by

The Fear

“Senator?”
“I’m not a Senator anymore.”
“Sir, we’re going to need you to come out.”
“Why? So you can kill me in front of my family?”
“Sir, we’re not here to hurt you, but we do need to get you out of your office.”
“You’re just going to kill me.”
“We don’t have guns, only non-lethal tasers. But we do need you to come out here.”
“Those aren’t non-lethal, they can kill.”
“You gave a speech on the Senate floor defending them, sir.”
“I was wrong. Well, I have a gun. A big gun.”
“You don’t have a gun. Just come on out. The other thing you don’t have in there is anything more than a mini fridge of water bottles or a bathroom.”
“I’ll shit out the window, you socialist scum.”
“Sir, I had an uncle who voted for you, he’d always share your lines about the dignity of America, the dignity of the free market, the dignity of gerrymandering. Have some dignity and come out.”

There was a long pause, some shuffling, and the senator cracked the door open. There were several national guard soldiers, a few irregulars, an older wide-eyed man in the back, and, in the front, a young woman with a clipboard. The senator grimaced when he realized who he had been talking to.

“Now what?”
“Well, you know the conditions of the Revolutionary Court. All policy makers in the period of 1999 to 2005, regardless of position, have remedial work. You were a congressman in that period, and made eight votes that classify you as a CH-4. Did you read the paperwork before you burned it on that videostream?”
“Not a word” he muttered, but his eyes darted to the clipboard and around the room,and he began to relax with a sense of regret.
“Okay, um, did you ever read Tuesdays with Morrie?”
“I’m sorry”
“The book, Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom.”
“No, I’m sorry, young lady, I don’t understand.”
“Sorry, it’s just about half of you immediately ask ‘like Tuesdays with Morrie?’ I hadn’t read it, either, but I picked it up and I see the similarities.”
“Similarities with what?” He didn’t sound defiant or afraid, just puzzled.
She turned to the older man behind her. He was trim with a darker olive complexion, looked to be mid-sixties, and seemed both amused and curious about the whole affair.
“Samir, can I introduce you to _________?”
Samir walked out and up to the senator. He reached out his hand and the senator flinched and stepped back as if he was about to be struck. Samir’s hand hung in the air for an awkward moment until the senator recovered and shook the hand offered to him.
“Hello, it is nice to make your acquaintance. I am Samir Al-Hussein. I look forward to meeting you.” He spoke with a slight accent that after hundreds of security briefings and trip to warzones, sounded Iraqi.
The senator stared at him mute and then looked back at the young woman, suddenly preferring her.
“So, this is Samir, he’s two weeks older than you, he was born and last lived in Baghdad, but he’s been in two refugee camps, and was briefly detained by U.S. forces,” she looked down at her clipboard, the senator caught the slightest blink from Samir, “Sorry, not briefly detained, held for two years by U.S. forces, but he’ll talk to you about it.”
The senator was beginning to recover.
“You just want him to talk to me?”
The young woman nodded to Samir, who cleared his throat.
“I have been asked to talk to you about our lives, how they intertwined, what you didn’t see, what you couldn’t have seen,what I experienced. We will meet twice a week. They have asked me to be available for the next three years. I’m hoping for Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we can work out the details.”
“You can’t be serious.”
Samir now looked to the young unnamed woman.
“Sir, every policy makers is paired with an Iraqi of as close to the same age as we can muster. Consequences have actions. One of your consequences is meeting with Samir.”
Here they were, in the Senator’s large home, having stripped him of all political power, reduced him to complaining privately with supporters and ex-backers, his pension reduced to the social security minimum, his help long quit, the papers regularly published heated debates about the dinosaurs of war and climate change and how they should be shunned. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
“Now?”
Samir looked back at him, seriously but not with cruelty. “Sure, why not?”
“Do you want to meet in the living room?”
The soldiers and the young woman seemed to relax at the question. No one wanted another Senator ______.
“Why don’t we start in the dining room?” he lifted a filled plastic bag, “I brought falafel.”