Citizen Bear

From the Story Arc: Homecoming

Previous Story in the Arc: Interlude: Four Walls by Re-Bear (Friday, September 20, 2019)

Next Story in the Arc: Interlude: After the Ordeal by Re-Bear (Monday, May 11, 2020)

(posted Monday, May 11, 2020)

“For too long has the American dream been unavailable to the working man. Where is the world promised to us by Maxim magazine? Where are our Bikini Carwashes and Wet Hot American Summers?"

"We were promised a certain future. A Porky's future. Ernest going to camp and the Animal House kids having a chance to run the country. Nerds, jocks, outcasts and preppies uniting to fight the man."

"Instead we have smartphones, and 24/7 availability. We have places where you can pay to cuddle other sad, lonely people. We live in an era of disconnection and alienation of each other from each other, and nobody in Washington is going to do anything about it."

"If elected I vow to restore traditional values, where men are men, and women are…"

Old Bear turned off the television and looked at Igor, jaw slack. Panic filled his clouded eyes.

"What in the…." Igor mumbled to himself. He ran his shaking hand through his hair. "What is Pavel doing? How is he speaking so… cogently?"

"Running for president…" Old Bear shook his head in disbelief. "This is bad, Igor, very, very bad."

***
Internal Polling Data - Paragon City Conservative Party.

Individual statements from independent voters:

"I really support Polokhov's 'Make Titties Great Again' program to supply at-risk youth with breast implants. Who doesn't like titties?"
-Adam Ruiz, age 32

"Mr. Polokhov is right. Not having a food court at the national mall is a disgrace. I mean, it's our national mall. Even my local mall has a food court. No wonder Bolivia is laughing at us."
-Becky Carson, age 22

"Of course we should normalize relations with the Rogue Isles. They're only aggressive because we're being aggressive. We're not innocent either, and I think we can trust Lord Recluse more than Frenchie McFrenchface from Franceland."
-Thomas Gold, age 54

“The War Walls need repaired and the Rikti are going to pay for it!”
-Simon Swenson, age 73

***
Bejouled frowned, and the three parallel scars running down her face darked. "President, you say?" She asked grimly. It was the fifth time she asked the question, hoping Igor would admit to playing the worst prank imaginable. She downed another shot of vodka.

Igor met her at Rusty's Hole, the seediest bar in Kings Row. It was the kind of establishment where the menus were tethered to cinder blocks so that the clientele couldn't use them as weapons. Igor figured that if Svetlana flew off the handle, nobody would call the police.

"Yes, President of the United States. Somebody is funding him, and I need to find out who. But I'm… I'm.."

Sveta finished his sentence. "You're a scrawny and weak idealist who is scared of confrontation and harbor a deep, personal fear that you will be unable to do what needs done should it come to that."

That comment wounded Igor so badly he almost wished she punched him.

"Yes," Igor mumbled, "That was surprisingly accurate."

"Grew up in Soviet Psy-Ops. So what’s the plan?”

“We need professional help.”

“I’m still not talking to Rabbi Knifeman. You do your therapy thing on your own time.”

“No, legal help. Someone who knows everything there is to know about electoral law. We need to talk to Prudence Juris… the Law Librarian.”

***

**Official Transcript of Real Talk with Amanda Vines - Property of SPDR Cable News**

Vines: Welcome back to Real Talk on SPDR cable news, the most reliable, trustworthy, and blondest news station. The talk of the entire nation is Pavel Polokhov, a populist candidate who is taking the nation by storm with his straight talk and simplistic policy choices. With me today is a spokesperson from the Polokhov campaign, Ghost Widow.

Widow: Good afternoon, Amanda.

Vines: First off, a lot of people, especially those on the left, are fearful of another populist candidate, especially those tied to a long-time adversary like the Rogue Isles.

