My Experiences with Barack Obama in the Days Before the Election of 2016.
Author’s Note: I wrote this story for publishing by installments on Instagram (thus the length of each segment) in the days immediately leading up to the presidential election of 2016. Like many others, I believed Donald Trump could never possibly win. If I had truly considered the possibility that he could, I’m sure I would have written this series differently.
Abner, my orange tabby companion, yawned in his milk-bath, signaling the close of our bedtime preparations. «Ah, my feline friend,» I sighed. «It is 11:30 PM. Time for your mineral-water rinse brushing therapy.» But just as Abner exited the milk basin, and before he entered the mineral-water basin, a knock came on the door. «Shave and a haircut: Two bits.» I looked up, and my eyes met the most powerful eyes in the world. «It’s Barack Obama, the current President!» I excitedly exclaimed. «Thank you, Clark,» said President Barack Obama. «I have set aside this time out of my busy schedule to have portraits drawn by you, the best artist I know. And I know a lot of artists.» «I am happy you have come, and I acknowledge your compliment. But what items burden the plastic grocery bag that dangles heavily past your knees, not unresembling a scrotum, Mr. President?» I asked. «Guess what my sack contains,» said the President. «Hmm,» I said, regretting my vulgarity, but continuing regardless with the original intent of my speech-impulse. «A bottle of gin, six cans of chilled tonic water, and several limes?» «You know me better than anybody except Michelle, my wife, Malia and Sasha, my daughters, and Joe Biden, my vice president. But I tell you things, Clark, that I can tell no one else–things that relate to the grave concerns of national security. That aliens exist. That the chief occupation of the president, indeed, is the relation between humans and aliens, which must be kept strictly secret from the populace at large. And I wanna tell you as well, Clark, that there is one item in this bag that you didn’t guess, that in fact you couldn’t guess. A little show and tell for tonight’s session, something even Biden has never seen.»
«Wonderful,» I replied, still crouching beside Abner and his basins. «I am just finishing up giving Abner his mineral-water rinse and nightly brushing therapy. Once our bedtime preparations are complete, let’s get down to business.» «Let’s,» said the President. «Clark, you have the right idea. It is absolutely vital that we begin our task without delay. Not a second can be wasted when one holds the office which is arguably the most powerful in the entire world. So, without further ado, uh,» here, the president performed one of his famously long pauses, «I’m gonna make us a couple of drinks.» «America’s very best drinks,» I whispered, for Abner had fallen asleep on the side of the mineral-water basin during Barack Obama’s comments. I scooped him up, silently padded down the hallway on the balls of my socked feet into our spacious bedroom, and set my sleeping orange tabby on the rose-patterned duvet of his California-king-size bed.
Silently closing the door to Abner’s room, I returned through the hallway into the living room. The President had already repaired to the kitchen, where he was chopping limes. I turned on the two lamps beside the two armchairs of my living room, produced magic markers and construction paper, and waited for President Obama, who was preparing our mixed drinks. The sound of Barack Obama popping tonic cans and stirring ice cubes comforted me so that I lost myself in pleasurable thought, and began to idly doodle on a sheet of white 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper. I grew fascinated by the drawing, which resembled a bird’s nest, and, in a trance, involuntarily sketched a cloud of crossing lines. «What are you drawing, Clark?» the president asked, as if scared, jolting me out of my trance and handing me a shaking glass of gin and tonic. «It is simply an abstraction, Mr. President,» I replied, smiling at seeing a side of Barack Obama I had not hitherto perceived. «Perhaps it is the trace of the paths taken by the bubbles of carbonation which escape from the tonic water in a glass of gin and tonic.»
