I'm sitting at my computer desk reading NBA.com when I hear a sharp noise off to my left. My coffee maker is sparking and throwing off flames. I run to the circuit breaker and shut off the power. By this time, sulphuric smoke is pouring out of it.
"YOU BETTER SHUT YOUR FAT MOUTH ABOUT POLITICS. IT IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO ARE RUNNING THIS COUNTRY. IF YOU DON'T LIKE PRESIDENT BUSH, MOVE TO FRANCE. WE ARE WATCHING YOU, FATSO. WATCH WHAT YOU SAY."
"You got Bush luck, man," my buddy says when I tell him about it later. "That wasn't any accident."
"What do you mean?"
"You know how you're always going on about the Republicans ruining everything? They're finally starting to pay attention to you, dude," he says. "These guys play for keeps. You're finally on their radar and what you've wished for is happening: They're actually out to get you now."
"That's nonsense," I say. "If the Republicans were going to send me to Gitmo, they'd just come in the middle of the night. They wouldn't try and assassinate me with a defective Mr. Coffee machine."
"You never know," he says. "These guys are masters of trickery. They tried to kill Castro with an exploding cigar, you know."
"In that case," I say, "they'd rig up a can of Pabst to explode when I open it."
"You might want to switch to bottles for the time being," he says.
Two days later, I'm walking in the door from work with an armful of mail. I look over at my air conditioner unit and fire is shooting from it. The wiring was faulty and melted off the solder, leaving bare wires exposed.
"They're out to kill you," my friend says when I tell him.
"No, they're not," I say. "I live in the worst apartment complex in the world. The people downstairs have had their thermostat stuck at 85 all summer long. It's my fault for living in this hellhole. The cops don't even respond to 'shots fired' calls here anymore. It's just a crummy apartment complex."
"Still," he says, "you might want to watch your back, just in case."
I turn on my computer and check my e-mail. There's three hate-filled e-mails calling me an enemy of America, two message board posts calling me a race traitor and an e-mail from my ex-fiancee. I delete them all.
After my radio show on Sunday, I find myself sitting across the table from a world-class beauty. Smart woman. Intelligent. Funny. Soulful eyes. I'm telling her my conspiracy theories.
"Every time I see a car with a Bush bumper sticker on it, I want to take a brick and smash out all their windows," I say. "This used to be a great country until Bush messed it all up."
"I don't understand that at all," she says. "I voted for Bush because I've had to work hard for everything I've gotten. I've been homeless. I've had to work three jobs. I've had to do without. Nobody ever gave me anything. John Kerry just wanted to give people money for nothing."
My heart breaks. "You fell for their trap," I say. "You listen to what they say and not what they do. Your life has been made harder by the Republicans. They're taking your tax money and your future children's tax money and giving it away to the people who are already rich."
"All politicians are corrupt," she says. "There's no difference between Republicans and Democrats anymore."
"You may be right, when it comes to local politicians," I say. "We have a Democratic mayor who acts like a Republican when it comes to giving money away. But look at the bigger picture. You are being cheated."
"Yeah," she says, "but John Kerry said he was for the war before he was against it. He couldn't keep his stories straight."
"Look," I say. "John Kerry made a mistake when he was talking about the war. President Bush made a mistake when he started the war. Which is worse?"
She gazes into her mug of beer. "You guys just want to hate Bush so you're automatically against everything he does."
"That's because everything he does is some kind of trick," I say. "Anything he says to do, I do the opposite. When he said to conserve gasoline, I started topping off my tank every day. You just can't trust him. He's trying to lead you into a trap."
The conversation ends inconclusively.
I get home and look at my e-mail. "You say the racial division is at an all time high. With Hammer (Satan's little helper) stirring up racial tensions, I wonder why!"
Another one. "YOU BETTER SHUT YOUR FAT MOUTH ABOUT POLITICS. IT IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO ARE RUINING THIS COUNTRY. IF YOU DON'T LIKE PRESIDENT BUSH, MOVE TO FRANCE. WE ARE WATCHING YOU, FATSO. WATCH WHAT YOU SAY."
A third. "I am better off by far than when Clinton was President. Most people who work and strive to take care of themselves will always improve their lot over time. Those that cry and wish for a fictional life devoid of war, hate, Republicans or whatever issue is on that day will always be losers. Fact, there will always be wars and poor people of all colors. Why, because life is not always fair, Sorry, that is the way it is."
I look over at the AC unit again. It's throwing off more sparks. I've called the apartment complex a dozen times with no response. The wall around the exposed wires is blackened with soot.
I open up a bottle of beer, after checking it for boobytraps, and turn on the TV. We live in interesting times.