Bush On Mars

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Eleanor Cooney

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."

                                                                            —George W. Bush, 1994

Around the rocket in four directions spread the little town, green and motionless in the Martian spring. There were white houses and red brick ones, and tall elm trees blowing in the wind, and tall maples and horse chestnuts. And church steeples with golden bells silent in them...

          "How long you been here, Grandma?" said Lustig.

           "Ever since we died," she said tartly.

             —THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES by Ray Bradbury

He climbed up the ladder and wondered if he had the strength to get home. He had done what he wanted, he had swum the county, but he was so stupefied with exhaustion that his triumph seemed vague. Stooped, holding onto the gateposts for support, he turned up the driveway of his own house...He shouted, pounded on the door, tried to force it with his shoulder, and then, looking in the windows, saw that the place was empty.

                                                              —"The Swimmer" by John Cheever

George W. Bush had a headache and a ferocious case of cottonmouth. He reached around in the dark and felt a lump on the back of his skull. The floor under his cheek was metal, but warm and vibrating. He had a half-awake idea that he was in the bed of a pickup on a summer night, pals driving him home after a party. They'd probably dump him on the lawn, where he'd wake up in the morning with a dog licking his face and some old biddy standing over him in her bathrobe. He smiled, thinking about it. Mornin', Ma'am, he'd say, pretending to tip his hat, then he'd get up and maybe take a long drink of water from the garden hose before he went into the house.

 He drowsed. The ride was really smooth. And quiet. Felt like one of those Cadillac SUVs, maybe, that turns into a truck. But a Cadillac wouldn't have a metal floor. It'd have a rug, for sure. Maybe a Hummer. Did Hummers have rugs?  Since it was supposed to be a kind of a military-type vehicle, a Hummer would maybe have a metal floor. But Hummers hadn't even been invented yet. Had they?

Things were kind of mixed up. There'd been a party, for sure, and mariachis with moustaches and big guitars and gold teeth, a lot of yelling and singing and red faces and him up on a table or something, dancing. Naked? Was he naked now? He reached down to his waist, felt the reassuring snap of elastic. Nope. Almost naked, but not quite. His boxers were definitely on him, even if big pieces of his recent memory were gone.

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