“Big Oil on line one, Mr. Vice President.”
“Tell ’em to fuck off. I’ll talk to them later”, the Vice President said, with his sing-song cantankerous voice.
I did as instructed with the predicted outcome, some swearing and a handful of gunshots. Working for Dick Cheney was never dull.
I went back to trolling the ‘net. Someone with the alias Behemoth was spreading whatever the opposite of misinformation is, about Operation Ajax. It wouldn’t do to have people thinking that overthrowing the democratically elected government of Iran on behalf of the Anglo-American oil industry, was a bad idea.
Even though it can be time-consuming, lying is obvious work. In most cases anything other than the truth will do. As I misinformed, I day-dreamed that I one day I too might have an adventure, like those whose history I was revising. Unbeknownst to me an adventure was closer than I thought.
The phone rang. I answered. Before I could say word, a voice boomed, “Dick, I need a war!”
“Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Who may I say is calling?” I politely replied.
“Demon. James Demon.”
It is assumed by Christians and atheists alike that Vice President Cheney has sold his immortal soul to one dark lord or another. As a result, I expect that when the day of reckoning comes our dear VP will be whisked away to hell by someone named Asmodeus or Mephistopheles, or perhaps even Sauron. Demon struck me as a bit too generic a name. I wondered if it was an alias.
“I’ll put you right through, Mr. Demon”, I said.
Dick picked up his phone. I put my phone on mute so that I could listen in.
“Dick, I need a war!”, Demon’s voice boomed for a second time.
“Yeah, yeah, tell me about your problem.”
“You know my bank is long on state-sponsored violence. Well this summer one of our new traders went a little too long and we’re out of the money on some of our September options. So …”
“How are we going to pay for this war of yours?” the VP interrupted brusquely, to the point, as always.
Demon replied, “Cutting food stamps for single moms. I’ve already lined up the votes. I just have to arrange the bribes.”
“Remember, this war of yours can only be about corporate profits.” Dick said sternly. “That’s the only kind of war I do. Nothing humanitarian.”
“That’s no problem, but Dick, this part is important. Our war has to include RAPs. ”
“Still flogging that mechanized infantry shit? Whatever. As long as it helps the fossil fuel industry.” Dick hung up.
“Shively, get your ass in here!”
I nearly creamed my jeans. I had been working in the Vice President’s Office for over three months and had barely said one hundred words to HIM. Now I was finally getting a chance to go tête a tête with the finest extra-legal mind of my generation.
Dick started to speak before I’d sat down. “One of our clients wants a war, or at least a police action…”. Dick likes to call the military-industrial complex our clients.
“Will a straight up arms deal do?”, I asked earnestly.
“Yep. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe invade Basra and break the oil union there?”
“Well, in theory the Mahdi Army are allies …”
“Ahem.” Cheney can convey so much with his phlegm.
“Erstwhile allies”, I amended. “Regardless, attacking the Mahdi Army might send the wrong message. And there’s a small problem with the British.”
“Fuck the British”, he said reflexively.
“Basra’s in their theater of operations.”
“Right. I guess that’s what I pay you for. What about one of the Stans? “Maybe Tajikistan? They’ve got lots of natural gas.” Dick has a soft spot for meddling in former Soviet Socialist Republics. Who can blame him?
“Uh, right” I replied tentatively. “We’re already in Tajikistan, so I assume you’re suggesting escalating our presence. Perhaps we could assassinate President Rahmon. That would stir things up.”
“Fuck that idea. Too complicated just to sell some shitty arms. How about Iran?”
Starting a war with Iran seemed to me like a disproportionate solution to the problem at hand. Dick agreed. This was a career making moment. I needed an alternative plan. I fell back on my training. “What would John Galt do right now?” I wondered. This thought didn’t help much. Unfortunately, Ayn Rand never addressed the issue of state-sponsored terror. Then I had an idea, “Sir, if I may be so bold …”
“Spit it out, Shively.”
“What about an arms deal with Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan? There’s been a lot of trouble recently in Andijan.”
The VP was impressed. “It solves Demon’s RAP problem – mechanized infantry are perfect for crushing popular unrest. But what’s the fossil fuel angle?” Dick was like a fly to shit about fossil fuels.
“There’s no oil to speak of. But there’s lots of natural gas. And we could use an air base in Uzbekistan to support our warlord allies in Afghanistan.”
“The Northern Alliance. Yeah, right. That’ll do. Good work, Shively.”
Vice President Richard Cheney, leader of the free world, swiveled the folds of his cellulite-ridden ass into action. He shouted into his intercom, “Margaret, get that dipstick on the phone.”
“Do you mean President Bush, sir?”
“No, the Brit.”
“Prime Minister Blair?”
“No! The peasant revolt guy.”
“Jack Straw, the British Foreign Minister?”
“Just one moment.”
There was a pause while the Vice President was transferred.
“Jack, its Dick Cheney. I need your help. We’re trying to sell some light armor in Central Asia. Yeah, RAPs. I know they’re only good for crushing civilian unrest, but that’s what my clients want me to sell. I’m sending an agent to Uzbekistan to broker the deal. Can your people help? Of course you’ll get a cut. Would you prefer arms sales, land-rights or kickbacks? I agree. Arms sales are cleanest. We’ll settle the details when we next meet. Yes. I will tell my man to contact an agent named Evensong.”
The VP hung up, scribbled some names onto a piece of paper, and then turned to me. “Shively, here’s a list of contacts. Let Margaret know if you need anything. And I mean anything. Demon is an important client.”
When he finished speaking Dick started to cough as if trying to regurgitate his stomach, his small intestine and what little remained of his soul. The commotion caused me to look one last time at the pasty faced old troll. It was amazing that he was alive at all. “Fuck this shit!” The Vice President shouted while he with great effort pulled himself together. I realized then that even something as debilitating as dyspepsia can give you strength.
I turned to face the Great Man Behind the Scenes full on.
“Stop looking at me like I’m a Page Boy for the House of Representatives, and move your ass. We’ve got to sell some product.”
The story is complete but needs a final edit by a professional editor. If you enjoyed this excerpt kindly consider supporting me on Patreon