I had been standing beside my mother for hours, saying nothing as her tattered cloak wavered in the wind. We stood on a cliff that overlooked the endless plains of dead earth. I heard from the mystics in the mountains that this sacred place once housed many chain restaurants, including a whopping three Wendy’s.
But everything changed after the Disturbance.
“Mother,” I said breathlessly.
She didn’t react. Like a statue. Mother had always been like a statue to me.
“Old wench,” I said in a steely voice. Mother’s head turned ever so slightly towards me. I flinched at this, a pain shooting through my heart, for I did not want to use the name so many others used for my mother. But it was all she knew now.
“I think it’s time you tell me about the Disturbance,” I added on nervously.
Sad colorless eyes stared at me, longing to connect with something. A jagged scar ran down her cheek. Her hairs gray, scattered in a wild array. She was only twenty six. These were dark times there is no denying.
“Son,” my Mother motioned for me to sit beside her as she threw her legs off the edge. “Forgive an old wench for her past Sins and allow me to tell you a tale.”
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino® Blended Crème had just come out.
My mother, the old wench who at the time was known as Lisa, was a Barista at one of the many Starbucks stores out there. She worked hard, her rough hands always running through the sink, for she could not allow her sweat to slather the store with her agony.
And our story begins as most stories often do, with a malfunction from gross corporate negligence.
“Hey, Old Wench Lisa,” ah forgive me, my mother did not yet go by Old Wench Lisa, let me take that back, “Hey, Lisa.” Yes, that is correct. That is how Dennis the Barista must have referred to my mother. “The coffeemaker machine seems to be broken.”
Lisa’s brow furrowed. Silently, she advanced across the floor, pressing her body up against the coffeemaker. Her chest brushed up against the cold steel, her fingers rubbing against its side, her eyes closed.
A moan may have escaped her, my mother could not recall and wished that she could go ask Dennis the Barista if she had, but unfortunately, Dennis died in the Disturbance.
“This isn’t good,” Lisa muttered to herself, expecting Dennis to catch her every syllable, but he must not have because he said nothing for a while. “Dennis, are you fucking listening to me?”
“Lisa! It’s the President!”
“What?” Lisa turned her head, nearly vomiting at the sight of Barack Obama storming into the Starbucks. He walked with an odd gait, his limbs flapping around like noodles.
“As I stand here, today—“ Obama began, his speech slurred, but immediately he gasped and flopped over, crashing into a shelf full of coffee grains. As the shit poured all over him, snores ripped from his body like loud, expressive farts.
Lisa looked at the ever clueless Dennis and jumped over the counter, accidentally kicking the cash register to the floor, and rolled over to Obama’s side.
“Mr. President,” Lisa said, striking a pose. But the sleepy Prez merely responded by flopping over, crashing into a table that had been taken up by two elderly folk.
“Thanks, Obama,” one Baby Boomer whined as his Avocado Toast was crushed under Obama’s blazer.
Lisa smacked the President of the United States so hard that one of his teeth shot out of his mouth. Obama looked up from the blood cascading from his mouth and into Lisa’s face. Now that they were this close, and his eyelids weren’t slammed shut, she could see that his eyes were bloodshot.
“Mr. President!” Lisa gasped, cradling Obama in her arms.
“I need a coffee—can you do that?” he asked, his jelly-like arms trying and failing to remove his wallet from his trousers.
“Yes! I can!” Lisa cheered, dropping the President like Truman dropped the bomb, and skipped back to the counter. As she turned on her heel to pour some sweet java, she heard a loud crash from behind. Had she turned back to face the man who stands here today, she would have seen Obama’s head collide with a metal counter.
“Wait—Mr. President! The coffee machine is broken!” Lisa screamed. She punched Dennis hard in the head, then looked back to Obama who had slipped back into a slumber. She took a step towards him, but as she did so, Obama shot up like a spring, his eyes wide.
Silently, Barack turned to Lisa and attempted a blitzkrieg to the counter, but instead, found himself sidestepping uncontrollably until he slammed into the counter, his body twisting around it.
