I was out watering the daisies in front of my modest Capitol Hill row house yesterday. It’s normally pretty quiet here and, since the pandemic, not so much foot traffic.
Despite the proximity of our house to the Capitol, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a notable political figure wander by. But this one was pretty recognizable: a large, late-middle age, blondish man in an ill-fitting blue suit and a long, red tie — walking awkwardly on the brick sidewalk. He kept turning his head in every direction, looking like someone utterly lost but he kept slowly walking toward me.
I looked up and down the block searching for a motorcade, or at least a security detail. Nothing. When he approached my yard, I turned off the hose and leaned on the iron fence. “Lost, Mr. President?” I asked in my blandest voice. As he turned, I saw he’d been sweating heavily in the hot summer sun, and his signature face paint was beginning to streak. “Umm,” he stared at me, “Uh, yeah, I think.” He grabbed onto the fence to steady himself. “Would you like to come in for some water?” I asked. He continued to look around and eventually said, “I guess.”
He followed me up the brick stairs and into the cool of the house. I showed him to the front room and pointed to the sofa. “I’ll be back in a minute with the water… or would you prefer Diet Coke?” “Water,” he said, “ice water.”
I cam back a few minutes later and he was looking slightly more composed. I handed him a big glass of water, and when he’d had a few drinks, I asked, “Would you like to tell me about it? He looked down and said, “Nice carpet.” “Pottery Barn,” I replied, “on sale.”
“But seriously, how’d you wind up on my street? By the way, I’m Alec,” I said. It was kind of exciting having the US president in my living room, but remembering g how much upset he caused me in the last four years, I was careful not to sound star struck.
“I’m not sure,” he said, “one minute I was riding in my limo, and then they pulled over and asked me to step out. Security reasons, they told me. I stood up on the curb of some street, and the whole group of cars drove away. I’ve been wandering around,” he said, “trying to figure out where I am. None of this looks familiar to me.”
“I guess you’ve never really bothered to learn about DC, then,” I offered.
“Why should I?” he asked, “Everybody here hates me.”
“I think there’s a reason for that,” I said, becoming a bit emboldened.
“Yeah,” he said, “Fake news.”
I took a breath and thought, I don’t want this to turn into another Facebook punch-up.
“More water?” I asked. He shook his head no.
“But more to the point, though is: Where were you headed? And why did you get dropped off so abruptly?”
He looked baffled. I think when a big man looks baffled, he looks more baffled than a normal-sized man.
“I think I was going to a meeting — maybe on an Army base. Maybe not. I let Jared take care of that for me.”
“If you didn’t know where you were going, how would you know what to say?” I immediately regretted that, but he took no notice.
“I always know what to say. People love what I say, and they always want me to say something… well, Trumpish.” I couldn’t argue with him there.
“But why do you think they put you out of the car? Was there a fight going on? Did it look like terrorists had taken over?”
“Couldn’t be terrorists — these people were all Americans,” he said.
“Oh… say, you want something to eat? We got salami and cheese and some Trader Joe’s rye bread.” He said, sure, and we wandered into the kitchen.
“Uh, Don — may I call you Don? He nodded in approval. “Do you think we should call your wife or someone — Jared, maybe?”
“No,” he said sadly, “they were in the car that drove off.” Now I’m thinking that what we have on our hands is a palace coup or something, and we better proceed slowly. “You know, I said, maybe you ought to stay out of sight for a while, till you find out what’s happening.”
“Nah… well, maybe a little. Mayo, too, if you got it.”
“You say we. So, who else lives here?”
“Yeah, my wife. But she’s at the dentist in Northwest. Took the Metro — wearing a mask and all.”
“Where’s Northwest?” he asked.
“It’s the biggest quadrant of DC. In fact, you live there… or at least you did.”
“Hmm… listen, can I use the bathroom?”
“Sure, top of the stairs, directly to your left.”
While he was up there, I thought of calling someone for advice, but I quickly realized no one would believe me. I was on my own for the moment. But I sent a text to my wife: “We have a surprise visitor. And I won’t spoil the surprise. Hurry home as soon as you can.”
