Misadventures With A Candy Cane


On the seventh of June, Sean Spicer receives an ominous text message from Ted Cruz:

URGENT. meet me @ usual spot, 2pm

Spicer waits at a park bench. He feeds pigeons and watches skinny women jog by pushing strollers.

Ted Cruz shows up wearing a fedora.

“What is on your head?”

“It lends me an ora of mystery.”

“Makes you look like a rapist.”

“I’ve discovered digital gold,” Cruz says.

He inspects their surroundings, a turn of the head, left, right, left again. Satisfied, he pulls out his cell phone and opens Twitter.

On screen, a woman dressed in a skimpy Santa suit fellates a young man in a pizza uniform who is still holding pizzas in an insulated delivery bag, while in the background an interracial couple does things Spicer has never seen before.

Cruz scrolls down the page.

“There are thousands just like this one, better even. They post several videos an hour.”

“Ted,” Spicer says. “Is this what you wanted to meet about?”

“Yes and no,” Cruz says. “But what do you think?”

“Of the porn?”

“It’s not porn,” Cruz says. “It’s Adult Art, filmed with class and craftsmanship. And it’s racially inclusive.”

“That fellow in the background is smacking her with a candy cane.”

Cruz pockets his phone.

“Whatever,” he says. “I thought you could handle it, but obviously not.”

Spicer checks his watch.

“I’ve got to get back.”

“I’m voting NO on healthcare,” Cruz says.


“There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the year to read that thing. I told Ryan, told him, who the fuck does he think he is handing me War & Peace when I’ve got an actual life to lead, obligations to handle? You know what he said? He advised me to read it on the shitter. Can you believe the balls? The size of ‘em.”

“So but I’m lost. You disagree with the bill or you haven’t read it?”

“I don’t want to read the fucking thing, I refuse. You know how many books I read at Princeton? Millions. When I graduated I said, Never. I will never read again. It’s unfair for Ryan to force this down my throat. Fuck him. I won’t. Hand it to me in one single page, in outline form, a simple text message. I might read that. Even better would be an audiobook. Or a song. That’d be fun.”

“You should read it,” Spicer said. “The President won’t forgive you. You’ll lose a lot of support on the Hill, and besides it’s our obligation as—”

“The President hasn’t read it. He doesn’t know how to read.”


“Is this news to you?”

“He wrote a book, Ted.”

“Someone else wrote a book and put his picture on the cover. He’s illiterate. Why do you think he refuses to read speeches? Why he freestyles them.”

Cruz stands.

“Anyway,” he says. “I’m so glad you wasted my time today. I thought you’d be excited.”

“About healthcare?”

“Healthcare? No, no—adult art, Sean. Thousands of unmonitored hours of carnal sex. But my suspicions have been confirmed. You are a homosexual.”

“What does that–”

“Gay-boy, Gay-boy, Gay-boy,” Cruz chants. He stomps at the pigeons and sends them scattering into the air.

Spicer watches him disappear into foot traffic on the sidewalk. He crosses the street, a fedora bobbing up and down in a sea of heads.

Of all of aspects of Capitol Hill, Ted Cruz frustrates and confuses Spicer the most. He understands nothing about him, and as each day passes he believes more and more in the legend of Cruz that propagates through whispers all over Washington, known among lobbyists and congressmen and junior staffers especially—that Cruz is a lizard alien overlord sent down from an outer planet to purloin information on the human race. Any other truth seems too outrageous for Spicer to wrap his head around.

On his way back to the office, Spicer cannot shake himself of the image, the oversized candy cane striking that poor woman’s rear. And what ever happened to that pizza?

Inspired, he stops by a pizza shop a block from the White House. He eats a slice of pepperoni on the street outside the shop, and thinks, for no apparent reason, How much longer can I go on like this?


Taken from a chapter in a book of short stories I’m working on titled SPICER.

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