Condi Rice was still in a half-dream state as she recalled the frivolities of the previous evening. Georgie Pooh and Laura Pooh, and the two charming harridan-vixens they called daughters, had joined her round the White House piano for a rousing chorus of “Shall We Gather at the River.”
As she idly stirred Creamo into her morning coffee, she recalled the President’s playful nudging: “Louder, Condi, louder!” he’d cried.
Condi had never felt so loved, so needed. Now, with the brooding presence of Collin Powell soon to exit the scene, with her confirmation as Secretary of State a foregone conclusion, she’d achieved the pinnacle of prominence she’d craved since childhood. Oprah might have a billion dollars and--recently!--a better booty, but she, Condi, by God, had the sweet, salacious aphrodisiac of power.
As she lifted the mug to her lips, with the Creamo still gently swirling, she gasped and stared. There it was, however crude and spectral—the unmistakable form of a mushroom cloud—seen from the top!
She grabbed her handy Kodac instamatic and quickly snapped a dozen shots.
Then she called the Commander-in-Chief.
“Cheney here,” the V.P. barked into the receiver.
“Dick, this is Condi—“
“Irrefutable proof, Dick. I’ve seen it in my morning coffee! I know what the Iranians are up to, Dick. It’s not pretty.” Slowly, patiently, academically, point by point, Condoleeza explained how she’d stirred, what she’d seen, the pictures she’d taken.
“You think we oughta get the Big Guy in on this?” Cheney asked. “It’s actionable?”
“I’ve never had a stronger hunch, Dick. It’s actionable, no question.”
“It’s not just female intuition?”
“Oh, Dick, don’t tease me again! I’m tingling all over. You know what that does to me. This is much more than that other time. I’ve had a sign!”
Cheney punched his mechanical heart, scrunched forward in his seat. “Lemme call the Big Guy.”
“Thanks, Dick. God bless you!”
“Rummy, Dick here.”
“That you, Dick? Hold on. Lemme turn down the T.V. “ After a beat, “Seems we just leveled another Iraqi city. What a racket! Hey, I never thought of that—Iracket!” He snickers.
“That you, Dick?”
“Damn commies! Serves them right!”
“They’re not commies, Don.”
“Don … it’s Condi again. She’s having visions again.”
“Ah, Christ! Now what?”
“Says she saw a mushroom cloud in her coffee. Thinks it’s some kind of sign … about Iran.”
“Oh sheet! Hasn’t told anyone, has she? … Didn’t bring it up to Georgie?”
“It’s bad, Don. She’s got pictures.”
After a beat, “Oh my goodness gracious!” Sighing, “Are we ready for this? She going public?”
“Dunno … You know Condie. “
“She’s not still having them hot flashes, is she?”
“We promised not to talk about that, Don … but, yeah, who knows?”
“It’s a little premature is all … If we gotta kill a few million Persian commies to make the world safe for democracy, God love it, well, we gotta do what we gotta do. But maybe we better clean up Iraq first is all I’m saying … Whadda you think?”
“Look, I know, you know, even Georgie knows, we’re not ready … but we can start putting her out there, you know. Trial balloons and all. She’ll take the heat. Who knows, she might just sell this pig.”
Laughing, “If anyone can put lipstick on a pig and sell it, it’s Condi.”
“So, we’re agreed? Let’er loose?”
“Fire away! We’re going to hell anyway. Let’s take some bastards with us!”
(The following transcript of a future broadcast of “Meet the Press” was obtained by totally illegal, unauthorized and unprecedented means. Disbursement by the print media is wholly forbidden and will be prosecuted. However, we hold the Internet to higher standards. Disburse away!)
Tim Russert: Dr. Rice, am I to understand … are we to understand … that you are making a case for pre-emptively destroying Tehran, a city of some ten million persons, most of them under the age of fifteen, based upon what you saw swirling around in your coffee?
Rice: Mr. Russert, I would never make such a case. Iran’s history of non-compliance with nuclear non-proliferation agreements is well documented. We know that the radical Islamists of Iran have supported the Terrorists in Iraq, killing and wounding our brave soldiers, who are there, I might add, only to assist the Iraqi people in establishing democracy, the greatest system of government ever imagined in our universe … My photographs, which you displayed on T.V. screens across the United States and around the world, just moments ago, have been carefully vetted by our C.I.A. … I might add, parenthetically, that we have recently vetted the C.I.A., as well. No longer will we be distracted by that den of iniquitous inquisitors, those quislings, those—
Russert: Er, Dr. Rice …
Rice (flustered; wiping her brow): Ah, so, where was I? It’s hot in here, isn’t it?
Russert: Dr. Rice, I have to be honest with you. I have been studying your photographs since you made them available to us two days ago. I have run them past every member of my family, and my best friends, as well as seasoned news people here and, in the interest of fair play, even the clowns at Fox News. I did not tell anyone what you saw. I asked them all to express what they saw in the photos. Would you like to know the consensus?
Rice: I’m not sure that is relevant, Tim.
(Photographs are once again projected onto T.V. screens across the nation and around the world. Russert uses a pointer to trace an outline.)
Russert: Dr. Rice, it is the consensus of our news team, as well as psychiatrists still practicing Freudian analysis, as well as leading Catholic prelates and representatives of His Holiness, the Pope, that I have just traced the outline of the Virgin Mary. Would you like to comment upon that?
Rice: Mr. Russert, why is it so hot in here? Would you mind turning up the air-conditioner? Can I have a glass of water? Are you trying to kill me?
(A technician brings Rice a glass of water. She drinks it down.)
Rice (regaining her composure): All of our paradigms are open to interpretation. Of course, we all know that. (Referring to the image still projected on split-screen--) Look, we know that these two dark dots here in the center of the screen could be seen as eyes, and this little blur towards the bottom could be seen as a chin. On the other hand, you see this rose-like petal pattern here? That’s definitely nuclear. No doubt about it.
Russert: Ah, well …
Rice: Mr. Russert, we ask the American people to judge for themselves. The C.I.A. is even now reproducing millions of exact duplicates of my photographs. We are going to make these available to the American public through QVC, the home shopping channel, the best distribution system we have. For just $9.95, plus shipping and handling, every citizen of this great democracy will be able to see what we ourselves have seen. Proceeds, I should add, will be used to distribute little American flags to future Iranian war orphans.
Russert (cowed): Thank you, Dr. Rice. That is indeed a fair and generous offer. And, yes, now that you’ve pointed it out, I definitely see the rose-like petal pattern … Congratulations on your new appointment.
Rice: Thank you, Tim … God bless America!
Russert: God bless America!
Gary Corseri edited the MANIFESTATIONS anthology. His articles, fiction and poems have appeared at/in DissidentVoice, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, AxisofLogic, the New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook and elsewhere. He has published two novels and two collections of poetry; PBS Atlanta has broadcast his dramatic work.
Other articles by Gary Corseri
The Six Best
Reasons Not To Vote