“What’s that about the coffee maker being no good?” Obama shouted under his breath. Fighting to stay awake, eyelids fluttering rapidly, he tried slapping his cheek but missed dramatically and nailed Dennis instead.
“It’s broken,” Lisa scratched her chin. “But, we have espresso!”
“Fuck that, dude,” Obama shook his head, doing stretches to keep moving. “Espresso makes my tummy upset.”
“Hm—well—maybe—just—uh—go to bed?”
“NO! DON’T LET THAT MAN FALL ASLEEP!” a hysterical man screamed from outside the store. A bare foot crashed through the glass door. Everyone in the store jumped. A hand reached through the now broken glass and opened the door from the inside.
And into the room stepped Joe Biden. Only wearing his boxers and a wizard cloak.
“Why?” Lisa asked as Obama finally give into the Sand-Man. He had laid his face down on a pile of Starbucks Gold Member Cards and caught some quick Z’s.
“BECAUSE!” Joe Biden sighed, grabbing Obama from behind, jerking him back to his feet.
“Thanks, Joe,” Obama smiled, head falling slack against her shoulder.
Biden grimaced and slapped Obama, jabbing his finger up against his nose. “This guy can’t fall asleep because the only way the United States can stay stable as a nation is if the President focuses on staving off the Disturbance. If he is to fall asleep, his concentration cannot be maintained and everything goes to shit.”
“Mhm,” Obama said. “Popular vote is an illusion. We use the electoral college because it lets the congressman pick because they know the true purpose of the presidency.”
“Shit,” Lisa said, “So John McCain and Mitt Romney are inferior at pulling the longest All-Nighter Ever?’
“Yeah,” Obama frowned. “Fucking geezers, am I right?”
Lisa smiled. She was totally on the same level as the most powerful man in the world!
“So how about that coffee?” Joe Biden asked, his arms supporting Obama’s body which threatened to crumple any second.
“Oh,” Lisa blushed. “Like I said, the coffee machine is out. I can only do espresso for you—“
“It makes his stomach upset, yes,” Biden finished calmly. “That’s not good.”
“Well, I got black tea?” Lisa offered.
“Fuck that shit,” Obama said as he nodded off. Biden slammed a hand against Obama’s cheek, pushing his fingers into Obama’s flesh.
“Look you Old Wench,” Biden whispered, “The Wizard to End All Wizards is outside and we need to figure this out.”
Suddenly, the doors that Biden had already destroyed, flew open, and in stepped The Wizard to End All Wizards. It was like…a guy in wizard robes and a fake white beard. He slammed his staff on the ground and said, “You will all sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!”
And then the Wizard wizardly slammed his wizard staff into the ground, shooting wizard rays every where. People gave their last scream before they were thrown into an eternal sleep.
I tugged my mother’s sleeve. “Wait, so like, is that how the old wench thing started? Joe Biden called you it?”
She looked down to me with her heavily lidded eyes. “It will all make sense in due time my son.”
I looked away from her and out at the destroyed world before us. “I’ll take it.”
Lisa felt a sudden lightness in her, her eyelids slapping shut over her eyes. But this was nothing she couldn’t handle. She was a Barista and she worked ridiculous hours for terrible wages.
(Dennis on the other hand just kinda sucked and was only working at Starbucks to make some money while he figured out his writing career and fell asleep and died like the rest. At least Obama punched him before he died. That was something to brag about in Hell. And yes, Dennis went to Hell. Because he was an annoying piece of shit.)
Lisa watched in horror as Obama fell into what appeared to be an irreversible sleep. She shook him, rattling him like an unknown Christmas gift. Gritting her teeth, she grabbed an urn of still-cooling black iced tea, knowing Obama disliked it, pried open his mouth, and poured it into him.
Obama’s widened as the burning liquid swept through his body. He screamed, but this caused her to further jam the urn in his mouth, and as that urn pushed against his uvula, Obama nodded and grabbed onto the urn with a death grip, pushing it into his mouth as hard as he could.
