A WHOLE IN ONE
The flag fluttered in a light breeze. With the swing, the ball rose then dropped as if it had eyes for the target.
As he approached the cup, there was a rising exhilaration like nothing he had ever felt. A symmetry of desire and fulfillment, wiping clean past and future with a perfect present.
Topping a hillock that had blocked his view, expectation shriveled. The ball revealed, no more than a foot away from heaven. So close. So close.
The caddie, weighted with his clubs, was still laboring up the hill. The rest of his party swinging wide in their cart. No one else in sight. Almost without volition, his foot nudged the ball. It trickled towards the hole, touched a pebble, diverted by inches and stopped.
Even as he calculated another cheat, the caddie appeared.
“Nice birdie,” the caddie complemented. “Too bad about…”
Trump glared at the boy. “Shut up. It was in, perfect. I took it out. You hear me? Perfect.”
He picked up the ball and waved it at the approaching cart.
The caddie stood dumbly by his side.
“You hear me?” Trump repeated.
“Yes, sir. Perfect. Hole in one.”
At the end of the day, Trump tipped the caddie. He measured the boy, and finding him wanting, slipped another twenty.
The boy nodded gratefully. “Perfect,” he said. “I’ll remember it was perfect.”
One Christmas, Michael Cohen presented his boss with a Monopoly game modified so Trump would hold a permanent “Get Out of Jail Free” card, and where he could build hotels to his heart’s content on Park Place, Casinos on the Boardwalk, and White Houses on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The game was received so well, the next year, Cohen ordered a Trumpian version of Risk, where the Donald began with control of every country where there were Trump hotels, and his red-caped armies soon overwhelmed the rest.
When he played with Michael, Roger Stone or other buddies, they were smart enough to lose plausibly, throwing up their arms in seeming frustration, loading up on the sugar of Trump’s strategic brilliance. Melania beat him once, or about to. He stood abruptly, upsetting the board. Stomping away, he proclaimed he had been about to launch a nuclear strike from his last enclave in Kamchatka,
As Satan paced around the scale model of One Trump Hell Hotel, several of his minions trailed his imperial passage, quelling small fires in the carpet.
“Adolf, of course, gets the high-rise Penthouse. Stalin has his dacha and Mao a section of the Great Wall. Over here,” gesturing at an open area in the model, “goes the golf course and the stables for Vladimir..”
Satan draped one friendly arm around Donald Trump’s broad shoulders and waved the other at the excited White House staffers who crowded in the doorway of the Oval Office.
Satan had arrived that morning at the head of a dragoncade that stretched for a mile, emerging from a mighty cavern that opened next to the Supreme Court building, greeted by the ‘Sacred Six’ Justices, with a poetic invocation by the new, Chief Justice.
The court’s Barrett Browning I am meant to be
My pale beauty lending gloss to victory
penning obfuscations so complex
I have won all hearts not obsessed
With bringing down from lofty perch
He who leads our mighty church
Amy is my given name
Replaced awkward Ginsberg’s fleeting fame
From rotunda where she lay in state
To Arlington where she could only wait
with cruel judgment of her fate
to die both too early and too late
Oh, count opinions I so write
Nothing left to chance’s flight
That bird yet flies above the land
Casting shadows that will command
Proud warriors standing tall
Awaiting only his Trumpet’s call
Those opposing his sturdy brand
Are heads buried in Covid’s sand
Right to life and left to die
Praise the leader never shy
Mount Rushmore awaits his noble face
A Nobel Prize from a grateful, human race
Even the usually taciturn Justice Thomas had a broad smile.
As they marched, the denizens of Hell blinked in the bright sunlight and gazed in wonder at the mortal crowds that lined their route.
In a Rose Garden press conference, the President introduced the Prince of Darkness as his trusted friend, advisor, and, with a sly wink, investor. “A huge new luxury complex, Trump Death Valley, will bring millions to the Southwest.”
A hesitant hand went up from the press corps: “With temperatures up to 150 degrees and no water, how could anyone live there?”
