Locmin For Senate (1 of 3)
This story first appeared August 2010 in the short story anthology, “Every Second Sunday.” I own it though, so I can do what I like with it – which means it goes up here.
This is the first of three parts, as it is too big to post as one story that people would realistically read in a single blog sitting.
I hope you enjoy this bit of fictionalized commentary on the political system in the U.S. coupled with a message about the potential for personal growth we all have.
Getting ready to speak, Isaac worked up a smile and asked, “Hey John, what’s our ETA?”
“We should be in the church at about 9:35 Mr. Locmin.”
Isaac nodded, “Thanks John.” John smiled back.
Isaac remembered John because of the hideous mole on his right jaw. He tried a similar trick to remember his other aides, but the fact that Brian had the shortest hair, or that Chris had the brownest eyes didn’t work as well as the blotch of ugly sickness on John’s face. For the most part separating his chorus of handlers from each other was a challenge that Isaac overcame with charm, and a guessing game that he was very lucky in. His handful of advisers were faceless and interchangeable men with unremarkable features.
After John turned away Isaac’s smile quickly disappeared and he looked out of the three by three foot square window to his left with a blank expression.
Isaac, his wife Helen, and several of their anonymous aides were traveling in an over-sized RV that the media had begun to jokingly refer to as “The Locmin Mobile.” Driving down Route 162 to a local church in Salano, California Isaac listened to background chatter and took a mental inventory of the items inside: buttons, posters, 8 x 10 photos, biography sheets, and enough ringing cell phones to slightly deaden one’s sense of hearing if they stayed inside for too long.
With his body still soaked in the sleepiness of that morning Isaac loosed his tie slightly and slowly attached one of the perfectly square buttons to his jacket lapel. It read, “Isaac Locmin for State Senate.” The white background with blue letters perfectly complemented his bleached-white buttoned shirt, as well as the navy blue jacket Isaac wore over it; a pair of sharply creased navy blue pants completed the suit. The outfit, in its entirety, seemed to turn Isaac’s body into a collection of right angles rather than a thing that breathed and bled.
Isaac sighed, and with nothing more to do for the next hour he let his thoughts swing back and forth between an earlier television interview, and a few fragmented memories from his father’s funeral two months before.
The Locmin mobile moved on impulse, and when seen it was either in park or pushing full speed ahead towards some campaign destination. The vehicle went from place to place like a newly crawling baby – in stops and starts.
One of its bursts of speed brought in a gust of cold air through the opening in Isaac’s window. Irritating his eyes, the hard wind made Isaac lean back and forced him to look at his transparent reflection in the thick window glass. Isaac had a square jaw; his skin was blemish free; his eyes were a gray/blue that shifted between colors like a clouded sky. His features, by American standards, made him quite handsome, but in his reflection all Isaac could see was the same gray hair he had stared at the day his father Abraham was put in the ground. While fixing his tie that morning Helen made a point of it.
“Umm. I’ve never noticed that gray hair before.”
“A gray hair honey, right in the middle here.” With her eyes Helen pointed to a spot he couldn’t see. “It’s nothing.” She continued to tie the Windsor knot around his neck with care. Memories of his father were replaced with an image of a gray hair.
“But I don’t get…” His eyes shifted nervously as he mouthed the word “… gray.”
“I hardly notice it. Beside its just one hair on the head of a handsome man.”
Helen’s slight smile seemed to give him no comfort. “I’m only thirty-one,” Isaac said. “Isn’t gray at that age a little strange.”
“No. No it’s not.” Helen said, with no smile at all. “Forget I said anything honey. You look fine.”
“I know Helen. You don’t need talk to me like a teenager with a pimple.”
After she finished tightening his tie Isaac walked to the nearest mirror and looked at the hair for two minutes while Helen put on makeup. During the funeral service he stared at the casket and imagined his father’s head – it was full of gray hairs. Ignoring the words from the priest, he could see his father’s face when he closed his eyes. The image wouldn’t go away, and Isaac kept thinking about the features he shared with his father. His father was gone and one day Isaac would be gone.
For the first time in a long time Isaac cried, although he wasn’t sure exactly why. It wasn’t his father, who was expected to die sooner than later, or a gray hair. Something behind both made his chest ache and tightened his throat to where breathing could only be done in short pulls. When he began to whimper Helen tightened her grip around his arm, but this only made him cry harder.
In the Locmin Mobile Isaac focused on the gray hair in his reflection. It stood out from the mass of black, and scared him to no end. He couldn’t pull it out, however, for fear of admitting that something wasn’t right, even if it was only to himself.
Isaac wasn’t afraid of much, but he had a reflexive fear of getting old. For the past two months his father’s last days constantly replayed in the background of his thoughts while he acted out his day-to-day activities: while talking, while sleeping, while fucking. While in the Locmin mobile Isaac thought about the fragile, rich, old man sitting in his room. Abraham Locmin said very little, moved even less, and was made useless to himself and everyone around him. His last days were spent sitting in his own shit, mouthing the names of dead loved ones, and places he always wanted to go to, but never found the time for.
Isolating rides in the Locmin mobile had been forcing Isaac’s thoughts towards an uncharacteristic introspection for weeks, and he now wondered if his future would look like his father’s past. He began to realize that that wasn’t what he wanted. Filling Isaac’s nostrils was the smell of piss that Abraham gave off when Isaac found him dead on the floor. He shook his head, appearing to wake from a dream, and took another sip of the room temperature water to bring him back to the real world.
…[CONTINUATION COMING LATER]…