Honest Abe was found face down in the bushes outside a building in Detroit recently.
Its sad but true. A 300-pound bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln was discovered amid the hedges on a Tuesday morning in September, two days after it disappeared from a pedestal in front of the Detroit Public Library.
The statue had last been seen in the wee hours the previous Sunday morning. An eyewitness told the Detroit Free Press that he saw three men topple the 6-foot-2 statue from its perch, then stuff it into a white Ford Escort and speed away.
I saw the feet sticking out of the cars hatchback, the eyewitness said.
News of Abes abrupt departure had spread quickly. People shook their heads, tugged at their chins and denounced the theft as an affront to all that is good and decent in America.
Gerald Bestrom, a fellow who makes his living impersonating the 16th president, told the Free Press that Lincoln would be appalled that such a thing would happen. He stood for integrity, and Im sure hed wonder how society had drifted so far.
(I tend to agree with Mr. Bestrom. I also tend to wonder how a fellow makes a living impersonating Abe Lincoln in Detroit.)
Authorities were on the lookout for Abe for several days when, mysteriously, he showed up in his disheveled state.
His head had been dinged, his left foot was smushed, and he had a dent in his leg, but otherwise he was OK. No arrests have been made.
Initially, I figured the injuries had been sustained in the car. As the owner of a Ford Escort, I can attest to the fact that Escorts dont have much headroom or legroom. Ive never tried getting into one with a stovepipe hat on, but I would assume its a bit cramped.
There was more to the story, however. Much more.
The day after Abe was found, I received a phone call from an Agent Fox Mulder of the FBI, who asked me to meet him at Quantico, Va., to talk about the missing statue.
Abe wasnt stolen. He walked, Agent Mulder said as he led me through a labyrinth of hallways toward his office.
Beg pardon? I said.
All over America, statues of American presidents are coming to life--Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Fillmore, Roosevelt.
This was all a bit shocking, to say the least.
Fillmore? I asked.
Yeah, were letting him stretch his legs. He seems harmless enough.
Mulder and I sat down in his office.
But what about the eyewitness in Detroit? What about the three guys and the Ford Escort? I asked. Didnt they swipe Abe?
Mulder smiled. Those were our men. Weve had Abe under surveillance for weeks. They forced him into the car just as he was coming to life.
I shook my head. What? Why? This is unbelievable.
Mulder shrugged. It appears to be linked somehow to events on Capitol Hill and in state capitals around the nation. The more corruption, deceit and mismanagement we see, the more these statues come to life.
I pondered the thought of all the American presidents running loose and the havoc they might wreak. Um, just curious--how many guys you got on Nixon? I asked.
Twelve. Dont worry. Hes covered.
Mulder pulled a large photo album from a shelf and deposited it in front me.
Whats this? I inquired.
The Lincoln log, of course, he said.
I opened the book. It was filled with Polaroid photos of the 16th president.
The first snapshot showed Abe, sporting shades and a Hawaiian print shirt, standing outside the White House. Beside him is Vice President Al Gore.
I asked the obvious question. A statue?
No, thats really Al. Hes a run-of-the-mill blockhead.
Agent Mulder brought me a cup of coffee as I flipped through the photos. Abe sharing a large order of fries with Bill Clinton. Abe playing checkers with Jesse Helms in a Senate cloakroom.
What prompted Abe to climb down from his pedestal? I asked.
Mulder shrugged. Apparently hes upset by the campaign finance scandal. That, and he doesnt seem to like Newt Gingrich very much. Which is odd, considering Newt is made entirely of stone.
I sputtered my coffee. Newt Gingrich is a statue?
Mulder nodded. A gargoyle. Climbed off the Atlanta Public Library. Totally out of control, but our hands are full at the moment. Well get to him later.
Agent Mulder flipped to the back of the album and pulled out a snapshot. Here, look at this.
It was a picture of Abe, surrounded by a crowd of men on what appeared to be the Senate floor.
Things have taken a nasty turn, Mulder said. They roughed him up pretty good.
I was stunned. That explains the ding in the head.
Strom Thurmond. Hes got a mean left hook. Sonny Bono is responsible for the leg. Look closely at the knee. Those are teeth marks. He sang I Got You Abe! the entire time.
Mulder put the photo back in the album. But trust me: Abe will be back. Hes bronze, hes rested, hes ready. He also weighs 300 pounds. Were not even sure Janet Reno could pin him.
As Mulder showed me to the door, I tried to think of what the media might do to help.
There are elections coming up soon, I said, as I shook his hand. Is there anything we in the media should tell Americans?
Mulder looked out on the horizon, toward Washington.
The truth is out there, he said after a long while. And its not real happy.
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