The Fatcats Club:
“No, Mr. Obama — I Expect You to Die!”
Yesterday at the White House the three living former presidents of the United States answered an invitation to tea, along with the president-elect, from the outgoing President George W. Bush. The guests arrived individually and were directed to the Oval Office to await their host. Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton each came alone, and each made the same joke as they were escorted down the corridor. All three turned to the page accompanying them and quipped, “You’d think I would know the way!”
President-elect Barack Obama arrived with a two-man secret service escort. They walked him down the hall to the Oval Office, Barack clicking away on his Blackberry as they went. He tucked the Blackberry into the inside breast pocket of his jacket before he swept into the office and approached the former presidents. “President Carter. President Bush. President Clinton,” he said to them each in turn, smiling warmly and shaking their hands.
“You can call me Forty-One,” said former president Bush.
Barack nodded. “Okay, Forty-One. Fair enough. You can call me Barack.”
“I’ll stick with ‘Mr. President,’” said Forty-One.
Barack slipped his hands into his hip pockets and looked around the room. “Are we early? I don’t see our host anywhere.”
“We’re just supposed to wait here,” said Jimmy.
“Any of you all know what we’re having to eat?” asked Bill. “I mean, is this a high tea thing, or will we get actual food?”
The rest of them shrugged. “I have no idea,” said Barack.
A door behind and to the right of the desk opened and Vice President Dick Cheney appeared, followed after a few seconds by President George W. Bush. The president held Barney, his black Scottish Terrier, with both arms, and crossed the carpet to his desk with measured steps. Dick pulled out the chair and George sat down. He leaned back and stroked the dog’s head as he looked in turn at each of his guests.
“Ah, gentlemen,” he said. “I’m so pleased you could join me.” He gestured at the two couches arranged opposite each other in front of the desk. “Please take a seat.”
Bill sat down on the edge of one of the couches. “George, I just have a quick question. Are we gonna have much to eat? Because if not, I should call ahead to the kitchen of my hotel so they can have something ready when I get back.”
“All in good time,” George said with a vaguely sinister grin. “All in good— Oh, Jesus — Dick, get this dog.”
Dick stepped forward and lifted Barney out of the president’s arms.
“He just pissed on me,” George explained.
“Do you need a change of clothes?” Dick asked as he carried Barney over to the door and tossed him into the next room.
“No, he just got me on the arm.” George pulled off his jacket and handed it to Dick, who threw it into the next room with Barney and closed the door.
“I’m sure you’re all wondering why President Bartlett hasn’t joined us yet,” George said, rolling up his sleeves. “Unfortunately, Jed is about to meet with a most tragic accident.” He put his feet up on the desk and chuckled darkly.
“Get your feet off the desk, boy!” Forty-One shouted.
George pulled his feet down and sat up straight. “Yes sir, sorry sir.”
“Just a moment,” said Barack, sitting forward. “When you said President Bartlett, did you mean from The West Wing?”
“Formerly of the West Wing, yes,” said George.
“He means the television show,” said Jimmy, “not the part of this building.”
“I know what he meant,” George said. “Bartlett thought he could hide from me by living under his actor name, but I outsmarted him. Last night I sent my agents to make a few . . . unscheduled repairs on his car.”
Barack and Jimmy exchanged a glance.
“Did you send the secret service to plant a bomb in Martin Sheen’s car, Mr. President?”
George snickered. “I’m not at liberty to say.”
“Oh, Jesus,” said Barack, reaching into his jacket. He pulled out his Blackberry, punched in a flurry of numbers and held it to his ear. “Hey, it’s me. Somebody find out where Martin Sheen lives and get the cops over to his house. President Bush had a bomb planted in his car. . . . Yeah, I’m serious.” Bill leaned in and whispered something in Barack’s ear. “Get someone over to Jimmy Smits’s place, too,” Barack added, and hung up.
“Jimmy Smits has nothing to fear from me,” George said as Barack tucked his Blackberry back into his jacket. “I stopped watching the show after Rob Lowe left.”
Bill raised his hand. “I’m sorry, are we eating or what?”
“Hold your tongue, democrat,” Cheney barked.
“What?!” Bill demanded, sitting up straight.
“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” George said, holding up his palms. “You’re right, of course, Bill. It’s past time that I revealed to you all your reason for being here.” He pushed away from the desk and slowly rose to his feet. “You see, I invited you for tea, but my true intention, I’m afraid, is . . . to make a desperate grab for power! Now!”
George snapped his fingers and the room was suddenly filled with secret service agents, all with their firearms drawn and trained on Barack and the ex-presidents.
“George!” bellowed Forty-One. “What is the meaning of this?!”
“You have very little to do with it, father,” George said, walking around to the front of the desk. “You and former presidents Carter and Clinton are merely irritating non-entities, echoes to be silenced.” He clapped his hands together and a group of secret service agents broke from the rest and took hold of Jimmy, Forty-One and Bill by the arms. “Take them to the catacombs!” ordered George, smiling wide. “Introduce them to my menagerie! For their sakes, I pray the lions are hungry so the end comes quickly.” Dick joined George in front of the desk. “Because the vice president’s feeding time is in less than an hour. . . . And he tends to play with his food.”
The secret service men ushered Jimmy, Forty-One and Bill roughly out of the office and down the corridor. George leaned against his desk, threw back his head and let off a shrill, wicked cackle.
“What do you want from me, Mr. President?” Barack asked, facing George from the center of the room.
“Want? Why, only what you have, Mr. President-elect. Only what I have had, and wish to go on having.” George took a step forward and looked around, running his eyes over every inch of the room in which they stood. “This office, and all its mighty and terrible power!”
