Chapter 13

Collateral damage

So Trump’s in denial that he lost the election, Jet’s gone walkabout in the White House, I guess we need to catch up with Robert McFarland, and then there’s the Government In Exile Scenario.

                Say what?

The GIES. My bet is it’ll happen.

                Not getting. Explain please.

Well, 45th POTUS does not wanna let go, but sooner or later they’re gonna carry him out kicking and screaming, and then he really will look like Asshole in Chief. Believe it or not, the Government In Exile Scenario is the alternative proposal from our old media-manipulator friend Mr Stephen K Bannon who’s even now worming his way back into the corridors of fading power. Stevie says to Donny, ‘You know what buddy, you’re screwed, but instead of going quietly, disrupt! Guarantee me a Presidential Pardon, and I’ll help you all the way. Disrupt, disrupt, disrupt.’

                Sure, Trump is bound to try and wreck everything before he hands over.

But GIES is more cunning than that. Trump goes to a safe haven, maybe Brazil or Hungary, where he’ll get quite the welcome from his fanboys in power there. He drags his core team with him, and starts to conduct an alternative government in exile, just like many another displaced wartime leader. He has nearly half of America at his back, and they’re mainly the armed half, so his ability to throw sand in the works is gonna be considerable.

                You saying this is going to happen?

You heard it here first. And any foreign government that finds Biden not to their taste, well, they’ll scoot along to negotiate with The Donald. The title of The Two Presidents could be even more prescient than Kent Warfield intended. 

                Speaking of which, ex-President Frederick Polson II?

Still in the Phoenix morgue. They advertised for next of kin but no-one’s come forward. Quite a bunch of money in the bank too. The Arizona Republic has been doing a series of little articles on him, tracing his film career, such as it was, followed by the big one of playing Trump, and the question, ‘Would South Glenwood man have been due an Oscars nod?’

                And was he? Is he?

Well, he fooled most of the people most of the time, so if that’s a definition of ‘Acting’, I guess he’s in with a chance for the 93rd Academy Awards.

                And Jet?

Poof, just like that, she was gone. Last seen striding through the White House.

                Planning a bullet in the brain for Trump?

Well, there’s always been something very fishy about Pronto, hasn’t there? Who’s pulling her strings?

                Or is she doing the pulling?

Exactly. Is she a final insurance policy to deal with Trump, or even Biden? But let’s check in on Mr McFarland.

                Yeh, I feel like the poor guy is collateral damage.




Nia couldn’t even visit her husband in the ICU because of Covid. Days bled into days and she gnawed at her knuckles and cried herself awake and asleep. Ladies from the church came with food and sympathy, and gifts for the boys. Barack cried too, missing his father, but not understanding. Martin tried to step into Robert’s shoes and become the man of the house, which only made Nia weep all the more. Pastor Jameson was their link to the hospital, a steady presence who could be relied on to make the calls and listen calmly to reports from the doctors. Robert was stable they said, in an induced coma while they waited for the brain swelling to subside. Chances were he’d be almost as good as new in time. But that ‘almost’ cast a long shadow. Would he walk, talk, play softball in the park with the boys? Would he and Nia ever take that trip to Paris they’d half-promised themselves?

The most terrible thing was that Robert was being treated as a suspect in the bombing, and armed FBI agents guarded his room 24/7. When he did regain consciousness, presumably the interrogation would start immediately. Nia had already undergone several long sessions, which had included being hooked up to a polygraph. All the crazed leading questions: When did she start suspecting that her husband had become radicalised? Was his churchgoing a cover for Islamisation? Where had all the money come from which had recently flowed into their joint bank account? And, and, and.
How could anyone see her Robert as a threat, let alone intent on murdering the President of the United States? Robert was a victim and yet he was being cast as a would-be terrorist. And all the time the media kept up the flow of images – Robert’s high school grad photo, or the scrum of reporters surrounding Nia when she’d taken Martin to school. Various ‘friends’ had suddenly remembered teenage Robert having a poster of Che Guevara on his bedroom wall, and an interest in ‘revolutionary philosophy’. So was his disguise as a butler some long-planned sleeper operation to one day create havoc in the body politic? No, said Nia as she railed against the reports on evening TV. He’s just a working guy, doing a job, supporting his family as best he knows.
And her prayers, on the hour every hour, Please God, let Robert not die.



