On March 3, 2016, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, called Donald Trump a fraud.
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump became president, stunning the world.
On November 29, 2016, the two men sat down to dinner. This is what happened.
“Hey, Mitt! Mitt! Yeah! I’m the president now! The bad thing happened! The bad thing is real!” exclaims Donald Trump. “The bad thing, which is good for me but bad for everyone else, it really happened!”
“Yes,” says Mitt Romney.
“This food is great,” says Donald as he surveys his meal, which consists of a pile of french fries and nothing else. “Too bad the cooks forgot to bring you anything and then went home. You can’t have any of my great food either, because I’m so hungry from being president. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” says Mitt.
“Anyway, Mitt, you’re not going to believe this, but presidents need a secretary, and I might want you to be that secretary.”
“Secretary of State? Secretary of Defense?” asks Mitt.
“Yes, a secretary. It’s a pretty big job, yeah, and there’s so much you have to do, like you have to go to businesses with a baseball bat and get the money from the businesses,” Donald says, his eyes widening with happiness as he touches some of his french fries. “Then you have to go to the old bridge outside of town and take the money to some men in the dark in exchange for briefcases only I’m allowed to unlock! Yes! I’m the president and that’s what my secretary does! Lots of people want to do it, too!”
Mitt drifts away. He’s trapped. This isn’t right. Donald Trump is still a fraud. Mitt knows that. But he can’t go anywhere. He can’t leave his chair. His eyes soften as they lose their focus, and he goes away to his special place in the past. It’s a farm where he spent his summers as a boy. There’s a farmhouse there, of course, and everything is warm in the farmhouse. There’s a pot roast in the oven, and there’s a fire in the fireplace. There’s a dog sitting on the porch, and in the yard there’s a tire swing on a grand old oak tree. He feels the crunch of autumn leaves underneath his feet, and he takes a deep breath as he approaches the nice white fence that leads to the nice warm farmhouse. He can almost smell the pot roast.
“I got you a great table picked out for when you’re my secretary,” announces Donald, his voice muffled from all the french fries in his mouth. “It’s a card table. I got it from a prison,” he says, getting a speck of french fry on Mitt’s forehead. “The card table will break if you sit on it. You will fall through the card table. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” says Mitt.
"You’ll be flat on your ass because you fell through the stupid card table!" says Donald, his voice quickening as if he can’t get the words out fast enough. “You can never replace your prison card table! You’re not allowed! It’s illegal! Do you understand?”
“Yes,” says Mitt, but Mitt doesn’t understand anymore. He’s opening the gate in the middle of the nice white fence. The air is so crisp. The sky is so blue. The light is so warm and pure and good. Maybe he’ll swing on the tire swing, for old time’s sake. Maybe he’ll pet his dog. He’ll comb his hair before he goes to the house, he remembers, in case his grandma is there. She likes all the boys to have combed hair. He rifles through his jacket pocket for his comb, but it’s nowhere to be found. He thinks nothing of it.
“Your other job, OK, it’s such a good job, I love it so much. You’re gonna dance. OK? You gotta dance so much when you’re my secretary, because I love to see people dance! You have to dance every day when I’m in the room, it’s all you can do, and you can’t stop dancing, OK, until I tell you to stop. Some days I won’t even tell you to stop at all! You’re going to be sick from dancing so much! I hope it doesn’t hurt you, but if it does hurt you, you have to do it anyway! Gotta dance for Donald every day! All this because the bad thing happened!”
Mitt walks toward the oak tree, toward the dog, toward the house. A breeze starts blowing through the air, and it becomes a bitter wind, and the sky begins to turn gray. Mitt feels cold. His hair is a mess. The house is farther away than he remembers. He walks toward the oak tree and something feels wrong. There are no leaves on the oak tree, because the oak tree is burned and black and dead. There is no tire swing there. A sadness takes him, the kind of sadness that takes a boy when he realizes he’s too old for his stuffed animals and must never play with them again, because big boys don’t play with stuffed animals.
He presses onward, toward the farmhouse, but it’s very far from him now, and the wind screams and lightning cracks in the distance and the sunlight is falling away. He’ll get to the house, because he has to get to the house, he knows that, and he’ll apologize for his uncombed hair and his soaking wet clothes and he’ll dry off by the fire. He’ll feel good in the house.
Donald is talking to him from the sky now, somewhere beyond the rain. “You’re going to eat shoes in a basement! Bad shoes! Terrible shoes! From the same prison!” roars the voice. “That’s how I’ll know you’re right for the job, because you ate the shoes. I’m going to watch you do it. And remember, it’s illegal not to eat the shoes! Because it’s disrespectful! It’s so disrespectful not to eat the prisoner shoes!”
Mitt isn’t walking anymore; he’s running to the house. The dog starts approaching him and he feels good, but then his stomach churns as he realizes this is not the dog he knows, but a wolf, a sick wolf, with its hair falling out in clumps. Mitt runs through the grass, and the grass dies behind him as he runs. He kicks the wolf away and the wolf makes no noise as it falls to the ground. He looks at the house and his face becomes twisted with horror as he sees the shingles fall from the roof and hit the dead dirt.
The smoke from the fire is gone. The paint is peeling. The windows shed their glass and the lights go out. The front door falls off its hinges.
Faster and faster he runs, but he’s too late.
The ground quivers as he arrives at the porch. The second his footsteps hit the floorboards, the house is ripped away, like a sand castle in a hurricane, and all the light in the sky is gone. He’s alone in a dark and empty place. The storm goes away and the land is dead quiet. From the sky, he hears Donald Trump’s voice.
“Do you want the job?”
“Yes,” says Mitt. “I want it.”