Senator Swine by Melanie Browne

Senator Swine shuts the door to the hotel room and latches it and then turns around to look at me.

He is still holding a glass of scotch and is wiping his forehead with a soggy green napkin that still has the words Iowa NRA. He stirs his drink and smiles at me. He coughs.

The room is supposed to be non-smoking but smells funny. He sits on the bed still with that strange grin plastered to his face.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Nothing. I must be tired.”

“Oh.”

“I can’t explain it.”

My eyes fall on the wallpaper, thinking how lively the Koi seem even though they aren’t real.

I met Senator Swine at a luncheon. We had both stepped out on to the patio for fresh air. It had started raining ferociously an hour before the function and so the crowd was pretty flimsy. Fifty people at best.

I introduced myself and we talked about our addiction to our cell phones and pretty much that was it, except for when I got back to my hotel and saw that he had somehow managed to get send me a text

with directions to his hotel and his room number. I am not a political whore. I don’t typically do things like this. I’m married. I have four kids. I am on The PTO at all of my kids schools. But I’m here now. I don’t have any excuses.

Senator Swine is opening the door. Someone from his staff has brought a tray of Bruschetta and a bottle of champagne. Senator Swine has a difficult surname to pronounce. We joked about the toxic nature of being a politician and he suggested I call him Senator Swine. I still don’t know how to correctly pronounce his last name.

I take a bite of bruschetta and Senator Swine clears his throat.

“I’m getting out of politics.”

“You mean you are resigning?” I ask.

“So to speak,” he tells me.

He asks me about my life. We chat for a while about our families and then he abruptly tells me

that at the end of the evening he is going to kill himself.

*

“What did you say?” I ask him.

“I know you heard me.”

He’s right, I did hear him. It reminded me of the other times in my life when I heard something I didn’t want to hear. Things I didn’t want to hear but I knew I had to absorb. I knew I had to keep on breathing.

I had no choice. I couldn’t redefine any of it. I couldn’t make those things become something else.

I didn’t know this man, really. We had at minimum three conversations. Three text messages were sent back and forth. Yet he was setting his bag of heaviness on my heart, this responsibility, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Look, whatever it is, tomorrow is another day.”

He starts laughing again.

“Thank you Scarlet O’Hara.”

“Are you getting a divorce, are you sick? Lose a bunch of money in the stock market?”

“Nope.”

He’s quiet for a minute.

“I really like this wallpaper,” he says.

I laugh.

“I’m serious. I want to jump into this wallpaper and just swim around with those fish for a while. I’m in a difficult spot right now.”

“You mean, like, money?” I say.

“No.”

I think about all the political scandals I have seen splashed across newspapers through the years.

How I have been guilty of the Schadenfreude. Buying People magazine. Wanting to somehow get in on

the drama myself. Here I am in Senator Swine’s room, I’m a married woman and he’s a married man, a scandal in itself, and he is telling me or I think he is telling me he is involved in a real scandal.

“Is anyone pregnant?”

He laughs again.

“I’ve been sterile for twenty years.”

Someone is knocking on the hotel room door again.

“Just a minute,” he says.

He comes back holding a manila envelope.

“I’ve let my constituents down.” He says. “I have a fetish. People have begun to notice. To, you know, talk. I can’t have this. It’s unacceptable..,” he trails off.

“I’m sure it’s not so bad,” I say brightly.

“I like to dress up like a martyred Saint and have women persecute me. It’s just for the kinks, nothing more, nothing sinister. “

“I hope you’re not a Catholic,” I say with no hint of sarcasm.

Senator Swine lies supine on the bed. He crosses his arms in the Kings position.

“Usually I’m, you know, naked, and the women, my mistresses, they…”

I clear my throat.

“Would you like me to show you?” he asks.

“No. Look, I think you should talk to somebody.”

“I am.”

“I mean someone who can prescribe you something, I think you’re depressed. Plus, I don’t think it’s normal to want people to abuse you,” I insist.

“I don’t want people to abuse me. I want women to abuse me while I beg for mercy while wearing a robe, preferably tan, sometimes holding a little sprig of herb, perhaps milk of thistle or maybe some garlic.”

“Ok, senator Swine, this is getting a little strange for me, I..” I stand up and walk towards the door.

His foot suddenly appears blocking my easy getaway.

“Sit down,” he says sternly.

I am beginning to lose sympathy for Senator Swine. I begin to think the suicide threat was a ruse,that he only intended to use the story to garner my concern and then bring me into the fold of his sick devices.

Maybe there aren’t any photographs either, no blackmail, no final “decision.”

He walks into the bathroom and returns carrying a brown grocery bag filled with paraphernalia. Black leather leaking out of it.

“This isn’t happening,” I say.

“They already know who you are, They took pictures of us together today, on the balcony.”

I roll my eyes and walk into the bathroom with the grocery bag.

*

Twenty minutes later Senator Swine is lying in a dark pool of blood holding a rosary. I wipe the blood off the boots and recall my short time in Catholic school, getting an A on my martyrdom of The Saints project. St Simon was always my favorite.

*

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