“Usually we sit at about 500 billion barrels of greatness,” our guide, Jim Steel, says as he gestures into the subterranean darkness of an enormous natural vault, from the viewing platform we are standing on; overlooking the formerly vast Federal Reserves of American Greatness. “That generally has us sitting just a few feet below the JFK line,” he adds, looking wistfully out at a high water mark. He pauses here, panning his large flashlight down into the cavern, whose exact location is top secret but is rumoured to stretch from somewhere under Yankee stadium to the general vicinity of Bruce Springsteen’s childhood home. And now sits nearly empty.
“Ebbs and flows are natural, we’re used to that,” Jim says, who has been a greatness monitor for the Reserve since he was in college, 35 years ago. “When Obama was first elected we saw a rise of over 40 feet in one day. Remarkable. Caught us off guard as we were doing maintenance on a section of catwalk that fell in when Bush had that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner unfurled.” He mentions the names of two men who nearly drowned when the structural collapse dropped them into the liquid greatness.
“The danger with falling in is that once you’re immersed, it’s all you can do not to drink so much of it you just sink down and are lost forever. I tried a little sip of it once, and nearly jumped right in then and there. Took an entire woman to hold me back.” Asked to describe what crude greatness tastes like he pauses for a moment and stares into the abyss below.
“A bit like a cross between Coca-Cola before they knew it was bad for you; and the rest of your dad’s beer on a summer’s night, when you were twelve years old.”
Our reverie above the void is interrupted by a loud sucking sound coming from deep below. Steel points his flashlight down, but the depth swallows the beam. He sighs.
“That’s the new drain Trump had put in. Where it leads is top secret. He says it’s a transfer pipe to an undisclosed location, where he’s going to make the greatness really, really great. But I gotta say, I was down at a lower inspection station last week, and as far as I can see it just leads straight out into the ocean.”
A loud belch suddenly emanates from a large outlet not far from where we’re standing, followed by a rush of silvery looking liquid. The emission free-falls down into the darkness and is gone.
“That’s the direct line to southern California. That’ll be Kaepernick’s deposit of greatness for today.”
Asked if he’s sure that’s the source, as many Americans consider the unemployed quarterback a controversial figure at the moment, Steel snorts loudly.
“Controversial? He’s making a considered, moral stand irregardless of the price it exacts on his livelihood, or the flak he catches doing it, because it’s the right thing to do. That’s what this cave used to be full of,” he says, gesturing into the emptiness. “Now all we have is a lot of empty space, and that shit,” he points across the void to another platform, where a dump truck is backing up. It reaches the edge of the chasm and tilts its bed up to a near-vertical angle, it’s rear flap opening to release thousands of red hats with white letters. They tumble into the cavern. Steel shakes his head.
“Those idiots are trying to raise the levels with the surplus hats from all those useless rallies.” We watch the cheap headwear cascade down into the dark for a moment, before Jim adds quietly, “But all it does is make a hell of a mess.”