This was the part of being Precedent that Klepto liked best. The part that paid. It was Saturday morning and he placed himself in front of the doors of his Big Top in Marmalade, FL to greet members and guests as they came in. Nearby, hiding in the potted palms, the Scarecrow took turns with the Cowardly Lion Killer to identify the guests from a picture book and whisper names into an intercom that connected to Klepto’s ear phone so he could greet the guests by name as if he recognized them.

Klepto had done this for years, ever since he had crashed the Big Top empire his father had left him by over-leveraging it to make risky deals that never paid off. He spent years begging to be covered in Big Apple tabloids so he’d be famous enough to use his name as a brand. It was all he had left that wasn’t owned by German, Chinese or Russian banks. In the days before he learned how to use the tiny earpieces, he had just called everybody “Buddy” or “Pal.” That was when he started tugging on people’s arms when he shook hands with them, to cover his ignorance with effusiveness. For a while hand had taken to giving the men noogies and smoothing their wives, but then Tinkerbelle got old enough to tell him how gross that was and he stopped. The Big Tops were grotesquely lavish but no more so than the next grotesquely lavish big box down the street. Klepto himself was the only thing that distinguish his place from the others and he groveled to make it work. He repeatedly went on the King of All Media’s radio show and exchanged lewd comments to get attention, even letting the host call his daughter “a piece of ass.”

“You don’t mind if I call her that, do you, Klepto?” the host asked.

Klepto didn’t say yes, but he didn’t say no.

But the groveling had paid off. He had moved up from begging to get his name in the paper—sometimes calling up the papers himself to plant a “story”—to putting inflammatory ads in the paper to getting a reality TV show where he pretended to be a successful business man and paid actors who pretended to curry his favor and show him respect.

Since the “election,” his name was worth something. He had doubled the entrance fee to the Big Top and the money was rolling in.

“That’s Emmet Wilbur or Wilbury or something,” the Cowardly Lion had trouble sounding out words with more than two syllables.

“Emmet!” Klepto greeted. A bald old guy beamed. “And your lovely wife!” Big laughs. The slender blond was clearly too young even to be Emmet’s daughter but Klepto leaned forward and made air kisses to both her cheeks. She was really hot, but he was able not to grab her pussy, despite his boasts to the contrary on national television, since Emmet was a client. “Enjoy,” Klepto valedicted. “Enjoy.”

A fleet of limousines flying red flags pulled up. Guards popped out and opened a door for a tiny Asian man in a cheap suit. Klepto didn’t need to be told who that was. And it was a good thing. The Cowardly Lion Killer was flipping though his register futilely because the Premier of China was not a member.

Klepto stood at attention as the Premier caught sight of him—Klepto was hard to miss in his new Precedential pajamas: flag stripes and a blue hat studded with fifty star-shaped diamonds.

“Ni-how!” Klepto said, raising his right hand as if greeting an Indian in a John Wayne movie.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Precedent,” the Primier said, but the words were barely out of his mouth when Klepto called, “Emmet! Emmet, come back here and meet the Emperor of China.”

Emmet and his mistress wandered back. A crowd gathered. “Selfies, everybody!” Klepto called. He put his arm around the Premier. “You Chinks are little guys,” he said merrily, bending and waving. “C’mon. Everybody in the picture. See when you’re a member of Club Marmalade this kind of thing can happen any time. We call it the Winter Pale House. Guess what we’ll call it in the summer? Last week we declared war on Syria right there in the Bon Appetite dining room. We’re still taking memberships. It’s an exclusive club, though. You have to have enough money to join!” He laughed out loud and got the distinct impression some people in the crowd were going to sign up for memberships. Ka-ching. He said that to the Chinese Premier, assuming it was a Chinese expression. He got an inscrutable look. “I’ll see you inside, Your Highness,” Klepto said loudly to the crowd. “We’ve got to renegotiate some trade deals, stop your currency manipulation and straighten out North Korea. And you better do it, otherwise…” He made sure the crowd was listening. “YOU’RE FIRED!” Cheers and applause.

As the Premier entered the building, Klepto caught the words, “Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey Mouse.”

Klepto felt honored. That mouse was worth a fortune.

Hound TV Interview

Klepto liked being interviewed on Hound TV. He felt they appreciated him and they treated him with respect. And they liked to send the business reporter to do the interview—as if he knew anything about business! Anyway, she always treated him the way he thought interviewers should treat him and he felt he understood her questions. Although it was hard to make out what she was trying to say when she had her mouth full.