Widow: Look Amanda, people in America like someone they could have a beer or twelve with. Candidate Polokhov is the obvious choice for those people. His policy to arm day care providers and toddlers is especially popular in the southern US. Even more popular with that demographic is taxing soy products to pay for it.

Vines: But there is growing opposition on the coasts to this plan. There was a protest in New York this weekend, where several thousand guilty white middle class pseudointellectuals flew in to hold signs together for six hours.

Widow: Look Amanda, real Americans, like those in the midwest and the south, really like this plan, as well as the Beer for Bullets initiative where you can trade empty beer cans for ammo credits and spent casings for beer coupons at every middle school. It just makes sense for the majority of America’s land mass to enjoy these policies.

Vines: But shouldn’t the President, if he should be elected, represent all people, even those he may politically disagree with.

Widow: Look Amanda, almost three hundred years ago, a group of wealthy, educated, white men created a document. This document has led to the most successful nation in world history. Are you saying a bunch of New Yorkers and leftist California elites are smarter than the finest colonial slaveholders?

Vines: Well, uh..

Widow: Look Amanda, nobody respects the constitution more than Pavel Polokhov. Nowhere does it say things like we shouldn’t dump plutonium runoff in school lunches or restrict the purchase of nightmare-death-bots to people without a background check. I would think if George Washington or John Jay wanted to restrict nightmare-death-bot purchases, they would have at least mentioned it in the documents. Are you claiming to be better than George Washington, Amanda?

Vines: No, of course not.

Widow: Look Amanda, we appreciate the opportunity to present Candidate Polokhov's policies to your audience, but I really have to get going. We have important work ahead of us to shape this great nation.

Vines: Thank you for coming on, Ghost Widow.

***

Igor and Sveta proceeded carefully down the narrow staircase below the city hall in Atlas Park. It was cramped and dark, and smelled of moldy paper and ink. Books and scrolls were piled up haphazardly in nooks and alcoves.

“And who is this person?” Sveta asked, brushing cobwebs off of her face.

“Prudence Juris.” Igor responded for the fifteenth time. “The earliest records of her were from 1693. She was going to be burned as a witch in Salem, but she found a loophole and they let her go on a technicality. She has the magical ability to recall any law, from any nation, as well as any precedent for or against the law. If we’re going to find a way to bar Pavel from running for president, she would be the one to figure it out.”

“Why isn’t she a lawyer, then, if she knows all this legal mumbo-jumbo?”

“Who knows, maybe she hates billing for hours? Maybe she’s allergic to mahogany? I have a PhD in multi-dimensional theoretical chemistry, but I work as a custodian.”

“Your nametag says ‘custodial assistant.’ I think you’re inflating your importance a little bit.”

Igor winced. She knew how to make it hurt.

The staircase ended and opened into a wide round room, with a graceful domed ceiling. Glowing green crystals illuminated the hall. In the center of the room was a simple wooden desk, sagging under the weight of the books piled on top of it. Behind the desk was a woman. Middle-aged, her blond hair pulled up into a bun, she sat staring into an ancient leather bound tome. She was very plain, and her cardigan acted almost as camoflage.

“Um, Prudence?” Igor said meekly.

The woman looked up, locking eyes with Igor. “Igor, welcome! I haven’t seen you in ages. And you brought a friend!”

“Yes, this is my sister… daughter..”

“It’s complicated.” Sveta said, forcing a smile.

Prudence laughed. “I love the complicated. What brings you down into my lair?”

“Well,” Igor said, shifting uneasily in his chair, “an interdimensional clone, well, I mean, my interdimensional clone is running for president. And we’re trying to find a legal way to stop him.”

“Well what was your first plan of attack?”

“Well first,” Sveta interjected, “he’s a clone! He popped out of a cloning bay in a Crey facility thirteen years ago. And the donor DNA was Russian, not a native-born citizen. The constitution plainly states that only native-born citizens can be president!”

