The Right Lizard
The senator had spent most of the previous week tweeting and openly hyperbolising about the big surprise he was planning to unveil before the caucus. Fox News speculated that it might be some radical new battle plan in the war on terror. ABC reported that it would involve a public endorsement by a former political rival. In the end, neither prediction turned out to be accurate.
Instead, the moment of truth came shortly after the senator took to the stage, dressed in his traditionally sombre blue suit, neatly complimented by a red and white striped tie. After a brief flurry of pointing and waving at the raucous Iowa crowd he reached up to his brow, as if to adjust his immaculate hair, and, instead, began to slowly peel away the flesh from his face, in the casual manner of a chef preparing a large, plump chicken breast for the pot.
The news crews in attendance, who had been expecting a less visceral, overtly more political gesture, were unsure about what to make of it all.
The senator held the mask in his hand, observing its drooping features through the bulbous iguana-like eyes that now rolled freely on either side of his head. After a moment, he dropped it to the floor and the lower portion of his face split open like a freshly sliced watermelon as a razorblade smile flashed across it, exposing an array of sharply pointed teeth and a tongue that flicked in and out with the quickness of a rattlesnake.
He raised his hands in the air and flashed the double sign of victory.
The crowd stopped screaming and looked at one another for answers. It seemed a patriotic gesture, albeit a patriotic gesture from what was unquestionably a six foot tall lizard in an Armani suit.
‘Friends,’ said the senator, ‘Haven’t I told you all along that I’m not like the other guys in this race? Well, haven’t I?’
Flashbulbs blazed. The crowd mostly nodded. It was true, he had told them that.
‘Haven’t I told you all along that I’m sick of the lies and the deception of modern politicians?’
The crowd began to murmur. Some of them laughed awkwardly, waiting for a punch-line that never quite revealed itself or offered them an explanation for the green skinned reptilian that was now addressing them from the podium.
‘Only in this great country, with the tremendous freedoms that we enjoy and which our marvellous servicemen have fought so very hard to defend, could I stand before you today, saying “this is who I am, America!”. I’ll speak my mind. I’ll make no apologies for it and I’ll start by doing it right here, in the great state of Iowa!’
The crowd whooped. Most didn’t mean to. Some even clapped their hands over their mouths to try and prevent a whoop from emerging. Yet still the sound came and it was unquestionably a ‘whoop’. Whooping was what you were supposed to do when a man on a stage said the name of your home state directly after a positive adjective. If you whooped when a man said it, then it made just as much sense to whoop when a bipedal reptilian said it. This was still the senator, a democratically elected official, after all.
Amid the whooping, a bearded man in jeans and a red button down shirt jumped the stage and began gesticulating wildly.
‘Look at him!’ yelled the man, ‘He’s a Goddamn lizard! Are you all blind? A lizard, he’s a…’
‘Get him out of here! Get him out of here!’ yelled the senator as his reptilian features creased into a scowl. ‘Another violent liberal trying to disrupt the good time we’re all having here tonight!’
He turned back to the crowd as security dragged the protestor away, flashed the razorblade smile once more and, straightening his tie, leaned into the microphone and threw out a rhetorical question to the assembled throng.
‘We know how to have a good time here in Iowa, am I right?’
The crowd cheered.
‘Yes, it’s true.’ said the senator, ‘I am a lizard, but I’m also an American and I bet if I’d been an illegal immigrant, then that guy would have been happy for me to be up here.’ He rolled one of his eyes in what might, among lizard circles, have doubled for a wink.
The crowd chuckled at the joke. They knew who the real enemies of freedom were: socialists and big government.
Bill O’Reilly had never told them anything about lizards.
‘Now,’ said the senator, ‘let me tell you how, together, we’re going to make this great nation a place to be proud of again!’
A lively debate dominated the news networks over the following days. His rival senators accused the lizard of pulling a publicity stunt to cover up a lack of true political substance.
Ben Carson refused to get sucked into a debate about whether or not a lizard should be running for the presidency and suggested that the reporters focus on the lizard’s actual policies instead.
A Fox News debate on the matter caused controversy when Megyn Kelly stated that ‘Presidents are human, they just are.’ Before later issuing a press release claiming her remarks were ‘tongue in cheek.’
