HOW IT ENDED

  An impious king bids his children farewell.

An impious king bids his children farewell.

 He is alone in the Oval.  

He hung up on Hizzoner a few minutes ago.  He tried to get out ahead of the story but it was too late.  No way to come back from this one.  Sorry, but he had to think of himself too.  Hey, but it's been a hell of a ride, right?  So he'll be  on Sean tonight.  He just wanted to know how he wanted him to break it.

The blood rushes to his face when he thinks about Vladimir.  Never trust a Russki, they told him.  But he made it sound so easy.  Just go be you and it all stays in the safe.  But now there was armor in East Ukraine and the pot had to be stirred.  Big league.

The phone buzzes.  He's pretty sure he knows who it is.  "Send her in."

She's not alone.  Her husband is with her.  He didn't think he could get angrier but he does.  The blood is singing in his ears.

“Daddy,” she says. “It’s time to go. Before it gets too bad.” She pauses. “For all of us.”

He drops his head and clutches the edge of the desk. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It can’t happen. He is the most important person in the world. He’s always been the most important person in the world.

His son-in-law steps forward. He puts his hand on the President’s shoulder and leans forward and whispers.

Suddenly too much is more than too much. “I told you never to call me that,” he says, his voice at first his normal conversational rasp. But it rises to a hillbilly rally howl. “I fucking told you never to fucking call me that!”

Daughter and son-in-law back up a step, but too late. He is on his feet, a paperweight clutched from the Resolute desk in his hand. His daughter grabs his arm but he shakes her away and she stumbles against the desk and falls onto the carpet, striking her head against the embroidered Great Seal of the United States.

His son-in-law, always slow to react, stands staring at him blankly. The President swings the paperweight three times. “DON’T” thwack “CALL” thwack “ME” thwack “DAD.”

His son-in-law is crumpled near the ornamental bookcase. He whimpers in that whispery way he has always hated. His daughter is trying to get to her feet.

He is breathing very hard and his heart is racing and his chest hurts and for an instant he wonders whether he should have made the doctors say what they said about his perfect health but then he realizes that doesn’t matter any more, that nothing does, that he has always gotten what he wants and now it’s time to do the things he really wanted, that even he knew were bad, before he calls the Army or Navy guy with the briefcase handcuffed to his wrist and takes out the decoder ring or whatever it is and takes everyone in the whole world with him.

But first things first. His son-in-law is still whisper-whimpering against the wall. His cheekbones are shattered and blood is running from his nose. The President pulls a pair of scissors out of the Resolute. He kicks the boy’s legs apart and bends over him. He cups his chin and tilts his head towards him. “See what you get, you little shit?” He yanks down his son in law’s zipper and reaches in. “See what you get for fucking what’s mine?”

The scissors have done half their work when his daughter grabs his arm. “Daddy, what is the matter with you?” Blood sprays over both as he turns to her. She pummels his head and tries to get nails in his eyes.

“Oh you want some, do you?” He cuffs her head. She staggers but remains standing. Another and she sags against the desk. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you some.”

He ignores the pounding on the Oval door and the screeching of the phone to turn her limp body over against the Resolute. He hikes up her dress and pulls down her thong.

At last. At last. What he’s wanted all these years, the only thing ever denied him. He drops his pants.

Yet he’s stubbornly flaccid. He howls like a baboon. The pills! The fucking pills! He left them upstairs!

The pounding on the door has turned from a rattle to a steady rhythmic thump. “You wait, you fucking wait,” he says, baby-walking through his fallen pants towards the door and the pills.

The door bursts open. There are half a dozen men: the Secretary of Defense, the Vice President, and a couple of Secret Service.

The Secretary is in front. That was the plan. He sees the President with his pants around his ankles and his comically overlong tie providentially covering his genitals. Behind him are his daughter restoring her modesty and his son in law weeping in a corner with his hands pressed to his bleeding crotch.

He knew his duty before, and he is sure of it now. The pistol in his hand is not the eurotrash Glock officers get now but the Model 1911 forty-five he’d had since he commanded his first platoon. His arm comes up and the gun barely bucks.

The President falls backwards. The big bullet hit him in the center of his chest. Blood is spilling fast through his back all over the Seal in the carpet.

The Secretary steps forward. The President is still alive. His mouth is moving and his piggish blue eyes are full of terror. Though he knows the President deserves no mercy he ends the suffering with a round to the head.

The room is silent except for the son-in-law’s whimpering and the gurgling of the late President. The daughter stands upright beside the Resolute. Her eyes meet the Secretary’s. They are as hard as bayonet points.

The Secretary grasps his pistol by its warm barrel and offers it, butt-first, to the daughter. He cocks an eyebrow.

At first she hesitates. But not for long. She takes the gun and pulls back the slide with a practiced ease. Her eyes close and she takes a deep breath. They open and she pivots towards her husband.

The Secretary cannot blame her for the quivering arm and the pause that lets her husband know what’s coming so he screams before she lets two go, one in the chest and the other in the head. Soon he’s as much a twitching mess as his late father-in-law.

The daughter turns from her late husband and looks the Secretary in the eye. She brings the big gun to just behind her chin, angled towards the top of her head. With her free hand she grasps her wrist. Her eyes do not leave the Secretary’s as she takes three deep slow breaths. Then they close.

A spray of brains and blood hit the drapes and a bullet flattens itself against bulletproof glass.

The new President, behind him, puts his hand on the Secretary’s shoulder. “You’ve done the Lord’s work today,” he says in his oily midwestern AM radio voice. “And you will be richly rewarded.”

“In Heaven, of course,” the new President adds.

Behind him the Secretary hears rounds being chambered.