Easy reading on KINDLE
While away a pleasant hour or so;
Make your journey pass all too soon;
Are you the family chauffeur? Then open up your KINDLE;
Whatever free time you have, spend it happily reading,
particularly a book by ELLE FRAN WILLIAMS for
pure entertainment and relaxation; absolutely nothing 'educational', or 'worthy' or even 'enlightening'........
Just forget you're not sunning yourself on a beach somewhere, and lose yourself in a book!
Books from Elle
Books available via AMAZON .... KINDLE AND PAPERBACK
THE FIFTH D
GUILTY BY INTERPRETATION
A PERNICIOUS GENE
ONE EIGTH ABOVE THE SURFACE
NOT ONLY SHADOWS FALL AT WINDMILL FARM
IS VICE A VIRTUE, OR VICE VERSA?
ONE EIGTH ABOVE THE SURFACE
WHEN TRANQUILITY BITES BACK
YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE
DANGEROUS DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR (A JOHN ROCH MYSTERY)
HISTORY WILL DICTATE (A JOHN ROCHE MYSTERY)
A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE (A JOHN ROCHE MYSTERY)
new new new new ......'FAITH RESTORED' ....
ABOUT 'FAITH RESTORED' (See also short story (just for fun) at the end of the synopsis .... )
SYNOPSIS ..... FOR 'FAITH RESTORED'
Faith left a loving, happy, busy Irish home to train as a nurse in London. Life was good. She had found her freedom, her independence. Then she met Michael, almost twice her age: a womaniser, an abuser, a selfish, arrogant man. But Faith, at 18 was flattered by his attention and even his jealousy. She was besotted, but over many years she became victimised and demoralised. Then out of the blue, when she was middle-aged and the mother of three grown-up children, fate unexpectedly took pity on her and a most fantastic and life-changing thing happened to her. She found herself heir to a lottery fortune! As a consequence, by a series of most 'unexpected events' - some fortunate, some unfortunate - Faith became 'unaccounted for', 'absent from home'. Where was she? Was she dead? Was she alive? Her bully husband obviously fell under clear suspicion and was faced with a real prospect of facing judge, jury and long-term imprisonment. It could not happen to a nicer man!
Available on Kindle and paperback....
A WATCHING BRIEF FROM ON HIGH
Elle Fran Williams
“Oh Holy God …. is there anything that we can do? It is certainly not something that I considered even a possibility! Can’t you do something! Another plague, perhaps? A flood?”
“No, Peter – if you had been around as long as me, you would know that from time to time – I grant you increasingly often nowadays – such ‘unexpected’ situations occur. They may look like catastrophes from a narrow ‘human’ perspective, but in the grand scheme of things, well, let’s just say that nothing surprises me anymore!”
“But, Holy God – not being pushy, or trying to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs, don’t you think that this time it is a bit more widespread than, say, Lot’s wife, or Sodom and Gomorrah … it seems, from my fisherman’s perspective, that the whole bloody …. sorry for the language, but I’m fairly het up about this – world is involved! Yet you, and by and large the rest of the angels – seem to be too damn …. sorry again ….. complacent to me!”
“Peter, we have had mad men at the helm before now – from mad Popes to mad Fuhrers – so I have learned over time to not over-react. I gave them all free will. In their infinite wisdom some of them – the case in question as it happened - mirrored that by allowing FREE elections. That is the case in much of the ‘first’ world (as they call it …. not sure myself that I don’t see the so called ‘third’ world as infinitely more deserving, but time will tell!). I cannot just barge in now and
say “Well that’s another fine mess you have got my world into, so I am going to take back the reins”! That’s not how it goes, I am afraid. Never has done, and never will … until such time as I call ‘Time’ on the experiment. …. Talking about fuhrers, what’s the latest on Adolph?”
“Lucifer is apparently getting frustrated and annoyed because Adolph is refusing to share his cell with the new arrivals because they are too ‘dark’ – despite the fact that, like himself, their biggest ambition was ethnic cleansing! This is made worse because Lucifer is so disappointed and has gone into deepest decline! He had spent so much of his energy moulding Hitler when he was a mere painter and decorator so he expected more allegiance and gratitude!
As for the newcomers, according to my sources, many of them are expressing dissatisfaction, I gather, because they had expected to be greeted by an array of nubile virgins. Not sure how they got that idea – that’s not even on offer up here in heaven! That having been said, I suppose Lucifer is perhaps not the best person to explain that killing, maiming and destroying thousands of innocent people, is not really the best way to curry favour with the Almighty! It would be exactly his way to do things so it might seem like hypocrisy……. Maybe we should send somebody down – an envoy – what do you think?”
“I’ll think about it. Maybe Mohammed could go talk to them? He is less than happy that they have used his name to justify their excesses and has said he will not give them the satisfaction of speaking with them directly – he thinks it will just make them feel important …. He will relent. He is a good emisary and will, in the end, do what needs to be done. No need to make a decision now. Let Lucifer sweat for a bit. None of them are going anywhere in the near future – or in any future come to that”.
“But Holy God! If I did not think it was likely to rub off and spread up here and even more likely to purgatory, I would say to hell with them …. sorry, just a manner of speech ... and leave them all to their own devices. But you know how easily word spreads up the tiers! I have no idea who is responsible – or even how it happens – but it just does ...! I suspect that we have too many journalists around the middle tier – ever after a good story! They are still competing with one another. I think it is a good bet that one of them is digging around! The Irish are the worst – nosy and intrepid! I would put money on somebody like maybe that little terrier! You, my God, seem to have given her – or she has taken - a kind of roving reporter brief even from up here. She swans about and goes precisely where she thinks she will. One of these days I am not going to let her back in when she comes back after one of her sorties into the nether regions!”
“I have a lot of time for them, Peter, they are seekers after the truth, after justice. Not always a safe or healthy thing to do. She got shot and joined us far too quickly. She is a seeker after the truth, and her heart is in the right place … She is resourceful – which I like – and more importantly does infinitely more good than harm.”
“But, be that as it may …. Purgatory are already unsettled – we perhaps deliberated too long over the so-called Iron Lady. Now that she has gone to middle ground to atone and await salvation – if she ever gets to that stage – the rest have become unsettled and even disruptive. Some think she should have come straight up here, and others think she should have gone straight downstairs! Ever the Marmite woman was Margaret! To give her her due, she has not complained herself, but she is in danger of upsetting the apple cart by trying to ‘organise’ everybody. Most are just grateful that they are not yet totally condemned, and will just bide their time, and some are just not political animals. More will put up with anything for a quiet life. But others – not least the Queen Ma (as she still insists on being called, I gather!) who is still more than annoyed and upset that Margaret Thatcher was given her State Funeral – the one that had been planned and designed for her!”
“Nothing changes that side of heaven! They will settle down. Eternity is a very long time to contemplate and we will move them onwards as and when. Ask Archangel Michael when you next see him, to try and have a discreet word with Her Majesty ….”
“Stop being facetious, Peter! ….. Her Majesty as was, and tell her that she will be moving soon, so to just not rock the boat!”
