Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together, Donald had no occasion to be told that it was time for a Diet Coke. He often had as many as three during a night; but reaching into his bedside minifridge he found it quite bare.
“One thing,” he raged, “one thing I demand, is to keep this fridge stocked with my brown nectar!”
“Go back to bed,” the hair mumbled.
Donald pressed the button on his bedside table. Donald pulled the cord to ring his servant’s bell. Donald slapped the panic switch to summon his guards. Donald tipped back his head and yelled.
“OK, OK,” said his hat, “We’re all awake now.”
Donald got out of bed and straighten his Presidential pajamas and pulled on his Presidential robe and settled his hair upon his head and took up his grumbling hat.
“I’ll get to the bottom of this,” Donald said. “It is one thing to be plagued by dreams of a dead Naval aviator, it is quite another to be out of Diet Coke.” He opened the door of his bedroom and stepped out into the largest of his rooms.
But the sitting room was not as he had left it. The horrific red and gold and menacing spikes of Melania’s austere design was gone. It was instead decorated for a human Christmas, garlands of holly and twinkling lights. Gone was the blood-drenched tree devoid of ornaments. In its place stood a healthy green tree, fresh-cut, and done up with ribbons and light and bows, and those little hollow glass balls that he liked to crush underfoot. The empty clean lines of useless coffee tables to trip over in the night had been replaced with a proper table set with a proper feast: McNuggets, McGriddles, cartons of fries both small, medium and large, succulent Big Macs and Sausage Biscuits glistened in the twinkling lights and a mound of Quarter Pounders gleamed, And there, oh there, was row upon row of Diet Cokes, their waxy cups dense with condensation and straws standing at attention. Donald grabbed one up and greedily sucked.
A fire roared in the fireplace that had been cold for decades. A man looked around the highback of one of the chairs facing it and gave a hearty, “Hello!” and Donald gave a start. It was the shade of McCain again, Old McCain, last days McCain, cancerous and brain-addled. He was wearing a Santa costume and looked more than a bit drunk.
“And who are you?” Donald asked. “And what has happened to the uncomfortable room my wife had made?”
“I am the Spirit of Warboners Present!” said Santa McCain. “Look upon me!”
“John McCain in a Santa suit,” the hat said dryly. “A bony old lap for bad children everywhere.”
“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the Spirit.
“Never,” Donald made answer to it.
The Ghost of Warboners Present rose.
“Spirit,” said Donald wearily, “conduct me where you will. I went forth earlier on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is working now. If you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it.”
“Touch my robe!” said Santa McCain
Donald did as he was told, and held it fast.
The beautiful Christmas room with all it joy and bounty vanished instantly and they stood on wide streets lined with small identical houses with neat lawns. Each was decorated for Christmas simply, but gaily and the warm light of family life seemed to glow from every window.
“Where have you brought me, Spirit?” asked Donald.
“Do you not know it?” asked the reedy voice of Old McCain.
“I do not,” said Donald.
“It is one of the many examples of military base housing that you oversee as Commander in Chief.”
“Commander in Chief?” asked Donald in a confused tone.
“The President is Commander in Chief of the US military,” Donald’s hair said in a loud whisper.
“Come, witness what you have done!” said the Spirit.
Santa McCain touched Donald’s shoulder and the four of them flew forward into one of the base houses. Inside they found themselves in a living room dominated by a beautifully decorated tree surrounded with presents. Two children came running in, cheering, and fell down to their knees under the tree and began pointing to presents with their name on them. A man and a woman followed them, dressed in warm robes and slippers, arm-in-arm, smiling at the antics of the children. That sat down and the woman leaned against her husband and sighed contentedly. The children brought present from the tree and sat in front of their parents and tore them open with unbridled delight.
“Behold!” said the Spirit, “behold the terrors the flaccidity of your Warboner has wrought!”
“Terrors?” asked the hair.
“It looks pretty nice,” the hat said. “The mom could be hotter, but at least she isn’t a dependopotamus.”
“No!” said Santa McCain. “Home for Christmas? Not deployed? Not fighting? Not getting a Christmas meal served to them in a flyblown tent? This is not what the real meaning of Warboners is about! How can Donald fly over to some shithole in the middle of the night so he can ladle gravy and smile for reporters? How can he thank the troops for their sacrifice and pretend to keep them in his prayers?!?”
“The real meaning of Christmas is not being home for Christmas?” asked Donald timidly.
“Exactly!” the Spirit thundered. “Isn’t it better for every child to only see their mother or father when they are pranked into speaking at a school assembly and filmed as their deployed parent appears with no warning?”
“That’s fucking awful,” the hair said quietly.
“Having a fine and firm Warboner is about the celebration of sacrifice, little one,” Santa McCain. “Especially the sacrifice of people who aren’t you…”
“What else is there, Spirit?” asked Donald. “What other lessons can you teach?”
