-by Nigel Best
We had driven away from the Charles V hotel in a yellow Citroen. Winding through the country, feeling every bump in the road in a car with no shock absorbers, all I wanted was to be back in the room in Paris.
The previous occupant of said room had been one of The Rolling Stones. At $5,000 a night, this should give some indication of how far up the per diem chain I had finally risen as a writer.
That’s neither here nor there.
I was on another political assignment, my editor figuring there was a story to tell. Nothing had been written amongst the escalating piles of room-service tray with their half eaten horse steaks.
So, to break up the monotony, friends had decided to drive me a couple of hours to a small town to attend a circus.
Amidst the sickly smell of popcorn, spilled beer, and french body odour in the circus tent, I had drifted off in my head to somewhere I don’t usually find myself, the horses, trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, and bears having little hold on me, the clowns just slightly more.
Then came Harvey the Hippo and Hugo, the hippo’s handler.
Having never observed a trained hippo before, my attention snapped into focus as the short-eared river horse went through its routine of sitting on its haunches, rolling over, and balancing stacks of plates on its nose.
Now this was entertainment.
What anyone couldn’t have predicted, though, was one of the greatest political shows in the history of Dada Theatre.
Harvey opened his mouth to reveal huge, yellowing teeth. Hugo put his head into Harvey’s mouth, as he’d probably done a thousand times before. Harvey’s mouth closed.
When that mouth opened, a headless body fell limply to the ground. Blood was spurting onto the rink’s sawdust.
Just part of the routine?
There’s a brief moment between seeing and believing what one’s senses know to be true. It’s a moment when the world around stops and the brain is saying one thing but also telling itself another story.
As screams began to sound from the crowd, the truth took hold. The inevitable had finally taken place. Harvey had become bored with being a circus freak, opting to become an eater of heads.
Harvey had decapitated Hugo.
(Unfortunately for Harvey, he was euthanized not twenty-four hours later. It must be said though, that rumours are now circulating in the media of a tyrannical handler getting some sort of comeuppance from Harvey.)
Once back in my suite in Paris, I poured a drink and turned on the news in an attempt to shake free and possibly make sense of what had been experienced just a few hours prior.
Sense came crashing in with the news being dominated by the crazy tyrant beast, Donald Trump.
Of all things, he is being accused by a staff member from the White House of attacking a limo driver. Said driver refused to drive Trump to join in the riots of January 6, 2021.
It is hard to imagine that jelly-bellied beast, Trump, somehow overcoming a secret service man inside a limo, grabbing the steering wheel, then driving to join the mob. The thought of how the president must drive, however, did conjure up some images from earlier of the clowns erratically driving around a circus ring as people laughed.
Then the news mentioned the nom-de-plus of the president’s limo.
Hearing this swiftly brought me back from the dark, satirical nature of a story about the hippo and the beast of a president, only to be presented with the news of more than fifty migrants having been found dead in the back of a semi-trailer in Texas.
Trying to cross into the United States through Mexico, the migrants had died from heatstroke and dehydration after being left locked inside the trailer.
It’s hard not to draw a straight line from the policies enacted and enhanced by Trump’s administration to the deaths of these people.
The name of the road the bodies were discovered on in Texas, by the way?
The Mouth of the Wolf.
Jeezeus, I just can’t seem to escape these animal references tonight.
A day later, the news is reporting on comments being made by the cuckoo in the clock, Marjorie Taylor Greene. She wants to know why whole herds of cattle die in heatwaves, yet doesn’t mention the plight of humans baked in the back of a tractor-trailer.
This is followed by the news of another two years in Washington for ‘no-separation-of-church-and-state’ crackpot politician Lauren Boebert.
Then the Mississipi House Speaker’s thoughts are reported. He, yes, a man, believes that a pre-teen girl who is the victim of incest must carry her attacker’s baby to term.
Then I find myself back in Texas, where the sneering face of the Texas AG is put on the screen of the tv as he suggests he’s open to criminalizing gay sex once again.
(I have to ask of these anti gay-sex politicians and their religious supporters, is it the sex that bothers you, or the fact that two adults could love each other?)
Suddenly, there’s a realization that these people, and others like them, have not just passed through the Trump beast. The beast has also defecated these politicians all across the nation. If voters across the U.S.A. cannot smell this shit, instead just pinching their noses to this stench, then the country truly is doomed.
As my drink empties, credit must go to where credit is due: Harvey the Hippo at least bit off the head of his tyrant.