The old man at the end of the counter shakes his head when I tell him the president is beleaguered by scandal. He’s not tied to his phone, like some of you coastal types. He’s not bound even to the latest fashion. I notice he’s wearing an old wide-brimmed hat and rimless spectacles, the kind I haven’t seen outside of movies. He says he’s still with the president, and that he doesn’t pay attention to the daily buzz of news. He has priorities like many real Americans have.
I want to go out to my car, but it’s raining too hard. Coffee here is only a nickel. I order another cup.
I try to say something about the impeachment, but no one can hear me over the noise of the soybeans, growing healthy and strong. I have never heard a soybean so loud before. Here, we have our priorities straight, straight as the corn growing just outside the window. I can’t see my car.
The TVs here aren’t tuned to CNN or MSNBC for the scandal of the day. No, sir. They’re playing what appears to be Rudy Giuliani chanting an uninterrupted mantra for the past six hours. When I look at my watch, the hands don’t seem to move, but when I look at it again after my next sip of coffee, it says hours have passed. How long have I been here?
Someone tries to mention the phone call to the president of Ukraine, and out of nowhere, pigs in all the neighboring fields begin to screech, horribly, an almost human sound, and they only stop when he gives up mentioning it.
The storm is still going.
You might think Donald Trump was mired in scandal, but here at this diner, we don’t agree. We like to see the media get riled up. The corn and soybeans don’t care about what the president has been doing on his phone calls to Ukraine. Whenever I try to ask, something rustles against the window, and it’s corn. I think it must be higher than an elephant’s eye now. The corn is pressed right up to the glass. I think the corn wants to get inside.
There’s a Norman Rockwell painting hung on the wall, and it says it doesn’t think the president has done anything bad. There’s a scarecrow in a pair of dungarees with a big pitchfork. He and his pitchfork both voted for Trump. They will vote for him in the next hundred elections. When I turn around from talking to them, I don’t see the windows anymore. Is it day or night? I thought there used to be windows. Has it always been so dark? Are we underground?
The waitress refills my coffee.
Do we even have foreign adversaries? I forget.
At this truck stop, no one has a reflection. It is 2016 here, I think. Joe Biden has done something wrong. Joe Biden has done something very wrong. Hillary Clinton had better not win. If she wins, the country will be broken for good.
I can’t see out the not-windows at all. I think we’re definitely underground now. The walls are packed earth and so is the clock and it still hasn’t moved and now there is something crawling in the wall.
The wall bursts! There’s an enormous worm here, and I pledge allegiance to it, willingly. I burn my notebook for King Worm! We are burning everything.
My arms are now guns. Everyone laughs. This is our joke together.
We don’t care about a single thing that President Trump has done since taking office. We are not ashamed to say so. We love the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We love the stock market. There’s a crude drawing on the wall of a stock market going up and up, but it doesn’t have a scale indicated on it. I don’t remember coming here.
Real America Doesn’t Care About This Trumped-Up Scandal! Real America Doesn’t Care About Any Of This! Giuliani’s voice chants and chants and reaches a crescendo and the radio chants with it. We are here in the heart of America! The walls squeeze in and out, like the clenching of an enormous fist!
Something somewhere is screaming. Maybe it is the something that used to be me. I feel calmer than I ever have. The scandals don’t touch us here.
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