A Short Imagined Monologue from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Back in the good old days, we didn’t have much cash money, and we didn’t get a whole lot of time away from the ranch, and life could be tough with the doctor a day’s horse ride away. But we had one thing that we just don’t have anymore: we had facts.
What are “facts”? What, the don’t they teach you any history in school? You’re going to give me another gray hair. But I’ll tell you the story of facts if you’re willing to put that phone away and listen to me, sonny.
You see, when I was a boy, we rode our ponies to school every day and after that we rode herd on the cattle. We never got much for Christmas. But we had a good life, because everywhere we looked, we saw facts.
What did facts look like? They ran like antelope, and were beautiful like wild horses. They were tough to rope and get into the corral, but once you got a good look at one, you could tell that one good fact could rear up and save the world.
Facts were… how do I put this? I ain’t no doctor of philosophy. Facts were solid as rocks. You could throw one at a liar and it would knock him out cold. Facts were like gold in the bank. Just knowing that facts were in the bank was a comfort in bad times. At least until the banks closed.
But there ain’t no more facts left alive in the whole wide world. Where did all the facts go? Well, sonny, that’s the story I’ve been getting to.
All the facts were hunted down until there wasn’t one left to roam the wide open prairie. When all the facts were dead and gone, all that was left was the cold north wind of lies.
Who killed all the facts? They were killed by people, much like you and me. Back in my day, we called them politicians. Nowadays, they’re still called that, but they’re also known as those rascals who have reality TV shows.
The politicians killed off all facts like they killed off all the buffalo. It only took a few elections to kill hundreds of millions of facts. One politician — who called himself “Factual Bill” because he claimed to have never told a lie — was said to have killed a million facts all by himself. He joked that the barrel of his gun got so hot he could use it to brand liberals. What’s a liberal? Ask your dad. He’ll be sore at me if I tell you.
The politicians shot those facts dead and took only what they wanted, the shiny hides that sounded real good to everyone, and left the meat and bones to rot away. The darn coyotes and buzzards got fat eating what was left. The whole prairie was covered with the bones of facts, and then the bones were hauled away to make fertilizer. The hides of those facts were hung up beside the fireplaces of rich folks until they went out of fashion and got old and dusty, and then they were thrown out.
Towards the end of all the facts, the government — that same government, mind you, that the politicians worked for — suddenly decided that facts were endangered species. And they hurried up and passed a law so that the last few facts wouldn’t be hunted. But it was too late. The facts were already dead.
And it was too late for those of us who survived on facts. All the people who depended on facts died of starvation, or moved to Canada. I darn near starved to death. The only work left for a cowboy like me was gathering up the bones to ship back east. But some nice tourists from the city got me a job wrangling the horses for the buggy rides at the park, and I been here ever since.
Are there any facts left? Well, every few years, the newspaper gets all excited that someone found a trail in the snow way up in the mountains in Montana. They talk about sending scientists to investigate. But the only people who could help you find those facts — they called them philosophers and humanists and professors — are all dead and buried. If there really are any facts alive, they’d be holed up in a cave, living on cans of beef stew from the local food bank.
If, and it’s a big if, if someone could find and catch a fact, you might be able to keep them in a zoo for everyone to look at. All the politicians and judges and philosophers could look at them and see what’s missing in the world.
And if you got real lucky and found a male and a female fact, you could try to get them to reproduce. But you’d have to be sure they were genetically pure facts, or the facts that came out wouldn’t be really true. What’s “reproduce” mean? Ask your mom about the birds and the bees. No, don’t ask your phone; ask your mom.
Young fella, it’s up to your generation. Go to college. Read some books, the kind you don’t have to plug in and charge up. Maybe you’ll get to see a fact before you get too old. Get your dad to take you to the National Museum of the History of Facts. A dead, stuffed fact is better than no fact at all.
Why did it all happen? All the facts were killed to keep them from being used for the truth. It don’t make no sense now, but that’s the way it was. Nobody will ever understand. Once you lose facts, you can’t never go back, and that’s the truth.
What’s truth, you ask? Well, sonny boy, that’s an entirely different story. Ain’t none of the truth left in this world, either. Maybe I’ll tell you tomorrow. Run along, it’s time for my nap.