The Best Fucking Popcorn on Earth

He’s stared at me sulkily for a while, muttering “$25,000,000 is a lot of money,” on repeat and then he’d asked me how much I’d made in 2016.

My answer, “A little more than $60,000,” cheered him up no end.

“You’re tiny time,” he teased.  “I’M A BIG TIME. I’ve got two planes. A supermodel wife with big beautiful fake tits and more jewels than Van Cleef & Arpels. I own hotels, golf-courses and big beautiful homes everywhere. I got a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, a S600, a 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom, two Escalades, and 24-Karat Gold Orange County Chopper. And I’m the President of the United Fucking States! What you got Degas?”

“You by the short and curlies,” I threw at him as he led me back to the Great Room where Sam was singing “March of the Volunteers”, AKA the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China, in Mandarin, in the style of Paul Robeson, the polyglot, football-playing son of a runaway slave who became a word-famous bass baritone, actor, preacher and activist.

Robeson, who founded the American Crusade Against Lynching in 1946, and was blacklisted by McCarthy’s Unamerican Activities Committee when he refused to sign an affidavit affirming that he was not a Communist, first performed the ‘Internationale’ inspired operatic march on July 23, 1941, at West Harlem’s Lewisohn Stadium. Which was, according to the New York Times a ‘sprawling athletic field and Doric-columned amphitheater where thousands of New Yorkers paid as little as 25-cents apiece to listen to symphonies on summer evenings.‘[i]

Like Robeson, Sam sung the March in the key of G major, and the second, third and fourth lines in English:

Let’s stand up and fight for liberty and true democracy!All our world is facing the chain of the tyrants,Everyone who works for freedom is now crying,Arise

Unlike Robson, who performed and recorded the song for a higher purpose —-  solidarity with Chinese resistance to invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army, who had taken war-crimes to a whole new level at Nanking by massacring over 300,000 Chinese civilians and raping 20,000 more, door-to-door, with bayonets, bottles, and long sticks of bamboo[ii] — Sam was genuflecting to Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and his wife, the actress Peng Liyuan, who were standing next to Nadyia in front of a portrait of KUNT THE CLOWN TUMBLING THROUGH SPACE in a heavy gold frame.

Kunt clapped his hands out-of-time with Sam’s syncopated beat to bring the performance to an end, puckered his chin and stretched a grin wide across his face as far as it would go that put his teeth on display and etched wrinkles around the corners of the eyes.

His made-by-TV grin begat a barrage of flashes and the barrage of flashes begat his alpha face — lowered brows, narrowed eyes and a stoic mouth — reminding us that he was a tough son of a bitch.

He nodded, satisfied with the attention he had received and invited us to dinner like a stand-up comic, roasting Xi first: "Mr. General Secretary. You’ve taken our business away. You’ve taken our jobs away. You’ve stolen our intellectual property. It seems as if you would prefer our people to starve!”

Only the punchline was tired and Xi’s jugular well protected and he did not bat an eye, which left Kunt hanging onto his own incomplete sentence (as he’d conspicuously failed to make the invitation).

That pissed him off.

He clenched his face, narrowing his eyes, welding his brows together and pursed his lips around an open-mouthed shout in a spectacle of fury intended to intimidate: “So, we should be serving you Big Mac’s until you start playing fair! But Nadyia insisted I be the bigger and better person as we are the bigger more powerful economy ---”

“Por ahora,” whispered Monica tickling my ear and then some with her breath.

“With bigger dicks,” Cohn whispered at Pecker who rewarded him with two thumbs up.

“So, on the menu tonight is the Classic Kunt Caesar Salad, followed by your choice of pan-seared Dover Sole or a 120-day dry-aged prime Kunt Strip Steak, paired with a 2014 Chalk Hill Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast and a 2014 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Chef tells me that there’s chocolate cake with vanilla sauce and dark chocolate sorbet, and a trio of fruit sorbets for dessert.[iii]

And then Kunt took a tin pipe out of his pants pocket, led us like a Pied Piper through an anteroom with frescoed walls, marble-tile floor, and a beamed ceiling, through an arch draped in gold silk, to an opulent dining room with tall walls lined with gold-framed canvases painted with seascapes copied from Renaissance frescoes in Rome’s Chigi Palace, whistling a happing out-of-tune “God Bless America.”

A white-clothed dining table stretched the entire length of the room and there was a chintzy candelabra and a China-themed red-and-yellow floral centerpiece for every four place settings.

The curtains of a large window at the far end of the room were pulled back, and rays bouncing in from the barrage of spotlights outside sparkled on all silver and gold accents.

