It’s Political Cinema time again, folks. The scene is a small club somewhere in the Middle East. The lighting is dim, as if from a lone 40-watt bulb. A man, Sam, plays “As Time Goes By” on a tinny piano. Refugees huddle at the tables, seeking to book passage to America via the plane to Lisbon, a once-a-day Delta flight with legroom designed by midgets. The café buzzes with the news that two couriers carrying letters of transit have been murdered, although nobody is sure what letters of transit are.
An internationally respected freedom fighter enters with a beautiful woman on his arm. She glances with recognition at Sam.
Their entrance is watched with great interest by a group of military officers at a corner table. They are accompanied by the local police chief, who introduces the officers to the club owner.
“Rick, may I present Major Bannon.”
“Hello, Rick,” Major Bannon sneers, extracting a small notebook from his uniform jacket. “Ve know all about you. Ve have a dossier that tells us you have continued to vote Democrat, even though you have been living here in the Middle East ever since you left Paris under suspicious circumstances.”
“Is that true?” Rick responds, taking the notebook from Major Bannon’s hand. “Is there something wrong with voting absentee?”
“Ve only count Republican absentees now,” Major Bannon hisses. “Ve also have reason to suspect that the stolen letters of transit are here in this café and are intended for that freedom fighter over there.”
Rick glances toward the freedom fighter, but his eyes lock with those of the beautiful woman. A look flashes over Rick’s face, as if he has just drawn a full house but is out of chips. Rick chews his lip.
“What were you saying?” he asks Major Bannon.
“I am saying that it is useless for you to try to help the freedom fighter. This is a Muslim country, and therefore he will not be allowed into the United States.”
“I should think the Supreme Court would have something to say about that,” Rick retorts.
“Ve are appointing a strict constructionist to the court,” Major Bannon announces.
“Is that right?” Rick queries. “What does ‘strict constructionist’ mean?”
“It strictly means whatever our Leader says it means.” Major Strasser growls.
Sam catches Rick’s eye and nods toward the freedom fighter and the woman. Rick excuses himself from Major Strasser and walks over to the freedom fighter’s table. “Listen, y’all,’” Rick says. “I’ve got the letters of transit, and you can have them if the pretty lady will drop by later and pick them up.”
The freedom fighter stands up. “I see,” he says.
“Well, you don’t, really,” Rick says, “but that’s OK. Listen, Major Bannon over there says they have rigged immigration so that you nor anybody else from any Muslim country they don’t like won’t be able to get into the U.S.A. They have basically abrogated civil rights and constitutional protections for anybody who isn’t a white, Christian Republican.”
“They can’t do that,” the freedom fighter says. “We’re talking about America.”
“America has changed,” Rick says. “You wouldn’t recognize it. They don’t know what they’re doing, but they don’t care, because they operate on ‘alternative facts.’”
“We’ve got to make it to America,” the beautiful woman says.
“They know you’d join the protest at JFK as soon as you get off the plane. So, even if my letters of transit get you out of here and you can still walk after that Delta flight, you’ll never make it to America.”
“I have fought oppression all over the world,” the freedom fighter says. “It is time for me to join the opposition in America.”
“Oh, you’re a journalist,” Rick says. “Well, good luck.”
“Why don’t you join us?” the freedom fighter says. “There’s a cool little town called Athens—not that one—in Georgia—not that one. That’s where we’re headed, and a club like this would go over big there.”
“Why Athens?” Rick asks.
“Think globally; act locally,” the freedom fighter says. “There’s a resistance movement organizing there, and we want to be part of it.
“Hmm,” Rick muses. “There’s a guy wants to buy this gin joint. Maybe I’ll join you. This Athens, it’s a liberal place?”
“We’ll be doing everything we can to assure that it is,” the woman says.
“Cool,” Rick says. “This could be the beginning of, like, a beautiful friendship, or something.”