"How was your briefing this morning, George?"

    "Grim."

"Grim. What do you mean grim."

    "Just grim, Laura. Just grim. That's all. It's always grim. If I didn't have my faith I'd be tempted just to shuck it all. Sometimes I'm tempted anyway."

"Well, that's just not an option."

    "I think I'm gonna go work out."

"You've already done your morning run. And you know, you're not really looking all that well. What's on your calendar for the day?"

    "Nothing. Nothing of any importance. I'm just going to go downstairs and lift some weights. That's all I want to do. Just a few reps. Take another shower. Then lunch with a couple of shit-for-brains senators who need a little personal time. They'll sell their votes for lunch. Pathetic, isn't it? I should have the chefs whip up some peanut butter sandwiches. Then I'd tell them some cock and bull story - like this was the original peanut butter created by Booker T Washington, and I'm sharing it with them personal. They'd eat it up."

"Did Booker T Washington really invent the peanut butter sandwich?"

    "No, just the peanut butter."

"You're depressed, aren't you? Does it have anything to do with England?"

    "Yeah, Great Britain. What's so great about it? Sure wish we could cancel."

"Maybe a crisis will come up or something. You could always say there was a crisis."

    "Yeah, sure. Then everybody wants the details, and I'll just get nagged and nagged. You know the routine. It's not like I even have to manufacture a crisis. I can just pick one  out of the crisis stack and get together with all the guys in the situation room... I just get the feeling that if we don't take this trip, then that becomes a crisis. Damned if I do..."

"...and damned if you don't. I know, dear. But look on the bright side; at least you'll get to see your good friend Tony."

    "Jeez, Laura, you don't really think I like that guy, do you? The pundits are right about one thing - he really is my lap dog. How can you respect a guy like that? He's thinking that his little island is going to be a great country again, if he just hangs tight with America. So we do what we have to do. Hearts and minds."

"That's all you can do."

    "Pretty much. But that royal family. Oh, gag me. That's the part I dread. What am I going to talk to the old hag about?"

"History. She knows a lot about history."

    "I hate history. I'd just as soon be doomed to repeat it. Why not? Happens to everyone anyway. Even I know enough to know that. Hey, you think that Prince Charles is really a homosexual?"

"He might be, George. Take a look at his girlfriend. Woof!"

    "Heh, heh, that is one stretch of bad road isn't it? Heh, heh, heh."

"Got you laughing again!"

    "Heh, yeah, I think I'd take a man over her... Know what they told me this morning at the security brief?"

"What did they tell you?"

    "Ah, it's going to be a hassle. A hellacious trip. Insufficient security, and no way to notch it up. They're not going to let us keep a Black Hawk over Buckingham Palace. Queen says it's 'entirely too noisy'. And those reports about a hundred thousand protestors - they told me to be prepared for twice as many. Fun little trip, huh? Some victory lap."

"You're about to talk me into staying home."

    "Don't you dare even think about it! We'll have a good time next week. Get us a big gobbler and relax at the ranch. Watch some football."

"Happy thoughts."

    "Yep."

 

2003, Mark Hoback