President Obama raised his glass. «To you, Clark–to your brilliance,» he toasted. «To our friendship,» I added. «You are an inspiration to me, President Obama.» «Likewise,» said the President, flashing his trademark smile. «But I’m still a little freaked out by your doodle. It is not simply that you are our nation’s finest artist, but that you are a visionary as well. What seems purely abstract to you is in fact an Igxyrlotan Face Replicator Basket.» «What?» I queried. «What is an Igxyrlotan Face Replicator Basket?» «An Igxyrlotan Face Replicator Basket is a completely organic creature native to the seas of Igxyr, the central planet within the Igxyr Aggregate, a part of the Messier 67 star cluster, visible from our planet within the constellation of Cancer.» The president sipped his drink and continued. I stared deeply at the doodle, which took on the character of outer space. «The Igxyr Aggregate is of particular interest to Earth and the United States, in particular, because we host a great many immigrants from that region.» «Really?» I said, looking up at the President. «How many?» «A few thousand,» he responded. «All of them among the richest people in the world.» The president shook the ice in his glass. «We are Australia to their England. They send us their criminals as a sort of death sentence. Of course, they send them equipped with great fortunes, so, even though they are exiled to our inferior planet, an indisputable fact, at least they don’t have to live in penury while here… Ah, look at me,» he said. «Not even one portrait drawn, I’m babbling away, and I’ve already downed a whole gin and tonic.» «Well, you can always make another, and tell me more about Igxyr as I draw your portrait.» I emptied my glass and handed it to the president, ice cubes intact.
Barack Obama smiled. «It is a free country, my artist!» he said with his back turned as he took the glasses back to the kitchen.
«So, Mr. President, is there anyone I might know of who comes from Igxyr?» I asked, while examining the doodle of the Igxyrlotan Face Replicator Basket. «Too many to name, Clark,» the president spoke from the other room. «One off the top of my head…Napoleon Bonaparte?» «No! Napoleon was born on the island of Corsica!» «Ha! You’re wrong, Clark. But how would you know? And yet–you are a visionary. Look at your doodle…then, look at this!» Barack Obama revealed an object which seemed to be made of a seaweed-like cartilege. It looked exactly, down to the individual lines, like my drawling, which I had drooled upon, giving it the quality of wetness of the original. «You drew what I had secretly brought into your house. There is more than simple genius in that passionate soul of yours.» «Thanks, Obama!» I said. «I mean, President Obama.» «So the aliens of Igxyr, you see, do not resemble human beings in the least. They are, in fact, monstrous in appearance. They have seventeen eyes, all in disorder on their flat faces like chocolate chips in a cookie. Their green, pimply flesh exudes constantly a liquid of mucus-like viscosity. In order to blend in with humans, they make use of the Igxyrlotan Face Replicator.» «So, how does it work?» «A subject places the Replicator on his or her face. The Replicator sucks the skin for a few minutes, which, though uncomfortable is rather painless, and then forever remembers the image of that individual face for the rest of its lifespan, and can produce masks that not only replicate the look of human flesh, but actually replicate its functionality down to a basic, cellular level. The technology is absolutely astounding.» The president looked me in the eyes and said, «I, myself, have done it, Clark…» «What do you mean?» I said, shocked. «Are you Igxyrlotan? Were the birthers right, after all??» «Ha! No, my best friend. I am a human being from Hawaii. But a certain real-estate magnate with a bad comb-over, on the other hand, was not born, as he claims, in Queens.»
«You must be joking!» I exclaimed. «Donald Trump? Not human??» «Is it really that surprising?» the president said, slyly smiling. «And Trump had the gall to insinuate that you, of all people, were not born in this country…» «…when he wasn’t even born on this planet!» «So why not tell the world?» I asked, naively. «Best friend, it is far too much for the population to handle. I can trust only you with this information, because I know you can keep it secret. Most importantly, it will make your portraits even more subtle, the art even finer, for you to understand the troubles that foment deep in the caverns of my presidential soul.» I picked up the portrait I was working on and showed it to President Obama, with a proud smile on my face. «YES!» he yelled, rising to his feet and slurping down his drink, gin running down his neck and underneath his perfect collar onto his chest. «You are going farther than you have ever gone before! Clark, it all comes down to the portraits!» CRASH! A horrible sound of colliding metal and ripping earth overwhelmed our heated conversation, and a gale-force wind shattered all the windows in the house, from the front to the back. I was covered in cuts and bleeding in many places from the shards of glass, though the president seemed to have avoided injury by means of an invisible Secret-Service forcefield technology. «Brace yourself, Clark!» the president warned. «Brace yourself for…TRUMP!» A team of demons in masks of chain mail burst through my unlocked front door with a solid iron battering ram, followed by a pair of stupid, hungry eyes, perpetually pursed lips, orange flesh: Donald Trump himself. A stain of white powder hung on his upper lip. «What are you asswipes doing in here? I heard lies coming from this house. It was a disgrace!»
