Stop doing that
“You really should stop doing that,” my running mate says as we are driven in our limousine. “What?” I ask naively, knowing perfectly well what she’s talking about. “More people will ask questions,” she says. “It’s not worth it—” I run my fingers through the bruise in my face. I like feeling the pain. “I disagree,” I say. “Nobody can touch me now. Anybody who tries to peddle the same kind of conspiracy bulls-word about me will look like another obsessed nut.”
She doesn’t seem pleased. “Don’t you think you’ve done this to too many people? I mean, nobody is a victim as many times as you. Your brother, a teacher and a college boy tried to rape you; your mother, those bullies that attacked you twice, this reporter and another madman tried to kill you; you’ve been wrongfully accused of an insurance scheme, and there’s more. Do you see where I’m going with this?” I nod. “I’ve had a tough life,” I say. “Too tough. Notoriously tough. Unbelievably tough. Maybe not now, but they’ll come asking questions at some point. And playing the victim won’t save you.”
For a moment I want to tell her to go f-word herself. But that’s because I know she’s right. I needed this victimhood-intervention. “I can’t do this kind of thing anymore, can I?” I ask her. She nods. “But—” She takes my hand. “I know, I know,” she says. “You love it. The expectation when you place the trap. Your heart rate racing as you lead them. And finally, the satisfaction of watching them realize you’ve won.”
“It’s the best feeling in the whole world,” I reply. “And it’s what I do best.” She squeezes my hand tighter and pulls me closer. “Yes, but you have to let it go. You have to be more subtle now. You’re going to be the vice-president.” I sigh, “I guess…” A few minutes of silent ride later we’re at a tv studio. We’ve been capitalizing on my attack, using it to explain how “bullies” have to use their fists because their words are empty, and outright calling the conservatives “bullies.” We call the liberals who don’t actively call out bullies “accomplices.” We labeled one of the candidates “Nazi collaborator,” in part because his grandparents were french collaborators. He naively and misguidedly sued us and focused his efforts on explaining how he’s not a nazi. You can probably guess how he’s doing on the polls.
The “attempt on my life” has been very good publicity indeed. Along with our polemic statements, we’ve ended up looking like the liberal ticket. The others are not nearly as notorious as we are. When the primaries finally come, it’s no surprise that we steamroll our opponents at the first state, my state. Then we quickly snowball through the rest of states. We seem unstoppable. We start talking like we’ve already won the general elections. And then it happens.
All the damage we’ve done through the decades, all the corpses that burden us finally get their revenge. “Controversial liberal candidate responsible for trafficking with user data.” The scandal explodes on our faces when there’s only a few states left to win. A reporter accuses my running mate of selling user data to dictatorships and banana republics which then targeted and “disappeared” dissidents.
“That f-wording reporter,” says my running mate as she paces up and down our apartment. “I’d f-wording kill her if she wasn’t so. f-wording. popular. We need ideas, and fast.” She looks at me, then at my rock. She’s genuinely afraid. “We’ve already sued her for libel and we’re still f-worded,” I say. “There’s no… hard-evidence, right?” My rock asks my running mate. “Oh please,” my running mate answers condescendingly.
“She was a reporter back at her banana republic, right?” I ask. “Yes,” replies my rock. “Then why don’t we find her, contact her government and politely ask them to repatriate her.” My running mate takes her hands behind her neck and puffs. “It’s too risky,” she finally says. “And they’ll say we did it,” adds my rock helpfully. “Wait, wait, I have a better solution,” says my rock before going back to her computer and looking for something. “Here, look.”
She shows us a file with information collected about the reporter. “Her sister is still in jail back in her home country. Aaand…” She opens another file. “Her mother has racked up quite a debt. 65,536$ split between mortgage, car and…” she chuckles, “telemarketing crap.” “What are you suggesting?” I ask my rock. “We pay off her mother’s debt and set her sister free. Then it will look like she was paid to write the story. We accuse conservatives of trying to set us up like their friends, the cops, do.”
“Do we have the contacts to set her sister free?” I ask my running mate. “Yeah, that’s not the problem.” “Oh, this is actually good.” I say. “Let’s set up an interview for tomorrow and have one of our puppet reporters break the story in the middle of the interview.” After a while, my rock and I convince my running mate that it’s the way to go. Then we set the plan in motion. The reporter’s sister is released and shipped back to the reporter. The reporter’s mother’s debt is repaid in full. Then we contact one of our puppet reporters. She investigates and calls us to confirm the story. We tell her when to publish it.
During the interview, we answer questions and start selling the story that this is fake, a libel and a deliberate attack. Then, the reporter interviewing us asks this: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but there’s a new story that just broke out.” Here it comes. “One of your former employees,” she says looking at my running mate, “has declared that he was fired after discovering that your platform had been trying to influence the results of the election.”
Cries of outrage come from the crowd. I feel a knot in my throat, when I should probably feel a stabbing pain in my back. I mentally add this reporter, no, better, her whole network, to my list. “Wh-who is this former employee?” my running mate asks. “Oh, I hardly think that’s relevant,” says the reporter. “And he has chosen to remain anonymous,” she goes on. “Do you know how many people we’ve had to fire, specially males, because they didn’t fit in my company?” says my running mate. “Sexual harassment, racial slurs and general incompetence are only some of their faults. You understand that you can’t trust the statement of a single, disgruntled former employee.”
“Oh, sorry, it looks like I got my information wrong. It’s a current employee.” I swear I could rip out her guts right now. “Well, he may be disgruntled for whatever reason and has decided to take it with me now that I’m running for president. Or perhaps he has been paid off by—” “Yes, I can see you selling that story. It looks like the reporter accusing your company of selling private data to dictatorships was apparently also paid off according to a new story. Don’t you see a pattern here?”
My running mate opens her mouth to speak, but it’s too late, the reporter has already raised her hand to silence her and is looking at me. There’s more gasps of contempt from the crowd. And they’re aimed at us. “And what about you?” she asks. I don’t like this. “You have publicly stated that you were the victim of something… how many times now? In at least four times you have faced a lethal threat:” she counts with her fingers as she makes the list. “some bullies when you were young, the madman that killed your husband, the madman that tried to kill you a few days ago… and even your step mother.”
I feel like I know what she’s going to say next, and I don’t like it. “Nobody is a victim that many times. Not to mention a fire in your apartment, your dead girlfriend, being ‘wrongfully’ accused” she quotes with her fingers to make explicit her skepticism “… and the list goes on. It’s like a trail of bodies has followed you since—” “Stop,” I command her. The crowd laughs. “And you morons shut up!” I scream at them, standing up. “Yes, I’ve had a tough life, unlike you, princess. And I’ve survived it all because I’m strong and don’t sit around crying. Now, are you getting anywhere, or are you just going to sit there and insult me?”
She stands up to challenge me. “I think you’re a liar, a murderer, and a disgrace to your office.”