Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sluice Tundra, Private Eye In: The Bubble People

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I stood in the window of my office, looking down on a street that was as dark as my mood and as empty as my bank account. From somewhere far off, I heard the sound of a lonely saxophone. I felt a rush of melancholy before I realized it was my ringtone.
I fumbled the cheap cellphone out of my pocket. “Sluice Tundra, private eye,” I said.
“Mr. Tundra?” a female voice said.
“That’s what my mom calls me,” I replied.
The woman sounded confused. “She calls you ‘Mr. Tundra?’”
“We’re not a close family,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
“Oh, Mr. Tundra, please come quickly,” she said.
“What seems to be the matter, Miss …”
“Winger,” she said. “And it’s ‘Mrs.’ It’s about my husband. But I can’t talk about it over the phone.” She gave me an address in a neighborhood that was so upscale that even the trash collectors wore Dolce & Gabbana.
When I got there, she was waiting at the door, dressed in a low-cut dress that was as flimsy as the rationale for restrictive voter ID laws. She led me into a luxurious living room.
The guy seated on the couch looked to be in his early 60s. He was a big man, with a disgruntled expression on a red face that looked as though it had never been gruntled. But that wasn’t the strangest thing about him.
“Mrs. Winger,” I said, “does your husband have some sort of immune disorder?” She just shook her head, so I added, “Then maybe you can explain why he’s inside a bubble.”
“I don’t know!” she cried. “It started last summer. And it’s getting worse.”
“I think you’ve got the wrong guy, sister,” I said. “I’m a private eye, not a doctor. I’m not sure what I can do to help.”
“I talked to several doctors. They don’t know what’s wrong. I just need to know who did this to him.”
I tapped on the bubble. It was hard, like plastic. I leaned over. “Can you hear me in there?” I shouted. It was then I spotted the “Romney 2012” pin on his lapel. I had a feeling I knew what this was about. “Mr. Winger,” I yelled. “You know that Romney lost, right?”
“Yeah,” he replied, his face getting even redder. “But only because the takers outnumber the makers! Obama voters just want people to give them stuff!”
“How do you feel about the liberals opposing the president’s proposed intervention in Syria?”
“What opposition? The left are a bunch of hypocrites for being silent about it! Those dirty leftists won’t say anything bad about Obama! Ever!”
“Hmmm,” I said. I turned to his wife. “What does your husband watch on TV?”
“Why, Fox News, of course,” she replied. “Like everyone else. We have it on all the time.”
“And does he listen to the radio?”
“Only conservative talk radio,” she said proudly, adding, “like everyone else.”
I straightened up. “Mrs. Winger, your husband is trapped in the Conservative Bubble. He only watches or listens to things that confirm what he already believes, even if those beliefs have squat-all to do with reality. Like this idea that leftists aren’t speaking up against war in Syria. A lot of them are. Michael Moore, Juan Cole, Markos Moulitsas …”
“See, that’s a sign of being a Bubble Person,” I said. “You complain a lot about what ‘leftists’ say or do, but you really don’t know of any. If you did, you’d know that there’s a lot of arguing on the left about Syria, and a lot of the people arguing oppose intervention.”
“Well, why aren’t the liberal media reporting that, then?” she demanded. “And why are Barack Obama and John Kerry for war in Syria?”
“Maybe because the media aren’t really liberal,” I said. “They never saw a Middle East war they didn’t cheerlead. At least until it goes bad, which it usually does. As for Secretary Kerry and President Obama? On their most ‘leftist’ day, they’re moderates. But you won’t hear that inside the Fox News/talk radio bubble.”
“Well,” she said, her own face beginning to take on the same red shade as her husband’s. “I can see you’re just another one of those people who’ve drunk the Obama Kool-Aid.” As she spoke, the air around her began to shimmer. She was developing a bubble of her own.
“Sorry, lady,” I said. “You asked who did this to him? He did. And now you’re doing it to yourself. There’s nothing I can do for you. I’ll send you a bill for my time.”

I left, headed back to the mean streets, knowing I had as much chance of getting paid as a North Carolina teacher has of getting a pay raise. Some people you just can’t reach.