Sean Hannity welcomed what he called ‘a plain speaking politician’ into the race, concluding that ‘Lizards aren’t what is wrong with America. Mexicans coming over our borders and taking our jobs are what’s wrong with America! If a lizard can fix that, then call me a lizard lover. I’ll just call myself a patriot!’
In the UK, the British Prime Minister expressed her conditional support of the lizard’s right to run for the presidency although she strongly denied online rumours that she was also preparing to come out as a lizard.
‘Here in Britain we welcome all races, creeds and species.’ said the Prime Minister ‘I would, however, like to go on record as saying that I am a Christian and a proud member of the human race…although some of my best friends are lizards.’
After two weeks of the lizard’s whistle-stop campaign tour, and a muted attempt to prove that he had actually been born on non-American soil, opinion polls showed him with a firm lead over his rivals. Clearly, something had to change if the primaries weren’t going to end in a total whitewash.
There are several theories about how the bird got into the TV studio. Former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura maintains, to this day, that it was a deliberate plant by the lizard’s own people. Other conspiracy theorists feel it was released at the behest of his political rivals, with a firm knowledge of what might follow, although a completely different expectation of how it would impact upon public opinion.
It was a bright, autumnal afternoon and the lizard senator was in full patriotic flow as the tiny sparrow circled above the audience and fluttered down to land on his podium. There was a brief exhalation of wonder from the collected crowd, sharply punctuated by a gasp of disbelief as the lizard’s tongue flicked out, grasped the bird firmly and yanked it backwards into the senators open maw. Despair turned to revulsion as the microphone picked up the cracking of tiny avian bones, as the senator chewed and then openly swallowed.
Silence fell across the auditorium. The TV tickertape streamed into action: ‘Lizard anti-abortion/Eats bird.’ read the stream.
The senator looked around him; at his rival who stood grinning smugly, at the audience members who sat, jaws open in disbelief and, finally, at the host of the show. All of them were looking for the sound bite that would follow. Instead, the lizard took out a large, white handkerchief and daintily dabbed at the corner of his mouth before obliging.
‘Can I get fries and a coke with that?’ he grinned.
The people loved it.
The lizard’s approval rating among working class Americans shot up to 90%.
A meme showing the senator eating the heads of various dictators around the world and ordering up his now infamous side dish swept the internet. Ben Carson withdrew from the race, stating that ‘if you’re not a lizard and you don’t eat birds then the people just aren’t interested in you.’
On Fox, Sean Hannity further extolled the virtues of the President-to-be, as he swept the Republican nomination and took a huge lead in the election polls.
‘This country needs a president who can be tough on our enemies.’ he opined. ‘Can you imagine a Democrat having the guts to eat that bird, that interloper, on live TV? I don’t think so! Can you imagine Putin trying it on with this guy? I don’t think so, either!’
Four months on and the lizard swept to election victory. As the tickertape fell he strode on‑stage with the presence of a mastodon, his well-manicured claws raised in the familiar twin pronged victory symbol. Above the cacophony of the crowd nobody heard the gunshot ring out as the newly minted President’s head burst open in a visceral waterfall of hot, green blood. Somebody screamed. Suits flooded the stage.
A national day of mourning was held. Flags were flown at half mast. The Vice President was appointed on a promise to see through the vision of the fallen lizard. A statue was built in his honour.
The world moved on in a very human way.
Four years later, the senator stepped out before the Iowa Caucus. He had spent most of the previous week tweeting about the big surprise that he was planning to unveil to the assembled press.
Fox News speculated that it might be some radical new proposals on gun control. ABC reported that it would involve a twin public endorsement by Marc Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Once again, neither prediction turned out to be correct.
After a brief flurry of pointing and waving at the screaming crowd the senator reached up to his brow, as if to mop away an errant bead of sweat, and instead began to slowly pull away the flesh from his face, as if he were neatly peeling an onion.
A fine burst of ghost-white plumage exploded from beneath the confines of the mask and a sharply crooked beak leaned forward into the microphone as, above it, two beady eyes scanned the silent conference.
‘Friends,’ said the six foot tall eagle. ‘Are you ready for a change we can really believe in?’
The crowd gathered its breath and then applauded heartily.
They always were.