Friday, October 26, 2018

24 Minutes in the Life of America

24 Minutes in the 

Life of America

Editors' Note: The Spy is not just your comprehensive source for hard news and trenchant opinion.  It's so much more, like a showcase for the finest in writing and photography featuring the talents of our far-flung network of stringers and freelancers.  That's why we decided, what with all the scary news about bombs being sent to critics of the Grifter-in-Chief (which bombs he places in quotation marks to demonstrate he doesn't think they're real), to step back for a minute and fill a few pages with a reflective moody impressionistic pastiche of America at this moment – not just the rich and powerful but the little people, the common clay of our land, your fellow Americans, you know – [We get the setup. – Ed.]

6:42 a.m. New York City.

Dawn is just breaking over the skyscrapers of Sixth Avenue as Alison Porchnik, 28 [Our records say 33 – Fact Checker], an assistant producer, takes a sip of her lukewarm coffee and grimaces at the bank of monitors in front of her at Fox News World Headquarters.  Her mind is filled with questions.  What did that f***in' idiot Brian just say?  Why can't he just read from the prompter in front of him?  Is this what I spent four years at New York University for?  Why can't I find a decent apartment in Williamsburg for less than $3,000 a month?  Would it really be so bad to marry Sidney Feigenbaum, DDS?  He's boring and bald and lives in Mineola, but at least his income would pay off her student loans.

Not only that, she has a segment to fill up for Cruella de Vil at 10 tonight and she has nothing.  Democratic mobs?  Last week.  Leftist intolerance on campus?  Last night.  Planned Parenthood's plot to murder millions of babies?  Alison remembers the memo from Bill that said no more pro-life stories; it's not helping in the suburban swing districts.

What then?  She scans the monitors and sees a bunch of people walking, mostly women and small children.  They're not white.  They're aliens.  They are only 1,200 miles away from the U.S. border!  Perfect – by the time Alison is finished, the tape will look like a Honduran blitzkrieg.

3:44 a.m. Las Vegas, Nevada

The old man sleeps badly.  Despite his billions, he is racked by worries.  Finally, he gives up, rings the bell for his night attendant and flips on the light.  Far below his 48th floor penthouse the lights of the Strip blaze, luring a never-ending stream of suckers and lushes into his casino, where they will be only too happy to turn over their life savings to him.

His night attendant Yossi and two women whose names he can no longer remember wrestle him into his robe and onto his scooter.  He maneuvers his way into the living room, with its bank of monitors and secure phones.  He sees one of his underlings in Tokyo and barks, “Do we have that Tokyo casino license yet?”  The stricken look on his minion's face tells him everything he needs to know.  The old man spits out, “F*** this.”

5:46 a.m. Memphis, Tennessee

Inside the battered RV, the lights are already on.  Nathan Forrest, 72, finishes his first Winston as he helps his wife change her oxygen tank.  He has to hurry because his 12-hour warehouse shift begins at 7 a.m. and he must walk four miles to get there.  There's no retirement for Nathan: he needs the $7.25 an hour to make ends meet.  He took lower Social Security payments beginning at 62 because his former employer had gone broke and stopped paying his pension.  Some days his back hurts so much from lugging 45 pound boxes that he wonders if he'll survive until his shift ends.  He bids his wife farewell, and leaves his trailer, proudly wearing his Make America Great Again hat.

6:48 a.m. Rockville, Maryland

The sun hits the driver right in the eyes as he turns off the Beltway.  Back in Iran, he was a doctor, but here he drives a Toyota Camry for ride hailing apps.   As he hoped, it's a lucrative downtown run.  For an hour battling traffic on Connecticut Avenue he'll gross $15 after gas and lease payments.  If he can get a decent fare downtown, so much the better, although the $3.25 he gets for the run from Farragut to Capital Hill won't pay too many overdue hospital bills.  He stops in front of a raised rambler with a dying lawn.  The house looks familiar.  He sees his passenger flying out of the house, trying vainly to get into his jacket while cradling his cell phone.  Not this asshole again.  This guy is a reporter for some newspaper or something and will spend the entire ride whining into his phone.  What he won't ever do is tip.

Sure enough, the passenger climbs into the back seat with nary a word of greeting.  Into his phone he whines, “He said what?  An invasion?  ISIS terrorists? . . . Yes, I'll see if I can get any clarification from the Press Office.”

5:52 a.m. Liberal, Kansas

Maria Fernandez, 23, has been at work for almost an hour, making sure that the chickens hanging upside down from the chain are dead and pulling off their heads as they speed by, 50 a minute.  Her gloves and smock are already covered with blood and feathers  but at $10 an hour it's the best she can do with the Social Security Number she bought from Manuel behind the grocery store.  Her supervisor tells her than she is taking too many bathroom breaks and that if she can't manage the work while pregnant she should quit.  Her supervisor also told her that she should have kept her legs together and welcomed Jesus into her life instead.  As he walks away, he tells her to take pride in her work, because one of her chickens could end up eaten by the President of the United States.  She spits at a chicken, hoping she's gotten the right one.

6:59 a.m.  Greenwich, Connecticut

The CEO of the hedge fund that owns the warehouse in Memphis and the slaughterhouse in Liberal cycles away on his Peloton, watching a financial news channel.  The quarterly numbers look good.  The cut in the corporate tax rate has increased his after-tax profits by 40%.  Therefore the stock price is up 40%.  Therefore his net worth increased from $2 to $2.8 billion since January 1.  Finally, he thinks, he can afford to dump his second wife and maybe trade up to a hot youngish actress, like Steve-o.  Life is good, he thinks.

7:01 a.m.  Malone, New York

Inside a vast cold warehouse sit thousands of computer servers and storage units, handling billions of  bytes of data each second for Twitter.  Although the facility sprawls over 10 acres and receives a $24,000,000 of subsidized electricity each year, it employs only 30 people.  In Aisle 255, six servers blink on.   A Tweet from the President of the United States warning of an imminent invasion by Honduran and Iranian terrorists has been sent to 65,000,000 accounts and retweeted by 4.3 million bots.

7:06 p.m. U.S. Embassy, Tokyo

The NIACT alarm goes off in the Embassy's com center.  A cable authorized by the President is to be delivered at once to the Ambassador.  But the Ambassador is taking his weekly visit to the baths and so the message goes to the DCM.  It reads simply: WHERE THE FUCK IS THE CASINO LICENSE?

5:22 p.m., Old Sludgebury, Mass.

The Spy's Special Projects Editor looks at the assembled pointless drivel his team has put in front of him for a big feature about 24 Minutes in the Life of America, which is supposed to cover 8 pages on Sunday.  “This is all you got?” he rails. “You're all fired!”

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