The President Elect

It all started on the eve of the elections. The second election that is. The first, already in that distant past, that other world that was five years ago, had been a sudden cataclysm. When the votes had been counted – a mere day it took back then – and the winner was announced it wasn’t the one everyone had expected it to be (in fact, the President Elect wondered if the accusations of fraud which were battering down on the second election like rain had had a rather wonderous delay of exactly five years – but one mustn’t think these thoughts, he thought, that proves the influence of Him). That day had left everyone baffled, and it took them five years to realize that the landscape of politics had forever changed from the languid affairs of back chambers and secret (dis)agreements to the sudden violent attacks of utter nonsense. That was what had been started on the eve of the elections, along the flickering thought of the then mere Candidate that he might actually win – not like his party predecessor, but this time for real – it dawned on him that his election might in the end not mean much.

But, yes, after long days of uncertainty, insecurity, and growing tension, he was indeed announced The Chosen One. Looked upon in the favourite light of the specific democratic system which the politicians of his country had invented, just enough of his peoples had elected him to occupy that shining pinnacle of politics – the residence of the first-seated. And sure enough, he gave the expected speech glittering with white words of hope, assuring the people that these past five years will soon be forgotten, the unwanted changes and decrees undone, and all the actions of the now President wiped away. In fact, yes, the very name of Him will be blotted out of history, nothing shall remain of Him who we in a sudden onset of bewilderment of the mind (thus, of reason – thought the President Elect) had elected that first day of reckoning. Nothing will be left of those strange days but an empty space which, the President Elect reassured his audience, will of course be filled with nothing but hope, good deeds, and our Deity’s blessings.

Forgetting his momentary lack of confidence on the eve of battle, the President Elect soon made plans to take seat. Ministers-to-be were placated, soothed, and turned into bosom friends. Numerous minor officials and puppets were selected and groomed. He personally – and he was very proud that this act proved his humble nature – he personally put together his household, down to the very last cleaner (he mused that one day, when coming back from a very important back chamber meeting in which he had agreed with the lobbyists to absolutely disagree with them – one of the President’s perks he was very much looking forward to – he would shake the hands of this lowly cleaner, showing the world that he wasn’t beneath that simple gesture of kindness). His wife diligently and dutifully had selected furnishings and paintings suitable to the image they would prefer to present to the world. He himself always found these rituals of decoration rather unnecessary since – after the initial act of showing off their exquisite taste to the scurrying press – they would remain hidden in that bastion of democracy. The President’s Seat. That big block of mock Regency style building for which ‘seat’ was quite an ironic little denomination. 

The day of vacation drew nearer, and the haunting image of the other President returned. It became apparent, his inside informers informed him, that no preparation for transferral had been made by the Other One. Inside the Seat the former President still very much resided – the innards of the shining white house of prudence were still blackened by whims, whining and … (well, let’s not even think that Thing, the President Elect urged himself). His unease grew again, and at the periphery of his vision appeared the ghostly image of an undesired possibility.

Yet, he persisted in his careful, carefree preparations and when the day was finally there he let himself be driven towards the huge sugar bowl he had won – the people had chosen to give to him, he reminded himself – and walked that front path which had always seemed to him to have been drawn along an enormous ruler. He rang the doorbell and waited. No answer. He waited, a time which seemed as long a time as the now Former President had dwelled in that place. No answer. He decided to gracefully return to the outer gates and wave some to the cameras. Finally, a single small figure emerged from the house, sporting what seemed to be a white tea towel over his head (a symbol of surrender and submission to the workings of the state, he hoped, a measure of precaution lest someone would care to identify this figure, he decided). Upon a silver platter the ghost handed over to him a single piece of white paper. The President Elect unfolded it and read:

“The President elects to stay.”

Exclaiming “Well have you ever!” (As if staying was possible! Thinking He is still President!), the President-who-should-be turned around, momentarily forgetting the proverb ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’, to get a grip on the white toweled figure and hold at least someone accountable for His actions, but the building had already absorbed him again. Of all His whims and wishes, this was assuredly the most bizarre! His diabolical actions these past five years, the suggestions of electoral fraud, the confident shouting of profanities and utter gibberish, these were merely hinting at the disrespect this ghostly figure in the white house had for such rational and lauded ideas as Democracy in the comparative shadow of this last act. “The Presidents elects.” The very idea!

