Monday, May 26, 2008

Hillary Clinton In A West Virginia Bathroom

Hillary looked at her thin stainless steel wristwatch. The time was 7:45 PM. Her throat had a slight burn from the speech she just gave in a Walmart parking lot to a crowd of Walmart shoppers and employees. There was no microphone, so she had to raise her voice to a level she knew was going to come back and haunt her. Not to mention the dry eyes Hillary confronted from the cool breeze blowing in her face during the Walmart speech. After the crowd gave her a cheer in response to “I am one of you,” Hillary Clinton moved quickly to a black Chevrolet Tahoe and got into the back seat surrounded by Secret Service. Hillary’s next stop was to be Charleston, a good forty-minute drive from the Walmart.

Hillary was alone in the backseat. The driver was Secret Service. In the passenger seat was another Secret Service agent. The side trip to the Walmart had been unplanned, and it threw a bit of chaos into the day because Hillary was not with any campaign staff, who were all waiting for her in Charleston at campaign headquarters. It was the Secret Service, the two in the front seat and the other two in the Chevrolet Suburban behind, that acted as Hillary’s traveling staff, helping her set up at Walmart and announcing Hillary’s presence to the Walmart store manager. The news media was there only because someone in Charleston had thought to send a wire out an hour before she arrived at the Walmart.
Hillary felt tired, her arms heavy, and she could hear herself breathing. As the car moved at sixty miles per hour down a long winding stretch of thick green backwoods, Hillary spotted the Green Tick Diner approaching on the side of the road.

“Stop at that diner. I need to go the bathroom,” said Hillary to the driver.

The Chevy Tahoe pulled into the lot, followed by the Suburban from behind.

The parking lot was empty but for three pickups, all from the 1960s and all Fords and all light blue. Hillary noted the near droning similarity that everything took on for her in West Virginia.

Hillary wanted to throw water on her face and maybe get a Coke. The protocol was that two Secret Service agents were to recon the diner before Hillary left the vehicle. The agent advised the waitress at the register that Mrs. Clinton was planning to use the bathroom. The waitress, maybe about fifty, wearing a red wig with a cigarette dangling from cracked red lips, nodded without any noticeable reaction to the famous visitor in the parking lot. Hillary entered the diner, smiled at the red-wigged waitress and was guided to the ladies room by one of the Secret Service agents. The agent had made certain the bathroom was empty and stood sentry at the door to prevent anyone from entering while Hillary was in the bathroom. As Hillary passed the Secret Service agent, he handed her a black can of Coke Zero which he had purchased from the dirty blond twenty-year old girl that worked the counter. Hillary grabbed the can of Coke Zero without eye contact as she passed the agent and entered door to the bathroom that shut behind her as she looked up into the diner’s ladies room.

The ladies room had three stalls and three sinks. The sinks were embedded in a grey linoleum counter top. The linoleum had the thin-lined boomerang shapes, each about the size of a paper clip, as if thrown on the top randomly. Hillary popped the Coke Zero’s top and took a long swig. She placed the can next to the sink and examined herself in the mirror. She had chosen the sink closest to the door, but it hardly mattered since the mirror she faced was cracked in various places, rivers of break lines running in all directions. One ran through the image of Hillary’s face as she noticed her makeup was caked and uneven from the nearly continuous wind she had faced all day in West Virginia.
She turned the faucet on and cupped her hands, collecting a small pool of cool water drawn from a well in the back of the diner. She splashed the water on her face and grabbed a paper towel from a stack lying on the counter top. She removed her makeup. She did not wish to be caught by the media without makeup, but it was unlikely the media would be anywhere near the Green Tick Diner. And quite frankly, she hated makeup. She found herself lopping on more and more of it to cover up more and more facial lines and hanging eye bags.

The toilet flushed. Hillary stood erect. The stall door, which was not shut, opened and out walked with a slow limp an old woman slumped forward, her head sticking out and down, the hump of her back nearly as high as the top of her skull, which peaked out through thinning silver hair. The old woman did not look at Hillary but moved slowly to the counter top, turned on the faucet and leaned on the linoleum with twisted hands. She was wearing blue jeans and frayed converse sneakers. The jean were cut about two inches above the ankle, exposing very pale skin treaded with blue veins. She was wearing a yellow T-shirt covered with a brown leather jacket.

Hillary glanced at the door with a moment of surprise, half expecting the Secret Service Agent to pop his head in. But the old woman made no noise that would have brought the agent rushing into the bathroom. Hillary relished these private moments, and so was irritated that the agent had not cleared the bathroom. How had he missed this old woman? She thought it was possible that the agent merely noted that each stall door was open and assumed that no one was sitting on any of the toilets. Well, I guess in West Virginia closing a stall door is not customary, Hillary thought.

“You that Clinton chick?” said the old woman as she was looking down at the water running down the drain. The old woman’s body position had not changed since she found her support on the linoleum counter top. It seemed like she was fighting some uncomfort or pain.

Hillary resisted a response. But that would be impolite, and as much as she had been accused of lacking any sense of civility, it was her inclination to be gracious.

“Yes,” said Hillary.

“What you doing here?” said the old woman.

“Well, there’s a primary today, and I am campaigning,” said Hillary.

“They’re ain’t nobody lives in this part,” said the old woman.

“We are driving to Charleston where my campaign headquarters is located,” said Hillary.

“Charleston folk are a bunch of crap-eaters,” said the old woman.

Hillary had never heard the term “crap-eaters” and wanted to ask, but she was then caught off guard.
“Hey, you ain’t that Hillary chick. That Hillary chick is an old hag. You trying to mess with me?” said the old woman as she glared at Hillary.

“No. No. I am Hillary Clinton,” said Hillary.

The old woman stared at Hillary, squinting her eyes.

“Hey, yeah, OK, I see it. You just ain’t got makeup on, is that it? You don’t look half bad without that shit on your face,” said the old woman.

“Thank you,” said Hillary.

“I voted for the black guy. What’s his name?” asked the old woman.

“You voted?” said Hillary.

“At the firehouse. This morning. Voted for the black guy. O somethin’,” said the old woman.
“Obama,” said Hillary.

“Yeah. Him. People ’round here don’t like the black guy cause he’s skinny and always smilin’,” said the old woman.

“Is that right?’ said Hillary.

“Shit. I need a drink. S’pose you could drop me at Bunn’s Bar down the road?” asked the old woman.
Hillary was inclined to tell the old woman that she was in a rush. But that would make no sense, and the old woman seemed to have an accurate bullshit meter.

“I need a drink too,” said Hillary.

“Nah. Bunn’s not for you. It’s filthy. Dirty shit all round. The crap-eaters in Charleston have plenty of clean bars fit for you,” said the old woman.

“What do you drink?” asked Hillary.

“Gin. Gin stinks, and I like to be reminded I’m a drunk. The crap-eaters in Charleston don’t smell their own shit. I like to smell mine. So can you drop me? At Bunn’s? It’s on the way,” asked the old woman.
Hillary really wanted to go to Bunn’s Bar and hang with this old woman for most of the night. She needed a gin too, though she preferred vodka.

“Sure. We’ll drop you off,” said Hillary.

“I voted for the black guy. I ain’t apologizin’. Just saying I voted for the black guy. To be different. And he’s different, you know,” said the old woman.

“Yes. I know. I know,” said Hillary.

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