John R. Hall
Little Ricky / John R. Hall

(The following was written from the perspective of a person who had fallen into a coma on the day Barrack Obama took the oath of office and became the 44th President of the United States of America and awoke on the day that the ICE workplace raids occurred in Mississippi.)

Before I awoke, the last thing I remember is that on January 20, 2009, I was standing on the National Mall with approximately 1.8 million people.1 Most of them were fellow citizens of America, some were tourists and had come to witness history, and some were immigrants (I suppose some of them were undocumented). We were all standing together with glee, with hope in our hearts, with renewed faith in America’s defining declaratory words, which on that day were anchored deeply within our collective souls, that all are created equal. We waited in unison—united—and then we watched in awe with bated breath as America took one small step for herself while taking one giant leap for mankind.2

It was inauguration day and Barack Obama had just been sworn in as America’s first nonwhite president of the United States. On the stairs of the United States Capitol, with the usual acknowledgment of the dignitaries in attendance and with gratitude to those whom had placed him there, President Obama began his inaugural speech to the gathered mass of humanity in front of him, and to a global audience in front of TVs, around radios, and on the internet. He stood tall but humbled behind the lectern bearing the seal of the president of the United States of America.

While the world watched with rapt attention, President Obama began his inaugural address to the nation: “My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you’ve bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.” It was a heady experience. And when the president spoke “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics,” it was then that I fell into a coma . . . and I just awoke today: August 7, 2019.

I woke to a child crying, begging to be allowed to see her mother who had just been detained with around 680 other Mississippi undocumented—and so-called illegal—workers. Then another little girl, 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, appeared on TV, and between her breathless sobs she cried out and petitioned government for a redress of grievances by pleading, “I want my dad . . . It’s my first day of school . . . I don’t know where I’m going to eat . . . I need my dad for me . . . My dad didn’t do nothing, he’s not a criminal . . . The governments—governments, please put your hearts, let my parents be free . . .” she begged. “Don’t leave the child with cryingness,” she sobbed as she covered her reddened eyes.

Surely President Obama will intervene in this horrendous thing unfolding before my recently reopened eyes, I thought. It was then that I heard, from outside of the unfamiliar room I was in, “That bastard Trump has no heart. How could he allow this to happen? Especially right after all those people were shot in Dayton and El Paso. He has no business being president.”

What?! my reawakened mind screamed. “Wait! What? Did I hear that right? Hello! Help! Somebody come here!” I yelled. When a caregiver came into my room, I asked her to tell me the date. “August 7, 2019,” I was told. “You’ve been in a coma for over ten years.” It took only a nanosecond for that nauseating information to register a Wow! Wait! What? deep within my core “Who’s the president?” I asked.

“How are you feeling?” was the answer to my question.

“Never mind that. Did you hear me? Who is the president?” I reiterated.

“Donald Trump” was the numbing answer. A heart of darkness instantly filled my chest while Kurtz’s final words echoed in my head: The horror! The horror!3

Every moment that my eyes have been open since I exited my comatose state have been filled with reading up on Trump’s tenure as president, and I have become enraged by his words, by his actions—by his stupidity. I wonder how in the hell America allowed this shyster, this con man, this rube from Queens—who poses as a successful real estate developer but in fact failed miserably at it and is nothing more than a daddy’s boy and a bumbling buffoon who had been abruptly banished by his father to military school at age thirteen—to not only become president of the United States but to also have led her so far astray from the progress she had made toward her defining principles.

How in the hell? indeed!

It was in that perplexing state of mind that I remembered an old adage told to me as a child when I was seeking justified revenge upon a kid who had wronged me. I had asked a trusted elderly neighbor how I should go about exacting my vengeance.

“Do you know how to boil a frog?” he asked me.

“Throw it in hot water on the stove,” I answered.

“It’ll fight and jump out of the pot and hop around the room,” he said. “But if you gently place it in water that is warmed so that it soothes it, the frog will relax and enjoy its surroundings. Then you can begin to slowly turn up the heat . . . until frog legs are served on a plate.” he finished with a chuckle.

I learned a valuable lesson that day from the story my neighbor shared with me, and my retaliation upon my young nemesis was later successfully applied over a shared slice of apple pie—and a sneak attack. And that is how “The Donald” J. Trump became president . . . which occurred only after an apprenticeship on the NBC television network. I would bet my remaining days on earth that Hitler, Stalin, Putin, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad, Kaddafi, and countless others—including Trump—were told, and understood all too well, the fable of how to boil a frog, and then they all took it way too far.

