On their way home from a concert, Ty and Madison park at Inspiration Point. Ty turns off the engine, moves closer to Madison, and switches on the radio, hoping to set the mood with a little music. Instead they hear a special news bulletin—a patient has escaped from a nearby insane asylum and is roaming the countryside, urging everyone to open their eyes to social injustice, income inequality, and an entrenched power structure that perpetuates wealth and privilege for a handful of Americans at the expense of everyone else.
Ty laughs it off, but Madison is terrified and insists that Ty drive her home. Grudgingly, he does so. When they pull up to her place, Madison steps out of the car and turns to close the door. Then she shrieks in horror. Ty leaps out and rushes to her side. And he sees it, too.
Stuck in the door handle is a leaflet—from the Democratic Socialists of America!
The Dead End
Blaine collapses into bed, exhausted after a long day of lacrosse practice and cocktails. Immediately he falls asleep. He dreams he is walking down a dim hallway in a strange, shabby building. The hall is lined with lockers, and everything smells vaguely like disinfectant. Underfoot, the floor is a dated vinyl tile. Sort of a marbled-teal color.
Blaine realizes he is in a public high school.
In a panic, he sprints to the end of the hallway, where he finds a door. Beyond this door, he somehow knows, are a host of goodies—winter-break diving trips to Cozumel, paid internships, interest-free loans, seats on corporate boards, cars with walnut trim interiors, bespoke suits, piles of cash. These things belong to him. They are his. He has worked his butt off for them. But the door is locked. He digs through his pockets, desperate for a key. Instead all he finds are a plastic name badge, with his name on it, and a hairnet—the kind that fast food workers are made to wear.
Still puzzling over the hairnet, Blaine hears footsteps. He spins around to find an underpaid teacher and dozens of lower-middle-class teens lurching toward him, beckoning Blaine to join them.
He hurls the hairnet and name tag toward them, but they just laugh. Trapped, he turns and pounds the door. Harder and harder he bangs, his heart racing. Just as the teacher is about to grab him, Blaine awakes with a start.
Thank God, he thinks, looking around his bedroom. It was just a bad dream.
Then he realizes he’s holding something, balled up tight. He opens his fist and screams.
In his hand is a hairnet.
Corbin is driving to an after-party at his buddy’s parents’ country place late one foggy night when he sees a lone figure walking along the road. As he gets near, he sees it’s a young woman wearing a white dress that is frankly sort of cheap looking. Probably a townie. He stops anyway and asks if the woman needs a lift. Wordlessly, she gets in and sits down, staring straight ahead. Corbin notices she looks cold, so he sets the passenger seat warmer to HIGH.
A mile or so down the road, the woman gestures that she wants to get out. Corbin pretends not to notice and keeps driving, figuring she might be fun at the party. Then the woman starts to cry. She cries and cries and cries, until she is convulsing with sobs. Corbin thinks, Man, I’ve gotta get this on video, and searches for his phone. By the time he finds it, though, the woman has vanished. All that’s left on the passenger seat is a shimmering pool of tears.
The leather is ruined.
The son of a prominent attorney and a state circuit judge, Bart grows up in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., and graduates from an elite prep school before going on to earn a law degree at the same Ivy League school his grandfather attended. After a series of lucrative, prestigious jobs in the public and private sector, he becomes a U.S. circuit judge. One day Bart wakes up and learns he’s been nominated for a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court! Bart is thrilled—until credible allegations of sexual assault emerge from his past. Things only get worse when he repeatedly lies, under oath, about matters large and small to a Senate committee, and when a large number of individuals and groups rally to decry his nomination.
When Bart appears again before the Senate committee and launches into a breathtakingly partisan rant that is, at turns, hostile, arrogant, bizarre, and contemptuous, his chances of ever sitting on the Supreme Court are over. He is dismissed, left with nothing but his wealth, his elite credentials, a reliable and indefinite stream of revenue from law firms and the lecture circuit, and a deep network of similarly positioned friends and colleagues.
As his world crumbles around him, Bart bolts upright, panting. He is home, safely in bed. It was all just a dream, he realizes—that lifetime seat on the Supreme Court is his after all!
He stands, smiling to himself. Then he turns to his bed and howls in terror.
On his pillow is a hairnet.