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Chapter One

My name is Alexandre Akpors. I live in the only modern fascist state in the world of the year 2017. How this state became fascist no one knows, and I assure you no one will ever know. I shall not name the state out of respect for my readers’ intelligence. I shall only write that its fascist leader is referred to as POTUS.

It is not a great time, but it is not a bad time either. To borrow from the great Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, “It is a season of light; it is a season of darkness.” I am attracted to the light, and I walk toward it each time I am able to spot it, which doesn’t happen too often. This is a suggestive part of the divine comedy of which this tale is being told.

Where do I begin? Well, I came to this fascist state in 1980. It was not a fascist state yet; it was a major drug dealer under its then leader, Ronald Reagan, whom I respected, and I will never know why, and his deceptive wife, Nancy. I was a vibrant thirty-five-year-old professor and a lawyer, living in a modest apartment on Paramount Avenue in the city of Downey, California.

On a gloomy day in 1991 or 1992, I cannot remember exactly, while I was reading Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury, I suddenly felt extraordinary chest pain, jaw pain, and general discomfort. I called my first ex-wife, Helen, whom I had married in London, and my son Christian immediately, and since they lived very close to where I was, they came over.

We called for help, and the ambulance arrived shortly. I was taken to the nearest medical facility, Downey Hospital.

Evidently, I had what they believed to have been a myocardial infarction. I was removed from Downey Hospital via ambulance to the University of California, Irvine, where I had heart surgery. After a couple of days, I returned home. It took me six months to recover, but I was on Cardizem and nitroglycerin for several years.

In addition to the extraordinary fear I felt during that divine-comedy episode, I had to wear a heart monitor around my neck for many months. To this day, I have to go through a stress-echo test once a year to ensure that my valve works effectively, since I have MVP, which stands for mitral valve prolapse. And according to the Mayo Clinic, this “occurs when the leaflets of the mitral valve bulge (prolapse) into the heart’s left upper chamber (left atrium) like a parachute during the heart’s contraction. Mitral (MY-trul) valve prolapse sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium” (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Watching my health means that I see Dr. Michael Vasilomanolakis, who is also a Grammy Award winner, once or twice a year for an advanced checkup and advice on the many medications I currently take. Dr. Vasilomanolakis has become a great friend, and I trust him blindly. My cardiologist brother, Dr. Alfons Bebawi, has met him, and he agrees with me that Dr. Vasilomanolakis is one of the greatest doctors ever. Having a cardiologist brother is another face of the divine comedy that never ceases to amaze or amuse me. I watch, I feel, and I smile and look at life’s large gray eyes. I smile a little longer and dive into an ocean of emotions.



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