“What did I learn as Precedent?” Klepto interpreted. “Well, it’s hard to learn a lot when you have as great a brain as I have, Sweetheart. That’s your name, right? I don’t want to be disrespectful. I’m always respectful to women, except when they’re bitches. I can say that because I tell it like it is and I know you’ll clean it up for me. Anyway, I already knew more than my generals when I got here. Because I watch all the shows. I watch your show, at least when it’s about me. You’ve got a hell of a figure. I’d say: body nine, face six. You’re a financial reporter, so I know you understand numbers. And you know I watch all the shows.”

Klepto slid forward to the edge of the baby seal skin couch so it would be easier for the Hound TV network reporter to interview him. And he slouched back to that made it easier for Tinkerbelle to massage his scalp. He loved being interviewed.

“Anyway, I learned that healthcare was much more complicated than anyone suspected. In fact, before I came along, everyone thought I’d sign a bill on my first day in office and fix the whole thing. Just because I said I would. Also I had a wonderful dinner with the emperor of China. Or is he the king?” He raised his eyes to his daughter who suggested “Prince.” She was Special Advisor to the Precedent after all.

“Hm?” the interviewer asked.

“Anyway, he told me China was not a currency manipulator. I was pleased to find that out, because I thought China was a currency manipulator. Whatever that it is. I also told him we bombed Iraq—”

“Iran,” the Special Advisor corrected.

“That’s right, Egypt. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen—”

“It has a little medallion that says KLEPTO on it,” the Special Advisor said.

“Hm, hmm, hmmn?” the reporter asked.

“I think relations between the our country and Oz are the worst they’ve every been, worse even than during the Cuban missile crisis. Things will be much better when I get done with them. I think the Vlizzard of Oz is a strong man is a very great leader and Oz is a strong country and our country is a very strong country—“

“It’s just a lover’s quarrel,” the Scarecrow interjected excitedly from his Scarecross at the back of the room.

“Dad and the Vlizzard will be having make up sex soon,” said the Cowardly Lion Killer from under the coffee table, next to the reporter.

“Now boys,” Tinkerbelle scolded. “You know you’re not supposed to talk about sanctions yet.” TCLK scowled at her and the Scarecrow stuck out his tongue.

“Hmmn? Hm, hm, hm?”

“I really like the Grim Reaper. But I don’t know him very well. He’s just a guy who works for me. He happens to have the office next door in the Pale House. He joined me very late. I don’t even know where he came from. I never listen to him. I go like this when he talks.” Klepto covered his ears and shrieked loudly. The reporter was so surprised, she nearly bit his dick off.

“Do you have anything to say about Bill the Leprechaun?” she asked, catching her breath before getting back to the interview.

“Bill is a great guy. He could never have done any of the things they said he did. The same way I never could have done the things I said I did. And all of those women who filed lawsuits against him were liars. In fact, they were the same liars who filed complaints against me. It’s fake news just like the Russians intervening in our election and currency manipulation and the Syrian nerve gas attack.”

“We believe there really was a Syrian nerve gas attack,” the Special Advisor corrected.

“Damn right. We’ve been looking for an excuse to launch some missiles to make Dad look strong. Whoosh…BOOM!” said the Scarecrow.

“Yeah, after he’s been looking like such a pussy after he blew the travel ban and health care. Nobody can say his first hundred days are a failure now. BOOM!”

“BOOM!” said Klepto rolling his eyes back into his head and letting his whole body go limp. “Cake,” he whispered, maybe to himself.

The reporter got up from her knees, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and swallowed hard. “Thank you, Mister Precedent.”

“That was a great interview, Sweetheart,” Klepto said. “Probably an eight or a nine. How about another one tomorrow around four thirty? I’ll give you a scoop.”

“Scoop,” said the Cowardly Lion Hunter.


Tax day is coming up. Cranks will turn out and complain about having to pay any taxes as all, as if anything could get done without taxes. They’ll remind us that Americans are the highest taxed people in the industrial world–though in fact we pay the least in taxes in the industrialized world. All this despite the fact that most people get money BACK from the government.

Meanwhile, Trump, who won’t show us his old taxes because has a golden opportunity to come clean now and show us this year’s taxes before the IRS gets a chance to audit them. He could use a dose of credibility, considering his low approval numbers and high “embarrassment” numbers. But he won’t. What will be his excuse?

