The former governor trots on stage, a big beaming grin from ear to ear.
“Alright, alright, alright!”
He is met with tepid, measured applause.
“Who here likes Obamacare?” A number of hands immediately shoot up.
“Nobody! I thought so,” Huckabee continues, the blinding lights disorienting him. The ringing in his ears builds. “I tell you what, Barack ‘La Bamba’ will be dancing a different tune when his healthcare gets re-‘peeled’ like a banana split!”
An audience member in the front row blurts out, “What?”
“Alright, alright…” Huckabee’s eyes dart across the room. The moaning only he can ever hear growing louder in his head. Push it down, Michael. It’s only your imagination. You are in control. You are the Governor. You are the final word.
“You hear about this fake news stuff? Fake news, everybody’s talking about fake news. I’d rather hear about some gosh-darn cake news! Huh?” Loud mic feedback sends Huckabee reeling back onto his heels. He shakes the microphone and mops at his drenched forehead.
“Hehe, alright,” Huckabee chortles nervously. Dennis Miller had nights like this, Michael. Just relax and stick to the routine. “What else is in the news. You see this Brexit thing? Anybody see this? Yeah, England is leaving the European Union. I tell ya, the only time I make a ‘Brexit’ is after I eat British food!”
The sound of someone texting on their phone can be clearly heard over the deafening silence. Huckabee thinks about his many years in office as a public servant. The good he did. The people he helped. The citizens who voted for him, trusted him, hung on his every word. And now he’s here. How did he get here?
“I’m just kidding,” Huckabee assures. “I’ll eat anything.” He pats his belly and winks. An audience member in the third row begins to chuckle, but quickly catches herself.
“Supreme Court’s in the news. Anybody seen this? Anyone heard about this?”
He waits for a response that never comes. A seeming eternity passes. The oceans rise and fall. Mountains crumble to the sea. Somewhere a fawn is born into this world, weak-kneed and trembling. Petrified of all that surrounds it. But its mother is there to protect and care for it. It doesn’t realize how truly safe it is.
“Buddy, wake me up when a dang supreme burrito is in the news! Instead! Of the court.”
An audible cough is heard from the back of the room.
“This guy’s coughing,” Huckabee transitions into some crowd work. “Obama’s gonna put you in a coffin with this dang healthcare, am I right folks?”
“He’s not the president anymore,” someone announces from the side of the stage.
“Alright, alright, al… heh… right,” Huckabee locks eyes with a woman in the second row. A blank stare from dead eyes. Eyes that have seen things. Horrible things. The screaming of a thousand souls that only Mike Huckabee can hear grow louder in his ears. He blinks his eyes shut, straining to the point of exhaustion, flop-sweat pouring down his forehead like a mighty spring, a taste of salt and desperation on his lips. These are not his people. This is not his audience. He’s in a foreign land, on unfamiliar soil. He is a stranger here. An enemy, even. The darkness folds and envelops him, the end is in sight. The sweet release. A single pinpoint of light on the horizon, guiding him home, to rest eternal. An endless sleep from which no man may wake. A decadently intoxicating embrace. A finality. Black.
“Trump wants to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out,” Huckabee forces the words from his lips. His very will fighting him at this point. Body and mind in a monumental struggle, a clash of behemoths. “I wish I could build a wall to keep my darn mother-in-law out! Alright, that’s my time. You folks have been great.”
The microphone slips from his sickly sweet, sweaty fingertips to the hardwood floor as he hastens from the stage in a rushed amble. The emcee quickly rushes on and picks up the mic. “Give it up for Mike Huckabee, former governor of Alaska—”
“Arkansas!” a frightened, weary yelp is heard from backstage.
“Next up, funnyman Ryan Stiles!”
The crowd hoots and hollers euphorically.