Straight to the top

High-level discussion

© 2007 The Wandering Angel, used under a Creative Commons license

[Penthouse terrace, Manhattan, night. A couple of empty cocktail tables. At the back, a lighted pavilion; through the lozenge-shaped, lightly-frosted windows we see well-dressed figures flit, and faintly hear light jazz. On the terrace former Attorney General WILLIAM BARR stands alone, smoking a cigarette. He wears a tux. A man in a tux approaches from the pavilion.]

MAN: U.N. Special Forces! Hands where we can see them!

[BARR looks confused and a little alarmed; he turns around just as the man comes close enough that he, and we, can see he’s former Chief of Staff MICK MULVANEY, also in a tux and carrying a drink.]

BARR: [Smiling] That’s not funny, Mick.

MULVANEY: They’ll come for me way before you. I hope you’ll visit me in Holland.

BARR: Not on your life. Smoke?

MULVANEY: No thanks. Just wanted to take the air.

BARR: Little nippy here, so high up. You get the wind. But I like it. Clears the head.

MULVANEY: Me too. So, what have you been doing with yourself?

BARR: Not a damn thing. Sitting on my rear end, as Justice Marshall said.

MULVANEY: Me too.

BARR: You damn liar! I saw you on the talk shows.

MULVANEY: Talk shows! Hardly. CNBC, Yahoo Finance — that’s just me in my den talking about tax policy. I’m a wonk. It’s something I enjoy.

BARR: You’re still in the game.

MULVANEY: Did you listen? I came out for filibuster reform.

BARR: [Drily] Yes, that was very brave, Mick. No one gives a shit. You can still run for the Senate.

MULVANEY: And you can still get on SCOTUS.

BARR: Oh yeah?

MULVANEY: Sure. All you did was ream Trump. No one cares about him. He’s history.

BARR: Maybe, but his yahoos are still running the show.

MULVANEY: Not forever. They’ll burn out.

BARR: And be replaced by who?

MULVANEY: Somebody worse, probably. Speak of the devil.

[Former acting head of Homeland Security CHAD WOLF comes in, wearing a tux, carrying a highball and smoking a cigar.]

MULVANEY: Hello, Chad.

WOLF: Mick, how are you. Bill.

[Pause.]

MULVANEY: Well, isn’t this a nice night.

WOLF: The best. The Mercers give the best parties. Just awesome. I mean I had no idea. Wow. I never had the time to come to their parties, before.

[MULVANEY and BARR exchange a look, having perceived that WOLF has been drinking, at least.]

You guys are having a good time, I guess. In your way.

MULVANEY: Ha ha, yep. Just a couple of old men, me and Bill.

WOLF: [Points at BARR] Bill, guess you’re through with politics, huh.

BARR: How do you mean?

WOLF: [Laughs] Come on. That stuff you said about the boss? And the Capitol? Not to mention the FBI?

BARR: We had some disagreements. That’s politics.

WOLF: Yeah, maybe used to be. But no more. Either you’re in or you’re out. And guess who’s out? And guess who’s in?

[WOLF knocks back the highball, puts the glass down on a table.]

MULVANEY: I hear you have a new shop, Chad. Congratulations.

WOLF: Holy shit, it’s sweet. Thank you. Yeah, we got Scott and Tyler and Beth. You talk to them?

MULVANEY: Not yet.

WOLF: Did they tell you what they make?

MULVANEY: I haven’t talked to them, no.

WOLF: I’m not at liberty but — [jerks his thumb back at the penthouse] we’re doin’ good, okay? A year, maybe two years, we’re gonna make Rudy’s shop look like a, a gas station. We’re doing the right things. You guys see me on Cavuto?

MULVANEY: No.

WOLF: No?

MULVANEY: I don’t watch much TV, no.

WOLF: I was smokin’ ‘em, I was kicking Psaki’s ass, kicking Biden’s ass, I told ‘em what a shame it was that they wouldn’t let the press look at the border camps, and how they had so many widdle immigrant kids piled up in there because Biden was so inhumane. Pfffffft!

[WOLF advances on BARR.]

See, that’s how you do it. You can say you didn’t like when they stormed the Capitol — but you stick to the talking points and you leave the chief out of it. He remembers everything, you know. And he takes care of his friends.

BARR: But can his friends take care of themselves?

WOLF: What do you mean?

BARR: Ask your counsel about it.

WOLF: Oh, you think that’s funny, Bill?

[BARR flicks away his cigarette.]

BARR: I think your cigar smells like a donkey turd.

[MULVANEY puts a hand on WOLF’s arm, laughs, pulls him slightly away from BARR.]

MULVANEY: Hey Chad, let’s not ruin a beautiful evening. I’m gonna look up your Cavuto thing and watch it tonight, I’ll give you my review in the morning.

[WOLF steps away, downstage of MULVANEY and BARR. Looks out over the city, speaks loftily.]

WOLF: Look at that. That’s what it’s all about, boys. All that money just waiting to be picked up. I’m young and people know my name and they say I’m good-looking —

[Suddenly BARR starts to charge WOLF with his arms straight out, as if to shove him off the roof; MULVANEY wrestles him back.]

— and that’s all you need, boys — that and a few friends at the top.

[WOLF walks past MULVANEY and BARR to the pavilion.]

Give my best to the NeverTrumpers, boys. I’ll see you around.

[He leaves. Pause. BARR and MULVANEY are breathing heavily]

MULVANEY: You good, Bill?

[BARR nods.]

Lemme have one of those cigarettes.

[BARR pulls out a pack and they each take one as the CURTAIN FALLS.]