As if I had one… Oh wait,
“Governor, there’s a wide perception that you come with, let’s call it, ‘a gender agenda‘.” I tried to sound, you know, stately. “Is it true that..”
“What, and Tchaikovsky doesn’t?” She jabbed back. “Sir, this is not an appropriate forum for add homonym attacks.” ‘Patton’, whatever her damn name was, was clearly out of her league rhetorically , but so was Bush; who cared anymore? Anna, the faux-Totenberg stepped in at that point to moderate, I suppose she called it in her imagination, addressing a question to me:
“Senator, you’ve described yourself as ‘a devout hat-erosexual’, perhaps you’d like to clarify that point?”
“Well perhaps I would. I was of course mis-quoted. Fox does that, you know. What I said was..”
“He can’t do it without the fez on, huh?” Patton’s team had made sure she had that card near the top, and I noticed her big smirk of relief at turning over another game piece. It pissed me off to see the ugly little piggy so relish making mincemeat of a nice young pup like me.
“Lady, you can leave your hat on.. in fact, the whole get-up, the purple polyester jumpsuit… and those boots!”.
“Senator, I wouldn’t do you if you were the last moose on Mount McKinley!” she snorted, mainly for her lackeys in the front rows, who were in stitches by now. I was clearly up against a minor comedic talent, I thought, wishing I could truthfully add ‘not‘. I looked over at ‘Tot-berg’, whatever, expecting her to break the clinch, but she just bent into her mike and added “Me neither.” as she looked at her watch, then continued.
“We have less than five minutes remaining. Governor, perhaps you’d like to address this ‘Holy Grail’ we keep reading about?”
Oh no, I thought, just when journalistic ethics had hit bottom, we sink into a new Marianas Trench..
“Yes, it’s located at 221 North Main Street in scenic downtown Vasilica, and we offer a charming mix of American and foreign dishes, from countries like India and Africa. Viewers can call now for reservations, at the number you see at the bottom of your screen.”
She was running out the clock, going all fervent about their tasty ‘holy gruel’, and the next-door “Bar & Holy Grille” when I’d heard enough.
“Holy Growl, am I all alone here?” I shouted into my Mr. Microphone®. They’d spared no expense in the effort to make me both look and sound like a fool. Even my cardboard podium, I noticed for the first time during this sorry hour-in-hell, was coming apart already, Tab ‘B’ not having found its way into slot ‘C’. Anyway, I’d seen enough carnage. Larry was talking into his cell, not even listening anymore. I was hungry, I had to admit. Really starved. Not to the point of “Moose Guts at the Tundras” or whatever the hell her dumb restaurant was called, mind you, but hey, I might as well just wake up now and make a bowl of soup, I realized. Plus it’ll save me having to drive home, too. I probably woulda hit a deer on the highway anyway. Shit like that keeps happening in dreams like this.