I exist in mirrors. More precisely, I exist in anything that reflects: windows, television screens, even a polished leather shoe. I have only one friend, and he is the only person who knows I exist. His name is Clark Thalker and he created me after a very bad day.
This is how I happened:
Clark was a senator from California for three terms and was now nearing the end of his fourth term. Eight years ago, he gained the support of crowds with his old school philosophy on politics and his moderate stance so that lots of people agreed with some part of his political views. To gain even more support, he promised to stamp out corruption in corporations and in the government by pushing for some reform bills. But sadly, none of this came to pass. Every time he fed one of his proposals to the mouth of the legislative body, it had to be digested by days of debate, sucking out all the nutrients of his proposal until, when it was finally shat out, his proposal was barely recognizable. And then it had to go to the House of Representatives.
And so, for his first two years, he fruitlessly fed the digestive system of the legislative branch, the lawmakers, the ones with the most control over the citizens, but the end result was always the same. The dictatorship of this collective body took all his great ideas and digested them so that it came out as shit. And to add insult to injury, when he didn't come through in his promises, he lost most of his supporters, which was a huge obstacle in his dream to become president.
After his very unsuccessful first term and losing most of his supporters, he managed to be re-elected for three more terms by selling bits of his soul. After his first term he sucked up to the environmentalists. After his second term he catered to the NRA. Most recently, he whored himself to the religious right. But each term was the same. And to make things worse, after Fox News was cancelled and the liberal media dominated primetime, a whole new generation of politicians started being elected. So then, as he was ending his fourth term he couldn't even feed the body any of his proposals, let alone get it to digest it. This made him frustrated and angry, and it was out of this frustration and anger I was born.
He has a bad day at the Senate. No one listens to him anymore. All these newly elected young senators proposed their original ideas and all Clark can talk about was the ideas that were popular when old men dominated politics. Old stuff. His idea to raise sales tax is ignored. His idea to lower income tax is ignored. Everything he proposes had been tried before, and the other senators didn't even give these proposals a thought. Not even his exceptional charm and wit helps. This is disappointing to Clark because he can usually sway many people to agree with him with his speech. Clark doesn't speak; he sings. His voice resonates mellow yet strong as though his voice box has been replaced by a cello - each syllable a ringing note, each sentence a flowing melody. Once you give him a bit of his attention you are drawn in like a snake to a snake charmer. You can't help but keep listening and believe that he is right. But unfortunately the Senate didn't listen.
Clark knows he is getting old. He can feel his flesh decaying under his dark, leathery skin, bulging with veins like a roadmap. He smells dusty. His once dark shiny hair has faded to a cinderblock gray. His joints creak. He knows he will never be President with the way things are.
He's steaming but he keeps his composure. Never lose your composure.
Back at his hotel room however, he throws his shoes across the room in rage.
"Why does no body listen to me?" he cries in despair. He remembers back when politicians were valued for their experience and not for their creativity. When people voted for the charismatic one, not the smart one. He remembers when Congress didn't experiment with new ideas. Senators and Congressmen stuck with old techniques - techniques that have been used since the birth of America - no matter how ineffective they were.
"Take me back."
He spends a sleepless night thinking. At least he tries to think. For hours he paces around the room mumbling and pulling at his hair. He bangs his head against the wall repeatedly until he receives a complaint from next door. He tries to force ideas out of his mind - ideas he would need if he wished to become president. Nothing happens. His mind revolves around taxes and fees and budgets. Percentage symbols and numbers flash in front of his eyes. All he knows are hard facts but he needs theories. He's having a bad day. His hand are trembling when morning came. He can hear his teeth rattle in a syncopated rhythm from the jerking, uncontrollable shivering of his jaw. No sleep does that to you. He smears shaving cream over his face.
Maybe his razor is dull. Or maybe it's his trembling hands and shivering jaw. Whatever. The important thing is, he cut himself while shaving his right cheek. Not the best way to start the day.
This is the last straw for Clark. He snaps, and I am born.
When we first meet, he still has shaving cream covering the left side of his face. Blood covers the other half. The blood has trickled down his cheek and down his neck. Some of it diverts to his chin, where it drips down into the sink. There are dark circles around his gray eyes, which are the same shade as his gray hair. His hair is a mess from a night of pulling and tugging at it out of exasperation. A small patch of hair has already been pulled out completely near the back of his head and has been replaced by a dark scab. He was still wearing the white shirt from the business suit he wore yesterday, except now his sweat had left stains around the collar and armpits.
"Hi," I say "I'm your hallucination. I'm here to help."