Not everyone was thrilled with the fare on the television. Whoever was in charge was running old footage from Donald’s halcyon days when President Trump was all anyone could talk about. The unseated 45 did not seem to mind if the news was good or bad, just as long as they were playing all the hits. The movies Donald got were about war heroes, cowboy movies with old Conservative movie stars, and reruns of The Apprentice. Donald Trump is not a hard person to suss out and the people in charge of the TV programming had his number all right. But this new distraction was not making it easy for Trump’s family.
Donald learned that the TV in the kitchen was not quite as tuned to his interests as the one in his bedroom. Lighter fare seemed to play in the kitchen to tempt the womenfolk to spend more time on domestic chores like meals and dinners, visiting over coffee or tea, and having the children, now arrived, underfoot. The children were hardly toddlers but all the family’s routines were interrupted, and if new ground rules weren’t established the women and Barron would be on constant duty.
The news feed in the kitchen was the same as in Trump’s bedroom so he could sometimes be tempted down to eat with the family. But at first he wanted to be served in his bedroom and stay in his pajamas all day. Barron thought they should all get out for some exercise everyday but his Dad was happy watching TV. When they started throwing in some current baseball, basketball, and football games; some golf and tennis even Barron started to feel the pull of passive video entertainment.
If Barron tried to prod his father to get dressed and leave the bedroom his dad started to rant and pace, asking unanswerable questions, making unreasonable demands. If Barron sat down and joined Donald in front of the TV for a while, he could eventually slide out of the room without his dad noticing. Donald would start having those little mini strokes, TIA’s, if he was sedentary for too long. Maybe I’ll go to med school, Barron thought, if we ever get out of here.
Both Barron and Jared knew that someone was out in the compound keeping track of them, or just outside the area or was using a satellite for surveillance. Melania and Ivanka had not said a thing about it. They tended to be found head-to-head speaking too low for others to hear recently. So, it made sense to assume that they also knew they were being watched or at least heard. Trump seemed clueless, however. He was a person of habits and his entire presidency had been spent taking in the very media he enjoyed sneering at as the ‘enemy of the people.‘
When Jared found Barron, Melania and Ivanka all in the kitchen he grabbed the moment to whisper that they have a meeting somewhere outside of the house one of these days. Since they all swam every afternoon that seemed like the ideal place to talk, except that the children were always around and had big ears – and big mouths.
Jared said, “let’s go for a walk some night when everyone is asleep.”
The other three agreed to try to put something together as soon as things settled down a bit. After all the children had only just arrived and Donald was staying up until all hours. “He would never want to go walking with us but I’m ‘fraid of what he could get up to.” Melania said.
“I have a feeling that Donald cannot get far if that surveillance team is in place, as I assume it is, said Jared.
“OK,” Ivanka said, “let’s do this tonight then. The kids should be asleep by 10. A nighttime walk would be nice. Maybe it gets cooler then.”
At ten p.m. they met in the living room of the main house and left through the sliders like teenagers sneaking out a bedroom window. They even started to giggle. Jared pointed left from the patio and they took a side road over to the perimeter. The night air was balmy, dark and damp and smelling of ocean giving them another geographical hint. The palm trees were dark and exotic against a sky full of stars.
“We should take night walks more often,” Barron said.
They walked a while in silence for longer than intended because Trump was so peaceful. The patriarch was never a force for peace, but he was certainly a force. Even all alone in front of his TV, his presence was felt by everyone. Was that charisma, or just his egomania? They all knew the unspoken answer.
“Too bad the Space Force didn’t work out,” said Barron. “We might be waving at Dad up there circling Mars. Just kidding,” he added.
“Eyyye, can you imagine being on a spaceship with Captain Trump in charge, with us all aboard going all the way to Mars,” Ivanka said timidly, not being used to speaking against her father, or trying to be humorous.
“Easy,” said Jared, “If you see Dad standing next to a spaceship with the ramp down and lights on inside, run as fast as you can the other way.”
They started giggling again.
“If you see a sign that says, ‘transporter room’ say you need to make a trip to the loo,” said Barron.
“Are we becoming British?” Melania asked her son.
“Why not give it a try,” Barron said, “America doesn’t think so much of us anymore.”
It should have been a sobering observation but it was not that kind of night, so they all giggled again.
“Look at us,” said Ivanka, “acting like a regular family.”
“It can’t last,” Barron said, rather seriously.
“Where are we going to have our talk?” Melania asked.
“When we get near the 4th hole on the golf course we can go sit in the club house. They can hear us wherever we go but at least there are comfortable seats and wine,” Jared said. “Surely we can each have a glass without Dad having a fit. He isn’t here, and what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
By the time they found the clubhouse the dark night no longer seemed so dark with a bright moon and all those stars, and with their eyes having adjusted to the ambient light. When they flipped the switch, they let their eyes adjust to the bar lights which were muted. Slipping into cool leather seats around a low table, Jared went to the small wine supply behind the counter and selected what looked like a rather expensive bottle of white wine. He set wine glasses on a tray, opened the wine and took the empty seat at the table as he placed the tray in the center.
