Emphasis
Published in

Emphasis

Vladimir Putin creeps the President with a “dildoll” during the summit press conference. The Emphasis was given a preview the evening before. (Kremlin)

”He’s Definitely Grover Dill”

Exclusive Helsinki interview with two world leaders

”He’s Definitely Grover Dill,” agreed Soviet President Vladimir Putin during a two-on-one sit down interview. The discussion of the 1980’s movie “A Christmas Story” may have been the highlight of an interview that was cordial, but always on the edge of ending over a single misstep.

Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump (albeit begrudgingly) agreed to meet with Emphasis for fifteen minutes during their busy schedule in Helsinki last week. We initially contacted the White House to suggest a friendly meet-and-greet between a small publication and the two world leaders most hostile to a free press.

The White House refused to return our call. Rather than giving up, we called the Kremlin and Putin called back personally within the hour. “We check you out. You’re being like comedy fake news with no influence whatever. No one will pay attention, and we can say we reached out to press. Seems agreeable to us.”

When I told Putin the White House wouldn’t cooperate, he said, “Leave Donald to me.”

Given the furor that followed the President’s press interview, Emphasis wanted to let readers know he had some good moments. Now that the Kremlin has removed any “issues of concern” from the story, and released my grandmother — who they were holding pending final approval — we have full clearance to release the interview.

When I told Putin the White House wouldn’t cooperate, he said, “Leave Donald to me.”

The Setting

The glass "doll" Putin presented to 45 at Helsinki .(JennyD)
The glass “doll” Putin presented to 45 at Helsinki .(JennyD)

We met in a small alcove at the new Trump Hotel Helsinki, “hotel which is financed with perfectly legal Russian money,” Putin’s aide assured me. The curtains were drawn, ”for President’s safety, and maybe safer for your guy too.” Putin’s staff provided a soft leather office chair, and two wood kitchen chairs for the President and me.

Putin wore a light cashmere sweater, slacks and Italian shoes. He sat with one ankle over his knee, and leaned into his chair like a man in charge. He settled into his chair and, once I did the same, he leaned forward to offer his hand, forcing me to stand and cross the room to take it.

Putin wore a light cashmere sweater, slacks and Italian shoes. He sat with one ankle over his knee, and leaned into his chair like a man in charge. He settled into his chair and, once I did the same, he leaned forward to offer his hand, forcing me to stand and cross the room to take it.

He pulled a velvet bag from inside his jacket, like the ones used for Crown Royal whiskey. He held it toward me.

Tell me what you think. Is gift for Donald.

I opened the bag and peeked inside to see a long glass shaft with a bulbous head. A shaggy blonde doll’s wig was pasted onto the tip, and the sculpture was dressed with a black jacket, white shirt and tie.

Is Russian doll of Donald. Abstract, but still recognizable, would you say?

It’s a Dildo with a Donald wig.

Splitting the hairs. It should look good on his mantle.

He took it back and tucked it behind him, out of sight.

Was thinking I may, what is American word, “creep” him with it tomorrow. Good joke for everyone.

Forty-five entered the room and looked for his own leather office chair. Realizing only the wooden chair was available, he plopped into the seat, causing one of the legs to crack.

This hotel should buy sturdier chairs.

He launched into a tirade about the interview cutting into his Tweet time, but Putin snapped a pet training clicker and POTUS took his seat. An attendant wheeled a cart with tea and a pile of Big Macs into the room. During the interview, Putin would toss one to the President to get his attention, which frequently wandered.

POTUS wore a blue suit. It was hand tailored with an expensive cotton and wool blend, but looked like something from JC Penny’s next to Putin’s. I realized, seeing it in person, that his suits always look like he bought them from JC Penny’s. He gripped his arms with his hands and watched me like he expected me to steal his wallet.

POTUS wore a blue suit. It was hand tailored with an expensive cotton and wool blend, but looked like something from JC Penny’s next to Putin’s. I realized, seeing it in person, that his suits always look like he bought them from JC Penny’s.

