Wrex Morning tried to grab the words the moment he uttered them. His lips 8-inches away from the microphone, he reached for their fading tails, a scaly stardust mix of paper trail profanities and car pool-line curses, all of which were capable of scorching the skin off an elephant and causing an armadillo to think twice around the effectiveness of its armor. Wrex winced when he closed his fists around the tails and quickly released his grip. It was useless. He said what he said, and there was no undoing it.
At this moment, at this precise time, at this singularly significant second in human history, Morning’s mouth was the single most powerful force on the planet, and it had just killed the president of the United States of America. Twice. Three times, if you counted what he said off-air to Jimmy D, the producer of “The Morning Thunderdome, with Tourettesaurus Wrex.”
In case there was any guess, the president deserved it.
They all deserved it.
Each and every one who held office or ever hoped to.
At least that was by Wrex’s determination, and if not his, then the one his listeners determined that he was determined to have. Regardless, this time, both were one and the same. And this time the president deserved it more than anybody.
Right now though, Wrex Morning couldn’t exactly remember what that reason was. All he knew was that President Dubiaus Bartman was suspended from his four-post bed by a web of his own intestines while the contents of his impacted colon out like slow-moving sludge from a sinking oil tanker’s open hull, with trepidation and considerable misgivings.
Whatever that means, Morning wasn’t exactly sure. All he knew was that the president was dead and the responsible party was Wrex Morning, the nation’s fourth-most preeminent 5 a.m.-11 a.m. snooze button soundtrack.
And the mornings were long.
Longer than the days.
By at least half, if not three-quarters.
In fact, now that Morning thought about it, he wasn’t even sure if the sun actually rose. His life was indoors, trapped in the egg-shell dark with the sound of low-grade electrical hum and day-old donuts.
The clock said the sun rose. The phone did too. And the conflicting traffic patterns of his wife and kids suggested it did too. But Morning rarely if ever was more than two feet from a microphone or a screen at all times.
At least during the workweek.
The weekend was different.
The sun rose and the day arrived, mostly to the sound of a dog whimpers, the kind of passive-aggressive taunt that threatened the possibility of a pre-dawn, bedside shitting. This, of course, was something the president’s handlers knew all about.
Or at least they would know about by mid-morning when executive time ended and the POTUS rolled off the bed-pan twitter stream from which he hurled excrement at the world like a captive chimp whose dick no longer worked.
Of that, Morning was sure.
Wrex Morning had broken it himself with a previous incantation on the “The Morning Show with Torettesaurs Rex.”
And like his most recent course of action — the twice-times murder of the commander in chief — it was a mistake. A silly, silly mistake bred of a nearly never-ending need to talk smack and drop FCC-approved cuss-word combos.
At the moment, Morning wasn’t sure if that applied more to him or to Bartman, but then decided that while that matter may have been up for debate previously, as it stands now, the argument was settled given the president’s dingle-dangle predicament above his bed and the environmental disaster below. The stains would never, ever come clean. Morning was certain. And Wrex Morning was certain about a lot of things.
Like the eventual knocks on his front door.
Knocks that would come at an inopportune time, like say during a plate of Tuesday’s box-tray lasagna or three beers into a self-loathing session of Thursday Night Football. Some point in Morning’s day in which all that was wrong in the world had been righted by being placed face down in a piping hot microwaved plate of pasta or a chilled glass of slightly skunky lager. There was nothing quite like a good swim to soothe the soul.
And even though that day would come, and Morning would find himself treading water in an interrogation room surrounded by a C-suite team of the CIA’s best waterboarders and genital-jolters, he’d find just the right thing to say at just the right time to wiggle his way out of trouble before the Billy Big-Mouthed Bass of Doom broke his spirit with yet another rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
There was precedent, of course. Like last June. And before that March. And there was always Tuesdays.
But you know all about that. It was on your calendar. Feel free to check if you don’t remember it. It’s there. We’re sure of that.
Just ask President Bartman.
He was sprawled out the bathroom floor, his muddled mass of gray-streaked hair splayed out over the white tile floor like the strands of a crime scene mop that had been abandoned mid-clean up and left to dry, except in Bartman’s case, his hair wasn’t exactly dry just yet — in fact it was soaked — since the president had just stepped out of the shower, slipped on the wet tile, and slid 1.25 meters, 3 centimeters, and 8 millimeters across the room before his ample backside pulled him backwards to the floor, the back of his skull smacking the intersection of four ceramic squares shattering them into 37 different pieces, some sizable but most rather small. Like Chicklets or a meth head smile.