And when it was over, Obama ripped the urn from her hands and whipped it to the floor. Looking up, Obama spit blood mixed with black tea onto the floor, advancing towards the Wizard to End All Wizards menacingly.
“Kick his ass, Obama!” Biden cheered in his sleep.
“Oh, I will Joe,” Obama smirked, launching into a run. The Wizard to End All Wizards did nothing but cower, making himself very vulnerable to Obama’s fist.
Obama stood over the crumpled wizard, clenching his fists. Not looking at Lisa, he said the last thing that was said in the Old Order. Before the Disturbance.
“I can’t focus on protecting our nation. There’s like—like a block from allowing me to. It’s over.”
Obama turned back to me, looking in her eyes longingly. He tried to speak, but all capabilities of speech had left his body.
And then an explosion tore through the Starbucks, burning almost everything to a crisp.
Fortunately, the ever wily Lisa had hidden behind the counter, which saved her from the Disturbance. As she stood up in the wreckage, she looked across the room. They had all died. Except Obama. Obama stood exactly where he had stood previously.
Years later, Obama tried explaining how he survived the blast but all he could surmise was, “I like spaced out or something—guess my body forgot to react to the boom. I don’t know, man, I just want my Joe back.”
It is Year Two. Obama and Lisa had spent every day since the Disturbance, traveling across the United States on foot, trying to pick up any survivors they could. They ended up forming quite the ragtag group of friends in this journey.
But in Year Two, it was revealed that Mitt Romney had survived. And he was not happy about Obama falling asleep on the job. He claimed that he could have done a much better job at not falling asleep.
“We knew! We knew! We knew Obama would…blew! …It!” Romney’s followers cheered as Obama & Lisa & Friends…
“Mother, what does this have to do with you being called the Old Wench?” I asked my mother. Tears fell from her eyes and she rubbed my back. I stared back out into the silence.
Boy Obama wished he had a drone at his disposal right now.
Mitt Romney’s faction of “The Disturbance was an Inside Job!” was very frustrating to deal with. Even if Romney had the gumption to not sleep longer than Obama, it no longer mattered. Hope and love had died. There was nothing left to this desolate country.
“Obama, may I impart an idea to you?” Lisa had asked Barack as he stood dramatically over a cliff.
“Yes,” Obama said dryly.
“I think we should go kick Romney’s ass.”
Obama turned and looked at Lisa, a look of shock and disgust in his face. An ass whupping? In this country? It was unacceptable for the President of the United States to whup the ass of another man opposing him. What would Fox News make of that?
Oh but wait. That didn’t matter anymore. Because the America of yesterday was like dust in the wind.
Wiping tears from his eyes, Obama nodded to Lisa. “I’m scared.”
“Why is that, Barack?” Lisa asked innocently.
“I fear to become the beast within me by whupping Mitt Romney’s ass.”
“I understand that but,” Lisa took Obama’s hand. “It must be done.”
So they embarked on a quest, adventuring across the country until they found Romney’s camp. When Lisa and Obama walked onto the grounds, they found many people (most of them former senators and lobbyists), still dressed in the remains of their old fancy suits.
As they passed through, members of Romney’s gang slowly woke themselves, stepping to the sidelines, and cheered “We knew! We knew! We knew Obama would blew…! It!” Obama smiled for the first time in a long time. It was scary. He hadn’t smiled like that since the Old Order.
A slow clap came from the biggest tent at the edge of the camp and out stepped Romney, advancing towards Obama with a wicked grin. He wore a suit made of coffee stained dollar bills. It was the only life left within him.
“Well, well, well…” Romney said in a singsongy voice. Obama responded by rolling up his sleeves. “What are you gonna do, Obama? Sleep on me?!”
The crowd jeered at this. Obama took a second to steady himself and shot back, “I have come here to whup your ass, Romney.”
Mitt Romney frowned, his jowls set a-quivering. He held this expression for a long time, as if he was in some sort of Vertigo shot. Finally, he sputtered, “What?”
