The Line-Up - By Brian Law

The eight of them filed through a side door, up a short flight of stairs, and onto the brightly lit stage one by one. There was no apparent order. Some were tall, some short, some men, some women, some whatever. One of them had to be eighty-five, if a day. They all stood facing out, waiting for the voice to start the process. 

“Number five, remove your sunglasses.” Number five complied. 

“Number seven, remove your scarf.” He removed his scarf which let his hair fall about his shoulders. 

“Number four, look straight ahead, into the camera.” Number four blinked and nervously did as requested. 

“Okay, number one, step forward to the line, please.” As he did, the voice continued, “Turn to your right, number one.” He turned, but the voice yelled, “Your right! Your right!” Number one corrected himself and turned in the correct direction. 

“Number one, face forward.” Turning again into the glaring lights, number one prepared for what he knew was coming. “Okay, number one, what’s your position on healthcare? And speak clearly. You have one minute.” 

Number one did his best on that question as well as on the other questions put to him. After seven minutes, he was told to step back, and number two was instructed to step forward. And so it went for almost an hour, each being instructed in the same way. The question set was the same for each. “Okay, number six, what is your position on abortion?” “Okay, number eight what is your position on the War Powers Act?” Etc. etc. 

As the questioning ended, the eight were instructed to exit the stage to the left. The voice turned to the man next to him who was watching a computer screen and quietly said, “That’s the last of them. That makes, what, one hundred and six?” The man at the computer screen nodded and added, “The voting is starting now. Remember the guy from Anaheim, the car dealer? He’s leading, but the old woman from Wichita who had her pet dog with her, she’s a close second. Nobody else is even close. If it stays like this, he’s the next President of the United States and she’ll be the next Vice President.” 

“How much longer will it take?” the voice asked. 

“There’s a little delay with the votes from troops overseas, but I’d say our election will be in the bag in about, oh, say ten minutes,” came the answer. 

The voice nodded, picked up his cell phone and dialed. “Mr. Chief Justice, can you be ready in fifteen for the swearing in?” The answer he got was terse and resigned. “I’ll be there.” 

Hanging up, the voice leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head. He remembered the old ways . . . the debates, the money grubbing, the influence peddling, the back-stabbing, the underhanded deals, the ridiculous conventions. 

He smiled as he picked-up his own cell phone again and voted for the little old lady from Wichita with the pet dog. 


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