The first shuffle was for the rats to take their places at the table.

The second was for the waiters to serve the Caesar Salad which hushed the room — except for the clink, clink, clink of Kunt-crested silverware bouncing off china plates and careless whispers carrying secrets bursting to be heard.

Nadyia warning Monica off the Dover sole because a morning raid on the Key Largo kitchen by inspectors from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services had uncovered “13 violations including infestation by rodents, roaches and flies, dangerous raw fish, and produce stored in two broken down coolers.”

Wilbur Ross pontificating on the state of the world economy: “Great minds scour the earth to find functioning perfect markets, but stock markets are too regulated, money markets too centrally managed, commodity markets too manipulated; South East Asian tigers too monopolistic, and China way too despotic to conform to our economic model.”

I was about to point out that the urban jungles of America (where net-worth, price-paid, and the value of life, are determined and continuously recalculated and recalibrated by the unerring relationship between supply and demand) are brutal, ugly, inhumane and ultimately undesirable, when Kunt suddenly yelled as he peed into a wine glass: “If you insist on starting a pissing match by devaluing the Renminbi every time the idiots at the Fed raise interest rates, I’ll impose tariffs so damn high you’ll never get over them!”

After a minute or two spent pissing, Kunt shook his toadstool dry, zippered his fly, announced grandly that he was “pressing pause on dinner before the main course arrives,” and as a secret service agent cleared his piss away shuffled us off to see the fireworks as he had promised.

It was Pied Piper time again only this time his was whistling Bruce’s “Born in the U.S.A” as he led us down a long hallway and down a half-dozen concrete stairs to a steel door with a paper ‘Quiet Area’ sign taped to it — skewed, like it had been put up in a hurry.[iv]

Inside the small, windowless, claustrophobic room, Kunt, Xi, Kunt’s eldest daughter Tatia, her husband Jerry –-- Senior Advisor to the President, HR McMaster --- National Security Advisor,  Dina Powell –-- Deputy National Security Advisor,  Rex Tillerson –-- Secretary of State, Steve Mnuchin –-- Treasury Secretary,  and the Mug-shots were crowded around a large conference table, sitting on edge of the type of faux-bamboo gold painted chairs you might see at a tropical-themed wedding or a garden-party watching seven-wars happen on seven-monitors, in real time.

Kunt, speared the tin-whistle into his jacket chest pocket.

Reset his alpha-face in wax.

Pointed from one monitor to the next to the next, as he dropped knowledge on Xi:

“We’re fighting wars in seven countries and tonight we are going to raise our game in them all --- We’re going to drop the mother of all bombs, on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan[v] --- Liberate western Mosul, with a coalition of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen ---  Annihilate Al-Qaeda with drone-strikes on shit-holes in Somalia and Libya and to help the Saudi’s win Yemen’s Middle East Cold War.[vi] And in Nigger, near the village of Tongo Tongo, the 3rd Special Forces Group is moving in on Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara,”[vii]  Kunt said breathlessly, banging his right fist against his left palm.

“But tonight’s main event is in Syria, where we are getting ready to chuck 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat Airbase, in response to a chemical attack by Syrian government forces two days ago.  IT’S THE FIRST UNILATERAL MILITARY ACTION BY THE U.S. AGAINST SYRIAN GOVERNMENT FORCES DURING THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR. And it’s something Obanana never had the guts to do! “Kunt said proudly patting his back, then beating his hands on the table as if it were a drum, before framing a big whoosh with his arms as the first Tomahawk exploded on target.

“Ok folks, 5-minutes to showtime and Nadyia’s got a treat for us, the best fucking popcorn on earth, popped right here in Key Largo”

I left as the Tomahawks rained down on Shayrat Airbase because the fight was over before it started and the fake-butter on the popcorn smelled rancid.

The last thing I heard as I left the room was Mnuchin calculating the value of the air-strike to the Raytheon Company, “59 missiles at $1.4 million a pop adds $82 million to the Company’s top-line, and $36 million to earnings.  The P/E ratio at Raytheon is 21. So, this evening action in Syria alone has increased the Company’s market-cap by more than $756 million.  We really are making America great again aren’t we boss?”

I didn’t hear what the boss had to say, but I was certain he was preening.

So, I went back to the library bar, watched Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat up on the Boston Celtics, skipped the 4th Quarter (because the game was already over), traded dinner for a whiskey sour, shaken but not stirred and took that to bed.

