Kurt Vonnegut sat on his porch in Northampton committing suicide by cigarette; Pall Malls. It was an authentic sort of suicide. He was an authentic sort of man.

It was the Fourth of July. He’d only just come back from speaking about one thing or another. As he’d walked out of the hall, a young woman had approached him.

“Mr. Vonnegut?” she’d asked.

He’d turned.

“What’s your next book going to be?”

He thought of the date, he thought of a man.

“Happy Fourth, Mr. President,” he decided, as it seemed the kind of title publishers would likely order, and audiences would likely eat up.

The girl had smiled. Really, his next book had nothing at all to do with presidents, fourths, or Julys, but it was just the kind of loud day where nothing more needed to be said by anyone, especially him. So later, he only sat and only thought: what if I were to write a book called Happy Fourth, Mr. President.

I’d make him a monkey, he thought, smiling. Then, no, he thought, too absurd. But, he’d have to be orange he decided. Aliens–no, not again.

He watched his neighbor mow down a daisy patch.

“Business man!” he said, to himself, his voice not loud enough to impact the day. But, not any business man. He thought longer, not interested, but not bothered. An orange business man who tries to turn America into a corporation, maybe. A sexist, maybe. Though, perhaps even that would be a bit much. A liar, certainly, but sexism had been going out of style, even for presidents.

The character grew in his mind. It began doing things, making outrageous claims; filling up television screens, pissing off the world, and so on.

“Oh what a loud day that would be,” he decided, before mowing the idea down like a daisy patch in favor of something a bit more reasonable.

A Writer and an artist living in Russia

53 Comment on “Happy Fourth, Mr. President

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