The others had been bad, but this final plague was the worst: a pea-souper of poison fog that turned the oceans to pickle brine and left the earth looking like a shattered bronzer compact. Though the mist rescinded just 24 hours after it materialized, the scope of the damage made leaving the house indefinitely impossible for the average American. Still, some wildly Emmy-starved PBS producer had managed to coax Don DeLillo out of his fortified compound and onto the set of Charlie Rose. He’d pitched the macabre tête-à-tête to his executive producer with a plaintive, “What would Edward R. Murrow do?”
And now they sat at the infamous round table, two emaciated riders of the apocalypse, each trying to one-up the other’s gravitas, locked in a psychic arm-wrestling match for the ages.
Indeed, it was the most painful interview ever televised: Charlie’s long-winded, sycophantic questions dog-piling Don’s every attempt to lay down the ultimate ironic one-liner.
But finally, the zenith. The money shot that the few surviving liberal arts professors had tuned in to see in high definition.
“In the 1980s, you first wrote about the airborne toxic event in your seminal novel White Noise,” Charlie intoned.
Duly robbed of his thunder, DeLillo merely spread his hands apart and shrugged, like a blackjack dealer with no more cards left to play.