Wassail, wassail she said to an empty cup of last year’s mulled wine. The sun poured through the slats of her Kent Island retreat as the bill collectors knocked at the door.
Silence everywhere; the air traffic controllers were on the run again. And Commerce Department evaluators scraped barnacles from dry-dock fish boats searching for meaning. “No pay, no work,” they muttered under their breath(s). Cloaked diplomats scurried for cover, desperate for a negotiation somewhere. The military parade marched past, sensing nothing.
Mangled labor monitors wrinkled their suits and pulled at their ties; somewhere a minimum wage could be found. Treasury tax collectors inspected their shrinking numbers and stopped pedestrians, asking for spare change. The foot-walker targets tripped quickly away, taking shelter in abandoned supermarket doors.
Thin-skinned, and transportation insecure, agents formed lines for sporting events, staying in practice; one day, one day pre-check marks would be inspected again. Food inspectors lifted garbage can lids, sniff, sniff, no danger there.
Smokey looked away; he could not bear to watch drivers invading pristine water marshes with no passes. He lumbered away, his legal cloud of TCP marring the sunlight.
A price support check drifted in the sea breeze, unsigned.
The budget bean counter closed the sun-kissed blinds and went back to bed. No pay, no pay, not today.
Gordon Adams is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the School of International Service, American University and a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center. From 1993-97 he was the senior White House official for national security budgets as Associate Director at OMB.