In person, Donald Trump’s flesh, seemingly constructed of an aggregate of scales, was disgusting to a harrowing degree. «You destroyed my front door!» I screamed, enraged. «And YOU’RE going to pay for it!» Trump wagged his finger at me accusingly while his masked minions sweated, stank, and grunted. «Plus, I’m going to sue your ass for saying that. Now, everywhere I go, I hear you’re the best at what you do. So, god dammit, draw me, dumbass, and bigly! Or I’ll suck your brains out, devour your memory, and spit the carcass on the carpet of your squalid suburban shit shack!» «Donald, lovely to have you drop in,» said the diplomat-in-chief, pacing over to confront the lump of pudding with hair. «Could I offer you a gin and tonic?» «I don’t want any disgusting gin and tonics made by a black guy! Not when I have the best shit in the multiverse right here. Boys!» Six additional masked men, who resembled medieval executioners, carried a gilt litter through the misshapen doorframe and set it before Trump who opened it to reveal a shining bottle of Trump-brand Vodka. He lifted the bottle from its purple velvet casing, unscrewed the cap, squinted his eyes, and drank straight from the bottle for a painfully long time. His face turned from orange, to red, to purple, to black. «Trump Vodka’s the only shit I drink!» he bellowed, sitting down. «Now draw my damn portrait, I gotta get my ass back on the campaign trail.» Barack and I glanced at each other, and the amusement on the president’s face calmed me enough to uncap a magic marker and begin the horrible, yet fascinating task of translating to paper the hideous visage of the beast. «Just a moment, best friend, I will return with a fresh glass of gin and tonic for each of us,» said the president, who seemed more dear in the presence of Trump.
I began to trace the lines of the debauched tycoon’s face, calming my gag reflex when passing over the more grotesque pockets of its flesh. Before I could finish the eyes, he had grown bored, and began criticizing my interior decoration. «What a dump!» he said. «It is a cosy place, without you in it,» I replied. It was difficult to restrain myself.
Donald Trump excessively sniffed his nose on a dripping, purple handkerchief printed with the Trump insignia. He began to sniff so excessively that he twitched his neck, cracking his spine alarmingly. The twelve musclebound executioner-slaves seemed not to notice. «Why do you let that guy in here? He’s not even really a president,» Trump said. His presence was intensely disturbing. He was sweating a great deal, like an egg that has been left in the sun after a period of refrigeration. «My balls are about ready to serve up on a plate,» he said, illogically. «What do you mean?» I asked.
Trump looked me directly in the eye, at least as far as I could tell, because his eyes were nearly hidden in the oases of wrinkled, white flesh that surround his eye-pits. Jerking his head with drug-addled severity, befuddled yet confident, he asked me pointedly, «Do you hear a trumpet?» Suddenly, his body stiffened, as though compelled by internal liquid pressure, and he said, «Unbelievable people all over the country…» The fleshy encasements around his eyes opened like oyster shells, and his eyeballs, being the barrier of least resistance within the frame of his skull, popped out of his face. A rush of black liquid agitated his eyeballs which dangled from thin systems of veins. «Draw me, dammit!,» Trump yelled, grabbing blindly at his dangling eyeballs, one of whose veins ripped, the eyeball falling onto the deep blue carpet.
Trump got down on his hands and knees to search for his eyeball, but, finding it impossible to see properly, with his sight apparatus wavering from its fragile cord, he commanded his henchmen to search for it. They knocked over my China cabinet, the last surviving relic of my great-grandmother Samantha. After fumbling about with their giant sausage fingers, one of the goons finally managed to replace Trump’s still-connected eye. The thin fiber of Trump’s eye-vein was still, however, visible, stretched tautly across the bridge of his nose. They had put the right eye in the wrong socket. The pupil, also, was not outfacing, and Trump grew furious, his face turning bright orange. «It’s too hot in here!» Trump bellowed. «Thermostat says 66 degrees…» said President Obama, carrying three glasses of gin and tonic, made with Tanqueray Gin, Canada Dry tonic water, and slices of organic limes. They were the best to be had in the nation. «Yes,» I agreed. «It is not hot in here. I am wearing a cardigan.» «AARGH! Gotta get this face off!» said Donald Trump.
