An Election Ballot
Nixon was dead: to begin with. That much was true. And no matter the libel or lies, it would remain true. It was not yet said to be untrue by Trump and this was good because of the doubt he was able to instill deep into the minds of those who believed (and believed hard) that his word was final. Usually, during election campaigns, the notion of saying President Richard Nixon had faked his death would be a ludicrous one, but with Donald Trump at the helm? Nothing was out of play. Even though playtime had long since passed.
And so it was that Trump buttoned his overdrawn overcoat and trudged through the snow to enter Trump Tower (his doorman had long since abandoned him) on the night before Election Day 2016. The world was on edge even as Trump found himself entirely alone. The most famous person in America with the most pivotal day in election history looming — and he was entirely alone. That was, until, he made eye contact with his first floor receptionist.
“Chris, what are you still doing here?” Trump asked, gesticulating wildly.
Chris Christie rapidly scrambled to his feet to salute the man. “A good man never leaves his post!”
“Everyone’s gone, Chris.”
“I did not wish to assume a thing, sir!” Christie barked obediently.
“Whatever,” Trump said, ignoring the governor completely. “I really don’t care.” The man with the golden hair and the golden campaign stepped into his golden elevator and pressed the silver button (that then lit up like gold) to the top of Trump Tower. He had to remind himself after poking at this shoelaces that he wasn’t King Midas. “I always forget that. I’m sorry, Donald.”
On the fortieth floor, the elevator stopped and the doors opened, revealing the snively face of a man Trump groaned and bent over to rub his knees upon seeing. He immediately begin pressing the “close door” button. Noticing this, the man spoke hurriedly.
“Please, Donald, just a second of your time,” Paul Ryan blurted out, taking out his headphones that had provided the soundtrack to his very intense workout.
“Not now, Paul, I’m not in the mood,” Trump said, noticing that when he touched the button it turned gold and he reminded himself about the Midas thing again.
Paul Ryan thrust his hands forward in the shape of a bowl. “Please, just whatever your pocket change is will be enough. I’m so far back in the polls and tomorrow’s Election Day! Any little bit helps.”
“Alright, we’re going to need to get these doors fixed,” Donald Trump said as they finally started to close. “Ah, that’s better. Bye bye Mr. Treasurer!”
Paul Ryan ran towards the elevator. “Donald! I’m not the treasurer, Donald. Please!”
“Never let that happen again,” Donald Trump said to no one in particular before the elevator reached his intended location. Just as he was about to step into his office, though, his intercom buzzed like the world around him. Chris Christie’s voice pierced Donald’s ears in a most unwelcome fashion.
“Your son, Eric, is on line two, Mr. Trump,” Christie offered. “He wants to know if you’ll be watching the results at his house tomorrow.”
“Honestly, just tell him to go fuck himself,” Donald said, rubbing his forehead.
“Yes, sir, right away, sir.” Christie obliged and caught Trump’s attention again as the billionaire’s hand was on his door handle that was shaped like a receding hairline. “While I have you, Master, may I have tomorrow off?”
“But tomorrow is election day,” Trump countered.
“I know, your honor. It’s just that Fox News offered me a spot as an analyst for the day tomorrow and I’d really like to do my best with it.”
“Tell ya what, Chris. Call everyone who works here and give them the day off tomorrow. But I expect you here for the entire day. Okay?” Trump ordered before releasing his hold of the intercom button.
“Thank you, my lord,” Chris said obediently to empty air.
Donald Trump sat down in his luxury throne that was fit for a king like him (just not Midas) and checked his Casio watch. 11:37 P.M.
“I’m bored!” Trump whined. “I wonder what Scott’s up to.” Muttering, Trump dialed his close friend and third-tier Happy Days star, Scott Baio before being sent immediately to voicemail. “His phone battery must be dead. Like his career. What a loser! Only losers don’t answer my calls…” Trump paused. “Why didn’t he answer it?” he said softly, almost as if he was trying to ensure that he couldn’t hear himself. “I know who always picks up!” Donald said with renewed confidence before dialing the call-in number for The O’Reilly Factor. He was put on air immediately, satisfying Trump momentarily.
