“This is probably how Theodore Roosevelt would have wanted to be remembered. Probably.”
Its stomach grew between ripe Science classes and a weedwork of electrical wires and the pink-feather of insulation. The door remained unlocked; the lights were flicked on in the morning by a sleepy department head and flicked off by a custodian whose back vac made her a ghostbuster. A general lack of students kept the air icy and mostly free of the muck-must of human bodies, a scent corrupted by cheetos and armpit and the cheese of feet, although the room occassionaly fed on students looking for a place to study, romantic couples with forged hall passes, and a red-nosed assistant principal who napped on Fridays by the cabinets—some of their grease and wet spray of conversation remained behind as particles on the carpet. The only noise was the buzzing tempo of air-conditioned lungs.
Since classrooms have no natural predator, the room sat, and sat, like a forgotten box of baking soda in the fridge—without purpose—without function — absorbing funky odors. The first pang of its profession came with the appearance of a bearded fellow, shaggy and shortsighted as a bear with spectacles, who lumbered into the room and occupied the desk, a vantage which offered the desktips and distant blue cabinets—a corner where he wouldn’t fear a sneak (in truth, the fellow only dreaded poisoned coffee). The hermit hid there, received his paycheck, watched for enemies at the door, and put up posters that read, “You never fail until you stop trying,” and “It’s okay to not know but it’s not okay to not try.” Perhaps he operated under that mantra of bibles and baseball movies: ‘if you build it, they will come.’
No one came. The fellow died in the fetal beneath his desk.
“It doesn’t matter” was his mantra.
“It doesn’t matter.”
In the bar, Dr. Bysshe clung to the utter frivolity and therefore futility of human life — its meaninglessness, its atoms, its empty spaces. He would witness a woman pulling gum off her shoe or a video of a school shooter offing himself after offing his class with the same perplexity, the same inquiry of who cares?
Every name, he argued, would be erased. No love, sorrow, contact, or conflict could endure the eternal siege of Time and Entropy.
So we have remembered him. It is our one countermeasure, or consolation.
Although Dr. Bysshe lived a hundred years ago, we remember, and we transmit his crushing spirit forward across state lines and timelines.
We will immortalize his shattered visage, his wrinkled lip, his frown, and his philosophic vision that so neatly suspends us over the Pit, so that all may look on his Works and Laugh, before completing their flight and lying down to sleep in lonesome sands.
Senator Hurpkins walks into his office. He looks unhurried, self-assured. All of his secretaries, even the male ones, are huddled around Janet’s desk. Janet looks at him urgently. “Bill, you got to see this.” Hurpkins takes the document she’s holding and looks at it closely. “No,” he says. “That’s not possible.” Janet explains what he’s seeing because movie audiences don’t read good. “They want to delete God’s name from the Constitution. The Constitution.” (The film takes some liberties.) Hurpkins is visibly upset: “NOT THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION. Not on my watch. NOT ON MY WATCH.”