President Obama gazed down from the icy bridge into the swirling frigid waters of the Potomac below him. In the darkness of the night the distance between him and its whirlpools seemed vast.
He was at an end. The difficulties of his Presidency seemed as dark, endless and foreboding as the waters he looked down upon. The constant assault and harassment by foes, the never ending undermining by the Republicans and the slings and arrows of a thousand misfortunes pulled the earth itself out from under him.
Now even his own party was turning against him. He had come into office with the will and intent to do as good a job as possible with the responsibility given him. Now it seemed that the world itself had turned against him. A morbid longing filled him. He leaned out over the railing. Suddenly the cold water seemed like a temptress offering relief from life.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you!” said a soft voice from behind him.
Startled, Obama drew back. A chubby, genial, older white guy appeared from the shadows of the bridges spanners.
“Do what?” asked Obama, feigning innocence.
“Lean so far over the bridge,” said the man helpfully, “if you lose your balance, you’ll find that water mighty cold!”
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” said Obama, turning back to the water.
Suddenly a figure wooshed past him and fell into the dark waters below. “Help! Help!” cried a voice from its depths.
It was the old man who had spoken to him. Obama swiftly threw off his coat and plunged in, grabbing the old man and pulling him to shore.
Sometime later they all sat shivering off the last of the rivers cold next to the bridge keepers pot belly stove. Their outer clothes were drying on ropes hanging near the stove and they were wrapped snugly in warm blankets.
“Why did you do such a damn fool thing?” asked Obama.
“Because, I am your guardian angel.” answered the man.
“What? Now I’ve heard everything!” retorted the President.
“Well, I am here trying to earn my wings by helping you.”
“I’ve had enough for one night! I wish I had never come out here. I wish I had never become President. God, I wish I had never been born!” he stated in exasperation.
“You’re wish is my command!” and the little man closed his eyes and blinked in “I Dream Of Jeanie” fashion.
Suddenly they were back at the White House, or, what seemed like it. A huge fence walled off the White House from view. Fully armed soldiers guarded tightly controlled metal gates, pointing machine guns threateningly at anyone who strode too close.
“Oh my God! What happened?”
The little man was still at his side. “This is 2009 as it could have been. You weren’t born, so things came out very differently. When the Democrats couldn’t come up with a strong runner for the 2008 election, Dick Cheney decided it was time to grab power and he did. He and a secret militia took over the White House. He had Bush secretly shipped out to his ranch while he moved into power. The rest of the world realized that the US was now a dictatorship and turned its back on us. He has turned the entire White House that he now occupies into an ‘undisclosed location’.”
“Let’s take a look around. Oh, and my name is George.”
“Nice to meet you ” said a shocked Obama, still not quite believing his eyes.
Large, lavish palaces office buildings were being built around the White House, replacing the park that used to be across the street. “They are offices being built at taxpayer expense for lobbyists, oil men and top corporate execs.” said George softly.
“Oh, God!” murmured Obama under his breath.
“They are building special tunnels under the street so that they can access the White House without being observed or having to go through security.”
A few blocks away a large fence was being constructed. It stood at least 15 feet high and had guard towers. “This is the new fence being erected to separate the government from the rest of the city. It is an American version of the Berlin Wall. No one will be allowed within but politicians and security personnel. It will be guarded by the most elaborate surveillance and security system the world has ever seen. Any planes of ANY sort flying over will be shot down. His own personal safety is the number one priority for Mr. Cheney.”
George could see the disbelief on the former President’s face. “Come,” he said, taking his arm. “There is someone I want you to meet.”
The world around them began to whirl and dissolved into another urban scene.
“Delaware.” said George. He pointed to a man staggering towards them. “Do you recognize him?”
Obama looked hard at the man approaching. “Joe… Joe Biden!” He walked up to him. “Joe, how are you doing?”
The tall, blond haired man stared at him intently for a moment, then said “Do I know you sir?”
“It’s me, Barack Obama!”
Joe Biden looked even more intently now. “Barick Othama? What sort of name is that?”
“Oh,” Obama stammered. “um, we’ve met before, but perhaps you don’t remember me. How are you doing?”
“Terrible.” answered the former vice President. “Now that this damned Cheney has taken over his is the only game in town. All other political parties are now banned. Only his cronies are allowed to control anything. Now that I’ve lost my wife, child and my career there isn’t anything worth doing. Thank God he didn’t ban booze. Of course, I suppose he wouldn’t since he made all liquor stores state run and he profits from it. At least I have that to look forward to.”
“How could it come to this?” Obama asked more to himself than to the others.
“How did it happen? Because we weren’t paying attention, that’s why! We slowly let the hooligans get more and more power and let them chisel away our real freedoms until the common man had so few left that he didn’t even have the power to defend them!”
“And Washington let it happen.” murmured Obama.
