by Kyle Kouri

And then he won and we kept drinking about it, what else to do but keep drinking about it, and no one knew whether to stay or not, it was worse too because the alcohol wasn’t doing anything, and all I wanted was to be with Jean, but she was somewhere else, with someone else, so I had to go home alone, but first I bought groceries at the place that stays open all night, discount tuna salad, spelt bagels, cream cheese, and then walked south, not quite trusting the reality, a nameless void ahead of me, and my apartment was dead, it was dead quiet, and I hadn’t done dishes earlier, which is the most depressing thing, and I unpacked my groceries, and put a bagel in the toaster, and then had to clean a knife to smear on the cream cheese, and sponge a plate for the bagel to sit on, and after preparing my meal I lay in bed with it, and watched his acceptance speech, at which point Nick texted me, saying “Oh my god,” and I responded, “Oh my god,” and Donald said, “Sorry to keep ya waiting folks,” but his coolness inspired—I hate to say it—the most awful reverence in me, and I could not take my eyes away from the screen, wearing my t-shirt Jean used to wear to sleep, our Howl tattoos underneath, and I felt the most unbearable loneliness, thinking that I’d have to get used to this, thinking that Donald’s son was Damien, the demon child, although it’s possible that he’s a very nice boy who happens to be wrapped up in this, like we’re all wrapped up in this, bagels with cream cheese will never be the same for me, I slept, obviously, terribly, and when I woke up there was no light outside, and I didn’t know what to do, so I packed my whiskey in a bag (note to self: take seriously your drinking problem), and walked south toward Time Square, wearing my Beats headphones, pop music, Spotify, dancing in forward motion like I do sometimes, and when I got to Time Square there was a man wearing Donald Trump’s face, and Donald Trump’s suit, and this man boogied with an old white lady, I hated her, and wondered what his motives were, but felt awe-inspired, and was compelled to start filming them, and it was a perfect video, starting with Donald and the old white lady, and there was an old black man there, whacking bucket drums, I shot him too, I circled slowly around the entire scene, and I captured the perfect moment, Donald throwing up two peace signs while behind him was the “Forever” part of the Forever 21 store, and to the left of that was a huge, sparkling Disney sign, and below on the street a hole billowed wraiths of smoke, and it was all literally a metaphor, and I twirled around capturing the tourists who were Instagramming our president, then whirled back around, and zoomed in as he posed with a smug brat who yelled, “Make America great again!” and I’m venting now, something horrible happened: the video collapsed, my phone had no space, what I captured was gone, and I thought for a second what if I just lost the most iconic Day After Footage, but quickly realized I had not, I had done nothing meaningful, and as I walked away I saw what you imagine every carnie ever looks like pull off Donald’s face, and he smoked a cigarette—show’s over, folks—I walked south, it was about time to crack open the whiskey (noon), and my lips kissed glass beneath a brown paper bag and I felt, for seconds, wonderful, but my mood turned, I was so sad, I kept walking against the bile, the black sun, Beats back on, and in the 30s everything seemed typical, a normal day in my city, but at Union Square it got bleak again, the protesters had their signs, I observed them, then picked up a sign, then flip-flopped my thoughts, deciding it was time to go home, which I did, and kept drinking there, in my book-littered echo room, and ate discount tuna salad, then showered, but the stream was either too hot or too cold, the head made shifts all on its own, plus the pressure sucked, so I got out, called my friends, none picked up, very frustrating, I kept drinking whiskey, and had a few beers, opened Facebook, and clicked on a link to Twitter’s Day One of Trump feed, where I saw heartbreaking things, and almost cried, but I didn’t cry, it was something like the week my father died, who had Donald’s body type, and Donald’s fat hands, but wasn’t all that bad, and I knew, just fucking knew I would not sleep that night, but I did sleep for a couple hours before shooting straight up in bed, during the Hour of the Wolf, my body shaking, aching, grieving Jean, but she was somewhere else, in someone else’s bed, outside a car drove by, shadows danced, a ripple on the sheets, her long slender legs, and there were sirens too, but they sounded different now, ominous, portentous, and then morning came, it was such a sunny day, a beautiful day, but it was not healing time, there was mourning to be done, and I walked to Columbia, because I’m a student there, and saw one Red Hat bobbing, she had a triumphant look, as she posed in a selfie on the steps, behind her were well-meaning protestors, and I thought of They Live and whispered, “They’re among us,” which was silly and made me laugh, but my laughter had a blunt edge, it didn’t sit well, and as I walked deeper into campus I saw a black man wearing a cardboard sign that said, “This is Amerikkka,” and yes, it was, I wanted to embrace him, but I was wearing a Slipknot t-shirt, and have lots of tattoos, so when he saw me staring, with what I thought were empathetic eyes, I think he got the wrong idea, and more sadness hit me, how deep are these divides, but the feeling subsided, because he pulled out a cigarette and said, “Got a light?” and I lit the Spirit before going inside, where I had class with Tin House Rob, and we all sat down, and there was a Trump Supporter in the room, jacket on, a few people tried to glare, but weariness took hold, like what’s even the point, and Tin House Rob asked, “Why do we write?” and you won’t believe it, but the Trump Supporter said, “What do you mean we?” and it was a shocking moment, it said everything, but then Tin House Rob said, “Um, I mean the people in this room right now,” and that was the perfect response, I told the class I write to learn about things, to understand, and I think that went over well, in any case I needed a drink, and after class I wandered south, incapable of reading words, ended up at a bar, where I drank all night, with Shathan and Bill, and I hate to say it but we were three white men, belligerent, bouncing