“(Note for the record: I want heroic measures taken to keep me alive, and I demand the immediate arrest of anyone trying to remove my life support.)”-Ann Coulter
It’s little more than a one-room shack. The candles flicker in the drafts that leak through the broken windows and gaps in the logs. Three men huddle over a broken generator while a fourth pumps away on the stationary bike that provides auxiliary power on such occasions. A grim sense of purpose hangs over the room.
“How it’s comin’ with that generator, boys,” grunts the man on the bike. “My legs are startin’ to give out.”
“Hold out as long as you can, TJ,” says a man in a baseball cap that reads “Kill Those Who Kill The Unborn”. “We almost got it. Rush,” he speaks to a seven-year old boy reading the Bible in the corner, “grind up some more rats. She’s gonna need feedin’ soon.”
All eyes drift to the center of the shack where she lays like an aging Snow White. The heroic attempt to preserve her in amber until a prince kisses her has left her looking like Norma Desmond in a low budget remake of Sunset Boulevard. Hundreds of bottles of peroxide litter the floor, betraying the heroic attempt to keep her blonde. Garish swaths of red rise from her cheeks like the welts of a battered welfare mother. All but one of her teeth, long since fallen out, lie at the bottom of a bottle of Jack Daniels with the label respectfully removed that sits on the mantle of the fireplace like the Arc of the Covenant. The remaining tooth slowly dissolves in a glass of Coke, a reminder to the seven-year old of the hazards of sugary drinks. The men know that she would approve.
Forty years ago, after the accident, telegrams, flowers and pledges of support flooded her private hospital room. State of the art equipment pinged and beeped and kept her alive. The top doctors in the world worked tirelessly, but to no avail. Brain dead, they said. The humane thing to do was to let her drift into the heaven she so fiercely defended. But, as she said, there was always a hope that she could recover as long she could be kept alive. And she could be kept alive. And she might recover. “Heroic efforts,” it had said.
The question remained. Where had the penny come from? Who had dropped it from the top of the Washington Monument? A child? A spurned lover? Hillary Clinton? The police report called the whole thing a freak occurrence. Quote-unquote experts bored everyone with the physics of trajectory in the vain attempt of quote-unquote proving that even Lee Harvey Oswald could not have purposefully aimed the penny that penetrated her skull.
And, yet, the questioned remained. Why had the doctors disposed of the penny after the operation? What of the business card found at the top of the monument that read “Parallax Corp.”? The child at the top of the monument was home schooled. Videotape showed two lesbians laughing just seconds after she crumpled to a heap on the ground below. And the date – 11/22/03. It all added up to something…something sinister. But what?
Slowly, a conspiracy to sully her reputation erupted. The headlines screamed the news. “Tofu found in her fridge!” A Leo Busclagia book on her bedside table. Lesbian dominatrix porn found on the hard drive of her iBook. Erotic emails between her and Midge Decter. All lies, of course. Slander. Treason. A pathetic attempt to blunt her legacy. Mother Jones called her the “Roy Cohn of the 21st century.” Some fell away, victims of a cowardly smear campaign. Rush Limbaugh, freshly sober again and seemingly on the right track this time, OD’d under suspicious circumstances. Robert Downey Jr. spoke eloquently at his funeral.
Her publishing firm used the occasion to hype her unfinished book “Sodomy: How All Liberals Want To Molest Children And Then Eat Them.” The book, released to lukewarm reviews, stayed on the NYT list for three years provided years of fodder for jokes on late-night talk shows. The vultures had circled and won, it seemed.
But the faithful stayed true. A 24/7 vigil around her bedside. Websites with PayPal donations. As her book fell off the charts, the hospital gently suggested new lodgings. A convalescence home was found. The bills started to pile up. A decade later, with Medicare bankrupt and her bank account drained, the home reluctantly evicted her all but lifeless body. Few remembered her. Many of those who did, did so malevolently. A vegan restaurant had on its menu a yogurt whose base, they claimed, was created on the day of the accident. They called it Cogurt.
For years, the faithful shuttled her from private home to private home. Due to the cost of the electricity needed to keep her alive, these stays lasted until the utility bills came through.
Two decades after the accident, Rush’s old dealer, now clean, sober and committed to Christ, offered his shack in the Ozarks and vowed to continue her care until the end of his life.
“Daddy,” the boy asks as he turns the crank on the meat grinder, “how long we gonna keep this up? I mean –“
His father cuts him off with a glare.
“’Til she’s better, Rush. Ya know that. ‘Til she’s better.”