“You like Trump?”
She sounded surprised. I had tried to give a discreet thumbs up, sitting on my bike at the curb, when she hoisted a Trump flag out the passenger window of a late-model American car pulling up to a red light. She did this with the cheerful defiance of a high school prankster.
“Yeah. Don’t tell anybody.” I said, indicating the downtown Portland setting around us, only half joking. She was a beauty: blonde, broad-faced, offensively healthy and wholesome, her Nordic vigor and cheerful credulity an anachronism here and now, her not-yet-defiled state–precarious though it may be, as for all young women this day and age–a source of immediate suspicion.
Here lies the body of Mary Lee,
died at the age of a hundred and three
For fifteen years she kept her virginity,
not a bad record for this vicinity
“Somebody got shot here last night.” She said, suddenly adopting the self-conscious seriousness of a child.
“Yeah. Right there.” I pointed to the spot, just the other side of the intersection, where Aaron Danielson was executed the night before after a pro-Trump car caravan invaded downtown and set off the prickly rage that is now the city’s defining feature, beneath all the increasingly hollow counter-culture posturing.
“Really?” She said. The false aspect of her manner evaporated; her expression was genuine surprise. She had had no idea.
Three or four people were sticking American flags in the dirt around a sidewalk tree where the patriot collapsed, face-first in the street. A young man awkwardly climbed up to drape a flag from its branches. A camera crew–just three young people, one with a professional-grade video camera–waited on the other side of the street; ghouls, like me, waiting for something to happen.
Nothing did, thankfully. Later after sundown I went back to look again. A few–fewer than were there before–US flags stuck in the hard dry dirt, woeful, and a fashioned cross lashed to the tree’s trunk. No one was paying the place the least attention.