Satan smiled. “Who said anything about living? We’re running out of space downstairs and we finally have a place on earth’s surface which approximates Hell. With President Trump’s collusion… Oops, I said a bad word. With his magnanimous, magnificent cooperation, the line between a living Hell and a habitable planet will increasingly become irrelevant. The death toll from Covids already cleared out vast swathes of superfluous mortals. Thanks to President Putin, Prince Ben-Salmonella and other colleagues; those who in past times would have been headed downwards will transfer directly to deadly deserts around the planet.
“Another question? Yes.”
“What about Heaven? Does anyone get to go there anymore?”
Trump grasped the microphone from Satan. “They call it heaven. I say ‘Welcome to it.’ The liberal elites can have their clouds.”
Satan chuckled as he took the mike back. “Easy there, big fella. Don’t want to rile our friends upstairs. We’ve reached a practical understanding, that with Global Warming past the point of rescue…”
“Fake news!” the President shouted.
Satan continued unperturbed… “Mom and Pop have arranged a rapture, All the innocents and mealy-mouthed deserving get uploaded to the great chip ship in the sky, and we get Mother Earth, the poor beat-up bitch, as our best girlfriend.”
Spotting Mitch McConnell in the crowd, Satan waved him over. The Senator shook hands with them as they posed for the cameras. Lindsey Graham crept in behind, seeking shelter and recognition.
Satan stepped back, admiring his handiwork. “You boys are so cute. Really, I haven’t had this much fun since Charlie Manson channeled Caligula and Jimmy Jones shared the Kool-Aid.”
Another reporter was trying desperately to follow what had to classify as breaking news. “Sir, could you clarify who you are referring to as… uh… Mom and Pop?”
Satan shook his head. “’Fraid that’s above your pay grade, young lady. But kudos for trying. You’ll know soon enough when you get to heaven.” He studied her more carefully. “Too bad. You’re a perky sort – like Eve when I tempted her.” From a pocket, Satan whipped out a juicy apple and proffered it to the reporter. “One bite, and all your questions answered. The scoops catapult you to instant celeb status, and in a matter of weeks, you’re an anchor on the Trump Channel. Interested? I could throw in a boyfriend with a Maserati.”
Flustered, the young woman retreated.
Senator Graham admired with a colloquially racist, “You da man! Like an all-red Santa Claus. What else have you got in your grab-bag?”
“Whatever it takes, boy chick, though for your crew of sold-out slop peddlers, it won’t take much.”
AND SO IT CAME TO PASS
When he arrived, the reception was all he might have hoped. A brass band, a military escort, and best of all, a podium from which to address an adoring crowd in their promised millions.
It got better. A troupe of luscious dancing girls snaked around, propelling him to the stage. As the lovelies passed before him, they whispered promissory notes for later fulfillment.
Greeting him on the podium were his old friends, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, leading a chant immediately picked up and escalated by the audience: “Lock her up! Lock her up!” And there she was, the witch who had haunted his public life, properly in chains, begging for a pardon that would never be granted.
The crowd parted like the Red Sea before Moses for a cattle truck, filled with his political enemies.
He pointed to the media, cowering on a nearby platform. “Fake news!” From the audience a flood of missiles launched; over-ripe tomatoes spreading a red splash.
He raised his arms, commanding silence. “The Wall,” he shouted. The crowd responded with a mighty roar, “The Wall!” Behind him, a 40 foot high screen showed the giant wall, intercut with images of baffled immigrants watched by sturdy Border patrol. Behind them stood stoic ICE , guarding cages filled with abandoned children, and stretching to the horizon, rows of helmeted police, keeping the peace in the towns of middle America.
A bare-chested Vladimir Putin rode in on a magnificent stallion, saluting the President who had even eclipsed him.
Somehow the President was growing to tower above the gathering, bathed in a golden haze of recognition for making America great again.
“I am huge,” he bellowed. “Huge.”
“Sir, it’s time for breakfast.” A hand was gently but firmly shaking him awake to face the disorientation of the simple cell in which he passed his days and nights. “Huge,” he mumbled. “I am and always will be.”