By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“I guess,” I tell her.
“It’s really important for people to hear what Dennis has to say.”
“That’s why I’m here,” I say, wagging my notebook and pen in the air.
“Uh! There they are,” she says. “Here we go.”
“There who is?” I say, looking around. She puts the car in drive and edges out behind a dark-blue Oldsmobile. “Wait a minute,” I say. “Where are we going?”
“To the airport,” she says. “That’s Dennis in front of us.”
“What?” I say, glimpsing Kucinich and his wife in the back seat of the car in front of us. “But I’m supposed to be with him! I’m supposed to be interviewing him!”
“Let me in, let me in,” she says, talking to her side-view mirror. “Thank you, bastard,” she waves politely. “Fucking California drivers.”
“Can we stop?” I ask. “I need to interview him — this is my only chance.”
“Maybe he wants you to interview him at the airport?”
“I need more time than that!”
“Well, I don’t think we can stop. His plane leaves at 11:35,” she says, rooting around for Kucinich’s flight information.
“Aw, Jesus,” I say, closing my notebook and stuffing it back into my bag. “I give up.”
“Sorry,” says Mary sweetly, her right foot nullifying the sentiment by slowly pushing down.
We ride in silence for a while, as I, never more than 30 feet away from the back of Kucinich’s head, wonder which narrative of the day’s events the congressman wants me to believe: (1) that he was too much of an idiot to remember that he’d promised me an interview, or (2) that he was smart enough to figure that the press I was attempting to give to his candidacy was a meddling distraction to the vaguely progressive platform that he was running on.
Ten minutes into the drive, Mary’s cell phone rings and she answers it. It’s Marcus calling from Kucinich’s car in front of us. He wants to make sure that his GPS navigation isn’t feeding him bogus directions.
“I don’t know,” says Mary. “I’ve never been to Burbank.”
“We’re fine,” I say.
“What?” Mary says.
“Tell him that we’re headed in the right direction.”
“Mr. Fish says that we’re headed in the right direction,” she says.
That’s right, I want to say, the fucking genius who makes you laugh so hard by drawing that fucking penguin with the goddamn visor will get you to the airport on time, just so you can drive him home again afterward.
“Huh?” says Mary into her phone. “Yeah, the journalist . . . he’s with me . . . I know . . . He says that he’s supposed to be with you . . . uh-huh.”
“Ask him if I can do my interview with Dennis over the phone?” I ask, shooting in the dark, not caring who I hit. She holds up her finger, asking me to hang on for a second.
“Yeah . . . yeah. Can he interview Dennis over the phone?” She pauses. “All right,” she says, and then turns to me and asks, “Do you want to interview Dennis over the phone?”
“Yes,” I say calmly, “if he’ll talk to me.”
She hands me the phone.
“Hello?” I say. There is the sound of confusion, then the muffled sounds of chubby consonants being bled through a hand deliberately covering the mouthpiece on the receiver, then Kucinich.
“Yeah, hello,” he says.
“Hi,” I say.
“What’s your question?”
“Hang on for a minute,” I say. “I have to uncap my pen, since I can’t record this. All right . . .”
“What’s your question?” he repeats.
“You refer to our presence in Iraq as an illegal occupation,” I begin.
“Right,” he says.
“If our presence in Iraq is an illegal occupation, then doesn’t that automatically mean that our mission as occupiers is criminal and that those actively engaged in the occupying, specifically the troops, are essentially criminals?”
“Those aren’t my words! Those aren’t my words!” he shouts.
“I know, I know,” I say. “I’m just asking a question. The question is this: Is it possible to have an army of good guys when their combined efforts contribute to the perpetration of a massive crime against the population of another country? How can we support the troops when we abhor what their duty requires them to do? Isn’t that like supporting the word motherfucker and being against obscenity?”
“Hello? Hello?” says the congressman, as clear as a bell.
“Yes, hello,” I say back.
“Hello?” he says again.
“I’m here,” I say, watching him through the rear window of his car, furious at what I know is about to happen.
“Hello?!” he hams.
“Hello — I’m here!” I say.
Then comes the sound of the line going dead. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I say, as I watch Kucinich close his phone, lean up and hand it to Marcus. He sits back and opens a newspaper as calmly as a man who’d just finished watching the evening news and got up and locked the door to protect himself from his own imagination.