Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.
It’s 6am and Gladys Neumann is sleeping comfortably in her bed. She pulls her soft sheets and comforter up to her shoulders and sighs happily. Outside, a bird sings below her window before poking the dirt with its beak. Squirrels playfully chase each other up the trunks of trees. The wind pushes the scent of lilacs softly into her room.
After a moment of silence, a floorboard creaks and the door to Neumann’s room softly clicks shut. She sits up, startled. A man in a dark suit and sunglasses sits in a chair in the corner. His smile is warm and kind.
“Good morning, Mrs. Neumann,” says the man. “I’m from the government. I’m here to wish you a happy 60th birthday.”
“Oh, it is my birthday today!” says Mrs. Neumann. “That’s just lovely. I didn’t know you folks did that.”
“It’s government policy, maam. We visit everyone on their 60th birthday. I also brought you a present.”
The man pulls a .45 Magnum from his pocket and shoots Neumann three times in the head.
“That’ll teach that healthy old bitch to keep living,” says the man. “Add another $7,900 per year back in the government’s pocket! Mission accomplished.”
* * * *
Tim Bauer sits in the doctor’s office, shivering underneath his thin hospital gown. His doctor enters.
“Well Mr. Bauer, I’ve checked the blood tests and everything seems fine. You just have a bad cold, that’s all. Take some cold medicine and make sure to get lots of sleep.”
“Oh, thank you doctor,” said Bauer. “I’ll just get dressed and go.”
“Hold on one moment,” said the doctor. “A few gentlemen from the government would like to speak with you.”
Two men in dark suits and sunglasses enter the room. One is tightly twisting a sock filled with quarters, while the other carries a large bucket full of jalapeno peppers.
“Do you like wasting the doctor’s time?!” shouts the first man, pounding Bauer in the face with the sock full of quarters.
“You wanna pretend you’re sick and waste our country’s money?! I’ll show you sick!” says the second man, forcing a fistful of jalapeno peppers down Bauer’s throat.
“President Obama says you’re a faker!” shouts the first man, bashing the sock of quarters down on Bauer’s crotch with unspeakable force, causing a few quarters to roll onto the floor.
“Joe Biden doesn’t ride the train every day to help no fools!” shouts the second man, rubbing jalapeno pepper juice in Bauer’s eyes.
The two men execute various impressive dance moves while giving Bauer the finger. When he begins crying, the two men gather their items and walk to the exit.
“This is how we keep your taxes low! You’re welcome, bitch!” shouts the second man.
After a moment, the first man returns, picks up the two quarters that had fallen on the floor, and leaves.
* * * *
Mike Gerstein sits in a stall of his workplace’s restroom, minding his own business. He turns the page of his newspaper and thinks to himself how wonderful it is to get a few minutes alone. Just then a whisper comes from the stall next to him.
“Hey Mike,” says the voice. “Do you like the healthcare plan you’re on? Do you like your doctor?”
“I do,” says Gerstein, begrudgingly. “I don’t want anything about it to change. I trust my doctor.”
“You should switch to the government plan,” says the voice.
“The government doesn’t want me to switch. It would cost them more if I switched from my current private insurance to a government plan. Anyone who thinks the government would force them to switch is being silly and illogical. It’s just an additional option for the uninsured and people who have lousy plans. You’re obviously not from the government.”
“I am from the government! We just . . . it’s just that we love socialism, Mike,” said the voice. “We love it so much. All Democrats are Russians, and since communism died in the Cold War, we need socialism running through our veins to survive. Also, if you don’t switch, I’m going to reach over and touch your inner leg with my hand.”
“Damn you, socialist government!”
* * * *
A little girl cowers in the corner of an attic, trying to be perfectly silent. She can hear the men downstairs, searching for her. Her heartbeat pounds in unison with each loud, purposeful step of their heavy boots.
“Where is the girl?” shouts Rahm Emanuel, his many medals for healthcare cost savings shining brightly on his uniform. “We understand she has juvenile diabetes and will be very expensive to the Liberal Fuhrer’s government.”
“Please,” says the girl’s mother. “There are no sick children here. You have taken them all to Camp Obama in Chicago.”
“You’re a liar! We know more than you think,” says Emanuel. “Das Bucherregal!”
A policeman turns over a bookcase, revealing a secret entrance to the attic where the girl is hiding. As Obama’s liberal Gestapo ascend the stairs, the girl writes furiously in her diary, forgiving the cruel liberal Americans for their hate and oppression.
“Oh Lord,” screams the girl’s mother. “If only we had listened to those small groups of verbally abusive weirdos at the healthcare town hall meetings in 2009! This tragedy of an additional healthcare plan for the uninsured could have been avoided! Their tinfoil hats and completely unsupported conspiracy theories could have saved us all!”