"An Eastertime Carol"
By Jim Kunstler
“The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government” - Inscription on the pediment of the Manhattan Criminal Court.
"After wolfing down a heartburn-inducing Popeye’s Shrimp Tacklebox Combo for supper, Manhattan District attorney Alvin Bragg retires to his four-poster Sleep Number bed beset with anxiety about the grand jury he has convened for fulfilling his campaign promise to stuff Donald Trump into a state prison cell. From the wall-mounted flat-screen across from his bed, the specter of a of giant rabbit emerges, gaunt and grizzled, draped in chains and weighty padlocks.
“Who are you, spirit?” Bragg asks. “I am the ghost of prosecutions past,” it moans. “This night you will be visited by three other spirits: The ghost of what you wish to be, the ghost of what should be, and the ghost of actually what-it-is.” "Oh, Gawd,” Bragg groans, his esophagus on fire with acidified hot-sauce residue.
The DA falls back into a febrile sleep, but wakens minutes later. The bedroom of his condo has transformed itself into a sunny street scene. He is riding an open limousine down Broadway through a blizzard of tickertape, the sidewalks filled with cheering citizens. Beside him sits a nubile person of the birthing persuasion, with supernaturally large infant-feeding glands, not unlike a certain star of adult films at the center of his brilliant case against the former president.
“I am the ghost of what you wish to be,” she says, her breath warm in his ear. “You’re a bigger star now than ever I was in life, and without all the mess.” “Yeah? What’s that up ahead?” he asks. “The steps of City Hall where you will receive your Nobel Peace Prize and be handed the nomination for governor, your stepping stone to the White House.” “We gonna have to change the name of that place,” Bragg grumbles.
Suddenly a box appears on Bragg’s lap. It contains two McDonald’s Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles® plus an apple fritter and a caramel macchiato. No sooner do his teeth close on that first delicious bite, when the confetti in the air turns to pixels, which dissolve along with the street scene, and then Bragg is back in his bed. Laughter rings across the big room, but with a demonic dissonance. A large white man with a silvery mane of hair and a nose like an Appalachian dulcimer, draped in black judicial robes, sits up behind a lofty bench, wearing a scowl of privilege.
"What do you want?” Bragg asks. “Your law license, assh*le.” “Who do you think you are?” “I am the spirit of what should be,” the judge-like figure growls. “This is a racist ploy!” Bragg barks back. “Plus, you got no standing!” More fiendish laughter from the bench, joined suddenly by a chorus of a million other laughers, people of all sizes, genders, and colors, a collage of Manhattan humanity, each one pointing a finger at Bragg, who retreats in terror under his king-size duvet. The laughter dissolves into Bragg’s own blubbering wails of despair.
The DA wakes a third time, trembling, to the sound of the doorbell, which he tries to ignore, but it keeps on ringing and ringing. Finally, Bragg kicks off the duvet, plods over to the door, and throws it open. A tall, stout, white man with a mystifying platinum hair-doo stands framed within. “DoorDash, at your service,” the ghost of actually what-it-is says.
“Oh, no…” Bragg cries out, as he is handed a paper bag. He opens it and peers in, only to loose a nauseating stench that instantly fills the room. “Hey, this is not the Build Your Crème Brûlée Pancake Combo from the IHOP,” Bragg complains. The DoorDash looks at his phone. “It says here you ordered the sh*t sandwich.”
Bragg’s feels like his head will explode. He reaches out to strangle the malevolent specter but wakes up choking his Saatva premium pillow instead. Eventually, he comes back to his senses, but feeling utterly drained from the night’s visitations. He washes the night-sweats away in the shower, dons a fine chalk-strip suit the size of a Coleman six-person tent, and meets his driver waiting at the end of his building’s canopy. In the backseat of his city limo there is a bag with his usual breakfast: two Starbuck’s Double-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar & Egg Sandwiches, a blueberry scone, a glazed donut, and a Starbuck’s Reserve® Hazelnut Bianco Latte. He horses it all down in traffic on the way to the DA’s headquarters on Hogan Place.
It is Monday morning, of course, roughly a week after the world was expecting him to issue an indictment against former president Donald Trump for writing off payments to a porn star as a campaign expense. But there was much to think about as the week marched along, much to mull over, many options to consider…the future to assess. The office is spookily quiet as Bragg strides in. An attractive blonde of a certain age approaches him warily.
“Ready to rock and roll, boss?” asks Lisa DelPizzo, Chief of the Trial Division, expecting Bragg to make his historic announcement shortly to the dozens of assembled reporters waiting in the press lobby. “Get me a ham sandwich,” he grunts. “And bring it down to the grand jury chamber. We got work to do!”