It was dark and it smelled like gasoline mixed with wet concrete. The sun was just starting to set and the last rays reflected off of the heavily tinted windows of the cars on this third level of a public parking low. My subject was late, and something told me that this was on purpose. My subject seemed the type who liked to play hard to get. Either that or given the current political climate he was concerned for his safety. I didn’t blame him. I had seen the news stories myself; it was now more popular to be a registered sex offender then it was to be an avowed Socialist. In certain parts of the Republic mentioning the terms “Collective” and “Union” were hangin’ offenses. The only five year plan that was likely to get through any legislature in this country would pertain to the amount of time a damn dirty hippie would spend in jail for pot possession. Things were hard all around for those of the left leaning persuasion.
A car horn bleated, magnified by the acoustics of the structure, and the sounds nearly left me needing a fresh pair of boxers. Of course this was the moment that my subject chose to reveal himself.
“You are late.” The voice was heavily accented, eastern European sounding with a hint of British academic spread on top for good measure. His was the voice of an English as a second language speaker who could communicate better and more elegantly in the tongue then a lifelong speaker. It was almost enough to make you forget he was a filthy foreigner. At least he was not from Kenya.
I pulled up my collar and warmed my hands, near frozen solid in the chill February air, in my deep wool lined coat pockets. Why couldn’t we have met in a café, or even a rest stop? “Sorry, I had a hard time finding the location. My GPS is on the fritz.”
A plume of cigar smoke shot out of the shadows gathered around the support pillars. My subject was only visible from the waist up, and only then in a bare silhouette. I could not make out his features save for the fact that he had a large mane of curly hair that surrounded his head and face. Damn, but that was an amazing head of hair.
“I suppose that is what happens when you depend on the wonderful products put out by our Capitalist manufacturing apparatus…It’s fine. I still have about a half hour before I need to be somewhere.”
I took out my digital recorder. “Mind if I tape this?”
Another puff of smoke accompanied by a shrug. “It’s your interview. I don’t have to give any real names do I?”
“You don’t have to supply any information you don’t want to. I am just happy that you decided to talk at all. You are a hard man to find.”
My subject chuckled. “I have been told that you have something of an obsession regarding me and my views. I’m glad to hear it…About time people paid real attention to what I have to say. Your nation is fucked beyond anything you can possibly imagine. I am not happy to say that, but I think you are intelligent enough to handle the truth.”
Realizing that the interview had started without any fanfare, I whipped out my list of questions and got right to the point. “So, is Barack Obama a socialist?”
A big hearty guffaw issued from the shadows. “Obama is no more of a socialist than John McCain is. Actually, I think that your erstwhile great white hope would have had a more contentious relationship with the business and financial community. McCain always struck me as someone that everyone hates. Obama is a moderate to conservative corporatist who throws out a few well-placed sops to the cultural left. Gays in your military was paid for by at least two more years of corporate hand outs in the form of the late great President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.”
I was startled by my subject’s forthrightness right off the bat…startled, but not unprepared. “Do you view the tax cuts and the bailouts as the antithesis of your socialist plan?”
“What plan? You mean my analysis of capital acquisition? Or do you mean my party platform? Or are you referring to my plan outlining the implementation of the dictatorship of the proletariat? Either way the answer to your question is no, oddly enough, at least “no” in the sense I believe you are thinking about. On its face the “bailouts”, as you are fond of calling them, seem to be a perverted misunderstanding of the dictate “To each according to his contribution”…Market theologians would have is believe that the barons of financial transactions bring more value and worth to the general society than any other group. These “job creators” actually make money liquidating and essentially atomizing capital to its basest and most ethereal form, and then selling the opportunity to cash in on their glorified flea market sale of labor and capital resources. These wily men wink and let us come to the conclusion that they are working within the self-perpetuating and self-justifying free market. The invisible hand seems to enjoy spoon feeding the run-off from the loins of the munificent class after their terms in the esteemed business degree mills. The irony here is that while the chuckle and masturbate to old interview footage of Friedman and Hayek, they are actually benefiting from what is essentially market regulating socialism in reverse.”
I clicked off my recorder and looked into the shadows with a face full of shocked incredulity. “Are you trying to tell me that the plutocrats, the corporatists, the bloody 1% are actually socialists?” I looked around and over my shoulder after I said this, worrying that the higher pitch of my startled voice had given me and my subject away.
The man in the shadows seemed as ever unfazed. “You are asking the wrong question. You should be asking me about why it was so easy for the millionaires and billionaires (those fuckers didn’t even exist when I was writing) to transfer all that wealth from the workaday mailmen and bakery owners to themselves? It was perfect example of capital reapportion, or “spreading the wealth” as your President alluded to when he dared to speak that phrase aloud. That faux-plumber really got wet and warm when he heard that talking point didn’t he? The news cycle that never ends: the hyperactive hyperbolizing about class warfare and the danger to the American Dream. Only the class that started the war owns all the media outlets, and that American Dream turned out to be a pre-adolescent wet-dream didn’t it just? Such a fickle thing, the human mind, especially when it is told exactly what it should not be told in exactly the way it wants to hear it told. The plutocrats obviously read my works, and they learned well, well enough so that they could turn my theories on their head and essentially execute it in reverse. It is a myth that the welfare state is dying. Not so! Indeed it has never been more alive…albeit serving the truly greedy and lazy mob: Wall Street and the Corporate Boardrooms.”
