“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 6 loud cracks that sounded like a berretta pistol being emptied into concrete. 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. It wouldn’t do to have people thinking that overthrowing a democratically elected governments for the benefit of oil companies was a bad idea. I was on that brief.
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 one day I too might have an adventure as exciting as those whose histories I was inventing. 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.” [Parody of Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase Bank]
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, “Congress can reform social security or we can trim food stamp payments. We’ll find the money.”
“Hrmph. Nothing humanitarian, right? Just profit?” Dick asked sternly.
“Its just about money, but only if this war uses lots of RAPs.1”
“Still flogging that mechanized infantry shit? Whatever. Call me when you’ve bought the votes.” Dick hung up.
“Its all lined up. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Shively, get your ass in here!”
I was so excited I fumbled the phone into its cradle. And who wouldn’t be prior to meeting with the finest extra-legal mind of our generation.
[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.]
Marge smiled as I threw on my jacket and rushed into Dick’s simple but large corner office. He started to speak before I’d sat down. “Shively, 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.” The Vice President 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 take out 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 in Uzbekistan. But there’s lots of natural gas.”
“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 other dipstick. The peasant revolt guy.”
“Jack Straw?” [The British Foreign Minister had the same name as the number two person in Watt Tyler’s rebellion]
“Just one moment.”
There was a pause while the Vice President was connected to Downing Street.
“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 Shively 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 both his stomach and his small intestine. This 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.
“Stop looking at me like I’m a Page for the House of Representatives, and move your ass. We’ve got to sell some product.”
Chapter Two: Flight to Uzbekistan
Our team assembled in the United Turkish Airways first class lounge at Heathrow.
I was the second person to arrive. Laurence had beaten me by half a tumbler of scotch. Laurence de Ponce Nez – who we all know as Ponce – is a thin man with a mop of died-white hair and fluorescent-tanned skin. He was drewssed in an expertly tailored but still loose fitting silk zoot suit. His feet were adorned with lamb’s breath wool socks that had been died deep red-ochre, a color beautifully offset by his rich maroon leather shoes. Laurence is one of those people everyone knows. His family doesn’t have broad interests, only oil, but that business is intimately tied to so many others. Between their business interests and their family ties, the de Ponce Nez family connections spanned the globe.
A petite woman with olive skin and chestnut hair arrived while I mixed myself a dry martini. She introduced her self to me – she knew Ponce already – by saying that her first name was Aadila1, after her mother, but to call her Evensong because everyone did. “Or 008 if you want me to kill someone.” Evensong was wearing an undecorated peasant dress made of stiff, coarse, brown material. Her head was modestly covered with a dark blue kerchief. She wore flat, sensible shoes, and did not offer to shake hands. [Aaidila is Arabic for afternoon prayers]
Evensong’s peasant disguise didn’t work because it failed to hide her church-choir beauty. I’m going to marry that girl, I thought the moment I met her.
While I was working out wedding details in my head a tall, thin woman rushed into the lounge: a Lilith to Evensong’s Eve. She blew a kiss to Ponce, then proffered her right hand to me, curtsied, and said, “Velveteen St. Croix at your service. Call me Ve.”
Velveteen was wearing thigh-length fishnet stocking that disappeared into black stilettos on one end and were attached to crotchless panties by thin leather garters on the other. Her micro mini skirt modestly enhanced the curves of her long legs and heart-shaped buttocks; a white bustier did similar work with her breasts. The sharp lines of her face were lightly dusted with pale white makeup, resulting in a goth look that was enhanced by kohl-lined eyes and bluntly cut black hair.