These are extraordinarily scary times, an historically realistic multi-dimensional horror show going on all around us. It is good to keep that firmly in mind and then not dwell on it. What was already hard has been made monumentally harder by this plague, a plague of deadly disease on top of the devastation already done by hellbent deadly maniacs. It’s good to remember how disorienting this imposed self-isolation is. A few of us may have already crossed the line toward real paranoia. We must remember to be very gentle with each other in these times.
It’s easy, after weeks of isolation, out walking on a mild night in early May (the streets here in the epicenter have been virtually deserted for weeks), to see the small clusters of approaching people as threats, infectious carriers of gruesome suffocating death. The reflex to fear others turns out to be quick to acquire.
“Oh, no!” Lucy says and points to a group of silhouettes moving closer and closer, some, we see can already see, are not even wearing masks.
“Christ,” I say, suddenly in a full-blown zombie movie, “there must be twenty of them, it looks like they’re trying to keep six feet apart.”
They are walking slowly, stiffly, in a loose phalanx across the wide street, spreading from sidewalk to sidewalk. As we approach it becomes clear we’ll have to pass right through them, within breathing distance, as they rotate in every direction to wish each other well, calling out with big exhalations of breath that are visible as plumes in the humid night air. Looks like a scene out of that plague movie with Dustin Hoffman where you see the green cough cloud travel into all the surrounding lungs in that crowded movie theatre.
It is easy to see them as zombies, shambling closer, unsteady on their legs, many in masks, others without masks, wearing strange, alienated expressions, not making eye contact. In other states, we hear, hoards of them have massed at the capitol, carrying guns, demanding the right to return to normal life during this time of a massively infectious, deadly plague without a cure.
The zombie president urges them on. Real Americans need to be free, freedom means normal life, going outside, going to work, buying things, voting in person, eating in restaurants, going to the movies and the beach, getting your hair done, getting an “I Survived COVID-19” tattoo, before it’s too late. The urge to go about your normal life is quite understandable. The angry, lemming-like drive to raise your gun and scream “fuck Fauci and so-called Science! We demand FREEDOM!” maybe a little less so.
These people on the street in Queens are just regular folks, out getting some fresh air on our first real Spring evening, greeting neighbors they haven’t seen in weeks.
Anyway, because you can’t be too careful during a deadly plague, my love and I slip on our N95 masks as the hoard approaches. N-95s are the ones that not only protect others from anything we might exhale but also protect us from airborne pathogens that might be swarming toward us in the night air. As we get close, we reach under our long coats, take out our baseball bats and begin swinging with all we’ve got. As everyone knows from the zombie movies, the only way to kill one is by busting their head open. There’s a loud wet pop, then another one, they begin quickly dispersing, making their dismay loudly known as they scatter.
“Shit,” Lucy says to me, her eyes suddenly wet, “I guess they weren’t zombies.”
“True,” I say, looking down at the two unmoving at our feet, the others rushing off in all directions “zombies keep coming no matter what, don’t they?” . I’m suddenly seized with regret.
The wail of a police siren breaks my train of thought and we take off at a good clip, Lucy verbally googling the closest Trump 2020 campaign office as we run. Our thinking is that this is a place we might realistically seek sanctuary, particularly if we give a large donation. They’ll protect us, we stood our ground, Stand Your Ground, right? Plus we honestly believed those old zombies threatening us were actual zombies. If we truly believed it, it’s OK, then, how could they really not protect us? The Alan Dershowitz Principle from the impeachment show. It’s worth a shot, anyway!