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Jeb is a Mess

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You grab hold, yank, tighten, buzz, and move -- you move fast and vigorously before you lose hold. It’s like sticking your hand in an anthill, letting the shivers crawl under your fingertips to the core of your bone. You feel it come, pulses to trembles to tremors down your spine. Leaned against your thigh, you rip the chainsaw, and run into the deep, damp throat of the beast. The last thing you hear as you enter is the sound of someone crying out:

 

“Jeb!”

-

 

He flicks his finger against the rim of a half empty glass. The local hole-in-the-wall bar Tallanasty lays in its own wreckage; Jeb waits in the remains. He shifts his eyes to the side: paint peeling from the walls; walls peeling from the building.

Jeb sits in a bar stool, his tight-waist jeans crunching at the seams of his tucked in fringe shirt. He stares down the bar, a silhouette of the man he once was. He grabs hold of the glass 

“Jeb is a mess.”

He tightens his grip; the anger flow in.

“Jeb is a waste.”

His arm quakes.

“Jeb is a big, fat mistake.”

Jeb’s clenched hand braces for destruction -- in a squeeze too firm, the glass slips from his hand and propels behind the bar, breaking on the ground. Jeb’s steam turns into a sigh.

He plops off the stool and reaches back around the bar. 

I remember… before this all began. Before tornados existed. Before sharks existed. There was once peace on this earth.  

Jeb picks up a piece of shattered glass. He lifts it up to sunlight streaming through a crack in the driftwood door…

When our biggest concerns was the mental health of Americans who loved their guns.

Jeb tips the rim of his gallon hat up.

But that was before it began: first in LA; NY; DC; then… it happened here in Florida.

Another sigh.

You think ‘it can happen anywhere,’ never realizing that it can happen anywhere .

A SHOT --

The shard of glass in Jeb’s hand shatters by the scrape of a bullet. Jeb drops the ground, rolls through the booze-soaked ground. He jumps up to a squat and whips out the old pistol and holds it to the bullet hole in the doorway . The engraved barrel shimmers: Gov. Jeb Bush.

Florida hasn’t been safe since the Sharknados started coming. When I was in my 40s, the kids used to tease about the swamp sharks. Gave me the heebie-jeebies over a plague of mutant sea creatures that roamed the Everglades.

“Who…” Jeb whimpers, “who’s there?”

God-almighty, if only I had understood their prophesy then.

“...Jeb?!”

Jeb raises his gun. “I said, who’s there?!”

The man behind the door chuckles.  “Oh geez, oh man…”

Jeb lowers his gun, recognizing a familiar folksy twang. A gentle soul kicks the door open and steps into the bar. “Boy this sure is nuts, huh?”

John Kasich.

“Kasich…” Jeb breathes, “what are you doing here?”

The Moderate smiles. “Well, you sure do know why I’m here…”

Kasich furrows his brow as he picks up a shard of glass near Jeb’s feet. “We can’t let him win.”

Jeb trembles at the might of Kasich's presence. “What.... What are you talking about?”

Kasich cusps the shard. “He’s coming for me, Jeb. Like he came after you.”

“Kasich, the election… it’s over. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

Kasich lets the shard pierce his skin, bleeding though the stained glass. He cocks his head up to Jeb. “... Who said anything about an election?”

Wind whistles through the cracks of the walls. Jeb and Kasich stare out the window. 

“We’re not safe here,” Jeb whispers. 

“This is Florida,” Kasich spits under the furrowing furrow of his furry brow. “No one’s safe here.”

Jeb pushes past Kasich toward the door. He lays his palm on the door, then, his cheek.

Why the sharks….? What could have caused this?

Like a demon’s whisper, Jeb moves through the door, letting a stream of air into the Tallanasty.

I was always a respectable patron of SeaWorld. I always used humane gator traps.

He looked down. Leaves on the street circled against the wind.

Why has nature turned against me? Why is my god so angry?

The leaves shot up into the air. A whoosh of wind swept the scattered rubble on the street into the sky. Jeb looks up, half afraid…. half terrified.

Why has everyone turned against me?

“Jeb!" 

He turns back into the bar. Kasich is staring out the back window. Jeb scurries over to him.

“Look…” Kasich quivers under his breath.

“Uh…” Jeb’s eyes swell with sweat. A sharknado appears in the distance.

“Is that heading toward us?”

“No,” Jeb sighs, “It’s going toward that school.”

Kasich squints through the furriest furrow of a brow. “Where?”

Jeb points out to a collection of portables. “Right there.”

Kasich’s eyes widen, “Oh geez, oh man. The public education system is in shambles.”

Jeb turns away in a fit of rage and shame. He paces across the room. Kasich turns to him, perplexed. “What’re you doin’?"

Jeb grunts in despair as he Tebow’s on the ground. He knows this storm... these sharknados. They're his Hail Mary.

Kasich runs to him, putting his arms around Jeb. They ignore a tremble that surges between them. “We gotta go, man." 

Jeb cusses under the fist from his sick Tebow move. “But what about the children?”

“Do you mean… they have school even though there were Sharknado’s all over town this week?”

“We can only allocate so many Hurricane days before it becomes a burden on the county, John."

“Jesus, Jeb. You’re a mess.”

Whoosh .

A storm brews inside Jeb.

Jeb is a mess.

He rises, like a Ford F1-50 from a sinkhole. Jeb marches for the back of the bar.

Jeb is a waste.

“We gotta go. We don’t have enough time. Leave the school, they’ll be fine without us,” Kasich pleas. A purr seeps through the back of the bar. It vibrates like beating metal.

Jeb is a big. Fat. Mess.

“No…” Jeb let the brim of his hat sift through the sunlight, revealing a new spark in his eye. He lifts the chainsaw out from behind the bar: “child left behind.”

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED...