Something for Something by Patrick Aaron

The frost-covered windows of the Oval Office concealed the treachery which took place within its heavily guarded walls. The president, at this late hour, was jittery—like a speed freak coming down from a three-day meth-fueled binge. His copious sweat covered the Resolute Desk; upon the desk sat a high-tech ultra-secured phone; however, there are no papers upon this iconic desk nor are there any other signifiers of work. The president impetuously demanded to speak to the strongman leader of Georgia. The birthplace of Stalin is where he seeks his aid.

“Get me the goddamned leader of Georgia. Call him now!”  The president screamed. The high-level staff dutifully dialed their Georgian counterparts. They know by now that

their advice would only engender rage and sophomoric ridicule; the obsequious staffers know that their only path for survival is the path of unquestioning flattery.

Fifteen or so minutes later, the leader of Georgia was on the line. The Georgian leader opened the call:

“Hello, Mr. President. What is the matter? I hope that nothing is wrong.”

“They are all out to fuck me,” the American president frantically responded. “I am a victim! This coup; this coup against me, the greatest president to ever live. But you can help, and you will be greatly rewarded.”

After a prolonged-fraught silence, the Georgian leader’s palpable consternation gave way to amusement. If nothing else, the Georgian leader is an expert at employing the psychological training that he had received in the KGB. He knows that if he can manipulate the situation and reassure the deranged American, he can then reap a tremendous reward.

The Georgian leader, in the course of a camaraderie-building chuckle, as if to convey “we are together—it’s us versus them” said, “Those treasonous animals won’t get to you. There is no way that a man of such strength—that a man of such brilliant intelligence will fall to such weak idiots. No! You have in me a loyal defender. Now, what is it that you propose I do for you?”

“I have a list of traitors,” the American president said.  “They are human scum. You need to make them disappear. I don’t care how—but they need to go away. If we schedule the next NATO meeting in your country, an accident can happen. They can simply disappear.”

“Mr. President,” the Georgian leader said “we will absolutely end your troubles. I ask you now, is this call being recorded.” The Georgian leader could hardly conceal his jubilation.

“No,” the American president responded, “I don’t know. Don’t worry, if it is, I’ll destroy the record anyway.”

The Georgian leader, while not reassured in the slightest, had no true fear of being discovered, he’s merely a leader of a Russian-puppet state. He would be protected from any ramifications—if discovered.

“Mr. President,” the Georgian leader said, “I applaud your bias towards action.

This, my dear friend, is the sign of a true leader. We are happy to help, but I must confess, we have not the requisite resources to do this appropriately. With your help, we can find a way. But it will require, shall we say, military and intelligence contributions.”

“Whatever you need to make those motherfuckers vanish”, the American president

shouted, “I’ll provide. I am a great, I am the greatest president ever, and this is unfair. No president has ever been treated as badly as me! How dare they treat me like this! How dare they! I will not allow them to attack me and my family. I have given so much to these ungrateful people!”

The Georgian leader expertly stoked the presidents all-consuming rage.

“Mr. President,” the Georgian leader responded, “it is truly incomprehensible. Your leadership has not only provided your nation with great profit, it has also benefited the world. Never in my life have relations between your nation and the former Soviet Union been so promising and full of hope. We are partners; we will defeat this disgusting coup. How dare they! How dare they attempt this coup. How dare they attempt to deprive the world of you, of such an all-time great leader!”

“You are a very, very smart man and a great leader,” the American president continued (after receiving the perverted blend of aggrievement-based adulation that he so desperately requires). “What exactly do you need from me to make those traitors disappear?”

“We will need military and intelligence information. Have a trusted lieutenant meet with my man in D.C.—at our embassy and arrangements will be made”, the Georgian leader answered.

“Perfect.,” the American president exclaimed. The call then concluded. The American president’s telephone receiver was drenched in spittle.