I started to sweat. I had already been out in the open for longer than I had intended. I had assumed that we would have moved into a car or a staircase by now. I felt like a million conservative eyes were watching me and preparing to serve me up to the “lame stream” media on a silver platter. Mint jelly optional of course.
“I still don’t get it. Why is this happening? Why now? And what about the-“
He interrupted me. His voice was becoming more severe and clipped. He seemed to want to get to the point, almost as though he were running out of time. “The protestors? The ones in the streets occupying the public spaces made private by gross finance? They are the vanguard, they are the first of many, and in so many ways the end of an era. But they are bound to fail…not because their message is flawed, or erroneous, because it certainly is not. They are bound to fail because they must fail so that others who think they have no stake in the situation see what happens to even the most innocent when they stand up to the hoarders of invisible and atomized wealth and capital. They will fail and stoke the fires of revolution through their failure, and that flame with light the way for the mother, and the father, and the pensioner and the crone, and the pauper, and the unemployed worker and his family. They will see then what is at stake and what we see now as an occupation will be remembered as a scouting mission for the campaign to come: the rise of the proletariat and the transition from capitalism to socialism. The step after that is entirely up to the people, but I think I knew where everything will end up.”
He dropped the used up stub of cigar onto the floor and ground it to ashes with his blackened boot heel. I heard a car idling behind me and I turned to see a black German import 4 meters to my right. The man in the drivers’ seat sported a jet black beard and slicked back and oiled black hair. He was nattily dressed. He seemed nervous and he kept taping his fingers on the roof of the car. My subject coughed. “That’s my ride. It has been a treat talking to you son. I hope-“
I cut him off and I frantically tore through the notes I had taken. “But you can’t! I have so much I want to ask you! Why have you been in hiding? Why did you lead people to believe you were dead? Why didn’t you do something about this tragedy we have gotten into as a nation, as a world?”
The man stepped just a little bit out of the shadows, just enough so that I could see the snarl on his mustachioed lips. “Hasn’t it ever occurred to you that I have been here all along? That maybe this is the way I wanted it all along? That maybe things are going exactly as I expected, exactly as I outlined even? Maybe you need to start asking yourself the questions: what are you doing about things? Are they as “bad” as they seem, as chaotic, or is there a pattern hidden in plain sight that you are just not enlightened enough to see yet? I would say that you should do a little bit more research. You’ll know where to start. You have always known the answers to the questions you have asked me. Try asking the only question that really matters: when? I must get going, but rest assured I will never be very far away. Good evening.”
He got into the car and as soon as he slammed the door behind him they drove off with wheels screeching. I was left with nothing but a still running recorder and the acrid stinging smell of burned rubber in my nostrils. I turned and headed to my car on the first floor. When I got there I turned it on winching, half expecting to explode in a fireball of gasoline. I of course did not…The people who might want to hurt me were much too subtle for such a theatrical assassination ploy. I started West out of the city and eventually found myself on Ogden Ave. and a few blocks from my place. I was still running over what I had heard; what did he mean that I’ll “know where to start” when it came to further research? I had reached a dead end. That was why I had contacted the subject in the first place! I pulled into my parking lot and turned off the motor. It was then that I noticed the book near the bushes 5 or six meters to the left of the front door. It was wrapped in a red ribbon, and a card was attached. I hesitated, but only for a moment. This was obviously my subject trying to lead me on the right track. He probably just did not feel safe giving it to me in public. Strange he would just leave it on the grass though…But I had to go see what it was.
I walked over slowly, looking all around me as I did. I walked so slowly that it took me nearly 5 minutes to reach the lawn from my car, only two car lengths away. I kneeled down in order to see the title of the book. The dew on the grass fogged up my glasses so I had to wipe them on my shirt as I brought the book up to my eyes to read. The book was black and hard covered. In silver indented lettering on the cover it read Interventionism: An Economic Analysis. I mouthed out the title and scratched my head. I turned my attention to the card taped to the front right corner of the book. I opened it up and saw written in an elegant hand:
Just a little gift
Ludwig, Freddy, and Milty
I had barely finished reading the message when I heard two pops and then felt two heavy blows hitting me in the center of my chest. This was immediately followed by a cackling laugh. A elder gentleman walked out of the bushes, brushing leaves and twigs from his well-made silk suit. He was bald, and had a kind looking face punctuated by thick black eyeglasses. He looked like a sweet old grandfather. He stood over me pointed the Steyr M series pistol, with silencer attached, at my face. I coughed and spit up a mouthful of blood. I looked the man in the eyes and I shook my head. “You just couldn’t let it go could you? You just have to have the last word.”
The man smiled and adjusted his glasses. “Ours is always the last word my friend. And don’t you forget it. Shake the invisible hand for me won’t you?” He unloaded the rest of the ammo into me, and I quickly drifted to sleep. Perhaps I surprised my assassin with the smile on my face as I faded away. Little did he know that the recording device was a blackberry, that I am an expert at sending media files one handed while driving, and that my editor checked his email on the hour. Looks like the filthy socialist finally got the last word in after all.