“Washington? Where have you been man? Cheney is renaming D.C. ‘Cheneyville’. Ha! And he is buying up all the low end property in the city so that the poor people have to move out. He is going to make his own little Rome here. Humph, you’re not very political, are you? Well, I’ve got to go. Nice chatting with you gentlemen.” He stumbled on towards his home.
Obama gaped on in shock for a moment, then recovered. “But what about Michelle and the children?!” he asked breathlessly.
“Oh, don’t worry about them. You were never born, so Michelle never came to the White House. And the two girls…well…they never came into being.”
Obama is shocked at this. “We…never …married.” he puzzled on this silently. He ventured a question, afraid of the answer, “What happened to her then?”
“Oh, she is back in Chicago….perhaps not as well off as she was with you, but….alive …and healthy. We can visit her if you like.”
“Yes, I would like that very much.”
“OK then, grab my hand.” Obama took the pudgy mans hand cautiously. Suddenly it was as if a whirlwind had wrapped itself around them. When the dizziness subsided they found themselves in a run down and very cold neighborhood.
“Brrr… where the heck are we?”
“You should know, Mr. Obama. This is your old stomping grounds. See that apartment building across the street? Go in and knock on door number 4.”
An ominous feeling descended upon the President as he mounted the stairs and entered the hallway lit by only a single naked light bulb. He hesitated, then knocked upon the door. The woman who was to have been his wife opened the door and gazed blankly out at him. She was lovely as ever, but was dressed in an shabby evening robe and her hair was a bit disarrayed.
“Hello, can I help you?” she asked.
Without thinking Obama blurted out “Michelle! Don’t you recognize me?”
Her eyes opened widely and a concerned look etched her face.
Obama started to stutter “But I’m your …..” but caught himself in time. “I’m….ah ….an old college friend of yours from the neighborhood. Barack Obama.”
She looked at him curiously. “Funny, I don’t seem to recognize you and your name definitely is not familiar.” At last she deemed to trust him and threw the door wide open. “Well come on in. Excuse the place. It is rather small and I haven’t had much time for straightening up. Have a seat. I’ll make some coffee.”
Obama was in shock at the sight of her and her small apartment ” Oh, don’t bother. Er…I only have a few minutes .Have you been busy?
“Yes, very. I was working at Acorn as a legal aid attorney for them until we got banned by the new Cheney edicts that disallows any non-governmental agencies to function socially. Now I am having to spend my whole working day looking for more work. With the threat of war with the United Islamic Federation and the trade war with Europe things will probably be even tighter.”
Shock piled upon shock for Obama’s brain. “United Islamic Front? European trade war?”
Michelle looked at him askance. “Where have you been? You’re not very political, are you? With Cheney’s tough, aggressive stance to domineer all the oil in the Mideast the nations there all reacted feeling none of them were safe with him running things and declared war collectively against the US. He has also put into operation aggressive business tactics against the EU and they also bonded together against us financially.” She sighed. “It looking to be a pretty bleak Christmas.” She looked closely at him. “Say, are you sure we were in college together?”
“Umm, yes, yes we were. I even met your father and mother, Fraser and Marion.”
“Oh, it just seems so odd that I can’t remember you. Well, I hate to cut this short, Mr…..Obama, wasn’t it? But I have to get up early tomorrow for and interview as a legal rep for Walmart. It seems the big corporations are the only ones able to hire lawyers anymore.”
“Oh…OK, thanks!” said Obama as he backed out the door.
On the street George was waiting for him.
“She didn’t even recognize me!” stuttered Obama
“That is because you don’t exist, at least in the earthly realm. You were never born.”
“This can not be!”
“But it is Mr. Obama, but it is!”
“I can’t let this happen! Is there some way I could go back and erase all this?”
“Of course there is. Simply be born after all.”
“OK, send me back. Anything is better than this nightmare!”
“You’ve always had the power to return. Simply close your eyes, tap your shoes together and say ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.'”
“Isn’t that the wrong movie?” asked Obama.
“It works for this one too.”
“OK. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Suddenly the whirlwind came and deposited the President back to the bridge over the Potomac where the whole adventure had started. The joyous spectacle of a normal Washington was before his eyes, or at least as normal as it gets. He ran up to the White House and into the dining area where his family was just sitting down to Christmas dinner.
Michelle stood up and went to her husband and pecked him on the cheek. “Oh, there you are dear. We were wondering where you were!” His two daughters ran up to him too and gave him hugs.
Obama was overjoyed. “You recognize me! And Sasha and Malia are here! What a wonderful surprise!”
Michelle looked oddly at him. “You haven’t been hitting the eggnog early, have you?”
Obama laughed. “No dear, not at all. I’m just so happy to see you all.”
“Well, lets sit down and begin our feast.”
“Great idea. I’ll say grace. Thank you Lord for this food and God bless everyone, even Mr. Scrooge!”
“Er, isn’t that the wrong film, dear?” asked the First Lady.
“It still works. Amen.” stated Obama.
Apologies to Director Frank Capra and writer Philip Van Doren Stern wherever in the universe they may be for marauding their fine stories and film to make this faux news item.
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