(Start here) Character List
- In the Prologue, a Rose Garden press conference announces a connection between the tanked economy to a monstrous evil pertaining to the death of the 42nd POTUS.
- Scene I brings in a prophetess with a palindromic name and a chip on her shoulder. Verbal sparring ensues, ending in an accusation.
- Scene II has Ramen the Chief of Staff trying to clear himself as a suspect. The question of the death of the 42nd POTUS looms. His widow, Cthulia, the Secretary of State under OediPOTUS, arrives to try to defuse the situation.
Still in the Rose Garden
RLC: My job is to support and defend the President, in spite of these heavy accusations. And that's what I intend to do, even if I'm getting hit with some fragments while on the job.
MO: Everyone was getting just a little bit spun up. That lady sure knows how to push peoples' buttons. I'm not sure I've ever seen the President that distracted.
RLC: The implication that I had put those words in her mouth stung a bit.
MO: Again, I wouldn't take it too seriously. She provoked him.
RLC: Are you sure? Was it clear that he wasn't fully deliberate when he said that?
MO: I'd rather avoid speculation, but here is OediPOTUS himself.
OW: Ramen: you're back. Are you so stupid that you don't think I've got your number, or so brazen that you think you've got mine? It's obvious that, since no one would vote for you in the election, you simply discredit me, and have Vice President Folderol nominate you as his VP, then arrange for his impeachment, and become President yourself. Who said Fordism is dead?
RLC: Am I allowed to speak at any point?
OW: You can confess everything.
RLC: I would appreciate the privilege. I confess that I have no idea what crimes I have committed, save completely honorable loyalty and devoted service.
OW: Sending for Hanah was your idea, no?
RLC: Absolutely, and I wouldn't hesitate to restate the suggestion.
OW: Fair enough. Now, when exactly did Jefferson Williams--
RLC: Williams? What's he got to do with Hanah?
OW: How long, exactly, since Williams perished?
RLC: Nine years, seven months, plus or minus a week.
OW: And Hanah, was she representing some Alaskan hell-hole in Congress at the time?
RLC: Sure. Quite a bridge-builder, she was.
OW: Did her bridge building reach me?
RLC: No, you were still cruising on the Chicago radar scope at the time, way below the national picture.
OW: Right. Now, Sphinxor's inquiry into the death of Williams: was my name anywhere in the report, even in a draft?
RLC: Well, no. I've only looked at the final version, but your name would have stuck out, were it included.
OW: So, is it reasonable to assert that, if Hanah had evidence on me in the case at the time, and said nothing, then the guilt is all on her?
RLC: I'm not sure. That would depend on the nature of the evidence.
OW: Well, if she didn't get that evidence from someone conspiring against me, say, you, I don't know how she'd have formed the accusation that I killed Williams.
RLC: If she said that, then she must have somehow gleaned it from you. But let me cross-examine you.
OW: Fair enough. I'm no killer.
RLC: First, then: you're the President?
OW: I won.
RLC: And I work for you?
OW: For certain conspiratorial values of 'work'.
RLC: Let me walk you through my thinking. First, look at how much you've aged in a year. Have I told you how much I enjoy my mattress? As your Chief of Staff, I enjoy the substantial benefit of your aura, without so much of the stress.
When I call on your behalf, to carry out your policy, I get results, but I'm not a slave to policy, getting my face ripped off by the conservative blogs on a daily basis. Monthly, perhaps. However, right where I am is just fine by me: helping you get the credit, while substantially dodging the blame. Prior to this day, the arrangement had seemed a good one.
But let us re-open the investigation. If you find me in any way guilty of doing anything other than the best job possible, including bringing in cranky old Hanah for advice, or even conspiring with her to do something unspeakable, then fire me.
However, don't debase leadership capital through questionable accusations. Seek facts.
MO: Very well said, Ramen. Judgments too quickly formed are dangerous.
OW: Oh, really? That speech was more than a play-action fake? Something meant to distract, while other actions occur off-stage, so that you can spring a trap on a man who spends too much time thinking and talking, and not enough time taking action?
RLC: Hey, if you're interested in a resignation letter, I can make that happen.
OW: No, I want your duplicity laid bare, so that the entire, suffering country is clear as to the source of my problems and theirs.
RLC: So you're insisting on clinging to accusation, at the expense of investigation?
OW: Why should I even listen to you?
RLC: It looks like you picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
OW: You are evil incarnate!
RLC: Maybe, just maybe, you've misjudged the entire situation.
OW: Yet, I'm the President, and I have to press on.
RLC: Not if you've already run your ship aground.
OW: Oh, the poor country.
RLC: It's my country, too, Mr. President.
MO: Gentlemen, the Secretary of State has come from Foggy Bottom. Possibly she can employ a bit of diplomacy, and diffuse the situation.
C: What is all the noise about? The country is falling apart and metaphorically burning, and you two trade riffs on the fiddles. Ramen, if you'll excuse us, I need to discuss some policy with the President. Let's set aside the trivia, please.
RLC: Trivia? I'm close to being fired for sedition here.
