6:15 at the Days Inn, Tulsa

Karen was dancing behind her in the bright lights of the bathroom, her hair teased up and sprayed, but not brushed yet. She looked damn near electrocuted and drunk as fuck. Bobby and her had tossed back four Devil’s Tails at Applebee’s, and by the way she had zig-zagged to his pickup, Darlene figured her best friend was going to tap out on the rally. But Bobby brought coke, of course, so instead Karen was shaking her ass near the toilet, eyes closed, grinding her hips to Leonard Skynard. “Girl, you got yourself a serious second wind there!” Darlene said, as she took a couple of good chugs from her Coors Light, which had gone warm on account the hotel room didn’t have the mini-fridge they were promised online. Three stars my ass! “You rallying for the rally!”

“Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit,” crowed Karen, slipping slightly in her socked feet and reaching wildly for the flimsy towel bar for support. “That beautiful man can grab me right in the –“

“Hey now!” bellowed Bobby from the next room. “I’m the only one’s going to be grabbin’ that tonight!” The schlip of a beer tab being pulled was followed by the click click click of a lighter. The music got louder and Karen started jumping up and down at the next song, her bra barely able to contain her enormous tits, and the cellulite in her back fat jiggling like the center of an unbaked cake.

As Darlene applied mascara to her eyelids, she thought about all they had done to get there. Shit, they deserved to celebrate. A Southwest Airlines flight, where that bitch of a stewardess made them wear face masks. The little song she had sung didn’t make it any less annoying. “As your crew, we got all kinds of tasks, so thank y’all for wearing those masks!” And then there were the delays on both connections: four hours in Charlotte and two in Cleveland. She felt only slightly guilty for eating Popeye’s on both layovers. That chicken sandwich was better than her mother’s potato chip casserole, and that was saying something. And, of course, the table of Antifa thugs sitting next to them at the restaurant last night. They had to have been. “What else could they be? Look at them,” Bobby had snarled. God, he was sexy, she thought. Karen was one lucky bitch. “They ain’t foolin’ no one.”

She applied the last touch of makeup to her face and, putting down the applicator brush, took a long look at herself in the mirror. She liked what she saw: an all-American girl who knows the American dream is still alive and kicking. A girl living in a country where a fast-food eatin’ straight-shooter can make a billion dollars and give her and everyone she knows a chance to reclaim everything that’s been lost. Tonight was the night they recaptured the dream. And Darlene had a glow to her because of it. Maybe it was the coke, but she was an angel ready to rise.

Just then Karen inhaled sharply, held up her index finger as if to say, “One second,” and then sneezed so violently, Darlene felt the spray hit the back of her neck and then watched the spittle pepper the mirror with hundreds of thousands of tiny droplets. Darlene screamed in surprise. “My God, girl!”

“Well, ain’t you going to say, ‘God Bless You’?” Karen asked, playfully offended, reaching for the toilet paper roll.

“God Bless you,” said Darlene, before turning to the mirror and running her red, white and blue press-ons through her teased hair, taking one last look before relinquishing the bathroom to Karen. “And God Bless America.”

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