Swamp Rabbit and I had just finished another dreary sales trip and were driving home from Pennsyltucky, that vast stretch of Trump country that lies between Philly and Pittsburgh. Billie Holiday was on the radio, singing “Autumn in New York,” an elusively moody song, warm and fuzzy on the surface but elevated by Holiday’s irony to a bittersweet meditation on memory and loss.
At one point she drops the irony and sings Autumn in New York/Is often mingled with pain. It’s like a stab in the heart. I had to make an abrupt stop on the shoulder of the road to recover. This rattled the rabbit, who’d been dozing next to me.
“Why you stopping?” he shouted. “You having one of them mood swings? One of them dark age spells?”
“My hope tank is on empty,” I replied. “We didn’t make any sales today. I was a fool to think I could save enough money to quit this job and be my own boss again and succeed at something worthy enough to cancel out all the disasters I brought on myself over the years.”
“Quit listening to that depressing shit,” the rabbit said. “Put on some happy music.”
He reached out and pushed a button on the dash to change the radio station. Billie Holiday went away. Some moron was singing I’m in love with your body, over and over.
I got the car back on the road and said, “Turn off that garbage, rodent, or you’re walking home.”
He pushed buttons until an NPR news report came on. A scientist said it was too late to save the planet from global warming. Donald Trump praised a congressman who body-slammed a reporter last year. Then he brushed aside evidence that a bunch of Saudis killed and dismembered a Washington Post reporter.
“There you go,” the rabbit said as the newsreader droned on. “Non-stop bad news. That should make you feel better.”
I resisted an urge to kick him out of the car. He was half-right. The news doesn’t make me feel better; it makes me feel vindicated. See, I told you the new dark age was coming.