“Yes, this is Donald Trump! I just wanted to call and say that maybe the final solution doesn’t have to be, you know, the final solution. You know what I mean, okay?” Trump said to Bill O’Reilly before hanging up the phone. “That should get ’em talking for a little bit.”
Donald Trump put his feet up on his enormous desk (it’s really huge. You wouldn’t believe how big it is, folks. It’s really something) and stared at a framed picture he had on his desk of Ivanka, his eyelids growing heavy until he was startled by the sound of cheeks flapping. Like a cauldron come to life. “You’re acting like a crook,” the voice growled.
“Get off the intercom, Chris, okay?” Trump responded and adjusted his body in his chair.
“You dare compare me to that thing?” the voice replied, seizing Trump. The 2016 Republican nominee’s eyes widened as he looked into the jowly face of the 1960, 1968, and 1972 Republican nominee, President Richard Nixon.
“Oh my god,” Trump said with near-admiration. “How did you get in here?”
“I’m a ghost, Donald. I went through the wall,” Nixon replied.
Donald nearly shook with fear. “Are you kidding me? People can go through walls? And I’m just now figuring this out? Oh, this is gonna be a disaster, folks. I’m tellin’ ya.”
“Pay attention to me, you ghoul!”
“I’m not a ghoul; I’m a ghost.”
“Whatever. The difference doesn’t matter to me. I prefer people who didn’t die, but that’s just me,” Trump said, each word slipping past his lips like a fish leaping out of a teacup filled with milk.
“Heed my words and heed them well, Donald Trump. If you don’t drop out of the election, you will be doomed to roam the world for all eternity — just as I am forced to do! You have wronged this country. As I did. This is my eternal punishment. You wouldn’t want to end up like me, would you?” Nixon droned.
Hardly paying attention to the ghost, Trump was picking blemishes out of his very expensive suit. “Look, can you just get out of here, okay? I’ve really got a big day tomorrow. It’ll be just fantastic. A big day. Huge.”
“Tonight, you will be visited by three American spirits. They will show you the error of your ways. Beware, Donald. Beware! Do not ruin my beloved party like this. Beware…” Nixon floated upwards, leaving Trump’s office like he left the White House: to the sky, baby.
“That was weird,” Trump said before calling Chris Christie over the intercom. “Chris, don’t let any more Nixon impersonators in my office again, okay? Very poor job. Sad!” He hung up before Christie could protest, putting his feet up on the desk again and picking up a piece of paper that was folded in half on his desk. Inside were chalky, purple scribblings that read:
“Knew poll Rezults!
Many peepul say Daddy winning 100% to meanie Hilllaree’s zerO!!! Yay Go Daddyy!!! :D
Luv, Eric Trump!”
There was a drawing on the piece of paper, too, of Eric holding what appeared to be his father’s hand, though the hand was too small to really make out all that well.
“This is fantastic,” Trump said. “Really just tremendous news. I’m winning very bigly,” he continued, eyelids collapsing under the weight of impending slumber once again. “Very bigly…” Trump said, drifting off once again.
Trump’s shut-eye was disturbed once more, the sound of suggestive moaning emanating from behind Trump and stirring him rapidly.
“Not now, Ivanka!” Donald exclaimed, spinning one hundred and eighty degrees in his throne only to find Senator Bernie Sanders hunched over the windowsill with a piece of KFC chicken between his fingers. “What’s going on here?!”
“Oh,” Bernie said, putting the chicken down and cleansing himself with a brown napkin. “You’re awake! I found this dinner over in the corner of your office; I hope you don’t mind! It was delicious. Have you heard of that $5 Fill-Up they’re offering now? That’s a good deal, a good bargain! That’s what I call eating, Mr. Trump!”
“Bernie,” Trump began. “What the fuck are you doing in my office?”
“Mr. Trump!” Bernie shouted, with some chicken flakes on his cheek. “I! Am your conscience!”
Donald stared at Bernie blankly as a blanket of silence fell upon his lavish office before the two began laughing at one another.
“You called my bluff, Donald!”
“Right?” Trump chuckled. “We both know I don’t have that.”
