GENERALS KELLY and MATTIS are having an unspoken battle over who can be most like the dad from “The Wonder Years.” IVANKA, brooding, is pinpointing where it all went wrong. STEPHEN MILLER is playing Battleship with KUSHNER DAUGHTER. He can see where her ships are and she knows it, but she is enjoying that STEPHEN MILLER thinks he is superior to her, a child. He is also mansplaining mercantilism. JARED is wearing a cardigan. In other words, everyone is being themselves.
And then a bat gets loose. An actual living and breathing bat—a winged mammal. It’s flying into corners, trying to escape, because it’s trapped inside the Trump White House. As the bat is panicking and spiraling and chirping, everyone becomes an even worse version of themselves, if that were possible. It’s utter chaos.
STEPHEN MILLER [nasally]: You may have sunk my battleship, but I’m privatizing war in order to enrich myself. So who’s the real winner now?
[The bat flaps its wing six inches from IVANKA’s face.]
IVANKA [startled into presence]: Can someone remove the animal as soon as possible?
[JARED is stifling a scream but, as usual, not succeeding. KELLYANNE CONWAY enters. She is group messaging SENATORS SASSE and COTTON on her second, secret phone line. The bat flies into her hair but she doesn’t react because she is comfortable with both vampires and vermin.]
KELLYANNE CONWAY [not looking up from her phone]: General Kelly, who has been assigned to pest control this week?
GENERAL KELLY: We don’t have that responsibility delineated, Mrs. Conway. An unfortunate oversight on my part. Jared has been assigned to miscellaneous duties so he will be charged with ridding us of the animal.
[JARED looks at his fingernails and notices several millimeters of white cuticle. Biting his nails usually relaxes him, but not this time. He is so afraid of the bat he can’t even enjoy what his wife calls a disgusting habit.]
GENERAL MATTIS [squatting so he is eye level with KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: Little girl, are you aware that your opponent can see your battleships?
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [not looking up from Catcher in the Rye, the book she is reading between game moves]: General Mattis, I wasn’t born yesterday.
GENERAL MATTIS: Did you learn that sass from Mr. Salinger?
STEPHEN MILLER [flipping over the board game]: General, I wanted to review my internal memo with you.
GENERAL MATTIS [respecting chain of command]: You don’t report to me, you recalcitrant loser. But if you did, I’d make you pick up the game before you addressed me or anyone.
STEPHEN MILLER [enjoying the sound of his own voice]: Moving forward, whenever we text each other, we should use the white skin-tone emoji. Not the default yellow one.
GENERAL MATTIS [ignoring STEPHEN MILLER]: How do you suppose a bat got inside?
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [sensibly]: It followed the air currents. We have drafts because the other general is renovating. Mommy said we are building a confessional so we can lean into the leaks.
[STEPHEN MILLER hovers.]
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [seeing through STEPHEN MILLER]: He thinks you’re the other general, the one he reports to now.
GENERAL MATTIS [curtly and tiredly]: Will someone get him away from me immediately?
[KELLYANNE CONWAY shepherds STEPHEN MILLER from GENERAL MATTIS. Then, speaking for the first time ever, KELLYANNE CONWAY and STEPHEN MILLER scroll through Twitter together and laugh whenever another person points out that there really is a TRUMP tweet for every occasion. Meanwhile, the bat is feasting on the puddle of strawberry daiquiri leaking from the mini fridge.]
GENERAL KELLY [kicking the mini-fridge]: I thought I said no mini-fridges. Who the fuck plugged this back in?
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [correctly]: Steve Bannon, most likely.
[There is crosstalk and chaos. The bat flies from the daiquiri and circles IVANKA who is FaceTiming with NARENDRA MODI.]
IVANKA [softly]: Please hold, Prime Minister. [She closes her laptop, and then slightly raises her voice.] God damn it, Jared, just shoot it already. Shoot them all.
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [to GENERAL MATTIS, who nods approvingly]: Apocalyptic violence is deeply woven into the American character.
[Someone walks in. No one really recognizes him at first. It could literally be anyone, because there is a giant hole in the front of the White House where the door used to be.]
