“You know, in my family we have a saying,” said Ted Cruz, college sophomore, “and it goes like this: ‘All horse thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse thieves.’”
“But Ted, you’re—”
“You would do well to notice,” snapped Ted Cruz, “that these are not horses, but goats.”
That was when the windows of the farmhouse lit up.
SIX HOURS EARLIER
Night had fallen over Princeton University, where Ted Cruz was a sophomore, a student in the class of 1992, and it was 1990, and the world was still young. Ted Cruz was lying down in his dorm, idly doodling on a copy of Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.’s dissent in the 1978 Supreme Court case FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation.
Ted Cruz surveyed his work. He liked this latest version of his future presidential campaign logo. The red and blue pen really added to the overall effect, nicely bringing out the slogan he’d been toying with. It read: “Ted Cruz Princeton Class of ‘92 for President 2016 (of the United States of America): Compassionately Corralling Courageous Conservatives in a Constitutional Convention to Cordon the Country from the Crippling Crimes of Cruel and Corrupt Crooks who Refuse to Say the Words, ‘Liberal Demonic Leninism’”.
…On second thought, maybe the slogan needed a rethink. But before Ted Cruz could get to work, he got a call on his comically oversized 1990 cell phone.
“Hey Ted! I got a +1 to the [THE IDENTITIES OF ALL SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY ARE BEING WITHHELD TO SPARE THEM THE CRIPPLING SHAME OF BEING ASSOCIATED WITH TED CRUZ] semi tonight! Pregame in my room. You down?”
“Am I?” exclaimed Ted Cruz. “Ted Cruz ‘92, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs major, is always down to slam some shots and woo some ladies! I’ll be over quicker than you can say ‘magical gin/tonic magnetism’!”
“Ted, please don’t ever say tha—”
THREE HOURS LATER
“…Our university is going downhill. Our leadership doesn’t understand the threats we face from within. We have a president, Hal Shapiro, who refuses to say the words, ‘fanatical platonic feminism’!”
At this, the girl Ted Cruz was talking to turned and left without a word. He would have followed her, but his loafers encountered a surprising resistance from the beer-sticky floor of the Ivy taproom [IVY CAN SUCK IT]. Ted Cruz sighed, swallowed a little harder than usual, and went back to the bar for another beer.
“Ugh,” moaned Ted Cruz. “Three parties and still no luck. What am I doing wrong?”
“Dude, you gotta learn to be a bit less rigid. Not everything is a debate. You gotta relax a little and just be cool, be yourself, you know?”
“You’re right!” grinned Ted Cruz. “That makes so much sense!”
“See, I told you you should listen to me when it comes to hooki—”
“I’ll drink some more! That way I won’t be so tense and nervous!”
THREE MORE HOURS LATER
Goat under each arm bleating wildly, Ted Cruz scrambled towards the gates of the farm, his friends close behind. Just a little further and they would reach their ticket out of h—
“Where’d the car go? It was right here?”
“Somebody stole it!”
“Quiet, you two!” Ted Cruz would have clapped a hand over the mouth of each of his goats, if each of his spare hands had not been occupied with holding the other goat.
“No, wait! Follow the tire tracks! They lead onto the road, and then they go… awww, crap…”
Backed into the ditch, the headlights of Ted Cruz’s old Chrysler New Yorker soared into the dead-of-night sky like spotlights.
“Maximal Masonic absinthism!” swore Ted Cruz, though at some level he was glad to see the car go. He’d never liked New Yorkers. They were made for people that valued different things in a car than he did. “I must have forgot to set the parking brake!”
“I told you I should’ve driven! You’re too drunk! What were you even thinking with these goats?”
“Um, guys? I think we have bigger problems to deal with than your goats…”
A wail rose above the quiet chirp of late-April crickets. The distant treetops began to flash red and blue. The headlights of the Chrysler burned into the heavens like spotlights, and like spotlights, they drew their own moths to the flame…
“Tactical synchronic federalism!” spat Ted Cruz, hatred palpable on his breath. As were six beers, four gin-and-tonics, a crudely-assembled red-Solo-cup margarita, the last of that bottle of scotch…
THE NEXT MORNING
“Wow, Ted, I can’t believe the cops let us off so easily! Just return the goats and apologize, and that was it! And your car wasn’t even damaged when they towed it out!”
“You’re telling me I did what?!” Ted Cruz laughed, easy and carefree, for now unburdened with the shattering weight of his own crushing ambition. “I totally blacked out! I don’t remember a thing!”
“Well, maybe that’s for the best. You can deny any knowledge when they bring it up at your Supreme Court confirmation hearing in twenty years!”
They walked, laughing, into a glorious spring morning.
Back at the police department, the officer hung up his uniform and got ready to head home. He wondered if he had done the right thing. If what his vision told him had been true. If it was worth it, unleashing a beast like that upon the world. But there was no room for doubt in what he’d seen. Yes, that monster would leave behind him nothing but ashen cities and salted fields. And in turn, he would latch like a parasite onto a beast far more terrible, and in doing so, bestow upon it horrid and immeasurable power. And when that morbid entourage at last seized the shining dome upon the hill, they would do terrible things. But when they finally immolated themselves, they would take half that crooked city with them. And from the embers would rise a new and glorious era of peace and prosperity. He put his car into gear, idly wondering how it would handle on a street paved with gold.