“Right! I am the Ghost of Election Day Past!” Sanders proclaimed.
“Oh, seriously?” Trump said. “So Nixon wasn’t bullshitting me?”
“That’s right, Donald.”
Trump countered. “Why are you this ghost? Shouldn’t I be talking to Lincoln or Washington or something? I mean, come on Bernie, you’re not even dead. Don’t make me give you the nickname, Lyin’ Bernie!”
“They picked a very recent runner-up! From the primaries!”
“I’m like six feet away, Bernie, okay? Lower your voice, huh?” Donald said, massaging his leather head.
“You’re about to be thirty-nine years away, Donald! And considering inflation, that would put you in the-”
“Yeah, Bernie, I get it. I’m rich. Let’s just get this over with.”
Bernie paused. “But first! You’re not in the proper attire for holding my hand and time traveling, Mr. Trump! Here, put these on!” The runner-up for the 2016 Democratic nomination handed Trump a nightgown and cap, one of which had Bernie’s name written in Sharpie on the tag.
“Why do I have to wear these?”
“They’re more Scrooge-like, Donald.”
“More what like?”
“Oh, nothing!” Bernie said before clutching Trump’s newly dressed body and flying out the top window of Trump Tower all the way to April 7, 1977 at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.
“Do you remember this?” Bernie asked.
Trump was staring at a blonde woman in a white dress who was walking by the duo, unaware of their presence. “Check out the rack on her,” Trump said, elbowing Bernie.
“Is that a no then?”
“Is what a no, Bernie?”
“The woman who just passed us, Donald, was your first wife, Ivana! This is the day! Of your wedding! You really don’t remember?” Sanders shouted in staccato.
“Whatever,” Trump said. “You should remember what I said. Keep. This. Quick! I don’t want this to take all night. I’ll be very disappointed, Bernie.” The two approached the front door of the church and peeked inside as the ceremonies unfolded.
“Don’t you remember how happy this day was for you, Donald? How joyous? You married your first love.”
Trump scoffed. “Ivana was not my first love. I’ll tell you that much. My first love? You wouldn’t know her. Nice girl. Very nice. So nice you wouldn’t believe it. Gosh she was nice, wasn’t she, folks?”
“It’s just me here-” Bernie was interrupted immediately.
“Nicest girl. Little brunette, but that’s okay. Not her fault, is it? Not at all. She couldn’t help it. Porked me in the back of a station wagon. Very nice girl. Tremendous girl. Love her. Just love her. The absolute best. Bit of a slut, but she can’t help it. Very nice. Let’s give her a round of applause.”
“Donald, please,” Bernie said. “We’re not at a rally! But if your wedding won’t get through to you, maybe this will.” Senator Sanders held onto Donald’s shoulder as he carried them both three years into the future. “Surely, you remember this.” The two were once again standing outside of Trump Tower which was festooned in a “Carter/Mondale 1980” poster.
“Oh, Carter!” Trump squealed and looked around the area with shifty eyes. “I mean, ugh…ew! Carter, blech! Gross! What a loser.”
“It’s okay, Donald. We’re in 1980. You were a democrat then.”
Trump breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank God.”
“So you do remember this night?”
“Of course I do, Bernie. It was a big night.”
“The night Carter lost.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“What’s the matter, Donald? I thought you loved Reagan!” Bernie yelled before bringing Trump to the window of his office once again. “Look inside.”
Donald Trump pressed his face to the glass and watched as his old self and Ivana and their first child, Donald Jr., sitting on a black leather couch watching a rather modest television screen. The building wouldn’t be open for another three years so it was just the three members of the Trump family, alone and peaceful and together. Playing on television was the news with the latest bulletin predicting a Carter loss in the 1980 election. Ivana was crying and Donald was consoling her. “Who knows?” he said. “I’m sure Reagan is a great guy. What’s important now is that we let Carter know how much his campaign meant to us. We don’t want to be sore losers. He lost fair and square. But he still tried his best. And that’s what counts. It’ll be okay, honey.”
Bernie Sanders was busy watching the face of 2016 Donald Trump and how he reacted to this. He noticed a single tear fall from The Donald’s eye. “Are you okay, Mr. Trump?” Bernie asked, surprisingly softly.