“Touch my robe once more!” the Spirit said.
Donald did and once again the scene changed abruptly. An opulent room appeared around them, done in red and gold, sturdy stainless steel wainscoting running around all the walls. Stark white stylized ceramic forest animals gamboled and played. A “tree” made from a haphazard bundle of aluminum spikes illuminated with dozens of piercing white halogens lamps suspended from the ceiling on bright bare wires dominated the room. It was blinding to look at, painful. Presents wrapped in red reflective mylar where impaled upon the spikes, like the victims of some Christmas shrike, and the bilious green of fake grass spikes bristled from the tree skirt, as warm and welcoming as a thousand adder’s fangs.
“Home!” cried Donald. “My true home in Trump, the mightiest of Towers.”
“I see Melania’s been decorating here too,” the hair muttered.
“Alphaville meets glitter dungeon,” the hat grumbled.
Melania walked in a gown the color of dried blood. Barron followed her, looking down at his cellphone and chanting a string of numbers under his breath.
“My wife,” said Donald, “and her son! I’m here, my darlings! I am home for Christmas.”
“They cannot hear you,” Santa McCain said gravely. “We are but unseen phantoms to them.”
“Hi, Melania!” Donald shouted, waving his hands in her face. “I’m here, my sugarplum. I’ve come home, my sexy Vampira!”
“You may open one present now, my little žlikrofi,” she said. “The rest must wait until your father is home.”
Barron’s face clouded over and turned red. He threw his cellphone against the wall and it shattered.
“I don’t want to wait!” the boy screamed. “I don’t want to! Why is he even coming here? I don’t want him here!”
“You must want for him!” Melania said, tearing at her carefully styled hair. “He has nothing else to do but spend Christmas with us.”
The boy dropped to the ground and hugged his knees tightly and began to rock back and forth. “But, why, Mother? Why?” said Barron in an anguished voice.
“He has no troops to visit, no addresses to the country to make,” said Melania. “He will have to be with us.”
“But, I’m here already!” Donald said. “I’m right here!”
“Ghosts,” the hat said tightly. “We’re just Ghosts.”
Donald turned to the Spirit of Warboners Present. “Oh, Spectre, Oh, Spirit, take me away from this awful place so that my wife and her child might know a Merry Christmas.
“Take my robe,” the Spirit said.
“But wait, I want to know where we are going,” asked the hat.
“We go to one of the saddest houses of them all…” said Santa McCain as Donald touched his hem.
Melania chrome nightmare faded around them and they found themselves in a busy kitchen, microwave and oven and stand-mixer all on, smoke detector blaring and a far-off keening wail rising in volume. A large woman ran to and fro, muttering a curse.
“Where have you brought me, oh Spirit?” Donald yelled over the smoke alarm.
“You will know it,” Santa McCain replied.
Soon the woman turned to them, flour-dusted and gravy-spattered. It was long-suffering Sarah, full of breast and hip and arm and leg and buttocks, who was scurrying in the smoke-filled room.
“Pie!” said Donald. “Hey! It’s Pie! Hey, Pie! Over here, Pie! Can you bring me a Diet Coke.”
“We are but phantoms…” Santa McCain began again.
“Just drop it, man,” the hat said. “He’s never going to get it.”
“SARAH!” came a cry from another room. Pie mopped her brow with the edge of her apron and left the kitchen. The ghostly foursome followed.
The living room was filled with Huckabees, each one fatter than the last, each in a bib with a bucket of food.
“Sarah, I need more gravy,” said one.
“Sarah, I need more ham,” said another.
“Sarah, all my ice is gone,” called her Father and two of her Uncles and one Nephew all covered in sticky marshmallow goo.
Sarah nodded and bowed and ran back to the kitchen and began to cry.
“It has been like this all day for her,” Santa McCain told Donald. “And it is all your fault.”
“My fault?” asked Donald, pushing the thought away with both hands. “How can this be my fault? I did not make them slop like hogs. I did not make Eve eat of the apple.”
“Your fault for not giving your press secretary a war to defend on television. Your fault for not bombing a village or a baby formula factory or a hospital to turn around your poll numbers,” Santa McCain scolded.
“My actions were always my own,” said Donald piteously. “I never thought of others. Oh, Spirit, you wound my soul with your horrors.”
“We can go home now, right?” asked the hat.
“Touch my robe,” said Santa McCain.
“This guy has sort of a thing for getting people to touch his robe,” the hair said.
“Robes are gay,” said the hat.
Donald and his hair and his hair found themselves back in their bell just as the churchyard bell began to toll three.
“One more ghost,” said the hair.
“It better be the last,” said the hat.
Donald fell forward into his bed and both of them dropped to the floor.