The formula

A White House medical consult

[The Oval Office. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, the Trump doctor known for his absurd exam letter as well as his appearances in this newsletter, is sitting on a sofa, dressed like a Hamptons vacationer. A MARINE in full dress stands at parade rest, facing him. BORNSTEIN is awkward.]

BORNSTEIN: This is all some mix-up. Listen, I hear this guy’s gonna get impeached. And if that happens and they find out you were doing stuff like this, you’re gonna have a hard time getting a job after you get out of the service. [Pause] Could I at least get a sandwich or something? You see, when —

[A door opens and White House Chief of Staff MICK MULVANEY comes in. BORNSTEIN stands. The door remains open.]


BORNSTEIN: Oh, hi, Mick! Listen, I don’t know what you want me for, but maybe it can wait, Melissa and I have tickets to Hadestown.

MULVANEY: [to MARINE] Dimissed. [MARINE leaves. To BORNSTEIN] This shouldn’t take long, but we have to get it right. [Looks at the door]

BORNSTEIN: What’s outside the door? He’s out there, isn’t he? What’s he gonna do?

MULVANEY: [To BORNSTEIN] It’s about the formula. We ran out and Sean had to run a chemical analysis —

BORNSTEIN: [Aghast] You ran out? I brought you enough for the rest of his term!

MULVANEY: Things have been a little crazy here. Since the Democrats started having debates he’s been off his feed, especially when he sees some of the, you know, minority people. I don’t know if you saw the stuff he said about the Squad.

BORNSTEIN: Yeah, that confused me. I thought he was talking about cheerleaders! And you know he likes cheerleaders.

MULVANEY: What do you mean?

BORNSTEIN: [Suddenly nervous] Nothing, Mick! Nothing, that was a joke, I don’t know what I’m saying, I haven’t eaten since last night!

MULVANEY: Well, anyway, he scarfed up a barrel of the stuff then, and then there was the Cummings thing, and it got even worse. So we tried to make it ourselves, you know, out of equivalents.

BORNSTEIN: But why didn’t you call me?

MULVANEY: Well, for one thing we knew you didn’t have any more.

BORNSTEIN: Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense. I mean there were those “DEA agents” who tossed my office.

MULVANEY: And for another, we — [Looks toward door] oh, wait, here he comes.

[TRUMP enters with SEAN PATRICK CONLEY, the official White House Physician, holding his arm. At first glance TRUMP seems okay — maybe a little pale, gait a little stiff, face stern and immobile, but not too weird. Then he suddenly breaks away from CONLEY, goes to a side table, grabs some knick-knack from the top of it, and throws it — with great violence but to little effect; it flies a foot or so and crashes to the ground.]

CONLEY: Whee! Wasn’t that fun.

TRUMP: Boooog.

[CONLEY takes his arm and leads him to the sofa.]

CONLEY: Why don’t you take a load off, Mr. President?

[TRUMP collapses onto the sofa, lists at a 45 degree angle, reaches into his side jacket pocket, pulls out a phone, starts playing with it. His expression has not changed. CONLEY rushes to BORNSTEIN.]

CONLEY: Doctor, good you’re here, listen, I guess Mick told you.

BORNSTEIN: Yes. Yes, he has.

CONLEY: We’ve got the NIH, NACB, and SAMHSA on it, and we sort of got it but not really. Now my guess is that some of the material you used to make the powder was so old that it over time it broke down chemically and became a unique entity. Like the Miltown.

BORNSTEIN: Oh, yeah, that’s a real antique. They don’t make it like they used to.

CONLEY: And the Darvon.

BORNSTEIN: Darvocet, actually. The red pills, remember? It gives a nice russet hue.

MULVANEY: What was the green stuff?

BORNSTEIN: That was an old children’s soft drink powder, Loud-Mouth Lime they called it. I never could explain the effect — maybe it was just psychological.

[CONLEY removes what looks like a snuff tin from his pocket, unscrews lid.]

CONLEY: Doctor, we’re flying blind here, trying equivalents, but the effectiveness is spotty. This is what we’ve come up with recently.

[BORNSTEIN wets a finger, dabs it in the tin, touches it to his tongue, licks lips.]

BORNSTEIN: The cocaine balance seems right. You’re using pharmaceutical grade?

CONLEY: Of course.

BORNSTEIN: [Dubiously] It’s close, but it doesn’t have that bite we look for. Let’s see the effect. Doctor, will you administer?