around, in what may have seemed like celebration, we may have looked like the enemy, I felt trapped in my skin, I felt shame and hopelessness, but then my mood took a one-eighty turn, I wanted to be radical, I was ready to fight and die, for my country—for my black, Muslim, Mexican, gay, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters—who I love so much, whose lives are more meaningful than mine, I would die, the night became a cave, my vision strangled, darkness on all sides, until I passed out and slept like I was dead, and had the most amazing dreams, I’ll spare the details though, and in the morning I was refreshed, yet slightly concerned, where had my hangovers gone? must be a sign, I decided to write and wrote a spiteful piece, full of anger and hate, that sneered and spit, it was, in some ways, the literary self-death of me, and I smoked seven cigarettes, one after the other, on the stoop, and drank a huge glass of whiskey to sober up, and then Jean showed up, unexpectedly, inevitably, my dark-haired Jean, we looked into each other’s eyes, saw everything, and my apartment was full of life, I kissed her mouth hard, but softly kissed her neck, we lay entwined, one perfect being, and made love, for a long time, I’m home in her, I pulled Jean’s hair and smacked her ass, she scratched my back and begged me to take the condom off, “I want you to come inside me, take the fucking condom off,” in this time of death, we wanted to make life, I took the condom off, we made life, then lay in bed, laughing about something, I don’t remember what, but it was a perfect moment, I felt whole again, happy, alive, and didn’t even notice that I did it but I was already drinking another huge glass of whiskey and Jean didn’t judge me—or did she?—at least she never says anything, the sun had set, night again, and Jean left, back to him, my apartment was dead, darkness, no dark hair, and I had to get used to the silence, the cold too, it was cold like a tomb, or like my apartment’s always cold, and I just sat there for a while, heart racing, palpitating, becoming unhinged, and I worried for myself, but distantly, because I didn’t care, there were so many bigger things, that’s what I told myself, but I could not sit still, so I stood, paced, reread my spiteful piece, it was full of hate and made me high, I called my friends, they were down to drink, we went to the bar, it was a scene, and though the music was low, I still danced, like I was insane, and shouted, “Why isn’t anybody else dancing? Huh?” and Nina said, “Maybe that’s a sign,” and I laughed so hard, what a great dig, but I didn’t stop, never do when I’m on a roll, and I talked to friends, we all laughed, needed too, and I kept drinking, just didn’t stop, and then there was daylight, another beautiful day, but actually only from inside, it was secretly cold and that chill got into hands and the November wind whipped like ugh, but I kept walking south until I was downtown, where I met a friend and drank, even though I wanted to read, but there was no turning back, so we went bar bopping and ended up at The Library, on Houston and A, where I know the bartenders but they never give me free drinks, but it was two-for-one until eight o’clock, drink up, we did, then Jamie the Anarchist arrived, and he was charged, he told me about the protests, and I was feeling risqué so said the protests looked weak, and he said they weren’t weak, he said we needed to start now, we needed the country to know and I said okay, that’s true, I never know about these things, but I ventured that what I wanted to protest were the hate crimes, and he said that was good, we went to another bar, Sluski joined—an old friend, the only person I’ve ever punched in the face—and he would not say who he voted for, which meant he was a Trump Supporter, and things got a little sticky later, when he showed us a meme that featured a black man’s penis, which was the butt of some joke, and immediately Jamie the Anarchist and I went off on Sleuce, screaming, literally screaming on the sidewalk, “That man’s penis is not funny! You cannot make a joke about that man’s penis! You making a joke about his penis is racist, it’s not harmless, it’s violent, lives are literally at stake,” and Sloozer said something so stupid, he said, “You guys, I don’t see race, that’s on you, I just see a big ol”—we stopped him there, because I didn’t want to lose a friend, and we changed the subject, marched south, together, in the full moonshine, and went into another bar, where we bought many beers, and cheered to many things—everlasting friendship, fighting for something right, the death of postmodernism and rise of meaningful life—then Sleazy said, “To beating the pussy up!” and nobody cheered, but he was willing to listen, and changed his cheers, “To really good sex!” and okay, we all cheered, he was still our friend, we hit the streets, walked further south, headed to one last bar, the bar was a scene, there were so many people dancing there, I dove in, it was depraved, it was a bacchanal, I don’t know if it was good, I was under a disco ball, chugging Lone Stars, and it feels weird that I picked that beer, but I drank up and danced, froth clogging my nostrils, alcohol spilling all over my mouth, neck, and chest, and that’s when the song came on, it didn’t seem real, it was a hip-hop song, mostly bass and drums, the chorus was “Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Donald Trump!” we all sang along, wearing stank faces while screaming along, middle fingers in the air, we danced, against all that had happened and all that would come, we danced, together, American, a single organism, nowhere, everywhere, between venting and nihilism, joy and despair, bizarre and obvious, “Fuck Donald Trump!” we sang, “Fuck Donald Trump!” underneath the shimmering disco ball, which was a world on fire, that stole our image, fucked it, flung it back at us, and it was one of the most upsetting and gratifying moments of my life,

Kyle Kouri is an MFA candidate in fiction at Columbia University. He also makes visual art. His most recent exhibition, “Long After You’re Gone,” opened at 7 Dunham Gallery in April 2015. His fiction has appeared on horrorsleazetrash.com. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @kylekouri. He writes in the Chocolate Lab at Columbia with Nathan Fetherolf.

Original illustration by @bleedingpiss on Instagram


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