Thursday, May 17, 2007

The "conversation"

(How I imagine it happening...)

Dramatis Personae

John Ashcroft, Ailing Attorney General
James Comey, Deputy Attorney General
Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff
Alberto Gonzalez, White House Counsel

The scene: a dingy hospital room with a sputtering yellow light bulb dangling from a frayed wire. A ratty bed occupies the center of the room. Ashcroft, looking pale, is slumped down in his pillow, festooned with tubes and wires, face partially obscured by an oxygen mask. A bank of bedside monitors produces a rhythmic beeping sound. Card and Gonzalez are nattily dressed in pin-stripe suits with vests, silk cravats, and spats on their Italian leather shoes. Comey stands on the opposite side of the bed from Card and Gonzalez, dressed in a summery blue frock nicely accented with a strand of pearls around his neck and matching earrings, clutching a tiny, stylish white purse.

Gonzalez is leaning against the stained gray wall holding a sock filled with birdshot in one hand and bouncing it on the palm of the other. Andy Card leans over Ashcroft’s bed and adopts an overly friendly, conversational demeanor.

Card: "So, Johnny... I hear you don’ wanna sign the papers Mr. Big sent over. Whaddya thinkin'?"

Gonzalez: ""

Card: "Alberto says Mr. Big wants you to sign the papers. Mr. Big don’t got a lotta patience. Alberto says he's kinda preoccupied with the 34th Street Muscle Men an' he's thinkin' they might have a mole in the organization. Mr. Big don' like moles. Alberto says he's gotta clean house. You wanna help Mr. Big clean house, don’tcha Johhny?"

Gonzalez: "...zlrz...mrhhz...hnhrmlrzr....."

Card: "Alberto says the Crosstown Boys are gettin' uppity too. They don' wanna play by Mr Big's rules no more. Alberto says they're startin' to encroach on our territory. You don' want the Crosstown Boys encroahin' on our territory, now, do ya, Johnny?"

Ashcroft (coughing weakly): "I ain't gonna sign those papers, Andy. Mr Big's outta control. The Crosstown Boys maybe gotta point here-"

Ashcroft’s voice cuts off as Card leans on the tube supplying his oxygen. Ashcroft’s breathing becomes labored and the beeping from the monitors becomes more strident.

Card (grinning sympathetically): "Aw, Johnny... why you gotta be that way, huh? Don' make us have to rough ya up. We're civilized people here, Johnny. Don' make us give in to our baser instincts."

Gonzalez: "...lmnm...ddlflz...prmmfn....."

Card: "Alberto says you gotta play nice, Johnny. Mr. Big took you under his wing, made a spot for you in his organization. Alberto says you owe Mr. Big. You like to honor your debts, don’tcha Johnny? Alberto says you gotta man up. You wanna be a man, don'tcha Johnny?"

Comey (looking alarmed): "You get away from him, you... you got no hold on Johnny, he's a man's man. He ain't afraid'a Mr Big. He's gonna do what's right even if it kills him!"

Comey steps forward, fingers curled into claws, reaching for Card, who easily fends off the half-hearted lunge. Comey collapses to his knees, sobbing. Card shakes his head regretfully and steps away from the bed.

Card: "You do what you gotta do, Johnny. Mr. Big'll do what he's gotta do. God help you, Johnny."

Card saunters out of the room.

Gonzalez (looking pointedly at Ashcroft): "...rrzlz...pthpp...gggzznnd.....pphpht....."

Gonzalez follows Card out the door, leaving Ashcroft alone with a softly sobbing Comey.

[Fade to black]