Polk It Up (flash fiction)
President Polk entered the tavern and made his way around the full tables and knifed through the bustling crowd at the bar to order an ale from the harried bartender. Nobody showed a sign of recognizing the president of their country being among them. They were busy drinking, eating, and making boisterously merry with their fellow countrymen.
Once served, Polk took a large gulp of the brew, appreciated the taste, and then raised the tankard high and bellowed, “Polk it up!”
Silence clapped the room.
Chair legs scrapped the floor as a customer slid so as to easier see the speaker. Silence swallowed the sound and digested for another long second.
“Eh?” asked an extravagantly bearded man standing next to the president. “Polk it up? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s a catchphrase, my good man!” the president belted. “It means be bold, be daring, be adventurous!”
“Do you mean Polk as in President Polk?” another man asked.
“The very one!” the president said. “Recently inaugurated and ready to get things done!”
“Don’t know anything about him,” another man said. “Is he really bold and daring?”
“Remains to be seen,” someone said. “I’m just glad Tyler’s out of there.”
“We all are!” the president said. “I’m simply spreading this soon-to-be-very-popular catchphrase!”
“I miss Van Buren’s sideburns,” the extravagantly bearded man said.
“I voted for Clay,” another man said.
“Clay’s done,” the president growled and raised his tankard again and again bellowed, “It’s time to Polk it up!”
Frowns deepened and curious expressions grew curiouser—until someone at a table started laughing, and then the laughter spread like frantic wildfire, racing ’round the tavern, with the place quickly rolling in mirth.
President Polk scowled at the lot, took a deep swig of ale, theatrically wiped his lips from the back of his hand to the end of his forearm, and stormed out of the place.
A dark cloud followed the president as he made his way back the the President’s Mansion, inside to his desk, where he scratched the tavern’s name off a list and peered at the remaining three taverns at the end of the list.
He nodded at the names and said, “It’ll catch on eventually,” then went to bed.
copyright Dave Williams