He lumbered down the stairs at a precarious angle. “Oh, God,” I thought, “don’t make me have to pick you up.” But he made it back to the sofa.
I had a thought: “Do you think maybe you were going to see the Commandant of the Marine Corps? He lives a few blocks from here.”
“What’s his name?” he asked.
“Beats me. We don’t actually get to mingle much.”
“Could be.” He looked utterly bereft.
“OK, Don, I really don’t know what to do or who to call. Do you think you’re in real danger?”
“Maybe… this is probably about Scaramucci or Cohen, or one of those CIA guys,” he said without affect.
“OK, then, who do you trust? I mean, really, really trust?”
He thought for a minute. “Ivanka.”
“You have her number?”
He felt around in his pockets a few times. “I think they took my cell phone.”
“So, no tweets for a while, I guess.”
“Could I use yours?”
“Find me the number and I’ll call her.”
“No, I mean to tweet to my base.”
“Because I hate everything you tweet.”
“Well, that’s not very nice,” he fumed, “in fact, it’s just…”
“Why? Because I owe you one? Well, I don’t.”
He looked even more sullen.
“Look, I don’t want to help your political career.”
“So why did you bring me here?” he asked, looking quite dumbfounded.
“Because you were a wandering, disoriented senior citizen in danger of heatstroke, and that’s just what people do.”
“Yes. Now before we get into some pointless political argument, can we get you someplace safe. Or at least someplace… else?”
“I can pay you,” he said.
“How? You don’t have any money with you, and what would I do with it? Hire Blackwater or something?”
He shrugged and got up. He wandered into the dining area where I had some large homemade portraits on the wall: Darwin, Marx, Frederick Douglass. He stared and asked, “Who are they?”
I told him. “So, are you like an Antifa or something?”
“Right, let’s go attack some heavily armed white guys. No, of course I’m not, I’m a 75-year-old DC liberal. Do I look like an Antifa?”
“Did you used to be?”
“Well, I was pretty rowdy anti-war protester, and broke a window once — but that was a while ago?”
“The Vietnam War… I’m sure you’ve heard of it.”
“You know, I wasn’t a fan of that war,” he said
“Yeah, I heard that. So, that makes us both draft dodgers.” He looked stricken.
“Don’t get too worked up over it. Half the guys facing the draft came up with some sort of doctor’s excuse. And almost nobody in your social class was taken into the army.”
“Really. And two-thirds of the military was made of enlistees, not draftees. So, you and me — we were just ordinary guys. Sorry.”
“Anyway, how can we get Ivanka’s number? Preferably a secure number.”
He shrugged and shook his head.
Just then, I heard the front door rattling and I knew matters were about to come to a head.
Kim entered, put down her bags, called out and wandered into the living room. She gaped. And gaped some more. She shook her head and after a moment said one word: “What?”
“Hi. Say hello to Don.”
“Hello,” she said with obvious distaste.
“I was about to say, it’s a long story — but it’s not. He was wandering in front of the house, alone and about to faint, after he was apparently ditched from his motorcade. He has no idea where he is or what happened.”
She asked Don: “So, what happened?”
Once again, he shrugged. “Hi,” he said.
“I’m not sure, but maybe there’s been a coup.”
She sat down. “If there had been a coup, he would be in custody or something. It’s more likely that the people around him got fed up with his constant gibberish and just tossed him out.” She turned her gaze on Trump. “Sorry,” she said, “but that’s what you do. I know, I’ve been listening to you for four years.”
“I can’t argue with that,” I said, “but that’s no way to treat a guest. We’ve got to figure out a way to get rid of him.”
“You’re right,” she said, “he’s a guest. So, are you hungry?”
Kim’s is so hospitable, she’d feed a rampaging pack of wolverines. “I gave him a salami sandwich, but I don’t know if it’s enough.”
“Was it?” she asked. He shrugged again.
“Are you going to say anything?” she asked.
“Why is your hair so gray?” he asked.
She sighed. “On second thought, don’t talk. But let me know if you’re hungry.”
“Give us a few minutes,” I told him, “We’ll figure something out…. and don’t leave.”
