Jacob Lawrence, "Cafe Comedian," 1957
Jacob Lawrence, Cafe Comedian (1957)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages


Before Mary Ann could say, "I'll give someone a piece of my mind!," the crackling of voices over radios announced a group of Secret Service men. Eyes behind mirror shades swept the hut. Bulky body armor bulged beneath sleek black suits. Potty Mouth, that is, the President of the United States, was coming to comfort Gilligan.

The Presidential photographer entered first, choosing the best vantage on the historic scene. The President's first hospital visit after the end of the world.

Lights flashed. There was the mechanical click-wheeze of a motor drive winding film. A figure in a dark blue suit stood alongside the hammock with hand extended. Silvery hair, American flag pin worn on the breast pocket exactly over his heart.

"Howdy there little buddy," he said. "Hyear ya got smacked by one o'my guards. Shore am surry!"

"A little to the right, Mr. President," said the photographer. To his practiced eye, the afternoon sunlight streaming through open windows added gravitas to the Presidential profile.

"This what you mean, Donn?," said the President. "Yes, thank you sir."

Gilligan struggled to sit up, but the President pushed him firmly back down. "Nope, nope, y'all just setcherself a spell and rest on up." Click-wheeze, as the bright lights flashed into Gilligan's swollen eye.

"Now, little buddy, juster show they ain't no hard feelin's, andter reward yer fer the fahn, fahn service yer was tryin' ter perform, ahm gonna giveyer somethin' jes' a bit special." As the President winked for the camera, Gilligan felt a sharp stabbing pain in his chest, where the President pinned a Purple Heart through his thin t-shirt and into his skin. Click-wheeze, the President shook his hand vigorously.

"Bit formal, Mr. President," said the Presidential image consultant, a skilled former anchorwoman from an Austin TV news program. Acknowledging the centrality of her role, the President nicknamed her The High Prophet.

"Something more blue-collar?," he replied.

"Yes sir," she agreed.

"How's this?" The President grabbed Gilligan's neck inside a vice-like wrestler's headlock: a stance from among his trademark repertoire of one-of-the-guys jock-boy poses.

Click-wheeze. "That's perfect, Mr. President."

Gilligan tried to speak, but the Presidential forearm was pressed tightly against his throat.

"Wayall there, little buddy! Shore was nahce ta meetcha! Yew take care!" In his photogenic affection for Gilligan, the President first tightened his headlock, causing Gilligan to see spots; then rubbed his knuckles across Gilligan's skull in friendly fashion, like an older brother giving a younger one noogies.

An electrical spasm of searing pain shot through Gilligan's skull, as the Presidential knuckles rolled over the large, ugly welt he'd received during his fall. The Presidential party left him with eyes rolled into the back of his head, feet trembling. As he lost consciousness for the second time that day, Gilligan was sure he heard the President's voice say, "Get all this crap out of here."