“My Holy God! Can I make a suggestion? Can I put together a kind of working party to just think about the possible consequences and ramifications of the latest debacle down on Earth? I know that you think that they should just be left to their own devices and make their own choices – right or wrong – but what if it comes to a real Armageddon situation – how would we cope? We only just get to grips with the arrivals during the last World War and potentially any new one could be a million times worse than that one!”
“Peter, you forget, I am not restricted by time, by ‘past; or by ‘now’ or by ‘future’: I already KNOW. I do not interfere! How many times must I say it! I will answer requests to some extent, for individuals, but I do not intervene in global matters. They must stand or fall on their own decisions. Whatever the consequences. I can feel compassion for the individual – and from time to time do take action, but never, never, never do I alter the course of history. I never have, and I never will. It would defeat the object! ….. Well, strictly speaking that is not correct … but I learned my lesson with ‘the flood’! That did not, as I am the first to admit, really have the effect I had hoped for. I had blamed myself – perhaps I had been too hard on Adam … too quick to condemn, too slow to understand that to err is human to forgive divine …. I should have been more understanding, more forgiving. But I hadn’t. So I had a conscience and decided to start again. I decided that the debauchery and sinfulness, mindless selfishness – indeed wholescale mayhem in some cases - was just some kind of teenage rebellion against my heavy handedness. So I decided to share the blame … but I still stood by my principles … to just save individuals ….in that instance, Noah and the family. Even with Sodom and Gomorrah I only destroyed those cities – not the entire planet … which I could have done because, believe me, they were certainly not alone in their sinning. But … anyway. No more debating.. I do not – will not – interfere globally. I just does no good and it becomes impossible to protect the innocent and punish the guilty! Everybody, when faced with that kind of crisis is potentially ‘guilty’. I built in a degree of self-preservation which is entirely helpful, most of the time, but can be a bit of a bummer under such circumstances … people, even ‘good’ people, will react against a threat, even from me.
“Well, then Holy God! Can I then make a plea as an individual – a personal request! Let me run with this! Let me at least see how best we can react or respond? …. Please, I ask as an individual petitioner! If you only help the ‘individual’, then help me … let me run with this!”
God laughed. “Very well. Since you ask in those terms! But do not do anything that breaks the rules! Do you hear me Peter? Because Rock or no Rock, Gatekeeper or no gatekeeper, I will not be pleased, do you understand? Do not underestimate my wrath – you may be held in a privileged position here in my kingdom, but do not put me to the test!”
Peter left God but was still not happy. He understood that he had no right to challenge God, and neither would he. After all who was he to think he knew better. But still. It did not feel comfortable to see disaster unfolding and not do anything at all to prevent it. It was a far cry from his own time, from the simple life with his fishing nets, and his family. At the time, far from being an activist or a political animal, he had not even felt very involved or annoyed that he was living in a land which had been conquered and taken over by a foreign power. It did not affect him very much in his own village, with his own way of life. But then he had been called away from that life. He had followed a different way. A better way, but a harder and more challenging way. He had been given a great responsibility; a responsibility for a new way of living: it had ultimately led to his death, but would he change any of it? Of course he would not. But now he could not turn his back on humanity either. He was not questioning the ways of his God, but he was anxious to do whatever he could – within his permitted remit – to try at least to keep abreast of the situation and try to anticipate its consequences.
After all it was not every day that such an unlikely and ill-equipped man became President of a major power – probably now The Major Power. No, this was no ordinary situation, and he had to stay on top of the game. He made a decision: He would form a kind of ‘Advisory Body’: It would comprise some of the best equipped minds, hearts and brains available to him, on all levels: Heaven, Purgatory and, if necessary, Hell! After all, take a thief to catch a thief was quite a good saying, and one that made a lot of sense.
Forming the Advisory Body
First of all, Peter had a think about the ‘good guys’ that were available to him on the upper tier:
Some of them had dubious pasts but had ‘come good’ in the end and both of those extremes of experience would be very useful in trying to analyse and ‘second guess’ a bit of a loose cannon like the newly elected President of the United States of America.
Nelson Mandela, first on the check list: Had his own time as a ‘rebel’, a disadvantaged person, an ‘enemy of the state’, a ‘terrorist’, but was ultimately the arch-diplomat, peace-maker and tightrope walker;
Mahatma Gandhi, next on the check list: A pacifist, but not averse to civil disobedience. A courageous man, a humble man. A representative of a different way of ‘fighting’ the oppressor. Another man with vision, charisma and leadership qualities;
Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A deep thinker; a mediator; a visionary. A diplomat and a changer of hearts and minds. A woman affected by the world and deeply affected by its woes, but not driven off course by despair and hopelessness.
On the second tier, those that were still earning their stripes. They had things to make reparation for but were probably not worthy of eternal damnation and perpetual disenfranchisement, though with some they got worse rather than better and did not take their opportunities when they were presented. There had been instances – not many, but enough to be cautious – where people had gone downwards instead of upwards. Obviously, they were not happy – in fact they were mostly taken away kicking and screaming – but they were always given several warnings, and not just one strike and you’re out.
Margaret Thatcher, not chosen for her understanding nature or her humanitarian ideals. Chosen on the basis that one despot with a God complex might understand another despot with a God complex. She had managed to survive for many years despite being loved by few, feared by some and hated by many and had ruled with a rod of iron and left grown men crying in her wake. Never hampered by conscience or humanitarian principles, she had ploughed a lone furrow. She had formed a close alliance with a previous President of the United States, who was probably not himself at the time, which she had either not noticed or had possibly used to her advantage. She had not needed to be a manipulator, because she never bothered with persuasion, merely coercion and force of will.
Winston Churchill was next. Chosen for his ability to be single-minded, strategic and, if necessary, precise, determined and ruthless. A man who understood the power that leadership brings; a man who had made many brave, but also brutal decisions, who knew only too well that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
John F. Kennedy, a man who had sat in the same seat, had felt the same power, and who knew the temptations and sources of corruption and deviance that such a status can bring with it. A man who had made mistakes and had now had a chance to look back at the choices and decisions he made and to fully understand the ramifications of such a role: not only on him, on his family, on his country, but also on the world. He had come closer than many to the threat of a nuclear war, and the potential destruction of the planet, but he now also knew first-hand the hatred that can come with such Office and the dangers that are inherent both to the person and to the world. He was an ideal member of the chosen band of ‘advisers’ to Peter on the way forward with regard to their actions – or if it was up to God, lack of action – in light of the loose cannon that now held the presidency of the United States in his hands, Mr. Donald Trump.
And then from the lower tier: From Hell itself!
Adolph Hitler was the first person recruited from the Lower Tier. It was felt a risk, but a necessity, to include Adolph Hitler in the caucus. In any case, Lucifer was reluctant to agree to anybody else being released unless his current ‘enfant terrible’ was involved. He was glad to get him out of his hair for a while and was looking forward to the rest.
It seems unnecessary to explain why Hitler was included. He had similar views with regard to foreign aliens and non-Arian nationals. He was a megalomaniac and a dictator, who had swayed great tracts of his supporters by incitement to hatred and ultimately murder on an unheard of scale.
He had been thought harmless, even comic, until his presence was finally seen in its full glory, by which time it was too late and the destruction of huge swathes of Europe, Asia and Africa had been witnessed.
Ho Chi Minh was the next person to be included in the group. He was an unrepentant and unreformed despot, and one who understood the mentality behind exclusion, torture and quite simple, if thoroughly evil, solutions to problems. His ways of dealing with problems were not hampered by conscience or fear of approbation and he showed all the best examples of a god complex and a divine right to do whatever he thought he might like to do.
Erich Honecker was included mostly because he had a history of enforcing isolation, not least by the construction of the second most famous wall on earth: the Berlin Wall. He also had a most stringently and ruthlessly enforced isolationist and separatist policy, overseen and policed by a Secret Service that was all powerful and universally feared. Since a wall has been espoused by the new President of the United States as one of the ways that he had hit upon to keep out ‘illegals’, particularly from Mexico, and since he seemed even more determined, now that the power was his, to prevent anybody getting into the country who might have even the slightest taint of Islam – irrespective of whether they had lived there for years or not – it seems that Herr Honecker might have a view on the pluses and minuses of such a stand-point. With President Trump also falling out with the U.S. Secret Service, and not above constituting one of his own, it is hoped that Erich Honecker might have some words of wisdom or warning for him. It was a long time since the Berlin Wall came down – not long in eternity terms, it had to be said, but in human terms it was now many years – and he had surely had time to contemplate its effects during the final years of his life in South America. One way or another, he might have a unique perspective now that time and more gentle influences had been given a chance to moderate him, on how it feels to live and rule an isolationist country. Even the notorious ‘Iron Curtain’ had been a virtual divide – effective but essentially idealogical - but the Berlin Wall which divided his East Germany from the rest of the world, and even the rest of the German nation, was a physical structure.
So, those were the invited participants in St. Peter’s ‘Watchdog’ panel to study and monitor Donald Trump, a thrice married businessman whose hotel and casino enterprises have filed for bankruptcy six times; whose own taxation history is not exactly beyond reproach. Vocal: opinionated: boastful of his sexual conquests – even when his advances are unsolicited and unwelcome “because if you are a star then you can do anything! They let you get away with anything”. And now newly elected President of one of the most powerful countries in the world with the safety and future of the entire globe in his safe keeping.
Oh My God... … Why? Freewill has proved such a dangerous gift to possess!
But worse was to come. Before the group could really come to terms with the make-up of the gathering, Lucifer had a mind to throw another spanner into the works. He had kept a close watching brief on the proceedings and was quite happy with the make-up of those attending: he knew that it had been touch and go with some of the ‘probationers’ from the second tier. It was still possible that some of them would come down to spend eternity in his neck of the woods, but he was satisfied that his way of thinking might even be in the majority: for goodness sake even that Mandela man had done his own share of fighting and plotting. All right that bloody Gandhi man was too much of a goody goody, and as for the Rumanian woman – well ... still the other seven should be persuasive enough – or at least put up a good show. He had no doubt that the if things were going too much in his favour, then reinforcements would be sent in – the Man Upstairs was not one who was prepared to lose! Lucifer knew that his power was almost certainly at the discretion of God himself. He tolerated him because for some inconceivable reason God still stood by his stupid commitment to free will. Free will was the only reason that he, Lucifer, was now downstairs when he could have been upstairs living the life of Riley! Still he would not have had his own kingdom up there – he would almost certainly have been sharing the bragging rights with goody two shoes Michael Archangel. As he thought about the possibility that reinforcements might be helicoptered in if Adolph (his principal weapon!) was appearing to sway the rest, he had a wonderful idea that could just put the cat amongst the pigeons! Fidel Castro was still awaiting a verdict, and it was proving a difficult decision for the panel to decide: he had done some remarkable things for education, health care and to equalise poverty in Cuba, but his methods were, to say the least, a bit ‘out there’! But ….Interesting notion!
So Lucifer put in a request – or perhaps more of a demand – that since Castro was, at the moment, a neutral, he should join the rest who were representative of the various tiers. Peter was alarmed at this but could not argue with the logic or even find the demand undemocratic or even perverse. Castro certainly had a lot of experience with running a country and making good/bad/and indifferent decisions which certainly affected the lives and deaths of his fellow countrymen – and the rest of the world come to that. But to sit Kennedy and Castro down at the same table! It might help to tip the balance in the Almighty’s final decision over Castro himself, as to whether he got moved properly into Level 2, or whether he took a sharp exit down to join Lucifer downstairs. For him the jury was currently still out, so it was an interesting and useful exercise. But what would happen if JF lost his cool! They could not ignore it – God would not ignore it. Would that mean that Kennedy would be relegated? Down to the lower tier. There was no way back from there. On the second tier people were still vulnerable and could go up or down. It was a kind of proving ground. It was a risk, certainly it was, but there was no real, impartial, reason to decline Lucifer’s request. He would have to rely on Kennedy remembering what was at stake, and Castro knowing that he had to mind his manners and think of the longer-term ramifications.
So, there they were: Mandela, Gandhi, Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (AKA Mother Teresa of Calcutta); Thatcher, Kennedy, Churchill, Hitler, Ho Chi Mhin, Honecker. And the ‘neutral’ Castro. It needs to be added here that Castro was somewhat reluctant to join. He had not long arrived and was enjoying the rest. He had been out of the picture for some time prior to his death and he had got used to somebody else making the decisions. He had got tired and disillusioned. He was not happy to be thrown into the lion’s den again. When he sat down and saw the gathering, he was even more disgruntled and weary. He was, though, a proud man, a man with very strong convictions and it was not long before he was enjoying being back in the fray. It was certainly a very illustrious set of faces. Not all to his liking. Some he found really unpleasant and hateful. It was difficult to see where the lines would be drawn up: Would he have an ally in Nelson, who had needed to show a strong and even ruthless streak when winning the right to govern his country and free his people? Would he have any kind of common ground with Ho – he was communist and he had fought the Americans successfully? But he was also a monster who ill-treated his own people. He was self-serving and tyrannical. Then there was Erich? There was common ground there, perhaps. It had been necessary to be single minded in retraining the Cuban people away from materialism and to help them to see that the individual was less important than the whole. Yes, there were bad elements to Honecker, but there were similarities, he supposed. As for the rest: Churchill was strong, but he was certainly not ‘of the people’. Certainly not at all representative of the proletariat! He had fought a good war though – if wars can ever be regarded as ‘good’. Thatcher: the right-wing harridan who took milk out of children’s mouths and turned her back on her heritage. A woman who thought like a man and who ignored the cries of her people and the advice of those around her.
