ISSUE 70

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 So, it’s midnight. You’re awake because the Dark Side never sleeps, like New York but with more dictatorship, less rats, and about the same amount of arbitrary gun violence. Staring out at the Death Star, the monetary sinkhole almost as bad as Iraq, you wonder why space is so black, if “you should look into retirement” is a way for your boss to say “I’m thinking of electrocuting you,” and how much of a pain it is to navigate a straw through a ventilator mask to drink a Coke.
 Welcome to the life of Darth Vader, a tortured soul trapped in a tortured body trapped in the best animatronic respirator suit the 70s could offer. The swift red justice of your lightsaber is matched only by your murderous rage when someone’s phone goes off in an Empire-approved movie like Do What We Tell You Or Die, Give Sass And Lose Your Ass, or The Boss Is Always Right, Especially When He’s Drinking Tequila. You agree with these films. Watching them is like someone patting you on the back, which is gratifying even though you paid them to do it.   
 Even with propaganda movies, being a villain isn’t easy. Blowing up a planet doesn’t just happen… well, most of the time it doesn’t just happen. Sometimes the janitor brushes the button when he’s cleaning, and it’s like, God damn it, Ignacio. You can’t delete six billion taxpayers and not somehow get involved with the IRS.
 And who knew being the ruthless ruler of reality would involve so much paperwork? Expense contracts, stormtrooper complaints, collating tax receipts, coordinating maintenance, meetings with marketing, meetings with accounting, meetings to plan other meetings, meetings to plan the meetings to plan meetings. This in addition to thousands of emails on both your private and government email server.
 Plus this giant moon you’re rebuilding, blasting your way through unions and parsing your way to the right wallpaper, it’s been rough too. No one seems to know the sheer amount of materials and workers it takes to build a moon three times, and it doesn’t make sense, logically, economically, spiritually, morally, it simply does not make sense to build a moon. Though it does boost your Tinder profile.  
 And your kids—don’t even get started on that. Luckily no one has asked, but you have absolutely no idea where they are. Yet, somehow the child support payments keep coming in, and even for the ruler of the galaxy, it’s hard to keep up, not to mention the immeasurable guilt that comes along with murdering their mother and a bunch of other innocent people… accidentally, of course.
 Like your psychologist said, it’s not your fault. It was your upbringing, your mentor, the cute bowl haircut, the sand, the fact that filleting people with a light saber is not a transferable skill to any other occupation. It certainly wasn’t you who turned to the Dark Side; it was someone else with breathless anxiety, flaming passions, and the ratty hair of a person experimenting with homelessness, but it definitely wasn’t you.  
 But oh, what you would give for the days when your burnt pseudo-corpse was crispy but not charred, when the rebels were unruly but not Millennial, when a stormtrooper didn’t care about affirmative action or social security, and you could use the Force to blast whoever you wanted through a wall, and people would shrug and think, That’s just Vader for you. But it’s different now.
 No longer can your minions have white armor, petroleum-based blasters, and cheap plastic helmets. Instead, it has to be multi-ethnic armor and eco-friendly blasters. The hell? This is the Galactic Empire, not some Birkenstock, Wookie-hugging lovefest. You use these blasters to kill someone, not smother them with petunias and puppies and non-threatening minor characters.
 It’s all right. As the first asthmatic, disabled ruler of the galaxy, you prove it can be done. You can slaughter a bunch of children. You can strangle your coworkers in an office-type environment. You can enslave and brutalize most of the galaxy, while metaphorically and physically punching them in the face. And dressed in a versatile sable, a bold yet refined helmet, and a handsome control panel, you can look great doing it.
   
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