Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Episode 32

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:

Joe Buckstop, 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, March 24. Begin Transcript:

“Good evening, boss! How’s your Wednesday?”

“Pretty darned good, to tell ya the truth!”

“Oh? Why’s that, sir?”

“Got some work out of the way today, son!”

“Oh, congratulations, sir. Always nice to finish a project, sir.”

“Oh, I didn’t say it was finished, just that I got it out of the way.”

“I beg your pardon, sir? What’s the difference?”

“I moved it… off my desk… what’s the word… Delicate? No… Dedicate?… No… what was it again… tip of my tongue…”

“Delegate, sir? Are you saying you delegated something, sir?”

“That’s it! Delegated. Got a project off my plate and put it somewhere it’ll do some good.”

“Oh, well, sir, congratulations, sir. Good to keep your cabinet busy, sir.”

“Not the cabinet!”


“Vice president. Gave a job to Harris. Gave her something to do. Keep her busy.”

“Oh, I see, yes, I do recall that presidents sometimes give a special task to a vice president, that makes sense, sir…”

“So what’s your news, son? You got any news for me?”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Soup! What soup did you bring me?”

“Oh, right! Yes, sir, of course, sir… Soup… It’s Sopa de Caracol, tonight, sir!”

“Come on, man! Not another of those weird soups!”

“No, sir it’s not, really, it’s not weird. It’s Honduran.”


“Yes sir, the chef said she found this really cool recipe from Honduras and couldn’t wait to try it out, sir.”


“Yes sir.”

“Well, what is it?”

“It’s a conch soup, sir. In coconut milk based broth, sir.”

“Come on, man!”

“Really, sir! And it’s not weird, sir, it’s good.”

“What the hell is conch soup?”

“Well, sir, it’s made of conch, and it’s in a broth, sir…”

“What’s a conch?”

“OH, I see, umm… it’s that shellfish… you know, sir… oh, it’s hard to describe… Oh, I know.. you know those big shells that people find on the beach that they hold up to their ear, sir, to see if they can hear the sea?”

“Oh, yes, of course! I have one!”

“You do, sir?”

“Yeah… I have one somewhere, lemme see now… was it in this drawer… no… this drawer… no… maybe in the bottom… HERE it is! Yup, I got this on the Outer Shore a long time ago… don’t remember why… when you hold it up to your ear like this… yup! still works! You hear the sea!”

“Well, sir, you don’t ACTUALLY hear the sea, of course, sir…”

“Why, sure ya do! Look, you just hold it up…”

“No, sir, I mean, I know it feels like it, but, no, what you hear isn’t the sea…”

“Must be. Sounds just like it.”

“No, sir, it’s the sound of the air moving around near your ears, it’s just focused by the shell, sir.”

“No way!”

“Yes sir. You could achieve the same effect with your hand, sir.”


“Try it, sir. Just cup your hand like this, sir… right… and hold it over your ear for a moment, like this, sir…”

“Wow! Well I’ll be damned!”

“Very likely, sir.”

“What’s that?”

“Umm, I said, very like it, sir, isn’t it? It’s like the sea, isn’t it, sir?”

“Yeah, just like it. Wow.”

“So anyway, sir, that’s the conch shell, and this soup is made from the seafood inside that shell, sir.”

“Sounds weird.”

“Do you eat crabmeat, sir?”

“Well, sure.”

“Do you eat prawns, sir?”

“Of course!”

“Lobster, shrimp, scallops, sir?”

“Well, yeah…”

“Well, sir, then you shouldn’t find conch that weird, sir. It’s pretty much in that world.”

“Well, okay, if you say so… I’ll try it… hmm… not bad… a little odd… sweet and spicy at once.. but not bad… it’s okay, I guess.”

“Glad to hear it, sir.”

“Honduran, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

“Didn’t think they’d have seafoods. Aren’t they like, Latin American? Jungles and stuff? I thought their food would be all bananas and palms and stuff like that. Tropical.”

“Well, sir, Honduras is half coastline, sir… the whole northern boundary is the Caribbean shore, sir, and their other side is a big bay to the south on the Pacific ocean, sir.”

“How do you know so much about Honduras, son? You a Hyundai yourself?”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Honda? You a Honda, son?”