In the days following the United States elections, the 45th President was lower profile than at any time in his four years in the role. Meetings were suspended, and apart from several forays to his own golf links, there was little sign of activity. True the barrage of tweeting continued, full of claims of Democrat cheating and false voting, but of Donald Trump himself, little was seen.
“You gotta be more visible Donny,” advised his most special of special fixers, Rudi Giuliani, over a lunch of waffles, ice cream and soda pop in the Executive Mansion. “Your base needs to see you doing something. Like something you’ll be remembered for.” Seeing the moue of annoyance on the face of the boss, he hurriedly added, “Not that anyone’s about to forget you any time soon.”
Trump pushed his plate away, a definite sign of him being at low ebb. One of Robert McFarland’s colleagues swooped in to remove the offending food.
“You mean big like holding a press conference in a garden centre? That kind of fucking big?” Trump threw down his napkin in disgust. “I mean Jeez Rudi, you are telling me to do something, and whadda you come up with? A gardening outlet carpark. You gotta be shittin me.”
“It was a mistake. I’m sorry Donny. I sacked the girl that made the mistake.”
“Well if that’s your idea of ‘doing something’, I might as well stay with the fake news that even Fox are sicking on me now. I mean, what do I have to do to make people sit up and take notice? If Joke and Cameltoe really are gonna move in here come January, I wanna leave them an unflushable turd to clear up. Unflushable.”
“Attaboy Donny! That’s more like it. So, got anything in mind?”


Under siege

Zsuzsa hissed in a very Hungarian manner as she read the New York Times on her phablet, “You will not be believing this Warfield.”
He looked up from the coffee he was staring into. His face was haggard from the huge days he and Ángel had put into the viral edits, followed by the siege of the house by seemingly every broadcast network on the planet. The lawyers for neighbours were calling to file claims against the Warfields for breach of privacy, or damage to lawns where TV trucks had turned. Then there were the multiple lawsuits issuing from Fentone and Netflix, the police inquiry into the death of Frederick Polson II and the mysterious relocation of his body to his home several thousands of miles from where he’d last been seen. Plus any number of agencies eager to assess whether or not The Reeltime Gang had broken any laws. Week two of being the second most-commented man on the planet, and it was all wearing a little thin.
“Babe, these days I’ll believe anything. What is it?” Zsuzsa flashed her device at him, but without the appropriate spectacles he was none the wiser. He could see the familiar twisted, orange face of Trump, so could guess at the source of what couldn’t be believed. “Do tell, dearest flower. Kill me slowly with your kindness.” It was a line from Knives In Deep, written by Madeline P Moore, but Zsuzsa wasn’t to know that. She looked oddly at him, but when he said nothing further, she launched into the report. “In what he claims is a ‘signature’ and long-overdue Executive Order, the President today put his name to what could well be the defining piece of legislation of his administration. The so-called ‘Gravity Act’ goes into operation at midnight EST tonight and carries with it strict fines and the threat of imprisonment for anyone not obeying the letter of law.”
“Duh?” said Kent Warfield. “Isn’t maybe the Covid pandemic what he should be trying to get a grip on in his last two months? Like, eventually. Eleven million people infected now isn’t it?”
Zsuzsa nodded, “You would be thinking so, but I guess this is supposed to be the big bang, the last word to distract and confuse.”
Kent was punching the remote control to bring up a breakfast news channel. He was just in time to see a reporter finishing a standup outside his own house, ‘…when Federal Investigators will report on the activity by Ken and Zsazsa Wofeel later today. Back to you in the studio Suzy.’ And then there was Suzy, looking lip glossy and sheeny, even though it was only eight-something.

Thanks Randy for that report from outside the home of foreign movie maker Kent Warfield who is embroiled in the argument with the White House and Hollywood heartthrob Tone Fentick about their joint movie-making of The Two Presidents that everyone’s still talking about. We’ll be chatting with showbiz lawyer Trent Cabriscot at the top of the hour about what makes a famous movie director commit commercial suicide, but first, The Gravity Act as it’s becoming known. With me is Vice President Mike Pence, who’s going to explain everything. Vice President, thank you for joining us this morning. It’s an honour to have you on the line.