Why should he bother making an excuse? He won the election, remember? That covers all shortcomings.

But every time he announces he won’t be showing us his taxes just makes everyone more confident he’s got something to hide.

How embarrassing–for us.


So, have we been wrong about the Big Guy after all? Despite all this smoke about connections between his campaign and the Russians and all his sweet-talking bromance with Vladimir Putin, does this nasty missile strike against Putin’s other puppet, Al-Assad of Syria, mean Trump is actually his own man?

If you were a Russian spy handler and you had a highly placed asset in the American government–I’m not naming names, now–who was overplaying his part ineffective in doing your bidding and on the verge of blowing his cover, what would you do? If the way he was messing up was by being too friendly, the best way to give him his credibility back is to let him pick a fight with you. It can’t be much of a fight. You don’t want to get hurt in any way and you don’t want it to get out of control. Just a quick dustup.

So what if you get your Syrian puppet to commit an atrocity, which is the kind of thing he does all the time anyway, and make sure there are plenty of cameras around getting really graphic images. Stuff that’s hard to watch and usually gets covered up.

Now, you know your asset watches TV, is volatile and loves to divert attention from his many failures. Here’s a chance for him to flex some muscle. Say launch 59 cruise missiles at an air base. But you talk first. Cruise missiles can cause real destruction, and you don’t want that. Turns out, they don’t have to. Maybe some planes get blown up. Maybe they’re decommissioned planes. All your people are safely out of the way because your asset who is always bragging how he wants to keep the enemy guessing tells you and the Syrians what he’s going to do. And he doesn’t even crater the runway. Planes can be taking off and landing in the morning.

Your asset looks strong strong at home and you condemn it in the press so he looks independent. Then put the incident behind you. Blame the Syrians.

And your asset in America gets a white wash.

Pretty soon you’ll do something praiseworthy–like promise to keep nerve gas out of Syria. (That’s easy. It’s what you promised Obama.) Now it’s time for some make up sex.Then the oil man comes to Moscow and rewards you for cooperation by revoking sanctions. Whew! You can’t believe it took this long.

Sounds convoluted? Remember Putin was a spy. This is how he works.

Enemies List

I don’t know what Jared Kushner, the real President of the United States, is good at, but one of his skills must be back-stabbing. I know, he looks like butter won’t melt in his mouth, but it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Remember, his father was a real estate developer in New Jersey and a convicted criminal. You don’t make a pile of dough in that game without using your bare knuckles. Now Jared, like his father-in-law, didn’t actually make any money; he inherited it. But he had to have learned something at the family dinner table and it wasn’t foreign policy.

So it tells us something that Jared’s first political success–okay only political success–is getting Steve Bannon kicked off the National Security Council, a place he never belonged anyway. Why? Back-stabbing. Bannon had used his personal relationship with Trump to wiggle his way into a seat where no political advisor belongs or had ever held, possibly by getting the Donald to sign an order to that effect which he had not read. Now Jared is letting the circular firing squad in the White House know that he’s the head honcho. This is not an established fact. That’s why they call it back-stabbing. But all that talk from Roger Stone about Jared leaking to Morning Joe suddenly makes sense. And if there is anything InfoWars is going to get right, it’s idle gossip.

Of course, General McMaster wanted Bannon off , but McMaster couldn’t fire the political flunkies who passed dubious information to Congressman Nunes, so how was he able to get rid of a heavy weight like Bannon?


Shiny Things, Part II


Panic struck the Klepto Kompound as the ruling family digested the news that one of their own, the Flying Monkey, was about to sell them out for immunity. Klepto and his children huddled and shuddered in front of the TV in the Pale House and thought of Nixon.

“It won’t stop with me, you know,” Klepto mused. “The Flying Monkey knows everything. About all of us. Even about Harlequin and his deals with the Chinese.”

Harlequin was standing straight and silent beside the door. The look of pleasant optimism that always graced his boyish face turned to a look of silent panic and he pissed himself.

“There, there, Daddy,” Tinkerbelle cooed. She picked up the clumps of hair Klepto had pulled out, stuck them back on his bald white head and combed them out neatly. Klepto’s heart rate slowed and he stopped panting through his nose and unclenched his teeth.

“There must be something we can do,” Tinkerbelle urged.