CONLEY: Of course.

[CONLEY goes to TRUMP, who is still deep into his phone.]

Mr. President, time for your medicine.

[TRUMP stares impassively at him. CONLEY takes a spoon from his breast pocket, scoops up some of the mixture with it.]

Now I want you to take a nice big —

[TRUMP grabs the tin, dips his nose in it and roots like a hog. Powder spills everywhere. CONELY turns to BORNSTEIN and MULVANEY.]

Well, you see how it is.

[TRUMP has a paroxysm.]

BORNSTEIN: Hey! Hey, that’s not right!

MULVANEY: Yeah, he’s been doing that lately.

[TRUMP stands up suddenly, turns around 360 degrees, looks at the others.]

CONLEY: How are you, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Good. Good. [To MULVANEY] Listen, Mick, is that show with the colored guy still on TV?

MULVANEY: Which one, sir?

TRUMP: The colored guy.

MULVANEY: No, sir. We got it taken off.

TRUMP: Okay, good. [To BORNSTEIN] Hiya, Doc. Have a drink. Some snacks.

[As the men watch, TRUMP heads toward the back of the room, stopping by a sideboard to pull some flowers out of a vase before sitting down at the Resolute Desk, eating one of the flowers, setting the rest off to one side, and taking out his phone to play with again.]

MULVANEY: [To BORNSTEIN] We’d like you stay here a few days and help Dr. Conley find a solution.

BORNSTEIN: But we have tickets to Hadestown.

MULVANEY: You’ll have tickets to Hades if you don’t do like I say, Doc.

BORNSTEIN: You don’t understand, Mick. It’s actually pretty easy to get this stuff. Like the red pills —

[BORNSTEIN pulls something from his jacket pocket, holds it out to CONLEY.]

CONLEY: [Taking the pills from BORNSTEIN, looks at them closely, marveling] Argonne said they’d need three months to find these!

MULVANEY: [To BORNSTEIN] Doc, do you have access to the rest of this stuff, too?

BORNSTEIN: Could be.

MULVANEY: Alright, we’re putting you on a —

BORNSTEIN: You’ll do no such thing. [Pause] I’m an old man, Mick. And in case you didn’t already know, I don’t give a shit about my family or anything else you can threaten. Now, I can get you what you need. But I’m going to need a little protection for myself first. Like a federal office.

MULVANEY: [Shrugs] Not a big deal. We have less qualified men —

BORNSTEIN: Surgeon General.


MULVANEY: No. Dr. Adams is one of the few African-American officials this Administration —

TRUMP: What was that, Mick?

MULVANEY: What was what, Mr. President?

TRUMP: We got a dinge in the White House?

MULVANEY: The surgeon general is African-American.

TRUMP: Don’t give me that politically correct bullshit. [To BORNSTEIN] Bornstein! How’d you like a job?

BORNSTEIN: I’m honored of course. [Walks to TRUMP.] I just want to get my things for the weekend, take my wife to a show before I get started. You know how it is. Can you send me back in a plane, Mr. President? I’d certainly appreciate it. You know I would.

[BORNSTEIN is blocking MULVANEY’s and CONLEY’s view of TRUMP, and they do not notice what BORNSTEIN is doing with his hands; we hear TRUMP take a big snort of something; after a beat, TRUMP stands up, walks around the desk, puts a hand on BORNSTEIN’s shoulder and accompanies him to MULVANEY and CONLEY.]

TRUMP: Alright, boys, say hello to the new Surgeon General of the United States. [Shakes BORNSTEIN’s hand] Congratulations, Harold. Mick, set him up, he has to get back to New York for an eight o’clock curtain. And get him a deuce at Joe Allen’s for after the show.

BORNSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. President.

TRUMP: OK. My love to Melissa.

[BORNSTEIN gives CONLEY a curt bow.]


[BORNSTEIN looks at MULVANEY; MULVANEY looks murderously back; then MULVANEY heads out and BORNSTEIN follows. Pause.]

CONLEY: Feeling alright then, sir?

TRUMP: Never better.

CONLEY: Then with your permission, I’ll —

TRUMP: Hold it, Sean. I think I need a prostate exam.

CONLEY: Sir? Is there something wrong with your prostate?

TRUMP: Only one way to find out!

[TRUMP starts to unloosen his pants. CURTAIN.]