the giant orange Sue Pac-Man ghost crashes into the barcade. the ghost flies around in a circle as all the razed pipes spew forth their last drip. the owner strokes his hipster half-beard and exclaims "fuck it".
barcadekeep: the world is ending. forget it. this is an amusement park now. this is a novelty! come one, come all, all the games are free, all the drinks are free!
James Comey wades through the rushing water in nothing but socks. he grabs the broken barcade door with one finger and fixes it in place using his thumbnail as a screwdriver.
Comey: this place is a ghost town. this'll drum up business in the final hour. here.
barcadekeep: what is it?
Comey: the new quarter. blank on both sides the way the Founding Fathers really wanted it.
barcadekeep: thank you sir but my machines, uh machine, won't run on those.
Comey: try it. slip one in as my Boy Scout Troop Master always used to order me.
the barcadekeep puts one in the slot. the arcade cabinet of the Ms. Pac-Man video game buzzes and lights and rocks back and forth.
barcadekeep: wow. it's hard to make someone as jaded as i am stroke his chin in wonderment.
Comey: see? i changed the federal money system. you're our alpha store. or beta shop. our first one. soon only this game will be playing. everything else in the world can't be bought or priced against gold or used with the old traditional quarters anymore. you'll make a million dollars in an hour.
the Sue ghost turns dark blue. the bags under her eyes turn light blue. and she explodes in a torrent of goo. most of it lands in the barcadekeep's mouth.
barcadekeep: tastes like metastasized cancer!
Comey: nah, blueberry.
Comey sticks out his tongue and wraps his large hands around the barcadekeep's shoulder. they both laugh for an hour.
Comey: ever since i can remember i always took notes. in fact the first note i ever took was this one i have crumpled up and keep sacred in my blue blazer backpocket here, here let me show you.
it says scribbled in crayon: I AM A MAN
as i grew and my legs grew i was writing notes on all of my experiences. my first kiss, i wrote on her forehead, she went with the school milkman after that. my first bad grade, i used my first graphite pencil to change the grade before mother could see it. my first graffiti, i wrote FUCK THE SYSTEM with my first bold pen on the kindergarten bathroom stall. i just always felt i needed to capture the moment permanently. i wasn't into cameras and such, just low-tech. i guess you could say i was the first lifecaster.
in school at my first spelling bee, i was the first person to use index cards to cheat. my teachers were so impressed they implemented index cards in their classrooms from then on. the whole index-card thing as a mnemonic device was my idea. as i matured and my love of the arts matured i got into fingerpaints. i broke into the Louvre with my spy skills. you know how they say the Mona Lisa is really the second draft and there's an underlying first draft in pencil under it made visible with blue light? i did that sketch. it was a nude version of the Mona Lisa called the Monna Vanna. i knew that witch as La Joconde anyway. only a trained eye can spot pornography.
spray paint was so crude. i was into large-scale events. stuff that makes society turn its head and do a double-take and go huh? and think about it afterwards. i did the whole Banksy phenomenon thing. that was me. but i pawned it off on my roommate when the cops came. the point was i kept my thumb on the scale at every turn. every bit of pop culture was made a memory cos i wrote it down and recorded it somewhere. on a piece of paper or piece of tape or a wall.
they ask me Jim, why do you memorialize everything? don't you look like a doofus when you go to dinner and have a pad in your hand and a green pencil in your ear?
i tell 'em, well gosh shucks i'm a sucker for Memorial Day. i guess i'm just a patriot.
Comey: it was on today that i had a breakthrough. but it wasn't one till my associate from the bureau informed me of such. for me it's just another Wednesday going about my business being my usual self. i'm the top cop and have to train my agents better. how bad would it look if i got tripped up? especially with my long legs.
i was at headquarters in Los Angeles enjoying the bikinis strewn on the sand and beach drinks like water. see whether or not it was a punk show life is one big prank-show to me so i don't care. i raced back to the other headquarters in a green state called Virginia and cleared my office of all the pencils stuck in the holed ceiling. that's when my two top associates air-knocked on my door. by top i mean favorite.
Fox Mulder: Langley always has such nice weather at night. did you really get a dinner invite from President Bump?
Comey: yessireefox. it went something like this...
Dana Scully: whoa, double flashback. flashbackception.
Comey: it'll be cool like a Lost flashback...
Comey: yes. you rang, sir? not a bugged phone.
Bump: Jim. how's circus life going, Jim?
me: yes sir, Red Nose Day went well. they said i was funny.
Bump: come join me for Tony Roma's, Jim. it's a good man. for ribs.
me: Tony Roma's? that venison must be medieval tough by now. i haven't heard that name since the '80s. you are living in the '80s, sir.