“Umm, no, sir, and the word is Honduran, sir, but now, I guess I just spent a lot of time with my globe and my atlas when I was a kid, i guess, sir.”

“Oh. Well, good soup, anyway.”

“Glad to hear it, sir.”

“Cool coincidence, too, this being today and all.”

“I’m sorry, sir?”

“Well, that’s the job I gave to the vice president today. Honduras.”

“Honduras, sir? You gave her Honduras? I don’t follow, sir.”

“Well, no, not just Honduras… Nicaragua and El Salvador and Costa Rica and all those countries.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I’m lost.”

“You know how we have all those hundreds of thousands of people coming up from those countries and pouring over our border, boy?”

“You mean, umm… you gave her the border crisis to solve, sir?”

“Heh heh. Yup.”

“But sir, that’s … umm.. That’s a huge issue, sir.”


“A controversial issue, sir.”


“Doesn’t she have, umm, some baggage, on this matter, sir, so to speak?”

“How’s that, boy?”

“Well, sir, she’s a child of immigrants herself, sir…”

“I think that’s a plus.”

“Well, sir, yes, sir, but neither of her parents were citizens, sir, which makes her what the other side calls an anchor baby. Wouldn’t putting her in charge of border issues kind of serve as a reminder about that, sir?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that…”

“But it’s not just that, sir… she’s been known to say that she doesn’t believe in borders at all, and she’d favor totally decriminalizing illegal entry, sir, which means basically that citizenship would become meaningless, sir,.. she’s really radical on this matter, sir, and having her in charge of the issue would, umm, remind people of that, every day, sir, you know?”


“And then there’s all the awful things she said about the shipping containers that your last administration… I mean the Obama-Biden administration – converted into holding tanks for the refugees and border jumpers and others on the border while they’re being processed, sir. She called them cages, sir… she was really rough on you in the primaries and before, sir… this will remind people of that, you know?”


“And then there’s the way she’s attacked all the border law enforcement over the years, sir… When she was a senator and during the campaign and everything, sir.. she attacked the border patrol and said that ICE was just like the KKK, sir… all sorts of awful things, sir. You can’t win public office insulting law enforcement, sir… I mean, remember, sir, there’s a reason she only got like two percent during the presidential primaries, sir…. she has a habit of really infuriating people on this issue, sir.”


“And her position on this, sir.. well, it’s so divisive. I’m not a campaign consultant or anything, I don’t know anything about polling and stuff like that, sir… but I know that her extreme position on the border doesn’t just upset Republicans, sir… it infuriates the independents, and especially the legal Hispanic immigrant community, sir. I mean, sir, there’s a reason why President Trump was so popular with the Hispanic community. They hate the idea that they waited so long and worked so hard to come in legally, and now they see people cheating and being rewarded for it, sir. It’s really infuriating them, sir, and they’re a key part of our base, sir.”


“So doesn’t this worry you, sir? I mean, isn’t there a more moderate person in the administration who might’ve been a better choice for this, politically, I mean, sir? I know I’m just a novice, sir, but I’m really lost on this, sir.”

“Well, if it upsets people for a moment, that’s okay… it’s gonna be a long time before she has to run for office on her own, boy. As you keep reminding me, I’ve got a four year term here.”

“Well, yes, sir, but you know, there’s always the possibility, sir, that…”

“Four years. I’ve got a four year term. And she won’t be running on her own for a long time. You don’t need to worry so much about her popularity. She won’t need popularity for quite a while.”

“Well, sir, it’s just that, umm… you never know, sir… you’re 78, sir, and there are always concerns, sir…”

“Do you remember, about a week ago, i took a bit of a tumble, boy?”

“Umm, yes sir?”

“Climbing the stairs to Air Force One?”

“Umm, yes, sir?”

“I fell on my face, didn’t I?”

“Well, uh, yes, sir…. I suppose you could say that…”

“And nobody ran up to help, nobody ran up to see if I was okay. Do you remember that, boy?”

“Umm, yes, sir?”

“Well, sometimes it’s good for a person to fall on their face. Sometimes it’s good for them. Sometimes it’s good for the country.”

“Sir, are you saying, umm…”

“This is good soup. Any chance you could go upstairs and get me another bowl? And bring some crackers this time, boy. I want some crackers tonight…”

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 III, and III), are available in either eBook or paperback, only on Amazon.

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