Having just awoken into a Trumpian world, I am jumping up and down, screaming while hopping all around, like some poor frog that has just been thrown into a boiling pot.

It seems to me that all of America was placed into—for lack of a better descriptor—a somewhat soothing pot of water on inauguration day 2017, the day Donald J. Trump became, in title only, President Trump. While there were disturbing moments (think the largest audience ever to witness a presidential inauguration, and that The Donald darted away from his wife, Melania, when arriving at the White House to be received by the Obamas before taking the oath of office) the day was filled with familiar American pomp and circumstance. There was the gathering of the old guard, signaling the peaceful transfer of power, the inauguration itself, the diplomacy of providing the outgoing president with familiar transportation for a final ride (albeit with different nomenclature attached to the airborne and ground vehicles, of which none were then identified as Marine One or Airforce One or Cadillac One for the outgoing one).

Trump’s inauguration night was full of obligatory gala, filled with presidential balls that were flashed before the nation’s and world’s collective eyes, signaling that America had done it again. That she had again done what no nation before her had done, and what many nations of the world now endeavor to replicate, that she had peacefully transferred executive power over a government and over its citizens to a new administration. The nation was lured in, throughout that day and night, into a warm, fuzzy, American hot tub of nostalgia, of hope for better days a-comin’ from a new administration. And that’s how we got to Memphis.4

Having not traveled to Memphis with y’all, but instead been metaphorically shaken awake from the back row of a bus by a stone-faced driver telling some Bowery drunk of yore that this is as far as his ticket will take him, I am flabbergasted (a word that can rarely be appropriately deployed) that my nation has arrived at a place in time wherein children are ripped away from their parents and tossed into cages, and wherein parents are captured and caged on their children’s first day of the school year, leaving them helpless, hopeless, and all alone to fend for themselves. To hell with the Memphis metaphor, how in the hell did America turn into a living hell? How did we allow this to happen to our nation? I’m sure people all over Germany in the early forties were asking, albeit too late, the same question.

America! Will we too wait until it’s too late? Will we fall victim to the knowledge that the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn a goddammed thing from history? Will we wait until President Trump thrusts us into a war (which would be politically savvy because, just as jockeys don’t like changing horses in midrace, nations are reluctant to replace their leader in the throes of battle) before we demand impeachment?

Having just awoken from a coma, I sincerely do not recognize my country. My country would never—not even deep within its racist and hateful past—allow a child to be ripped away from her parents and left standing alone before television cameras, begging the government to let her parents return home to care for her. No—not my America!

America. You need Jesus—and when an atheist tells you that you need Jesus, you know that things are bad; that the shit has hit the fan.

“Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me” (Exodus 9:1).

Now, for the love of God, would someone, anyone, please knock me the fu*k out and back into my protected coma?

Copyright © 2019 – Hunting For Thompson / Hallesque – All Rights Reserved

[1] “. . . determined the attendance [of President Obama’s inauguration] count to be 1.8 million people based on information collected by several cameras and individuals on the ground. The Washington Post reported the estimated crowd size for the inaugural ceremony, and the National Park Service said it did not contest the estimate.”

[2] A play on Neil Armstrong’s words as he became the first man to walk on the moon.

[3] The horror! The horror! This phrase is found in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This is the final judgment of Kurtz on his own life, actions, and generally on humankind and imperialism, when in part three of the story he says, “The horror! The horror!” Through this line, Kurtz also points out his fate, which looks profoundly affected by the events he faces during his escapade to the Congo.

[4] “That’s How I Got to Memphis” is a Tom T. Hall song about love and following wherever love leads. But, as Aaron Sorkin pointed out in the finale of HBO’s The Newsroom through the character Charlie Skinner, “Memphis is a stand-in for wherever you are right now; it means that’s how I got here.”

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John R. Hall

John has been described as a contrarian, a provocateur, and a polemicist. With the dexterity of a master magician, John's writing style forces readers to reexamine their positions and opinions on society, politics, and lifestyles. In his book, Red, White, and the Blues: A Long and Hard Ride over Treacherous Terrain, John interweaves a narrative of a life lived in constant motion while taking the reader along on his 2011 coast-to-coast motorcycle ride across the 48 contiguous states.