The door to the Adam Suite was ajar, where Monica, was stretched out on the couch opposite the bed wearing a Princess Blue Stella McCartney Poppy Snoozing Long Pajama top and a rope of pearls between barely parted lips.

She wasn’t wearing anything else.

Her head was set against an ivory satin cushion. Her hair was parted in the middle and fell over her breast like vines. Her legs were crossed. Her black eyes were crosser and there were hot red rims around the pupils from the sweet-smelling Alaskan Thunder Fuck she was smoking.

The weed, blended with the pink pepper and orange blossom top notes, jasmine and coffee heart notes, vanilla, patchouli, and cedarwood base notes of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium added a musky intensity to Ed Sheeran’s heavy on the black-notes, “No Scrubs” borrowing, “Shape of You,” which played from an old radio by her right ear.

She didn’t pay attention to me as I entered the room, transfixed as she was by the riot going on by the flowery patch of rug a few feet beyond me.

“La próxima vez que vengas a llamarme, avísame por adelantado. De esa manera puedo estar seguro de que ya no tengo una perra alineada” I said unkindly, but kindlier than I felt.

She shrugged, her breasts heaved, and she soaked her lips with the tip of her tongue, and she whispered: “Entonces, no estás contento de verme?”

Then there was she and me and nothing but my impatient shallow breaths to listen to as I searched for a way to entice her to curl to up beside me without begging.

“You know how you look at me, Degas? You look at me like you want to suck the past from my soul, the weed from my lungs, the wine off my lips, and spit it all back in my face, to tell me I told you so --- Para luego decirme que yo me lo busqué. I came here high, because low felt naked. And I feel better now, because I feel safer here with you.”

On another day, on most days, I’d have come back with something dry as a fucking bone like: ‘Safer than screwing the President’s wife!’ But on this day, having witnessed the madness of King Kunt and the rise of a Great Dictator up close and personal, I felt vulnerable.  And shamed by my curves, the stubble that abjectly failed to reach the parts of my scalp that hair used to reach, the creases in my chinos, and yet hopeful Monica might look beyond all that.

So, I looked away and searched for the shadow of my shadow and the right words to say, as the radio played Marvin’s ‘Let’s Get it on,’ which felt like too much too damn quickly: ‘I’ve been really trying baby, trying to hold back the feeling for so long.’

Somewhere to the south a chopper chop chopped in and to the north a car screeched to a pause and from the west a muffled cry breezed across the Great Lawn and through it all I could hear my own breath one after the other until the pant was mine — an urban kind of silence, disturbing and comforting at the same time.

“Why is hard your chosen way to go, when tenderness is so much better,” she asked dragging a last hit from the stub of her spliff and blowing it at me.

I rummaged around for something nice to say that might sound like the truth and found a line I hadn’t even written, a line a butterfly sang on a night it rained cold sweat and dirt, and love careened off the tracks: “Roses, for the freaks.”

“And violets, for who?” she demanded lighting up another spliff.

“For the fools.”

“I’ll go the way of the freaks then,” she said, caressing the moment. Then her hands went to the silver buttons of her pajama top and she pulled it apart. When it opened, nipples like corks bounced on her breath, which brushed my ears and shed my nerves like pollen.

I peeled the pajama top away as she pressed against me — hard. She smiled against my cheek and giggled all the way up my neck to my lips, and held on tight, playing with suction until her lips were my lips and my lips like my sex were bold.

It was settled; this night was going to be a holiday from alas, a night of kisses snatched from a world bent on destruction.

She broke away suddenly — not to rethink, only to tease.

I caught up with her by the bed, where we tumbled down, and I snapped her white thong like a ring pull. Her skin felt cold when I touched it and was covered in goosebumps.

She pulled me face down between her legs and guided my tongue inside, sliding down my nose to push against it.  She was peeling; first the coyness, then the smugness, then the trust and then the first spasms of the brighter days to come.

My touch became lighter and the beat further apart, until I was just breathing against her sex, enjoying the feel of a lovely once-in-a-blue moon beating down against my lips. Then she turned around, her eyes brimming with a ferocious playfulness where there had been black holes and hooked her legs around my waist, cupped her breasts and rolled her nipples like a joint.

I picked her up, she was as light as a feather, slid her down my sex, and roughly pushed her away to stay in the game. But she wouldn’t let me leave. She twisted her legs around my waist, gripped my back with her heels, slid back in the saddle, and rode north, south, east and west, wading waters, scaling peaks and welcomed the long shadows of dawn with a fog-horn blues and then others and came crying: “Elia Degas is a fucking Kunt.”


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