Donald Trump’s Great Ball of Freedom
THIS HAS BEEN SLIGHTLY EDITED SINCE THE ELECTION. ALL EDITS ARE IN CAPS.
It began with two men who disliked each other. Hank and Mike. They probably disliked each other more than they disliked Hillary Clinton, and they both despised her. In fact they despised many of the same things: political correctness, taxes, Obamacare, Obama himself and, of course, Muslims. They liked the same things too: America, guns, freedom and “straight talking”.
In another life they may have been friends, but in this life they were rivals. They both loved Donald Trump. His campaign had energized them to get involved in politics for the first time in their lives. Their idea of involvement was the same, each day they would travel the short distance to their local Walmart, placard in hand, and encourage (or berate) passers-by to support Trump.
Both men were very pleased with their idea and both men were disgusted to see they were not the only person to have it. For, of course, Hank and Mike shared a local Walmart.
To Hank’s credit he got there first, Donald Trump speech at the Republican Convention had got him pumped up and he wanted to help. He drove to Walmart the next day to help “make America great again”. He had his foldout camping chair, his Trump placard and a daily stream of people who would give him an encouraging fistbump or a withering scowl. Hank enjoyed the support, but he preferred the hostility.
Mike took a little longer to arrive, but there he was the day after Hillary’s DNC speech. He used a mobility scooter and held a homemade Trump poster in his lap. He positioned himself a short distance from Hank.
Mike was disappointed to learn he was not the first man with this plan. Hank was furious to see someone ‘copying’ him. As neither man could not think of a location to rival Walmart, the two of them stayed in place.
They spoke, of course. Spoke of their admiration of Trump and their hatred of Hillary. But every conversation had an edge. Every statement was loaded, a weapon to hurt the other. They scrambled to higher and higher praise of Trump, but that quickly reached an impasse. There are only so many heights you can scale in expressing admiration. The shared hatreds offered far more room for creativity and, more importantly, for attack. No statement could be too harsh. Neither wanted to be a “sissy liberal” in comparison to the other.
Hank seized on Mike’s mobility scooter as a sign of weakness: “of course it’s nice to sit down all day, but I like to use the two legs God gave me”. And for a while it did give him an edge as he began to stand for longer period and move to engage a wider stream of people. But Mike responded by standing for short periods: “my doctors won’t like me standing, but I’m doing it for Mr Trump”.
As the weeks wore on it became more difficult for each man to score points. They had reached a stalemate in their love for Trump and their hatred for all manner of things. Even the standing war was at, well, a standstill.
It was Mike who introduced a new element. On a cold morning in early October he peeled off his large thermal jacket to reveal a Trump T-shirt: “got it delivered this morning”. Hank initially dismissed the clothing choice as foolish: “you’ll catch your death”, but Mike deftly turned this into a positive: “everyone’s too namby pamby these days, afraid of a little weather”.
Having definitively lost a round, Hank needed to respond. The homemade Trump vest he wore the next day was crudely made, but that only added to its appeal: “none of that fancy store-bought stuff”. The fashion war had begun.
Never have two more unfashionable people been so competitive about clothing. The opening rounds of this battle had established that less was more and both men stuck to this principle as if their honor depended on it — as it kind of did. Mike was soon in shorts, Hank abandoned his shoes: “never had them growing up”. Walmart regulars began to take an interest again in the two Trump supporters whom they had previously learnt to ignore. A reporter from a local paper came down to interview the men and both used the opportunity to take a potshot at the other: “ol’ Hank here is feeling the cold” and “Mike has to wrap up, he’s not used to Missouri winters”.
As clothes were abandoned, crowds grew. Mainly Trump local supporters who were coming to regard Hank and Mike as their spiritual leaders. And as crowds grew the stakes became higher. Reason was abandoned along with the men’s clothes. When Hank arrived stripped down to his plain white briefs with “Vote Trump” daubed in red and blue lettering across his ample frame it looked like he may have forced checkmate. Mike looked a broken man as they packed up that evening.
Hank was first to arrive the next day, there was talk of a local TV crew coming down. Mike was late. Maybe, Hank thought as he shivered in his briefs, this turf war was finally over. But then gasps from the crowd alerted him to Mike’s arrival. Painted from head to toe in red, white and blue and naked as the day he was born, Mike rolled across the pavement in his scooter, rising to his feet as some people clapped, some laughed and a few screamed.
