Unbelievable! Nearly seven hundred likes and no hates. Radical! Mood! And now someone called JuJu had actually commented! His first comment! Jamar’s heart was skipping as he read JuJu’s message yet again:
Hey jamarology love the blog. Do you really kno about a plot against TRUMP??? Thtas cool and we wanna hear more so pls tell ALL! You can PM me anytime if your not ready to be more public. The deep state is watching but we are listening. Great work JuJu
Was JuJu beautiful, say like Amber Mark? It was clear that she was smart, and it made sense she was gorgeous too, plus her name started with the same letter as his. That was a supergood sign. Jamar didn’t even consider that JuJu could be a fat old red-faced white man loser, barricaded in his smelly room with too much time on his hands. Nope, JuJu was the real thing, and loved the blog. Not liked but loved.
Problem. Just one problem. How to write more about the plot against Trump that Mrs Wafeel and her husband were doing? He’d hid in what they called the projection booth at the back of the viewing cinema, and managed to overhear most of what was said with all the strange foreigners on the Zoom call, but that opportunity might not come again. JuJu would be disappointed if he couldn’t tell her more. Well, Jamar was an Influencer now, so he would do what Influencers did, and mess with the news. Or even make it up. He was a decisive author, someone who wasn’t going to be diverted from his mission by small details such as truth. After all, if the President himself could say any damn thing, why not Jamar Lindenwood? He took a deep breath, fixed an image of the delightful JuJu in his mind, flexed his fingers, and started tapping at the keyboard.
“You what?” Nia was looking at her husband like he was ready for the funny farm. “They kidnap you at gunpoint in the middle of the night. Me an the kids is terrified. The guy won’t even let you call me to say you’re OK, and then after he’s spent hours on his crazy scheme, he sends you off to the kitchens to borrow money from your colleagues to get home. And you have to use the Super’s phone to call me after I’ve already gone plain outta my mind with worry, and Pastor Jameson is down at the legal help centre trying to figure out what to do. Now you’re telling me you got a call demanding you go to the guy’s hotel for a meeting? A meeting? Robert, I respect that you got a good job in a fancy place, but this is too much. You’re the guy’s buddy now?”
Robert McFarland hung his head. Yes, he was shamed, not helped by his work colleagues now tending to hum ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ as they passed him in the corridors of the White House, or asked why he wasn’t wearing his slippers. Stupidly, he’d not requested the Super to vacate her office when he’d borrowed her phone. Now everyone knew of his humiliations, and the fact that he had somehow been elevated to the role of special advisor (unpaid) to the 45th President. Today his apparent talents were again in demand, with a brusque request that he turn up at the Trump International Hotel, just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. “Just be there,” said his caller. “The Secret Service detail will know where to take you. And dress smart, OK?” Click. So was everyone expecting him to be in robe and fluffy slippers from now on, or was that genuine helpful advice about what to wear? Now to add to the woes of the disdain of his colleagues, Nia was venting too.
“Honey, I can’t explain, it’s just… I feel I can make a difference somehow,” he said, hearing the lameness in his own voice. Martin was hovering in the doorway of the kids’ bedroom, fearful and unaccustomed to angry words between his parents.
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Know what that spells Robert? You got to respect yourself before anyone else will. You think the guy respects you? He’s a user, an abuser. Maybe he respects you a little bit if you’re a billionaire, but you ain’t one of those.”
Robert was thinking, ‘But I could be a millionaire.’ Now wasn’t the time to share his dimly-perceived vision with Nia however. He’d dreamt of appearing on TV as the confidant of the US President and earning bucks there. And given his profession, surely it wouldn’t be long before advertisers started contacting him, wanting the endorsement of a White House butler for their products. He had seen himself smiling to camera, ‘Fo sho, I allus serve the President his Hershey’s Kisses.’ Why he’d be sounding like an Uncle Tom he couldn’t figure, but that was probably the way they’d want him to speak.
And how could he convince Nia that – even more unlikely – this was an opportunity sent from God? He could become a President Whisperer and help steer the guy to a place where he might become a lesser danger to the county. To the world for that matter. But if he said any of this to his wife, it would only add gasoline to her current fiery state of mind. “I’m going to get showered and dressed,” was all he said. He wanted to add, “Woman,” but that was way too much. Nia wasn’t the kind to be put in her place like that. Correction, Nia didn’t have a place. As he slid open the wardrobe door and started riffling through his clothes, he could hear her comforting the boys. “Nothing’s wrong. Just Daddy and me talking about why he has to go in to work. It’s cos the President needs him see?” Robert loved her for that bigging up in their kid’s eyes. At least to Martin and Barack he was a someone.
The ironclad door
“Darls, a word in your shell-like s’il vous plait.” Somehow HRH had tiptoed into her study. Or perhaps no tiptoeing was required. He could have probably driven up in a Sherman tank and Madeline wouldn’t have noticed, so lost was she in her thoughts. Thoughts entirely subsumed by the leering face of Donald J. Trump and the fact that soon this night, afternoon in Washington, the Warfields, Tone Fentick, and the sub Reeltime Gang of mini-cam wielding students would be meeting the President in his second office, his own hotel. The President who shamelessly mixed his public role with his private business. The President who might commit today to the scheme she had dreamed up, in a desperate attempt to give Kent something to play with. It still seemed improbable that Trump would bite, despite what Tone had signalled. The thing which had most tickled Trump’s fancy was the video portrayal of himself by Frederick Polson II. ‘Hell, the man has the same name as my father! That’s good. That’s so very good.’ But was that appeal to the President’s vanity enough to swing it? In many ways Madeline simply wished they’d get turned down, game over. She could return guiltlessly to her boys, her novel, and to pottering around in the garden and smoking delicious cigarettes. But then she also wanted to be one of the architects of bringing down Trump, by giving him the means to destroy himself. Would he do it, could it w…
“Darls, have I become invisible by any chance?”
Madeline jerked herself back to the here and now. She attempted a wan smile at the tall, bald stranger who was crowding into her special place. Her bore a passing resemblance to a man she had once loved, if the happy photographs on the shelf were anything to go by. And the man with whom she had a daughter, and now a grandson. Well, such things still counted. “Sorry dearest. I was miles away.”
“So I see. No doubt considering your high treason.”
“You were talking with Gretchen on the blower this morning. In the garden. I was in my lounger on the other side of the box hedge, as you may recall.”
She didn’t, but HRH had been listening, and what had she said? Hopefully she hadn’t been shooting her mouth off about his deficiencies. No, it had all been about her, she remembered now: ‘What’s wrong Mum, you sound tense.’ And she’d said yes she was, and fessed up about the Trump plot, which required an extensive Q&A session as Gretchen hooted with laughter and said things like ‘Go Mum’ and ‘Yay!’ When she heard that her mother was now a member of a consortium of oldies called the Reeltime Gang, that really cracked Gretch up. The girliness of their chat did Madeline good. All the adrenaline swishing round her system was cooled by talk, and a little laughter. Except HRH had been earwigging and was now wearing the sort of face that pro-level busybodies put on to signal their disapproval. She was reminded of being in the Principal’s office at high school, for – what else – smoking during morning recess.
“So you heard?” she asked. The Principal nodded, “Yes, I heard. This bonkers idea of somehow locking up your President. Which is an offence, believe it or not Darls.” Yes, she believed it. But.
“And this is to do with that Warfield chap right, leading you into temptation and all that?” Was it just because of loyalty to Kent and her love of the good old days? No it was more than that. She’d lived a life of privilege, protected by money and a certain celebrity. It hadn’t stopped her being mute witness to the madness of a dictator though. Warfield was providing a way to engage and be active. It felt like all those years ago when as a teenager she’d travelled to Kent State University to protest the shootings there. Being a member of the Reeltime Gang felt like a returning home. She could care again.
HRH was talking about the possible consequences of her breaking multiple laws and she even felt a little surge of forgiving affection. He also cared, about her. And then she zeroed in on what he was actually saying. Actually saying that any scandal could damage his business. New stateside clients Darls, never know what these people are thinking, but not likely to be Biden fans. Any arrest malarkey or whatnots could reflect badly. Don’t want to put noses out of joint if it can be avoided.
A door closed. A great thumping ironclad door barring all entrance. Potentially having his wife deported, tried, and locked up were just business inconveniences to HRH. She was a foolish woman in his eyes, dazzled by the far-off Svengali whose tune she had always danced to. Henry Armstrong-Brooks would not let the game his wife was playing spoil the latest deal he was brokering. No bloody way.
And when the door slammed shut, he didn’t even notice. He failed to observe the hardening of his wife’s face as she saw her future with a new clarity. It would be a future in which he no longer played a part, where she carved her own path, and damn the torpedoes. It was a future which as soon as she could find a carer for her boys, would see her travelling back to her native land, to engage more fully with the wrangling of Trump. And if any of that messed with the plans of the king of peanut butter futures – or whatever HRH’s latest scheme was – then very tough shit.
Madeline turned away from her husband. He was still blabbering on, but the ironclad door muted whatever he was saying. It went on for another five minutes, then he finished with a ‘Well?’ and what novelists call a pregnant pause.
“Well,” she said. “Thank you for making everything so clear for me. I’ll think very carefully on all that you’ve said.”
“And I’ll get back to you.”
He stood there for a little longer, wanting more, but no more was coming. She booted up her laptop and started to prepare for the session which would tell them whether Donald Trump was really going with the plot. Or not.
Putman and Mercer
He didn’t find the surroundings intimidating. Fancy environments had been his workplace for long enough. But the reason for being summoned, and his own secret hopes for the future, these worried him. He approached the reception desk, eyeing a gaggle of people in front of him who looked to be overwhelming the staff of the Trump International Hotel, Washington. In their centre was Antony Fentick – Nia’s second favourite star after Will Smith. With him was a harassed looking middle aged woman, burdened down with laptop bags and a clipboard. Then there was an old, white-haired guy, stocky and tough looking. He seemed to be introducing two women to each other, one an elegant fifty-something with blonde hair in a ponytail. The other was younger, a lean hardbody dressed for the gym, but expensively so. Her dark hair looked like she’d cropped it herself, possibly without sufficient lighting. Robert had the instinctive sense that he was looking at someone who was dangerous.
Swarming around the scene were six people in their twenties, although it was hard to count them because they were in constant movement, carrying little cameras on lightweight tripods. They looked to be taking instructions through the earbuds that they all wore. Three female, three male, all dressed in matching black boilersuits with Reeltime Gang Crew screen-printed on the back. Then Robert felt someone looking at him, and started as he recognised another person who was also part of the group. Agent Mercer, attempting to corral them. He tugged at an imaginary hat, and smiled across the space, as if he was so happy to be seeing his friend the White House butler once again.
As he looked at Mercer, Robert observed a boxer’s white fist land beside him, on the gleaming surface of the reception desk. A fist he’d seen before. He turned away from the saturnine form of Mercer and tracked up the fist, the arm, to the beaming face of Agent Putman. “Howdy Bobby, ain’t this just the thing, to run into each other again?” Robert mumbled back that yes, it was just the thing. “No need to dawdle at the desk here. You’re a guest of the big guy. Let’s go ride that golden elevator huh?” And the Secret Service agent took hold of Robert’s elbow and steered him away from the commotion surrounding Tone Fentick.
Jet and Zsuzsa let their handshake loosen, both staring at each other, assessing strengths and weaknesses. They were – according to Warfield – the two great loves of his life, and were now meeting for the first time. They were, at least technically, stepmother and daughter. Zsuzsa Dobos detected the danger baked into Jet Lassiter, who detected the steel in Zsuzsa Dobos. They smiled, each taking the measure of the other.
“OK folks,” said the tall, black-suited agent. “Wagons roll! All aboard for the Presidential Suite!” And he herded the party towards the special express elevator.
Why male sailors couldn’t see women
You want to know something interesting? About Nelson’s Royal Navy?
You’re presuming that I know what the heck you’re taking about.
The Royal Navy was the British Navy, and Nelson was the blind Admiral. Or maybe he was just half-blind. I guess that makes more sense. At that time there weren’t any women in the Navy, right?
But there were. A significant number of sailors were women, in disguise. Imagine – they were at sea for sometimes years, and none of the men noticed.
Hard to believe.
Exactly! So my point is that everyone knew, and everyone pretended not to know. So for whatever reason the women were onboard, it was allowed, no questions asked.
And the point of this probably fascinating bit of history is?
The point is that not seeing what you don’t wanna see is why the plan for Trump is gonna work. Everyone around him will go with it, because from each viewpoint it will suit them, in their different ways.
Well, we’ll see soon enough how it plays out. They’re all in position now?
Exactly. The Reeltime Gang representatives, the Fentone team, the Secret Service agents, Robert McFarland, and two floors below, in his own suite with assistants and dressers, Frederick Polson. Across in Europe, tuning in to the live feed right, the remainder of the Reeltime oldtimers. Just one person missing.
Donald John Trump?
A good weekend
Forty five minutes late for the meeting he’d called, but he was President of the United States of America and he could do that. Why the hell be on time, even if one of his guests was Antony Fentick himself. Now that information had penetrated to the Central European Wife when he’d bumped into her earlier in the day. “Wow,” she’d said, “You’re moving up in the world Donald.” Her smile was sweet, but he couldn’t help think there was an edge there as well.
It was a good weekend – with that annoying witch RBG now dead he was another step towards fixing the Supreme Court. Excellent result. Now he was ready for his favourite activity, making a deal. He entered the meeting suite, flanked by his own security detail. Good, everyone stood, following the lead of the Hollywood star. That was as it should be. He indicated for them to resume their positions with a palms-down gesture, then blanking everyone except Antony Fentick, he half listened as Tone’s team were introduced. Trump patted the seat beside him as he recognised Robert McFarland across the room. “Come!” he nodded the butler over to join him.
Then Kent Warfield was being introduced and Trump sensed that here was another big beast, someone a bit like himself. The two of them locked eyes, then the white haired old guy smiled, “Recognise me Don?” There was a collective intake of breath at the presumption of speaking to the President like an old friend. “Remember that night in Vegas back in ‘96?”
Trump was scowling, pursing his lips in a grimace of dislike.
“For me, it was my lost year. I was in the Flamingo to drink and forget. I’ve forgotten now what I was trying to forget. But there was Cindy, Mindy and Lindy as I recall. Believe it or not they said they were all poor students, paying their way through college. My oh my, they sure earned their money that night! I mean I blew a bunch, but dollar for dollar, you were the bigger spender. I have to say, I admired you. And that glass table! Remember the glass table? I do believe I have some of the polaroids transferred to my teleph…”
“What is this bullshit?” asked a rattled-looking Trump.
“Mr President,” Tone Fentick was placatory. “I apologise for my colleague. He’s British.” Trump nodded in understanding. “But as a director he is one of the greats. Did you see my first big movie, The Ascent Assent?”
“The helicopter one?” Trump leaned forward in his seat. “Yeh that was a good. A very good.”
Fentick indicated Warfield, “Well there’s the man who gave me the break. He’s a kinda uneducated doofus, but he sure makes great movies. That’s why I selected him for this project. Which by the way Netflix only signed up to because of Kent’s involvement.”
“Netflix are in?” Trump nodded in approval. “OK. But no more of this ‘Don’ stuff. It’s ‘Mr President’, OK? And for the record, it wasn’t me in Vegas in November ’96.”
Who mentioned November? thought several listeners.
Trump waved to one of the security detail. “Too many people in here. Leave just one of you,” he pointed randomly, picking out Agent Mercer. “The rest of you go get coffee. Tell them I said it’s OK.” The dismissed personnel filed out. “Right,” said Trump, “No more bullshit, let’s do a deal.”
Fentick nodded to Iris Sanz who opened her shoulder bag and passed a folder over to the President. He grunted and flipped open the embossed leather, and glanced over a single sheet of hand woven paper with some figures.
“There’s your deal Mr President.”
“Cameras! Over-the-shoulder shot,” Gabriel was shouting in the comms. Two operators simultaneously responded, stepping into position behind the President and momentarily colliding. The shot was lost as he closed the folder and handed it back to Iris. “This is a joke right?”
Tone Fentick fully expected this response. “Mr President, either of the two Toms, and even me don’t command that kind of fee. Plus you have a fantastic percentage of the gross. Plus this is going to be watched by the world. That is worth trillions of dollars. Instead of spending your own money on the re-election campaign, we’ll in effect be making free commercials for you, every hour of every day.”
“I said this is a joke figure!” The President’s tone changed, his voice crackling with anger. He rose from his seat and started pacing, cursing them all for wasting his time. “Call Netflix,” instructed Tone, and over the rising sound of entirely manufactured fury, Iris went through the pre-rehearsed ploy of connecting to the private line of Reed Hastings. ‘Yes Mr Hastings sir, sure Mr Hastings. No, the President is not happy with the offer. Yes sir, thankyou Mr Hastings,’ she said to the empty line. Then she crossed over to Fentick and whispered in his ear, who then whispered in Warfield’s ear. The three of them nodded to each other. Trump paused in his rant. It usually worked with the Generals and White House staffers – a good screaming fit could often improve the terms of a deal. He took the proffered leather folder back from Iris and nodded at the new figure written there. “Better,” he said. But maybe there was just one more squeeze of the lemon worth going for? He noticed a look of challenge on the face of the disrespectful British director guy, as if daring him to up the stakes. He started the pacing again, picking up on the level of vituperation where he’d left off. Now his usually orange face was taking on a purple tinge. Kent Warfield looked back with professional admiration. To be able to work yourself into such a lather took some doing. As the President stormed around the room, people were being sprayed with spittle. Covid, what covid?
But something strange was happening. Trump’s always only semi-coherent speech was taking a downwards dive. “You thig you cag offa me thad bullshig dee? Me Donad Trum?” Fear crossed his face, a foam bubble appeared at the edge of his mouth. He looked at his right arm, as if surprised to see it there, attempting to waggle it experimentally. Now his face was distorted, frozen, and panic suffused him. He tottered backwards and fell into the lap of Robert McFarland. Secret Service Agent Mercer darted towards his charge, pointlessly pulling his gun out.
“Stroke,” Jet diagnosed instantly. She knew the signs, although she would never admit how. Zsuzsa nodded in agreement with her newly-met stepdaughter, “Stroke, yes.”
Over the crew comms there was a gabble of voices as Gabriel, Noah and Lyle tried to organise the cameras. Like kids playing soccer the camera people had all hustled around the ball, leaving no-one in defence. Four of them were redeployed from covering the stricken President to getting cutaways of the horrified watchers. Or not so horrified. Already Warfield and Fentick were exchanging meaningful glances. Some days the bear eats you, some days you eat the bear.
“Code double red Mogul!” Agent Mercer was calling in. “Repeat, Mogul is down, Mogul down. Immediate medevac needed, highest priority. Secure all exits Trump International Washington. Prepare highest priority assistance. Mogul believed possible stroke, but unconfirmed.”
Jet was hauling the President off of his unfortunate butler, who now displayed a wet patch of Trump pee on his suit trousers. With the help of Tone and Iris, they lay the scared, mumbling form out on a couch. The resting agents burst in, and Mercer briefed them in moments. They spread themselves around the room and someone commanded, “Stay as you are people, no-one move. This is as of now a crime scene.”
Iris was leaning in to Trump. He was muttering something from his lopsided mouth. “Sshh!” she shouted. “He wants to tell us something.” The room went silent.
“Ged Fred be Trum. Ged Fred be Trum. Do nod led fayg news know. Secrid. Will be allride soo. Fred be me. Will go wid plan. Yeh to plan. Yeh to deal. Jus few day. Keep secrid yes? Todal secrid. Ged Ivanga. Ged Fred be Trum…”
“Sound is good,” Matt said down the comms.
“Pictures formidable,” Gabriel purred.
‘Well this we didn’t predict,’ thought Madeline P. Moore. Despite it being somewhat upsetting to watch the sudden catastrophic deterioration of Donald J. Trump, her heart was banging in excitement. ‘Got you motherfucker!’
Chapter 08 will be published on Wednesday 30th September
You are welcome to comment on chapters at any time,
and contribute to Chapter 08 up to 28th September