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The Freakin’ Popper

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Christmas is done, and I can’t say I’m displeased or anything.

I mean, come on—a popper? Santa couldn’t do any better than a freakin’ popper?

You know what a popper is? It’s this bubble-thing made out of see-through plastic. Stick’s attached to it. Little blue plastic wheels on the bottom. Fisher-Price puts it out, I think. You push it along and little balls inside the dome start popping up and down and all around. Faster you go, faster them balls get moving.

I found it pretty fascinating at first. I was pushing it up and down the floor. Then I tried to run down the hall with it. Put some of my weight into that stick—but did it hold me up? Hell, no. I went down like a freakin’ sack. Bam! Christ, it hurt. I had boo-boos on my palms, my kneecaps, and I think I even hit my chin a little bit. Mommy came over and picked me up and she said, “Did that bad popper get you?”

I was already crying, and what Mommy said just made me cry louder, because it wasn’t really the freakin’ popper’s fault.

“Mommy’s gonna give Santa Claus a big timeout!” Mommy said.

“Waaaaaaaa!” I cried, because I didn’t want Santa taking the heat for this. I mean, Christ, yeah, it hurt and everything, but it wasn’t Santa’s fault. It was just one of those things that happens. I mean, I’ve been walking for, what, like three and a half weeks or something.

Mommy was bouncing me on her knee and she got a real nice rhythm going, and it was lulling me, and the Man came over and said, “Look he’s falling asleep and he has only opened one present come on let me take him come on baby let’s see what’s inside this one.” The Man was reaching out to me with some type of wrapped-box deal, but Mommy was cuddling me and it felt nice and I already had the freakin’ popper and maybe a popper isn’t the greatest freakin’ Christmas present in the whole entire universe but I guess I was kind of looking forward to playing with it again, once Mommy was done loving me up.

“Come on Carol put him down and let’s get to it,” the Man said. I think the Man is my father. I think I am supposed to call him Dad. He has no milk and he smells terrible—unlike Mommy, who smells like clouds, raindrops, candy, gum, rainbows, flowers and Marlboro Lights.

“All-wight, baby,” Mommy cooed. “Time for some more pwe-pwe.”

“Pwe-pwe” means presents, by the way. Mommy can be a nerd, but I try not to let it bother me. Anyways, she set me down and I grabbed the popper’s handle and pushed it down the hall. Them balls really got moving, especially when I ran. Ouch! Damn. Slipped again. I cried my loudest until Mommy came for me.

“Here we go again,” said the Man.

So it was a pretty tough Christmas, but at least I got a freakin’ popper out of it.

—Steven Mayne

It Takes a Pillage, Part 2

The scene: Early evening, a dimly lit back booth in a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Outside, rain-slicked streets and a palpable, electric air of menace ….

THE SENATOR: Now why can’t I pick up a fucking newspaper without seeing Obama and Edwards anointed the saviors of the Democratic Party? I spent eight goddamn years in the White House—those two pretty boys aren’t fit to hold my coat.

THE AIDE: Well, Senator, I think it’s safe to say most Americans aren’t ready for an African-American President ….

THE SENATOR: Oh, really? Tell me, have you ever seen an obscure little show called 24? It happens to feature an African-American President, and its viewership was up 16 percent last year—not to mention the DVD’s are selling out—it seems Americans are very fucking ready for an African-American President.

THE AIDE: Well, you know, it’s one thing on TV, it might be another in real—anyway, actually, I’m surprised you watch 24

THE SENATOR: Dick sent me the DVD’s.

THE AIDE: Dick Morris? You’re kidding. You and he hate each other—he attacks you regularly in the Post.

THE SENATOR: Don’t be stupid, that’s just a cover—he’s still on the payroll. [Looking around] Now, who do you have to fuck around here to get a drink?

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