My pleasure Suzy.

This is a joke right? The Gravity Act?

Not at all Suzy. This is a serious piece of legislation which is long overdue, and President Trump has had the courage and audacity to embrace the opportunity and sign it into law.

Put simply, the President has issued an Executive Order forbidding people to be bound by the laws of gravity. Is that correct?

Well, that’s something of an over simplification Suzy, but I suppose yes, in essence you are right. From midnight EST tonight, gravity will no longer apply to American citizens, and anyone complying with the fake so-called laws of gravity will be in breach of the legislation.

You say ‘American citizens’ but does this mean that non-citizens living in the USA will not have to comply with the law?

This is typical liberal whitewash, if Imay say so Suzy. You are obscuring the real message. No, of course foreigners don’t get a free pass on this. If people choose to live or work in our great country, or even if they only come here to leech off our welfare benefits, than obviously they must also observe the laws of the land in full. That means observing what you have called The Gravity Act.

So how will this work Vice President?

I can’t give you all the detail at this present moment because it’s very much a personal project of the President, but I can say that we are working with all of the appropriate agencies, including the very best scientific advisors, to ensure that the rollout will be smooth and effective. Just think of the many and varied ways in which the tyranny of gravity being removed will benefit everyone in the United States.

Such as?

Well, um, good question Suzy. Such as getting to school, or Walmart for instance. No more queuing in terrible gridlock traffic, you just fly there. It’s a green initiative too! Fewer cars on the road – isn’t that what all the antifa mob want? It’s a fantastic win-win that will help Make America Great Again.


Yes. It will help Make America Great Again, Again.

Thank you Mr Vice President. More on this story soon. Now, let’s see what the weather’s doing in your area…

“Yeh, I can believe that, because it is beyond stupid.” Kent observed. “Of course I can believe that. He made up the numbers for his inauguration crowd, he denied the numbers for Covid, he lies about the election numbers. Why not go out on a high by challenging the numbers for physics? Jeez, I’m going back to bed and I’m going to pull a pillow over my head. Wake me up on January 21st babe.”
Zsuzsa wagged a finger at him, “No Warfield, you are going to shave and shower and look like a human. You have forgotten today a special guest is coming all the way from Washington?”
“Oh bollocks. Yes. Yes I had forgotten.”


The taxi edged its way past the TV trucks, and the closer it got to the Warfield residence, the more attention it attracted. Even before Mads stepped out onto the property, photographers and vidiots were pressing their cameras to the windows, and someone had recognised her, despite her wraparound shades. ‘Maddy!’ the shouting began as she opened the taxi door.
‘Is it true that…’
‘What are you going to do about…’
‘Will Kent Warfield be…’
‘You wrote the storyline…’
‘Should foreigners be allowed to…’ 
‘What happens now…’

The cameras and microphones were in her face as she tried to pay the fare. More experienced media-avoiders would have already cashed-up during the drive, so they could make a swift and elegant exit, but Madeline P Moore was by nature a backroom worker. She started attempting to answer the questions which were being fired at her, but it came out as a garbled mishmash. The award-winning writer, unable to string a few sentences together.
Then a warm hand in hers, pulling her away from the semi-sanctuary of the taxi door. “This way,” said the boy, taking her suitcase in his other hand. “I’ll show you into the house.”
“Hey Jamar,” shouted a reporter. “You friends with the lady?”
“No comment,” called back Jamar Lindenwood, who was becoming familiar with the rules of the fame game.

In the kitchen Zsuzsa offered coffee to Madeline, and Jamar did his best to melt into the background. “So we are meeting at last,” Zsuzsa offered. “Instead of online.”
“Yes,” Madeline shrugged at the obviousness of it. “That wasn’t very nice out there,” she nodded to the driveway where TV crews were attempting long-lensed shots into the house in the latest ‘development’, as she was sure they would call it.