KELLYANNE CONWAY [squinting her eyes]: Oh God it’s Jeffrey Lord. Tell him—[KELLYANNE CONWAY looks around shiftily, but there is nowhere to run to. Construction crews have cleared out all the good hiding spots.]
[JEFFREY LORD is nosily asking GENERAL KELLY whose car is parked out front.]
JEFFREY LORD: Its license plate is, S-H-O-P-N-G-A-L. Not that I care. I just feel like the spot should be reserved for the President’s motorcade.
GENERAL MATTIS [to KUSHNER DAUGHTER, who shrugs]: Shopngal?
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [guessing, but correct again]: Kellyanne.
JEFFREY LORD [looking around like he’s in Wonka’s chocolate factory]: Wow, so this is the White House.
IVANKA [powerfully]: Jeffrey, it’s really not a good time. Jared is trying to trap a bat, my father is in New Jersey, and I’m daydreaming of two minutes from now when I don’t have to be talking to you.
JEFFREY LORD [not going anywhere]: I can help with the bat. Jared, do you have a bucket and a broom?
JARED [exasperated, and sweating, for once]: A what and a what?
KELLYANNE CONWAY [accepting that she must talk to JEFFREY LORD]: Jeffrey, Jared’s not handy.
STEPHEN MILLER [smarmily]: Lord Jeffrey. I haven’t seen you since Election Night. [STEPHEN MILLER extends his hand like he is literally full of shit.] You were the first to call it.
JARED [snarkily]: 10pm, like the rest of us.
KELLYANNE CONWAY [declaratively]: Wrong, Jared. I knew we would win the instant my aunt shared the Obamaphone meme, early in 2012.
[KUSHNER DAUGHTER reminds GENERAL MATTIS that KELLYANNE CONWAY first campaigned for TED CRUZ. Meanwhile, STEPHEN MILLER is so desperate for an audience that he pitches his emoji policy to JEFFREY LORD, who applauds for it.]
JEFFREY LORD [still clapping]: Leak this memo. The left will say it’s a hate crime.
STEPHEN MILLER [bellicosely]: And the President can wage a trade war full of brimstone and braggadocio.
JEFFREY LORD [doing weird things like smelling the drapery and feeling the undersides of tables]: You’re losing me, but sure.
[GARY COHN strides in, avoiding the coterie of white nationalists and beelining to JARED.]
GARY COHN [charitably]: There’s my college boy.
JARED [sulkily]: Gary, I can’t do anything with you today. I have trap this bat.
GARY COHN [frowning]: Jared, do you know who wears cardigans? People who take themselves seriously but not their work. We have an opening in my money league if you’re interested. It’s me and Larry Summers, his Jared—Tim Geithner. The Romney boys, Sheryl Sandberg and Elena Kagan. Justice Kagan doesn’t meet the net worth threshold, obviously, but we front her the money. She usually wins anyways. [GARY COHN rolls up his shirtsleeve.] It’s a tattoo of her “Dog Mom” bumper sticker. I finished in last place last year. A deal is a deal, despite what your father-in-law says. You in? [GARY COHN scrolls through his email and reads STEPHEN MILLER’s emoji policy proposal.] No. We’re leaving them the Simpsons color.
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [not so much defending STEPHEN MILLER as articulating exactly what he is thinking]: He feels hemmed in by PC culture.
GARY COHN [sending JARED a fantasy football invitation]: There’s no such thing as political correctness. It’s called the fucking zeitgeist. Jared, are you in?
[IVANKA hops back on her call with NARENDRA MODI. JEFFREY LORD is unable to trap the bat into the bucket as he promised he would. The GENERALS race back to New Jersey to stave off a ridiculous war with North Korea. JARED and STEPHEN MILLER continue to not make eye contact with each other.
Then there’s noise from the dark room down the hall. It’s an animatronic bass singing “Take Me to the River.” But it’s also STEVE BANNON. He’s laughing heartily. Not since PRESIDENT NIXON last lived there, forty-five years ago, has someone sat alone in the White House, laughing in the dark, as often as STEVE BANNON does. He’s also nursing by hand a baby bat. When it’s strong he will release it into the fray to join its mother.]
Image: Christian Reusch via Flickr