Deciding that serious consultation was needed to come up with proper ways of addressing the Issue, the President Elect returned to his car to call several highly important persons. The rest of the day was spend busying Special Agents to designated spots surrounding the iconic presidency, setting up a temporary seat of residence for the real President across the street, and all in all gathering enough support both tangible and mental to proceed with the just cause. From his temporary office, a mere sugar cube compared to the thing looming in front of it, the President Elect looked out on the ruler-drawn path, the neatly clipped lawn, and the white façade of his dreams. While official negotiators took turns shouting through the megaphone (an act he did think was beneath him, since it reminded him so much of His speeches), the President Elects cradled his musing about the place which was rightly and lawfully his. He had always in equal measures admired and been awed by this piece of craftmanship. A tangible symbol of the politics he had always strived to uphold – stern yet not austere, build upon reason and veracity. Indeed, the very white of this building represented the adherence to truth, morality and innocence he so much adored. Yet, remembering cultural differences, he could not help the disturbing resemblance of the upright Doric columns which decorated the building (giving it an air of steadfastness and strength, surely) with the white bones of death. His fist white-knuckled by the sheer grip and tension he administered, he decided he did not want to know what was happening inside that crumbling symbol.

As it turned out, he did not have to wait very long to find out either way. Because suddenly a low rumbling came forth from that iridescent stone block which made everyone including the President Elect abandon his own private affairs and direct his gaze towards the beacon of lost hope. For a moment the President Elect thought his eyes deceived him, but no – the building, this pinnacle of civilisation, was falling apart! Grumbling sounds calling to mind the inner workings of counting machines emanated from that pressure cooker of a place. Something was stirring. Something was reaching boiling point. The national flag, that proud and fierce beacon of the starlit homeland, caught a sudden gush of wind, and, being pulled towards the glowering rectangle, directed everyone’s gaze to the culprit. The building was imploding, and then – with a deafening sound and a sudden blast – it exploded. The sound involuntary brought to mind the infant which, having had to put up a good face for way too long, bursts out in full tantrum swiftly and promptly. White blocks were being catapulted into the surroundings like overcooked rice grains, landing here and there between the black of the cars with tinted windows, the uniforms and the officials of government, miraculously refraining to administer any serious damage except giving the bodies the scare of their lifetime. Doric columns and whitewashed doors alike were flung onto the ground with the dramatic flair of professional tennis players destructing their rackets in a flash of utter despair (a gesture the public had gotten accustomed to to also be employed by first-ranked politicians). By the bomb-like thrust of wind the cloth of the nation changed course and was shredded to strips where surefooted, self-confident stripes had once been.

As sudden as the blast had been, it was over. Sheets of white paper moved gracefully through the air like ballet dancers in a pantomime, and, had one of the onlookers possessed the sharpness of wit to study the sheets a bit closer he could not have gotten around the fact that they did very much resemble ballot papers as well. When the President Elect, who had been thrown from his seat by this wave of destruction, had mustered the nerve to stand up and look out of the window the whole house was gone. Nothing left but a big pile of rocks. A ruin. A gaping hole were once stood the seat of democratically elected power. The now empty flagpole (the rope that once hoisted the colours high sobbing rhythmically against it) joined the howling wind in grievous lamentation over the scattered remains. The President Elect, blinking his eyes in an attempt to adjust to the new colours emerging from behind the white screen, was silent.

When the onlookers of the spectacle that had been unfolding for half a decade regained some of their consciousness and resolved to live their future lives as best as possible, it was decided that building the new President’s residence on top of the old was imprudent and unwise. Instead, the now one-and-only President, in a sudden admiration for symbolism, demanded that his new seat of power was to be built exactly opposite – at the precise spot from where he witnessed the demise of the old. Upon completion, his wife ordered the selected furnishing and paintings to be moved in – a gesture which to him now not only seemed superfluous but also harkening back to an old-fashioned way of doing politics – the household was put in place, and the ministers, officials and staff took occupancy. (The semblance of restored normality was to be uphold, after all.) His five-year term finally commenced, and so was his democratic dream. Yet, the President could not help but frequently gaze out of the window of his now round office (another symbolic reference to the rational equality he was intended to uphold regardless), moving his eyes over the shattered pieces of the old guard. They had not been able to find any remains of its inhabitant, and yet the President sometimes had to blink because he was sure to see the image of a white tea towel haunting his vision, moved as if by an invisible figure. At those instances, the wind seemed to howl with nonsensical phrases – taunting his feeble (p)residential attempts. Always he had to shiver involuntarily, wondering if the dull grey house he had built among the ruins would –  could, he fearfully added– actually mean something. Or that the collapse had not only brought down the innocent white building itself, but also its significance.

Obligatory disclaimer: as you very well know this is a work of fiction, therefore, any elements which might resemble real events or persons are merely incidental.

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