Handholding

When one of the boys gets nervous you have to talk sense into him

© 2019 Gage Skidmore, used under a Creative Commons license.


[The Oval Office. Chief of Staff MICK MULVANEY sits on a sofa, reading files in a folder. Presidential son-in-law JARED KUSHNER is wandering around nervously.]

MULVANEY: [Not looking at KUSHNER] You shouldn’t even be in here.

KUSHNER: Listen, Mick, I know we haven’t exactly gotten along in the past, but this is an emergency. It’s like that movie where everyone had to pull together despite their differences to save themselves.

MULVANEY: [Looks at him] What movie was that?

[Pause.]

KUSHNER: The... Shawshank Redemption?

[MULVANEY goes back to reading his files.]

Things are getting serious, Mick! I don’t know what you’re hearing but my connections in New York say they’re lining up witnesses like it was Flipper’s or something.

MULVANEY: [Not looking up] Like it was what?

KUSHNER: Flipper’s. Oh my God, it’s these pancakes, they’re the hot new thing and they’re so good. We sent a servant out to get us a bunch of them and they were so delicious we ate them all. Vanky was actually burping. It was so funny!

[Pause.]

But Mick, I heard they’re lining up witnesses and, I hate to tell you, Mick, but you’re in this just as deep as anyone. I don’t have to worry because I’m in the family, but everyone else had better watch out. So I’m doing you a favor actually.

MULVANEY: Why would you do that.

KUSHNER: Why, well, I don’t know, no reason. Ugh. Look. You know what, you’re right. Why should I help you, you won’t even talk to me. I’ll just go sit right over here and wait for the President.

[KUSHNER sits. Pause.]

You haven’t heard anything about me, have you?

[Pause.]

Not that there’s anything to tell, you know Dad just says hi how are you and sometimes I go on errands for, well not necessarily for him but you know, because he thinks it’s a good idea I should go but never anything illegal. You know.

MULVANEY: [Pause. Suddenly coughs into his fist] Khashoggi!

[Pause. Suddenly KUSHNER's eyes widen. He leaps from the couch, starts dancing around MULVANEY, yapping like a chihuahua.]

KUSHNER: What was that? What did you say? Did you say something? It sounded like you said something. What did you say? Did you say, you know, what I think you said? Is it? You know I can say something too! I know all kinds of people! All kinds of lawyers! And you know what? Some of them are even —

[TRUMP comes in, looking a bit grim though not as fucked up as in some previous episodes. But his eyes are a little more out of focus than usual.]

MULVANEY: Afternoon, sir.

TRUMP: What’s in the folders?

MULVANEY: Policy papers on Africa.

TRUMP: Ugh! Give it to Fatso, I don’t wanna hear it. You know they found that girl guilty. The lady cop. Shot that dinge in her apartment.

MULVANEY: His apartment.

TRUMP: Whatever. Jared, whattaya know.

[TRUMP sits at his desk.]

JARED: Dad, I have to talk to you in private.

[TRUMP stares at him. Suddenly he picks up a paperweight from the desk and throws it at KUSHNER — but feebly, so it just clears the desk, landing nowhere near KUSHNER, who nonetheless flies backwards screaming and tumbles over a chair. Pause.]

TRUMP: What’d I tell you about calling me Dad?

[MULVANEY crosses to KUSHNER and helps him up.]

MULVANEY: Shall I step out a minute, sir?

TRUMP: Sure.

MULVANEY: You need the, uh — [Taps nose]

TRUMP: Nah, I filled up already.

MULVANEY: [Suspiciously] Filled up? Where? What do you mean?

TRUMP: My one o’clock.

MULVANEY: [Alarmed] You got blow from a hooker? Are you out of your mind, sir? Do you realize how incredibly dangerous that is, not just for you but for —

[TRUMP has gotten up from his desk, with some difficulty, and now punches MULVANEY twice in the jaw. But this gesture, too, is apparently enfeebled, as MULVANEY brushes it off and steps backwards.]

Ow! Stop it!

[MULVANEY lightly spits something out of his mouth, rubs his chin.]

As I was saying, don’t you know how dangerous that is? It could be cut with anything!

TRUMP: You worry too much. Hey, leave me with the kid a minute.

[MULVANEY squints at the two of them, then shrugs and steps out. TRUMP goes back to his desk.]

TRUMP: What’s on your mind.

JARED: Well, D— I mean Mr. President, listen, I was talking to some people who know Schumer. You know, Chuck Schumer?

[TRUMP is just staring at him, hands folded on the desk in front of him.]

Well, anyway, these people were saying, not in so many words mind you but I knew what they meant, that the Democrats are getting warm when it comes to, well, you know, our friend.

TRUMP: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

JARED: Our friend. You know, with the towel on his head? [Pause.] He's a prince of a guy? [Pause.] The, the guy who killed Khashoggi for us.

[TRUMP gropes all over his desk looking for something good to throw, but only comes up with paper clips, pens, and the cup that the pens were in, but apparently none of these are satisfactory; he finally grabs the desk blotter by a corner and starts to pull it up, but his strength fails and he puts it back. KUSHNER has meanwhile cowered behind a sofa.]

TRUMP: Kid, you worry too much. I — come out from behind there. Come on.

[Timidly and slowly, KUSHNER does so.]

You’re getting worked up over nothing. These assholes don’t know anything. And if they do, so what? You think our people care about some Arab fake news guy? Huh? Think about it, Jared. To them, Arabs might as well be Mexicans. Do they care?

KUSHNER: I — I guess not.

TRUMP: Right. Now here’s what I want you to do: If they start getting close and they ask you about it, you tell them Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and who cares what happened to him.

KUSHNER: [Suspicious] Really?

TRUMP: Absolutely. Go ahead, let me hear you say it.

KUSHNER: [Awkwardly] Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and who cares what happened to him.

TRUMP: How’s that feel.

KUSHNER: …OK.

TRUMP: Now say it like you mean it. Go on.

KUSHNER: [Stronger] Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and who cares what happened to him. Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and who cares what happened to him. Khashoggi was a fake news Arab nobody cares what happened to him!

TRUMP: See, you say it three times and it’s like one of those mantras. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

KUSHNER: [Giggling] You know, I do feel a lot better.

TRUMP: Good! Now, you get back to New York and give that girl a big kiss for me.

KUSHNER: OK!

[KUSHNER stands up and sells it like Ethel Merman.]

Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and who cares what we did to him.

[KUSHNER goes to the door, opens it, and sings out.]

Khashoggi was a fake news Arab and we killed him and so what!

[He leaves and can be heard yelling outside. Meanwhile TRUMP is poking at his own face with both hands. Finally he closes his eyes and lets his head fall to the desk. He pulls it up; his nose is bleeding.]

TRUMP: [Quietly] I can’t feel it. I can’t feel anything.

[TRUMP wipes his blood and looks at it as MULVANEY rushes in. MULVANEY frantically pulls paper towels from a drawer in the desk and hands them to TRUMP, then pulls out his phone and hits a speed dial number.]

MULVANEY: Conley! Get to the Oval. There’s been an accident. He smashed his nose. [Pause] No, don’t worry about cosmetics, I got a guy we worked with when Bush quote unquote choked on a pretzel. I’m calling him next. [Pause] What? [Looks at Trump, who is rubbing a bloody paper towel all over his head.] No, the president is not in any pain. You might bring me an aspirin, though.

[CURTAIN.]