I dreamed last night that Henry Clay was in my basement, banging the wrench of liberty on the water pipes and tormenting my little dog Sassy with great strips of bacon placed inside of a white whiffle ball far too large for her to get her jaws around. I arose from my seat in the dining room, where I was composing a letter to the Chicago Tribune on my laptop, and went down to see what the racket was, but the steps were gone and I sensed that the only way to reach the cellar was to leap into the darkness below.

My legs hurt almost constantly - you may already know about that, although God knows, I'm certainly no complainer, just glad to have been able to serve my country in the selfless way that I've been granted during my semi-blessed life - and the thought of leaping ten feet down onto the cold brutal concrete below was almost more than I could bear. So I did the only thing I could do, which was to leap anyway, consequences be damned.

Henry Clay, founder of the Whig Party, a man who is both my nemesis and my inspiration, except this time he had a bloody hook for a hand and was carrying a large bag of what appeared to be putrid human heads.

And Sassy? This was not the same Sassy that I knew, the little dog who loves to nap on my lap until my already painful legs go numb from supporting her bulk. This was a different Sassy, you could tell by her glowing red eyes and the fact that she hissed at me with breath which had an unbearably foul stench, a stench that created such an overwhelming nausea that I was forced to crawl to the storm drain and puke out my guts, quite literally.

As I lay there pondering my bloody viscera, Henry Clay walked towards me with heave footsteps until his dirty boots encompassed the entirety of my vision. "You would be president?" he asked in a voice so cold that I knew it could only emanate from beyond the grave. "It shall never be, for you are right, and you would never sacrifice your true beliefs in exchange for the shallow reward of ascendancy."

And then he swallowed Sassy and his visage gradually dissipated, leaving me to wake in sweaty horror with a haunting realization that my quest, however noble, would never bear fruit.

For I am Henry Clay.

 

2007, Mark Hoback