My phone started blowing up at 8 Eastern Time on Thursday when I was at my desk in the Nuts and Berries Section of the Committee to Re-Elect the President. (Yes, I am a CREEP.) The Huntsville Item had printed a story, “Political Tweets Investigated: Huntsville City Council Complaint launches Texas Rangers Probe.”
It got worse Friday.
“Hey, Huntsville, check this out,” said the bearded White House intern who couldn’t have been more than 22. “Look what the yokels in your Third World hometown are up to now.”
He handed me a hard copy from a story that ran online: “Tweet Police? Texas Rangers Probe Draws Questions.”
The intern—a tall handsome drink o’ water we’ll call Smiley Democrat Kid—began tittering as I read the first few paragraphs and guffawed when my mouth dropped open: The Huntsville City Council is using the District Attorney and Texas Rangers to criminalize free speech in the Execution Capital of the Non Muslim World.
When I looked up at him, tears had coursed down SDK’s face, collecting in his well-groomed facial hair.
“Shut up or I’m gonna snap those suspenders so hard your nipples will bleed.”
That made him laugh harder. “Oh, Huntsville, Texas,” he said. “You crack me up. I want to wine you and dine you and fuck you ‘til you scream. The whole town. Oh, please, please, please, Bob, you’ve got to take me with you when you go back down there. I hear profoundly stupid country people have gorgeous, buxom farm daughters and if that fails, they raise sheep!”
“They also have guns,” I said, “pansy.”
“That’s ‘Panzer’ to you, Mister Sullen, and I’m gonna roll through your itty bitty burg with my pants down,” said SDK. “Where might I find Tish HumpMe and Olson’s Mustache? That’s a three-way with my initials all over it.”
Maggie, my friend and lead worker on Team Fractal Bob, was frantic that I make my presence known soon after the story broke. Huntsville’s First Amendment troops needed our support, and Local Bob and Austin Bob were either otherwise engaged or out of pocket.
“There are less than four weeks left in this campaign, and I have envelopes to stuff,” I told Mags on Friday. “This story has already gone viral. The media is saturated with it. The whole world is soaked through with Huntsville’s slimy stupidity.”
“Look, Main Bob,” said Mags, “in Huntsville it’s now illegal to make fun of the Elite in their Elkins Lake dachas. They won’t just be pissed off, they won’t just tell lies about you and slander you, they won’t just try to destroy your business. They will send Texas Rangers after you; they will threaten you with a grand jury, a third-degree felony, and up to ten fucking years in a state prison. The whole world is calling bullshit and where are you, Mr. Native Son?”
Then Mr. Q, former candidate for Huntsville City Manager, emailed me through my friend and Huntsville homeboy Stew. Mr. Q’s friend, Mr. Y, was on the short list of contenders for Huntsville City Manager, those who had not already been scared off by the Sept. 11 aborted budget meeting.
“Mr. Y wants to know if you might know either Councilman Olson or Councilman Johnson. Is there a cognitive or mental impairment at work there, or are they members of an organized crime or narco-terrorism ring that has infiltrated your city? I mean, with all those prisons in Huntsville, I could see how that could happen—big, captive market for illegal drugs. Want to talk about economic development? There you go. Millions per annum.”
“Nope, it’s just garden-variety East Texas corruption,” I wrote back to Mr. Q. “But tell Mr. Y that if the story he read online about David Weeks and the Texas Rangers didn’t suggest Huntsville is ripe for narco-terrorism, he’s just smart enough to be the new city manager.”
Then my father called.
“Bob, why do you enjoy killing babies?”
“Dad, nobody has enjoyed killing babies since the Nazis used Jewish infants for target practice. Stop saying insane shit like that, even about Democrats.”
“Have you seen how the news media is going ape shit about this Texas Ranger thing down here?” Dad said. “Now that’s insane, isn’t it? I don’t blame Keith Olson if he doesn’t want to be called a wife beater. Do you? He’s just like Sarah Palin; he just wants to serve his community. Why does everyone have to be so mean?”
Keith Olson has fucked up, I said. He was elected to play City Council straw dog like Joe Emmett, Lydia Montgomery, Clyde Loll, and Tish Humphrey. Then he goes and draws national attention to HTX-style abuse of power. Not only are Clyde, Joe, Lydia and Tish smarter than Olson, but so is Tish’s charming husband, Russell. You can bet your ass Team Humphrey is behind this, too—they are just fascist enough to believe Tish’s elected service makes her above constitutional protections and to use whatever jack-booted means available to punish her critics. But her name isn’t on any news site all over the country running the story.
“Oh, my Lord,” said my dad. “Have you not read some of the vulgar things these tweeper people said about Mrs. Humphrey and her husband? They talk about her wanting to screw every sailor coming off the ship. You tell me what that has to do with her urging the citizens here to suck it up and pay the measly four extra cents we needed to raise taxes.”
“OK, Father, so that’s not nice, but it’s still not criminal and it’s still protected under the goddamn First Amendment, and you can’t shit on just a corner of the amendment without getting shit all over it,” I said.
“You know whose behind this, Bob. It’s not kids at the university.”
On the other end of the line, my father paused, lighting a cigarette. I felt like Bob Woodward in a Dupont Circle parking garage with Deep Throat.
“The tweeper cell is being run by the City Council it took us two years to get rid of and their Manchurian Candidate, that little teat-sucker, code-named Kiddie Scooter.”
“Dad, if I can get a Republican in Huntsville to tell you that the Constitution was written as hedge against totalitarianism and that you can’t cherry pick the Articles and Amendments you want to enforce, will you shut the fuck up?”
“You won’t get anyone in Huntsville to tell you that,” he said. “But nice try.”
Then Mom got on the extension.
“Bob, promise me you will steer clear of this business with the fake Twitter accounts and the Texas Rangers,” she said. “For my sake.”
“Yeah,” Dad said, “if the Three Stooges can’t keep from blogging about this, you can at least let one of the other two bozos do it.”
“No, all of you, just keep quiet for once,” Mom said. “For me, for Local Bob’s mother and Austin Bob’s father. I mean it, Bob, now more than ever. You see what could happen, don’t you? Not just to you boys but to your families. This is not funny, Bob. This is serious business.”
As soon as I hung up, SDK bounced up to my desk with an email for the Nuts and Berries Department. “This one’s for you, Huntsville,” SDK said, “and it’s a doozy.”
It was from HTX, “Twitter Probe” was the subject line, and the name? Johnny Stompanato, my old shovel-wielding nemesis. It began, “Dear Bright Boy.”
Jesus HTX Christ. I don’t know what I did to deserve this.