It was misty that Monday night. Fog hung thick over the Potomac. There was nary a sound for miles. The noise of reporters, camera flashes and Greek choruses had quieted. Streetlights changed color for no one, except perhaps the odd lobbyist scurrying into his trashcan. After all the speculating and graphing and rebranding and redistricting and speaking and speaking and speaking, the city was asleep. All were resting.
All, except for one man. Barack Obama pulled back the taupe curtains in his taupe office to look at his red roses. He wished that they too could be taupe. Red felt too jovial. Having left the loving, sculpted arms of his wife to spare her his insomnia, he wandered down hallways in his pajamas. Defeat weighed heavily on him—heavy as Glenn Beck in a fat suit. “That’s a funny picture,” he thought until the image raced towards him and crushed his face. He tried to count sheep, but the sheep turned into vetoed bills, and the bills piled so high they filled the nearby barn and drowned the town in a legislation tsunami, and the dimwitted citizens screamed loudly, but no one heard them except for Newt Gingrich, who drafted a Contract with Small America that they had to sign before he could save them.
Yes, on the eve of the midterm elections, such were the thoughts of POTUS.
He was at the end of his rope. He wished hard for a sign, for help, for anything.
Then he felt it.
The lifeless touch of a dead man. He looked up.
“I feel a cold coming on. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. Is my left cheek sallow? Feel it, it’s sallow,” said the figure, checking his pocket watch.
“John. You’re… you’re back,” said the President, bleary eyed. He yawned at the familiar sight of John Quincy Adams, illuminated in a phantasmagoric glow.
“You know the rule: Anytime you’re in a bind, I arrive to screw with your mind,” JQA droned. “Do you have any tissues? With cooling aloe vera? Kleenex, please; I cannot touch generic brands.”
While Obama tended to the sickly one-term ghost, Quincy started to pour out his advice. “Who cares what anyone thinks. The electorate is ‘les incompétantes.’ Ignore the trifling opinion of the majority. And the minority. Ignore everyone.”
Obama sighed. He was used to Quincy’s queer behavior and even more so to his bad advice. The melancholy Whig had first come to him the night before he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, looking for ketchup and companionship. He had pretty much hung around ever since.
A guitar riff echoed loudly. John Quincy rolled his beady eyes.
“Is there someone else here?” Barack asked Quincy.
“Hey, fuckers!” Boots clanked down the hallway of the West Wing. “Smells like a Cherokee piss party in here!” Andrew Jackson strutted into the Lincoln bedroom with two loaded guns and a hard-on.
Barack looked to Quincy for answers. He’d never been visited by anyone but the old bore.
“The League of Presidents thought I wasn’t doing a great job, so some of them are coming over,” muttered Quincy.
Andrew slapped Quincy’s ass. “HOO-HA! That’s what we say in the military, Quince. Barack, I’m A.J. Sure you’ve heard of me. None of it’s true, by the way, I only slept with her sister!” Andrew cackled loudly, slapping his very tight jeans. “Hey, you know I got a show on Broadway ‘bout me? Check it out, pre-tty cool shit.” Quincy rolled his eyes again.
“Don’t you fuckin’ roll your eyes at me, you queer ass chimp!” Andrew shoved a rifle so hard into John’s forehead that he tooted a little.
Just then, a high-pitched voice called down the hallway: “Guys? Guys, I think I’m lost!” Quincy glared at Jackson, who just chuckled softly.
Attractive, dumb-as-sin Franklin Pierce strolled in wearing lady knickers over his head.
“Franklin, what are you wearing?” Quincy lamented.
“I thought we had to wear them to get past security,” Franklin admitted. He looked at Andrew, who was toppled over roaring with laughter.
“You lied to me!” Franklin squealed.
“Hey, that the first time you’ve touched your wife’s panties?” Andrew grinned.
Franklin twirled his hair and frowned. He knew it was true but felt hurt nonetheless.
Quincy tried to focus them on the task at hand, but Andrew began waving his rifle around, doing a reenactment of the act I closer of his musical.
A large stick poked into the room, inching closer and closer to Andrew until it was close enough to smack him over the head, which it did.
Theodore Roosevelt paraded in, gait about as wide as Jackson’s cheese wheel. To his credit, when Teddy opened his mouth he really did speak softly; “Andrew, stop dicking around. No one appreciates it, least of all me.” Then, out of a satchel T.R. pulled a teddy bear for Barack. The bear smelled like evergreens and jingoism. It was comforting.
Quincy tried to speak but was interrupted by a bright, shining light. A chorus of for-hire angels sung a hymn while unrolling a red carpet, onto which the saintly Ronald Reagan stepped. “Hello boys,” the buttery grandpappy slash cable news darling warmed. He was greeted with icy stares.
Quincy broke the silence. “We all know why we’re here.”
“Gippy owes me twenty plus a bag of lemon drops!” Jackson exclaimed.
“Not now, for Chrissake,” moaned Quincy.
“No, I rather think now’s the perfect time,” piped Teddy.
“Ronald, you owe a collective amount of $500 to the men in this room alone, not to mention your online gambling problem and fantasy football league,” Teddy said. The other men in the room nodded.
Though his smile was serene, a bead of sweat trickled down Ronnie’s face.
“You know I’m good for it, boys,” he said. “Plus, tonight’s not about me. Come on, it’s about Barack.”
Pierce nodded, “Well he’s right about that.”
The other men couldn’t disagree there. They were all technically there to help Barack.
Reagan seized the silence: “Barack, how’re you doing?”
Silence was followed by the expectant stares of hollow, ghoulish eyes. Finally, he said, “I feel like shit. I’ve been a nervous wreck; I can’t eat; I can’t sleep; I can’t have sex—”
“You can’t have sex with your hot-ass wife?! Shit!” Jackson shouted.
Barack continued, “I’m a disaster. I need help. I need your advice, guys. What did you all do about midterms?”
“Studied and studied,” Franklin replied.
“He means elections, Franklin,” said Quincy.
“Oh. Umm, mostly I rode around Kansas and Nebraska just kind of saying ‘hey’ to people. I was really into doing nothing at the time so … Yeah, mostly I did nothing,” Franklin babbled.
“I buried my head in Henry Clay, honestly. Not—no—I’m not like that—I—we were working on the American System,” he sputtered. Silence.
“I wrote a lot in my diary and experimented with different bedtime tea blends in the days leading up to the midterm elections,” Quincy offered up. Andrew looked at him with disdain.
“I went hunting. Shot a bunch of shit, then ate it. I promoted a bunch of people to positions I didn’t give a shit about, and then they were like all, ‘ahh, thanks’ and I was like, ‘Whatever your daughter’s hot,’” Jackson announced.
“I went into the plains to live in seclusion for a week. Oh, and I started a revolution in Latin America,” Teddy offered.
The President felt hopeless. “I pushed through a laundry list of legislation, fulfilled some of my most ambitious campaign promises… and no one likes me!”
After a moment of silence, the room erupted in laughter.
“Of course, son!” Ronald said, patting him on the back.
“Doing good doesn’t mean shit,” Jackson added.
The President was angry. “Well what does, then? What do I have to do to get people to like me around here?”
Quincy deadpanned, “Lower taxes and give away free food.”