“So?” It was clearly a question from Zsuzsa. Meaning why fly from Washington to LA? Why bother when they could just skype? Zsuzsa had always entertained a suspicion that her once infamously philandering husband and his screenwriter had entertained each other while on location, but Kent claimed not to remember. Was it possible to not remember who you’d had an affair with?
Madeline seemed to intuit the hint of suspicion about her past with Kent, “I can’t really say why I came here Zsuzsa. It’s just like I needed to… To complete something. I need to put a full stop to this long story that I started with Kenny all those years ago. I came back to America because I thought I could do something, but all I’ve done is sit in a small apartment in Washington for two weeks and watch TV. I thought I could help change history.”
“Maybe you did,” Zsuzsa said softly. “Trump is defeated.”
“Only just.”
“Maybe the videos helped a few percent. And a few percent tipped the balance.”
“But my words and ideas helped not one jot.”
“Or they helped get access to Trump when we needed it. Who knows?”

“Who knows what?” The great white shark of cinema burst into the kitchen, grinning a toothy smile, pulling Madeline up from her barstool and enfolding her in a hug. He was positively gleaming, in comparison to the hollowed man who had left an hour earlier. “Morning Jamar,” he tossed into the corner, where Jamar’s shield of invisibility seemed to have slipped. “Hello Mr Wafeel,” said Jamar, tapping away at his Blog. Live from the conspirators’ house. Cool.

“Looking great Mads,” Kent announced, giving her the once-over. “A little on the thin side maybe, but still all-woman.” Madeline glanced at Zsuzsa and raised an eyebrow, but Mrs Warfield would not be baited by her husband. “I’ll leave you two alone then,” she offered. “We will leave you two alone,” she said pointedly, including Jamar.
“No need,” said Madeline.
“Fine,” said Kent.


Outdoing Chernobyl

“Why did we never get it on together Mads? Or did we?” Kent studied her face, and reached out to touch her soft white hair. She shook his hand away.
“Because you were a monster back in the day. And I was… I was too sensible. I still am. It’s a curse. I thought that by coming back to the US I would turn into something new. Like find my calling as an agent provocateur, you know?” Kent nodded, willing her on.
“I imagined myself riding into town, writing the killer scenario, and Trump would come crashing down, like when they pulled over that statue of Saddam Hussein. And it would be my words that were the ropes around its neck.”
“We’ve all played a part. Noah, Bella, Gabriel, Jewel and Sundeep, Matt, Lyle, Pete, Debs and Ángel. Even that rat Fentick. And Madeline P Moore. Just standing up for each other helped. We were a team, The Reeltime Gang. History will remember us, and maybe even thank us.” It was the most magnanimous speech she’d ever heard from the man who’d once responded to an on-set accusation of arrogance with, ‘Of course I’m arrogant, I’m the Director.’ Kent Warfield, sharing the glory? Or perhaps the blame.
“So it’s over?” she felt herself close to tears. She meant The Reeltime Gang was over, but it felt more like her life. At best she would now retire to little more than being a part-time Grandmother, tapping out nonsense tales of beautiful equestrians, and dastardly cads.
“For me, no.” Kent sighed. “I’ll be editing together the theatrical release of The Two Presidents. And I’ll need a great linking voice-over script as well Mads. I’m relying on you for that so don’t go fading out on me just yet. My lawyers are going to be pretty busy for the next five years keeping me out of jail, but in the long run we’ll win. After all, we merely held the mirror up to Trump.”
“Along with a few trick shots.”
“Huh, that’s the movies for you. When someone gets gunned down do they really die? Is it really their blood? We create illusions Mads, that’s our trade.”
“Yes, but. We contributed to the pile of lies.”
“For the greater good. Biden’s not the answer. It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than him. But maybe he’s the start of the answer. We pulled a few tricks, so what? Doesn’t everyone? When you write a story is every word true?”
Madeline shook her head No. When did truth ever have the right to spoil a good tale?

“I’ll go back to Britain then, and await your call oh master,” Madeline tried for levity, but there was something horribly true about it. She’d spent her professional life waiting for calls from Kent Warfield. And what would she go back to? The marriage that she knew was already dead, and yet still convenient, with all the comforts of home? She cast herself forward to a singular existence in some little cottage in the English countryside, growing ever older, ever less engaged by the big wide world. Well, perhaps. Perhaps that’s the way it always was, except people pretended otherwise.

