“Parasites, all of them.”

He said it with a pleasant smile, knowing that the cameras were already on him. The words were mushed together. His lips never touched when he said it.

I heard it. I was his protégé, and he was my teacher.

He wore a suit, tailored to be a little out of size. Just enough to claim that he doesn’t wear tailored suits so the working class people would find him more relatable. He combed his hair nicely, but not too much to be intimidating. He shook people’s hands with a smile that was so practiced even I, the person who is being trained in the art of the con, could not tell if it was genuine.

The art of the con, that’s what he called politics. I wouldn’t disagree.

After telling me what he thought of his peers, he stepped out onto the stage.

“…Marcus Williams!” finished the announcer.

Other politicians clapped and cheered. My teacher raised his hands, and the crowd grew louder.

Marcus went to the podium, quieting the crowd with hand motions.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he paused for effect, leaning in, “We got em.”

The audience exploded. Hands went up; people grabbed and shook each other.

Marcus laughed, raising his hands in a humbling motion. It was merely for show.

“And we got em good!” Marcus pointed to the sky as he yelled.

The energy went up again.

“Let me tell you! There’s a reckoning happening! And it’s not for them!”

Laughter came from the crowd, as if they were all dolls with a pullstring.

“We sent a powerful message to them, today. That if you try and take our rights, you lose!” Marcus said it like a sermon.

I watched him talk about 1% decreases in specific taxes. The people cheered like America had succeeded in defending the country from a Russian surprise attack. I saw him use a smile while talking about the dangers of immigrants, despite his sister-in-law coming from a neighboring country.

Any issue, no matter how detrimental to his reelection, was glossed over in such a way that it was forgotten immediately.

When he waved goodbye, and came back to his cronies, his smile dropped like a stone in water.

“Fuckin Christ,” he muttered.

“You did great!”

“Marcus, they ate it up!”

His cronies complemented him one by one, no doubt hoping that their words were remembered more than the others.

He looked past them, at me.

“I meant what I said. Before I went on stage. I meant that most of all.”

I nodded, unsure if politics was the path I wanted to walk.