Chuck lifted his hand to his chin and softly scratched at his beard. He still wasn’t entirely used to having one, but his political adviser assured him it was “great for his public image.” As far as he could tell, though, it had only been good for serving as alternative housing to the crumbs that were not accepted entry into his mouth. To be fair, he did win the election, but he liked to think it had more to do with his political views and leadership, rather than his ability to sport an admittedly impressive beard.
“You’re not being serious, are you?” Chuck said, twisting the hair on his beard between his pointer finger and thumb.
“We are,” Henry said. Chuck wasn’t entirely sure if his name was Henry, but he’d definitely heard an “H” when he’d introduced himself. Internal Head of Secret Service, he had said, a name and face unknown to the public. His last name was definitely Greene, that much he was sure of, but he’d said his first with some sort of a stammer. Chuck didn’t know too many “H” names—Henry, Harold, and Henrietta were about it—and was convinced that, of the three, it was probably Henry. He didn’t quite look like a Harold, and he was pretty confident that Henrietta was a female name. This guy didn’t seem to be a female, although he couldn’t know for sure.
“No, you’re not. Right?”
“Completely serious,” Henry said.
“I can get a ‘Presidential Discount’ at any store I want?” Chuck said, his eyes wide. There was no way he’d meant any store. That included, like, every single store out there. Starbucks, Ikea, Macy’s. What if he walked into a 99 cent store? Did he still get the discount? There was no way Henry had been right.
“What? Why are you still fixated on that?”
“So,” Chuck continued, “If I walk into, say, a Walmart and want to pick up some chocolates, I can get them at a discount?”
“Are you not paying attention to what I’m saying?” Henry said. “Yes, you do. Every store. Great, let’s move on. I’m trying to tell you some of the most top-secret information, like how vaccines are actually just ways for us to control the public, and all you’re concerned about is the 50% discount you get as the President.”
“Wait, what?” Chuck said.
“You heard me,” Henry said, smiling. “Vaccines are actually designed first-and-foremost to control the minds of the public. These are the kinds of things you need to be aware of as President. You’ll have to make sure people keep taking them.”
“Did you say 50% off?” Chuck said. That was half off. Half off of anything. He could go to a $20 movie right now and see it for just $10. Simply walk in and wait for the cashier to say, “That will be $20,” to which he’d take out his license and say, “No, I’m the President of the United States of America.” Then he’d waltz right in for just $10.
“Are you kidding me? Yes, 50%. Can we move on? Did you know that Donald Rumsfeld is actually a horse? You need to be careful not to insult his race.”
“Wait,” Chuck said, “what if I go to a McDonalds and order something off of the dollar menu. Is that now a fifty cent menu? What if I purchase an album from the street artist my children refer to as Fifty Cent? Is he just Twenty Five Cent? Do I have to pluralize his name?”
“He is a horse. A horse in a man costume. Can you just focus on that for a minute? The Moon Landing was staged, we filmed it in Idaho at a farm house painted to look like the moon. We still use that residence to film Al Qaeda videos on occasion. In fact, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were roommates in that barn for a little while. Now they live a bit further apart. You’ll meet them later.”
“Please answer my question,” Chuck said. He was the President of the United States of America, he shouldn’t need to ask twice. Still, he decided to cut Henry some slack. It was his first time working for him, so he was probably a little nervous.
“Yes, you will get the dollar menu for fifty cents. And, no, you don’t have to refer to Fifty Cent as Twenty Five Cent, nor do you pluralize his name. Can we please move on?”
“Sure,” Chuck said. Anything from the dollar menu for just fifty cents. That meant he could get ten cheeseburgers for just five dollars. That’s incredible. Everyone should be the President of the United States—world hunger would be solved in a matter of minutes. But, wait, what about tax?
“. . .which is actually run by a group called the Illuminati,” Henry said. He had been blabbering about something uninteresting.
“Question,” Chuck said, burying his hand in his beard and tugging at it slightly. It was so uncomfortable.
“Yes, is it about the banks? They are also run by the Illuminati. You will have to be inaugurated into their group to gain their trust.”
“No, it’s related to taxes.”
“What?” Henry said, tilting his head to the side.
“Do I get 50% off on taxes also when I use my discount?” Chuck said.
“Are you serious? Sure, you have 50% off your taxes,” Henry said, his shoulders drooping.
“That’s fantastic,” Chuck said with a smile.
“Can we please get back on topic?” Henry continued. “You need to know these things, you will eventually be involved in each one. This is crucial to keeping the country afloat. And I do mean afloat. Space is actually just a large body of water, and the Earth is a boat that was built by an ancient alien race. We occasionally crash into stuff—we refer to them as earthquakes and tsunamis—and you need to ensure everybody that the ensuing floods are simply from the ‘ocean,’ not space pouring down onto the world.” Henry paused. “Speaking of, rain is what happens when the waves spill over the side of the “boat” when it has not crashed. You need to never mention that.”
“Hang on,” Chuck said. That didn’t make any sense. “So you’re saying I get 50% off my taxes? How can they do that if I’m already getting 50% off my purchase?”
“What?” Henry said.
“Oh, wait, I see. I get 50% off and then the tax is 50% off of the 50% off price,” Chuck said, tugging at his beard.
“Mr. President,” Henry said, “please. Please, for the love of God, listen to what I am saying. You are now the most important person in the world, it is crucial you learn the truth. If you don’t know this information, like how America is actually run by a race of lizard-people—half lizard, half man—you can literally destroy the planet. That’s it, done. Exploded.”
Chuck shifted his weight slightly. “I knew that one already,” he said, glancing down at the scales on his freshly peeled arm.
“Right,” Henry said, nodding slowly and eyeing him up and down.
“Quick question though, Henry,” Chuck said, pulling the mask off of his face by its beard. “Is there a limit to how many times I can use my discount?”
“No,” Henry said, sighing. “And my name is Henrietta.”