The two men stood facing each other. If he had not become so obsessed with this battle, so intent on victory, then Hank may have paused for a moment, gathered his thoughts and called Mike obscene, used their supporters’ hatred of the human body to destroy Mike once and for all. But Hank had abandoned reason, he could only see one option.
With the casual manner of a person removing a scarf in a coffee shop he began to peeling off his briefs. As they dropped to the cold pavement he remarked disdainfully, “lot of paint you’ve got on there… kinda fruity”.
The two men stood facing each other, both naked. The mood of the watching crowd was balanced on a knife edge. A silence seemed to stretch out for an eternity. If anyone had voiced an objection to the public nudity right there and then, the entire history of the United States of America would be very different. Instead a young man began to slowly clap. Then another. The crowd were well versed in the power of the slowly building round of applause, it grew and grew until it was thunderous.
More shoppers joined the crowd and joined in the applause, though they could not see who was the subject of the excitement. Applause was joined by joyous whoops and the crowd began to embrace Hank and Mike and push them towards each other. Neither man wanted to touch the other in their current state, but they found the crowd hard to resist. They were soon forced into an embrace and phones were shoved in their face for photos.
As if on cue the promised TV crew showed up and the men stood together in their embrace to explain their cause to the eager female reporter. “We’re naked as God intended, and God intends Trump to be the next president”. “I’ll put on clothes when Donald Trump is in office”. They were committed to it now. More TV crews came, the two men basked in their glory under the hot lights from the outside broadcast crews.
The cold was a distant memory, now they were sweating. In time they noticed that they were not just stuck in an embrace for appearances sake, they were actually physically stuck. A combination of the paint, sweat and their ample flesh had caused something of a suction effect, Hank’s arm was stuck under Mike’s. They looked like fully grown, conjoined twins. Their supporters didn’t notice, they were busy discarding their own clothes. Some were committed Trump supporters, others like the TV cameras and the thrill of public nudity.
Both men stayed in place throughout the night as a party grew around them. Supporters fed them. Mike remarked they were like those “old Roman boys getting fed grapes”. Hank grunted in response.
As the cold set in some supporters suggested draping the two men in warm blankets but the majority were against this idea: “it’s destroys the whole point”. Eventually more supporters stripped and embraced Hank and Mike. Both men were glad for the warmth of another human body around them. Neither mentioned that they were stuck together, to acknowledge it would be a sign of weakness.
The next day the national press got involved, a proper media circus was up and running and Hank and Mike were the star attraction. As people on the outside of this naked group hug got cold more people joined them. They were around thirty strong when they went live on Good Morning America, with Mike and Hank still visible in the centre and deferred to as group leaders.
Cold was no longer an issue with the swell of people and machinery around the group, but people kept attaching themselves. There was no real planning behind it, if you were naked you latched on, like a limpet.
Three days in and the mass of flesh was now estimated at over 100, the media was relying on estimates at this stage. Some people began muttering about the smell, it was clear that many people in group had relieved themselves, but they were hushed and told to show some respect. Others voiced concerns over safety, but were shouted down: “PC horseshit”.
Hank and Mike could no longer be seen, but they were still in there. They had nowhere else to go, even if they wanted to escape. There was less movement now and when it came it was dramatic, like a many-legged toddler struggling to maintain it’s balance.
That evening it happened, something that had been threatening for hours, the mass of flesh tipped over. Too many people leaned in one direction at once, others overcorrected and down they went. There were groans from those on the bottom, a couple of paramedics made to move towards them but the surrounding crowd closed in. They cheered and a few more people jumped on board. The crowd tried to push everyone back to their feet but it was impossible, they just shifted who was at the bottom.
The cheering created an energy. Each cheer egged the crowd on further, they pushed more, the ball of flesh moved again, and again. Each push took less effort than the last. After one rotation it had momentum, by the third full rotation the crowd were merely guiding it between the rows of parked cars. By the time they hit the road outside the ball was threatening to escape. When they reached the first junction it did escape. Drivers slammed on brakes as the giant ball of flesh spun through the busy junction. It was out of control now and it was gaining debris.