Kent reached across the counter, oblivious now to the stain there, and patted her hand. Those veiny. aging hands, which were seen right at the start of this story. “Stay here in America. You’re still American aren’t you? Stay here, do good work.”
She shook her head, “No. Coming back here showed me how European I’ve gotten – even living in bloody Brexit Britain. America seems very weird and fragmented now. It’ll take years and years to get even close to the place it should have been. I mean, the half-life of Trump toxicity is going to outdo Chernobyl.”
“Write that down,” Kent pointed a directorial finger at her. “That’s one for the voice-over script.”



“No you will not sit. You will stand before me!” Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did his very best to thunder in Churchillian mode. It was a line once said to him by the headmaster at Eton school, but now the thunder gave way to a wheeze, symptomatic of the second Covid infection he had contracted, although as yet he was unaware of it. Dominic Mckenzie Cummings stood as instructed, a smile of superiority fixed on his face. “I am a little busy right now Boris,” he said over the coughing fit the PM had commenced. “Things to do, a country to run.”
“No more,” Johnson managed to get out. “It’s over. You are so over, and Carrie agrees with me, so there.”
“Your girlfriend is now making policy?” The smile of superiority had turned into a smirk of disbelief. “And what might I have done to offend the lovely Ms Symonds?”
In answer the Prime Minister waved a sheet of paper at his top advisor.
“Sorry Boris, I can’t read that from over here. Perhaps if I sat down…”
“You will stay standing! But oh dear, I forgot about your poor eyesight. Perhaps you’ll need to take a drive somewhere to test it. Eh? Eh what?”
Dominic Cummings indicated that he thought this somewhat droll. But only somewhat.
“This email printout thingy was sent to me by Diwali…”
“Whatevs. It says, ‘Dear Prime Minister, could you make space today for a special meeting with Dom to discuss the situation around Kent Warfield, the film director, and his involvement in the US elections?’ Etcetera and etcetera and blah blah blah.”
“And here I am, ready to re-brief you about Kent Warfi…”
“Sadly, young Miss Diwali included in the email chain, your instructions to her. To wit, ‘Dev, run this one past Bozo, he needs to get up to speed, if that’s possible.’ Bozo? You call me Bozo? I specifically insisted that you stamp out this Bozo thing. I am known by the affectionate sobriquet of BoJo, but under no circs whatsoever am I to be referred to as that other name. Especially by my chief special advisor.”
“OK, big sozzes, now let’s get on with the briefing.”
“You will stay standing! We will not get on with anything. Carrie is quite clear on this. I mean I am quite clear on this also. You are a busted flush Mr D Cummings of Barnard Bloody Castle. You will find a cardboard box placed on your desk in Mission Control. Return there, fill said cardboard box with whatever personals you happen to have lying around, then leave. And do not leave by the front door at Number 10 if you were thinking of milking the situation. Use the tradesman’s exit right?”
“I’m being sacked for calling you Bozo? I delivered you Brexit. I gave you a Parliamentary majority of eighty. I cut through the deadwood of the Civil Service. And now it’s just sayonara and piss off? Well, if I may respectfully say so Prime Minister, fuck you.”
When the Special Advisor had left the room, Boris Johnson visibly crumpled, “Oh my God, what have I done, what have I done,” he whimpered.


Robert redux

The agent spoke confidentially into his phone, cupping it to mute his voice in the hospital corridor. “They brought the suspect out of his coma about an hour ago. They let me have a few minutes with him, but the guy’s pretty flaky, and he’s on a lotta drugs. Told me Rudi Giuliani gave him the suitcase! Crazy huh? I don’t think they’ll let us have another go at him until tomorrow, but if that’s the kind of intel we’re gonna get, we’ll really have to sweat him. This guy’s been trained in counter espionage, that’s a for sure.”


The final chapter will be posted 28th November

You can comment on any chapters at any time,
and contribute to Chapter 14 up to 26th November

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