Democratic Underground

Young Goodman Bush

September 21, 2004
Satire by Trevor Seigler

On a fair November morn, Young Goodman Bush bid adieu to his child bride, Laura, for the day. She knew nothing of his business in the woods, but she begged him to be careful and return safely to their cozy little cottage in the Texan wilderness.

Bush promised her he would be safe, but as he took a last hug he couldn't help but be intoxicated by the scent of her perfume. Oh, if only I could stay with her instead, he thought, but he knew he had much business to conduct.

Young Goodman Bush entered the woods jauntily, eager to get his tasks over with so that he could return to his beloved Laura. But soon his cheer turned to dread as he recalled the nature of his meeting, and the forest began to reflect the dark tides that stirred in his head. He hoped that no one from the neighboring village of Houston had seen him enter, for surely they would talk about why he would go so far into the less savory portion of the woods.

He was startled to see Prudence Coulter, the kindly old spinster who ran the general store, come along his path. He began to ponder the implications of what she might tell the townsfolk, but before he could form a coherent story she hailed him.

"Good day, Young Goodman Bush!" she called pleasantly. "What matter of business brings you here, in such parts that are held to be the Devil's stomping ground?"

Young Goodman Bush paused, then regained his composure. "My duties as a Guardsman were lax on this day, with no need for me to remain on base in Alabama," he said. "I thought perhaps I would join my wife for supper, but only after a stroll."

"A stroll?" the maiden asked. "You have business here, no doubt."

At those words, Young Goodman Bush's pulse quickened, but Prudence Coulter followed these words with, "I had business with him as well. One hopes that he is as generous with what you seek as he was to me."

And with that she let loose with a cackle that ran shivers down his spine. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them the spinster was gone. Perhaps it had simply been a delusion.

He continued on to the spot where his associate was waiting. The day had suddenly grown dark and menacing, and Young Goodman Bush couldn't stifle the fear that formed inside of him when he caught sight of the man, much older than himself, who sat tending a fire.

"You're late," the other man croaked, adjusting his spectacles to stay higher up on his crooked nose. "I hope you will prove more punctual when we formally come to an understanding."

"I was held up in conversation with one of the townswomen," Bush stammered, aware that his legs were shaking much as they did when he was without the magical white powder the Indians sold him. He spoke no further, nor did he approach the older man in leather stockings and a buffalo skin coat.

"Ah, fair mistress Coulter, she is one of my prize pupils," the man crowed, letting out a lacivious laugh. Young Goodman Bush was confused, but he thought it best to wait until the man spoke to him directly about their deal.

"I know why you're here," the man said finally after stoking the fire in an uneasy silence, "you seek eternal rewards, as well as earthly ones. You have made it clear what you are willing to barter, but are you truly willing to be done with your passport to the Pearly Gates?"

The wicked grin on the man made Young Goodman Bush pause. Perhaps there were more efficent ways to acquire the wealth he needed to provide for his young Laura. True, his ventures in search of the black gold of West Texas had proved unsuccessful, but there was still time.

But he drove away such thoughts. No, he thought, I am resolute. Once I make up my mind, I don't change it. I'm not a flip-flopper.

"I have considered your offer, Mr... Chiney, is it?"

"Cheney, you boob."

"Ah yes, Cheney. Anyway, I suppose I will sign over what you desire, so that you may grant me all that I need to provide for my child bride."

Bush waited while the man patted down a wisp of white hair from the side of his head and licked his lips in a degenerate fashion. He was now confident that he had met Mr. Cheney's expectations, and it would only be a formality before -

"Perhaps your child bride might satisfy me more than your eternal damnation," the other man suddenly spoke, catching Young Goodman Bush off guard. Such a pronouncement was not part of the deal.

"Now see here, Mr. Cheney, I will not let you corrupt my bride. She is the only reason I agreed to this meeting, that I compelled your agents to speak on my behalf. I will not let you have her, she is the only thing that is good in my life. To think of her as yours reduces me to nothing - "

"Whoa, take it easy," Cheney laughed. He was amused by Young Goodman Bush's anger. "I mean you no harm in that, but your stakes in Enron are dependent on our arangement. And the contract you signed for ownership of the Rangers stickball organization left plenty of leeway should I seek to ask for more. Ah, but she is pure, isn't she..."

Just then, the sounds of a vast multitude trooping through the woods gave Goodman Bush and Cheney cause to flee from the open path. Together, they watched from a shrubbery as various faces, faces Young Goodman Bush knew well, came within view.

"Why, there's Pastor Rove! Surely he is here to bring an end to your reign here," he said to Mr. Cheney.

"Bring an end? He is my most treasured disciple!" The old man cackled slowly, a bit winded from his rush to the side with Young Goodman Bush. "And there is Captain Powell, of the Crawford militia. He has made many blood sacrafices here in my name."

On and on the procession went, and Young Goodman Bush was floored by the number of good, decent, Godly men and women who passed his way, on the path to a rendezvous with the very man he had arranged to meet presently. His horror was manifest mostly when his own beloved brother Jebediah passed by, eyes fixed forward like all the rest. His Laura... he must return to her, protect her from this horde!

But at the end of the parade of lost souls, Young Goodman Brown caught sight of a dress much like the one his bride had wrapped around her supple body this morn. The face was veiled, but through the trees he could catch the unmistakable scent of his fair bride's perfume. Mr. Cheney noticed the look of shock over Young Goodman Bush's face.

"You seem surprised that my favorite concubine is the same as your 'innocent' little wife!"

"You son of a - " Bush stopped cold, unable to form any words with his tongue. He was sheet white, like the time he had imbibed too much grain alcohol amongst the townspeople of Yale.

"Go from this forest, Young Goodman Bush, and tell no one of what you see, should you prize your fortune," the wicked Cheney said. "In time, I will send for you to join me in the capital, where we will make war upon those former disciples of mine who have been very naughty with their black gold. But now, you must throw yourself into the race for the governor's seat here. Then, when you have proven yourself, I will call for you. Then you will be free of your soul."

Young Goodman Bush left the woods, haunted by the cackle of Cheney as he and the village idiot, Hannity, took a sip from the demon rum he had been concoting earlier that day. No one in town would believe him, and he was afraid to let slip his sighting of their misdeeds.

Once back at his cottage, Young Goodman Bush was resigned to his fate, and began to look at a package he received from the state Republican party that day, asking him if he'd run for office...

Trevor Seigler is an independent-minded Democrat whose work has appeared on The Neurotic Eclectic, Nothing Sacred, Yankee Pot Roast, McSweeneys, Faux Newz, and will appear in Modest Proposal.

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