But right now President Bartlett, not President Bartman, was flat on his back in residence of the White House, his skull a curious combo of blood, bathroom tile, and, unbeknownst to the president or any of his staff, the lingering star-stuff left behind after Wrex Morning attempted to undo the murder of President Bartman with a hurried incantation that managed to save one president — Bartman — but had the unintended side effect of infringing upon someone else’s intellectual property — Bartlett.
Please don’t call your lawyer, Mr. Sorkin. We can settle this right here and now. You’d prefer it. I’d prefer it. And the reader here, they’d prefer it to. There’s a story being told here, and it has nothing to do with years of litigation.
Unless you think it’s vital to the story. In that case, we’re totally cool with hearing you out. But we do have to tell you, we hired Morgan Freeman to read the Audible adaptation of this work, and he doesn’t come cheap. The meter is running.
Again. This isn’t a literal statement.
This is a short story, not a cab, although we could see how you could confuse it with an Uber, and by see, we mean the opposite, since we can’t understand how you would possibly think this story can hold a driver and three or four passengers when it can barely hold the attention of Wrex Morning himself, the man spitting degenerate doggerel at the microphone, much less the reader, who has probably already abandoned this 15-minute manifesto well before the halfway point.
We get it. We really do. “The West Wing” was a really good show. One of the best. We’d rather be watching it right now instead of trying to craft some semblance of a story out of Wrex Morning’s diseased ramblings when he clearly has nothing but disdain for plot, character development, and copyrights. That bastard is lost in a sea of non-sequiturs, ad hominem attacks, and half-truths twisted into fantastical fabrications of fever-dream foolishness and unearned rage.
Truth be told, we’d gladly watch Wrex Morning kill President Barlett again if it meant that no one at any time would ever expect us to translate Wrex Morning again. It was a pleasure working with Mr. Freeman though. Do you remember him from “Electric Company?” He was Dracula. Or Spider-Man. Honestly, it’s difficult to tell with so many bloodsuckers in the world today.
We wish there was some grand reason why this is the case — that whatever trash talk was coming out of the mouth of Wrex Morning, the host of “This Morning with Tourettesaurus Rex,” had some greater meaning, that it said something about the lack of a throughline in the lives of you, me, and everyone else on this planet today and previously — but honestly, that would be a lie. And we don’t want to be lying. Not to you. Not to me. And certainly not with President Jeb Barlett on the floor of his White House bathroom with a thumb-worn copy of the Financial Times Swimsuit Edition. Not you, not me, not anyone.
No one wants to see that.
No one wants to hear that.
No one wants to read that.
Not you, not me, not anyone.
And that goes double for Morgan Freeman.
So please, can we all just take a second here to just calm down and think about what to do? The president is on the floor, blood’s everywhere, and if we don’t find a way to come together and figure this out, we’ll be stuck in a loop of Bartlett here and Bartman there and somebody knocking on the front door of Wrex Morning’s house on Wednesday night because that wretched little man makes a living selling disingenuous histrionics to the gullible masses talk radio masses who believe a ring of pedophilic lizard people pizza parlor owners are inserting mind control-anchovies into each and every pie. Seriously, what are we supposed to do about Wrex Morning?
No, not that.
Oh, that’s a good idea. But it’s too costly.
And… you’re pulling our leg. Or legs. Nah, leg. Security, get this jackass out of here.
OK. Sure. That’ll work. Let’s think about it.
Silly Sally sells seashells on the salty seashore.
Silly Sally sells seashells on the salty seashore.
Silly Sally sells seashells on the salty seashore.
Wrex Morning tried to grab the words the moment he uttered them. His lips 8-inches away from the microphone, he reached for their fading tails, a scaly stardust mix of paper trail profanities and car pool-line curses, all of which were capable of scorching the skin off an elephant and causing an armadillo to think twice around the effectiveness of its armor. Wrex winced when he closed his fists around the tails and quickly released his grip.
At this moment, at this precise time, at this singularly significant second in human history, Morning’s mouth was the single most powerful force on the planet and it had just killed the president of the United States of America. Thrice. Four times, if you counted what he said to Jimmy D, the producer of “The Morning Thunderdome, with Tourettesaurus Wrex.”
All he knew was that William Henry Harrison would no longer prowl the halls of the White House, armed with a case of walking dead pneumonia and spreading a zombie snotpocalypse in a series of unsuspecting and silent sneezes.
