The headlines are angry. The people are angry. I am angry. I shall be angry with them. I shall vote, and right the fuck now.
I drive a tank to the sub-courthouse, hatch open, helmet on, I’m poking up through the turret thingy like Mike Dukakis. I imagine local news anchors with microphones, how I’ll blast the bastards as in my mind they ask me questions, and in my mind I eviscerate them. My mind is so unkind.
Early voter turnout, the man on the radio says, is three times higher than it’s ever been before. Yes, I snarl. This is good, I say, pounding the wheel, flashing my brights. My vote will be bigger than any of them.
The lawn at the sub-courthouse is covered with red, white, and blue signs because all the candidates are just so patriotic, so American. “I shall crush you under my treads!” I cry, crushing them all. All but the one sign that’s black-and-white. If there’s some meaning behind it, I’m not privy, but I don’t care or need to know. It’s clear-cut, for me, the choice. It’s black-and-white.
The ladies in red and blue shirts, standing behind their red-white-and-blue signs for their red-white-and blue candidate, piss me off with their smiles, their waves, their apple-pie Americana. The way they greet everyone driving up, everyone walking by, like cheerleaders, ramrodding us all towards their candidate, reminding us of his place at the bottom of the ballot. I want them to engage me, because I’m enraged, I want to shout. I want to fire back. I don’t even know who their candidate is. I just want to blast them for being pleasant when the fate of the world is at stake. “Why are you so normal?” I cry.
I leave the tank running and fast-walk, looking for a fight. I overtake an old white lady with a limp, give her a shove as I pass and try to start something. “Vote or hobble, honey, but get out of my way!” She doesn’t bite, just looks shocked. I arrive at the door several steps ahead of her, glance over my shoulder like Larry David, gauging how far back she is and wondering whether to keep going or bar the door. Turns out she’s waiting for someone, her husband, even slower, and others are coming and going anyway, so fuck it.
Inside, an old black man with a white ball cap and gray beard wants to start some shit but backs down when he sees my intensity, just directs me to the line and offers me a sticker that says I Voted! I tell him no thanks and he furrows his brow, says, “You don’t want a sticker?” What?! I scream, and he doesn’t comprehend why, nor do I. “What am I, in kindergarten?” I explain. “Goddammit!” I add, getting no response.
The limping old white lady and her husband end up behind me in line. They ask a volunteer if it’s okay if they go to the same booth together but vote separately. I shout no fracking way, that’s collusion! But the volunteer says cheerily of course and flags another volunteer to coordinate a strategy, then moves on, greets everyone in line except me, the one looking too sinister to approach, and puts her arm around the guy in front of me, who she knows, I guess. They cuddle. Conspire. Collude.
When I get to the front of the line a Hispanic lady rejects my voter registration card, and it’s on. “You wanna suppress my vote, lady? You wanna gerrymander my ass?” But she only wants my driver’s license. I fumble for it, hands shaking, flip it to her. She scans it, hands it back, and I turn to go, not even knowing where to go next or what to do, because I’m a good, angry American, and I want my voice heard, like right now. She says wait, we’re not done, and now I’m ready to beat her ass, but she prints me a receipt with a code and sends me along. It has my name on it, too, with the code, and I’m like, “What, you think I’m stupid? You think I’m gonna let you pin my ballot to my name so you can hunt me down later? Gestapo tactics!”
Everyone just stares at me. A young man holding a toddler pulls out a cell phone, punches three numbers, puts it to his ear, waits.
I grab a voting booth, grab it by the balls, and vote straight party ticket. I’ve never voted straight party ticket because I vote for people not parties. But not today, no sir, I can’t see myself ever doing that again. It’s never been more black and white.
I jab my finger, the middle one, at the little button says cast ballot. I jab hard, repeatedly, and all the names disappear and the screen goes black, and just as I suspected, it’s all a sham, a hack, but then the American flag appears, flutters, assures me my ballot has in fact been cast. So they say. And a little graphic of an elephant appears, and out of his ass pops Colin Kaepernick, his Black Power fist held high. I spin, enraged, shout, “What the fuck is this?” and the man with the cell phone points to me as the cops enter, and this time I do have to push down the limping old lady to escape.
I see one of “them” coming, I just know it. Something about his shirt and tie, it’s such a corrupt ensemble, no compassion. He holds the door for me with a smile that’s cordial but not friendly. I punch the belly fat hanging over his belt and shout “Dewey defeats Truman!” Wasn’t sure what I meant and still don’t know.
Outside, the ladies are still smiling and waving in their red and blue shirts. Everyone seems to be in good cheer, high spirits. Where are your pom-poms, girls? I cry, clambering back into my tank. I’m angry. And the headlines are angry. The news itself is angry, if you can even call it news anymore.
I close the hatch on the tank and the boots of the coppers clambering over top echo in my ears, the buts of their guns pounding on the hull.
Out of breath, sweating, it occurs to me that I was the only angry one. Where was all the anger?