Unbeknownst to the American president; the Georgian leader quickly had a change of heart—this change was not driven by altruism—rather, it was driven by pragmatism and common sense. The Georgian leader quickly determined that there was no way to pull off this audacious scheme without sparking a nuclear holocaust. He had now concluded that he would use this conversation to paint himself an international hero. The deranged American president’s diabolical requests could be used to elevate the Georgian leader’s standing. The Georgian leader, of course, had recorded the conversation. First, he thought that it may serve as the most potent kompromat imaginable. However, after further consideration, the Georgian decided against simply blackmailing the American. Afterall, his mental facilities are so compromised, he would likely fail to uphold his end of the bargain anyhow. In addition, given the American president’s frantic state, it is not only possible, but likely that he, the American president, has had similar calls with other leaders—this is going to get out sooner than later, the Georgian leader concluded. Finally, the Georgian leader had settled upon his course of action. He would release the audio of the call to all major media outlets. This would ensure that he would be viewed as a hero. The Georgian leader, much like the American, is a man with a voracious ego. What better way to feed it?

Prior to the media learning of the American president’s attempted betray of his nation, two of the White House staffers who had arranged, and been privy to, the call between the American president and the Ukrainian leader met at a bar for drinks. The bar was loud enough to not be heard, dark enough disguise their angst-filled faces. The first staffer to arrive was Tara. She still had trouble calming her shaking hands; what she had just witnessed had rocked her to the core. Unsteadily she ordered a “Gray Goose and soda,” the busy bartender dutifully complied. Before her drink had arrived, her eyes observed that Austin, the other staffer had arrived—as he approached her, she couldn’t help but think that he looked like a ghost—pale and unwell. Prior to verbally greeting Tara, Austin decisively demanded a “double Jameson straight up,” again, the inundated bartender complied.

“What in the fuck are we going to do,” Austin asked in a panicked manner.

“I have no idea—I just wish this wasn’t real. Are you sure this is real? I didn’t work my

ass off, Brown, Johns Hopkins, life-sucking think tanks. I’ve devoted, wasted, my entire youth. My twenties are gone—I’m thirty-fucking-four, and here I am—fuck!” Tara rejoined.

“Damnit, stop being such a self-centered bitch.” Austin continued, “Do you think

that I am happy? Do you think that I didn’t sacrifice to get where I am? Do you think I have warm and fuzzy dreams? No—I dream of Fallujah; I dream of death, of fuckers I have killed and of my friends who have died in my arms, of shit holes and bad men that you have no fucking clue about.”

“Austin,” a superficially mollified Tara responded, “this isn’t a pissing contest,

and enough with the misogynistic shit. I have always had a plan; you have always had a plan—for everything. But now, I don’t know. There is no good answer—only horrible options. If we do nothing the entire world could end; that’s unlikely but at the very least—this country will be screwed beyond that point of saving. If we go to the press, he (the president) will destroy us; not only will he publicly destroy us and turn the state against us; his crazed acylates will literally, at least try, to kill us and our families.  The middle path, it seems, is to go to Congress—file a whistle blower report—that would, at least for now, make this someone else’s problem. But still, everything on the Hill leaks out, and we would still be in a perilous position. I just don’t fucking know!”

“Perilous,” Austin countered “is an understatement—I can assure you that this

regime has ears everywhere and reporting something this treasonous would guarantee our heads would roll. Fuck the press, they will sell us out before they break the story. Fuck Congress, half of those assholes are complicit, half are feckless, and even though there are a few decent members, it only takes one to end us. We are both on the precipice of high-paying media or consulting jobs. We just have to ride this shit out for another year. We both have young kids, debt, mortgages. Do you really want to burn everything down? I took four bullets for this country. You spent eight-years at the CIA—when you could have been making real money and living a real life.”


“So,” Tara interrupted, “you don’t think we should do anything

at all? You really don’t think that we have a responsibility?”

“No,” Austin responded, “I’m not doing a damn thing. I’ve made my mind—and

I strongly urge you to do the same. Tara, there were others who heard the call—others with a whole-hell-of-a-lot less to lose. Don’t you get it? The worst case is you and your family will be murdered, likely in the most barbaric fashion imaginable. The best case? The best-case scenario is that you are harassed, face legal jeopardy from a corrupt Justice Department, are ostracized, and basically lose everything while still living with the constant threat of being murdered, of your kids being murdered.”

“You are right.” Tara softly said—vocally rationalizing craven inaction. “We have

both given too much. Our pay day is on the horizon. And there is no way I can imperil my family nor can you. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do. Let’s just forget this ever happened. It never happened right?”

“It never happened,” Austin confirmed, “Now let’s get shitfaced to make it all fade away.

“A double Jameson on the rocks and whatever she’s having.” Austin aggressively demanded; the reliable bartender once again complied.