He would not even contemplate having anything in common with Hitler. The man was surely a lunatic, who was merely a painter and decorator with delusions of grandeur, and who let his megalomania drive the world into near destruction. Which took him on to Kennedy. He, Castro, had had time to consider now, and was able more clearly to understand how close he had come to goading Kennedy into doing something that would have caused mayhem and destroyed huge tracts of the globe. It had seemed a necessity at the time, because with the first sign of weakness those arrogant and self-centred bastards would have prevailed. They had failed to understand the cultural revolution that needed to take place in order to protect his country from becoming as debauched and money-obsessed as they were. He had witnessed the fate that had befallen the United States with its corruption, crime, social inequalities and materialism. With gangsters ruling the roost. Where even the law and the legislature themselves were influenced by evil. As he had understood it, even Kennedy himself was hand in glove with the Mafia. That was not going to happen to Cuba. He had to see to that – whatever the consequences or whatever the views of the individual Cubans who were secondary to the nation as a whole! They were not politically wise enough to see that such a course of action was essential. He had had to do their thinking for them!
He realised that he had little in common with the religious elements around the table: Gandhi and the Albanian woman. It was true now that he was dead that he had needed to take a bit of a different view about God – it was difficult now to continue to denounce him as a figment of the ruling classes imagination in order to subdue the masses (or the opium of the people as Lenin would say…. he wondered, in passing, where Lenin had ended up? He had not seen him since his arrival). It was embarrassing, it had to be said, and he could not make up his mind as to whether it was a sign of sanctity or stupidity on God’s part that, since he had been such a decrier and detractor during the vast majority of his life, God had not consigned him without trial or argument down to hell. It was showing a lot more tolerance and charity than he himself would have shown had the shoe been on the other foot. But he was careful to keep such thoughts to himself now that other people had his fate in their hands.
And so the meeting began:
How do you solve a problem like ….
It was decided – in truth by herself – that Thatcher would be the Chairperson. By and large they were a relatively reluctant jury, though it was a diversion – and they realised that it was an important matter, and looking around the table, each could understand why those particular people had been selected.
It was probable that Thatcher’s authoritarian manner and autocratic voice would begin to irritate and cause dissent before too long, but nobody wanted to start the day off with a wrangle over who led the meeting. They all decided that discretion – for the time being – was the better part of valour, and let her have her head.
“Well, here we are. The only matter on the agenda is what might – or might not – be seen as a dangerous state of affairs caused by the election of an isolationist, strong-minded, outspoken, courageously right-wing and confident new president in the United States. Personally, I am not sure that I see those as necessarily bad traits in themselves. I do, though, think that this constant bickering, in-fighting and challenging of the elected leader is bad for stability…. And I wish wholeheartedly that he would stay away from tweeting – or whatever that juvenile activity is called. What sort of world leader engages in such a dialogue over the …. what’s the term … over the World Wide Web! It is juvenile and undignified and best left to the playground or the factory floor! I also am shocked that he seems to have formed some kind of ‘relationship’ – even some have suggested ‘conspiracy’ with his opposite number in the Kremlin. It seems clear to me that Mr. President Trump needs to make up his mind whether he is playing for the Right or the Left. I know that a totalitarian government can swing either way, but it is disconcerting not being able to predict which way a so-called democratic (all right I know he is a Republican and not a Democrat … but I use ‘democratic’ in the conventional sense) major power is likely to jump! It was never like that in my day. Myself and Ronald were always singing from the same hymn sheet, and Vladimir knew precisely where we stood and played his part admirably. He stuck to his script and we stuck to ours. There were lesser mortals, of course, who queered the pitch somewhat – that bloody upstart, Galtieri, in Argentina who thought he could browbeat me over the Falklands. The troublemakers in Northern Ireland, Adams and McGuinness ... and just look what happened as soon as my back was turned – they were given seats in a shared parliament in Stormont would you believe ... see how long that will last. It wouldn’t have happened in my day …. another capitulation by the Lefties in the Labour Party government – gone now, thank goodness. ….. “
It looked as if she was going to wax lyrical for the whole day, and frankly nobody was interested, but Adolph who was no fan of the English anyway, thumped the table and informed her that he was bored and if they were not going to get down to business, then he was leaving.
Churchill was somewhat torn! He was no fan – obviously – of Adolph Hitler, and Thatcher was English, but she was the most unmitigated bore and upstart! He too was bored with her mitherings, but he was resentful that it was Herr Hitler that was telling her so.
“OK,” intervened Peter who was hovering to see that they got off to a non-violent start - “Let’s take some kind of sounding around the table as to how we feel about the situation developing in the United States …… just confine yourselves, in the first place, to a general statement of, say, you applaud Mr. Trump and agree with him; you think the man has lost his mind and that he should be immediately certified; that he is unconstitutional and should be impeached; …. whatever …. and any degree of agree or disagree between those extremes ….. Nelson, suppose we start off with you ….”
With that, Peter decided not to leave altogether but to distance himself from the group and try not to interfere again but to interject if absolutely necessary.
Thatcher tried to wrestle back the Chair, but Mandela cut in quickly before she could give voice once again, so she merely tutted and set her face in a way that people had got used to during her reign. “The woman was not for turning”. But these politicians were a better match for her than her erstwhile colleagues around the conference table in No 10 Downing Street! She could only grimace and hold her tongue. Not happily, of course. But this was not London circa 1985!
“I am concerned with the rhetoric that is coming out of Washington. I am worried that the President of the United States has had so little experience of diplomacy and governance. It is somewhat different to run a nation – even a small one, and the US is perhaps as big as they come – than it is to run a business – however big and however successful. We have to also bear in mind that even in business, the man has not always made clever choices, and his companies have been bankrupt, as I understand it, several times. You cannot go bankrupt with a country …… unless you are Brazil or Greece …. I suppose, and perhaps my once good neighbour Zimbabwe! So, yes. I am unhappy. I accept that the United States has the right to elect their own President, without us outsiders interfering – and it does seem that many, many ordinary people were persuaded by his promises – but nonetheless he is in too powerful a position to be saying and doing precisely what he likes – like some kind of child in an indulgent and otherwise pre-occupied rich family.
Ho chi Minh then cut in. He had been sitting with his eyes closed and it had been considered that he was either sleeping or bored. “Nuke him! Get China to bomb him! You are all tip toeing around the man. Just blow them all up.”
Mother Teresa had been sitting feeling out of her depth. Not because she felt in any way inferior, but because her experience was with a different sort of problem: basic food on the table issues; life or death choices; hardships that only affected a part of the world and of only marginal interest, when crises arose and consciences pricked, to countries such as those represented around this table.
“Oh please! Do not make such suggestions of aggression! You know, Cung, that you only do it for effect! You caused enough mischief and violence before, don’t advocate such awfulness now! Remember what we spoke about! You need to be less angry. Less resentful!”
At first nobody understood who Teresa was addressing, but Ho turned baleful eyes on her and said slowly, but not really aggressively or even in anger “My name is no longer Cung ….. I left that existence when I saw the true might of the imperialist forces and witnessed the barbaric work of the major countries in the world: the colonisers, the invaders.”
“No, you are Cung. You have left those resentments behind. You have gone back to the innocence of a child. The Cung who flew his kite and fished in the river.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake! She’ll be making me cry – or vomit soon!” cut in Adolph. “I think that we should arrange for somebody to arm the Mexicans up to the eyeballs and get them to invade! If there are as many damn Mexicans and Muslims inside the US as Trump suggests there are, then there is already a ready-made force that has infiltrated the country and we all know that any of the major governments are no match for guerrilla warfare. Take any of the examples: Vietnam (sorry Ho), Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. It is not conventional warfare that succeeds nowadays, it is war from within ...”