“Maybe Vlad will poison him like those other guys!” The Cowardly Lion Killer suggested excitedly from the floor.

“Yeah, major organ failure,” the Scarecrow crowed. “I’ll bet that means he pooped himself! Pooped.”

“No, no,” Klepto muttered. He realized once again he was the brains of this operation and that made him feel proud smarmy and terrified at the same time. “He knows all about that stuff. He’ll take precautions—and probably blab about that too.”

The ruling family was silent as the TV babbled on about how the first seventy days of Klepto’s reign seemed like seventy years.

“At least they think you’ve been around a long time,” the Scarecrow blurted. “Enough to go into syndication, even.”

“They don’t show reruns of game shows, stupid,” his brother chided from under the table.

“Why not? It’s not like you remember who won or what the questions were or how to play the game or anything. You just sort of stare and listen to people cheer for the winner. I don’t know why they bother to make new ones—”

“Shiny objects,” his father interrupted. It was his only strategy, to deflect attention from one headline grabbing flub by creating another even bigger flub. The odd thing was it took him so long to remember it.

“We’ve got to create a distraction. Ideas?” he demanded.

“Now that you’re Precedent, you can start a war,” the Scarecrow called.

“We’ve already got a war,” Tinkerbelle reminded him. From his Scarecross against the back wall behind her, the Scarecrow stuck out his tongue at his smarty pants daddy’s girl sister. “I saw that,” she said.

“You did not,” the Scarecrow said.

“You stuck your tongue out at me,” Tinkerbelle said without raising her eyes from the work she was doing to repair Klepto’s fake tresses.

How does she do that? The Scarecrow thought.

“What if you give everybody in the country the day off?” The Cowardly Lion Killer suggested. “Everybody likes a day off. You could call it a snow day.”

“We just had one of those. It was called A Day Without Women and it did not play well for Dad,” Tinkerbelle said.

TCLK wanted to stick his tongue out at her, but she was looking right at him. Tinkerbelle was a big girl; she could kick his ass. She had.

“All right, let’s start with announcement. I’m good at those. I’ll say we’re going to Mars. I’ll challenge the Chinese to a race to get there. The nation will be mobilized behind me and forget all the shit I’ve done. It worked for Kennedy.”

“Kennedy was shot, Daddy,” Tinkerbelle reminded him.

Klepto said, “Oh, right, Ted Cruz’s dad killed him. I wonder what that was about.”

“But what if the Chinese get there first?” TCLK asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous. The Chinese will never beat us to Mars. Why the hell would anyone want to go to Mars?” his father explained. “I can get my picture taken with rockets. Big fat tall rockets. We could work a deal to brand them KLEPTO rockets and get paid by the government. We could sell toy rockets to children. We could even sell the matches the children would use to set them off. And whey they flew into the sky they would spell out KLEPTO in big orange letters.”

“You’re a genius, Daddy, but I think NASA has been talking about going to Mars for a while now and it’s not getting much traction.”

“Of course not,” Klepto said. “Who the hell would want to go to Mars?” He sighed. “I guess I’ll just have to pull out the big guns, then. A sex tape.”

“But Daddy, where would you get one? You haven’t been able to have sex since before they invented video tape,” Tinkerbelle reminded him.

“Not mine. Yours,” Klepto said.


“You and Harlequin right here, right now.” He glanced over to Vice Precedent Suit, always present, rarely noticed. “You’ve got your camera ready?”

“Already running,” the Suit said with his Ken Doll smile.

“Okay, kids, have at it. Bend her over the couch. Doggy, standing, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, handstand, wheelbarrow, pearl necklace. Keep looking at the camera so they know it’s you.”

“If you weren’t my father I’d spray you with mace,” Tinkerbelle said.

“You work for the federal government now, young lady, and all ethics rules apply. You want somebody from the Justice Department poking around your business dealings?”

“I’m not afraid of little Uncle Cornball,” Tinkerbelle said but her voice was not as brave as her words

“What if he sends one of the Democrats who still work there?”

“Oh, all right. It’s not like I haven’t had sex on film before.”

“Don’t worry, Klepto. We got this,” the Harlequin said downing a handful of Viagra. “It’s a small family business and everyone has to pitch in.” He stood with his hands on his hips waiting for the Viagra to kick in.

“What can we do to help, Dad?” called the Scarecrow from the back wall.

“Yeah, Dad,” I want to help too said TCLK.

