11 – The United States of Grain Alcohol
President Knudson paced around his office. If you could call the slow, labored strides he took pacing. It was more of a dismal limp. His lungs burned and an extremely productive cough birthed from his chest. He held onto his desk and hawked a sizeable phlegm-riddled wad of spittle roughly the size of a billiards cue ball. He wondered where the hell Dasher had gone and who the hell had published that Buzzfeed article that was swaying public favor back towards Dasher.
Knudson saw the Buzzfeed article while browsing a recent onslaught of Kim Kardashian butt pictures. It was an infuriating disruption to his daily ritual and his once omnipotent power was now being questioned again. All it took was a top 10 list for the public to start asking questions. One list for them to challenge the slop they had been mindlessly eating while waiting to be slaughtered. He had his intern compile several tweets regarding the earth’s flatness, but they had only been moderately successful in turning the public’s attention away from what had become known as the “Dasher Dilemma.” Protests both in opposition and support of Dasher consumed the country, oftentimes growing as violent as the neck snappings that had sparked the initial unrest. The President’s public remarks on Dasher had served as gasoline for the dumpster fire that lurked in the seedy underbelly of the United States.
Irrational accusations had always been successful in the past, but for some reason, it hadn’t entirely worked this time. The country was evolving before his very eyes and it terrified him. He shuffled over to the bathtub he had demanded be installed in his office and drew himself a room-temperature bath. He walked to the kitchen and plugged in a toaster, slowly running the cord through his hands, making sure he had enough to reach the tub he was about to climb into. He took a long pull from his bottle of computer duster and mounted the bathtub, preparing for submersion, accepting failure was the only thing left to do. The interns in his office raised their eyebrows at each other, but they had been explicitly instructed to never interfere with any Presidential matters, and this was assuredly a Presidential matter. Just as the President climbed into the tub with the toaster, a phone buzzed on his desk.
The President wrestled against his wet flapping skin to pry himself from the tub that would shortly be his tomb. He didn’t recognize the phone on his desk and wasn’t sure who had placed it there. After thirty seconds or so of helpless flailing, he managed to turn the bath over completely and erupted onto the floor of his office, spilling the stinking water all over the shag carpeting. He crawled towards the phone, looking to treat himself to one more glimpse of blue light before ending it all, and the presence of the mysterious telephone had stirred something in the empty pit of his stomach. His soft hands and bloated fingers fumbled with the flip phone before finally opening it.
“President Knudson, you seem to be in quite a bit of trouble,” said the garbled voice.
“I’m doing just fine, thank you!” said Knudson, looking over the flipped tub, the plugged-in toaster, and the several inches of water being soaked into the moldy carpet. The room looked anything but fine.
“We both know that’s not accurate,” said the voice.
“Is this Eric? Eric, I already said I’m not donating any more money to your sex-specific athleisure wear company,” said Knudson.
His son Eric had been desperately trying to make a line of clothing that finally bridged the gap between athletic wear, leisurewear, and cloths explicitly made for erotic purposes. Knudson had seen the craftsmanship on the pair of crotchless jogger pants and had donated several thousand dollars, but a manufacturing issue in China had delayed the pants from ever being seen stateside. Knudson then wondered what had ever happened to the dry-fit gag ball that his son had also pitched and reminisced on squandered potential.
“This is someone who is very important to you right now Mr. President,” continued the distorted voice.
“You explain who the hell you are right now or I hang this phone up. I have very important business to attend to,” replied Knudson, carefully selecting a good thumbnail from PornHub on his iPad and redrawing his bath.
“I can make this all go away and make you a god,” replied the voice.
“I’m listening,” said the President; he was willing to do anything to maintain leverage over the political plunger he was using to pump the country into the shit-filled sewers where it belonged.
The voice was none other than Vladimir Popov, who was drunk out of his mind on Southern Comfort. He thoroughly explained his plot to the President, telling him that their common enemy was Duke Dasher and if he could be eradicated, they could both be men of transcendent power in the newly installed communist regime. President Knudson was very interested. Not only would it get him out of the current predicament he was in, but he would be more unstoppable than ever, virtually untouchable, even by Dasher if he were still alive. Popov had the President right where he wanted him and he knew it. The chaos he created had divided the country and the President was desperate for a lifeline.
The prospect certainly intrigued the president, but Popov’s main selling point was the elaborate cloning facilities that had been built and were actively producing clones of notable American celebrities for the past several years.
“We knew your people were stupid, but we didn’t realize just how stupid! We’ve been producing cheap knock-offs of virtually every B-List celebrity in the country and people have lapped out of their dirty diapers like dogs,” said Popov in between dry heaving and demanding McDonald’s from his beleaguered assistant. “Currently, these celebrities are responsible for simply creating intolerable content, but little do they know, these celebrity clones are also soldiers of the resistance,” continued Popov.
The celebrities had apparently been implanted with a Russian-made chip that, when adjusted, would turn them into ruthless killing machines. Popov explained that he had tested the mechanism with celebrity pastor Joel Oscreen, who was currently hunting down and killing Dasher. The President giggled with excitement as he dipped a three-day-old Papa John’s breadstick into a healthy portion of garlic oil and rubbed it around his mouth before finally delighting himself with a bite. Popov listened to the nauseating lip smacking for several seconds before finally interrupting the uncanny ritual. The President imagined Simon Crowell, the host of the show America’s Got Gout, instilling order in the slums of America with a jetpack and a bazooka. Something like this was the utopia he had always fantasized about. The cheapened celebrities were undeniably attractive and more attainable than their realistic counterparts were. It gave the nation hope and instilled a sense of pride. Having these same celebrities function as ruthless minions to their benevolent overlord would be the new American dream.
“What do I need to do?” asked Knudson.
“In three days, I’ll give you direction on where to meet me. You must submit to me and pledge your allegiance to new communist empire,” said Popov, hacking uncontrollably into the phone.
Although these could have been the simple ramblings of a delusional drunk, something about the way Popov described the plan made it all seem incredibly legitimate. Vladimir Popov had been the puppet master behind many government coups over the last decade. If this were, in fact, Vladimir Popov, and not one of the clones he described, this new government would be installed successfully within the week. President Alphonso Knudson was about to betray his country in favor of ultimate power, the type of exchange young politicians aspire for their entire lives.