“Yeah,” Donald choked. “I’m alright. It’s just…that was one of the last nights when it was just the three of us. We really were happy for a while. A long while. A long, long time. And then everything got so muddled and corporate. But even though she’s crying…we were truly happy.”
Bernie put one hand on The Donald’s shoulder and prepared to arrive at the next and final (for Bernie) destination. As the two flew away from Trump Tower, circa 1980, the past Donald Trump could be heard faintly. “At least Reagan is still white.”
Bernie’s last location for Trump to visit was, again, Trump Tower, but this time it was in 1992 and the pair found themselves looking into the top floor’s window once more. A grouchy Donald Trump sat at his desk, pouting and stewing, days after George H. W. Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. Sitting across from him was Ivana, who bore no tears. Yet.
“Look, Ivana. It’s nothing personal, but I think you’re a bad omen.”
“What do you mean?” Ivana asked with confusion.
“Well, I’ve had my suspicions. That’s why we got divorced. But I need to cut ties with you for good. The first election we’re married for? My guy loses. Second election. Another loss for me. Not good. Deplorable. I suspected some rigging, too. Then, I switch parties. And now? This uppity hotshot Bill Clinton beats H.W. I blame you, Ivana.”
“But Donald, we are divorced. And Bush won one election!” Ivana said.
The Donald nodded. “I know, but like I said, ‘for good.’ And also, I don’t care. I’m suing you for every penny you’ve got you goddamn lowlife. And I’m blaming it on the gag clause.”
“But Donald!” she pleaded.
“I won’t hear another word and if I did, I’d refuse to comprehend it.”
“You are not the man I married,” Ivana whispered meekly before reluctantly skulking out of his office. Bernie turned to the 2016 edition of The Donald, expecting more tears, but he was surprised.
“She handled that very poorly. She got what she deserved,” the new Donald said in sync with the old Donald. Only, the new Donald said it with more of an attempt to convince himself. Bernie frowned and returned Donald Trump to the present-day, too discouraged to say another word to the aspiring demagogue.
Donald Trump couldn’t fall asleep. Instead, he sat forward in his throne and tapped the desk with his fingers, awaiting the second ghost. Just as he was near to dozing off again, a rapping penetrated his office door. “Come in,” he said with very little energy.
The first part of the second ghost seen by Donald was the hand opening the door, a hand with a skin tone that was much darker than Bernie Sanders’s. Trump screamed. “Ah! A bla- I mean. Uhm, ah! Obama!”
“Yes, Donald, hello,” President Barack Obama greeted the businessman, ignoring his near Freudian slip of Song of the South proportions. “It’s me. The, uh…Ghost of Election Day Present.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Donald said. “Nixon promised only American ghosts.”
“Goddamn it, Donald! I am American!”
“I’m sorry, Barack, I really am. But you’ve gotta be careful, ya know? Gotta be careful. Can’t be too careful. The more careful you can be the better.”
“Yeah. Yup, sure, Donald.”
“Look, man. Between you and me,” Donald said, leaning close to the president. “I know you were born in the U.S. I just said that for some attention. And the people who believed it? Eh, it’s all they had. So I kept it going, okay? I kept it going.”
“I wish I had a tape recorder, Donald.”
“That’s not the first time I’ve heard that, Barack.”
President Barack Obama eyed Donald Trump up and down before remarking on his apparel. “Looks like Bernie got you all dressed up! He’s, uh…he’s a pro at this! Ready to go, then, Donald?”
“Yeah. Okay. But I’ll tell you what I told Crazy Bernie. Make it quick!”
The pair soared over New York City and looked at each other like they could burst into a goosebumps-inducing rendition of “A Whole New World” at any moment. Breaking eye contact first, Trump looked ahead at the city.
“It really is beautiful, you know,” Trump said to Obama. “I’ve always loved this city. All I wanted was for the city to love me back.”
“You were in Macy’s ads, Donald. Wasn’t that enough?”
“No. It wasn’t. I’m not sure anything is enough.”
