You Might Not Want To Grab This Stick, Sir. There Is No Clean End.

For those of you who don’t want to participate in political discussions, or are such special snowflakes that you might melt in the face of strong opinion, this may be the week for you to head over to the Huffington Post and Salon. This will not be a venue you wish to frequent. I’ll be sorry to see you go, hope you’ll be back on the tenth of November, but probably won’t lose a lot of sleep over it if you label me and delete the bookmark from your browser. (On Netscape, which I suspect you’re still using if you’re taking that path, the control you’re looking for is on the upper right.)

So, fair warning: it’s pretty political from here on in until the election is over. I’ll put the rest below the fold.

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Once again, flash fiction for you. Absolutely no relationship between this and real events. A fever dream from the swamp.


Comey had just finished his sandwich when the new figure appeared in the chair across the desk from him. This was not a trend he was enjoying.

“Who are you?”

The visitor looked like a fleshy Tommy Lee Jones with bad hair. Nothing spoke to his history except a shiny suit and a very large bow tie.

“I’m Andrew Johnson.”

Comey pushed the plate to the side, set both elbows on the desktop and planted his chin in his palms. “Yeah. Like I said, who are you. And don’t you guys show up at midnight? Washington did last time.”

“George is a bit of a dramatist. I’m more of a pragmatist. I’m also the 17th President. Lincoln’s Vice President. Let me tell you, that was a miserable day. His wife was insufferable and I had to pretend to comfort… never mind. Washington was here because he’s a role model. I’m here to tell you what happens if you let this thing get out of control. Look me up: I’m the poster child for out of control.”

Comey belched a sour cloud of chicken salad and stared at his visitor. “Not a great day for me, either. But I doubt you’re the poster child for bad presidents.”

Johnson, brushed his hair back and sighed. “Until recently, I had the market cornered. It took you less than 100 years to top my failures, but now you’ve had four that met the mark. Nobody learns from history. But we have hope for you. So, ready for tonight’s lesson?”

The director pushed his chair back, crossed his legs, and fetched a couple of antacids from the desk drawer. “I don’t suppose you’ll take no for an answer, so please proceed.”

“I got to follow Mr. Lincoln. I am a son of the South, and I wanted the country to heal after the war. I let the situation get away from me, and did a great disservice to the former slaves. I was also so headstrong that when I met people who I viewed as a problem, I went deep end. In the end, I did pull the country together, only because they all hated me.”

Comey smiled for the first time in days. “You survived your impeachment by only a single vote, didn’t you?”

“Yes. And her husband seemed to pick me as a role model. I wasn’t any of the things Bill Clinton was, except from the South. Well, a few things. But I’m here to tell you not to let a civil war take place. You see, it does no good for anyone. You, Mr. Director, can gain the good of a war but without the bloodshed and acrimony. It requires you to apply your principles but not be bellicose like Abraham Lincoln. He had a good heart, and wanted to do the right thing, but he pushed the country into war. Picking up the pieces was a near thing. Be soft. Do things by the light of law. Don’t gloat. Be cautious. But be resolved that if you fail, another like me will have to come along and bind the wounds of a nation.”

“I wish it were that simple. President Washington said it would be, and now you do as well. But how can I be sure that this will prevent a civil war?”

Johnson grabbed a mint from the tin on the desk. “You can’t be sure. But you can be sure that if you don’t, it will all go to hell if she’s elected. You’ve seen the evidence. She’ll be the third president to be impeached. Second one in the same family. That’s a record that will stand for a long time. It may be the last president to be impeached. Do you want that to be your legacy?”

“James, pray on it. Don’t let this explode. I don’t think you can bind this wound this time. Too much is at stake. Let the laws of the land survive the scandal. Without the law, you’re nothing more than a sad reflection of what you should have been. Like me.”

The apparition faded out as James Comey stared at his chair. He still had a few days to decide.

His soul was as inflamed as his stomach.

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Come back Thursday for an installment that you can doubtless identify with if you were born before 1960.

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