A no-holds-barred look at the American presidential race

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Image by Kusi Okamura

On Day One: A Series of Nightmares About January 20, 2017

By Maria Behan

 Nightmare Number Three: President Hillary Clinton and her husband, First Gentleman Bill Clinton, are unpacking boxes in the Oval Office.

“Well, honey, you did it. Here we are, back in our old stomping ground!”

“You did your bit, too, Bill. Though maybe at times you got a little ahead of yourself, like when you challenged Bernie Sanders to that rap battle in L.A. That sure wasn’t pretty.”

“You know how I get carried away sometimes, Hil. And as the country’s first black president, I thought I’d deliver a real rap smack-down. But I guess Killer Mike gave ol’ Bernie some tips.”

Hillary pulls two photographs from a box and arranges them on her desk. The first showed her with Kofi Annan, the second featured her and Amy Schumer. “I still don’t get why the crowd went wild when Bernie rhymed ‘quid pro quo’ with ‘just say no.’ Was it gratitude for the way Nancy Reagan started the conversation on AIDS back in the ‘80s? Maybe it was something else, though, since most of that crowd wasn’t even alive during the Reagan era. Anyway, you did your best under very tough circumstances.”

“Thanks, Hil.”

“But seriously, you’ve got to give that whole ‘first black president’ thing a rest. You know that distinction belongs to Barack—“

“Lord almighty, not him again! Now that you’re president yourself, maybe you can stop including his damn name in every sentence.”

“You know, Bill, even though neither of us could actually stand the guy, you’ve got to admit he worked out pretty nicely for us in the end. His endorsement at the Democratic National Convention stopped what looked to be an ugly floor flight by the Sanders delegates.”

“Sure, but I think the real credit for getting us back to the Oval Office has got to go to Debbie and her posse at the DNC. Boy howdy, did they ever have your back during the primaries! Remember when all those Bernie bros showed up to vote in New York and found out that their party affiliation had been switched to Republican?”

Hillary slaps a pants-suited knee. “That was a hoot!”

Bill pulls another framed photo out a of box. “Hey, this is a great one of me and Bono!” He holds out a picture of himself and the U2 singer in matching wrap-around sunglasses.

“Let’s save that one for the residence, eh?” Hillary says.

“OK, hon.” He rewraps the photo in bubble wrap, looks wistful for a moment, then brightens. “I love how good ol’ Debbie saved her best trick for the general election. I still don’t understand how the heck she managed to rig the machines so that every ballot from voters born between January and March was counted in your column. Best of all, the Trump people still haven’t figured that one out!”

“Even if they suspect, it’ll be like the email server and all that other stuff. A Clinton may leave a loose end here and there—but never a rope anyone can hang us with.”

“That should be our family motto!” Bill’s expression grows more serious. “So, Madame President: What’s first on your agenda?”

“Well, I need to start making good on the favors we promised everyone who contributed more than a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation.”

“That’s a long list, hon.”

“But first I have to walk back all that leftie crap I spouted to get past that pesky Bernie.” Hillary lets loose with a hearty cackle.

“There’s that great sense of humor of yours. I don’t know why more people don’t appreciate it.”

“I know, right? But seriously: me…get tough on the banks? I guess some rubes actually fell for that, but not a soul in the finance industry did.”

“And that, my dear, is why they contributed tens of millions of dollars to your campaign and super PACs,” Bill says. He high-fives his wife, who returns the gesture, awkwardly.

Hillary goes back to the packing boxes and pulls out a handful of small square items. “Look what I found!” she says, holding them out to her husband.

The First Gentleman looks puzzled. “What you got there, hon? Typewriter keys?”

“Close! They’re from computer keyboards. Remember when we swiped all the ‘W’s before George W. Bush took over from us in 2001?” 

“That was a good one, Hil.” He smiles at her, eyes twinkling. “And now we get to do it all over again. Man, it’s mighty fine to be back where we belong.”

She smiles and twinkles back. “And when Chelsea wins in 2024, this time we won’t even have to move out!”

Maria Behan writes fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, and Northern California Best Places.