OW: Seriously, Cthulia: he's plotting against me.
RLC: I'd take the death penalty if that was true.
C: Give it a rest, Mr. President.
OW: OK, then what should I do?
C: Take Ramen at his word.
OW: Oh, fine then, and let me be kicked out. Wherever Ramen goes, hatred will follow him.
RLC: Thanks for nothing. Your personality is your punishment.
OW: You can resign, you know.
RLC: Considering it. My reputation is intact with everyone but you.
MO: Madame Secretary, didn't you request a meeting with the President?
C: Yes, but first, just what is all of the racket about?
MO: There has been a series of accusations this afternoon between Hanah, Ramen, and OediPOTUS, but no follow-up yet.
MO: We'd be better off to let it go, and consider the economy. Everyone is frazzled.
C: Hm. OediPOTUS, blasting Ramen and Hanah helps how, exactly?
OW: Ramen and Hanah plot against me.
C: Oh, really?
OW: Yes. Ramen accuses me of murdering your husband.
C: Husband? Oh, yes: him. Yes, I had successfully put away the…pain. I should thank you--I mean, uh, we should be thankful that we have a legal system that requires evidence in these cases. Has Ramen got any?
OW: No, he just brought in Hanah to drop accusations.
C: Oh, well, she doesn't have anything that could stand up in court. Did you know that, when Jeffy and I were newlywed, he was a Rhodes Scholar, and we were in England?
OW: Something about bad air over there, and he couldn't inhale freely?
C: Right. I was young, and wanted to get the children out of the way, but, well, Jeffy had some problems with sperm count. He simply wasn't the man you are, wink-wink. So we had to use a fertility clinic. I was impregnated, and we went to Devon on a weekend. Some distant cousin of his was in the cast of Oedipus Rex at a theater called the Oracle.
The tragedy was on us, though. The fetus was imperfect, and did not survive. Oedipus means "swollen foot", you know, and the shepherd was supposed to tie up the infant's feet prior to exposing the child.
Now, Jeffy could have been running around on me even then, and sired the terrorists who killed him, I suppose. But I doubt it. Things hadn't soured between us, as far as I knew, until we made it back to Louisiana.
At any rate, unless you were running around in the Middle East somewhere in your youth, I don't see how you're tied Jeffy's…sad demise in any way.
OW: I just had a weird tingling sensation run up my leg. The Oracle at Devon…
OW: After I finished up at Harvard, I went on a highly educational vacation to Europe for a few months.
C: Is that where you learned that one thing you do with--
OW: Don't distract me, you. While wandering England, I happened through Devon and also caught Oedipus Rex at the Oracle at Devon. A strangely compelling production.
C: Hm. Well, that's fine trivia, but it isn't helping either the domestic or the international situation. Maybe we need another offsite in Aspen, just you and me, to…focus.
OW: No, we need to get to the bottom of this here and now. What was Jefferson Williams like? They always paint the portrait early in the administration, before the real grind sets in.
C: About your height, graying at the temples, certainly exhausted by eight years in the job that should have rightfully been mine, you naughty little campaigner. Why don't we have the FBI send over an agent familiar with the case for a debrief?
OW: Yes, please do. The economy, the death of Williams. It all seems so weighty, but disconnected. I may need to see a shrink.
C: You can confide in me, too..
OW: You're right. I feel like I'm about to explode. My parents were Kerry and Olga Kennedy. I grew up in Newport, Rhode Island…sailing…swimming. I was partying at Harvard, naked, of course, when a tipsy fellow announced to all present that I'm not a natural Kennedy. Talk about shrinkage.
So I asked mum and da about it when next I visited the Martha's Vineyard compound. They became very defensive, and called my classmate a scurrilous, foolish, drunken idiot. He didn't seem that drunk at the time, but I mostly forgot about the whole thing.
Then, I saw Oedipus Rex, and realized I needed to make sure that I never saw Kerry or Olga again. And I stayed away from home for a couple of years. But that was stupid, so, when they were hosting a fundraiser for you and Williams after Pettifogger lost the election to Sphinxor in 2000, I decided it was time to man up and go see them again.
Unfortunately, and this is the weird part, I never made the party. I woke up in Newport, Rhode Island, with no recollection of the week leading up to that party, or why I'd not been in attendance.
Now, I'd been the one driving in the head-on collision that killed Williams, and been thrown in the water, I could have swum to Rhode Island. I was into distance swimming at the time.
The good thing is that Kerry Kennedy was not in that car. Otherwise, in a spooky way, I'd have been carrying out Oedipus Rex. To think that I was the source of the manslaughter. Heh. That's nearly as twisted as the economic situation.
MO: Well, there is still the file to review. And maybe some DNA comparisons would be a good idea.
OW: True. Also, there is the matter of the report of Williams dying as part of a terrorist attack, not some prosaic car crash. That overshadows any spooky aspects of my memory.
C: That's absolutely true. Let's not fret more about these premonitions until we've studied the facts.
Copyright 2009, Christopher L. Smith