Police and TV helicopters fought for air space as the ball’s movement was tracked across town. Luck was with it (or against it depending on your viewpoint) as it has trundled onto a long, straight stretch of road that was mainly downhill and out of town. The momentum grew. It would occasionally leave the road and boulder through some gardens, but it seemed to always find its way back to to the street.
This was international news now, all networks had rolling coverage of the rolling. The ball had travelled fifty miles, sixty mile, seventy, and was not slowing. It had tripled in size. Most experts agreed that every person trapped in the ball was almost certainly dead. But this was not being reported as a national tragedy. In truth the media did not know how to cover it. Donald Trump had been early in hailing the ball of what made America great. Hillary Clinton was left in a difficult position, she could not criticize the dead. She settled for calling the ball an example of American patriotism. Whatever was said in private, it became prudent to refer to those in the ball as American heroes, one and all.
The ball kept rolling. It was by now christened The Great Freedom Ball. A route was planned. It was to travel across the southern states, from Arkansas to California before turning around and heading for the east coast. Large armoured vehicle would occasionally nudge it in the right direction or slow it and accelerate it as necessary. Calls to stop the ball were dismissed as attacks on the freedoms of the, now dead, participants.
People would come out to watch it pass, a never ending, constantly moving parade. There was a triumphant air to these gathering, plenty of stars and stripes bunting, music and food. People would jump the barriers and evade police to stand in the path of the ball and join it. The new additions were inevitably killed almost instantly, but were given heroes’ receptions by the crowds, though it was considered poor form, and something of a failure, if a body did not ‘stick’ to the ball. The occasional sight of a bloody carcass tended to put a dampener on an otherwise pleasant day out.
As the death toll mounted, though it was not referred to as a death toll, public opinion split. Democratic supporters began to criticize the Great Freedom Ball movement. It was dismissed as cult-like, a triumph of stupidity and, even, racist; for the ball was almost exclusively Caucasian.
Republicans, particularly Trump supporters, would accept no criticism of the ball. This, they said, was a triumph of the American spirit. To criticize the ball was to criticize America.
Authorities were soon forced to divert the ball off roads, a passage through the Great Plains was planned out. Crowds could still view it travelling, but at a safe distance. More and more people laid down in front of it, it was impossible for authorities to intercept everyone. The death toll had reached thousands. Large herds of cattle were wiped out. Political scientists speculated how many Trump voters WON to the ball. Opinions on Trump were now inextricably linked to opinions on the ball. The louder some people voiced their support, the more negatively others felt about it.
By November 8, election day, people were ready to welcome in their first female president., But thousands more had turned their back on the election. It was clear Trump WOULD win at this point. But he and his supporters had seized a different victory. The Great Ball of Freedom was more than a mere election victory, it was a movement. A literal movement.
Trump choose to give his VICTORY speech — he called it a victory speech — on a platform close to the summit of the East Pawnee Butte, one of two large hills set amid the flat grasslands of northeastern Colorado. It was a stunning setting and had been chosen for one reason only; so the Great Ball of Freedom was visible behind Trump while explained why he had TOTALLY lost.
The ball was no longer rolling at this point and it was merely called a ball out of habit. It was now a constantly shifting, oozing mass of human and animal flesh, dirt and debris. A landlocked mess of flotsam and jetsam. There was still a momentum to it, but physics experts expected its movement to continue to slow and eventually halt. Joining the ball was no longer an immediate, violent act, like stepping in front of a train. It was more akin to jumping into the chaos of a collapsing building, death would come, but not always quickly.
Trump stood on his dais, as the sun came down on November 8. He made no mention of the election or Hillary Clinton or the WIN he was HAVING that day. He just spoke about the ball. Hank and Mike were lionized, their family members pointed out among the cheering crowd. He looks down on “my Great Ball of Freedom” that spread out for miles below. “This is for them,” he declared. “All of this is for them. They are America. They made America great again”.
The crowd cheered, people cried. Many more people flocked to the ball and allowed themselves to be submerged. Trump exhorted more people to join them. “Ain’t that great folks? Real American heroes”.
Hillary’s DEFEAT speech was muted that evening. She spoke about the heroes in northeastern Colorado. About plans for a special memorial center to be built once the ball had finally come to a rest and spread out over the land. She spoke about healing and bringing people together. This election, the Great Ball of Freedom, Trump, everything that had happened over the past 18 months, “it was all part of this great story we call America”.