Volume 32, Number 1

Jeff’s world

QAnon promoters have in the past day held up an incoherent set of new theories to explain away Trump’s anticlimactic exit from Washington: that the military is in control of the country, not Biden; that Biden and Trump have switched faces; that Biden’s inauguration was illegitimate, and that the real one (for Trump) would take place in March; or that Biden has been in on the QAnon plan all along.
               —Drew Harwell, The Washington Post, 1/21/2021

He was a good friend in junior high,
A smart kid with a sly sense of humor,
And a rung above me on the chess team.
We lived in different neighborhoods;
I never saw his home and he never saw mine.
We went to different high schools 
But stayed in touch somewhat.
Before joining the Army, 
He changed his last name
To one that sounded less Jewish.
Some people did that, I guess, 
Even in the seventies. 
He wrote me from Germany,
Where he was stationed,
A mainstay on the Army chess team,
Competing all around Europe, he said.
The Army paid for his college education,
And he became a high school science teacher
Back in the southern California suburbs
Where we had grown up.
We lost touch for 20 years
Until Facebook came along and he found me.
He’d grown a full beard
And supplemented his teaching income
By selling original fractal art online.
Higher mathematics, Mandelbrot sets.
A solid six figures a year, he said.
Another 20 years passed,
And he was pleased to announce his retirement from teaching.
Maybe I congratulated him, I’m not sure. 
I didn’t really look at Facebook much anymore,
And didn’t know anything about who he was now. 
I figured he was an upstanding guy,
Who had done a good thing, a noble thing, 
By sticking with the Valley, our home,
Although it had become different over time,
Much more diverse, majority Hispanic.
It must have started sometime during 2020.
An increasing number of Facebook posts,
More than I’d ever seen him write before. 
The subject lines appeared innocuous,
Announcing new photos and the like,
And I deleted them without looking.
But then, after the Inauguration,
A subject line I couldn’t ignore,
An apology from Jeff 
To all of his followers and friends.
It was hard to make out the meaning,
And I had to read it several times
To understand that he was apologizing
For predicting previously
That the evil Democrats,
That cesspit of corruption and pedophilia,
Could never take the White House,
That the patriots of our nation and God
Would never allow that to happen.
I’m sorry, he said, I didn’t realize
This country was so much in God’s disfavor.
From chess to fractals 
To the depths of conspiracy
His Army goes marching on
Reveling in the beautiful logic of His Creation.

—Jack Homer