The Baroness Visits an Old Friend

She half-expected him to be asleep when they entered the room. The nurse had warned her: he spends most of his time asleep. But no: as the nurse showed her in, he was sat up in bed, looking bright as a button, his face full of the square-jawed confident grin he had used to charm the voters.
"Mr. President, sir," said the nurse, "there's someone to see you." He blinked, but didn't respond.
"Hello, Ronald," she said, coming forward. "It's me, Margaret. I was visiting the area." She sat down, stiffly and gingerly, in the visitors' chair alongside the bed. He kept smiling, straight ahead.
"I'll leave you to it," said the nurse, leaving the room. "There's a button there if you need me, or if you can't unlock the door. Have a good time, now."
She sat, alone with him, wondering what to say, or if he could hear.
"Goddamn nurses," he growled, after a while. "Think I'm some kind of cabbage. Think I can't feed myself." His hands juddered slightly, underneath the blankets.
"Ronald! It's good to see you after so long!"
He squinted at her, slowly. "Who the hell are you, anyway?"
"Margaret," she answered. "I'm Margaret."
"Oh. Yeah." He looked doubtful. "Heh, the real queen. Still running your country?"
"I... had to resign, Ronald. It was for the best."
"Resign? Dammit, you're the best anti-commie we have over here. We need your help."
There was a pause.
"I can't kill all those commies on my own. If only we could bomb the goddamn Russian like I keep telling them to. A couple of nukes to Moscow and everything would be sorted. Wouldn't need to keep paying off those goddamn towelheads to try and prick the commies to death if we could just give old Mother Russia a good kick in the nuts."
"Well... a lot has changed in the world since then, Ronald."
"Kick in the nuts. That's what she needs."
"How is your family, Ronald? The nurse was telling me your son visited yesterday."
"Don't believe those goddamn nurses. Commies, the lot of them. No-one visits me. No-one. Too busy reading their horoscope to visit the goddamn President."
There was a polite pause.
"Kick in the nuts," he said again.
"Things have been going downhill since we left our posts. You know that's what I've always thought."
"You mean the world to me, Nancy. Forget all those other women."
The Baroness coughed, politely hoping he would realise his mistake.
"Hope they're not letting that fool Bush do too much to wreck the country whilst I'm sick. Loves to prance around the place pretending he's a Texan. Still, could be worse. Could be one of his idiot sons running the country." He leaned forward, slowly, slightly, as far as he could. "I've got an order for you. Go to him and get him to send Donald back out to babylon or wherever the hell it was and give that Hussein as much as he needs to kick the shit out of Iran. He can invade wherever the hell he likes, just as long as he marches into Tehran."
Ronald, I really don't think you should..."
"I've done too much for those Iranian camelfuckers. They had me, the President, in front of Congress. Had to pretend I was stupid or something. 'I don't recall.'"
"You know, you should try to relax a little."
"I don't recall. I don't recall." He seemed to subside slightly. "Goddamned nurses. Think they run the place." Pause. "I have to run the goddamned country."
The lock on the door clicked and rattled; the nurse came in with an afternoon meal. "Mr. President," she said, "i'ts time for your ice-cream."
"Goddamn nurses."
She set the tray down on the bed, and perched on the edge with a spoon. "Open wide, Mr. President." The Baroness didn't know where to look. He kept his mouth firmly shut as the nurse flew a spoonful of ice-crem towards it. The Baroness, for all she had done to revolutionise society and the economy, still felt strangely proud to see people eating soft-scoop ice-cream, one of her earliest creations.
His mouth was open slightly, now, but the half-melted ice-cream was still running down his chin. The nurse tried to catch drips before they hit the bedspread and wiped his chin after every other spoonful. "I don't recall," he spluttered, through the ice-cream. "Goddamned commies. Kick them in the nuts. Let's bomb Moscow like we always should have," he gurgled.
The Baroness had seen millions of the feckless poor, and been hard-hearted. She had sent men into battle and not shed a tear. She had tried to stay composed when her husband died, and she had barely wept after resigning her job. She wanted to cry now, though.

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