Within hours of Morning’s spell, the halls of 1600 Pennsylvannia Ave. were a roaring torrent of chicken soup and bedrest kisses. At approximately 12:39 p.m. the White House heaved and hocked a yellow matter loogie across the lawn and directly into a passing bus carrying Boy Scout Troop 126 from Munice, Indiana, knocking it over and knocking it up.
Nine-months later, the bus gave birth to a self-driving minivan that enacted a reign of terror on the lost highways of America, plowing over one entitlement of cyclists in their day-glo spandex shorts after another until Paul Simon cried aloud, “Lance Armstrong, where are you?”, a phrase that became a rallying cry for a generation, albeit one that had yet to be born, but believe you me, when they are, and they will be, they will be insufferable little shits. Worse than the collective consumer power of the Boomers and Millennials combined.
As usual, the nation would turn to the Xers, who would look down at the collected filth in the gutters and the sewers, and whisper, “Whatever.”
But nobody knew about that yet. Not Wrex Morning. Not Paul Simon. And most certainly not William Henry Harrison. He was dead. Again. And Morgan Freeman was taking a coffee break while we all sorted this out.
Again, Morning found himself back at the start, back at that moment when he grabbed hold of a papertrail of profanities and car line curses, and he wondered how all of this came to be and how of this went so askew, as the IRL world transformed into a surreal world and then a slurring world, one that was drunk on limitless possibility and limitless rewrites and reboots and boots, a retching mess swirling the porcelain void of 1,000 flushes and endless refills in which to ralph again and again and again.
Morning knew he wasn’t the first and he wasn’t the worst, but he was fond of the cliches that make up our collective unconscious, that omnivorous beast that consumes the high and low, the historic and the mundane, with equal abandon. And since that may have been the case, Wrex Morning supposed it may have all begun with his father, at least for him anyway.
See, Morning’s father was a makeup artist. One of the most prolific, even if he wasn’t necessarily the best.
That floppy-eared werewolf in “The Itching.” That was Tex Morning.
The sentient middle-finger in “The Finger.” Again, Mr. Morning.
The ankle-biting vampire baby doll in “Betsy.” Him.
And that’s to say nothing of his long-term work on “Star Trucks” and “Dotty: Supernatural Samurai Detective.” For his work on those, he won several Emmys … alongside the rest of the 20-man team at the Classic Creatures FX Studio.
Like others of his kind who were two or three steps down from his industry’s peak, Tex felt underappreciated, overworked, and ever-fearful that the next gig would be his last. And it was this fear that followed him when he left the studio and went home. And so every day, he brought his work home with him. Young Wrex was his favorite test subject.
Sometimes, he gave Young Wrex a black eye.
Sometimes, a split lip.
And, on occasion and if time permitted, a full-body makeup.
Inevitably, there were phone calls from principals, and later, visits from DSS, but Young Wrex and Old Tex assured all interested parties that this was just the father-and-son’s curious way of bonding. The Emmy Awards proved it.
Morgan Freeman was back now. And between us girls, he’s not too happy.
The point was Tex Morning did not beat his son. It was all just smoke and mirrors, or in this case, eyeshadow and fake blood. And in no way was Wrex Morning harmed in any way, including in the following years as he entered adulthood and began to dabble in the makeup biz himself following a stint as as FX artist in the false flag industry and later as a writer, which, ultimately led him to cross paths with the woman who would become his second wife, a successful child crisis actor-turned-agent, but we’ll get to all of that later. Or not. Actually ** checks notes ** we won’t.
Right now, what we are interested in is William Henry Harrison. Not his living dead form. Or that time he returned from a trip to the stars tangled up like spaghetti. Nor the time he appeared in the blood splatter on the wall of the Ford Theatre after John Wilkes Booth sent a blunderbuss blast through Abraham Lincoln’s brain.
We are solely interested in the William Henry Harrison, who found Jesus on March 5, 18.41 In the far right corner of the Oval Office, a discovery that caused architects and interior designers to fall to the floor in a fit of snake-charmer spittle and idiosyncratic gesticulations and previously undocumented languages that, despite their alien nature, speaks to our very souls. That William Henry Harrison. And only that William Henry Harrison.
