Forty-four never wanted to have this meeting. It was the wrong message to send, that the incoming president needed their kind of assistance. But when Michelle finally looked at him in that way she had, and said “Just call the damn meeting already, I’m going back to sleep” he took to his laptop.
He slugged down yesterday’s coffee as the various windows winked to life, revealing backdrops of living rooms and dens and home offices and bookshelves he’d become all too familiar with over these last few months. “I apologize for the short notice and the unholy hour,” he began, “but given the circumstances, and with Joe’s blessing, it’s incumbent upon us, as unofficial stewards of American democracy and those who have known a peaceful transference of power, to act.”
Hillary brightened. “We’re locking him up? Wait.” She fumbled through her desk drawer. “I’ve already got the handcuffs. I had them custom-made back in 2016…they’re around here somewhere. Bill. Did you take them again?” The forty-second president’s naturally florid cheeks turned redder as Forty-three chuckled.
Thirty-nine’s soft voice flowed over them. “No disrespect meant, but can we please continue? I have an online prayer group to lead in twenty minutes, then I got some houses to build.”
“Noted.” Forty-four took a deep breath and said, “We’ve had little success with our other initiatives. Putin won’t take our calls. I think it’s time we stage an intervention.”
Forty-three’s eyebrows shot up. “What, just bust into the Oval and tell him it’s time to get his ass to a meeting?”
He paused. “Well, not exactly like that, but essentially, yes.”
“You think they’re actually gonna let us in?” Forty-two said. “Have you seen that wall?”
Forty-four tented his fingers under his chin. “Tell me something he is in dire need of at the moment?”
Hillary jumped in. “Sanity? Intelligence? More Adderol?”
“I kinda thought that was the Adderol,” Hillary said.
“A friend with money,” Forty-four added. More silence. “He wants a next act.”
“That would be prison,” Hillary said.
Forty-four fought a smile. “If there is any justice in the world, yes. But we can’t count on that happening immediately. We need to give him an incentive to get off the dime. He wants a post-presidential media presence to feed his voracious ego, and that requires major funding. And someone friendly to his cause.”
“Murdoch,” the Texan said. “Of course. But will he listen to any of us?”
“I think he might listen to me,” Forty-four said. “He’s been amenable in the past. I’ll offer a simple deal: give Forty-five the money he needs if he’ll concede and start a peaceful transfer of power.”
“If you need to give Rupert a nudge, I can help,” Hillary said. “His wife backed my campaign, maybe I’ll have a chat with her.”
“She’s that model, right? Maybe I’ll have a chat with her, too.” Forty-two grinned and Hillary shot him a dirty look.
“Hopefully this will work. See you at the inauguration,” Forty-four said, and the meeting adjourned. He sat back in his chair. The sun cast blind-shadowed rays across the carpet. Through the crack in the door, he caught the scent of fresh coffee brewing. For a reason he couldn’t pinpoint, a quote came to mind, from an oft-satirized Reagan campaign commercial: “It’s morning in America.”