We went into the sunroom and closed the door. “OK, here’s how I see it,” I said, “we have to find Ivanka and tell her to come get him.”
“Why? Why can’t we just show him the door?” she asked.
“Because they might kill him and then we’re in for civil war.”
“If they were going to kill him,” she asked logically, “why would they just dump him by the side of the road? Are you sure they just didn’t want to shut him up for a while?”
“I don’t want to take that chance,” I said. “So, let’s at least try to find her. Don’t we know anyone who might get us through to Ivanka?”
“Well, Chelsea Clinton knows her. And I know a few people who worked with the Clintons. Let me try. But we better not get arrested for kidnapping,” Kim said sharply. “I’ll start calling; you go back and entertain him.”
I went to the basement, rummaged around and found some Diet Coke that someone left at a party. I brought it upstairs and found Donald slumped on the sofa. I got two glasses and ice and brought us the drinks.
“We’re working on it,” I told him, “In the meanwhile let’s watch TV. Maybe we can agree on something”
“Fox News,” he said, “everybody loves it.”
“Uh… no. But we could watch some classic NFL games on YouTube. You up for that?”
He grinned for the first time since I met him. He squeezed himself into one of the TV chairs and I fiddled with YouTube. I brought up a list of games.”
“Which one you want?”
“Niners-Bills. 1993,” he said with the air of a man who knew what he wanted.
“Great. Let’s get started.”
“But how do you do that? With the YouTube, I mean.”
“Ask one of Ivanka’s kids. I’m sure they’ll know.” He nodded in assent.
Before long, we were heatedly arguing whether Joe Montana or Steve Young was the better quarterback… just like old buddies do. I got us a bag of Doritos and settled in. After half an hour, Kim came in.
“Good thinking,” she said, looking at the game. “Anyway, I think she and Jared are on their way.”
“How’d you manage that?”
“I called Karen who got me Marjorie Mezvinsky. And she got me through to Chelsea who, after a little persuasion gave me Ivanka’s cell.”
Donald asked us if we could go talk in the kitchen: “This is a very exciting game, guys.”
She rolled her eyes and we went. “You’re the greatest,” I told her, “But, how did you convince Ivanka that this was real?”
“She wasn’t surprised and had been expecting it… I didn’t ask her why.”
“We better get a few photos — if only just for us.”
“Be discreet,” she said, and we walked back to where Don was still glued to the TV. I was about to snap a few with my iPhone when I heard the doorbell ring. It was either Ivanka or the Secret Service, but I knew I had to answer it.
We opened the door and standing there was a familiar, tall, impeccably dressed couple,
“You’re looking, well, a bit farmisht,” I told Jared. “You might as well come in. I don’t think he’ll leave the TV just because I tell him to.”
They walked in. glancing around. I couldn’t help myself and said, “Too déclassé?”
“Nice,’ said Ivanka to Kim. Jared, I wasn’t so sure.
“So, listen,” Kim asked them, “Is he in danger? And if he is, where can you take him?”
“We’ve got a way to get him to a safe place,” Ivanka said, almost apologetically.
“OK, don’t tell us,” I said, “but if you want my advice, take him to St. Helena. If Napoleon could live out his days there, so can Donald Trump.”
Ivanka set to fussing over Don, and shortly, got him to stand up and start walking with them. Jared held the door open.
“Bye, Don,” said Kim, “try to be good from now on.”
“You know,” I told Ivanka, “I spent the last years thinking this was an evil destroyer — or at least a blundering nincompoop.”
“And now,” she asked.
“He turned out to be an unwell, confused old man. I even felt a bit sorry for him.”
“I know. Listen, thanks,” she said, “is there anything I can do for you.?”
“Yes,” said Kim, “If you have any of those Carolina Herrera V-neck, sheath dresses left, I’d like one.” Ivanka smiled. “Red or black,” said Kim.
They were helping Don through the door; a black limo was waiting.
Kim shouted as they were closing the gate, “Long sleeve.”
“We didn’t get any photos; nobody will ever believe this,” said Kim.
“Worse,” I said, “we’re out of Doritos.”