Klepto was on his hands and knees looking under the baby seal skin couch, his parti-colored butt in the air and his head out of sight. The Cowardly Lion Hunter shifted grouchily from his position under the crystal coffee table but he was too smart to complain. His father was in a mood.
“What are you looking for?” Tinkerbelle asked distractedly. She was combing her full length hair in a full length mirror with a golden comb. It was quite a job.
“Bugs!” Klepto called, but his voice was muffled by all the baby seal skins.
“No bugs here, Daddy,” Tinkerbelle said soothingly. “It’s the White Home. They have the exterminators in all the time. Not like at home.” Bedbugs, she thought and shivered.
“Not that kind of bugs,” Klepto said. He backed out from under the couch and sat on the floor. His butt covered the Cowardly Lion Tamer so thoroughly he couldn’t breath. “I just accused the former Precedent of tapping my phones. If I don’t find some evidence, I’m screwed. That guy had like a seventy percent approval rating and he was a darkie. Imagine if he had been white?”
“But you accused him of tapping your phones in the Ivory Tower. Now you’re in the White Home,” the Scarecrow reminded his father. The Scarecrow was hanging comfortably on his scarecross on the far wall.
“I’m not home? Everything looks the same,” Klepto said. He was very confused. He had been confused since the night of the Great Victory. He never thought things would get so far. His head hurt all the time and he was terrified. He wondered if his heart would hold out for the full term. How much longer was it? Luckily his doctor said he was the healthiest man ever to be Precedent.
“You’re going to have to watch what you say now, Daddy?” Tinkerbelle asked. “It’s not like in the old days and you had to beg for attention. Everybody listens to the Precedent.”
“I’ve been talking out of my ass my whole life,” Klepto said. “I don’t know how to stop.”
Klepto felt a movement under his massive butt. A bug? He shifted quickly, or as quickly as a big fat clown can shift and found the Cowardly Lion Hunter under him, his face red, eyes bugging out, nearly asphyxiated.
“Damn it,” Klepto said. “I thought you were the bug I needed.”
His son just gasped but in his heart he wished he was a bug, he really did. That’s how much his loved his father.
“Are you sure we’re not in the Ivory Tower?” Klepto asked.
“Do you see the Tin Woman anywhere?” Tinkerbelle asked.
“No,” Klepto admitted. She had banned him from the Ivory Tower. Klepto was too proud to admit he would never go back while he was Precedent even though it was costing the federal government a fortune to keep a complete situation room there in case Klepto was ever in NY when there was a national emergency. Not that he’d know what to do; he’d already decided he would lock himself in the bathroom. And another fortune for the NYPD to provide security. Well, it wasn’t his money.
“This is the worst ever,” Klepto whined.
“Wait till tomorrow,” Tinkerbelle mused. “It’s a day without women. All the women in America will be on strike in protest against you.”
“What do you mean strike?”
“You know, like what the Tin Woman is doing,” the Scarecrow explained.
“Harlequin, make it all go away. With that magic you do,” Klepto begged from the floor. He looked like a collapsed circus tent. He made such a pathetic figure you’d feel bad for him if he hadn’t brought everything on himself.
Harlequin snapped his fingers and all Klepto’s troubles disappeared. Actually nothing changed, except in Klepto’s mind.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Sure thing, Klepto,” Harlequin said. Tinkerbelle smiled, shook her head and kept combing her hair. When all this was over she was still going to be tall, pretty and married to someone who was really rich. Everything else in her life was just a reality show. It always had been.
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