“Stop there! That is just giving Trump more reason to espouse the views that he does! It would only give those that elected and supported him more ammunition!” interjected Gandhi. “I don’t think that is helpful at all. Any opposition should be peaceful and non-violent. There is enough – no, there is way too much, violence in the world already. We should try to instigate a wave of non-violent protest. Sit-ins, civil disobedience, disruptive, but not aggressive measures ...”
“No, no Mahatma!” cut in John F Kennedy “You have no idea how dangerous non-violent protest can now be in the West – particularly in the United States. You only need one of Trump’s supporters to go berserk with a revolver or a pump action and you’ll have a street full of dead non-violent protesters! Even in the United Kingdom, which is not by any means as violent as the US, some maniac shot a politician simply because she had a different opinion to himself! Modern life is quite different now! Non-violent protest comes with its own dangers. The protesters might be non-violent, but Trump’s supporters (indeed the country as a whole!) is certainly not non-violent!”
John F was not surprised how lawless his country now had become. It was, after all, the land of the mobs, the St. Valentine’s Day massacres, even its very creation had come about with violence meted out to the Native American Tribes …. fair enough their fight for independence from the British, but the Civil War had been bloody and set brother against brother, and father against son. School children now mowed one another down in mindless attacks for no other reason than they were going through a bad patch ... when you added in slavery, the lawless and brutal populating of the Western States, then there did seem to be violence in his people’s bloodstream – they had got used to settling arguments with violence rather than persuasion or compromise. Though they were fed up with ‘war’ per se, that was more because it was costly and they could no longer guarantee that they would win, or at least win quickly and without too many casualties of their own, but the deaths and maimings carried out on a daily basis was accepted more or less as ‘normal’, even inevitable. Some people protested but were shouted down by the more vocal elements who defended their constitutional right to carry a gun, regardless of the consequences. John upheld the Constitution, of course he did, but he also was acutely aware that he himself had fallen victim to the ready availability of firearms. He was in a position of power. He had needed to accept that risk came with the job – though he had never really expected on that bright day in Dallas that it would be his last! But those innocent children in the schools and the school yards – when had they signed up to a Constitution which ended their lives before they had even begun or been old enough to express an opinion.
Mandela too expressed his agreement with the fact that the world was different now. Though he fully understood that his own beloved South Africa had its own reputation for violence and gun crime, and he himself had certainly employed civil disobedience as well as violent action in his fight for justice for his people, he nonetheless felt that modern America was a dangerous place to take on the authorities who tended to shoot first and ask questions later. This was even more true when their newly elected President was such an arch supporter of gun possession and, by extension, one assumed, gun use ‘when the need arose’. The problem was that people were not always clear ‘when the need arose’, and to some it was just an open invitation to point, aim and fire.
Having joined the discussion, Kennedy felt better. He had previously remained silent – some considered him just ‘thoughtful’ others decidedly thought it was just ‘sulking’. He was not best pleased that Castro was seated at the same table, but over time, he had come to realise that not everything that the man said was a million miles away from the truth. There had been a good deal of fraternising with the wrong people – perhaps Bobby paid the price for that – but who could say. It was certainly true that a lot of the ‘interesting’ and ‘colourful’ characters that had landed in the US had come in from Cuba – and they were most definitely employed in the more ‘entrepreneurial’ ways of earning more than a decent living! Castro could be right! He had certainly cleared a lot of the bad boys out of Cuba, but …. he could not forget the Bay of Pigs! Probably though, they had both had many a sleepless night during those few days! Inviting the Russians to have a base on the very doorstep of the US was not neighbourly! …. but here they both were, both now dead and gone. Himself earning his ticket into paradise, and Fidel unsure where or when his fate might be decided. No, he could not forget. But he would have to forgive. Life had been too short ….. shorter than he could have predicted!
Once he had made up his mind to do his best to contribute to the discussion, Kennedy spoke again “I can vouch for the danger of having a nation where guns are so readily available and where people think it solves a problem to just take somebody out! I know people are still not in complete agreement as to who really shot me, but whoever it was, chances are I had never even met them! Somebody that I did not know, and who did not really know me, took my life. He had a gun and he used it. It seemed like the solution to him at the time. I am fearful not only for the destabilising of the country and the fact that it seems that Mr. Trump, has not only the disadvantage of being a Republican, but also has the disadvantage of being completely short in any schooling or background in politics, diplomacy – or even basic tact! He could well end up like me – though I feel with more cause, but I would say that, wouldn’t I (and he smiled wistfully) – with a bullet in his head, leaving a complete state of upheaval in his wake.”
“Funny you should say that JF, but perhaps that is the solution, eh? One of the suggestions – call it conspiracy theory if you like – is that it was the US’s own Secret Service that shot you ... sorry if that upsets you. It is perfectly clear that the US’s own Secret Service and their new President are, shall we say, not exactly the best of bosom pals …. so perhaps we should just suggest to somebody, to suggest to somebody, that an open cavalcade should be suggested to Trump, and that it might pass some convenient grassy knoll ….”
“Stop, stop, Fidel” said the peacemaker, Mother Teresa. “I cannot be a party to such a suggestion ... it is sinful and wicked ... and in any case it would leave such a wave of confusion, over-reaction and upheaval in its wake that there could be a huge backlash .... what are those people called that support him? Scarlet necks? ……”
Despite themselves people laughed and JF corrected her “Red Necks, Mother!”
Everybody looked at her with a different perspective. Despite the faux pas with the name of the ‘fly in the ointment’, it seemed that this woman was not so ethereal as they had supposed! She was surely turning down the suggestion more because of its consequences than the deed itself! Now there was a turn up for the books! In truth she had not meant to endorse the action but saw it as more likely the others would be persuaded by a different argument – namely its impracticality rather than its sinfulness.
Honecker had remained silent from the outset. But now he straightened himself in his chair and to everybody’s surprise he suddenly said “Has anybody ever read A Christmas Carol …..”
That brought Thatcher out of her sulk and she immediately said “I am not at all sure that there is any relevance ….. Charles Dickens, English writer ….. dreary …. his stories were always about people in rags, or without homes, or in dire straits ….. often people who did nothing to help themselves or spent too much and wondered why they had nothing …… a Leftie of the worst order. Too much time given to providing people with excuses for their situation rather than shaking them out of it by telling them to stop complaining and do a proper day’s work! “
Honecker, like the rest of the group, ignored her and he continued “A Christmas Carol … the villain was visited by three ghosts …. past, present, and future …..”
“Oh, that’s a marvellous suggestion … I think it is a wonderful idea! We could be not just three ghosts, but ten ghosts …..” intervened Churchill. People were surprised because they had not really taken him for a man with a such a honed sense of the absurd or even any real sense of humour. He had been known for bouts of depression and melancholy …. they had not seen this side before, but they realised that none of them knew any of the others all that well.