The President shook his head and chuckled. «Don’t blink, Clark. You’re about to see your first Igxyrlotan face.» Donald Trump dug his unclipped fingernails deeply into the backs of his ears. I began to gag as he peeled off the very flesh of his face, revealing a greyish-yellow, slime-covered visage dripping viscous fluids on the floor that gave the impression of unfired clay. A large, snakelike tongue fell with a thud onto my carpet, staining it badly. And all seventeen eyes, like plums in a pudding.
Donald Trump continued to twitch with alarming force. «You got anything to drink around here?» «Are you going to serve this man alcohol?» I asked the president. «Yes,» said the President. «But look at him–he is not a man!»
Barack Obama extended a glass of gin and tonic to the writhing, dripping extraterrestrial monstrosity. «I have put horse tranquilizer in his drink,» Barack Obama yelled over the moans of Trump. «I hope it will lessen the effects of the cocaine.» President Obama attempted to pour the gin and tonic into Donald Trump’s mouth, but his muscular, black tongue whipped the glass away. «AAGH!!» yelled Trump, getting louder. The twelve executioner-slaves were occupying themselves with loud taunting, pushing and slapping each other beastially.
Just then, Abner, my orange tabby, entered the room, awakened by the commotion. After nibbling at the prosciutto in his cat bowl, he jumped on Donald Trump’s lap. Trump and his goons were transfixed, quietened by Abner’s magical presence. All that could be heard was his gentle purr as he settled into the lap of the beast.
Barack Obama and I sipped our drinks warily, monitoring Trump, who was still stupefied by the gentle cat in his lap. The sky began to rumble, and the rumbling clarified into the chopping blades of a helicopter that seemed to be descending just outside my house. The president and I covered our ears just as the landing skids crushed their way through the roof, revealing the night sky. Abner’s fur flattened in the wind. Portraits of the president were blowing helter skelter around the house and being shredded by the blades. The chopper hovered just below the attic of my house, and I could see Cyrillic lettering on the hull, as well as a seventeen-eyed Igxyrlotan piloting the vehicle. Trump rose, pointing his black tongue at the pilot, then twisting it into a corkscrew. «The Igxyrlotan salute,» President Obama yelled. Donald Trump held tightly to Abner and climbed a ladder that seemed to be made of seaweed to board the vessel. «Abner!» I yelled at the helicopter, rising out of my house. «Abnerrrr!» I burst into tears, ripping my shirt to shreds and squatting helplessly on the floor, bawling, bleeding, and covered in dust.
«That maniac mogul! That tyrannical tycoon! That malevolent magnate! » I yelled, ripping my shirt, crying, and punching the ground until my knuckles bled. Barack Obama knelt beside me, comforting me as I sobbed and bled on his shoulders. «Clark,» the President consoled. «Abner was a faithful companion. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting such a vibrant, magical cat in my life. But it would be foolish to attempt a rescue from Trump. You are no match for him.» «Well, I’ll tell the world the truth!! The people must know, and he must never be president!» I said. «There, there…» said Barack Obama. «Let’s not make any hasty decisions…» The President pulled a hypodermic needle from his jacket pocket and said, «Here friend, this will calm you.» He plunged the needle into my spine and discharged the liquid inside. I instantly fell unconscious.
Many hours later, my eyes cracked open. My head pounded, hung over from the tranquilizer the president had given me. Before me a campfire crackled on the deep blue carpet of my own living room floor, littered with dust and debris. Through the destroyed roof was the full moon. A squirrel roasting on a spit suspended upon two barbecue forks gave off a meaty odor. Opposite the squirrel, a bald, shirtless man in camouflage pants came into focus. He was building a violin in the flickering illumination of the campfire. «Is that…Putin?» I said, attempting to focus my eyes. Hearing his name, Vladimir Putin looked up from his violin. I attempted to lift my head off the ground, but it felt extremely heavy. Noticing that I was struggling, he helped me up into a seated position.
He spoke to me in Russian, and though I didn’t understand, the fact that he was caring for me in my convalescence calmed me. He removed the squirrel from the spit, skewered it with one of the barbecue forks, and handed it to me, speaking Russian all the while. The fact that I couldn’t understand amused him perversely. He handed me a camouflage canteen, and said very clearly, «VOD-KA.» «No thank you,» I said to the President of Russia, as I bit into the delicious squirrel.
