Jared Kushner Plays Squash

And Gary Cohn wins.

JARED is sitting in the White House basement. It used to be storage space. Now, like the administration upstairs, it’s mostly nothing. Once, Ronald Reagan wandered into the room and couldn’t find his way out for three hours. Before that, the space functioned as the first OSHA. There are still blood-borne pathogen workbooks strewn about. Michelle Obama didn’t have time to turn them all into compost.  

JARED feels tired, scared and useless. He is wearing a cardigan again and a t-shirt imprinted with the Sriracha rooster. He is scrolling through Instagram. It’s just pics of swimming pools and Lebron hanging out with friends plus Drake. GARY COHN, in gym clothes, enters.

GARY COHN [impatiently]: Why are you dressed like a rapping school teacher?

JARED [deflecting]: Where have you been?

GARY COHN [fake snoring and lying]: Tax reform with Mnuchin.

JARED [shrugging]: I’m just tired

GARY COHN [truthfully]: It’s a job, Jared. Not—I don’t know. I don’t get tired anymore after the stuff Pete Carroll sent me. Which was the stuff Bill Clinton sent him.

JARED [reading his phone]: Did you see this? Another fucking email from John.

GARY COHN [mocking Hamilton]: Here comes the General.

[JARED stares blankly but not to neg GARY COHN. He doesn’t understand why his mentor is singing.]

GARY COHN [reading his Apple watch]: If you want POTUS’s ear, you’re to compose a tweetstorm and then quote tweet it, adding the word THIS, in all caps, with a finger pointing down emoji.

JARED [reading from his phone]: He won’t read the storm but, it’ll help me vet.

[GARY COHN makes jerk-off motion.]

JARED [impersonating GENERAL KELLY but not well]: Alternatively.

GARY COHN [impersonating GENERAL KELLY perfectly]: If it’s an idea you are against.

JARED [back to his normal voice]: Write up a tweetstorm et cetera et cetera, but preface this one, “Not the Onion.”

GARY COHN [to JARED]: Here put this on. [GARY COHN hands JARED a Bluetooth headset.] Look. Hands free. [GARY COHN shows his hands like he is surrendering, and then grabs JARED’s phone and tosses it into his duffel bag.]

JARED [bewildered]: What do you do with your hands now that they’re freed up?

GARY COHN: We’re playing squash. Here take one. [GARY COHN hands JARED a racket.]

[JARED does not stand up. He’s only played squash once, at the Harvard Club, and that was years ago, when his friends still worked at Lehman Brothers. GARY COHN’s watch pings.]

GARY COHN [reading his Apple watch]: You didn’t commit any state felonies, did you?

JARED [taking off his sweater]: Which state?

GARY COHN [demonstrating to JARED how the angle of his racket determines where the ball bounces]: New York, dummy.

JARED [lying]: I don’t know. How would I know?

GARY COHN [while serving]: Proximity to power. Don’t let righteousness drive you. Maybe you broke a law. Maybe you didn’t. That’s not for you to worry about. Proximity to power. That’s the goal.

[JARED is actually playing squash.]

GARY COHN [competitively]: Hillary lost for three reasons. One. Your father-in-law cheated. Two. Jim Comey. Righteousness drives him. Where is he now? And three. [GARY COHN forcefully hits the ball.] Who the fuck cares what three is? My point is, I would’ve worked for Hillary too. Why? Because I love to be close to power. [He inhales deeply.] This basement smells like power. Playing squash in the fucking White House is power. [GARY COHN scores.] Jared, do you want to know the last time I stood during the National anthem?

[JARED, out of breath, shakes his head.]

GARY COHN: Never. I never fucking stand. I sit in a box and I work. [GARY COHN scores.] Opportunity costs. Everyone else is singing that stupid fucking battle hymn and I am making money. [GARY COHN scores.] Giants-Patriots. The second time. I made more money than God that anthem. [GARY COHN scores.] I shorted those little packets of jelly, like at diners. [GARY COHN wins.]

JARED [correctly]: The younger generation puts avocado on their toast now.

GARY COHN [grimacing]: No shit. Wow. [He barks into his watch to go long on those netted bags avocados are transported in. Then he opens his duffel bag and hands JARED a beer. It’s craft and has a cool label.]

JARED [exaggerating]: The last time I had a beer my lips went kind of numb.

GARY COHN [empathetically]: Maybe you’re allergic to beer?

JARED [anxiously, for him]: That’s likely, but it’s never happened before. It was like my lips were having a stroke maybe.

GARY COHN [generously]: You’re not allergic to beer.

JARED [resignedly]: I probably am. I feel so useless.

GARY COHN [not listening anymore]: Remember how Steve would still eat anything he dropped on the floor? Even if it was there for over five seconds and even if it was a wet food?

JARED [serving]: Did you see what our boss said about Harvey?

GARY COHN [winning again]: You know he named Miramax after both of his parents. You’re too young to remember the squeegee guys. But Harvey kicked one of their asses. Like he just pulverized this poor guy’s face, like he was wearing brass knuckles. [GARY COHN stops playing momentarily.] Was he wearing brass knuckles? This had to be what? Rudy wasn’t there yet, obviously.

[There’s an ominous shadow at the stairs. Even though shadow is absence of light, this one is exuding power. So it must be IVANKA, and she must be on the phone.]

IVANKA [on the phone]: As long as we continue to be the side that doesn’t call white people racists we will rule indefinitely. Yes, yes. You’re cleansing? I thought you’d be assembling a body suit from the skin of white working class. [IVANKA notices her husband and his mentor playing squash.] Why are you down here?

JARED [accusingly]: Why are you carrying a toddler potty?

[IVANKA has uncharacteristically lost her head and, now that she’s emerged from the darkness, it’s clear she is carrying a potty seat.]

IVANKA [to GARY COHN]: Do you see how he is turning this on me? [IVANKA speaks into her phone.] Steve, I have to go. [IVANKA defiantly smiles.] I’m not carrying a potty seat. Why would I be carrying a potty seat?

GARY COHN [focusing on winning, not petty infighting]: She’s not wrong.

JARED [screaming]: She’s carrying a fucking potty seat and she was talking to fucking Steve Bannon, the Nazi who somehow is the only person who didn’t fucking do treason.

IVANKA [calmly]: Commit treason.

JARED [frantically]: Didn’t fucking commit treason.

IVANKA [lovingly]: Don’t swear, Jared Corey Kushner.

[Because they are partners, IVANKA tags in to play squash for JARED, who is not an athlete. JARED takes the toddler potty back upstairs, to the bathroom his son uses when he comes to work. He is relieved to be able to return to his Instagram feed and his dark, selfish thoughts. GARY COHN and IVANKA compete against each other silently and aggressively.]