Barack Obama’s glance lingered on Trump for a few seconds longer after Trump finished speaking until Obama looked ahead once again to prepare for landing at the Salisbury Hotel.
“Oh, don’t even tell me,” Trump said, recognizing the building.
“I’ve got a question, Donald. Why doesn’t, uh…Mike Pence stay in, uh…Trump Tower when he’s in New York?” Obama asked.
“Look, he’d just be so annoying and needy. And he’s nowhere near rich enough.”
Obama and Trump hovered outside the window of the Indiana governor’s hotel room and watched as he sobbed into a telephone. “I don’t know why I agreed to this!” Pence cried. “I don’t want to be his veep! I didn’t think he’d pick me! I just wanted people to know my name! No one ever knew who the fuck I was! It sucked. I offered him so much! I offered to make love to him! Oh, god, I’m just so disgusted with myself. What the hell happened? I thought he was going to pick, like, Ian Ziering or some shit. Never me! Oh, god, I’m not ready for this! He has to lose! He has to!”
Trump looked to Obama. “He’s pathetic. Spineless. I always thought so. Very sad.”
“Even the furthest right of the Republicans are nauseated by you Trump. I’m not even sure what group you appeal to exactly. People who spend all day on Reddit? I’m not sure. Your own veep, hates you,” Obama said.
“It really sounds like hates himself more.”
“He probably does. But that’s because he chose to stand by you.”
“Whatever,” Donald said, finding it hard to look away from the shell of the man in the hotel room who now had his pants around his ankles. “Lots of veep picks have been upset with their bosses before.”
“Not me and Joe! We made, uh…friendship bracelets,” Obama said.
“Yeah, okay, but you two are obviously an…exception,” Trump replied, picking his words carefully. This in itself was a new milestone for Trump.
“Well, then, let’s see some people you don’t consider exceptions. People who are preparing for the worst. They’re preparing for a Trump victory like it’s the apocalypse.”
Trump laughed. “The end is nigh!”
“Now, Donald,” Obama said. “You know I love a good Ragnarok joke. But this is serious business.” And so, Barack Obama made good on his promise to show Trump the wide array of people who were preparing for the worst possible outcome of Election Day. There were Syrian refugees who were trying desperately to accelerate the process of becoming legal citizens. The LGBT community questioned how marriage licenses could be upheld. Women over the age of fifty researched the cost of plastic surgery so as not to be placed on the future blacklist of their potential president. Black people, Asian people, Jewish people, Mexicans, Poles, and even the Swiss. Barack Obama showed them and their panic to Trump and he asked him, “So what do you think?”
Donald Trump was silent. It was like his campaign staff changed his Twitter password on him; he had nothing to say.
Obama nodded and spoke for him. “One more stop.” The impending lame duck president glided with style to Chappaqua, New York, bringing Donald Trump to the home of his political rival, Hillary Clinton. “Something to lighten your mood,” Obama said.
Trump peered in the living room window and saw Hillary and Bill running in circles throwing fistfuls of money at each other. The television screen showcased CNN, which was predicting a Clinton landslide, clearly the cause for the couple’s celebration. Before he could blink, Trump saw Bill chant something in a foreign language as he lit a match and burned the pile of dollars that accumulated by his ankles. Hillary laughed, yelled, “Watch this!” and threw a suitcase full of all different sorts of guns into the flames and cackled some more. Bill giggled through tears and said, “No, no! This!” as he removed the original Constitution of the United States from his back pocket and threw that into the fire, too. Barack Obama pulled Trump away from the window just as Hillary began forwarding the nuclear codes to her entire address book on GMail.
“It was just about to get good, Mr. President!”
Slightly taken aback by the referral of respect, Obama managed to gather himself. “I know, Donald. But our time together is up.” The President’s hair grew exponentially grayer over the course of the past hour. Almost as fast as how gray it became over his eight years in the White House.
“I knew that’s what they do when they’re alone,” Trump trailed off as President Barack Obama returned the mogul to his top floor office.
“Good night, Donald,” Obama said before fading away from Trump’s field of vision.
“It’s been nothing of the sort,” Trump said as he pulled his chair away from the desk. Before he even had the chance to sit down, his door swung open violently. “Ghost number three already?”
