It is simply wrong to begin with a theme, symbol or other abstract unifying agent, and then try to force characters and events to conform to it.

–Thomas Pynchon

Chapter 3. The Former Congressman Swore An Air Force Hospital…

The for­mer con­gress­man swore an Air Force hos­pi­tal had nev­er been lo­cat­ed in Palm Beach County. He was a home­town boy, an ha­bit­u­al ser­vant of the coun­ty un­til com­ing to Washington, knew every syn­chro­nized inch of that ex­cru­ci­at­ing­ly op­por­tunis­tic, glitz in­fest­ed, cap­ti­vat­ing, terse, par­alin­gusit­i­cal­ly vain but roy­al­ty free com­pound par­adise. But ever since the fer­al drug in­va­sions turned sin­is­ter with the likes of Termite Conquistatdoros at the root and his grand­fa­ther Summons Conquistadoros at the helm of one of the more for­mi­da­ble car­tels in the sec­tor, it’s not quite the same place ei­ther of us used to ques­tion. The fact that we were sur­round­ed by the Chesapeake Bay, safe­ly en­sconced on his 35-foot sail­ing ves­sel, girls with pearls and sun­ny cloth­ing, their men, and enough to drink us in­to the drink had no bear­ing at all in this ar­gu­ment. But I was born there, I in­sist­ed. It’s on my birth cer­tifi­cate. I’ll have to show you some day, I con­tin­ue with the skip­per, who had once been the con­gress­man, and can­di­date for gov­er­nor in his ear­li­er years. I sup­pose he had eyes on the White House. But right then, I was puz­zled, even flum­moxed by Bafalis Sportsgate’s fer­al in­sis­tence on negat­ing my birth­place, and heck, why not my en­tire birth? No Palm Beach Air Force hos­pi­tal, no me. How could my per­ma­nent record be so dra­mat­i­cal­ly wrong? If all the oth­er shenani­gans tucked in­side my track record didn’t al­ready dis­qual­i­fy me, now I was cer­tain­ly no longer able to pro­duce a valid birth cer­tifi­cate, and by valid, I mean an un­tam­pered with, un­forged, his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­ni­fied, all tee’s crossed and all eyes dot­ted, of­fi­cial gold stan­dard forty-eight star birth cer­tifi­cate from the Great State of Florida de­scrib­ing my bi­o­graph­i­cal gram­mar. And while I had heard sto­ries about the birth of my own par­ents, I won­dered about the nat­ur­al born clause be­ing en­forced if ei­ther of my own par­ents could not pro­duce an of­fi­cial cer­tifi­cate from their small town hos­pi­tals, sure­ly razed by nat­ur­al cat­a­stro­phes or hu­man in­ter­ven­tions by now. No, the skip­per must be slip­ping. He’s push­ing eighty, and even though this was like, what, the third time I’ve tried to rein the old man in on this sub­ject, my God, I fi­nal­ly took the time to lo­cate my birth cer­tifi­cate in prov­ing to my­self that my hos­pi­tal ex­ist­ed, and that the pa­per it­self, with cre­dence to the chain of ev­i­dence ex­pect­ed in civ­i­lized and to­tal­i­tar­i­an na­tions, had proved be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that I was in­deed a doc­u­ment­ed American, born in West Palm Beach at the Palm Beach Air Force Hospital on a cer­tain date at a cer­tain time to cer­tain prog­en­i­tors, with a cer­tain inky foot­print un­der the stern pro­to­col of a cer­tain cer­ti­fied hos­pi­tal of­fi­cial whose em­bossed stamp pre­sumed us all quite sat­is­fied.

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