Revolt of the Turkeys, Part Two

In which Terence becomes so popular as a media personality, such a spokesman for the downtrodden, that he is recruited for a political career. Read part two of New Haven novelist and playwright Allan Appel’s four-part Thanksgiving fable. (Click here to start with part one if you didn’t yesterday.)

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    One day Terence went to court and formally adopted his species name —”- Maleagris Gallapavo —”- as his own. That is, Terence M. Gallapavo. All of Washington’s luminaries had by now accepted Terence as someone of middle European stock who had scratched his way up from anonymity to his current and well-deserved fame entirely on his own. His was considered an enviable and paradigmatic American success story, and this all was certainly true. When the junior senator from Maryland suddenly died, the president, upon advice from his associates, appointed Terence M. Gallapavo to fill the dead senator’s chair. At these new responsibilities Terence excelled. He was a natural orator, having taken to the soapbox in the barnyard from his earliest years. In the time it takes to learn a new name, Terence M. Galapavo became a rallying point for the rural and urban poor, and a spokesperson for the beleaguered lower middle classes. He was always able to produce a witty and kind word, but more than that he had a constructive, common sense program. He knew the life of those struggling, those disenfranchised, those outsider to and fugitives from the mainstream, those living in constant anxiety and fear, and Terence gave eloquent voice to their plight. For, as he always pointed out, he was one of them. The work was both challenging and congenial and in every aspect Terence excelled as if it were a natural calling. Although Terence thought often, and fondly, of his origins, he never revealed them. Yet Terence could have no idea that there were people carefully following his remarkable career who, in their hearts, ignored everything he said and thought only of where Terence had sprung from. It was inevitable that the national exposure Terence now regularly received should greatly augment his following. After only five short years of public service, Terence was put forward as a candidate for president of the United States. He graciously accepted the nomination of his party and left Washington for the hustings. The country had never seen such a candidate. He was ceaseless at the stump, a campaigner for whom no town was too small, no rural crossroads too dusty or humble as not to be worthy of a speech, and one with content. His style of campaigning brought back to the nation its sleeping but unforgotten memories of the likes of Stephen Douglas and Abe Lincoln, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. Terence’s voice never seemed to quaver. His gaze never failed to rivet his audience. The occasional jerky gesture of a slender arm only underscored the essential points of each address. Talulah, Tess, and Tom Gallapavo also campaigned, to great effect, among women, minorities, the handicapped, and college students. Though he might have begun the campaign as the underdog, Terence soon showed he could indeed speak out to a national constituency and unite the people under his banner. Only weeks before the election, with the momentum turning steadily in his favor and with victory soon to be within grasp, a strange and unexpected event took place. A man came forward and said he believed that Terence M. Gallapavo, senator from the state of Maryland and candidate for president of the United States, should not be taken seriously, should indeed be summarily disqualified from running on the grounds that he was not a human being at all but a turkey. A gallinaceous fowl. A game bird! Indeed, the man, who was none other than Ed himself, went on to say that he had raised turkeys all his life and even if no one else in the land knew a turkey when he saw one, he, Ed, did, and he would call a turkey a turkey even if he happened to be wearing a three-piece suit and was running for president. At first the press treated Farmer Ed as just another election-time crank. He appeared, in a gesture of equal time, on programs with vegetarians, communists, nudists, and other splinter groups who insisted their point of view had not been heard during the campaign. But slowly, gradually, Ed set himself apart from such company by the fervor of his conviction and the audacity of his charges. He got more coverage, and then a one-hour special prime-time public interrogation —” all to the growing consternation of Terence’s advisers. Ed even hired a lawyer who stated that candidate Gallapavo was not only a fraud, but legally was a turkey and therefore still the property of Farmer Ed. With the morning headlines screaming “Ed Says He Owns Terence,” reporters descended on Terence and offered him every opportunity to refute the charges, and to treat them with the expected summary levity so that the country could return to the real campaign. Yet it seemed odd to the reporters how deadly serious Terence appeared. “I will not respond to innuendo,” he said, “and I would remind the farmer that there are courts in this land where baseless charges, and their perpetrators, are shown up for what they are.” “You see! You see,” shot back Ed, “he’s said a mouthful, but he has not denied anything I have said. He has not denied that he is a turkey.”

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posted by: james ponet on November 24, 2005  1:39pm

As usual, Appel rocks.  His subtle, seemingly journalistic prose leads you into a world of madness which then turns out to be the one you actually inhabit. Upsetting, provocative, subversive. Someone should investigate Appel’s patriotism credentials, don’t you think?