Pathos

The Trump Chronicles” is a new book by Lee Balan. Each story was inspired by current events. There are 14 illustrations and 12 short stories. For sale online at Lulu.com – The following is an excerpt from the story called Pathos, part of the Trump Chronicles. At the end of this excerpt I’ve included one of the reviews of the book.

The man in the White House kept throwing twitter-bombs at Frankie Bernbaum, an innocent bystander. Frankie was a third-rate comedian on the virtual Borscht Belt in the Catskills. Frankie’s shtick was not very funny – it was more therapy than comedy. Frankie needed therapy. He stood on the “realer-than-life” stage and confessed to being a hypochondriac with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and mother issues. A few people thought it was funny enough to keep bringing him back. But, Frankie was getting worse. His agent, Frosty Dick, thought Frankie should be committed to an asylum. Frosty had issues. He worshiped the man in the White House. Bernbaum’s criticisms and exaggerations infuriated Frosty.

Frankie had a new shtick, “Oy Vey, I got a hernia,” he told the five people tuned into the Velvet-VR-Lounge at the Mogen David Motor Lodge. “It’s such a pain,” he said, “but pain is all I got. I named it… I call my hernia Donny after our beloved presidente’.” No one in the audience laughed. Frankie assumed they were all supporters of the president. Frankie was upset. He began to rant. “Dumb schmucks,” he yelled at the audience.

“Goddamn dumb schmucks!” He believed the audience was spying on him, sent by the government to take him down. He had visions of Nazis.

Two security guards wrestled Frankie to the floor of the make-shift stage. Frosty Dick arranged to have Frankie admitted to the Cold Stone Infirmary for the Disturbed.

Years ago (before the episode at the motor lodge) Frankie Bernbaum had delusions of grandeur. When his dream of fame and fortune was crushed by reality, Frankie became a bottom-feeder, just barely hanging on. Nagging pains convinced him to see a doctor. Dr. Zosimo Kulio revealed some interesting results, “Frankie you are the direct descendant of a catfish living in a Louisiana Swamp.” Bottom-feeder, indeed.

It was odd news, but Kulio was an odd doctor. “No… I’m joking. Can’t you take a joke?”

Frankie wasn’t laughing. The doctor’s real diagnosis was just as astounding. “Frankie, you got a hernia. In my opinion this is not an ordinary hernia. It is developing. X-rays revealed a head. I’m afraid you had a twin when you were born, but the twin didn’t make it. At least that’s what we thought at the time. Seems like… your twin developed inside your body so now you have a hernia with a human head.” Frankie was overwhelmed. He’d always wondered why his mother gave him up at birth. She must have felt the pain of the unborn twin.

“Be careful,” Zosimo advised, “your hernia is still developing… maybe a body. We can’t remove it because the hernia is rooted to your spine. For now it might be better to give it a name and try to make friends.”

Frankie felt resentment toward his unborn twin. In a storm of sarcasm he named the hernia after the president… and laughed. Changes began almost immediately. The hernia (Donny) started to complain. He became a real nuisance. He took the role of president seriously. He made unreasonable demands based on lies and exaggerations. Donny drove Frankie crazy and that led to the outburst at the Mogen David Motor Lodge.

After the incident at the Lodge Frankie was sedated. He woke-up in a white room. Dr. Zosimo Kulio stood over Frankie with a twelve-inch hypodermic needle. The doctor jabbed his patient with a mixture of psychedelic drugs. Frankie had to confront the monsters in his head.

Donny sat on a stool and smiled. The hernia sported an orange comb-over. Frankie was horrified, “what are you,” he sputtered.

“I can see you are in complete awe because you are standing in my presence.”

“I’m gagging. Talk about ugly…”

“Hey, buttercup, I’m in charge. Treat me with respect or I’ll make your life hell!”

“This is crazy. You’re a piece of my lower intestine, a hernia.”

“I shall call you stupid because that is what you are. I was your extremely mistreated twin; then, I became President.”

“I called you Donny as a joke.”

“I’m no joke, asshole. You were envious of the power wielded by a great man. You wished me into existence. Now, I’m in charge.”

“This is not happening,” Frankie moaned.

“It’s happening funny-man – I mean washed-up hack.”

Frankie felt a sudden jolt of pain and heard laughter like the sound of a buzz-saw.

“That’s right Frankie-boy – you are Out. Fired. I’m in charge and there is nothing you can do about it….”

Review by George Drury Smith (founder of Beyond Baroque)

The Trump Chronicles (published in 2020 and sold online at Lulu.com in the bookstore)

“In The Trump Chronicles Lee Balan has managed to forge his talents as artist and imaginative writer into a work that manages to embody distressing current events as though written tomorrow into a chaotic but fallow field that seems ready to be fertilized by his active imagination. He is able to conjure up a bundle of bizarre “existential paradox” scenarios that could well await us in the immediate future, and this is embellished and made frighteningly real by his many color graphic creations. This new world is populated by a cast of characters who may seem familiar enough until they become enmeshed in that new reality. But there may be hope…. ”  George Drury Smith, novelist, editor and founder of the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California.

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