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Monkey with a Raincoat. Politics and Morality.


“Winter downpour

Even the monkey


A raincoat”

— Basho


Here’s how I heard the story.

A woman went to see her hairdresser. He had canceled their last appointment. This time he explained why.

He told her that at the last minute he had been called by someone he knew who said, if he could come to a hotel downtown, and do a woman’s hair, he would be paid three times his regular amount and a tip on top of that.

He accepted. He went downtown. He knew the hotel. It was expensive and faced the main square. He was asked to come in through the side entrance between the kitchen and the laundry. His friend met him at the door and then there was the security. There were men everywhere, he said. All in suits. All with corkscrew wires in one ear; all with mirrored sunglasses and faces that said nothing except, I could kill you.

He was searched. His bag was searched. He was searched again. He passed through three metal detectors. His friend would tell him nothing.

They were escorted to an elevator and a man in a suit with a corkscrew wire and the sunglasses and the blank death look rode the elevator with them. They went to the top floor. There were more men in the same type of suits and then they were at the door to a large suite. The door opened.

There were several people all seemingly busy doing things that their demeanor suggested was of great importance.

At the center of the hive were two women. A man appeared who seemed to know the friend and they talked and the friend said: You’ll be doing her hair.

Her was introduced. Her friend was not. But, he said, obviously they were together.

The woman asked how he knew. He laughed. Honey, he said, I’ve been out since I was sixteen. I’ve lived here for thirty years. If I can’t tell two dykes when I see them then my gay card will be revoked.

They laughed. He told her about the woman. He called her Blue. He told her about the woman’s friend. He called her Red.

Three days later Blue’s husband was photographed with his mistress sitting on his lap. They were in a bar called the Monkey’s Raincoat. It was in Miami. It was famous for the celebrities who went there. There were stories about drugs and how maybe the owner knew people who were investors from Columbia.

The man, whose wife had her hair done, was going to be the nominee for one of the two major political parties. He was the first of the new breed who had decided that if they put a thumb across a forefinger, people would say hey he reminds me of Jack Kennedy. He was young and not ugly and people said they liked him.

There wasn’t much more to the man than that except that he was not as bad as most of the others and when they told him, when they confronted him with what they knew, or claimed to know about his wife, he reacted stoically. Later he was furious. He said once he wished he had been an astronaut or a race car driver. Anything except politics.

He spent a few days trying to decide but the decision was already there and really he was just accommodating himself to it. He did not bother to get angry with his wife. He had lost that fight years before.

He called a reporter he knew. The reporter had been calling him for weeks. He wanted to do an interview and promised a flattering profile. But, he had questions. There were rumors, the reporter said.

He called the reporter and said: I’ll be at this bar; The Monkey’s Raincoat. The reporter asked him to repeat the name. He knew it and was trying to make sure they were talking about the same place. They were. The reporter hung up and grabbed a photographer he knew. They went to the bar.

He was there. He was in the back. He said he had nothing to hide. Then the woman arrived. She was younger, blond-ish; attractive.

She sat on his lap. The reporter asked if he was alright with photos and before he said yes, the photographer had fired off a dozen shots.

The story broke the next day.

That afternoon he held a press conference. He was withdrawing immediately from the ticket. He would not run. It was over.

The story ran like this: In one of the most bizarre acts of political suicide, the candidate, threw himself off a bridge.

That’s how it entered the history books.

He vanished for a long time. He resurfaced here and there giving speeches that were always well received but mostly with a thin fog of pity. Later he worked for a think tank. Then he vanished again.

No one ever asked about his wife. It never occurred to anyone that he had fallen on his sword to protect her but then again, had anyone asked, and had they found the answer, it would require them to say – yes he fell on his sword but not because he was being honorable but because he had decided that being known as a cheat was better than being known as the husband of a lesbian.

Politics and morality.

The morality of politics.

Winter downpour.

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