Peep show

The emperor and his tutor

© 2017 Gage Skidmore, used under a Creative Commons license


[A weird viewing space, like where big city cops take victims to view line-ups, but the glass window is floor-to-ceiling. On the darkened side is DONALD TRUMP, dressed in his usual dark suit and red tie and his recently-adopted Commander In Chief bill cap, and his medals, which he now has on both sides of his jacket, to the shoulders of which he has added gold fringed epaulets. Two SECRET SERVICE AGENTS wait by the door. On the other side of the glass, more brightly lit, is a roiling white fog, like the dry-ice fog in old heavy metal shows, through which a large human figure can be briefly glimpsed from time to time. The figure, wearing a towel around its waist but otherwise undressed, is former presidential advisor STEVE BANNON.]

TRUMP: Steve, I can’t see you. Ya gotta come out.

BANNON: [His voice, a more ethereal version of his usual business administration professor yap, coming with a little reverb through a speaker] But then I wouldn’t be able to think clearly, sir. You know in this situation what we need is clear thinking.

TRUMP: Think I see you now. Oops. Now you’re gone. Listen, whattaya, take that stuff though your skin now?

BANNON: This is how the Incas took their formula.

TRUMP: Yeah, those were the days. So I got these guys on the run, why can’t I just go on TV and tell them I’m dictator?

BANNON: You have to remember your lessons. The wise ruler does not —

TRUMP: Hey! I don’t take lessons! You said I was perfect the way I am. The head god or the god head or whatever.

BANNON: You are the godhead.

TRUMP: And you’re like whatshisname, Onassis.

BANNON: Aristotle. Forgive me, sir. No disrespect. But the Greek idea is that gods were like men and could still be instructed and grow. And —

TRUMP: What I wanna be instructed is when do I end this thing because I’m going nuts. ‘Cause I can’t trust anybody, Steve! They all tell me they’re fixing it for me but they don’t tell me how. I say how’s the lawsuits going? They say great. I say really because on TV they say we lost all of them. They say no, we won one, they gotta stand closer now when they count. I say how the fuck does that help me? Did you pay the judge? Ooooh nooo, they say, you can’t do that. I say like hell! Go ask the Rummy! I can’t get a straight answer.

BANNON: It’s natural. They’re afraid to say all they know because they’re afraid they might upset you. Which is good! They should be afraid! We rule by fear, so even our vassals must be afraid. In fact they should be the most afraid. Otherwise it’s anarchy. So they fear to put a word out of place; but just because they’re afraid to say the wrong thing doesn’t mean they’ll do the wrong thing. They struggle to do your bidding.

TRUMP: That’s right! Because if this don’t work they all go down with me! I'll rat everybody out.

BANNON: I know you would, sir.

TRUMP: That’s how it works. Omerta! That’s what it is! You don’t even say what you mean to your friends! You say “this thing” and “a thing has to happen.” Everybody knows, but there’s no evidence so you’re in the clear. [Lightbulb] And that’s what we’re doing right now, with this — with this “thing.” Hah! The Italians, hah? Did they know something or what? They were originally the Greeks, right?

BANNON: Romans.

TRUMP: Same diff. Yeah, I feel a lot better, Steve. That’s a real load off.

BANNON: Good. [Beat] Of course, if you turn on those who serve you, you have to take care not to anger those who can hurt you.

TRUMP: Huh! Don’t worry. I’m batting a thousand. Everyone I cut loose is a zero. Ask Mickey Cohen!

BANNON: Yes, Michael Cohen didn’t have much to give up. But some of your men are a lot more valuable than Michael Cohen. A lot smarter than Michael Cohen. And they have a lot more in the vault than Michael Cohen. And if you think you can get them off the payroll, and maybe buy a little breathing room for yourself at the same time, with a little tip to the Southern District of New York, you better make sure they never find out about it.

TRUMP: What the hell are you talking about? [Pause] Where’d you go, I can’t see you. Steve! C’mon, you think I had anything to do with that? That’s not me squeezing you, that’s them squeezing you so they can get to me! But we’re smart like the Romans! We don’t rat each other out! Look, I’ll get you a new lawyer, one who doesn’t care if you’re nuts. Where are ya, Steve? C’mon, you don’t think I —

[Though the fog it appears BANNON is now fully nude, facing away from the glass, and bending over to present his ass to TRUMP, who becomes incensed, rushes the glass and pounds on it.]

You fucking fat piece of shit, what the fuck do you think you’re doing! You fucking think you can show me your ass! You fucking pig, you scum, you’ll be showing your ass to fat fucking dicks in jail, ya scumbag, fat black fucking and sucking dicks! I’ll kill you, you fucker!

[To the SECRET SERVICE AGENTS:]

Shoot the glass! Shoot the fuck! He exposed himself to me! Defend me! Fucking defend me!

[The AGENTS do not react.]

Goddamnit, what the fuck use are any of you!

[TRUMP storms out. The AGENTS follow. BANNON recedes into the fog. BLACKOUT.]