Two Birds,

One Stone

by Wondra Vanian

The meeting had to take place, sooner or later. Most of the people running The White House had hoped it would be later—much later. After they’d been fired, preferably. But the time had come.

     Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin were meeting on American soil to discuss the rising escalations between Russia and… well, the rest of the world. To say that the staff was on high-alert would have been an understatement of colossal proportions.

     “Shitting my-fucking-self,” one aide said to another as they waited for the motorcade that would bring the Russian delegates.

     “Not so loud,” the other snapped, even though the press gathered on the sidewalk outside the White House were far enough away that the man’s whispered words couldn’t be overheard.

     The nervous aide lowered his voice. “Aren’t you?”

     With just a wide-eyed look and a sweaty brow, the other man gave his answer.

     Those closest to the president were in an even worse state, many of them desperately trying to coach the former reality star on what to say (and, more importantly, what not to say) during the meaning—without appearing to coaching him at all. It was well known that Mr. Trump did not take kindly to advice and would likely do exactly the opposite of what he was told.

     Then it was too late to worry about anything. Vladimir Putin and his entourage had arrived.

The gaggle of correspondents and photographers erupted in excited shouts.

     “Mr. Putin! Mr. Putin!”

     “This way, Mr. Putin!”

     “Can you confirm rumors that you intend to launch an airstrike against European countries in retaliation for their interference in Syria?”

     Putin barely glanced at the reporter that had asked the question but a burly man with a square jaw and dark glasses turned on her with an angry expression and a very visible bulge in his jacket. The reporter quickly disappeared into the safety of the crowd.

     The questions followed the Russian president only as far as the door, where secret service agents barred the press’s entrance.

     “This way, please,” a visibly sweaty aide said, leading the delegation directly to the Oval Office.

     It was all very unusual, of course. There ought to have been ceremonies and an exchange of gifts to mark a state visit. President Trump, though, didn’t have the attention span for a day’s worth of niceties and, to be honest, the remaining members of his Cabinet were silently relieved. The less time he spent with the Russian president, the less likely he was to throw America into a full-blown war.

     They hoped.

     Trump didn’t stand as the Russians entered the room. No one who knew him was surprised.

     Mr. Putin was less than impressed. He took the seat opposite the fat American without a word. They stared at one another in silence for several long minutes.

     White House and Kremlin staff alike sweated into their neatly pressed shirts as they waited for… something to happen. Putin’s Federal Security Service members stared down their American counterparts. There were many steely looks and some subtle flexing of muscles as the silence stretched on.

     It was the Russian who finally spoke, earning a smug look from Trump. He thrived on those little victories. The smile disappeared when he realized Putin spoke in Russian. Mr. Putin could, of course, speak English well enough. When he chose to.

     He did not choose to.

     Trump’s fury was written clearly across his jowly face.

     “What did he say?” he snapped to the room in general.

     A small, fair-haired man stepped up. He remained just behind his president. “You have had a very bad time of it, haven’t you?”

     Trump’s face grew… well, a darker shade of orange. “What? How dare you! Who do you think you are?”

     The Secretary of Defense leaned in to clear things up for the enraged man. “Mr. President,” he said, “that person is a translator. He just repeated Mr. Putin’s words.”

     “Oh, oh,” Trump said. He flapped his tiny hands as if dismissing the man. “Well,” he giggled, “Yes, I have. They’re all against me, you know.”

     Putin nodded, which prompted Trump to continue.

     “Protests and marches, up and down the country,” he complained, pushing his gelatinous frame from the chair and walking to window behind his desk. “They want me to ban guns. Guns!”

     He shook his head. Members of the Federal Security Service exchanged a glace as the old man’s bizarre hair flopped wildly from side to side.

     Trump turned back, looking hurt. “I didn’t write the First Amendment!”

     Someone coughed, and the Secretary of State clarified. “Second, Sir.”

     “What?” Trump snapped.

     “The Second Amendment states that-”

     “Whatever. Not important.” He waved away the man’s assistance. “I didn’t write it!”

     Putin remained silent. The American president saw it as an invitation to continue.

     “It isn’t guns killing people,” he said derisively. “It’s the whackos.”

     If anyone in the Cabinet thought of reminding the president that it wasn’t politically correct to call people who suffered from mental illness “whackos,” they prudently kept their mouths shut. Putin nodded once, as if to agree. He spoke quickly.

     The translator relayed his words. “Russians would never allow their guns to be taken away.”

     “Exactly, exactly!” Trump said, all excitement. His eyes were bright. “I mean, look at this.”

     He reached inside the jacket of the nearest Secret Service Agent and pulled out the man’s gun. The agent tensed but didn’t move. The Secretary of Defense took a step forward, hands up.

     “Mr. President,” he began, stopping when Trump turned on him.

     Trump had a lazy, careless grip on the gun as he swung it around the room. Several members of Putin’s secret service reached inside their own jackets, hands on the hilts of their weapons.

     “It’s just a tool,” Trump insisted. “As dangerous as a pencil. You know what they say, guns don’t-”

     Whatever Trump was about to say was swallowed up by the quick retort of a gunshot. All eyes in the room swung from Trump’s bloated face to Putin’s pale one. They wore similar expressions of shock. Putin’s, however, also sported a bright red circle of blood in the middle of his forehead. He slumped forward, dead.

     “Well,” President Trump said with a nervous laugh. “I guess guns do kill people.”

     There was a moment of profound silence, then all hell broke loose.

© 2018-2019 Wondra Vanian

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