“It was natural to think of your own end as everyone else was contemplating the demise of the species, or the planet, or the massed celestial ascent of the Elect.”
–Carl Sagan, Contact
Gloomy weather for the last two days has prevented me from exploring the state and searching for proof of disassembly. The deconstruction of the American anti-state will not be less violent for its sluggish pace, and it will not take place within my own home . . . that is, not until the last ineffectual safeguard has been removed and discarded. I must document the gradual devastation out there, but for now—and very possibly for a while yet, if Governor Sununu credits the rumors and strips the people of New Hampshire of our right to travel—my world is this apartment, one in which no one but I have walked in days, maybe even weeks. The glass door to the rain-splattered outside world appears to be thickening with each passing day, but the wooden door to the hallway, behind which unknown people may be listening or steeling themselves to force an entrance, seems to be thinning and weakening with every report of aggressively advancing militarization.
Those footsteps on the other side of that wall . . . are they my neighbors, slipping out for a moment to fetch the morning paper, or are they the creeping boots of myrmidons, wooden tops with heavy weaponry coming to fetch the wayward writer of seditious literature? Only the incurably insouciant fail to notice the nascent fascism, and while I am probably too trifling and insignificant to be hauled off by the first wave of arrests, my number will be called, sooner or later. Little attention, if any at all, will be called to my case: my family scarcely knows who I am, and my pool of friendships has all but completely evaporated. Hardly any effort is needed to make Dack Rouleau disappear, and when the cataclysmic meltdown commences in earnest, who will have the time or psychic fuel to spare on protecting anyone but their own? Nevertheless, I can almost hear the clock ticking down for me, and I wonder just how long it will be before I am part of the autocracy’s collection.
All propensity to hope seems inherently misguided, but to be hopeless is to decompose. Needless to say, to decompose is to die, especially in this funereal epoch of collective decomposition—or is it least of all in these times, when everybody stands on the brink of devastation? Ugh, this is not a question to be tackled on an empty stomach—or, for that matter, with an unclouded mind. Might as well prepare myself a cocktail and allow the creative juices to flow. What’s the harm in drinking a little rum, or even a lot of rum, at four in the afternoon? If the elemental structure of our society isn’t shattering on the impact of the stock market crash, or if the federal agents aren’t printing my name on a list of political criminals, then certainly some other lethal brew is boiling in the cauldron of this crisis? Life will be a cascade of ugliness and cruelty, undeniably intolerable to all but, again, the incurably insouciant, long before we turn the calendar to May. Such, at least, is my expectation, and I like to think I’m pretty well restrained . . . or maybe I’m just docile, pacified by the glass of Boston rum punch to my right.