Putin thrust the canteen of vodka in my face again, more emphatically this time, indicating that my refusal to drink had left him put out. «No, thank you, Mr. Putin,» I repeated, chewing the now-cold squirrel meat. «I don’t mean to be impolite, sir. I am exhausted and don’t want any vodka.» I did not mention my true concern, my lack of knowledge of the contents of the Russian president’s canteen, considering all the unusual circumstances. Though Putin’s gaze seemed unreal, his eye contact remained unswerving. He spoke a phrase in Russian that probably meant, «Watch me drink the vodka, and you will know it is not poison,» because he then took a drink from the canteen and re-extended it to me. He was almost smiling.
Putin seemed to display, through body language and speech tones, that all he expected from me was a ritual celebration of the moment of first meeting. A cultural difference, perhaps. I took a small sip from his bottle, and I don’t know what I tasted. All I remember is that it tasted better than vodka, and it relaxed me in a strange way. Not a single muscle was tense. It was as though I were resting upon a pillow of magnetism. I crossed my legs, sat on my soiled blue carpet and smiled, content with my destroyed life.
The urge to make small-talk appeared. «So, where’s Obama?» I asked Putin with a smile, shrugging my shoulders with the charred squirrel-on-a-stick in my right hand. Putin took another drink from the canteen and smiled while leaving it beside me as though to say, «Enjoy my vodka,» and returned to violin-making. I took another drink, and this time, panic set in. I felt as though I were losing control of my body. «President Putin, where is President Obama?» I yelled, to his bewilderment.
Shrugging, he replied, «Vashington?»
«President Obama!» I yelled, as loudly as my condition would allow. Putin seemed alarmed, and began twisting left and right, looking all around. I noticed that beside the chair that Barack Obama, my friend, had so recently occupied, a fresh glass of gin and tonic fizzed as if freshly made. Putin swiftly approached me and, looking directly into my soul, pinched the bridge of my nose with such strength that I lost consciousness. The last thing I saw that night was the violin-in-progress held very delicately in Putin’s left hand.
When I awoke, I found myself sitting in a leather armchair, beside a marble table outfitted with a pad of construction paper, a pack of Crayola magic markers, and a hand-mirror, in the Oval Office. The sun blared through the windows behind the president’s desk. A cat jumped into my lap. Looking down, I saw orange fur that could only be Abner’s. Stupefied, I stroked his head while he purred. Abner yawned. I picked up the hand-mirror and looked at myself. I had been cleaned-up and dressed in an expensive, ill-fitted suit. My hair had been greased back like a banker. Lowering the mirror, I saw Vladimir Putin sitting behind the president’s desk. Beside him was Donald Trump, his hands folded in an attitude of professional readiness. He seemed to have two partially-healed black eyes. Putin spoke one short sentence, not in Russian, but in a strange, guttural language, which I assumed to be Igxyrlotan. «You may draw the President,» Trump translated. So Trump is Putin’s translator? I hesitated for a moment. President Putin spoke again in his strange, guttural language. «Please,» Donald Trump translated, sternly. Putin spoke again, and Trump extended a white-gloved hand, and said, «Then we will send you back.» «Home?» I asked «Sure,» said Trump.
I removed a magic marker from the box and inspected it. It seemed to be a common, red Crayola magic marker. Not a single detail seemed to indicate anything different about them. I opened the tablet of construction paper and began to draw.
I heard a door open behind me. A pale, fragile woman wearing a bright blue flight attendant’s uniform, carrying three glasses of gin and tonic on a silver platter. President Putin looked deeply into my eyes as the waiter put a glass before each of us. When I finished the portrait, I held it up for my subject to see. With impassive expression, Putin began undoing his necktie. It was as though were overcome with inscrutable rage. At the moment that Putin tore the tie from his collar, his head toppled off his neck and banged on the floor. Trump’s expression remained unaltered, as though what he had witnessed were perfectly routine. Trump approached me, took the portrait from my hands and planted it in the flesh of Putin’s neck. He then bent over and lifted Putin’s severed head from behind the desk, carried it to me and dropped it in my lap. It was gushing blood. I probed the flesh of Putin’s face with my fingertips and gazed into its still-open blue eyes. Putin’s head began to speak in obscure Igxyrlotan tones. Trump translated, «He likes the portrait.» Putin spoke again. «You are a great artist,» Trump interpreted. «Keep doing what you’re doing.» Trump gave me a thumbs-up sign. Then Putin’s body, with my portrait in place of his head, rose from the desk, lumbered blindly towards me, and shook my hand.