Somehow the suggestion got taken up by the whole table. Peter had left them to their own devices when they seemed to be on relatively good terms, but now returned to see what all the noise was about. He was more than a bit taken aback to see them all laughing together and enjoying some kind of common joke that had appealed to all of their senses of humour. To reinforce this strange phenomenon, he noticed that they were all using their first names to address one another! Thatcher was not really participating in the camaraderie, but neither was she sucking her teeth and putting on her stoic and resigned face, so that was tantamount to joining in.
And so it was decided. A delegations of ghosts would re-enact A Christmas Carol over successive nights to ensure that Mr. Donald Trump fully understood his situation, and to try to see that his story in future history books was not one of tragedy and/or farce! Though Erich’s suggestion had been adopted, it was felt that Winston’s ten ghost scenario was over ambitious. Not only would that possibly lose impetus rather than gain impact over time, but certainly some of them would mean nothing to Trump, and he would not be influenced one way or the other by anything that they said. There was an unspoken thought that he was not the world’s first intellectual and that his sphere of knowledge and historical scope was perhaps somewhat limited.
It was thought inadvisable to send Ho. He seemed to have gleaned absolutely nothing from events, history or even his own ultimate fate. He seemed to have no conscience at all about his past atrocities and hell to him appeared to be just an extension of life … bleak, hostile and soulless. The others could not be at all sure what ‘message’ he might decide to deliver to the new President of his arch enemy. He was just as likely to take pleasure in goading him into even wackier and ultimately unhelpful (even dangerous) ideas! Teresa, of course, argued that this was not so. Behind all the bluster and bravado, he was really remorseful. He was just too embarrassed to admit it. The others remained unconvinced and in any case it was not worth the risk. Trump was already anti-foreigner and a jingoistic, so a former foe was likely to have an even greater detrimental effect. The same could probably be said of Fidel. However apart from the fact that he was in any case totally insistent that he was going and that he would not miss it for all the pigs in the bay, the others, in trying to rationalise this and feel that they were not just being railroaded once again by him, considered it posed a worthwhile juxtaposition. Both he and John F should be part of the delegation to show that there was good in everybody and that they all came to the same end.
Trump probably would not be swayed by anything that Mother Teresa had to say, likely believing that the poor in other countries should look after themselves and not sponge off others. He was likely to be completely unmoved by Mahatma and by the success of his civil protest in India, not only because he was a foreigner, but because he would see it merely as an arrestable offence to be dealt with by brute force and a heavy hand.
So the people who were thought to be the best choices were: Nelson, John F, Fidel, Winston, Erich, Margaret. It had been suggested – with trepidation – that Erich would be somewhat superfluous to requirements since his face would be less well known, and even his reputation may well have escaped their proposed target. He got very upset at this, banged the table and made a good fist of imitating a five-year old when he insisted that ‘it was my idea …. None of you would be doing any of it if I hadn’t thought of it first …” Which was of course absolutely correct. So reluctantly – for the time being – he was included.
Margaret Thatcher, too, though giving the impression that she thought the whole idea was farcical and juvenile, was not prepared to be discounted from a list of ‘world leaders’ and in any case believed that she was the most influential of them and could prove the most useful. If only she could make herself believe that Donald Trump was really wrong. On many subjects, she had some sympathy with him. On most subjects she firmly believed that a Head of State should have the divine right to rule in whatever way they saw fit and that democracy was merely a tool to use to engineer change and to manipulate history.
The order was important: There was no point in just going at this willy-nilly! It needed maximum impact and since it was considered possible that the man, to say the least, was volatile, each episode needed to be carefully staged.
It was considered possible that Donald Trump, who was not a career politician, and had demonstrated that he was not very au fait with such a world, would likely not recognise all/many/any of the ghosts, so in order to insure that each of them made their presence felt, a useful script and an escalating impact needed to be devised. The final order was agreed as follows:
In line with the original concept, namely A Christmas Carol, it was decided that the ‘Time Past’ should be represented by Nelson and Churchill: They represented periods and even conflicts that had defined the course of the future lives of many, and taught valuable lessons (or at least it would to most intelligent people!) about the consequences and realities of power crazy politicians and the necessity to ensure that all peoples - races, creeds, political persuasions – were afforded the same protection under the law and given the same rights and considerations. Nelson would be well able to demonstrate what happens when the rights of some become subservient to the progression of others. Churchill – in the absence of Adolph (who had stormed off because he had not been included in the ‘hauntings’) – would be only too representative of what happens when megalomania and an inflated sense of power takes over from what is right, and indeed, takes over from common sense.
Next, representing ‘Time Present’ would be Margaret, who was watching her p’s and q’s and had been warned in no uncertain terms that what happened during her time out would be not only watched, but marked, in the final assessment as to whether she went up or down. The question was, had she learned humility and charity? Had she altered in any way her arrogance and disregard for others? Her card would be marked! Like it or lump it, she knew only too well that she needed to play her cards right – however much it still really stuck in her craw. Still, she was nothing if she was not somebody who could see her own best interests, so she had easily decided to not say it as she truly saw it but say it as others seemed to wish her to see it. As a man, as opposed to a politician with some of her own views, she had not taken to Trump. He seemed to have a negative view of women – and though she was of the view that women had to make their own stand and nobody owed them a living, she still found herself disgruntled by his coarse talk and his lack of manners. He was a boor. He had no class. He was not a suitable President. Yes, she thought she could edit her personal views somewhat in order to do what was required of the group - for God, for the world, and for herself (not necessarily in that order!).
They had given her a script, which she declined – but she had promised more or less to sing from their hymn sheet. She would outline why she had failed to win the hearts and minds of her people – ultimately; how she had considered herself sacrosanct and always right; how she had discounted the good of the majority in favour of her own vision of what was utopia. ….. And that at the end of the day she was hated, even by her own colleagues, and thrown out. Thrown out. Not retired in triumph and acclaim like a heroine but sent packing like a pariah! People held parties to celebrate her death! None of that of course she believed was her fault. But she would take responsibility for it anyway, because at the end of the day what did it matter? The man would do as he pleased any way – she would have done! – and more importantly - demonstrated her own ‘good behaviour’. Her ‘remorse’ had to be recognised so that she would be allowed upstairs instead of (heaven forbid – literally!!) downstairs. Downstairs were the cretins, the dregs of the earth. That was no place for her!
With her would be Erich. He could tackle the wall business and the isolationist stance. As Erich outlined his ‘approach’ – and to give the man his due he seemed to be attempting to do his part well enough Margaret would keep on interrupting. With a slightly maniacal and somewhat affected laugh she gave a wave of her bony hand and cut in to tell them all that “isolationism was all very well, but it was much greater fun to use other nations! … Take the nincompoops in the EU for instance, it was such satisfaction leading them around by the nose and being both an iron lady and a thorn in their flesh …… Erich, you missed a real treat …… many a chuckle I had after a trip across the channel, I can tell you!”
It was always Winston who had the final task of preventing her from derailing the entire operation. She had no choice but to grudgingly bow to his superiority. After all she had only masterminded the Falklands War – in relative terms a minor skirmish far away in the South Atlantic. He had taken the country through WW2 and had fought in the Boer War and WW1 before that. It would be churlish, even for her, to try to wrestle bragging rights away from him. So, she bit her tongue reluctantly and went back to sucking lemon mode.
