Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Episode 7

Political Satire:  Having trouble surviving these times?  You’re not alone.  Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:

An aging, corrupt old fool somehow becomes president in his basement, and every night, an aide has to bring him his soup and discuss the events of the day as he prepares to receive his nightly meds…

Dateline, February 2. Begin Transcript:

“Hello, boss! How’s your day going?”

“Don’t ask.”

“Oh? Another rough one, huh? Well, here’s a bowl of french onion soup, that’ll brighten anybody’s day!”

“French onion, huh? Wow. Neat. Haven’t had that in years.”

“Why not?”

“Well… when you’re in politics, you know, a soup flavored with onions, garlic and cheese isn’t exactly the thing… but I guess nowadays, with everyone staying 6 feet apart so nobody notices anyone’s breath anymore, I guess it doesn’t matter, does it? Good to see there’s something positive about this whole damned thing…”

“Well, sir, here you are then… let me know how it is! ”

“Mmmm… good so far…”

“So what was so rough about the day, sir?”

“Oh, it’s just not fair, you know?”

“No, I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Well, when people ask me questions, I never get a choice. Gotta answer. Gotta say whatever the voices in my head tell me to say.”

“Voices in your head, sir?”

“Oh, you know what I mean. The voices in my ear. In my earpiece.”

“Well, but doesn’t that make it easier, sir? If you just have to repeat what your staff tells you… isn’t that a good thing? You always have an answer.”

“Sure, but I don’t always LIKE the answer. They can tell me to say something crazy, like, four and four are ten, or red and blue make orange, and I don’t have a choice. I have to say whatever they tell me.”

“Why’s that, sir?”

“Well… I can’t very well go around having an argument with an earpiece I’m not supposed to have, am I? That’d sure be letting the cat out of the bag. Honestly, sometimes I think you’re a bit thick, young man. Hey would you ask them for a second bowl of soup for me? You have some too if you want. Keep me company. Gets lonesome down here…”

“Why, thank you sir, I believe I will. When I go up for your second bowl I’ll have them make me one too. Thank you sir!”

“Don’t mention it. I’d get it myself if I could… but they’re so gosh darned afraid of me being seen through the window again, in my footie pajamas and bunny ear hood, they want me to stay down here all the time now.”

“Yes sir, I can understand that, sir.”

“It’s enough to make a man cry.”

“Now, now, sir, can’t be that bad. Now… tell me… what was so ‘unfair’ about the questions again, sir?”

“Oh, yeah, that…. well, see, the thing is… if they ask me a question, and I’m not sure, or I don’t like what my staff tells me to say, I don’t have a choice; I hafta say whatever they tell me to. But Jen doesn’t have to do that.”

“Oh, yes, sir, now I see what you mean. The news story about circling back, right?”

“That’s it, boy. She answers every other question with ‘gonna have to circle back on that one.’ And she smirks, like it’s cute. How come she gets to dodge questions all day long and I don’t? It’s just not fair.”

“Well, sir, she doesn’t have those voices in her head like you do, sir.”

“She can have mine. I’m sick of it. Honestly, some days, I’d rather wing it.”

“You know, sir, you winged it for 50 years, and it didn’t turn out that well.”

“I did just fine for fifty years! What are you getting at? Got elected to the Senate again and again, got two terms as veep, i did just fine without an earpiece.”

“Yessir… but you also lost two previous primaries for saying crazy things, sir… because you didn’t have a filter, so to speak.”

“What do you mean, boy?”

“You know.. the year you were caught plagiarizing speeches from Neil Kinnock.. things like that, sir.”

“oh… right. forgot about that. I never remember to give attribution when I quote people.”

“I believe the rumor was more that you didn’t remember that you were quoting people, wasn’t it? That you had told the stories so much, you thought they really happened to you?”

“Oh, right. Yeah, that’s it. Long time ago, now. Long time ago.”

“Sounds like the voices in the ear are working out pretty well, then, when you think about it, eh, sir?”

“Yup, I guess so. And Jen’s doing a pretty good job anyway. She’s kinda cute. Maybe if she works here a couple years, they’ll finally let her wear makeup. And let her use the White House hairdressers. She looks like she cut her own hair with a paper scissors some days.”

“Oh, she has access to the White House hair and makeup staff, sir. I think that’s just about as polished as she gets, that’s all, sir.”

“Do you think? Gee. Wonder if i could hire one of those spokeswomen from the Trump administration. Now, they were cute.”

“Something tells me you’d regret it, sir. You wouldn’t like how they’d answer policy questions, you know.”

“Oh, right. Of course. Forgot about that. A spokesman has to answer questions. Right. I have a few questions myself, come to think of it.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“What’s what?”

“Umm, your questions, sir.”

“Oh, I don’t know. Just keep on repeating the voices in my head, that’s all. Say, you know what I’d like?”

“What’s that, sir?”

“Some more of that soup. It’s French, you know.”

“Yes sir. French.”

“Good people, the French. You know, they helped us win our revolution.”

“Yes sir.”

“And the French sold us the Louisiana Territory.”

“Yes sir, though I think Napoleon was just looking to unload it, sir. He didn’t realize its potential.”

“And the French take separate vacations.”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Separate vacations. And nobody bats an eye.”

“Umm, yes, sir?”

“I could go somewhere without the Doctor, maybe. Somewhere far… somewhere, umm. somewhere far away.”

“Yes sir? With whom?”

“Oh, I don’t care. Just so long as it’s not with the Doctor…”

“Um, well, I’ll just pick up your bowl, sir, and…”

“Oh, hey, could I have another bowl? And you too, you have some too. It’s nice talking with you. I get so lonely…”

copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

Excerpted with permission from “Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume One,” from Free State West Publishing, available in paperback or eBook exclusively on Amazon.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant.  A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009.  His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes I and II) are available only on Amazon

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