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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