“You heard me,” Obama said, stepping closer to Romney.
“D-d-don’t do this,” Romney said as snot slipped out of his nose.
“You’ve left me no other choice,” Obama said with a dark look in his eyes.
Then Obama kicked Romney to the ground and bent over to start whupping his ass, but instead he found that he had accidentally knocked Romney into a mud-hole. Submerged in the muck, Romney screamed as the mud dissolved his dollar bill suit. They wasted away into nothing, and just like that, Romney’s soul withered away finally.
“My God,” Obama said, shaking as he stepped away from the mud hole.
“It had to be done,” Lisa said while massaging his shoulders.
“No. Not like this.”
“What happened to Romney’s gang?” I asked my Mother, trying to hold onto her hand, but her icy touch was too much to bear.
“They joined us after about a week,” Mother sighed, her voice rasping from so many days of silence. “Romney remained in the muck and died while waiting for his dolla-dolla bills to regrow in the mud.”
“No!” my Mother cut me off. She pointed at me harshly, admonishing me like a teacher administering detention. “The only way to live in a mad world is to give in to the madness.”
And then came McCain’s brigade of bullies. While my mother and Obama trekked the country, picking up as many survivors as they could, they heard the harsh words of McCain echo throughout the land.
“Barack Obama is a phony!”
“Barack Obama is the worst thing to ever happen to our nation!”
“His rule as the President must end if we are to ever find peace in this land.”
“Obama stood and watched as poor Romney withered away into a skeleton, waiting for his dolla-dolla bills to regrow on him. Is this the man we want leading our nation?”
Eventually, Obama had enough. Too often would he find a survivor of the Disturbance that would run and hide from him out of fear. McCain had gotten to them first with his vile slander. So Obama lead his team on an exodus across the land once again. They marched until they found McCain’s hidden camp; his camp looked remarkably similar to Romney’s, former senators and lobbyists were scattered through the grounds.
This time however, Obama had no patience left in him to walk to the end of the camp. He yanked a soiled suited woman up from her slumber and smashed her face into his. “You get me McCain. You tell him we need to talk.”
The woman nodded in a panic and ran away, charging towards the tent that could only be McCain’s.
McCain emerged from the tent with a bright smile on his face. He approached Obama with the intention of a hug, but Obama smacked McCain’s arms away from him. McCain allowed himself a frown, then his eyes sparkled.
“McCain, what the Hell?” Obama grunted, too fed up with this bullfuckery. “What’s your damage, dude?”
“Oh, oh, uh, none at all!” McCain nodded. All over his followers glared daggers at him. “Yeah, I think—I’ll support anything you want to do with our great nation, Barack!”
“Uh huh…” Obama shook his head. “That’s it?”
“Yeah, sure, you’re a great guy! Best thing to ever happen to our nation!”
“What the Hell, McCain?” one of McCain’s followers screeched, tearing hair from the-guy-next-to-him’s chest.
“Oh! Um—uh—well—“ McCain tugged at his collar.
“This shit worked in the Old Order, McCain,” Obama smiled. “But not in the New Order.”
McCain dropped down to his knees and bowed before Obama. Obama rolled his eyes, wracking his brain to figure out what to do with this old man.
“Lisa!” Obama called out finally. He waited until Lisa walked up to his side. “What should we do with this fuck-up of a man?”
“Can you make coffee?” Lisa crossed her arms.
McCain looked up at her and nodded his head. “Oh yes!” He picked up a handful of dirt and squeezed it, eyes bulging from their sockets, blooding trickling from his hand, as the dirty was crushed and emptied from his closed fist as fine powder.
“But Starbucks became kaput in the Disturbance,” Obama whispered, nudging Lisa gently.
“We can rebuild it, we have the technology,” Lisa explained as she eyed McCain’s coffee pressing arm. “McCain, your new name is Dennis.”
Obama turned to Lisa, a sudden grayness coming into his face.
“So you choose him?”
Lisa couldn’t bear to look at Obama in this sensitive moment. She shut her eyes tight, remembering the idiot barista she had once worked with in the Old Order.