Just what I need. One more fake news interview. If I had the money I would buy the fake news and they would tell the American people the truth, which is every word out of my mouth.

You do have money, Donald. Just not where you can get to it until witch hunt is over.

Tell me about it. Better yet….

He pulled out his iPhone and started Tweeting. Putin tossed a Big Mac. It landed in the middle of POTUS’s lap, knocking the phone from his fingers.

You Tweet too much Donald.

To me:

I understand catch is important game to Americans. We plan to play touch football catch tomorrow with your President. Friendly game, not like soccer. If time, maybe we do some fishing.

I’m a great fisherman. Never tried it until but Vladitaught me, and now I’m better than he is. I caught a six-foot surgeon last time we fished.”

He stretched his arms as far to the side as they would go to demonstrate his catch’s size. Putin held up his fingers to indicate a couple of inches.

You mean sturgeon?

I mean a fish. What the hell’s a sturgeon?

Fishing is difficult sport to master. Is okay if you struggle a little, Donald.

I taught him to golf. He’s gotten pretty good at it.

Little bit. Could do better.

What’s your handicap now? 20? 22? Mine’s an 18.

Carnoustie course in Scotland make me add six to my score to give others chance. Very tough sport. If only we could all learn quickly.

[This Section Sanitized by Authority of Federal Security Service]

Some of our readers in America have called the two of you the Scott Farkus and Grover Dill of international politics.

Fuck us and a pickle? What are you talking about? Is this some kind of joke?

Putin throws him another Big Mac and suggests he calm down to “let the big boys talk.”

Is interesting suggestion. I think my friend Donald would make good Grover Dill. Yes, he’s definitely Grover Dill. But me? Scott Farkus? No, he seems thick to me. Dead eyes. Maybe better comparison is Bumpus’ dogs. Always barking, you never forget they’re close, but don’t strike until you stop looking. Better comparison, I think.

I think my friend Donald would make good Grover Dill. (But for me) better comparison is Bumpus’ dogs. Always barking, you never forget they’re close, but don’t strike until you stop looking.

’45: What the hell are you talking about? Why wasn’t I briefed on this?

Donald, would you pay attention if they briefed you?

Why should I? If they knew more than me, they’d be boss. But they’re not. I am. So I don’t have to listen.

You listen to my advise, Donald.

Of, course I do. You’re my…

Putin’s face turned dark and he leaned forward. If his eyes shot laser’s the President would’ve been cut in half. POTUS stopped in the middle of the sentence, took a moment to rephrase and said, “You’re my most respected advisor.”

Putin relaxed and returns to our conversation.

We’re referencing “A Christmas Story. A movie about a boy and his Red Rider BB Gun.

BB gun? What kind of gun is that? I didn’t fight hand-to-hand in the Vietnam with the NRA to establish the Second Amendment for BB Guns.

Donald, your “Christmas Story” is iconic movie. Should not miss.

Iconic? Does that mean I have to read the little words at the bottom of the screen? Forget it. I don’t watch movies you have to read.

[This Section Sanitized by Authority of Federal Security Service]

Thank you for your time, gentlemen,

POTUS left the room without responding, his phone in his fingers, thumbs pounding furiously on the virtual keyboard.

You are very welcome. Next time you wish interview, this was only one.

45: “Iconic? Does that mean I have to read the little words at the bottom of the screen? Forget it. I don’t watch movies you have to read.”

He strolled casually from the room, greeting each of his attendants by name. After fifteen minutes, security agents escorted me to the airport and revoked my passport.

I returned to the US with more than twenty minutes of audio. The approved audio is shorter.

My source at the White House told me that when the President returned he requested that I be added to the targets of Mueller’s investigation, but the Special Counsel declined.

Wry noir author Phillip T. Stephens wrote Cigerets, Guns & Beer, Raising Hell, and the Indie Book Award winning Seeing Jesus. Follow him @stephens_pt.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T Stephens

Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.