The group seemed to be happy with the picture that Honecker was painting and could only try to be optimistic that it would not be derailed by his partner in the ‘Present’ episode of the drama.
Finally, for ‘Time Future’ it would be JF and Fidel. It was still proving almost fairy-land (or a horror story) that these two were being harnessed together for this adventure. They seemed to have declared a truce – though how long it would last, and how deep it really went was probably open to speculation. But, taken at face value, they both seemed to be holding their nerve and their temper. It was true, as was the case with Margaret, that they were both somewhat watching their p’s and q’s, but it did seem that both of them had tried at least to understand and appreciate – if not positively approve of – the situation that their opposite number had been in at the time of their major debacle. They were both older now; perhaps wiser; definitely more diplomatic and keener to acknowledge what was at stake. Literally for heaven’s sake, they needed to bury the hatchet and not in one another’s heads!
Their stance would be two-fold. The genuine right of other countries to have their own religious and political ideologies. Yes, it was important to protect one’s own nation from the dangers of outside infiltration, but this had to be done with justice, tact, diplomacy and after consideration – and consultation – with all those involved, and all those who might have advice to give. Of course Fidel had a bit of a problem giving even tacit acknowledgement of the religious free bit. It had not been a tenet of his regime, and it did seem like hypocrisy, but he promised not to openly demur and since his present circumstances had proved his view of religion somewhat ‘wrong’ it was in any case a subject that he preferred not to be called upon to justify. They had to hope that Trump would not call their bluff and point out the irony, let alone the cheek!
It was important for JF to remind Donald that it did not show weakness to consult with those that had experience of such matters in the past, and who had sound advice to give. It was dangerous and unsound to plough a long furrow when one was relatively (he meant completely but was anxious not to annoy the man totally) inexperienced in international politics. He should use his experts, not alienate them. It was – and here he had to risk annoying the man – absolutely necessary to work within the Constitution! After all, if, like many, he was quick to quote the Constitution to legitimise people’s right to bear arms, he could not then flout the Constitution whenever something else did not seem to be to his liking! They all realised that this would not be a comfortable message for the man to hear, but it did seem that they could not just ignore the issue. It seemed vital to support the Legal argument and the more rational and courageous voices that were trying to make him see sense. At the rate his was sacking people, they were valiantly jeopardising their careers and livelihoods in order to defend the Constitution and challenge his more brazen pontifications and dictats.
If the man could not be moved by political arguments for the good of his country, perhaps he could be persuaded to be less bullish for the sake of his own skin! John F could remind him how he had finished his Presidency! Gun crime was no less – in fact probably worse – nowadays than even back then. Guns are present in all walks of society, and he runs the risk ending up precisely the same way. It might not be a foreign infiltrator that ends his life, it could well be a kid from a neighbourhood down the road; somebody who has had enough of his slurs against Mexicans; somebody whose family has been affected by changes in health care provision; some woman who does not like the way he speaks about her sex; even somebody working on behalf of his own party who now think he is a loose cannon! He may never know from where the bullet comes or who really fires the gun, who pays them, or even why. It happens all too easily – and here would be a living (metaphorically speaking!) – witness to prove that to be so!
And so the party found themselves hovering around above Washington. They were a cross between children awaiting a visit from Santa and a boxer waiting to go into the ring. Each had their own way of dealing with the tension and the excitement: Winston and Nelson, perhaps above all of the rest having had very major long-term battles to fight when they had needed to keep themselves together during enduring times of great struggle - and against overwhelming odds – were thoughtful and quiet. Now that the moment had actually come, they were quite calm and totally collected.
Margaret, as always, was trying to dictate strategy and script to Erich and Fidel. Neither was best pleased to have the Iron Lady constantly in their ear and telling them what to do, and how to do it. It had never happened to them before, and they were both too long in the tooth and too insecure to feel it helpful now. There were other factors for them to consider too which made them not wish to be distracted by the dictatorial and supercilious tone of ‘that damn woman’. Fidel needed to remember that he had the sword of Damocles hanging over his head and needed for this to go well. Erich was not unaware of the fact that all his past words, deeds and stratagems were now not only passé but anathema down here on earth. It would have been unheard of for the old Erich to have even registered anybody’s disapproval but this was not the old Erich. This was a newer, more enlightened Erich – an Erich no longer with the stomach to argue. Far from seeing that the worst had happened to him already – what else was worse than ending up in Hell! - his frame of mind was that he had brought it on himself and he had no wish to make matters worse – for himself, or for anybody else. If he could prevent disaster then he could at least feel better about himself and show God that he had learned his lesson. Who knew? Perhaps he might be a first to get a reprieve!
JF was merely fascinated to see what changes had occurred in the intervening years. At first glance much was as always. The city, in some parts looked as magnificent as it always had. In other parts, it was also the same – deprived, wretched, embarrassing. He could see Washington Highlands clearly ... all too clearly, and was interested to see, having kept half an eye on the toing and froing over the sale and not sale of Park Southern, that nothing much had really changed. If anything it had probably got worse – more especially in the light of the fact that much of the rest of the City had got even more affluent.
And so it was ‘match day’. Nelson and Winston were awaiting their entrance, stage right. It seemed to be an age before an appropriate moment arrived. Donald seemed to be permanently agitated and hyper – if he was a child he would have been diagnosed as suffering from ADHD. He rarely slept anyway, so it was somewhat hit or miss finding an appropriate moment to ‘wake him and teach him the error of his ways’, but then they had to seize the best opportunity they could, albeit not ideal, and they went into action.
Not being the most astute politician – having not really been a politician as a life choice, the Presidency merely having been a stand-alone ambition as an ultimate goal – President Trump did not seem to recognise either Churchill or Mandela. He seemed to have no idea about the personnel, or even the events, that they were using to illustrate how the past could be a lesson for the present and the future. Even once enlightened – by an unplanned word in his ear by an angel swiftly despatched by Archangel Michael – he still seemed to have absolutely no idea why either man was relevant to his situation. He was not racist! Not anti-foreigner, not anti-Muslim, not anti-Latino! He was merely pro-American. Pro the American way of life. Pro not being expected to bale out the rest of the world; to welcome any Tom, Dick or Harry who thought America was the land of plenty; who thought America was the land of the free and the home of democracy, liberty and prosperity.
As for Churchill. He was an old man and ‘times had changed’. It was a different world now and he just did not understand the modern global picture. Just look at the UK. Churchill should know that you just cannot risk the socialists running the show! Surely Winston should see that. Now that he was President, with the UK opting to leave Europe … how dare they criticise him for isolationism! The world was changing becoming more insular … each man for himself … yes, he had heard the charge, that the lunatics were running the asylum. He had to admit that that eccentric Boris guy and even his erstwhile friend Nigel on a bad day – which was quite often - were definitely something wild even for him. He had already decided that he should perhaps distance himself from them. Now that he was President Donald Trump, …. President of the United States of America, he had to agree with the rest of the world that those comics were not good examples of what he considered leaders of state – not even leaders of industry – not even leaders in a kindergarten! He was the vanguard.
