Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Donald Trump: How It Ends, The Short Story
As we all know, Donald Trump and the New York Times have a rocky relationship, with Trump invariably calling the newspaper the "failing" New York Times.
And the Times regularly embarrassing Trump with stories like this one.
So when the newspaper's book review department decided to ask some of America's most talented spy and crime novelists to imagine Trump's next chapter, in a short story, I could hardly wait to read them.
But while I found all of them reasonably entertaining.
The only one I really liked was Zoë Sharp's How It Ends, mostly for its surprise ending.
Which in case it disappears down a memory hole, or is consumed in a cloud of deplorable outrage, I transcribe in its entirety for your reading pleasure.
* * * * * *
The Russian landed at Dulles after 48 hours of traveling. Of necessity, he came from Moscow by a circuitous route. A long way with a very specific task. There would be no return flight.
In the airport bars, the TVs were tuned to different news channels but the story was the same. First the president’s campaign manager, then his lawyer, a Republican congressman, former aides, family members. Those who weren’t indicted were subpoenaed. House arrest had become fashionable.
The Town Car sent by the hotel had a flat-screen for his entertainment on the 45-minute drive into D.C. The channel once snidely referred to as “state TV” now delighted in showing long shots through the White House railings of men in uniforms removing boxes of incriminating paperwork. The president himself was not in residence. He was holed up on home ground.
The walk across the hotel lobby included a brush with a businessman intent on his cellphone. The Russian did not touch the inside pocket of his coat, into which his new identity had been adroitly slipped, until he reached the desk and produced it.
The clerk was slow to respond. His attention was on the TV in the bar.
“They’re saying the Russkies put him up to it,” the clerk said, handing over his room key. “And I voted for the guy!”
The Russian shrugged. “Fake news. …”
But the clerk did not look believing.
He spent a day in his suite, watching the slow grind toward impeachment.
Around 11 p.m., his contact arrived. The man had been in deep cover for decades. In his briefcase was a bottle of Stolichnaya and a 9-millimeter Makarov semiautomatic pistol.
“There is no other way?” It was intended as a statement. It emerged as a question.
The contact shook his head. “When it comes out that he was handpicked at the highest possible level, our great nation will be the laughingstock of the world,” he said. “He must be silenced.”
They drank vodka until the early hours. The contact left for the airport. The Russian drank on alone. Throughout his career, he would have spent these hours going over the plan, the escape route. This time, there was no escape route — only honor. And death.
At 7 a.m., he showered. The bar of soap had the hotel name stamped into both sides. He made sure to wash his ass with it. Then he shaved and ate a last room-service breakfast. He dressed in the porter’s uniform that had been obtained for him, tucking the Makarov into the back of his waistband.
When it was time, he went downstairs, took his place in the lobby before the entourage appeared. The hotel staff had been lined up to see their boss, the president, go by. A few of them applauded. Most did not.
The president didn’t seem to notice. He waved, in his desultory fashion. The Secret Service agents clustered around him, ushered him toward the armored limo idling outside at the curb.
The Russian waited until they were a few steps past before he drew the gun. He sighted on the center of the president’s back, and squeezed the trigger.
The Makarov misfired.
The Secret Service agent at the president’s shoulder heard the click, spun into a crouch. He registered the scene instantly, drawing his own weapon with razor-edge reflexes.
The Russian tasted failure. He closed his eyes and waited to pay the cost.
It did not come.
He opened his eyes. The Secret Service agent stood before him, presenting his Glock, butt first.
“Here,” the agent said politely. “Use mine. …”
* * * * * * *
As I said, the best part is the last line.
But since I don't believe in political violence, even when aimed at a monster like Trump, I can't say that I enjoyed the story.
My ideal Trump story includes a public trial.
And of course ends in a grubby cell...
With his sons Eric and Donald Jr. in neighbouring cells shouting "Daddy where's our bail money???"
So if nobody will write that novel for me, when I finish the one I'm writing.
I'll just have to write it myself...