IVANKA is storming through the West Wing like Skyler from Breaking Bad if she had her own series. Her children are trailing her. HOPE HICKS, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS and KELLYANNE CONWAY are all talking about each other with each other. GENERAL KELLY is writing an email to OMAROSA that the address of the White House has changed, and GENERAL MATTIS is fixing himself a bowl of Grape Nuts to manipulate his blood sugar levels. No one knows or cares where JARED is.
GENERAL KELLY [beseechingly]: Ivanka, I wanted to talk to you about the White House hiring your daughter.
IVANKA [irritated]: For the last fucking time, General, we don’t pay ourselves. [She steps over a pile of briefing books, educational toys, and hummus-and-pretzel cups.]
GENERAL KELLY: Her book report on Song of Solomon was stunning. Analogizing Toni Morrison writing a place for herself in the canon to Richard Nixon’s and then Hillary’s multiple runs at the Presidency? [GENERAL KELLY kisses his fingertips.] She exhibits an aptitude for understanding the American experiment that I haven’t observed since I first met General Mattis.
[GENERAL MATTIS stands at attention, fibrous cereal dribbling down his jowls, and salutes KUSHNER DAUGHTER for her impeccable reading of an American masterpiece. IVANKA mumbles something about how her father shouldn’t have promoted generals into roles typically occupied by civilians. Though she’s correct, it is an accident. She’s just jealous of her daughter.]
GENERAL MATTIS [truthfully]: If it weren’t generals, it’d be cops and sheriffs.
[IVANKA screams silently. HOPE HICKS, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, and KELLYANNE CONWAY follow her, as if they’ve been summoned. They’re murmuring “Helter Skelter” and trying to make “fetch” happen.]
HOPE HICKS [eyes vacant]: Ivanka, can we brush your hair?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS [absurdly]: The Left resents your beauty.
KELLYANNE CONWAY [not incorrectly]: The Left is too busy virtue signaling to thwart us.
HOPE HICKS [screaming]: We should start vice signaling to troll them even more!
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS [screaming]: Vice signaling! Vice signaling!
KELLYANNE CONWAY [curtseying]: Generals, may we use the white board? [KELLYANNE CONWAY writes “smoking cigarettes indoors,” on the white board.] What else?
HOPE HICKS: Ignoring nutritional information and labels generally.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: Keeping hurricane victims from entering your stadium-sized mega church.
GENERAL MATTIS [under his breath]: Disliking “Master of None.”
HOPE HICKS [looking directly at KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: Instead of Instagramming what we are reading—
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS [looking directly at KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: We burn what we are reading.
[The coven can’t find kindling, so they rub together two empty print toner containers. Ink spills onto SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS hands and dress. KELLYANNE CONWAY removes a nail file from her purse and begins scraping it against the other toner bottle. It’s a literal mess, a Montessori for Gremlins.]
KELLYANNE CONWAY [shrieking and clapping]: Fire! Fire! Fire!
[Meanwhile GENERAL MATTIS pulls aside the KUSHNER CHILDREN and removes actual kindling from his bag. He ignites a waterproof match he keeps in his uniform pocket for cases of emergency and brings it to one of the streaky printouts in the recycling container. The flame, though small, flicks his hand, as he cautiously steps back to his makeshift campsite. His hand is too calloused to burn.]
GENERAL MATTIS [kneeling down]: Children, we run with those who will run. This is how you build a fire.
[GENERAL MATTIS, who firmly believes that if you teach someone to fish, she’s acquired a life skill, demonstrates to the children how to one-handedly teepee the sticks. IVANKA is both helicoptering and resenting her children.]
GENERAL MATTIS [rummaging through his bag]: And this is the classic short story, “To Build a Fire,” by Jack London. I think you’ll find it’s an exemplary take on the man versus nature trope. Maybe you’ll notice that the fire is also a metaphor for our current predicament.
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [speed reading the short story]: He never builds the fire?
GENERAL MATTIS [professorially]: Yes.
