Democracy, Myself and I [Flash Fiction]

Good Kosher Pastrami is not in the Palate of the Be-taster Alone.

–Jay V. R.

American politics has been played as a match of policy ping-pong between entrenched liberal and conservative elites for too long. Both sides have been serving up as an ideal, one or another version of Publius as Populus, the Public in place of the People we are, the People we must be, the People as the only institution of society that has enough weight to counter-balance that of the State. Nevertheless, Publius first and last and always present beneath the veneer of Populus is what conservative or liberal elites want for US. These less than official officials who are our Congress again wasting their time and our money, are flippant in the buffoonery I see . . . waiting as I do in a place like this County Courthouse in New York State, waiting to serve my time for Jury Duty; poor players strutting and fretting their hour on the stage of State–Publius is today a poor actor who is less than organic in his role. I look at US here and wonder about the future of democracy–or maybe I should see some hope in this? I doubt very much that I will.

[ . . . ]

Waiting as I do again, waiting as I do some more, longer, longer, longer–and then an old woman smiles and erases the time I have spent waiting to be called to see if I am going to serve on a jury or not or just do this for another day and then go home. Populus beams and I have hope mostly because I know that this woman is We the People of the United States, for if she is not, then I am not, and if I am not, then no one is . . . the time has been sluggishly going by—how does time fly by, move by, pass us by? All of it is one; there are no past, no present and no future; there is only all of it, one. No?

[ . . . ]

Looking, as I have, for good kosher pastrami—what means this? I am not at the moment looking for good kosher pastrami—it does have to be kosher. I think I am going to go looking for an authentic kosher deli? There’s that idea again–authenticity is bullshit, how we play it. There is only as it is. Authenticity is often a marketing ploy, no? What is, is, of course, I say. Kosher pastrami–the pastrami at Cousins on Avenue D in Brooklyn when I was a kid was great. I always got pastrami–it took me some time to get to corned beef. I still prefer pastrami.

[. . .]

Each of us is We the People; each of us must be for it to mean anything. But I’ve been saying this for a long time already, how many years into how many decades I don’t care to count. I’ll say it again because it is a truth I hold to be self-evident, but the self-evidencies of one mind need not transfer to another or any other. Yet, I do not offer this as a rebuttal for the truth of what I say concerning our democracy and what we need to believe to hold it.

[. . .]

Thus I woke from a dream only to be in a dream . . .

What do I need to believe to hold a good pastrami on club in my hand? Each pastrami is all pastrami, is every pastrami that has ever been or just as it is now when we say that I am We the People as you are We the People, politically; this kosher pastrami is all kosher pastrami at this moment at this time? Time in the mind; time on the clock; I listen intently in the dark for the ticking of the clock in the hall.

[. . .]

Democracy is as much faith as it is empiricism, perhaps more so. I do have to believe in freedom. I do have to believe that all good Kosher Delis have not gone to Florida (that would have made more sense to say a couple of decades ago). What do we have faith for? Do we have faith in knowledge? Do we have faith in Truth? Do we have faith in the idea of having faith? Do we have faith that we can know something, anything? Can we have faith again for transcendental values? Do we have faith in democracy? Maybe our grandfathers and grandmothers had more faith in democracy because they were able to have faith, period. We cannot. We have only facts, data—facts and data without faith or knowledge.

[ . . . ]

I do have to believe in the preservation of kosher pastrami in order to find it? in order to have it? in order for it to exist? in order to convince myself I am having something that I lost with my childhood? I have faith in my childhood. I have faith in memory? I do not need to believe that memory is a videotape recording of an event, which wouldn’t be the event anyway. And so what if most of memory is a fiction? I have faith in fiction. I have faith in fictional truth. I have faith in storytelling.

[. . .]

To tell a story or not to tell the story, whose story do I tell anyway when I tell my story. How many me(s) are there anyway?


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