I knew a man once. His name, it doesn’t matter, but I suppose there’s no harm in telling you. His name was Gilbert Florin. He did not live in America for most of his life. He did, however, die in America. Less than a week ago. Yes, the same day Trump died. Gill would have liked that. As the only person in Boston who knew him personally, I was given the unenviable task of clearing out his apartment.

You have to understand: Gill was a bit of an eccentric. He was a scholar of some repute, but mostly in an infamous sort of way. He had, for example, submitted papers to just about every major journal that focuses on history, politics, philosophy, or literature. Every time he submitted a paper, it would be sent back to him. Sometimes, the journal would reject the paper outright, but mostly they would ask for minor changes. Some more careful language in his conclusions, or a bit less dependence on “the dictates of Providence” in one of his arguments. Nevertheless, there was always something that needed changing. And Gill never would. As soon as he got a rejection from the journal, he would immediately place the paper he wrote, unchanged, on his bookshelf. “Now it’s in the universe,” he would say. As far as I know, he did this over 100 times. However, some of those papers were quite short. Even the few books he wrote, which were also rejected by a single publisher and placed on his shelf, were less than 300 pages each. Gill would also always use a pen name, even when it was glaringly obvious that it was him writing. And he would always use a different pen name. He once told me he did this because “every work is a new act of creation and deserves a new Creator.” I still don’t know what that means.

Gill wrote his manuscripts on nearly every subject imaginable at one time or another, but his real passion was American history. I never met anyone else who could name every American Secretary of State in order. And not just the politics of the country, but the geography, the people, the idea of it. The last time I saw Gill alive was about two weeks before he died. He didn’t make eye contact with me. He just kept mumbling “What does Trump mean?” and “What will Trump be?” and “How will Trump end?” Knowing Gill for as long as I have, I didn’t think anything of it. If he gets an idea in his head, he doesn’t think about anything else until he writes it all the way out.

His apartment was almost exactly the same as it had been every other time I had been there. Dozens of bookshelves with hundreds of books. And, of course, right beside his desk was the Manuscript Bookshelf. Besides some dishes in the sink and a couple of papers here and there, the Manuscript Bookshelf was the only thing that was significantly changed from the last time I was there. He had condensed the manuscripts from five shelves down to four, and had stuck a large label on the top shelf that simply said “TRUMP: THE END.” On that shelf were documents, dozens of them, arranged in seemingly random order.

I noticed that beside the Manuscript Bookshelf, Gill’s typewriter had a piece of paper with typing on it. I knew that Gill had died at his desk. The police didn’t think the typing was relevant. I picked up the sheet of paper, “The American Aeneid” by Jim Handler, and started reading.

“America doesn’t have a Virgil! America hasn’t been connected to the wider myths of civilization! Rome had Aeneas, Britain had Brutus; what does America have? I’ll tell you! America doesn’t have a Virgil because Virgil comes after Caesar! Trump is America’s Caesar; who will be Virgil? Will I be the American Virgil? Which of the myths I’ve made will become part of the very fabric of America the Empire? HOW WILL TRUMP END?”

Those were the last words Gill wrote. I supposed that the “myths” he was talking about were the documents on the top shelf. They appeared to be in random order, but Gill never did anything arbitrarily. I picked up the first one, “The Rise and Fall of the First Drumpf” by Land Shark, and started reading.


This is an excerpt from the new anthology Ending Bigly: The Many Fates of Donald Trump, edited by Bill Marchant. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.