The frail woman reentered the room with two helmets connected by sprays of wires to a small, black electronic casing which she held in her hand. I shook with terror. The woman put a helmet on Abner and me, each of the same, human size. She pushed the button and an intense shock overwhelmed our bodies, knocking us both unconscious.
When I awoke, I was still on the oval office floor. It was completely dark, I was alone, and something delicious was baking. I was very hungry, not having eaten since the squirrel. The sound of a toaster oven’s heating element kicking on seemed to come from underneath the president’s desk. «Clark? You awake?» said a voice in the dark. «Yes,» I said. «Mr. President?» «Yes, it’s me, Barack Obama,» said the President. «I’m sitting on the floor behind my desk, making cookies in the dark. It’s one of the unique things that I bring to the presidency. The smell of baked goods is embedded for years in this carpet and these furnishings. Do you want one?» «What kind of cookies?» I asked «Gingerbread men.» «Yes, please,» I said. The president handed me a warm gingerbread cookie with a smile made of raisins on a custom-made china plate, upon which was printed a current picture of my house. I took the plate, and Barack Obama handed me a glass of cold milk. «I fixed your house, as you can tell from the commemorative plate, which is yours to take home,» said the President, biting off a leg of his gingerbread man. «Didn’t skimp on the appliances, either. I pulled some strings at Area 51 and, ultimately, it was funded by the Pentagon.» I nodded. «This cookie is very good. Thanks,» I said. «And thanks for the plate, too.» «And of course, you see who’s sleeping in my chair.» I stretched my neck and saw it was Abner. We lowered our voices. «I had to enlist Putin to get Abner back from Trump. Various realities had to be opened in order to find the Orange One…I heard you drew Putin well.» The president put his arm around my shoulder. «I’ll be honest with you. I’m jealous.» «Just a job,» I said, valiantly. «He is brave, but he is not mysterious like you, President Obama.» «There is one more day until the election,» Barack Obama said. «What can we do? We gotta tell everyone that Trump’s an alien!» I yelled. «Trump was born on just as American soil as George Washington was.» «What??» I said. «And both have seventeen eyes…»
«Foolish boy! I have trusted you with the most precious secrets in the entire world. They are secret for reasons of utmost importance to all of our survival. And it’s not just Washington. Every single former president was an exile of the Igxyr Aggregate.» «No!» «Lincoln. Grant. Wilson. TR, FDR, JFK, LBJ, W. You know me as the first black president. I’m also the first Earthling president. Also, they are all still alive, only in different dimensions.» «Wow,» I said, nodding. «I should add that to Wikipedia.» The President did not chuckle. I moved on. «So, why the rule that says a candidate for president must be born within the territory of the United States of America?» «Purely fantasy, Clark.» «Ah,» I said. «Clark, look at me.» I looked at the President. He was crying. I began to cry too in the pink light of sunrise. «Sometimes I can’t handle it,» he said. «I drink too much gin and spend too long at your house talking about aliens. But, it’s like you’re the only guy that really gets me…. «Let me show you something, Clark.» Barack Obama reached into one of his desk drawers and pulled out an Igxyrlotan Face Replicator Basket. «You know, with Igxyrlotan technology, I can copy my face exactly, from the surface of my skin to the interior of my skull. I can make not only a perfect copy, but a living, breathing Obama face. In fact, I occasionally make them…» The President extended a remote control towards the opposite wall, which opened at the push of a button to reveal rows and rows of functioning Obama masks. The eyes blinked, smiles came and went, ears twitched. «Your drawings could never match the exactitude of these Obamas. But–I suppose that I prefer the way you see me… to the way I really am.» «Thanks,» I said. «On this day, Clark, votes are being cast to decide my successor. No matter the outcome, we will again have an Igxyrlotan president, though that is nothing to be feared. Not when we have each other–to draw each other.» President Obama smiled at me and nodded, and I smiled back. Barack Obama, crying, ate the head of a gingerbread man. «Draw me one last time, Clark, while I am still president…»