Fighting in the War Room

“His Excellency Kaiser Trump has announced that political strategist Steve-o Bannon has promised to dial down his obvious dependence on alcohol and to pull himself together a little bit so he can serve on the National Security Counsel. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence — “neither guy has much to do with national security, really. If you think about it,” His Excellency observed — will be permitted to wait quietly in the hall outside the briefing room, and if time permits, may weigh in toward the end of NSC meetings. All future presentations by all member of the Council are to be given on Tri-Fold Poster Board, like a fifth grade science project. “It’s way better,” said His Excellency in a statement. “Keeps it short. Plus when these guys have to bust out the Puffy Paint and Glitter Glue, and hafta fit in the Intro and Data AND Conclusion all on one board, and also make it look NICE, you know they’ve really put in the effort. Makes a yuge difference. Yuge.” — New York Times, Jan. 30, 2017

Bannon, His Excellency, others file into Briefing Room. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Dan Coats, nominee for Director of National Intelligence, try to hustle in unobtrusively at the back of the pack.

Bannon: Ut-tut-tut. You two. We’ve covered this. Hallway.

Dunford: (producing fat binder) All due respect, Mr. Bannon, I have a great deal of time-sensitive information that the Pres —

Bannon shoots him withering look.

Dunford: (sigh.) That His Excellency needs to see ASAP.

Bannon points to poster on wall reading “If It Don’t Fit On a Board, His Excellency Gets BORED,” with a well-muscled Trump sitting on a gold Zeus throne; shoos him out of the room.

Bannon: Hold up, doofus. (Benny Hill-smacks Coats on top of head few times.) You’re not even confirmed, yet. You’re lucky I’m letting you stay in the hall.

Coats: On what authority —

Bannon: (whips out wallet, produces card) Right here, ya bitch-ass bitch.

Coats: (peering at card) That’s the Pres — His Excellency’s — Executive Order. From yesterday.

Bannon: That’s right, General Pindick. It is.

Coats: (muttering) When did you even get that thing laminated?

Bannon: Hallway. (slams door, doinking Coats on nose.)

Coats: (through door.) Ow.

Trump: Can we be done?

Bannon: In a sec, Buddy. (fishes gold-flecked pellet from pocket, holds before Trump’s mouth, Trump excitedly munches it. Bannon scratches behind His Excellency’s ear.) Right. Whattawe got? (General raises hand.) You. Baldy.

General: Actually, sir, the name is Lt. General Randall —

Bannon: Ahbuhbuhbuh. Don’t care. Whattaya got? Where’s your board?

General: That’s what I wished to discuss. We’ve reached a consensus — this new board-based system is not equal to the task of characterizing the complexity of a large number of the fluid situations that the U.S. and its allies —

Trump starts flapping hands, looking distressed, mewling like a trapped animal. Bannon steps over to cradle his giant head. Produces another gold-flecked pellet from pocket, offers to Trump. Trump munches eagerly, settling down a little.

Bannon: (the ultra-calm voice you’d use if there was a coyote in the conference room, stroking Trump’s giant head.) You’ve upset him. Now. If there’s anything you need to tell us. It’s got to go on a board.

General: (soothing, singsong.) I’m reaallllly sorry, Your Excellency. But the situation on the ground in Aleppo alone is far too complex to be able to fit on a bo —

Trump: (tiny hands clamped to ears) LALALALALALA! (Bannon gives him a pellet, reaches under his jacket to scratch his back.)

Bannon: (to General.) Hallway.

General exits.

Trump: (near tears.) I don’t like that one. (opens mouth wide for another pellet. Bannon’s pocket is empty.)

Bannon: Shit. You. Admiral Flattop. Snag some more treats. (points to corner.)

Admiral crosses, reaches into bag labeled “Tycoon Chow.” The word “Tycoon” is struck through with Sharpie, the word “President” is written above it.

Bannon: Let’s go. Chop-chop.

Admiral crosses to Bannon, places handful of pellets into his hand. Bannon fills his pocket once more, gives Trump a treat.

Bannon: What about the rest of you dipshits?

The highest ranking military men in the country reach behind their chairs to set up their presentation boards.

You can find longer essays, satire, fiction, and info on the workshops I teach in Chicago on my site: ianbelknap.com

Founder of WRITE CLUB. Essays, satire, criticism in The Rumpus, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, American Theatre Magazine, etc. writerianbelknap.com