Bump: come join me for a big-ass chocolate cake, Jim. i like you, Jim. men named Jim are good honest trustworthy loyal people.
so i went to partake of the cake. and my mouth was so dirty afterwards with crumbs. that cake was full of liquid smoke. i planted a file in the cake when Bump was distracted combing his hair with his big flat salad fork.
Mulder: i love how you regard cake as dinner. a double-cut flat file?
Comey: oh no, a video-recording device. i was keeping a digital file on him.
Scully: well done, sir. what's our next move? do you want me to seduce him for you?
Comey: i would Agent Dana as that is an easy trap to set for him, but i'm afraid your red hair won't do. it's too late to wait till you grow out of this role and get older and go back to your blonde hair. we got the file in a vault in the bowels of Headquarters. either one, either coast. the vault is being protected by Doctor Who, the all-seeing space man. i'm sure we have nothing to worry about. all our duckfaces are in a row. crossed all the eyes and dotted the T cells.
at the prison, Goody Paul hangdogs his face while he plays an out-of-tune harmonica. the harmonica is fine but he plays the song out-of-tune. he wails to his witch wife Dammi and Roger Federer all three crammed in one of those open-bar cell square spaces literally right next to the police desk at police places. very Andy Griffith.
Goody: it all finally caught up with you, huh Roger?
Federer gives the finger.
Dammi: why the long face?
Goody: hey you the ugly one. oh, well i'm depressed now but moods are current, not permanent. there's always hope for the future as long as you survive. i'm still managing to drown myself in my work. got an interview right now i'm doing with a phone and a tape recorder.
Goody: hello? Maria? this call is monitored. so why aren't you playing the French Open? i thought your harmless drug suspension was lifted.
Sharapova: that was humiliating to lose to that mouthy French girl like that. and i hated that tall flasher in the crowd who kept lawnmowering the score in the melty Madrid mud. i can't show my face in Parisian public. still not over it. i hate when the bad guys win. there's something demoralizing about it, it's like this isn't how life should go, there should be justice in the world.
Goody: technically Bouchard is French-Canadian. don't shower her with any more La Ville Lumiere than she deserves. instead shed light. oh well, it's gonna be boring this year. Serena is a bringer of light delivering her much-needed child into this decimated world. that baby and Beyonce's baby will be our twin queens. Fed won't play, he's stewing at the moment. can i ask you guys jointly a query while i got you both on the line here?: is ANYBODY playing the French Open this year, haha?
Federer gives the finger.
Goody: as long as i'm in jail i've been quite introspective about myself and my place in the world and the skin world. but it's boring now, i want to leave. but i have faith. faith in a higher being who will deliver me from evil. with her black magic.
Goody: *smiling showing his white teeth* i know that no matter what happens, my wife has my stabbed back and will make me disappear without a trace.
Federer: *sulking* we have the same masseuse? that guy stabbed my back when my face was towel-down with a salad fork and called it ancient acupuncture and ran away before i caught his face. cost me another chance to rub Nadal's face in the red dirt. the massive masseuse said he wanted to cause a points war. he said he wanted another Monica thing. i assumed he meant Lewinsky. he said he'd be back to finish the job with his pizza knife.
Dammi's smirk widens. she lifts a finger.
Goody: and i love her for it. my childhood dreams came true. why be a ninja when you can marry an escape artist?
Goody and Dammi slowly disappear into thin air. leaving Federer in the lurch alone in the humid wet jail cell.
Comey enters the station and opens the jail door without a key.
Comey: come on, Rog, you're done. it's all over. time for you to take the chair............................the chair-umpire chair.
on the floor of the cell is a metal file.
Federer gives the finger.
at the spelling-bee hall Ari swims back home with her little girl on her back. she is so exhausted she doesn't question anything. she sits down to the table and notices her husband dripping. but she's into dipping. beside her are three dips: fra diavolo, sunday gravy, and batter scraps. and old bae crab sauce. she swallows her food whole.
husband: it looks like a dog's dinner.
the cats: or a cat's.
Ari: you can talk?!
daughter: can we keep them, mommy!? *double hug*
Ari breaks into a laughing fit.
the cats: we're not cats. we're Flerken. this is Chewie. and i'm Bacca.
sons: Captain Marvel is hot!
husband: enough of those damn shows.
the husband takes a piece of raw white chopped ham and begins chewing. it's so tough it never melts in his mouth but keeps being a congealed ball of goo on his tongue. it turns into disgusting globules of fat and infects his toothcaps. he chokes for the first time.
Ari: drink some hot water, dear.
husband: how do you like your beans? fresh from my field.
