Donald Trump in the Really Big Bardo.
Warning: f-bombs & other Trumpy language ahead. This story is (obviously) fiction, meant to illustrate a point. The bardo is a state of transition, or uncomfortable nothingness, between living states in Buddhist thought or mythology. Elephant and, hopefully, our authors bear nothing but fundamental good-will toward all candidates and, indeed, all sentient beings. ~ Editor.
Donald Trump strode forcefully into nothingness, pushing toward his destination as usual…but suddenly unable to remember where he was going.
His pace slowed as he realized he couldn’t hear his own footsteps—he couldn’t even see a floor underneath him. Above and below him, and to all sides, his world had turned into a formless gray cloud. You know, like San Francisco.
Confused, he noticed, just ahead of him, a plain wooden school desk. Behind it was seated a young woman in conservative Islamic dress, with only her face and black-framed eyeglasses exposed. As he paused in his approach she gestured toward the space just in front of her, where there abruptly appeared a child-sized chair. An instant later, an electronic tablet on a swivel stand, a stenographer’s notebook, and a modern fountain pen manifested on the desk. The woman smiled at the sudden objects as if they were long-lost friends.
The man with too-much and yet not-so-much hair carefully lowered himself onto the tiny seat, afraid he might fall off either side, and found himself so low to the invisible floor that he had to stick his legs out straight, to the left and right, to keep his balance.
“What is this?” Trump blurted, so loudly that an echo came back from somewhere. “Where am I? What’s going on?!”
The young woman smiled again and answered calmly in a precise English accent. “You’re in a bardo, Donald. Everything is all right. I have just a few questions and then we’ll have you on your way.”
“Bar, dough?!” Trump echoed in response. “You want money? Young lady, is this some kind of scam? Because if it is, I want you to know you’re in big trouble. You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
The young woman covered her mouth to stifle a giggle, then replied, “Oh, the bardo is most assuredly not a scam, Donald. A bardo is just a transit station. You’re on your way from your immediate past state of being, to a new one that’s just becoming.”
Trump’s lower lip stuck out, as if he were pouting. “Transit station, huh?” He twisted on his tiny seat to look all around him and said, “Well, it’s big, really big. It’s tremendous! I can’t even see where…”
Pressing the tablet’s “on” button and staring intently at the screen as a blue glow was cast on her face, the woman interrupted in a low, almost absent-minded tone. “It’s actually infinite, Donald. We’re beyond the bounds of time and space here.”
“Hmmph,” Trump shrugged. “That’s what I said: big. ‘Uge.”
The woman nodded and, with her eyes still on the tablet, flipped open the notebook and uncapped the fountain pen. “Now, Donald, if you could just reflect for a moment on…”
His head still swiveling left to right, Trump protested, “What the f*ck am I doing here? I’ve got a lot to do and I still have to finish…” At this point his head stopped moving and his eyes widened. “Holy sh*t, I was just in the middle of a speech!?”
Now his eyes narrowed and scanned the young woman from head to toe. “Have I been kidnapped?” he barked. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re ISIS! Are you gonna try and kill me? Me?”
The woman put the fountain pen down and calmly replied, “No, Donald, I’m not ISIS. I’m English. You can call me Grace. And I couldn’t possibly kill you because…you’re already…”
“What?!” Trump exclaimed. “What the hell are you talking about? I’m right here!” He thumbed his chest.
Grace sighed and smiled compassionately. “It will be easier if I show you.” She tapped the tablet a few times, and swiveled it around to face Trump. He saw a CNN newsfeed of the speech he was delivering just moments ago. Across the bottom of the screen ran the garish crawl, “BREAKING: TRUMP TRAGEDY AT IOWA CAMPAIGN EVENT.”
Blinking hard, Trump watched his own speech rising to a fever pitch on the small screen as he railed against President Obama, Muslims, Mexicans, and the “tremendous decline of this once great country.” He looked up long enough to smile, “Pretty good stuff!,” but Grace pointed his attention back to the tablet.
Suddenly, in the middle of a finger-jabbing, loud accusation about immigrants, something horrible happened. The crowd screamed in horror and the view began blurring, jerking left and right, as the cameraman was apparently bumped and shoved about by people rushing to escape the scene.
In the bardo, Trump pushed back so hard on his tiny chair that he toppled over backward, then rolled over to a crouching position, his face gone white and his hair flying in every possible direction, but mostly up.
“No! Oh my god! F*ck!” he shouted, then grasped his head with both hands and cried, “B-but I’m all here…I’m okay, aren’t I? What kind of a trick is this?” he demanded. “Did you terrorists try to kill me?”
Grace shook her head and, glancing at the still-blank notebook, capped the fountain pen. “No one tried to kill you, Donald.” She spun the tablet around, tapped it once, then returned it to his view. “Watch this, okay? It’s a report that airs a few days from now.”
Crawling up to the desk on all fours, Trump stared intently at the screen, now just a few inches from his face. CNN was airing a press conference featuring a white-jacketed doctor, who leaned nervously toward a hedge of microphones and said gravely:
“The ongoing investigation by the FBI, has yet to reveal any bullet fired, an entry wound, or trace of explosives in the, uh, tragic, er, um, you know, of Mr. Trump.”
A volley of shouted questions immediately followed this mysterious statement, trailing off with a reporter’s query: “What happened, then?!”
