“Former Vice-President Mike Fence! What brings you to Mars, sir?” asked Marigold with surprise. There was no mistaking that glorious head of eagle-white hair. “I didn’t know to expect you.”
The former veep glanced left, right and then down at his standard issue colonist utilitarian grey overalls. “You recognized me?”
Marigold smiled, slicked back his own luxurious locks and replied, “It’s hard to miss that hair sir. Welcome to Mars! What can I get for you?”
Mike looked around nervously and carefully set himself down on a bar stool like Jesus was watching and shaking his head with concern. “I uh, I am not normally in a place like this. I mean, a bar.” Looking around at the combination of incomprehensible colony life support technology sticking out from the walls attempting to be artfully concealed by the best of tropical decorations cobbled together by the staff from colony cast-offs.
“…but there’s not a lot of public space for a man to go to on the colony, so let’s give it a try.” He thinks for a moment. “You don’t have milk, do you?”
“Ah, it’s white, but not really milk.”
“I guess I should have known that. Um. Maybe some kind of gin fizz without the gin.”
“Coming right up!” Marigold gets busy behind the bar and places a bubbly mug in front of the former Veep. “I’m Marigold. Pleased to meet you.” Mike picks the mug up carefully and considers it.
“This isn’t recycled pee, is it?” eyebrows cocked.
Marigold shrugs, “We don’t like to call it pee, we like to call it ‘Mars Gold’. We have had some luck extracting water from the soil, but we haven’t yet found it in large enough quantities to really impact our supply.”
Pensively, Mike takes a sip. “Ok, it’s not bad.” He seems to relax for a moment, slumps a bit on the stool then straightens. “So this is Mars. So far it feels like being in a submarine.”
“Yeah, they don’t tell you that on Earth, do they? Rather paint a picture of that lovely Martian sunset with the moons in the distance. Sells better.”
Mike toys with his mug, examining the handmade hollow pagan idol with a mixture of curiosity and WTF. He coughs for a moment, gives Marigold a glance like he’s got something to confess. “I had to get out of Dodge. That’s why we are here.”
“You saw the vids from the last Earth election?”
Marigold snickers a little. “Yeah, we got ‘m. Takes a while for them to arrive, but we got ‘m.”
“They really were chasing me through the corridors of Congress shouting, ‘Castrate Mike Fence!’. Can you believe it?”
“A sad day, sir.”
“…and afterwards… the constant death threats …. the abuse. Nowhere to hide.” He puts his head in his hands. “Karen and I … we just had to make a change. A big change. So here we are.” He sighs. “I hear the second amendment is rather moot up here, right?”
Marigold smiles, “Things that shoot bullets are a bad idea in a pressure dome sir. People who have a need for guns stay on earth.” Marigold waves a hand around, “Anyhow, where’s there a place for someone to hide? We have other ways of resolving disputes.”
“Yeah, the vids were edited so it sounds like ‘Hang Mike Fence’, but that’s not what they were chanting. I give thanks to Jesus every day that the Secret Service got me out when they did.” He takes a pull on his fizz. “God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house.” Mike touches his heart.
“Would you believe he demanded that I present an alternative slate of electors printed on waffles with syrup?” He shakes his head.
“That’s not quite what we heard.”
“Yes, well that’s what he wanted. I told him, ‘Mr. President, can’t we at least use paper?‘ He said, ‘No, it has to be waffles. Good for the constitution! Saw it on TV! Channel 28!'”
Mike lays his head down towards the bar. “I just couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t.”
“Don’t feel bad sir, you did the right thing.”
He lifts his head up again. “You wouldn’t believe the pressure. Ugh, I had a front-row seat to that clown parade God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house, held in front of him for four long, long years. That drunken Rudy Gull and raving Cindi Powells had him by the … the … you know.” He makes a gesture.
“Those two will do anything to bill $300/hr and be on TV.” He sighs again. “And that knee-sock guy? He was the worst. Just being in the oval office made him drool.” He takes another sip, leans back.
“To think I quietly put up with that for four years.” Shakes head again, “The ‘ideas’ from General Bin, disgraced felon, actually convicted of the crime of Stupidity.” He gives Marigold a look. “Did you know that in some cases, being incredibly stupid is actually a crime?”
“No I did not, but now I’m extra glad to be on Mars.” Marigold performs the sign of the cross over his heart.
Mike gives the bar a gentle pound. “These are the people God-Emperor President, bless his soul, peace be on his house, these are the people he decides to take advice from.” Mike slumps on the stool again.
Marigold puts his hand on Mike’s shoulder and gives him a look of pure compassion. “You did the best you could, Mr. Vice-President. You really did. That’s in the past. You’re on Mars now. You and Mrs. Fence are safe.”
Mike straightens up. “Yes, yes you are right. Best not to keep thinking about all that. In the past.”
Pause, a sip. Marigold sets himself down on his stool. “So now that you’re a free man, and on Mars, what do you think you’ll do?”
Mike smacks his lips and looks Marigold right in the eyes. “I’m thinking… I’m thinking I’ll start a church.”
stay tuned Mars fans…