He was months out from the election but the party was working hard for him early. They had brought in Portman to stump for him. Portman is a fiery guy with lots of zest and was great at getting crowds into a fervor. He’ll jump up to the stage, push the men’s and women’s buttons, get everyone going in the direction of a singular opinion. When he leaves the stage the mobocratic mothers in L. Pulitzer are always left slobbering, waiting for anyone with a semblance of diction to take the stage, telling them what cause they should support and how they should support it. Portman could really soften a crowd up.
In the local community college gymnasium, Portman bounced up and down on the stage. The seat candidate wiped his forehead. It was hot. A geriatric complained about the current seat holder.
“Fuckin’ goddamn sonevahbitch is gonna cut everything and spend all my taxes and turn this nation into goddamn Saddy Araybia or goddamn Chaina. We gotta get that sonevahbitch outta there if it’s my last vote. Won’t leave my grandchildren that fuckin’--”
The candidate was swept away by his aide. Portman had finished.
It was now his turn to talk. To talk about what he was going to do.
As he mounted the stage, the stageboards creaked and swayed. Perhaps he should get down so some one could tighten things up. He pushed the thought from his mind and walked to the microphone. His sweat was cold and his legs felt old. This shirt he was wearing, it really didn’t breathe, did it? It locked all his body heat up which made him woozy. Well, at least he didn’t need it to be ironed.
“Fellow Americans of....”
He stopped. Coughed. Something went up and then down in his throat. Then, “Fellow residents of the great state of...”
He stopped again. Coughed again and then went to cough again. Instead of coughing, he yakked. Just a little baby yak. Yellow and milky and soupy and not too gross. It fell out of his mouth and onto his shirt. Just a dollop, really.
He looked out to the crowd.
He looked to his aide, stage left.
He looked back out to the crowd
And then everything went red.
And then everything went white.
And then everything went blue.
And then everything went black.
He woke up laying on the floor in the lobby. Some random woman was dabbing his forehead. She was morbidly obese, about his age, and smiling at him. The candidate’s red tie was covering up his yak stain. The yak had soaked through his undershirt and he could feel the warmth on his skin. His aide walked up to him with a washcloth full of ice cubes and pressed it to his head.
“We’ll have to get you a new shirt before you meet those contractors,” the aide told the candidate. The candidate looked at his aide, not quite able to comprehend what had just happened.
The room was silent but was next to the gym, so you could hear the noises happening within. It sounded like Portman was back on stage. Removed from the mob, the silence was awkward.
“They make non-iron shirts. They should make non-stain shirts too. We sure could use something like that,” the aide told the fat woman. Or maybe the candidate. “Heh, we could probably use something like that in one of your entrepreneurial speeches. Y’know, fostering new ideas and stuff. That’d be great. The garment industry in the southern part of the district would be all over that. God, what would the world do without us?” The aide smiled as his phone began to vibrate. The aide stood up and took the phone call.