Barack narrowed his eyes. “President Bush, do you really expect me to just hand over the presidency to you?”
“No, Mr. Obama,” George answered instantly, an evil gleam in his eye, “I expect you to die.” He reached to Dick for a high-five, which the vice president, with evident embarrassment, reluctantly provided.
“I think you’re forgetting something very important here,” Barack said. “Even if I wanted to abdicate the presidency to you, I don’t have the power. I was constitutionally elected. If I resign, Joe Biden becomes the president. If he resigns, it goes to the Speaker of the House. But no matter how many people in the line of succession agree to give up the office, it can’t ever go back to you, because you’ve already served two terms. Your presidency is over.”
George smirked. “What a small, dull man you are, Mr. Obama. Have you no imagination? Have you no sense of—”
Barack held up a finger. “Just a second. I’m vibrating.” He answered his Blackberry. “Hello? . . . Hi, sweetheart. . . . Of course she can. . . . Okay. Love you, too. . . . Bye-bye.” He tucked the Blackberry back into his pocket. “My daughter,” he said. “Wanted to know if her new friend from school could sleep over tonight. I’m sorry — you were saying?”
“If you value your life and the lives of your children, you will hand the presidency back to me!” George hissed, infuriated.
“I just told you, George, I can’t.”
George and Dick looked at one another and chuckled. “Can’t you?” George asked, turning back to Barack.
Dick pulled a folded sheet of paper from his pocket and handed it to George, who passed it to the president-elect. Barack unfolded the paper and skimmed it.
“What is this?” he asked.
“Your first — and last — executive order,” George said.
“‘I, Barack Obama, do voluntarily abdicate the Office of the President and, on behalf of Joe Biden, the Office of the Vice President, and do hereby bestow both offices and all the powers and privileges thereof upon President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, respectively.’” Barack shook his head and couldn’t help but smile a little as he folded the letter back up. “This is ridiculous.” He held the paper out to George. “The president doesn’t have the power to just give his office to someone else.”
“He can if it’s an executive order,” George insisted. “Right, Dick?”
“That’s always been our interpretation, yes,” said Dick with a nod.
George refused to take the paper from Barack. Instead, he took an ink pen from the desk. “Sign on the line, Mr. President,” George said, holding the pen out to Barack. “For the date, put January 20, 2009.”
Barack made no move to take the pen.
George nodded at the nearest secret service agent. The agent cocked the hammer of his .45 for effect and held the muzzle an inch away from the president-elect’s head.
“I assure you, Mr. Obama, in the next few moments either your signature or your brains will be on that paper,” said Dick.
Barack took a deep breath. Grudgingly, he unfolded the executive order and pressed the tip of the pen to the line.
The window behind the desk exploded in a shower of glass. A black-clad figure crashed into the office, rolling to his feet and grabbing George by the throat. He executed a leg-sweep that sent the president hard on his back, stepped over him and delivered a stiff roundhouse kick to the jaw of Dick. The vice president sailed back into the wall and slid motionless to the floor.
Seizing the distraction, Barack grabbed the gun from the agent nearest him and wrenched it free from his hand. Another agent approached and Barack stabbed the ink pen into his jugular, sending the agent to the floor with a spray of blood bursting from his neck. In another three seconds, following a flurry of fists and feet and a few crisp judo throws, Barack had the rest of the agents disarmed and sprawled on the carpet. He dropped the magazine out of the .45, ejected the round that had been in the chamber, and let the gun fall to the floor.
A blur of movement registered in the corner of his eye and Barack turned to see George back up and making a lunge for him. “You can’t stop me, Obama!” George screamed.
Barack met the soon-to-be-former president with an elbow to the face, stepped behind him and snapped his neck with one sharp motion. Barack released him and let him crumple lifelessly to the carpet. “Yes I can.”
Brushing his palms against the sleeves of his jacket, Barack turned to face his rescuer. “Good timing,” he said with a grin, and reached out to shake the hand of Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff. “The other presidents?”
“My men were able to save two of them,” Rahm said, his voice touched with regret. “One had already been fed to the lions.”
“Who didn’t make it?”
“It was President Carter, sir.”
Barack bowed his head. He pressed his fist to his lips and sighed. “Thank God,” he said, looking up. “How did you know I was in trouble?” he asked after a moment of silence.
“President Clinton was supposed to duck out of this early and meet me at McDonalds,” Rahm said. “When he didn’t show up, I got worried and decided to check it out. Am I ever glad I did.”
“Me too, my friend,” Barack said, placing a hand on Rahm’s shoulder. “Me—”
Barack’s eyes went past Rahm to Dick, who had risen to his feet and now charged toward them, shrieking and baring his teeth. Rahm turned and flung a steel shuriken from his sleeve. The projectile lodged itself in the vice president’s left eye. He stopped, froze for a moment, then collapsed dead into a heap.
Rahm turned back to Barack and gestured toward the door. “Let’s get the hell out of here, Mr. President. Our long national nightmare is finally over.”
As they left the office, Barack felt his pocket vibrate again. He checked his Blackberry. “Now Sasha wants to have a friend over,” he said with a chuckle, typing out a reply with his thumbs.
“You know, the secret service won’t let you keep that,” Rahm said, indicating the Blackberry with a nod. “Security risk.”
Barack glanced over his shoulder at the agents lying unconscious on the Oval Office floor. “Just let somebody try to take it,” he said. He smiled big, clapped his chief of staff on the back, and walked on up the corridor.