All that United Nations and NATO joining up and strength in unity claptrap what a joke. Just created to cost the US their hard-earned dollars. Just a device to enable the rest of the globe to bum off the US, to expect the US to fly, sail, march into every conflict not of their making to bail them all out. Well enough. He, as President, would pull up the drawbridge and close the purse strings. Let the rest of the world go hang! He was not alone, either. The UK out of Europe was the beginning of the end … Just see how quickly now Europe would see that it is each man for himself. You owe nothing to anybody. Every man is, indeed, an island! Or at least every country is indeed an island, only responsible for its own prosperity and safety.
So for those emissaries from beyond representing ‘the past’ things had not gone all that well. But never say die (well perhaps the wrong analogy under the circumstances …..) …. onwards and upwards – that was better!
Next it was ‘Times Present’, with Margaret and Erich.
He was interested to hear what the Iron Lady had to say because he felt that she and he probably spoke the same language. She seemed, though, to have lost her cutting edge – he heard she had been ‘not too well – like Ronald’ – when she died, so perhaps that explained her new mealy-mouthed approach to getting things done. He looked at the other man with her but having not really taken much interest in world politics – indeed any politics – over the years, he had no idea who he was. He seemed to be obsessed with ‘a wall’. Having listened more intently than he usually did because he was interested in walls and thought the subject might come in useful, he realised, after a while, that the old man was talking about the Berlin Wall. So what! What had that got to do with his Wall? He was not intending to build a wall across the United States – divide one half from the other! For goodness sake, where was the sense in that. He needed to be President of the whole country, not just half of it – even it is was the more affluent part. That was the rub! Wealth in America was not one half versus another geographically. Like many – even most parts of the world - there was chronic poverty and untold wealth existing cheek by jowl, divided by nothing more than a street corner, or a river, or an imaginary line. But – he still thought the wall had merit! Maybe the wall had not worked too well back in Methuselah’s day, but if he wanted to build a wall now, as President of one of the most powerful and richest countries in the world, then he would! So there, old man!
President Trump had to admit that not everything that the old guy was saying was complete balls! There might be some merit in he was saying. Yes, the Berlin Wall had been primarily to keep people in, and it obviously was more relevant to him to keep people out! There were quite a lot of people he would prefer to keep out, but, he supposed, there were also a good few people who he would rather send out … or encourage to go out! Unlike that old fella – whoever he was – he had no intention of keeping people behind his wall who wanted to leave! American – that is US born, bona fide Americans – could come and go as they pleased, but it would be really useful to be able to use some kind of hard-nosed enforcers to try to ‘persuade’ the others that their best interests lay elsewhere. So he had been more sympathetic to what he had to say about developing a really strong Secret Police. It was shitty that the US Secret Service – his own ‘Secret Police’ – were not his number one fans! If he could not alter that by bribery or coercion, they would have to go. He would form his own …. what did the old man call them …? Stasi – yes, that was it. He could give that some thought, perhaps?
The ‘Present’ had gone slightly better.
And then – more readily identified – since they were not so far out of Donald’s time zone or field of operation – came JF and Fidel! Fancy coming here hand in hand with that Cuban terrorist! Had the man lost his marbles! To even be in the same room as Castro seemed treasonous, let alone strolling in here like the best of pals! No wonder somebody decided to knock him off! Perhaps he was always unpatriotic?
JF had tried to warn him about the political dangers of arrogance and isolationism. He had warned him of the personal dangers – proper physical, life-threatening dangers – of his role – both from the stranger and from people he must, by necessity surround himself with. It was, he told him, dangerous to trust anybody and a bullet could come from anywhere, and from any one. In a land obsessed with guns and violence, it had become second nature to settle a grievance or a perceived grievance with the ultimate solution. But in the eyes of the new President, anything worthwhile that J.F. Kennedy had had to say had been undermined by his appearance with that bearded communist upstart, Castro.
Castro himself, having tried to be civil and restrained, was in danger of letting the dismissive and disrespectful attitude of the man get to him, and though he persevered and tried to say that to act in haste, dismissing any consequences was a risky business, it was lucky that Archangel Gabriel had stuck around to keep a watching brief on the proceedings. Had that not been the case, he might have said, or done, something that would have let both himself and their mission down. Much to Fidel’s disapproval at the time (but thankfulness in years to come) they were both whisked away before more damage could be done.
So, the ‘Future’ had gone perhaps as badly as the ‘Past’.
When they had gone, and Trump had time to mull over the latest apparition, he had to admit that perhaps Kennedy was right though in one respect. He should watch out for the CIA or the other goons! You never knew who your friends were – and by the rate he was losing friends, it would be easier to say who his enemies were!
So the enterprise was completed. Everybody had played their part to the best of their ability - even Margaret, having had a stern reminder from Peter, as did Fidel – had been restrained and careful. The Times Future had gone more than slightly pear shaped! That was irksome, since it would have been the ideal to have ended on a positive note, but if you are dealing with a volatile and haphazard mind, it is not always easy to plan in advance. With Times Future, they had been dealing with two such minds: Trump and Fidel. One they had some control over, the other was still on earth and so entitled to make his own mistakes, and plough his own furrow, regardless of how crooked and unproductive that furrow might be.
So it would be wonderful to say that it all had a positive effect on Mr. Donald Trump but though the jury was still out, nobody in any of the three tiers of the world beyond was particularly optimistic. But miracles had happened. Only time would tell.
Back on earth, President Trump was left shaking his head and contemplating the strange experiences he been through in recent times. It had certainly been a funny few days! Every time he closed his eyes, some ‘blast from the past’ would pop up. He was not one for over-thinking anything really, but if it was back in the day he might think that somebody had laced his food with LSD or magic mushrooms or something. Was it possible? Of course, it was possible! Those bastards in the Secret Service and those renegade Republicans – not to mention the devious Democrats – would stop at nothing!
He was not one though to dwell too long on finding answers. He had always, he felt, fared best if he had acted first and thought about things afterwards. A man of action! He soon dismissed the whole episode because he knew exactly what he must do!
He needed to Tweet! But first he considered the advantage of finding a loyal, but easily dispensable, food taster to see that nothing again found its way into his food. Then another thought struck him! Why employ somebody else? The wife has nothing much to do these days apart from sitting there looking sullen as though she would rather be somewhere else, with somebody else! Well that could easily be arranged! I could easily make that happen right now. Perhaps not quite as she would have anticipated! But in the meantime, she can be my food taster. As long as it’s just LSD or magic mushrooms she has nothing to worry about. If it gets to be arsenic or blow fish venom, then …. Well it would save on alimony, and an attempt on my life could have a positive effect …. People sometimes rally round a victim – or potential victim. The American people would feel aggrieved and they would go into protective and ‘attacked’ mode. They would see that I am right. You do have to keep those bastards out. Get rid of them. Banish them. With a new relationship now with Cuba, perhaps we could find a new use for Guatanemo Bay? Yes, that seems to be a good plan!
But … First, I need to get out a Tweet! ….. Then I will tell her that about her new role as my food taster.
Ah well … back to sleep. Another big day tomorrow.
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