Polio was apolitical. Coronavirus is highly partisan. This may not be an improvement. We have kindly epidemiologist Dr. Mike Pence in charge of keeping us safe from the Democratic hoax that is COVID-19. At the time of submitting this writer’s blotch, Dear Leader’s cure for COVID-19 is happy talk taken with daily swigs of Doc Trump’s 101 Proof Snake Oil. This not only cures Corona but also headaches, neuralgia, cough, cold, gout, hiccups, gonorrhea, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough and even Bowden’s Malady. That’s strong medicine. If we can hold out until April, the COVID-19 will vanish into outer space, leaving the survivors strong, healthy and perky as all get out.
Perhaps we can figure out how this story ends by looking at how literature dealt with plagues.
Stephen King wrote an entire novel about evil influenza in his book “The Stand.” The Cooties in “The Stand” were called Captain Trips. Captain Trips spread like gossip at a church social. Captain Trips began in an Army lab for biological warfare. Naturally, a boo-boo allowed the virus to escape into the general population, wiping out 99% of Americans. An unpleasant guy named Randall Flagg, who may be the Devil, was hanging out in Las Vegas, Nevada, with plans to take over what was left of the world.
Edgar Allen Poe dealt with plague cooties in his short story, “The Masque of the Red Death.” The quarantine in this story is voluntary by Prince Prospero, who figures the best way to ride out the Red Death is holing up in his castle with a bunch of his buddies. The Red Death is wiping out the countryside. The castle walls keep out the sick peasants while Spero and his buddies are partying down. They figure they are safe. The poor folks outside are dropping like flies, but as Marie Antoinette almost said, “The poor have no vaccines, let them drink snake oil.”
Spero puts on a fancy masked ball for the lucky 1% inside the castle. Suddenly, a guest shows up wearing a red mask and dressed in a burial shroud. This puts a damper on the festivities. Spero decides to kill the intruder. Spero chases down the party pooper but falls dead himself when he touches the masked man. It turns out the wet blanket is actually the Red Death. The revelers try to high tail it out but they all die from the plague because they are locked in. Poe leaves us with the happy thought: “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”
Not to leave you with too bleak an outlook, allow me to suggest you buy a bunch of comic books. Turn to the inside back cover where you will find a full-page ad for treasure chest of fun products. Order them now because when the Walmarts are closed, it will be difficult to find things to amuse you or to eat. Imagine the hours of fun you can have during quarantine with such products as X-Ray specs that let you see under the clothes of your lady friends. Onion flavored gum is a laugh riot. Joy hand buzzers and a skinhead wig will make you the life of the quarantine. The magic voice throwing ventriloquist whistle will let your voice appear to come out of the giant pile of tuna cans you hoarded. Learn to hypnotize your friends into thinking they are giant chickens. The list goes on.
Wash your hands. It’s gonna be a bumpy flight.