LOVE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP, next chapter

Two

President

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” said the President. “Thank you, friends, for joining me in this wonderful celebration of… well, me.”

On cue, the crowd broke into the first of what would be several joyous interruptions.

“It’s really wonderful,” Trump continued with a grin, shaking his head as if in happy disbelief. “I’m still your president. Look at this. Fifty years later and I’m still your president. Can you believe it?”

“YES!” the crowd answered together.

“I bet you can believe it. I certainly can, that I will tell you. I look at myself in the mirror every day and I say to myself, this has been such a wonderful thing. That I get to be President. That you get to have me as your President.”

Thunderous applause boomed across the mall. Eight million hands clapping in unison. This is amazing. The most incredible thing I have ever seen, Willy thought.

The applause lasted for a solid thirty seconds, until Trump raised his hands and playfully motioned for the crowd to quieten back down so he could continue his address.

As the audience obeyed, Willy realized that he’d been clapping right along with them, enjoying the moment every bit as much as those in personal attendance for the occasion.

“We have so much to celebrate together today,” the president continued. “All of the many wonderful things I’ve accomplished in these last five decades, some of which might have been perhaps just a little tiny bit less wonderful if not for the assistance of a few people. Not much assistance, of course. But just a little. A little bit. We would have been great without them, but, hey, it didn’t hurt. You know what I’m saying, right?”

“RIGHT!”

“Before we got started, I want to thank my daughter Ivanka and her husband, the wonderful Jared Kushner. You all know Jared. Say hello, Jared.”

He motioned to the row of five chairs behind him, where a thin, hawk-nosed young man with perfectly parted brown hair sat on the end closest to the podium, next to a blond young lady with china doll skin.  Jared and Ivanka, the president’s daughter and her husband.

They both wore expensive-looking sunglasses despite the overcast skies.

Jared smiled and waved gentle acknowledgement, as the crowd spontaneously chanted his name for a few seconds. Jar-ed! Jar-ed! Jar-ed!

‘That’s great. They love you, Jared!” Trump said, pleased, as he turned to face his son-in-law. “They love you!”

After a few more moments of applause, Trump turned back towards his audience.

“Jared Kushner, everyone. He’s the reason we’re here today. Do you know that? I mean, I’m the reason we’re all here, but if Jared hadn’t invented his incredible reverse-aging process, who knows? I might still be alive, I might not. But here I am. So really, he deserves some of the credit. Let’s be honest, I would be dead if not for him. I’d be dead. But I’m not, I’m standing here, every bit of a a hundred and twenty years old and I don’t look a day over forty. Wouldn’t you say I don’t look a day over forty? It’s wonderful. Thank you, Jared. And thank you Ivanka, for marrying him!”

Now Ivanka waved to her father.

He didn’t wave back. But he did wink at her, and when he did, she blushed. She always blushed when her father winked at her that way.

The President continued, reciting from the speech that scrolled by on the teleprompter. His words across the gathered throng.

“I look back, and I think about all the years ago. 2016. When we first came here to Maga-City One. The best of us may be still be here,” he said, “but those who maybe weren’t the best, they aren’t here anymore. It’s tough. But they couldn’t stay with us. They couldn’t stay with you. I’m sorry. Choices had to be made. It’s tough. But they were good people, those folks in the early days. I think of them now, and maybe you could take a minute to think about them, too.

“People like our good friend Reince Priebus. I call him Wacky Reince. Funny guy. He had that little bald spot in the back of his head, he tried to hide it but it was there, believe me. He used to make us all laugh in the cabinet meetings.

“And Sarah Sanders – excuse me, Huckabee Sanders, she kept the Huckabee so everybody would remember she was Mike’s daughter, although I have no idea why because Mike was never that special, he ran for president twice, maybe three or four times, he could never win!

“And also people like Sean Spicer, my first White House spokesman, such a great guy. He was one of the last few on the list that we were thinking of keeping around, but it turned out we just couldn’t do it. Not enough treatments to go around. You can’t save ‘em all. Besides, the Saturday Night Live thing. You know how it is.

“I could go on. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Sean Hannity. I really liked that guy Hannity – he was my little Seanny Boy. He always agreed with me. It was so wonderful. And all the girls… those beautiful blond girls. The ones on television night after night during that first campaign, when we beat Crooked Hillary. What were their names? I can’t remember. Kayleigh, and Scottie, and Debbie, and Dana. It seems like there were more. There probably were. I can’t remember them all. ‘How can you defend him?’ the media would say, but those girls would hang right in there. They made us so proud. Do you remember? We loved them.”

He paused. Looked away from the teleprompter and thought about what to say next.

