Mind I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, about degrees of deadness, although how else would one know but knowledge, and if not with one's own, then whose? Perhaps he was as dead as they, perhaps a bit more or less in degree. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the "dead as" simile, and my unhallowed hands dare not disturb the cobwebs around the degrees of death. Let's just say he had assumed room temperature.
Starr knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? For this brings me back to the point I started from. Starr knew he was dead in the same sense that Hamlet knew his father was dead. Hamlet's own father I mean, not Starr's father. In the same sense that Robert Goulet's career is dead. Literally, metaphorically, the bastard was taking the eternal dirt nap.
But old Starr had no surplus of life himself. He was a grasping old puritan, hard and sharp as flint beneath his fuzzy sweaters, and solitary as an oyster. The political currents had no impact on him, nor the foul luck that besets most men, for Starr was fouler than any luck, and so set in his course that no current was strong enough to swerve him from his direction. No loiterer made small talk with him, no beggar asked him for a trifle, no harlot for a cuddle, no stranger for directions, because one look at him betrayed his desire to imprison the sinners for their importuning. He was a man so dour that he sued the author of this very opus to discontinue this windy parody of the peculiarities of Victorian syntax and get to the point.
So be it.
Suddenly, his serenity was interrupted by an evanescent sound like a thunderclap, and then by the persistent sound of movement through his house, reminding him of a man dragging something. This he dismissed as a dream until he saw a man wrapped in a chain come passing through his bedroom door. The man was Lyndon Johnson, and was transparent. He had always thought Lyndon had no guts, but had not truly believed it until now. Hailing down around him were little transparent bombs.
"How, now!" said Starr, unemotional as ever. "What do you want with me?"
"Much, my feller 'murican" -- Lyndon's voice, no doubt about it. "Mebbe startin' off with some bar-b-q, and you got any women in here?, an' Ah gotta take a whiz"
"Who are you?"
"Ask me who Ah was"
"OK, who were you? You're kinda particular for an apparition who really needs to pee"
"In life Ah was Lyndon Johnson, another Southern backwoods rube president with a healthy disrespect for the sexual sanctity of the oval office. Wanna see mah appendix scar?"
"I believe you. Why have you come for me?"
"Ah have come to teach you about impeachable offenses. Remember in mah day, a couple plunks with an intern was nothin'. Hell, Ah'd have them interns blow me in public, right while Dan Rather was interviewin' me, lotta times right in front of Lady Bird, or in front of them furrin' leaders. Them interns, Ah just had 'em for an appetizer. After Ah was finished, somedays Ah'd get all 435 members of the House of Representatives to blow me, and anybody who didn't swaller, why he couldn't get his district a government contract to build a sand castle. The ones who gargled it and swirled it around in their mouths and asked for a second helpin'... they're the ones that got some money in their areas. An' no chickenshit reporters or congressmen ever asked me to apologize either. Hell, iff'n they had, Ah'd a fucked their wives' assholes on the evening news."
"So you're saying sex isn't that important, because you were never impeached?"
"Hell, boy, sex got nuthin' to do with it. It's power. Power, boy. 'Bout onct a week Ah'd get the urge to bomb someone, an' Ah'd have the joint chiefs bring out a big ol' map, 'n set it on the floor. Then Ah'd make the Navy guy get blindfolded, drop his purty white pants, and shit on the map. Whatever country he shit on, that's who we bombed that day. Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Netherlands .... Ah didn't give a burro's behind, though the sumbitch seemed to keep shittin' on Southeast Asia.
Then when Ah needed to piss Ah'd mosey down where they have those original copies of the Constitution, the Declaration, the Bill of Rights, and Ah'd have the curator open up the glass cover an' Ah'd piss right on 'em. The Constitution was my personal outhouse."
"Chains, shit. That ain't chains, that's mah pecker, boy. Sumbitch keeps growin after you kick it, just like your fingernails. When Ah was alive Ah could only wind it around mah waist twice"
"Lyndon", he said imploringly. "Lyndon Johnson, tell me more. Speak comfort to me."
"Hain't got none, but Ah am here tonight to warn you that you still got a chance to escape your own damnation and get a cozy afterlife like me. You will be haunted by Three Spirits. Expect the first, well, right about now because Ah'm gonna mosey out to the refrigerator 'n get a beer, 'n then to the john"
A second spirit appeared immediately in Lyndon's place.
"Who are you, oh spirit", wailed Starr.
"I am the ghost of Impeachments Past, and I am not a crook", responded the wraith.
Starr went immediately to lock up the valuables