The President

By John Wheaton

Posted on

1. The day of my inauguration was cloudy with a chance of showers.

2. The presidential dog howled at the sky.

3. When the band started playing, the tuba player fled the scene.

4. The band, tuba-less, played on.

5. The skies crackled with thunder and rain sputtered earthward, wetting my
Dormeuil Kirgzy suit.

6. One boy stood up in the crowd and pronounced, “All is lost! All is lost!”

7. I thought this a bit premature.

8. His mother, a big-breasted woman, grabbed his hand and pulled him down to
his seat.

9. An aide whispered in my ear, “Be normal, and the crowd will accept you. Be
deranged, and they will make you their leader.”

10. That’s a real dandy, I thought. I took out a pen from my breast pocket and
wrote it on my hand.

11. Things were progressing quite well.

12. The secret service cuffed the tuba player and led him out of sight.

13. I stepped politely behind the bullet-proof glass. There’s one flaw in all this,
I thought. What if the bullet comes from behind the glass? Fortunately, there
was no gun when I checked my pockets.

14. “Thank you,” I said, and the words boomed down like thunder.

15. “I think you will all agree, the world is crumbling…”

16. Speckles of applause littered the crowd.

17. “Nevertheless, the inertia of recent events will most likely lead us onward.”

18. Applause. Someone whistled.

19. Then the unexpected happened.

20. The boy with the big-breasted mother jumped up on stage.

21. He was eating an ice cream cone. It dripped a trail of chocolate chip cookie
dough / rocky road across the red carpet.

22. “I was going to let things carry on like normal,” the boy said, once he’d stepped
behind the bullet-proof glass. “But then I realized the urgency of the situation.”

23. He drew a water gun from his pocket and squirted my Dormeuil Kirgzy suit.

24. The crowd applauded ravenously.

25. “You see,” the boy continued. “The true man wants two things: danger and

26. “That’s Nietzsche,” I said.

27. “Yes sirree.” The boy looked at the crowd, then looked at me.

28. All was silent but the rain’s pitter-patter.

29. “What’s next?” I asked the boy.

30. I could tell he was in charge of the proceedings.

31. “It will all be over soon now,” he said. He holstered his water pistol.

32. The crowd, sensing the denouement, began to disperse.

33. The secret service men grew quietly disgruntled.

34. They wandered in widening circles among the presidential gardens.


“No, you shall not go to Arizona,” the secret service man said. ‘I will, I
absolutely will,” I said. “Too dangerous—they drive with rifles on the racks
of their cars down there.” “Just the same, I will go.” “I’d strongly advise
against it.” “Arizona needs to see the President.” “Sir?” “To them I am just a
cluster of pixels on the TV. And a cluster being shot by a water gun at that.”
“Yes, I suppose so.” “And what’s more, the saguaro cacti loom on the
horizon. Quite presidential.” “How so?” “What could be more presidential
than a cactus in the desert? It’s self-evident!” “I wouldn’t have said so.”
“That’s because you’re stuck in the world of reason.” “I am?” “Kant said that
man’s speculative reason can never penetrate to the thing-in-itself. The key
is to let go of your reason.” “Is that an order, sir?” “Yes. Let go of your reason
and then consider the cacti and you will intuit that they are quite


From the height of Air Force One, the world was a montage of string beans
and women.


35. The skies of Arizona sparkled like the eyes of a hustler.

36. Crowds loitered in front of the stage. Three men in beige suits smoked
Cuban cigars.

37. No one had seen the boy with the cue cards.

38. “There’s just a few things I have to tell you today,” I began.

39. “To start with, April is the cruelest month, speaking of which…

40. …men are April when they woo, December when they wed…”

41. “Just hold it right there,” a young girl yelled. Her pigtails hung precariously.

42. “But I was saying, I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury…

43. …and of course a fox should not be on the jury at a goose’s trial…”

44. “I said stop it!” the girl called. Sweat lined her wrinkle-less brow.

45. “…leading me to realize that I am sometimes the fox and sometimes the
lion, and so on, and so on…”

46. The girl leapt toward the podium, pigtails wagging.

47. “…and it follows that we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act,
but a habit…”

48. The girl seized the microphone, but grabbing it by the neck, I uttered:

49. “…and in conclusion, my friends, it is an old habit with theologians to beat
the living with the bones of the dead.”

John Wheaton