Unfortunately, that’s all there really is to say about William Henry Harrison, the man who found Jesus in the right corner of the Oval Office on March 5 , 1841 at 2:39 am in the morning after being visited by Sally Hemmings, who somehow had staged her death back in 1835 and managed to make her way to the Far Orient, where she studied under the great Shaolin monks, who taught her the ways of the five-finger death punch, cucumber sandwiches, and Milano cookies, each one a code word for a rather unsavory manner of exacting revenge upon your enemies, even if that revenge was more or less against an office and a country that supported that office than, let’s say, an actual person, who, in this case was William Henry Harrison, who just found our Lord and Savior in the far left corner of the Oval Office — yes, the Lord bit Harrison on his left hand and escaped from his clutches before the president could take his gold.
That is how William Henry Harrison contracted the pneumonia that killed him, not by standing out in the cold rain on the day of his inauguration.
Simply put: the history of the United States of America is a lie. A lie we tell ourselves each and every day as we teeter on the edge of the apocalypse on a teeter-totter on top of a see-saw sliding down a helter skelter right into a ball pit of piss and late-night coronavirus sweats. From the arrival of the Nina, the Maria, and the Onomatopoeia, the story of America is a tale twice-told by an idiot who communicates by tasting braille and sodomizing ASCII code. And right now, right as we speak, it’s coming to an end, with every single second that President Bartman remains dangling from his four-post bed like a Cirque du Solieil performer drawn and quartered on stage at the Grand Guignol.
Anything was bound to happen those days.
In this case, Morning’s just-issued spell had found its way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and felled a president while he was watching “Fox and Friends” in his four-post bed with a Fleshlight in hand and that morning’s security briefings in heaving sea of Raisin Bran and Brylcreem.
But as much trouble as Wrex Morning was in right now — shit, the dude just killed the president for the fifth or six time now, we can’t keep track — he couldn’t help but appreciate the inevitably of his destiny. With a capital D. And tonight she’ll be appearing on stage at 10:30 p.m. at the Landing Strip amid a cloud of fraudulent cigar smoke and the clinking of cocktail glass testicles, the kind you can pick up from the pawn shop or get on loan from a check-cashing vulture capitalist.
At this moment — or that moment — or maybe even a moment that happened just a moment ago or two seconds from now, a thought occurred to Wrex Morning, one which would not be in Morgan Freeman’s Audible adaptation: this present moment was inevitable. The Universe itself — and all the midicholirians and mitochonrial karma carriers that are crammed into our cells like a clown car full of DNA — wanted President Bartman dead.
And why wouldn’t they.
Like Wrex Morning, Bartman was a bore, a brute, a bloviating blowhard with a marked tendency to lying, licentiousness, and a list of bad character traits that under normal circumstances would land one in the stocks to be mercilessly pelted with pig shit, rotten eggs, and fetid meats. But instead, the Universe decided that would simply not do. Sometime between giving a lap dance to table No. 3 and a baby powder refresher to her sweaty parts, Destiny decided that Bartman’s judgment would be administered by Wrex Morning. And Mr. Morning was cool with that. At least he was now. Or at least until Destiny lifted up band on her bikini and it was Wrex’s turn to slip her a dollar bill.
But not yet.
And so Wrex Morning had time to cast another spell, one that would put President Bartman in a temporal timeout hidden away from the entire White House, while the talk show host addressed more pressing concerns.
Like what to do about the present civil war that had beset the neighborhood HOA.
Yeah. He still had no idea. No fucking clue.
Although the most recent unpleasantness was kicked off by a controversy over a backyard swingset — one wing of the HOA thought it belonged under the same category as a storage shed while others thought it was subject to the same rules and regulations as a collapsable princess castle from Fisher-Price. The reason: swingsets were not mentioned in the HOA covenant.
And so neighbor turned against neighbor, playdates were cancelled, cul-de-sac pot lucks were removed from the community calendar, and from each house hung a flag signalling their allegiance — a pineapple and crossbones for the Swingers and a springtime bunny stabbing a soft-purple heart with the point of a carrot for the Shedders. Morning, of course, was on the right side. He was always on the right side, even when he knew he was wrong. And in this case, that meant being on the side of the Swingers and delivering a tongue lashing to the other side.
Wrex was so close to the mic that the stubble grazed the spongy black head of the mic, Then he unleashed a torrent of invective that sent reverberations through the network of pipes underneath him and outwards in a ragged circle, stopping some 22 miles from the epicenter and leaving the half-chewed remains of the previous night’s supper on the countertops and ceilings of every single home in incident zone.
The call lines lit up and his social media feeds exploded. A new battle was on.
And for a brief moment, Wrex Morning forgot about the president, his father, and his family. It was the best that he could do being the worst that he could be.