[GENERAL MATTIS gestures that he’d like to speak to GENERAL KELLY privately. IVANKA eyes them suspiciously. She experiences a rare moment of self-doubt.]
GENERAL MATTIS [whispering]: I know you wanted the young girl writing domestic policy but I’d argue her skill set is better suited for more abstract work. Nuclear containment. Conveying we are working for the President out of commitment to country and flag, and not because we agree with him about—
GENERAL KELLY [whispering]: About anything.
GENERAL MATTIS [nodding]: Yes. Threading that needle, and the like.
GENERAL KELLY: I wanted her to manage Cohn and Mnuchin with the tax code. Her mind is suppler than either of theirs. And she has more compassion. She’s an actual compassionate conservative.
IVANKA [snapping, cathartically]: No. No one is threading any needle. No more metaphors. No more short stories. No more reading lists. No more book burning. No more compassion. We’re damage controlling until Nikki Haley becomes President.
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [raising her hand]: Nikki Haley isn’t in the presidential succession plan.
IVANKA [curtly]: I know that.
[The GENERALS raise their eyebrows at each other.]
IVANKA [not powerfully]: Of course I know that.
[GENERAL MATTIS looks to KUSHNER DAUGHTER, who explains to him what would have to happen for Nikki Haley to become President. IVANKA seethes.]
IVANKA [quietly but not calmly]: Don’t undermine me in front of my own children.
GENERAL KELLY [obsequiously]: Ivanka, we didn’t mean to offend. We thought you worshipped at the altar of the meritocracy and you’d be pleased with our decision to advance your daughter.
IVANKA [lying]: I brought my children along to delight my father who loves beautiful babies, not to help you all do your jobs.
[IVANKA’s children hide behind GENERAL MATTIS.]
IVANKA [striding to the white board and erasing it]: If I fucking hear the word “signaling” one more fucking time. [She picks up a toy lying on the floor. It’s a See ‘N Say.] Why are your toys here?
KUSHNER SON [truthfully]: It’s Grandpa’s.
[IVANKA pulls the lever of the See ‘N Say angrily. It says, “Here is a turkey.” IVANKA gobbles like a turkey as she bounds towards HOPE HICKS. She pulls the lever again.]
IVANKA [mimicking the toy]: The cow says. [IVANKA moos as she gives the middle finger to KELLYANNE CONWAY.]
KELLYANNE CONWAY [horrified]: How am I the cow?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS [waving a hairbrush]: Ivanka, you really might feel better if you let us brush your hair.
[IVANKA pulls the See ‘N Say lever. The animatronic voice says, “Listen to the cat.”]
IVANKA [mimicking the toy]: Listen to the fucking cat, Sarah. Meow, meow.
[KELLYANNE CONWAY panders to IVANKA by hissing at SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS. IVANKA texts her husband, asking him where the fuck he is. Then she notices a toddler potty seat on the toilet in the bathroom off of her father’s office. She flings the See ‘N Say and stomps toward it, ripping it from the toilet.]
IVANKA [eyes twitching]: No. We’re drawing lines. [IVANKA clutches the toddler potty seat.] My children. My. Children. Are not staffers. My children are not advisors. My children are reflections of me. My children are angels my children are reflections of me my children are perfect my children are reflections of me perfect me perfect me—
KUSHNER DAUGHTER [tugging at IVANKA]: Mom?
[IVANKA backs into the wall. She follows it along, pawing for a doorway with her free hand. She passes MIKE PENCE who tells her that Hurricane Irma is God punishing us for Moonlight but she is so hysterical she doesn’t even smile politely at his bigotry.]
KELLYANNE CONWAY [to the KUSHNER CHILDREN]: You can call me mom. [She pets KUSHNER SON.]
[KUSHNER DAUGHTER whispers to GENERAL MATTIS that she disagrees with her mother that every problem has a solution. IVANKA, descending into the basement, remembers that talking to someone worse than she is often can center her. She calls STEVE BANNON. She is still clenching the toddler potty seat.]
Image: Ted Eytan via Flickr