Very Bad Day

An adviser was standing in the entrance of the President’s office and behind her people were charging around spastic and sweaty-lipped like when you’ve got to catch a train. Piled all over his desk were sheets of paper, on which he had written many important lists — DUMBEST BIRDS, NAMES FOR MY HELICOPTER, MALLS THAT HAVE SBARRO. On one sheet he had written 12 different incorrect spellings of the word “mozzarella”. On the wall was a picture of Courtney Thorne Smith which was, for reasons that were unclear, autographed by Rod Blagojevich.

MR PRESIDENT? The adviser said. THIS IS VERY URG- and the president cut her off. “Stephanie, go over there against that wall, write something on your hand and see if I can read it from here.” The President had incredible vision, he told people he had incredible, perfect vision. “I could have been a fighter pilot except I was too tall, too big to fit in the jets they said, I told them I would sign something if I had to but there were regulations, and you see this all over now, but I would have been very special and everyone was saying it always. When I was younger we’d fly back from vacation and I’d point out the window of the plane and I’d say Dad, is that our house, is that it right there, and he would say yes it is, and it was true, I always knew where it was, we were so high in the air.”

Stephanie’s limbs were still and the president was thumping at a delirious rhythm.

“I could have been anything I wanted, I could have been a bouncer or a relief pitcher or a president, something like that, and now I really am the president, I won because I’m a winner and I get to be president and for the rest of my life if I want, can you believe that? I met a minister yesterday who told me all the mice in his basement are gone now, he never sees them anymore, they ran away and the rest he beat to death with an umbrella. We’re doing a wonderful job.”

The president had chunks of sandwich on his mouth and his nostrils were shiny.

PLEASE MR. PRESI- but no one could reach him, the sky was dark and his brain was very far away.

“Even in 8th grade I was very tall, the janitor used think I was faculty, he was Ecuadorean or maybe Italian. I had my father pay him to come to my birthday party and get on all fours so I could ride him around like a donkey, he had to make donkey sounds like a real donkey, not horse sounds, they’re very different actually, hee-haw hee-haw, you know what I’m talking about. He had to take me in circles around the driveway till his pants were ripped and his knees had cuts in them and there was gravel stuck in his blood, but he did it because I was such a great boy and that was his job.”

Stephanie went against the wall and wrote something on her hand and held it in the air. It was illegible from where the president sat so he crept toward her, rolling on his chair, slowly at first until finally he could see it and he was right there in front of her, but by then he had forgotten about his incredible vision. He reached out his hand and held hers but he wasn’t looking at the writing now, he wasn’t thinking about it at all.

“You have such soft palms,” he said, his voice was low like when you don’t want to wake a child. “Have you ever been told that? You could be ovulating, it’s true, it’s one of the signs, many things will happen to you, to the vulva, how are you feeling dear?” Then he licked her palm till what was written on it was just a black smear and he sighed a full deep sigh, like when your subway car begins to move.

“I own condominiums all over America. Have you ever been to Orlando?”