Flash Fiction Story 038: The Gang

Based on the painting by Andy Thomas

Abraham Lincoln had been dead for seven score and thirteen years and was enjoying a nice day at a picnic. He had been conversing at length with a gentleman named Roosevelt—who had only been dead for just shy of five score. They were having a grand old time when they were approached by another man.  

“Hello, Mr. Presidents,” the man said, his hand extended. “My name is Dwight Eisenhower.”

Roosevelt reached out and engulfed the stranger in a hug. “Dee-lighted to meet you!”

“Likewise… Mister Eisenhower,” Lincoln said, and invited him to join them.

“General, please,” Eisenhower said as he sat. Most men who would insist on any title would seem officious, but not this man. Lincoln liked him.

“What brings you to our table?” Lincoln asked.

“I’ve come here to warn you,” Eisenhower said.

“Of the growing influence of the Military Industrial Complex?” Roosevelt guessed. Many of these words seemed odd to Lincoln, but the weather was so pleasant, he didn’t mind terribly.

“Normally, yes,” Eisenhower admitted. “But not today. Today, I come to warn you about the future of our party.”

Roosevelt and Lincoln exchanged wan smiles and then considered their new friend. “We have been long removed from the world of mortals, General,” Lincoln explained. “There’s no need to warn us about the future, it belongs to other men.”

Eisenhower hung his head sadly. “I’m dead, too, Mr. President,” he explained. “But that is not going to protect any of us from being irritated in the next few minutes… Oh. It appears I’m too late.”

Another shuffled forward. Where Roosevelt’s whiskers were magnificently curated, Eisenhower’s head has almost completely hairless, and even Lincoln’s face seemed bereft without its wiry cord of a beard, this new man looked as if he hadn’t shaved in a couple of days and would be the last person to realize it.

“Hello, Dick,” Eisenhower said forlornly, not looking the new man in the eyes. “Gentlemen, this is Dick.”

“It’s a great honor to meet you gentlemen, finally,” Dick said.

“Dee-lighted.” Roosevelt didn’t sound like he was.

“Likewise, I’m sure,” Lincoln said.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Eisenhower chided.

“I said I was sorry,” Dick explained.

Did you?” Eisenhower asked. “All I remember is you self-destructing because of a sting operation against a party who had no hope of ever beating you.”

Dick made noises as if he were planning to argue the point, but instead sounded as if he were troubled by some manner of indigestion. Phlebitis might have been involved.

“I see what you mean, General,” Lincoln said. “The future is indeed strange.”

“Yep,” Eisenhower said. “And that’s as bad as it gets… Not at all worse. Well, Dick, we’ve bothered these fine gentlemen enough, it’s time to—”

A hulking figure somehow propelled himself into the middle of the table, knocking over everything but a few bowls of snacks.

“Damnit, Jerry! You were supposed to play it cool. We had a deal!” Dick yelped and tried to help the man named Jerry up from the ground.

“Sorry, guys,” Jerry said. He might have been concussed. He and Dick made quite the pair.

“I wouldn’t judge them too harshly,” Eisenhower said quietly. “They were pretty helpful in beating back the communists.”

“The commu-who?” Lincoln asked.

“Well, if anyone was responsible for tearing down that wall…” another voice cried from a distance.

“Oh, cut it out, Ronnie,” Dick spat. “Plenty deserve credit. Remember Vietnam? Well, you’re welcome.”

Crickets offered the only response to Dick’s gibberish.

“Well, I think Rocky Balboa might have helped…” Ronnie muttered.

The younger men rolled their eyes. “Again with the movies,” Jerry muttered.

Ronnie ignored him and turned to introduce himself to Lincoln. “It’s Morning in America™, Mr. President,” Ronnie said.

“What does that mean?” Lincoln asked.

Ronnie’s face went slack. “No one has ever asked me that…” He sat down at the table and proceeded to vigorously consume a bowl of jelly beans. 

Two more men approached. They both grinned vapidly, and each wore a name tag that read “HELLO - MY NAME IS GEORGE.”

“Hey, share some of them there jelly beans, Ronnie,” George the Younger said, joining Ronnie at the table. 

Lincoln shared a glance with Roosevelt, who could only helplessly shrug. He turned to Eisenhower. “Is this what is to become of us?” Lincoln asked, helpless to combat his despair.

Eisenhower pursed his lips. “Yep…” the words bubbled out of him, as if he were using all his ghostly might to put them back. “This is as bad as it gets.”

Just then, the most perplexing and nauseating sight of the day came to haunt Lincoln. A brute of no particular account lurched toward Lincoln. A bright red cap sat upon his head, making him look like a toreador who didn’t understand how to do it right.

“Oh, Mr. Lincoln,” the newcomer said, and then grabbed Lincoln’s hands like they were an axe and he was preparing to chop. “You know… Robert E. Lee… Robert E. Lee. He was a great general. Were you scared? You couldn’t beat him. Must have scared you. He wouldn’t scare me, even though he was a tremendous General. I have the best Military. The best, believe me. Who did you vote for in the election?”

“What the fuck did this guy just say to me?” Lincoln said. It normally would have been the kind of thought he would keep tucked under his hat, but desperation dictated his actions.

“That’s some weird shit, ain’t it, Abey Baby?” George the Younger asked conspiratorially.

Lincoln looked desperately beyond the immediate crowd. In the distance, he could see Ulysses S. Grant and Rutheford B. Hayes, but they were of no help. They couldn’t come to this, the more exclusive party.

“We should have a commemoratal item of this historicish occasional,” George the Younger volunteered. “We’ll pose for a painting! I’ll grab my brushes!”

“No!” they all shouted in protest.

Art by Eris O’Reilly

Art by Eris O’Reilly