Friday, May 01, 2020

The Panic of 2020

The Panic of 2020 - S. H. Marpel & R. L. Saunders

“Millions will die unless you act.”

Two doctors had entered my office, despite my Chief of Staff’s best effort to keep my schedule organized. Apparently, their message and dire looks affected his better judgement on interrupting me. Again.

“Mr. President, the mathematical models don’t lie. China has loosed another plague and we need to act.”

“And you’re both saying that the only solution to this is quarantine everyone?”

They nodded with serious faces.

“Have you any idea how long we can ask the nationi to just shelter in place? What I understand is that most people in New York, for instance, are living from check to check. And what about our supply lines for food and medicine?”

“Millions, sir. Dying. Every large city in our nation having refrigerator trucks filled with body bags. Do we seriously have another choice?”

“These American people are skeptics. They’ll want to know why we need them to give up their jobs and stay in their apartments instead of hitting the bars and restaurants for their entertainment.”

“Because otherwise, they die?”

“Not the best punchline, perhaps.”


Sal brought the President over, just as we agreed. When I first saw them, it looked like the two of them were just shaking hands. He was in a typical dark suit with a red tie, and she was wearing her tan business suit with gold pin stripes, her blond hair wrapped in a tight bun with two ivory stick-pins through it.

Then she pulled him to her and gave him a big hug. He couldn’t do anything but hug her back. As they did, her clothing changed to a tan v-necked t-shirt and dark brown dungarees, while her hair untwisted itself to flow long and wavy down her back.

She whispered something in his ear, where he said something quiet in reply – and his suit turned into an blue-patterned Hawaiian shirt with chino slacks below.

Sal stood back a little to look over his outfit a bit, then kissed him on his cheek.

At that, she vanished, and he was left holding a tall iced tea in one of his hands.

I was watching this from my narrow front porch, in one of the two wood Adirondack easy chairs. Just enough room for two of those and some narrow, matching side tables.

“I could get used to having someone like her around.” The President smiled as he walked up to my writer’s cabin.

I stood at that, and came down to shake his hand. Then we returned to the chairs and had a seat on the shady porch. My own iced tea appeared in my hand as I settled down again on the dark brown chair cushion. Sal was a perfect hostess, better than any wait-staff I’d ever experienced or heard about.

Of course, I was in my own preferred and usual red cotton t-shirt and blue dungarees.

“So, Mr. President, got any mysteries to tell me?”

“John, please. Call me D. J.”

I nodded – and waited for him to begin.

“Well, we found out about a lot of things that weren’t as they seemed. It all started earlier than we knew, and every prediction was wrong.”

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