Note: This is satire. Please don’t cancel me.
He wakes with a start, sticky-eyed, head pounding, and checks the time. He croaks out for her—why didn’t you get me up, I have to be at the studio—but then he remembers. No wife. No job. He falls back against the pillow. Stares at the ceiling, wills the patterns in the tiles to make sense. Wills anything to make sense. Who is he, now that they’ve taken his name, ripped away the persona he’d so carefully cultivated? Is that why she needed to get away from him, without so much as a conversation, because without his success he’s just…nothing? Just the “dumb fuck in a bowtie,” as his father-in-law had called him?
Despair flows through him, turning his body into lead. He’d enthusiastically reinvented himself after past misadventures—he refused to call them failures—but doesn’t know how to even start now. Or if he even wants to.
“Come now,” a voice says. “You’d have it all back in a heartbeat if you could.”
His gaze darts around the room. “What the—Rush? Is that you?”
A deep laugh flows over the man’s prone body, along with an aroma of sulfur and brimstone. “As if. ‘Talent on loan from God’ my scarlet behind. Talent on loan from me, was more like it.”
No. It can’t be. Ailes? The man struggles to lift his upper body from the mattress. His head swirls. He presses his hands to his temples, trying to remember if he’d signed anything in some alcohol-induced haze, but nothing came to mind. “You think I’m so desperate that I’d call out for you?” He tries for one of his trademarked maniacal giggles, but it only makes him cough and wheeze.
“So pathetic,” the voice says. “Do you really believe you got this far by not calling out for me for a little…moral support? Sweetheart. I’ve got the receipts. We made a deal. One soul for one second chance, to be negotiated at a later date. Apparently at the time you weren’t that desperate, but I kept this little honey on the table for you. And I think you just might be ready to talk to me now.”
The man’s mouth rounds. Then softens. Would it really be so bad? To be back on set, to reclaim his power – and maybe a little something more. Maybe, if he played this right, he could—
“Run the place? Oh, I’m sure you could. With a little help from me, of course.”
A tiny bubble of glee rises up from the man’s chest. Thinking of whom he’d destroy first…it would be so much fun. He smiles. “Got a pen?”
The voice laughs. “Got a pen, he says. Pauses, then adds “Or should I say ‘she’?”
The smile falls.
“I know all about you, sweetheart,” the voice purrs. “You’ve never felt comfortable in that body, which explains so much. Well. We can make this part of the deal. Be the woman you’ve always felt yourself to be. And wield the boundless power you’ve been craving your entire life. One stroke of the pen and it can all be yours.”
His insides shudder. He gazes down at the soft flesh of his chest and belly, the thin T-shirt material draped over them. Thinking about the secret he’d had to hide from the world. Hide from his wife and family. Hide from himself. What if…he could be the person he was always meant to be? How affirming and powerful would that feel on its own? But how could he square that with— “Can I… If we do this, can I change my name?”
“Of course,” says the voice. “Change your name, change your body, change…whatever you like. Be the person you believe you were always meant to be.”
The man’s next words came out soft, halting. “Can… can I be a Democrat?” He drops to a whisper. “Can I be… Nancy Pelosi?”
“Easy peasy,” the voice says. “Sign right here.”
Clever, I didn’t see it coming. Which is the way satire should be. Blindsiding.