The Speaker is in the shower letting the water run. As long as he is in the shower he is not on television or in a backroom meeting shaking hands. The water rakes through the Speaker’s hair, blond and gray in places and thin and poured out on his forehead like an oil slick. The soap he uses to scrub under his arms is a chalk white bar. There are none of those exfoliating beads in it. The Speaker’s hair product is special order, delivered to his Washington office in small white drums. His personal aide has hung his shirt—crisp, white, tailored—and suit jacket and pants—coal-black, silk-soft—on the bathroom door. His gold tie is laid out on the bed in the next room, on a quilt he received as a gift from a resident of the 8th District of Ohio, which he represents. The resident is a white haired woman with arthritis and tall blue veins in her hands, whose name is Norma. The Speaker thinks of her when he thinks of the gold tie, then he thinks of bird kills, which he’s heard something about recently, a flock of grebes that dove kamikaze-style into a Wal-Mart parking lot in Utah. The Speaker isn’t well; he is overworked. The water that was falling peacefully, liltingly, now fires into attack, and it is hotter than before. This forces the Speaker to stand astride the shower’s spray so that in the process it’s only his kneecaps and toes that get hot stinging red. The Speaker is aware of a toilet being flushed somewhere else in the building, which has caused the spike in pressure and temperature. He feels hurt by something, not the hot water exactly. He experiences an urge to lick his lips when he feels hurt so he licks his lips. The way he does this is quickly, efficiently, with intent. His tongue is like a lizard’s, the way it darts out and back in. His head aches. The Speaker’s head aches, tell somebody. He’ll have an aide bring him a pair of Ibuprofen in the palm of her tannin hand when he gets out of the shower, which is under control now, the water warm but not hot, holding pressure-wise. The shower door rattles in its track when he brushes it with his backside, which he does. The Speaker is aware of his backside having brushed the shower door but only peripherally; he is thinking of a flock of nearly two thousand grebes, which are red-eyed diving birds, plummeting their white and gray plumages into a parking lot that is all black and freshly tarred. They strike with such force that their feathers are still spinning back to earth when the news vans show up with their cameras.