“You’re next,” said Klepto.

“Great, I’ll call Mrs. Scarecrow.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Klepto scolded. “Nobody wants to go to Mars or see you screw your wife.”

“What then?” asked TCLK.

“You two. Together. That’ll sell. Harlequin’s ready. Rolling Suit?”

“Always,” said the Vice Precedent. Six months ago he was the second most unpopular governor in America. Six months from now he’d be the leader of the free world. And he had some ideas about what to do with it.

“Gee, Dad, this had better work. If you’ve got more stuff to hide, you’re not going to able to top this.”

“Sure, I can,” said Klepto. “Remember that nice young man from the Air Force, the one with the suitcase he calls a football? He doesn’t know it, but that’s what he’s for.”

Shiny Things–A Klepto the Klown Comic

Tinkerbelle was sitting at the table with papers spread before her like a schoolgirl doing her homework. She looked cold. She always looked cold. Maybe it was because her skin was as white as snow. Or as talcum powder and foundation, anyway. Or maybe because her tiny green strapless, sleeveless sheath dress covered so little of her. She shrugged her bare shoulders and crossed her bare ankles. On the back wall, her brother the Scarecrow was hanging on his Scarecross staring mindlessly into space while her other brother, the Cowardly Lion Killer, was prone under the crystal coffee table, his chin propped on his fist staring mindlessly at the TV his father was watching with tortured animation.

“He’s going to talk!” Klepto groused and pulled another lock of orange hair from the fringe around his bald white pate. “The Flying Monkey is going to spill the beans.”

“Maybe he won’t,” The Cowardly Lion Killer said.

“Why else would he want immunity?” Klepto demanded forgetting who he was talking to, chip off the old blockhead.

“Who wouldn’t want immunity?” his son asked. “It sounds delicious. Like with sour cream and fruit and chocolate chips. I would talk for that. I’d say all sorts of stuff. If I could think of anything to say, I mean.”

“That’s infinity, you knucklehead. It’s a dessert,” growled his father. He pulled out some more hair. “He means he’s going to blab so he won’t get prosecuted.”

“Prosecuted? That sounds terrible,” chimed in the Scarecrow roused from his stupor. “Isn’t that the doctor who looks up your ass? I’d say anything to avoid that.”

“That’s persecuted, you knucklehead. Prosecuted is when they try to pin a crime on you and if you don’t pay, you have to go to jail.”

“Who are they going to prostitute, Dad?” asked TCLK.

“First him,” Klepto said pointing at the image of the Flying Monkey as the news kept running a clip where he said, “If you get immunity, that basically means you’re guilty,” again and again. “And if he talks, then it’ll be me.”

“What’s he going to talk about, Dad?” asked the Scarecrow. He furrowed his brow and tried to remember things. If he only had a brain…

“Everything! Me. The deal we have with the Vlizard of Oz where he gets to run things while I’m Precedent. The money. The unspeakable things we did in Russia. He knows everything. Our only hope is that there is SO MUCH to talk about, they won’t even think to ask him about it all.”

“But if you’re prostituted, all you have to do is pay them off, right?” asked TCLK. He turned to look up at his father through the crystal table. “That’s what you always do.”

“You can’t pay these guys. At least I don’t think you can. Can you? CAN YOU?” Klepto raised his voice to get Tinkerbelle’s attention but she was engrossed in her homework.

“Hey! You’re my official advisor now. I need some advice.”

“Sure, sure,” said Tinkerbelle. “Daddy, you should read these things. They’re called intelligence reports and I’m allowed to see them now. They have all sorts of juicy gossip in them. Did you know that Angela Merkel is a woman? Really. And she’s the leader of someplace called Germany. And someplace called England is run by a woman too. I didn’t know women were allowed to run countries. In fact, I thought that’s why you ‘won’ the ‘election’—because the other one was a woman and not allowed to run the country. Amazing. Look at this. Did you know Obama was kicking ISIS’ ass before we got here?”

“Fake news! Those guys are part of the deep state that’s out to get me. There’s nothing in those reports but facts and you can’t trust facts, they change all the time. Now get over here. I didn’t make you special advisor to read reports all day. Get to work.”

Tinkerbelle gave a little pout then flounced to her spot behind where Klepto sat on the couch.

She knew her moment had come and she had to perform an action for the good of the country, for her husband, her family and herself.

End of part I