Presented for your consideration:
It has been my great burden to be the one that collates and disseminates much of the postal offal which comes to . . . our . . . president, Lord Architeuthis. Often it is angry, often it is childlike, often it is filled with white powders. President Squid receives numerous missives from the children, very often ill-conceived, depicting him as a tentacled man sitting at a desk, behind him a giant American flag is outstretched and rectangular, like the suspended banner that resides on our moon. Which is to say his moon.
The Giant Squid is not a man at a desk, and if he were, why would his flag be outstretched? There is no wind in an office, and certainly no wind in an office filled with pressurized water. Turbulence, yes, but unless he is rushing about in mad laps around the edge of his office, it is not nearly the 25 knots necessary to lift the flag to rectangular attention.
But thankfully, during the Squid's time in office, we have all spent very little time on these infantile scribblings, principally because Lord Architeuthis had not been made aware of the specific origins of the pieces sent, and generally operated under the assumption that adult humans made all of the things that came across his desk. The correlative assumption he made was that the vast bulk of the American populace suffer from debilitating retardation. Most casual observation would support this conclusion.
This belief sat well with him, spurred on his own ambitions to rule, and in many ways diverged very little from the beliefs of all previous presidents.
But then this, the above image, came in the mail. It was presented in a perfectly white, square envelope only slightly larger than the image itself. The image is printed on stiff card stock. There was no return address.
When the Oval Office was modified to accommodate President Squid, the doors were removed from the northwest entrance and replaced with a curved, reinforced plexiglass viewing window—with, of course, a curtain mounted withing, for the President's privacy—and an intercom system. Immediately outside of the door, perpendicular to the wall, we set a cheap folding table, at which one might sit and on which papers are sorted prior to being presented to the President. I set this particular image down amongst all of the other postal missives there; the childlike doodles, the choo-choo trains and the automobiles, and also the more serious requests for stays of execution and other presidential interventions, all of which generally were destined to go ignored.
But, as the President was at his viewing window, dictating to me a series of instructions he wanted transferred to Rob in Detroit, that dish-like eye of his came to rest upon this image. It fixed there, the organ pulsing, the chromatic skin rippling and flaring, reds and whites and pinks, the texture of his skin going into a fluttering flux. Slowly the squid drifting backward by inches in his great ovular tank, the water clouding with the slightest trickle of ink.
I can not say what he saw.
But shortly thereafter I decided to have the image framed and hung upon the wall, opposite his viewing window, and thus to my left as I sat at the sorting desk. Whether this played into the President's premature evacuation of the office for the road, I cannot say.
Two days ago I entered the Oval Office. I'm the first human to have done so—save for Ex-President George W. Bush, who never actually left—in many months. As the plexiglass viewing window is still in place—awaiting the President's return and the necessary re-inundation of the Office—I had to make my entry through the Rose Garden door. Despite the month's time elapsed, the fine woven rug was still soggy, squishing beneath my feet as I paced the room, which smells thickly of mildew, and the sea, the air heavy and most as a Pacific fog. I'm afraid that a good deal of the historical furniture, as well as the plaster walls, are doubtlessly quite destroyed by their time in the water. The portraits on the walls themselves are terribly deteriorated by the salinity of the tank water, and the paint is coming off in flakes which have piled, like dandruff, on the floor beneath them. The fine parquet wood, for that matter, is warped and open at its seams. The room is exquisitely destroyed, as fabulous a ruin as the Squid's beloved Detroit. I leaned against the President's desk, which was still damp, trying to sweat out all of the water it had absorbed in its months at the bottom of this ersatz sea, and closed my eyes, and breathed deeply, alone, in the very seat of power. I have known little victory in my life, but there is something in that ruined Office that is of the essence of it, I am certain: Victory.
But, regardless, that is the story of this image.
Occasional Post Master
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson