The residents of 44 Cherry Street were suffering the effects of the corona virus shared by many Americans. It was harder and harder to find fresh food, and the line at Bounty and Soul with its gifts of produce and flowers went on for a mile down State Street. The residents were reaching way back in their kitchen cabinets and retrieving cans of beans and fruit cocktail years past their expiration date. They ate them anyway. And they were getting irritable with their neighbors. Every little thing about each of them got on the last nerve of the others. They had tried pooling their resources, but they couldn’t stand the chanting that Neetu did over the Beanie Weenies shared by Elrod before she picked at them as if they were poisonous. They were tired of seeing Frederick with his sad mug, mourning the disappearance of Lorraine, and conversely they thought Ellie was an idiot for being so dang cheerful all the time. And Elrod…he smelled like butt and chewed with his mouth open. Of course he couldn’t help that as he had only five teeth and had to shift the food around to catch a toothy spot.
They each had a small television set, however, and each of them watched it for hours each day. Frederick had a subscription to Netflix and loved binge-watching an assortment of series of British mystery shows. He had developed a serious crush on Agatha Raisin. Ellie, on the other hand wanted to watch Fox News all day “To keep up with the Real News.” Frederick wouldn’t allow it on in his apartment, so she had retreated to her own apartment to watch by herself and was feeling lonely. Only the face of Sean Hannity made her feel safe, and she was letting her hair grow so she could look more like Lara Logan. She had signed up on line for Fox Nation and was enjoying the religious and patriotic shows she could find there. The rift between her and Frederick was growing wider every day.
Downstairs the neighbors were experiencing similar differences. Neetu had a collection of videos she watched again and again featuring her guru. She enjoyed hearing the soothing voice of the guru giving inspirational talks and leading her in chanting. She felt safe and one with the universe when she meditated.
Elrod just shook his head when he smelled the incense wafting out from under the front door of her apartment and heard her “Caterwauling” in there. Country Western was his music and he cranked his stereo to blast some Willie Nelson classical music. Now that was nice! He paused the stereo every evening, though, to catch the daily update on the corona virus. He hung on every word the President spoke and would try to remember them so he could challenge Frederick if he saw that punk in the hall. But just when he got one of Trump’s points clear in his mind, the President changed course. Elrod really had to concentrate to keep it straight. Was he or was he not In Charge of the Country and would let those liberal Governors know when they could reopen the country? Was he or was he not going to cut off funds to WHO, the idiots who were responsible for the spread of the virus? And what about that annoying little twerp Fauci? He couldn’t stand that guy! And that accent! Elrod could barely understand what he was sayin’. Fauci made it sound like the virus was in charge! Ridiculous! Elrod was sure that was a communist theory. The President was in charge. 100%! He was looking forward to the day when the President would #FireFauci. Elrod yelled at the tv screen, “Go back to Italy where you come from! “ Or maybe he was from Russia. That accent…who knew? But he sure wasn’t from around here.
Elrod was not stupid. He could see the writing on the wall. And the writing was in chicken-scratch Chinese. He knew for sure where the virus came from. The Chinese had cooked it up in their labs and let it out so it would take over America. Everybody knew that they had too many people over there anyway and those commies didn’t care about human life the way we do. They didn’t care if a million or so of their people died! What they cared about was to be in charge of the US and they were trying to weaken us with their flu and what it was doing to the economy. Elrod vowed to boycott Chinese goods, but when he looked around at the tools that littered his living room floor, he noticed that they were all made in China. Instead he vowed to boycott Chinese food. He would throw out those frozen egg rolls he had in the freezer, and he would no longer eat at Saki Sushi.
Those countries in Europe were feeling the effects too and people were dying right and left in England, Spain, and Germany. That was sad, but Elrod knew that the intended target for this virus was our country, the Greatest Country in the World and those little guys in pajamas were fighting dirty. They were just getting even for the tariffs the President had slapped on them. Well, it wasn’t gonna work. We have a cracker jack team on our side and we will prevail, he thought. Some liberal Doubting Thomases looked at the team and wondered why there are no medical people on the Corona Virus Task Force, Well, what do they know? We have Jared and Ivanka on our team, and Pence too. They are like the Avengers! They know lots of stuff. And they’re tough. Someday there will be a Marvel comic about this Task Force. Hells to the Yeah!
Elrod was watching the nightly update on the virus on tv and feeling proud to be an American. He was so proud that he stood up, put his hand on his heart, and pledged allegiance to the Flag at the top of his lungs, at least the parts of the pledge he could remember. Suddenly he thought he heard a tapping on his door. He put his can of Bud in his confederate flag coozie down on the cluttered coffee table, knocking over some empty cans and a spit cup. He wondered who could be at his door during this corn teen. He cautiously opened the door and standing there looking pretty was Ellie, with a Statue of Liberty crown on her head (or was it a Burger King crown?) and an American Flag- and only that- wrapped around her body.
“May I come in?” she asked shyly.”It’s lonely upstairs.”
“Whoa Doggies!!” he answered eagerly and pulled her inside.