Melania poured and everyone sipped and looked at each other. Melania started. “We can’t let things go on as they have been with Donald. He can’t stay in that room all the time. We have to think of some ways to get him back into a healthier routine. He needs to come down to breakfast. He needs some exercise. He needs to talk to us and not just order us around. Anyone have any ideas?”
“This place has music,” Jared said. “If we turn it on the listeners might not be able to hear.”
“I want them to hear,” said Melania, “ I think we will need their help with this. I know it seems strange to help these people who may actually be our prison guards, but they do have all the control, at least control that will affect your father’s behavior.”
“Smart,” said Ivanka. “So, what do we want them to do.”
“How about no news or movies or sports until noon? That way we can get him up, feed him, and get him to go for a swim or something,” Melania suggested.
“I have never seen Dad go in a swimming pool,” Ivanka observed.
“Let’s start with just a drive. Tell him we think we’re being watched and that we ought to do a little investigating to see if we can tell how it is being done,” Barron suggested.
“Did you hear that, management?” Jared asked loudly.
They rinsed out the wine glasses, each doing his or her own so they did not have to fight about gender roles and chores. There was no wine left in the bottle so they rinsed that too and put it upside down on a drain board.
They knew a cleaning crew must get in somehow because everything except the houses they lived in was spotless. The laundry was starting to pile up in the Trump house, but Ivanka and Jared were keeping up with that in the Kushner household. Barron would probably have to tackle the laundry because, clearly, neither Melania or Donald would.
The TV was obviously controlled remotely because Barron and Melania woke to Trump bellowing around the upstairs like a wounded elephant.
“No TV,” he was yelling, “what happened to the TV.”
Melania whispered to Barron, “that was fast.”
“Calm down,” Donald, “Melania soothed. Do the lights work?” But she had to demonstrate whether the lights were working because Donald was lost to all reason. She clicked the switch and the lights came on, as she knew they would.
“It’s probably temporary, come down to breakfast when you get dressed,” she said.
Barron and Melania left to get ready for what they suspected would be a very bad day. They got off the elevator and walked by the piles of their stuff, still where they left them in the foyer, and they moved into the kitchen. The TV in the kitchen was working. They turned it on really loud.
“What the heck, mom,” said Jared only using heck because he was with the kids.
“It’s the siren call for your father-in-law,” Melania explained.
Sure enough, in a bit Donald wandered into the kitchen in his jockey shorts, and a t-shirt, a long t-shirt fortunately and took a seat at the table. “Oh hi, Jared, he said absentmindedly, “what are you doing here?”
Jared, not a man of many expressions, lifted his eyebrows in Melania’s direction, and said, “just on our way home dad. The kids wanted to say hi to Grandma.”
“Grandma,” Trump repeated quizzically. “Oh, you mean Melania, ha-ha.”
“Mel,” said Trump, “turn that TV so I can see it and everyone be quiet.”
Melania caught Jared’s eyes and pointed out to the patio. She gave Donald his Diet Coke and cereal, set out the milk and some buttered toast, and she could tell that none of them would be missed. Melania left the door open to the patio, found a tray and took out some dishes and silver ware. She came back for another tray and took some coffee and orange juice and milk out. Jared told Melania to sit and he went in to get cereal. No toast and eggs this morning.
Ivanka’s kids were not young children; Bella was 18, Joe was 15, and Theo, 13. They had a lot of questions. They kept trying to use their phones which, of course, did not work. They weren’t exactly freaked out, but they were clearly confused by the lack of servants, by the way their grandfather was acting, by the emptiness of the buildings around them.
“Ivanka,” Bella said. She had taken to calling her mother by her first name. “Where are we? What’s going on? What have you and Daddy done now? Why don’t our phones work? Send me to Aunt Tiffany.” She took a bowl, a cup of coffee, filled the bowl with cereal and milk and adopted an age-appropriate sullen posture.
Barron said, “I’ll try to get Dad in the shower and dressed. I think the news will be over by now and the kitchen TV will go off.” All the kids looked at Barron as if he had become some kind of nerdy stranger.
Trump went back upstairs without a fight, but he refused to take a shower or get dressed. In fact, he got back in bed. Barron looked him over and noticed one side of his face was drooping. He tucked his dad in and went back to the patio where breakfast was just breaking up. He pulled his mom aside and told her what was going on with Donald, Melania put her hand over her mouth and asked Barron to take her up to Donald.
But as they passed through the foyer there was a knock at the front door. Barron went to see who was there and it was an EMT with a gurney who said “please take me to see your husband. The gurney wouldn’t fit on the elevator so the EMT went back and got a wheelchair. When he got back downstairs with Donald the gurney had already been returned to the rescue helicopter, so he wheeled Donald out to the lift at the side of the copter and Donald disappeared slowly through the open door. “We’ll take good care of him and let you know how he’s doing,” the pilot said out of his window.
“But where are you taking him,” Melania asked anxiously. Can’t I go with him.”
“That is not allowed,” the crew stated simply and lifted off from the same nearby landing pad that they had been set down on when they arrived..
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