Ari: far afield. Mexico. i like them refried.
the husband had been planning a platter but his wife altered their plans. he forms a line of refried beans on the plate and hurriedly cracks a raw egg into the pot. he barely has time to cook it, he fries it on one side only just singing it before he places it in his mouth. five minutes later, he's feeling that uncooked egg swishing in his stomach. he gags and retches as it comes back up his jelly pipe and is ready to barf all over the table but his throat only retches empty air. he chokes for the second time.
husband: i feel so sick.
Ari, from the toilet: you're sick? i'm sick. i feel like i'm going to die. my stomach is a cesspool. i'm shitting out little bits of red poo flakes which never stop dripping. but i'm strong, dammit. i'm a Proverbs 31 Woman and this, too, shall pass.
the husband swims outside to gather some supplies. he reaches the tequila bar and picks off the chili lights. they turn into light-colored chilaquiles. he places a line of them on the other side of the rotten egg he's spit out on the plate.
husband, wearily: sunny side up.
Ari: oh, rancheros! i've always wanted to live on a ranch. this old house is done.
husband: no, they're huevos divorciados.
the husband was holding on to dear life by the bent curved telephone pole attached to their house as the ragewaters came in. his sons had pretended to be Super Grover and jumped out the window to fly. luckily the pane of glass had already been stolen but the boys were lost at this newly-formed sea.
the husband closes his eyes and lets go. he knows he has to swim to save his life. by saving his boys' life.
the husband, cupping one stroke-hand: boys! BOYS! where are you? i'd die for you!
JUST THEN he crosses swimming paths with Mike Manley. Mike is drenched but his face is pristine and dry.
Mike says not a word and motions that his strong hand has found something under the water.
Mike: they're at the bottom. drowning. what do you want me to do?
the two men stare each other down in the mist. Mike's arm muscles ripple. the veins on the right side of the husband's temple area ripple, he has a headache which splits.
husband: give me this. i need a win.
Mike quietly but forcibly nods and hands him his boys by the scruff of their necks. they are pale-blue-faced.
slowly and unintentionally-methodically the husband drags his clan to their broken hearth, so deliberately he walks on the water. the boys cough their discomfort, which is comforting.
eventually they reach a crossroads. the intersection now a swirling swimming pool. James Comey is there stretching out his limbs, his massive arms and legs, his upper torso and core a kind of thin trampoline target area skin, forming a human bridge for them to cross.
the husband shakes his head no. Comey silently nods and relents and lets go. man talk.
they reach the house in time for dinner as always. so does the wife and daughter. they wrote that into their vows, no matter what happens during the day, you may still be angry with each other, but make it in time for dinner.
Mike moves his little dial and turns on the radio as the gray sky begins to darken into a brown sky: WCPE here, next up: Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town...
Comey gets up on stage. the Congress. he walks by Bump still seated at the dais below and shakes the former President's hand.
Bump: hey there Jim. is there food at a federal investigation? do i have to make a speech? hey you know that chocolate cake we had? i was expecting soft but it was a little hard. chewy. crunchy. metallic.
Comey bends the mic all the way up his throat. and delivers his first real address.
Comey: my fellow Americans, it's alright. know that we righted the ship at the last moments. i've ordered the Navy to combat this storm. they're on their way, the latest in nuclear technology. as Acting President, i have a confession to make. i was the one who let Devin Nunes in...
Comey is distracted. for the first time in his life. Kurt Cobain comes up from behind and shakes his big hand.
Kurt: hey i know you! you're James Bond! you're my favorite! i read all your stories!
Comey takes the mic, shouts
MY LEFT STROKE JUST WENT VIRAL!!!
and drops the mic.
Comey: sorry, i've never been cool before. i feel cool now.
Kurt: i'm sorry to hear you had a stroke. that's common for someone your age. and height. you have a good heart. and an old heart. at least your online operation will help others.
Comey: no, i...
Kurt: i don't play golf. i grew up in the Washington woods. trees. trees everywhere, never cut down to make a course.
Comey: no i was referring to my masturbation technique.
Kurt flicks his long yellow hair and flits his black glittered eyelashes.
Kurt: that's not cool, man. that was cool in the '90s but not anymore.
Comey takes Kurt by the shoulders and positions him front to get a good look at him and his plaid chest.
Comey: so how you doing, man? are you doing okay? my daughter loves your music. i like classical music. and carrot cake.
Kurt: yeah i'm okay. i decided not to kill myself at the last minute. had a drink instead. and some food. the next day i stopped endlessly pondering and decided to run for office. decided to become part of the system. not good for writing protest songs but at least i didn't have to ask for permission from bands to play their music at my rallies. the creativity kinda dried up as i became a robot but at least i looked good in a suit with my long hair. this decision killed my audience but at least it didn't kill me. i'm the President of the United States from the other timeline. didn't you read my story? it's in the fanfictions.
Comey stands in the background but is still in front.
Comey: after i'm done with this i'll go back to my office and check my files. i'm sure it's there.