Prudence sighed. “Well, let’s unpack this one point at a time. First, the case of New York vs Roberts, Roberts, Roberts, Roberts et al sets precedent that clones have the same rights as regular non-cloned citizens. This was held up in court in Parsons vs AgCloning LLC in 2001, though that was a case involving cloned cows. It was established in Roberts that a clone’s age is determined by accelerated hatch age plus time out. How old was the clone aged to when he was ‘born’?”

“Twenty-three.”

“So his current age is thirty-six. Minimum age to be president is thirty-five, so that is off the table. In the case Crey Corp vs Magglio, it was established that a clone is a native born citizen of the country it was cloned in, not where the source material came from. This was upheld by the Supreme Court. So that tack is also off the table. In the eyes of the law, your friend is a thirty-six year old, natural born American citizen and is within his rights to run for office.”

“But he isn’t from this dimension,” Igor said, “He’s from Svetlana’s dimension.”

Prudenced shrugged. “The law is quite clear. In the case of US vs Khomaz the Blood Drinker, interdimensional beings are considered residents of the reality they currently inhabit. This was later clarified and passed into federal law as a rider on the 2006 farm bill.”

“What is our hope then?” Igor asked, “Do we try and get the electoral college to reject him if it gets that far? Do we run a third party candidate?”

Prudence chuckled. “I’m afraid not Igor. The Federalist Grimoire makes both things impossible.”

Igor looked confused. “The Federalist Grimoire?”

“It was the magical companion to the Constitution. It all started when James Madison was captured by a demon named Gaaz the Many-Mouthed. While writing the Constitution, Gaaz insisted on the inclusion of the electoral college and made Madison swear a blood pact that the US would always have ‘first past the post’ voting. Eventually, Xarthon the Immortal, Thomas Jefferson’s house wizard managed to seal away Gaaz in a ley line prison deep beneath Monticello.”

Sveta and Igor stared at her, shocked. “What happened to Xarthon?”

“Oh, he got Sally Hemming’s pregnant and Jefferson fed him to his hogs. Apparently Xarthon was only immortal to old age and not swine bites. Real shame, he was a fantastic whist player and a very good dancer.”

“What happened to his daughter?”

“Sold to a slave owner in the Rogue Isles. Jefferson couldn’t stand to look at her.”

“That’s messed up.”

“Magical history is a complicated and absurd subject. If only people knew what was really going on under their feet.” Prudence smiled and a forked tongue flicked out of her mouth.

Igor shrugged. “So where do we go from here?”

“Well, given that you have no legal basis for rejecting him on his age or nationality, and third parties and electoral college shenanigans are out, I would suggest doing it the old-fashioned way?”

“Murder him?” Bejouled asked expectantly.

“No, primary him. Find someone who can take away enough of his base to weaken him and let a more conventional candidate win. Describe your clone.”

“Well,” Igor stammered, “He’s pretty dumb, easily confused, total chauvanist, mildly racist, especially against the Dutch. And I don’t think he can read.”

“So what I would do,” Prudence said, adjusting her cardigan, “Is find someone similar, but smarter. A little meaner. Fight the chauvanism with sex appeal,. Somebody sexy and dangerous, but with name recognition. Somebody like your friend here…”

Igor stammered, “But she was born in Saint Petersburg!”

“Florida,” Bejouled mumbled, “I was born in Saint Petersberg…. Florida.”

Igor turned white with shock. “How?”

Sveta shrugged. “Anchor baby, in case Soviets needed one of their orphans to run for president. So I guess it actually sort of worked out. But I’m still not running.”

“Do you really want Pavel to get elected? I put nothing past the American public.”

“Fine.” Bejouled sighed deeply and looked at her feet. “I guess I’m flinging my hat in the ring.”
***

A man in white briefs is tied up on the floor. He is gagged with a necktie and a trickle of blood runs from his nose to the floor. He writhes in agony as a high-heel shoe slowly presses into his back. The camera pans up, showing a stern-faced woman with a black bob haircut and scars running down her cheek. She is wearing a black leather uniform. Her face snarls and she hits the bound man on the soles of his feet with a riding crop.