A murmur spread through the crowd.

Finally, he said, “We really put a beatdown on Hillary, didn’t we?”

The crowd exploded in an orgy of nostalgic exaltation.

Trump nodded, slowly, lost for a moment in thoughts and memories. Wonderful memories.

Then he jumped right back into it. “And what about Kellyanne,” said Trump. “I certainly don’t want to forget her. We wouldn’t be here without Kellyanne Conway. What a lovely lady. It’s been fifty years! She was so sweet, so nice, but man was she tough. A fighter. I love fighters. I’d hate to cross that one in a dark alley, you know what I mean? I hear they won’t let her near any sharp objects in the nursing home, you know? And she’s what, a hundred years old by now? Kellyanne, I hope you’re doing well out there. I do. I do. I ‘m sorry we couldn’t get you in on the reverse-aging deal, but you know how it goes. Aw, well…”

He laughed. He liked to make himself laugh, and this time, he tickled his own fancy hard enough that he had to step away from the microphone for a moment and pull himself back together.

The crowd roared.

“Those folks. Such great folks. I miss them all. They did so much for their country. I wish they could be here now. I could talk about them all day, but now it’s time to talk about me. Hey, you’ve still got me, right? It’s not so bad, is it?”

“HELL NO!”

 “That’s right. Not so bad at all. What a tremendous, spectacular, wonderful, incredible five decades it has been. I have been so proud to lead you. And you know what? I think we’re going to have at least five decades more together. I actually believe that. Jared, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, Barron. And me. Of course, me. It’s been so great. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Trump raised his hand and waved.

The crowd cheered. A sustained wave of adulation washed across the stage.

In his living room, Willy Richmond clapped his hands together and cheered with them.

Trump smiled, looking directly at the camera, and the way he did that made Willy feel as though his President spoke every word directly to him. And, man, did that feel good.

President Trump leaned towards the microphone to quiet the crowd and continue his amazing speech. “Okay, now. Enough about me. Enough for now, anyway –”

Then, something went wrong.

In the front of the audience, near the edge of the stage, a small group of people made a sudden shift forward.

Willy watched in sudden horror as his president’s gaze snapped towards the ruckus around the left corner of the stage, a sudden frantic swelling of humanity, like ants swarming a piece of peppermint candy.

A man and woman surged above the crowd; Willy noticed they were each wearing the olive-green military cap of the US army. Both of them were dark-skinned, he definitively black, while she appeared of indistinct Middle Eastern origin, perhaps Egyptian. Willy didn’t know anyone from Egypt but he felt like they probably looked like that.

Before any of the security personnel could react, the man and woman leaped onto the stage, shouting angry-sounding words towards Trump in a foreign language that Willy had heard many times on television but only a few times in person. Arabic, or perhaps French-Canadian. He wasn’t sure which. It sounded angry, though.

A phalanx of Secret Service men stormed the stage in dark suits – black, blue, charcoal gray – and rushed towards the podium with guns raised, encircling the President.

“It’s all right! I’m taking care of this!” Trump yelled in his deep, manly timbre, which retained its thick New York sound even after one hundred and twenty years.

 The Secret Service surrounded him until only the top of his perfect hair was visible to the crowd in attendance or even the television cameras.

Most of the audience scattered away from the stage, in a mad rush for safety. Screaming and hollering.  The dark-skinned man and woman – it now occurred to Willy that they didn’t look Middle Eastern at all, but gasp MEXICAN – took another step towards the podium.

Gunshots cracked above the onrushing sounds of panic in the throng.

But gunshots weren’t necessary.

After the first few moments of chaos, most of the crowd quickly came to their senses about the situation. As the Secret Service pushed President Trump towards the exit stairs, thirty men from the audience jumped onstage and tackled the would-be assailants.

Soon enough, the attackers disappeared underneath a hail of angry punches and kicks.

“You want some? You got some!” one man shouted as he stomped in the melee.

“Fuck the resistance!” yelled someone else. Then another person added, “Fuck the media!” for good measure, even thought there hadn’t really been much of a free press in America in almost thirty years.

Willy watched it all. Spit gathered at the corners of his mouth and he felt the cords of his neck pop out in rage. He wished he could be right there with his fellow Americans, cracking skulls, defending the honor of the man whose honor knew no bounds. It would be such an honor.

 About that time, the front door of the house opened and closed, and Paulina stormed across the living room. “What the hell is going on?” she said, in her sultry Russian accent.

“That damned Resistance,” Willy said. “They never know when to quit. They’re coming after Trump again. This bunch of assholes, they’re gonna ruin it for everybody.”

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