If I were to write a short story?
Well, I don't know. If I were I suppose I'd write one about a group of Lincoln impersonators. I guess that's the wrong word for them, but ever since Elvis, you know… Imitators, is that a better word? How would you fit in a word like 'inspired' and make it a noun to fit them?
What would they look like? Were would they be? How did they get there?
I could imagine some of them drove up Eleven Fifteen from Frederick, Maryland, across that great farm country, past the nestled hills just north of there, once you're past the flats, where one day you suddenly saw that it all was developed in an endless tract of townhouses, then you come to an Irish family restaurant with a shamrock and some vineyard and orchards where it's a beautiful stretch.
Maybe some of them came up from Washington, and some of them had worked in various situations, like the restaurant business, or clubs, or maybe they'd worked on the Hill at some point, or even a law firm, found themselves staring into a screen. They might be slightly disillusioned by now, or some form of depressives, quietly dealing with their own talented psyches being squeezed into progressively weirder situations. Such that to identify with poor old Lincoln was some sort of anchor.
Like for the guy who drove off the highway in Ohio, was it Ohio, checked into a motel after quitting his job, thinking of ending it all, but then strangely in that motel room thought of Lincoln and all he'd been through and the troubles in Lincoln's own delicate psyche… The picture of perfect solidity and mental health can be a, well, like Kennedy's picture of vigor and good health, i.e., a bit of lie.
But they'd be guys like that guy who pulled in off the interstate, well, just like Lincoln was himself. He had that tavern business, after all, a mercantile sort of thing, wasn't it, and it went bust, and left him deeply in debt. And there was that time he got so melancholy that Speed put him up at his family's house, when Lincoln was barely moveable, just so down in the dumps. It seems that wasn't the only such episode of that in the man's life. That time, was it that time, they bled him and made him take mercury pills, dunked him in cold water, as if trying to exorcise a devil out of him?
They'd be guys who'd read Vonnegut at some point in their lives. And maybe a few of them had given up at one point, and then somehow found that in somehow bringing the great man back to life they would be doing a good service. What would they do? Go and talk to school children? Ride trains? Mope around in a top hat or lay on a couch reading the Book of Job? Performance art, of some sort, but, an occasional place to show up at, pretending to belong.
There are conventions of them, I think I read, in that good book by Joshua Wolf Shenk on the guy's Melancholy. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes. And maybe many of them feel that they don't fit in anywhere, and maybe particularly not to the times.
At Gettysburg, you really have to pull off the main highway, and get past the ridge line, so it seems, the same ridge that is Big and Little Roundtop, before you can really see the beauty farm land and the battlefield. The cemetery is there too, not far away from where Pickett's charge reached a fence line by a rock and a tree that's tipped and gnarled and communes with the moon above the rocks it rises above.
What would the Lincoln impersonator's say to each other? Would there be silence? Would they speak of different drafts of the Address, or mention how it seemed somewhat appropriate that the old man wasn't feeling well after his trip up there, having a cold, one that colored his feelings about the whole thing. What would the future for them be?