19 February 2017
Scene: A rundown one-bedroom apartment somewhere in Washington D.C. There are stains on the walls. The room smells like cigarette smoke. A roach scuttles across the kitchen floor. Enter Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Supreme Chancellor Donald Trump. Putin sits at a small kitchen table. He’s shirtless; there’s lots of spiraling chest hair. He’s turning patties of cold meatloaf over with his fork. Trump is wearing a bathrobe and open-heeled slippers and there are curlers in his hair. He’s pulling a tray of cookies from out of the oven. The cookies are dark and smoking. A cigarette burns in an ashtray on the kitchen table.
Trump: Oh, shoot. I burned another batch. I think this oven runs too hot.
Putin: Stop with the cookies. The cookies are not important.
Trump: Nonsense. Who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie every now and then?
Putin: No one does, if they keep coming out like that.
Trump: I wish you wouldn’t talk like that.
Putin: I wish you’d learn to cook a decent meatloaf.
[Trump sets the tray of burned cookies on the counter and puts his knuckles on his hips.]
Trump: If you don’t like my meatloaf, you can make your own, Mr. “I’m Going To Annex Crimea And There’s Nothing Any Of You Western Leaders Can Do About It.”
[Putin picks up the cigarette and takes a long drag and sets it back in the ashtray.]
Putin: You know what I think?
Trump: I don’t want to know what you think. Not until you apologize for the meatloaf.
Putin: I think you’re ruining the cookies on purpose. I think you ruined the meatloaf on purpose.
Trump: [Making a face like maybe he’s just been found out.] Well. That’s just ridiculous. Why would I do such a thing?
Putin: So you can continue to bake cookies all day. Because you’re looking for a distraction.
Trump: A distraction? From what? Everything is going so well right now. The administration is basically a fine-tuned machine. The press is cowering in fear of me. There’ve been some personnel setbacks, sure, but nothing that can’t be fixed right away.
[Trump makes an I’m-about-to-have-a-massive-hysterical-tear-fueled-breakdown face.]
Putin: I know you think everything is going well. But you just lost your national security advisor, and your pick to replace him turned you down like a responsible financial institution that’s done its homework.
[Trump takes his oven mitts off and leans against the counter, his back to Putin. He’s putting everything he’s got into not bursting into a fit of tears.]
Trump: It’s just. I’m doing everything I can. It’s hard enough with the press criticizing everything I do. I don’t need it here at home, too.
[Putin doesn’t say anything. He rubs the cigarette out in the ashtray.]
Trump: I don’t have it as easy as you do, you know. You’ve already got a perfectly vile authoritarian regime. Hell, Russia was made for authoritarian rule. The foul weather. The downtrodden people. The long and violent history of totalitarianism. You barely had to lift a finger, once you took over, to reestablish to Soviet-era oppression. But this place. This country. It requires work, Vlad. There’s a strong history of free-thinking people here.
Putin: It could go a little smoother, is all I’m saying.
Trump: [Turning toward Putin and raising his voice] It’s going just fine, Vlad! I don’t need your input every time I hit a little bump in the road!
[Putin rolls his eyes. He lights a cigarette.]
[Sounds of a previously recorded audience making uncomfortable noises.]
Trump: I’m doing everything you told me to do. I make aggressive authoritarian-type hand gestures like Mussolini did. I make vague, populist promises like Hitler did.
Putin: Did you use the “America First” slogan I told you to use? The one first used by the suspected Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh?
Trump: You know I did. You helped write the damn inauguration speech. I even called the press “the enemy of the American people” at my press conference the other day. Even you could appreciate that. Your buddies Lenin and Stalin practically perfected demonizing political adversaries using that sort of terminology.
[Putin blows out a cloud of smoke and looks at it nostalgically.]
Putin: Those were better times, I think. We will never return to those days.
Trump: Vlad, I need you to focus on me, here.
Putin: [Vaguely, to himself] All we have is the future, and the future is bleak.
Trump: The press is all over me about that impromptu conference, by the way. It’s just sucker punch after sucker punch. I feel like Apollo Creed in “Rocky III.” The one where the Russian just pummels Apollo to death?
Putin: That movie was good until the third act. Then it flies apart with its overt capitalist propaganda.
Trump: The New York Times even came out with an article today about whether I’ll maybe be impeached soon. It’s that bad.
Putin: To be honest, that press conference was a little much. You seemed to be, how you say, “without having hinges.”
Trump: You told me to hold the damn thing. Hell, you even said I should demonize the press to an outrageously offensive degree. And boy did I deliver. [Trump is really coming apart, now.] I said that a black reporter should maybe set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, implying that all black people must know each other. I berated a nice young Jewish reporter for asking me a hard question about the rise of anti-Semitism in this country. I went off the rails for you, Vladie.
Putin: I think maybe we should stop seeing each other, for the time being.
[Trump’s face goes white.]
Putin: It’s not a permanent thing. It’s just, I’m not so sure, with everyone calling your mental health into question — it just can’t be good for me to be associated with you, politically.
Trump: I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. At a time like this.
Putin: You won’t even notice I’m gone. I promise. You’ve clearly got a lot on your plate, with all the chaos going on in the White House.
Trump: [Raising his voice] It’s a fine-tuned machine, dammit!
Putin: Sure it is. Maybe when things calm down, maybe when skit comedy programs stop imitating you and your staff to hilarious effect, maybe then we can reunite. Until then, I’ve got political dissidents to murder in highly suspicious ways.
Trump: [Crying, now, finally] It’s just so easy for you, isn’t it?
[Putin puts on a large fur jacket made from a bear’s hide; he’s still not wearing a shirt, though.]
Putin: Just. Just give it some time. Until things calm down. Then maybe we can start up again.
[Trump leans back against the counter. He wipes tears away. He considers the burned cookies. He picks one up and turns it in his fingers and takes a bite. It crumbles like ash in his mouth. He makes a gagging noise and spits it out in the sink.]