“Okay, give me the manager’s report from my Big Top in Florida. What’s it name? Marble Lego,” Klepto directed. He was sprawled on the baby seal skin couch watching TV between his splayed clown shoes in full relaxation mode: long red tie off, dressing gown on. “I don’t own a bath robe,” he blurted for no reason. Other than that he looked as he did day and night: diamond patterned pajamas in pink and gold, big red shoes, big red nose.
Tinkerbelle tippy-toed forward. “Good news there, Daddy,” she enthused. “Membership is up 50%. The new higher fees didn’t discourage anyone. In fact, we’ve been flooded by applications.”
“Who are these eager beavers? Anyone I know?”
A tiny vertical line creased Tinkerbelle’s perfect make-up between her eyebrows as she read names with some difficulty. “Dostoyevsky. Pushkin. Tolstoy. Gogol. Stravinsky. Scriabin. Tchaikovsky.”
“Never heard of ’em. They sound Russian. I love Russians.”
“Well, if they’re Russians, they love you. They not only paid in full up front, but they come every night you’re there. The place was lousy with them.”
“Did they ask for pictures? I love it when they ask for pictures.”
“They take a lot of selfies. They got a whole bunch of the guy who carries the football.”
“The what?” Klepto asked.
“The nuclear codes. In case you have to start a nuclear war,” Tinkerbelle reminded him.
“Oh, yeah, that guy. Handy to have around. Well, if they’re all paid up and active members—and by that I mean people who run up bar bills, restaurant bills, spa bills, greens fees—then more power to ’em.”
Tinkerbelle turned paler for a moment and whispered, “You don’t think they’re spies, do you, Daddy?”
Klepto and Harlequin laughed. Klepto asked, “Who would spy on me? I say everything I’m thinking.”
“But, Daddy, don’t you have…” Tinkerbelle lowered her voice. “Secrets?”
“Have you been talking to your mother? I’ve never had a secret in my life. I just enjoy my privacy. For business reasons. There are no prostitutes and no pictures. I don’t even know how to urinate on a bed.”
“Tinkerbelle was just being careful,” Harlequin offered. “She’s just looking out for you, you know.”
“Right. Of course. What else? Tell me more good news. Any other news is just fake like your tits.”
“If you weren’t my father, I’d spray you with mace,” Tinkerbelle muttered but then thought about how Klepto was going to eliminate the inheritance tax and calmed down.
“We’ve finished a complete turnover of the staff,” she announced.
“All the old Josés are out and new Josés are in?”
“All temporary workers, signed at even lower wages. And they seem much more, I don’t know, professional than the last bunch. They are tall and pale and muscular. Sort of…rigid.” She blushed.
Her husband, Harlequin, raised his eyebrows.
Klepto said, “They sound awfully white. Where are they from, Guatemala? Guatamalans are the cheapest.”
“No. They are from someplace called ‘Kremlin.’ I guess it’s in South America,” Tinkerbelle said.
Klepto considered. “Are you sure they are working cheaper?” he probed.
“Oh, yes. They were adamant about working for us. Some of them even bargained us down to be sure they were hired.”
“I like what I’m hearing. Except that word, ‘Adam Ant’?”
“‘Adamant. It means ‘hard,’” Tinkerbelle said and caught her breath.
Just then the Wicked Witch of the West burst in, tears streaming from her eyes. Blowing in right behind her was a creature with leathery wings, fangs and a tail.
“I can’t believe you threw me under the bus,” the WWotW shrieked. Her rigid worn features, like a doll’s from a previous generation, were as contorted as rigid features can get. Even her rictus smile was somehow forlorn. “I went on TV and said this guy,” she jerked her thumb at her hairy, winged companion, “had your full trust. Then Humpty Dumpty goes on TV and tells everybody you’re considering the situation and finally this.”
“What? What?” Klepto said. He was so concerned he actually took his eyes off the TV but left the sound on. An ad for psoriasis was playing. “What is going on?”
The winged creature stepped forward and said, “I served you badly. I apologized and resigned. Here.” He held out a paper with a scrawled signature.
Klepto attempted to grasp the situation. He was a strong leader and now was time to show it. “Who are you? What did you do?” he demanded strongly.
But the WWotW was still bawling. “I can’t go on TV and talk nonsense out of both sides of my mouth if I don’t know what the real facts are. How else will I keep from telling the truth by accident? I’m left with only saying random words. You know how hard that is? Just try it.”
Klepto was pretty sure that what he usually said was random words, at least in public, but he couldn’t be sure because he never listened when he talked. He assumed nobody else listened either.
“I’m your National Security Advisor, sir,” said the creature. “Or I was until I resigned, which I just did.”
“What’s a National Security Advisor?” Klepto asked skeptically. He got all his advice from Harlequin with some help from Tinkerbelle so who was this pretender? But—strong leader—he cut to the chase. “Never mind. What did you do?”
“I talked to the Russians about how we were going to lift the sanctions, recognize the Ukraine as part of Russia, invite them to invade Latvia and hold Fourth of July celebrations in St. Peter’s Square.”
Klepto’s eyes narrowed. “Didn’t they know that already?” Klepto had told the Vlizard of Oz on their direct line in the Ivory Tower.
“I was confirming it, sir. It’s just that, when I was asked if I had made the call I told everyone I didn’t: the Suit, Humpty Dumpty, even you. And the press—”
Klepto said, “Very dishonest people. Always coming up with facts. But what’s the problem? We lie all the time. When do we not lie?”
“I got caught.”
Klepto’s eyes went wide. Even louder than the TV he yelled, “YOU GOT CAUGHT! How could you let this happen?”
“The phone was tapped. I knew it, but I forgot. I’m kind of an idiot, sir.”
“We’re all idiots,” Tinkerbelle said soothingly. She could not stand to see an animal in pain.
The WWotW bawled, “And he made me lie for him. So I got caught too. I never get caught. I can squirm out of anything.”
“That’s it,” Klepto said. He frowned, pointed his finger and said, “You’re expired!”
“I already quit, sir.”
“If I say you’re expired, you’re expired. The Precedent can’t be questioned. Isn’t that right?” he said looking at Harlequin.
“What do you think, Klepto?”
“Get out of here you big ape,” Klepto said. “You flying monkey.”
The people in the room were shocked. Even the WWotW paused in mid-bawl.
Klepto said, “Yeah, I can call him that. I’m not politically correct.” He turned to Harlequin. “Who else you got?”
Magically another National Security advisor appeared. He was older, calmer, grayer, but…
“What’s this another flying monkey?” Klepto asked
“It’s all we got,” Harlequin answered.
“Sir,” the Wicked Witch of the West said softly. “I hate to bring it up, but about the Chief of Staff. You know how the Cowardly Lion Killer is always eating him? Maybe it’s the Chief of Staff’s fault.” She was careful to let her voice rise at the end of the sentence as if she had asked a question but the look on Klepto’s face gave her the impression she made her point.
Like reading about Klepto? Wouldn’t it be great to see him too? Contribute cartoons or other artwork and I’ll put it on the site. Let’s see what this Klown looks like!
Also, if you enjoyed this post, check out my Amazon Author Page. Thanks!