“But this is touching, Old Wench,” I said seriously. “Have you grown to care for Dennis after all?”
“For him?” shouted my Mother.
From underneath her cloak, she tore out a slushy Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino® Blended Crème. The liquid, or rather, the sludge, within the cup shook and wavered as she held it out. I watched it rock back and forth, and as its sour smell faded away I turned back to my Mother, and her eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Mother.
Lisa stepped into a cave timidly. In the past few weeks, Obama had become forlorn and hid himself in the darkness, leaving Lisa to manage the New Order. As she plunged into the darkness, she felt fear all around her. Who was this man now? Had he given into the beast within?
He never gave that iconic ass whuppin’ though so it was entirely possible it was the same old Barack they all knew an dloved.
She walked for what felt like hours, only able to hear the dripping of water echo through the labyrinth. Eventually, she came upon a landing and saw Obama crouched before a fire, warming his hands.
“Sorry, Boss,” Lisa smirked, leaning up against the cave wall, allowing one of her hips to pop upward. “The coffee maker’s broken right now.”
While she couldn’t see Obama’s mouth among his entanglement of a beard, she saw that familiar friendly wrinkle crease near his nose. He gazed back into the fire, the light exposing many lines across his face.
“I miss Joe,” Obama said, his voice hoarse.
“He seemed to really care about you,” Lisa said, taking a seat next to Obama on an uncomfortable rock.
“Lisa, I need to tell you something.”
Obama turned towards her, a very serious look in his eyes. She looked at him innocently.
“I haven’t slept a wink my whole life,” Obama said, “Except on the day of the Disturbance.”
“I mean—it’s okay to catch a few winks,” Lisa said, scared, knowing where this conversation was going.
“No,” Obama said curtly. “I’m an old man—”
Lisa grabbed Obama’s hand, “No you’re not. Don’t do this.”
“Lisa, please!” Obama cried out. She was making this harder than it needed to be. “You know how you sleep one third of your life?”
Tears fell from Lisa’s eyes. Obama had to look away.
“I’m not 56 like my old Wikipedia article said. I’m…33% in addition to that from my lack of snoozing…” Obama pursed his lips in deep concentration. “I’m—74 and a half. It’s my time.”
“You can make it through this, it’s just in your head,” Lisa said, bending under Obama, desperate to look into his eyes.
“No, you know as well as I do that I have to go now,” Obama said stoically. But finally, he looked into his lap to see Lisa’s face staring up at his, and finally Obama broke.
“I love you, Barack,” Lisa said softly, caressing Obama’s cheek. He nodded.
“As do I you,” he spat out through the tears. “But this cannot be.”
Lisa bit her lip, looking at this old man sobbing above her, a man who didn’t get to experience so much of his life because he was prepping to be prez. And it all fell apart because of a deranged wizard. While he stayed strong for his country, keeping up the appearances of that young Senator from Illinois who wanted to change the world, that dreadful flash of orange that wiped out the nation always flickered in his eyes.
“There’s another way,” Lisa said, shoving her hands into Obama’s beard to stroke his face.
“Lisa,” Obama started.
“Shhhh,” Lisa whispered, pressing a finger against his mouth. “I want you to be happy. You deserve this.”
Obama leaned into Lisa’s touch. “What did Joe call you again? The old wench?”
Lisa smiled as a golden glow emanated from her hands.
Mother wrapped her arm around my shoulders, leaning my head against her warm body underneath the cloak.
“Son, there’s a reason you are named Barack Obama.”
“Oh, yeah, I was wondering about that.”
“You are named that because I absorbed his age and grew older until he aged backwards enough to become you.”
I closed my eyes, trying to find the soul of the man I once was, but I felt nothing. Whoever I was had left me.
“Is that why you are called the Old Wench?” I asked my Mother who I guess wasn’t really my Mother but my former friend/coworker/possibly booty call. It was an odd sensation, one that I would try not to look into.
“Yes, that is why they call me the Old Wench.”