A hooded figure with a scythe charged into Trump’s office, causing the seventy-year-old to be so startled he fell onto the floor. “What do you want spirit?” Trump asked with genuine fear as he crawled backwards on all fours, cowering against the wall.
“I wantcha ta get yer factz right, Donny boy! HAHAhaahHaAHAahHah!” The ghost ripped his hood off, revealing Gary Busey to be beneath it. “Da Ghost of Chrissmuz Futuahh is da fourth speerit! DUH!”
“Good lord, you’re disgusting Gary,” Trump said, rising to his feet again. Gary simply wagged his tongue outside of his mouth. “Why aren’t any of these ghosts actually dead?”
“Lez goooo!!!!!” Gary Busey yelled, smashing through the glass of the window and plummeting down below with Donald Trump in tow. Just before the two connected with the concrete, the world shifted and they had truly entered the future.
“We’re in the future?” Trump asked, but Gary Busey did not answer. There was blood on the sidewalk and Trump glanced down to see the former Celebrity Apprentice contestant dead on the ground next to him. Then, he noticed someone was holding his nightgown from behind.
“Yes, we are. And I’m the actual Ghost of Election Day Future,” Matt Damon said to the confused Republican nominee.
“What about Gary?” Trump asked with uncertainty.
“Oh, him? He just jumped out the window with you. I had to catch you. His insanity had some pretty good timing even if he did think it was Christmas.”
“So he’s just dead,” Trump said to himself.
“Forget about him. Let’s see what happens to America if you win the presidency.” Matt Damon said, grabbing Trump’s shoulder and leading him around the corner of Trump Tower to reveal a bright orange painting of Trump with his arm outstretched. It was labeled, “WE LOVE TRUMP.” Matt Damon spoke not a word and simply escorted Donald Trump around New York City (newly renamed Trump York City), letting the dystopia speak for itself. (Or, maybe in Trump’s case, the utopia.)
Everything was Trump themed. Trumpin’ Donuts. The Trump York Trumps. Captain Trumperica: The Winter Trump. Trumpbarro’s. The Trumpway. The Trump York Yanktrumps. Madison Trump Garden. The Rockettes. Everything was Trump.
Perhaps the most jarring image was that the diversity mecca that was once New York now contained only the faces of smiling white men and smiling white women who were under the age of fifty. Trumpotrons of happiness levels across the country reflected this new racial whitening like it was invented by Crest.
The video screens reflected record levels of happiness, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anything without Trump’s name on it was in disarray. Billy Joel’s concert sellout streak had ended. Children were eating rocks. Derek Jeter was dead. This was New York now. This was Trumperica.
“Take me back, Matt Damon! Take me back!” Trump said, unable to bear the silence anymore.
Matt Damon grinned. He finally learned his lesson, the star of The Bourne Identity thought to himself. And Good Will Hunting, too.
“Take me back, Matt Damon!” Trump continued to yell before he felt the air around him shift and he sat up with a start. He was back in his office at Trump Tower. “It’s not too late! There’s still time!” Donald Trump rushed to his window and flung it open, spotting Chris Christie holding the door open for a ragtag crew of homeless people. (Trump ignored this, but he kept a mental note of it.)
“You there! Christie!” Trump yelled. “What day is it?”
“Why, sir!” Chris Christie exclaimed. “It’s election day!”
“Oh, then, I haven’t missed it,” Trump said to himself before leaning back out of the window. “Do you know all those ads I made for Trump Steaks today during election coverage?”
“The Trump Steaks ads? Why, of course, sir!”
“Cancel them!” Trump yelled, pausing so he could spit on a man of Mexican heritage as he walked by. (Actually, news cameras recorded this and his polling numbers rose one percent after it was reported.)
“But why, sir?” Christie called back.
“I want you to replace them all with campaign ads! Every last one of them!” Trump hollered, throwing stacks of money worth millions of dollars out the window to the governor of New Jersey. “And there isn’t a minute to lose, governor!” Trump shuttered his window, confident that Christie had enough money to make his dreams a reality, especially when it felt so real after what Matt Damon showed him.
“Trumperica, here we come!”