I’m going to share this with you, but I don’t want you to tell anyone. I mean it. No one. Now, come a little closer and listen up.
My dear friend and attorney, E. Hobart Calhoun, Esq., is considering a run for Congress, and has asked me to help in the decision-making process. It is important that this be kept under wraps until the evaluation and planning stage is complete.
I am sure you are not aware that I spent a year in the Tannenbaum Juvenile Detention Center with Phil A. “Buster” Mignon, now a political consultant on the national stage. He is a brilliant strategist, known for the ingenious “wide stance” explanation for bus station men’s room toe-tapping allegations involving a southern governor; the “all I know is what I read in the newspaper” defense now used by political appointees of both parties; and the soothing “I’m not lying this time” rejoinder, a tried-and-true winner in press conferences.
Buster came to prominence with the publishing of his first non-fiction book, VAGUENESS IS YOUR FRIEND, which grew out of his PhD dissertation at the Adlai Stevenson Political Institute for Benign Neglect at Acapella University. VAGUENESS was a best seller, as was his follow-up, DEMAGOGUERY FOR DUMMIES. Both are still required reading for poli sci majors in most colleges.
Lest you think Buster is all theory, he has also run a number of notable campaigns for THE RENT IS TOO HIGH PARTY. Master of the photo-op, he has orchestrated tank rides and wind-surfing shots for Democratic presidential candidates, and candid mortgage foreclosure meeting footage for Republicans.
E. and I huddled with Buster in E.’s sumptuous office high atop One Walgreen Square. E. had his teeth bleached for the meeting.
“Can you lie through those things?” Buster asked, squinting at E’s chops.
“I am a very successful attorney.”
“Enough said. Have you been faithful to your wife?”
“Which one? Should I be? Or should I have been?”
“Yes,” Buster said. “With all of them, unless the girl friends were really, really good looking.”
“I’ll get you a list,” E. said, “with photos.”
“Ever been intimate with a goat?”
E. became pensive, rubbing his jaw. “I’m going to need a time frame on that one. You talking, like, recent?”
Buster had come up with some great suggestions for E’s platform:
THE RIGHT OF THE DEAD TO VOTE ABSENTEE. Buster painted a vivid image of a typical longtime voter whose ashes are trapped in a cheap dime store urn on a mantle somewhere thinking, “This just burns me up.” E. agreed the law should let the dead vote by affidavit of a loved one or a canvasser who has been paid to get out the dead vote.
THE RIGHT TO AN EXCLUSIVE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE AT A DECENT PRICE. Buster said there’s a lot of animosity in citizens who are relegated to cruises on ships the size of Montana that host up to a million guests, overeating and overheating. E.’s promise: a personal butler and concierge for each voting traveler. And free drinks and nabs.
THE RIGHT TO WRITE POETRY. Citizens losing full-time employment should receive government benefits to develop right-brain skills like painting, macramé, quilting, or writing. E. said “My God, do we even have to debate this? Voters should have the right to become a Cezanne, a Queen Mary II of 17th Century England(famous macramé-er), a Betty Lou Pisgah (famous quilter), or a Hemingway.”
THE RIGHT TO REASONABLE RENT. Buster insisted E. adopt the plank of The Rent Is Too Damn High Party, active in New York. Party leader Jimmy McMillan has run for Mayor of New York twice, and governor once. Until recently the party had only three registered members in New York, but 41,129 New Yorkers voted for Rent Is Too Damn High nominee McMillan in the 2010 gubernatorial contest, giving him almost 1% of over 4 million votes cast, just shy of making the runoff.
E. was ecstatic about his platform, but described to Buster his Plan B.
“This is all great, but if I lose,” E. said, “I’ll stick with my plan to sue E-mail providers and makers of the E-bola vaccine for unauthorized use of my name. I’ll make billions.”
Michael Henry is a writer in Oxford. A graduate of Tulane and Virginia Law School, Henry published his seventh novel, Finding Ishmael, in April, 2014.