The screen fades to black.

“I’m Svetlana Polokhovna, and I approve this message.”

***

“Well, Sveta, your new commercial is really resonating with voters.” Igor smiled as he read the news, “You’ve already captured fifteen-percent, and Pavel has fallen five.”

“How is the campaign fund? I hope we didn’t spend much on the actor I tortured.”

“Actually, he paid us. And it’s a hit with men 18-45, and women 35-55. And we have 3 million hits on youtube and a million on PornCentral. We really need to start assembling a team, though. I’m worried Pavel is getting outside assistance.”

***
**Official Transcript of Capitol Hill with Tyler Albus - Property of SPDR Cable News**

Albus: Thank you for tuning in to Capitol Hill. I’m Tyler Albus and joining me remotely are Leonard Futtbuck, editor of the National Conservative, and Scirocco, Desert Wind and strategist for the Polokhov campaign.

Futtbuck: Great to be here, Tyler.

Scirocco: I can’t believe I have been reduced to this.

Albus: Gentlemen, let’s talk about the Polokhov campaign. Some members of the namby-pamby liberal media are claiming that Mr. Polokhov is getting outside assistance from the Rogue Isles, and they are worried that Lord Recluse may get some quid pro quo in return for his aid.

Scirocco: These rumors are absurd. It is time the sanctions against the Rogue Isles are lifted. The very existence of a large, fortified military base in a sovereign nation, like Longbow currently has in the Nerva Archipelago, is a relic of colonialism and needs to go.

Futtbuck: The Rogue Isles are the world’s largest exporters of weapons and mutant creatures. If America wants to compete in a dangerous and uncertain global future, we need weapons and sewer-dwelling mutant spider people.

Scirocco: Leonard is correct. And just to put it out there, these sewer-dwelling mutants would not be taking jobs from American kidnappers and murderers. They are non-verbal and only drag the weak and struggling into their subterranean lairs, feasting on their flesh juices. American serial murderers are shown by research to live in abandoned buildings and kidnap healthy people, mainly lone female joggers.

Futtbuck: Synergy!

Albus: And what of the new contestant to enter the race? Mr. Polokhov’s own daughter, Svetlana?

Scirocco: She is a dishonorable cur, and one day I will crush her under the heel of my boot.

Futtbuck: Right now her campaign is thin on ideas, and only has support because it combines sex, violence, fear and hatred into an extremely appetizing package. It’s pretty much the perfect campaign. She is definitely one to watch.

Albus: Candidate Polokhov recently made the curious decision to name a running mate, former middle-weight champion and Rhodes scholar, Miles ‘Two-Hands’ Taylor. Naming a running mate this early in the race is highly unusual. What does Taylor bring to the ticket?

Scirocco: He is a gifted orator, a commanding presence, and has an academic background in both the sciences and history.

Albus: So why not promote him as a candidate, rather than running on Polokhov’s coattails?

Futtbuck: Well Tyler, it’s mainly because he’s a nig-

Albus: It appears we are having technical difficulties with Mr. Futtbuck’s feed.

Scirocco: He said the quiet part aloud.

Albus: Any closing comments, Scirocco?

Scirocco: I hope buzzards eat your corpse, Tyler.

Albus: Thank you, Scirocco. And see all of you viewers again, on Capitol Hill.

***
“Okay, Svetlana,” Igor said, giving Bejouled’s makeup and wardrobe one last once-over, “This is it. The main event. The glorious showdown between dumb and evil. Shout Down is SPDR’s number one ‘debate’ show. The host, Bob Gordon, will do his best to provoke both of you. Deliver your put downs with a straight face. Don’t give him the meat. Let Pavel spiral into idiocy. Our goal here isn’t domination. We’re trying to peel off the last traditional voters from his base and appeal to sexual deviants.”

