Jewel Beth Davis and Shaune McCarthy

Shaune McCarthy
Inspiration piece

Talk to Me
By Jewel Beth Davis

Rudi had a lot to say this evening, but what was unusual was that Gwen wasn’t saying a word. They sat on the white bench in the front yard after dinner as the weather was quite temperate. The lilacs had bloomed only three days before and filled the yard with their perfume that was bordering on too strong. The frogs and crickets were beginning to sing.

“Can you believe that Sean Spicer actually hid in the bushes so that he wouldn’t have to face the press. In the bushes. How much crazier can this administration get?” Rudi laughed and slapped his knee.

Gwen did not respond. That wasn’t like her. She just stared straight ahead.

“Everyday it’s some new embarrassment with 45.” Rudi waited for a response but none was forthcoming. He looked at her. “Gwen?” The expression on her face was set in stone. She appeared so still. Why wasn’t she speaking with him? His mind was filled with possible reasons and scenarios but nothing stood out. He’d taken out the trash and he hadn’t mentioned her weight. It was probably nothing. Just a passing mood. He carried on.

“And did you hear Trump say he was the first president ever to visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem? The first! Did you see all the photos of the other presidents visiting the Wailing Wall? Maybe he was thinking of the Wall Mexico is not going to pay for.” Rudi laughed again. “They created a new word just for him. Humble brag.” He broke up over that one. “Humble brag. Not only that, when he stepped off the plane in Israel, he reached for Melania’s hand and she slapped it away. Good for her! No really. It’s true. I saw her do it myself. It was on television.”

There was no reaction from Gwen. Rudi couldn’t understand it. She looked as if she was frozen in time. A woodpecker nailed its beak into a tree.  Several neighbors passed by and waved at them.

“Hi Joey. Hi Patsy. Nice night.” Rudi waved but Gwen didn’t move.

“Gwen, is anything wrong?” She didn’t answer him.

“Hey, by the way, did you hear that Trump told Duterte, the Philippine president, sensitive information; that he’d sent two nuclear subs off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. And he did this even after he told confidential information to Putin’s ambassadors and was criticized for it. He’s being investigated for the Russian hacking of our election Now, his son-in-law, pretty boy, is under investigation for trying to set up some kind of secret communication channel with the Russians. Can you believe he’d be that stupid?”

Gwen broke out of her reverie and faced him. Her voice sounded rusty at first when she spoke. “Yes, Rudi, I did hear that. I heard it from you at least five times, and I read it on the Internet repeatedly. And yes, I can believe he’d be that stupid. And yes, I know the president reached for Melania’s hand and she slapped it away. How could I not know that? The media has played it non-stop, ad infinitum, on every channel on TV. And you’ve reported it to me a number of times. Do you think I’m blind or deaf?”

“No, but…”

Gwen continued without taking a breath. “I know he has said that he’s the first president to touch the Wailing Wall and I know it’s a lie. I saw all the pictures of previous presidents praying at the Wall. Just as he said he had far more people attending his inauguration than attended President Obama’s, which was also a lie.”

“Yes, it’s…” Rudi tried to interrupt.

Gwen blew the hair out of her eyes. “And I saw Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes and then coming out, then hiding in the bushes, and coming out, repeatedly, online, and in numerous memes on the Net. In and out. In and out. Over and over again. I even saw Spicey on SNL going in and out of the bushes.” The timbre of her voice was ascending. There might have been a note of hysteria riding along with each of her words. “What’s more I know that if the GOP insurance plan that passed the House passes in the Senate, 23 million Americans will be without healthcare by 2026. I know this. You don’t have to tell me. I know all about the cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Education. I know about the tax cuts for the rich and not for the poor. I realize school loans will be harder to get and much harder to pay off. I know, I know, I know.”

“Gwen, I…” He stopped speaking. He really didn’t know what to say.

Gwen stood up from the bench, stiff and straight like an ancient tree in the forest. “This is the world we live in now, Rudi. I hear and see these things day in and day out and it makes me ill. I’m so unhappy since last November. So, just stop. Stop it. You don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to make it worse.  And you do make it worse. Talking about it non-stop. I suffer every time you open your mouth about it. I don’t want to hear it on the radio or see it on TV or on the computer screen. And most of all, I don’t want to hear it from you.” Her face had deepened to nearly a maroon color. She took another deep breath.

“Because if you do, Rudi. If you do. If you say one more word about Donald Trump over the next three and a half years, I swear I will leave you, and I will leave this marriage.” She let her breath out and composed herself. She quieted her tone, straightened her skirt and tucked her blouse.

“I hope you understand me, Rudi. I really hope you do.” She swept into the house and closed the door.

Rudi decided to stay out in the yard for a while. He might even go for a ride. There must be other things he could talk about. He didn’t know what yet, but there had to be.

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