Another scribble. We were asked to write a story based on a wordless cartoon from The New Yorker.
“So how bad is it fellas?”
“Sir, the virus is decimating the Midwest. We have a rough estimate projecting 50 million infected and one million dead.”
“This is bad, right?”
The vice president stepped in and faced the president squarely.
“It’s bad, Georgie. You might want to have a seat.”
The president began crouching, and an aide whisked a chair behind him. The aide grunted as the president unwittingly squeezed the chair against the aide’s foot.
“Oooh. Sorry about that.”
“Not at all, Mr. President. It was my fault,” muttered the aide through his clenched teeth.
The vice president had motioned another aide in bearing several stiff poster sheets and an easel.
“All right, I had the guys draw up some visual aids and bulletin points. This is important, so you need to pay attention. Here’s the U.S. past the Mississippi. This wide swath here is the area affected by the virus.”
“You mean the purple paisley?”
In a fit of creative fervor, the responsible aide had placed a pattern of paramecium to distinguish the diseased area. The graphic indeed looked like a wide purple paisley tie was draped over the dotted shirt of the American West like a used-car salesman from the Carter Administration.
“That’s right, GW. From Iowa right down to Nevada is Ground Zero. We’re sending what military we can to quarantine…”
The president put a finger up and stared distantly at the vice president. A wide smile then broke across his face, and he then giggled, which then deepened into a hearty guffaw, which he punctuated with a slap across his knee.
The vice president, nonplussed, remained stern and blank.
“You got me. You got me — you old Bald & Chain. I knew you couldnt’ve forgot my birthday yesterday!”
“Man, Dick, you really had me going there with all the cartoons and stuff…”
“One million dead!” The president howled. “That’s way worse than 9/11!”
Something in the vice president’s voice made George Herbert Walker Bush, Jr. snap to attention.