“Is that why I look like a naughty secretary?” Sveta brushed cookie crumbs off her boosted cleavage.

“Yes. Pavel’s grip with these folks is so firm we need you to be a walking Hardee’s commercial.”

On the set of Shout Down, Bob Gordon sat between the two candidates in simple chairs with a giant American flag projected on a green screen, which dominated the room like a lime haze. To Bejouled, it was like being seated by two idiots in front of a giant frog belly.

“Greeting Patriots, and welcome to Shout Down. Tonight we have two presidential candidates, Pavel Polokhov and Svetlana Polokhovna, and we will be asking them the hard questions to make them squirm. We’ll be asking them…. to shout down! Svetlana, why do you think Pavel will make a terrible president?”

Svetlana slowly smirked. “He cannot read.”

“And Pavel, your response?”

“Well, Bob, and I must say, it is great to be here on your fabulous show, great show, fantastic ratings, I must say that nowhere in our Constitution does it say that the candidate must be literate. Now, I haven’t actually read it, but some good people, fine people, explained that to me very slowly. I actually think my lack of understanding about the world is a benefit, which I believe will be reflected in my polling numbers,”

For the viewers at home, the American flag in the background starting fuzzing and flickering, and the sound and video began stuttering. To the people in studio, however, the only sign that things were wrong was the heady smell of ozone and the sensation of all their hair standing on end. Bejouled’s face became red, and a trickle of blood ran from her mouth from where she was biting her lip. Her right hand started glowing, and after a few seconds it was bright white and painful to look at. Pavel didn’t notice and was continuing his stream of consciousness rant.

“Our tax dollars are being wasted in the Rogue Isles. My first decree will be to defund Longbow and to remove their presence from Agincourt. I will normalize…” He never finished his sentence as the glowing electric fist of Bejouled slammed into his jaw. The discharge from the blow turned off the camera feeds and destroyed the AV equipment. Bob Gordon’s limp body flew through the green screen, followed by the debris of his chair.
Pavel went airborne, crashing through a block wall.

“What the hell, Sveta?” he mumbled, spitting blood and teeth from his broken jaw. Bejouled stood above him, incandescent. She kicked him in the ribs with her stiletto heels, piercing into his side. She ground her foot, putting the heel into Pavel’s kidney.

“You disgust me, Pavel. You are weak and dumb, and if you continue down this path, I will end you.” She spit in Pavel’s face, sizzling on his flesh. She removed her foot from his side, leaned down, and punched him once more in his ruined face before storming out of the studio.

***

“Well, Sveta, tonight’s the night” Pavel smiled. His enhanced regeneration restored his face to it’s normal form. Sveta wondered if his brain restored each time, or if he was getting more and more punchy, like an old boxer. “May the best person win?”

“You will not win, you cur,” Sveta sneered. “ I will destroy you completely and totally.”

***

“Thank you for tuning into to SUPER HUMAN WRESTLING! Election Night throwdown,” the TV announcer said, “the main event tonight is Pavel ‘Ladies Man’ Polokhov versus Svetlana ‘Bejouled’ Polokhovna is a super human cage match throwdown. Both of these fighters were in the running to be president just a few months ago until they were disqualified after a brawl on a cable news show destroyed a city block. I’m Gene Wildman, and I’m joined in the booth by the Champ, Miles ‘Two-Hands’ Taylor. Miles, what do you think about this?”

The television flicked off.

“Boring! Igor, bring me some more raviolis.” Old Bear shouted from his recliner.

“Didn’t want to watch the match?”

“There is nothing good on TV anymore. Who won election, anyway?”

Igor sighed, “The rich old white man defeated the rich old white woman.”

Old Bear nodded in approval, “All is normal again, da. I am proud of you for your efforts to keep Pavel out of White House.”

Igor shyly smiled. “Thank you. I really thought..”

“Less talk, more raviolis!”
Igor sighed heavily. “Everything is really back to normal.”