The doctor shook his head helplessly, turned to the array of law enforcement officers standing behind him, all of whom shrugged their shoulders and awkwardly looked away in different directions, before he answered haltingly: “It would appear,” the doctor murmured in a tone almost too low to be heard, “that Mr. Trump’s head just…There was some kind of spontaneous cerebral…?”
An even louder chorus of shouts followed, causing the doctor to back off from the microphones and call out, “The investigation is continuing!” as he hurriedly fled the scene. The screen fizzed black and Grace spun the tablet back to face her as Trump struggled back to his tiny chair, grumbling incoherently.
Grace gazed at him pensively before speaking in a low tone. “So much anger, ignorance, and pride, Donald. Your sixth chakra just couldn’t handle it!”
“My sick what? Is this…what?” Trump protested, pushing his lower lip even farther out.
Grace took a big breath and let it go. “Your head finally swelled up too big, Donald. Let’s leave it at that.”
“Hmmph,” Trump responded. “So what you’re saying is I’m dead. I don’t buy that. I feel great, that’s for sure. So what? Am I in heaven?”
Grace burst into laughter and slapped the table with both hands, almost unable to control her instant hilarity. As her guffaws subsided into giggles she removed her glasses and wiped away a tear with the back of one hand before composing herself. “No, Donald. I told you that the bardo is a transitional state. I’m here to help prepare you for your next life, in which you will learn the lessons that you need most.”
Trump frowned and stuck out his lower lip again. “Lessons? Why would I need any lessons? I had a really great life, and I mean really great. Who wouldn’t say I had the best life? I made billions of dollars, had a beautiful wife and countless chicks, and a gorgeous daughter, and I would have been President if…What could I do in the next life that I haven’t done already?”
Grace smiled tightly and answered, “The lessons you need to learn have nothing to do with success, Donald. You need inner development. Besides, you won’t necessarily return as a human being.”
“No shit!” Trump exclaimed, suddenly gleeful. “Can I come back as something big? I mean really big, like an elephant?”
Grace returned her attention to the tablet in front of her again, tapping and staring intently. “I don’t believe that’s in the cards, Donald.” Her eyes widened for a moment before she looked up at Trump and said, “In fact, don’t be surprised if you get, um, downsized.”
Trump stiffened his spine and exhaled disdainfully. “F*ck you, lady” he muttered, then tilted his head quizzically before grinning conspiratorially at his interviewer. “Listen, Grace, maybe we can make a deal here. You’re not a bad-looking chick, for a terrorist…I mean…then we can talk about this size thing, if you know what I mean?”
Trump leered at Grace as she lurched forward, covering her mouth with one hand, a harsh urrp sound issuing directly from her throat. Then she blinked, swallowed, and frowned. “Sorry,” she gasped.
As Trump harrumphed and began swiveling his head again, as if looking for an escape route, Grace decisively swept the tablet screen with the fingers of one hand and said, “There, we have it!” She whirled the tablet around to face Trump again, and he squinted at it, his face betraying incomprehension.
“What the f*ck is that?!” he growled, glancing up at Grace. “Looks like a stupid blob.”
“Actually, it’s balantidium coli,” Grace responded precisely. “Normally found in porcine feces—pigshit, that is—but transmissible to humans, where it’s generally tolerated unless the host is immuno-compromised, in which case it may cause explosive diarrhea and even death. You’ll likely be placed in an environment where you can do no harm, however.”
Trump’s face was totally contracted in a horrific sneer. “Yeah, but what is it, exactly?”
“It’s a tiny parasite, Donald,” Grace explained patiently. “It’s what you’ve prepared yourself to become in the next life. Not to worry, though. The lifespan of b.coli is relatively short, and you’ll probably only do a couple of cycles in that species before moving up the incarnate scale to something a little more, shall we say, complex.”
“But, but…I won’t even be conscious,” Trump whined.
Grace stood, looking over her glasses at Trump and speaking in full voice:
“Come now, Donald, you and I both know you haven’t had any constructive self-awareness for some time now.”
“Yeah, well, you go to hell, ISIS. I’ll be back. I’ve been through four bankruptcies without blinking. I will defeat this reincarnation stuff, too.”
As both the school desk and Trump’s chair abruptly fizzed into nothingness, landing him roughly on his rump, Grace turned to go, then turned.
“One more thing, Donald. You have quite a bit of karma to burn off even before you get down to your next incarnation. It may get a little hot in here for a while, but you’ll do fine.”
With a curt nod of her head, Grace then walked off into the void, soon vanishing from sight.
Now existentially alone, Trump crossed his legs and patted his hair. Then he shouted, as if there were a crowd nearby to hear him, “Immigrants even f*cked up heaven! I warned ya!”
Trump could hear nothing in response, not even an echo. The infinity around him remained gray and unperturbed, like…Seattle. He stood and whirled around a couple times, jabbing a finger into the air and adding, “And I’m gonna be something big before you know it! Really big! The biggest!”
He was about to launch into a new round of invective when he felt an uncomfortable warmth under his collar, and a sudden hot tingle on his skin from head to toe. As his forehead broke out in beads of sweat and took on a scary orange glow—even more orange than usual— Donald Trump began to feel the burn.
Author: D. Patrick Miller
Editor: Waylon Lewis/Catherine Monkman