Marine One swoops low over the crowds outside The White House, its twin rotors blowing more than a few banners out of the hands of the assembled people. The Trump/Pence election logo, hastily applied only a few hours before, is starting to shrink in cold night air. It’s only been a few years but already the winters are feeling colder than the people outside the perimeter fence are used to. Irradiated dust from the pre-emptive nuclear strike against Korea has become mixed with the smoke produced when the Russian troops burned Polish rye fields.
More proof that climate change was a Chinese hoax, thinks Donald, but he doesn’t really care. These things happen to other people and other people don’t really exist. Stepping back from the Oval Office curtains he checks his watch. The crowd outside is much bigger than at Obama’s second inauguration, no doubt at all. Only the numbers matter – except when they don’t.
It hasn’t been an easy few years, he thinks. There have been many challenges along the way, but only the greatest and most best president could have weathered them all. It all went well, considering the liberal media tried to ruin everything with their facts and data. Lowest employment on record? Highest deficit? Highest suicide rate on record? These are just numbers. They’re not real. And CNN made them up. I have the real figures.
The real vision is in my head, he thinks. Only I can see the real world. The real figures – the facts – are locked away in the White House vaults, and I can look at them whenever I want. Everybody else is stupid and I’m brilliant. When the first bankruptcies hit him in the eighties, when the first of his casinos had wobbled, he hadn’t been worried. There was always more money. And when people asked him how he’d managed to mess up running a casino – a building where people walk in and hand you their money for nothing, they said – well, he’d just shouted at them. It was so frustrating to be surrounded by people who were too stupid to face reality.
He checks his watch again, irritated. A massive hike in military spending seems to have left his army and airforce with a lackadaisical attitude to the time. His people are waiting for him to declare victory. They must be cold, having such a long wait. Maybe he should have some of the aides hand out MAGA baseball caps. That would help, probably. Donald has never been cold.
He mentions this to one of his press secretaries because he hasn’t heard his own voice in about fifteen minutes. The sound of it calms him down. He doesn’t listen to the words, just the rich, warming cadence of it, and the aid – whose name he’s never learned, but who looks Mexican or maybe Chinese (note to self: look into this later) nods and gulps for air. The aide is sweating, dark circles under his arms and at his collar, and is carrying what looks like an armful of confidential reports. For the first time he notices the smell of barbecue. He asks what’s going on.
“Um. Spring-cleaning exercise, sir. Getting rid of old documents.”
We might need those later, Donald thinks, but then he remembers he has a photographic memory (the best), so maybe not.
Pence arrives, looking as always like a gray-haired child caught touching himself. He carries a bottle of Teacher’s whiskey in one hand and a cut-glass tumbler in the other. He’s sweating, too, Donald notices, and the bottle is half-empty.
“Ready?” he slurs, eyes wet and red with pride.
I am ready, thinks Donald. I am always ready. Even before the thing has happened, I’m ready. The Chinook helicopter will carry them a mile downtown to the specially-built podium where he’ll make his second acceptance speech. In preparation for this landslide, the stadium has been enlarged from the original plans to accommodate five million people. Donald looks forward to staring at them through his haze of bulletproof glass, the world’s most powerful sky beams behind him. He reaches out instinctively for Melania, but then he realizes that she’s not there – hasn’t been there for a while, come to think of it. New York? Probably.
“What sort of crowd are we looking at,” he asks the aide as they begin the march to the helicopter.
The aide gulps, seems to fight for air, but this is irrelevant.
“Big crowd. Big. Lots of women women, lots of blue-collar workers. Blacks and Mexicans too,” he says. Donald mentally tweaks the speech so it isn’t too WASP. Tonight should be about everybody celebrating his genius, not picking off targets with his razor-edged wit. Keep it light and fun, he thinks.
The helicopter throttles and pushes them into the night sky. Looking out of the window, Donald tries to estimate the size of the crowd. Two million? Five. Too many to count. In his mind, he clasps a trophy. Four more years, he tells himself. Four more years of glory, he thinks, but the thought niggles in his mind. America has been totally fixed in the last four years, he reflects. How will he keep himself busy? What else needs doing?
Europe, he thinks. That needs fixing. So many homos and muslims running around, lapping up their free healthcare. Sad.
In his mind, Donald plans the future. Four more glorious years as the greatest president that has ever lived. The only president to have 100% approval rating for four years, to have completely erased the deficit, to have created twenty million new jobs in Detroit, to have put Mexico in its place. America is now a sweet, wholesome land, where children run home after doing their paper round to watch Howdy Doody on the television while mom makes flapjacks in the kitchen, where every man has a job and every woman has a shopping list and a book club. He has Made America Great Again.
Mike looks out of the helicopter window and takes another swig from the bottle of whiskey. He hasn’t found the courage to explain to the POTUS that he doesn’t have a full grasp of the facts, and maybe he never will. The helicopter is due to drop them at Dulles and, hopefully, he can get everybody into international airspace before any questions are asked. He examines the bottle in his lap. He’s going to need another one before this trip is up.
Below him, the crowd is still growing. Isolated pockets have begun to chant, and it’s a chant that the POTUS, if he was on this plane of existence, might vaguely recognize.
“Lock him up!”