“Virgil?” I said.
“Melania Trump,” the figure said. “Follow me, and I will guide you among these ominous trees, through a place where you will hear desperate lamentations and see ancient, disconsolate spirits in torment. Would you like a tour of the White House Christmas decorations?”
And Melania led me through a portal, over which was emblazoned “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” festively on a nice little garland.
“Here is the first circle of decorations,” she said, “where those who did not believe or give enough *bleeps* about the Christmas stuff are forced to lead tours for eternity,” and she flashed me a sickly white grin.
And as we passed into that first chamber with its stately forest of red and green trees, outside the window I spied faces pressed up to the glass. “They are Never Trumpers,” she explained. “They cannot hope to enter in this place, but only watch from without.”
And in this first circle of decorations I saw Love and Faith contained in little boxes, tied with ribbons and labeled. And in that room I did behold many trying to claw the boxes open and let Love and Faith out, but they could not, and these were the religious leaders who had endorsed the president overtly and tacitly.
And in the next room was a row of poinsettias, ominous and red. And in those ominous, red leaves I saw many souls with enormous maps of the United States, counting and recounting vote totals, and always astounded. “I thought there would be more décor that was ominous and red, generally,” I said.
“That was 2018,” Melania said.
In the third chamber was a small fir under a gold chandelier, and there I saw Susan Collins holding the tree, and being made to adjust it in many directions, always about to set it firmly into its stand, but never quite doing so. “I thought she was not punished for this,” I said. Melania only shrugged.
And in the room thereafter was a painting of a stag surrounded by wintry forest, and the stag’s eyes were frightened. “Why is the stag frightened?” I asked. “This was a Proud Boy,” Melania said. “And in life he loved to hearken to dog whistles, but now the sound of the dog whistle fills him with terror.” And as we watched, the stag turned even whiter with terror.
There was a fifth room that ought to have a roaring fire, but it was cold, all white and gold, and in it sat Ivanka placing call after call to her friends in New York, and the phone rang and rang and was not answered. Shelves full of books lined the walls of this chamber, and there did I see a man straining on a ladder to grasp at one of them, but the book was always just out of reach and he was never quite of stature enough to reach it. “Jared?” I said.
“That is the one book more that will make him an expert on the Middle East,” said my cicerone, and as she spoke, a wind buffeted him and he was forced to climb all the way up the ladder again.
And in the sixth room, a band, all masked, played Christmas tunes, and I saw many souls there straining to listen. “These are those who claimed in life never to have seen a thing that the president said or tweeted and thus said they could not be brought to condemn it,” Melania said. “And now they strain to hear the music, but it will never reach their ears.”
In the next chamber, I watched a miniature train run around and around, and there on the tracks of the train lay many who had given their loyalty to Donald Trump and seen it unrequited, and first among them was Chris Christie.
And in the eighth chamber beyond that stood an enormous Christmas tree, with 10 great branches. From one branch of this tree dangled many who awaited pardons, and from another some who had received pardons yet still bore a stain. On one branch was an ornament of a speedboat, and Rudy Giuliani stood on the swift boat shouting about voter fraud, but none heeded him. “For what crime is this man being punished?” I asked, but Melania shrugged and said he was there on his own time.
Hanging from the fourth branch was a stuffed flag ornament, and inside it came a mighty screaming, from all those who had said the Statue of Liberty did not mean what it said it meant, who had designed the cruel immigration policies, and this stuffed flag screamed and writhed in agony and shed its sequins on the floor.
And then on the tree I did behold a stuffed “Be Best” ornament that vaguely resembled a model coronavirus, and Melania put a finger to her lips and said no more.
She led me down into the ninth chamber, where there was a lake of icing and atop it an enormous gingerbread model of the White House, with wreaths hung in all its windows. Outside it sat a gingerbread Vice President Pence with a frozen expression of abject devotion, never to pass inside, and from within it issued a gingerbread screaming that the election was not yet done, and all who heard it quavered.
And as I turned to pass from beyond that place, I saw a hand reach into the gingerbread house and seize the gingerbread man inside it, and bear it up toward an enormous, cavernous, hungry mouth —
And then I awoke, and I was out of the wood, and it was as though the White House Christmas decorations had never been, and I fell upon my knees and swore to repent. And that is how the White House Christmas decorations were this year.
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