Scene opens on a large living room lavishly furnished. The decor is crazy rich Asian, with not one but two glittering chandeliers, gold framed everything that could be rectangularly outlined; windows, mirrors, doorways, bookcases and so on, Louis Quatorze chaises, Persian rugs so vast they piled up at the corners of the inlaid parquet, and spindly-legged tables filled with casually expensive bibelots. In one recessed section of the room the walls narrow into a long corridor complete with a door at its very distant end suggesting an art gallery. The walls are so heavily populated with Fragonard swingers and Bouguereau doe-eyed nymphs it would have resembled one of those rooms in the Louvre dedicated to French Rocco art—yawning and empty—were it not for the fake plaster columns just made for people to gather and whisper behind, like medieval water coolers.
Nevertheless, all of this magnificence is outshone by an ornate fountain that stands in the middle of the room. At its centre stands a marble statue of a horse ridden by a bare chested warrior, who holds aloft a torch from which water gushes, splashing onto a spiral staircase of marble clamshells ending in a wide basin vast enough to accommodate a large number of frolicking Dolce Vitans.. In spite of an architecture that invites one to celebrate life’s gloriousness the fountain’s single inhabitant exudes an air of glum anxiety. Curled up on one of the larger marble clamshells in the middle of the spiral he stares at the basin’s swirling depths, lit underneath by rainbow arc lights, as if it holds the secret to how to end his troubles. This is Mitch McConnell, aka Yertle the Turtle.
A figure draped in fur from head to toe emerges from behind the brocade drapes enveloping the ten foot high windows and strides over to the fountain. It stands quietly, stroking its fur, then folds its arms across its chest. Its growly voice seems to emerge from the bottom of a long tunnel. This is Elaine Chao aka Badger.
Badger: Yertle! Oh goddammit. Now he’s pulled his head into his shell again. This stupid fountain was supposed to be water therapy. (speaks again, louder this time)
Yertle, pull your head out of your shell this instant The protestors have gone. But we have guests tonight. And you’re not dressed yet.
Yertle: (peeking out from his clamshell.). Oh? Iron necktie guests?
Badger: (chuckles) glad you’re taking it so well. I’m afraid so. Big Weasel Len Blavatnik, Little Weasel Andrew Intrater, Big Boar Alexander Shustorovich, Silver Vole Ivanka and lesser vole Jared…
Yertle: Humph! (does a graceful swan dive off his clamshell and does a lap around the fountain before climbing out and facing his wife, dripping.)
Yertle: Badgie this fountain idea was sheer genius. I feel sooo much better after a swim.
Badger: (pats his carapace) Still you should wear the iron necktie. Sorry Yertle.
Yertle: I understand, it’s a withdrawal reflex common to my species that I cannot control. Bring it on, I’m ready. It’s been a long two years and it’s high time for Act Two to commence. (smirks at Badger, who smirks back).
The mahogany dining room table seating forty is this evening set for six. Tureens of crushed ice topped with caviar share space with champagne buckets from which heads of Dom and Clicquot peek out. The players are all swathed in fur typical of their namesakes; Big and Little Weasel’s fur is sleek and burnt umber in color, while Big Boar’s is coarse and bristly. Big Weasel is slathering caviar on thin slices of rye bread. Little Weasel is following suit, while Big Boar, yellow tusks gleaming, is snuffling after the acorn puree specially made for him. A rabbity butler is opening a bottle of Dom Perignon, and Yertle, Badger and the others all have their glasses filled.
Badger: A toast while we wait for the Voles?
Big Boar: A toast to our plan. And Badger, I trust we have time to talk before the Voles arrive? (Badger nods and murmurs, “they’re not due for another hour,” to Big Boar, who nods back).
Horrowshow! To our Leader, and to the Plan!
ALL: Raise their glasses and intone:) Horrowshow! Tp our Leader and to the Plan! (They clink glasses, sip and then sit. )
Big Boar: (Munching on his acorn puree toast) Hah! Is year of the Pig in Chinese calendar. So, my year. Yertle, you are doing great job. Molodyetz!
Yertle: (smirks) We have everything set in place to pull the plug on Unquiet Don.
Big Weasel: I love that joke. (He explains to Badger.) And Quiet Flows the Don is the English translation of the title of the great novel by Sholokhov, Тихий Дон (Teehee Don.) In the novel Don refers to the river, not the unquiet Don your boss. Our Leader loves literary puns. (a note of reverence enters his voice when he utters the words our leader).
Little Weasel: (Nods enthusiastically) Understanding Russian mentality means understanding our culture. Our leader is also influenced by Gogol and Dead Souls. Chichlkov—what a character.
Big Boar: Unquiet Don is another character Gogol would love. It amuses our Leader that Unquiet Don can reveal his fantasy to the American public about kidnapped women with duct tape over their mouths—an obvious reference to his problems with the Nancy—and no one in the eternally glupii American media makes the connection.
Big Weasel: The fool reveals his psychopathology every time he opens his mouth. Build a wall, kidnap women who don’t behave and put duct tape on their mouths to shut them up. But this latest revelation bring us to the question of Unquiet Don’s take-down. and how we accomplish it while maintaining our deep cover. Could his ramblings be referring to a scandal he knows even his Teflon status can’t withstand? Is he hinting he is worried about Silver Vole spilling the beans on some private behaviour?
Big Boar: Such a scandal would certainly distract, once again, from what we are doing. Yertle, how do you assess the situation? Do we play the Siver Vole card now—while the Nancy is undermining his perceived authority? I have to say, gaslighting is my favourite op.
Yertle: (when all eyes turn to him he struggles to withdraw his head into his shoulders. He makes choking noises as his iron necktie prevents him)
Gack! Sorry, it’s my amphibian reflex. You mean—incest? (whispers the word as he struggles again with his reflex)
Big Boar: (Loudly to drown out Yertle’s gacking noises) Yes, let’s use the “I” word. No behaviour is too heinous for this asset. I’ve seen his Kompromat tapes remember. I even wonder sometimes if our leader is willing to sacrifice this pawn sooner rather than later because he finds him so personally loathsome.
Yertle: (vindictively) It’s not going to hurt my feelings to see him go down. The sooner the better. Two years is long enough. I’m in.
Badger: That’s my Yertle.
Big Weasel: (turns to Badger) Will Silver Vole play along? Badger, you are woman, what is your view?
Badger: Oh, she hates him all right. Well, it’s love-hate. But threats to her financial well-being would be enough to turn her.
Little Weasel: Hah! Apple does not fall far from the tree there. Of all the sociopaths in that psychopathically diverse inner circle, she’s the worst. It almost makers you feel sorry for him. But I agree, she is not only the best media distraction, her defection would make him crumble in a Moscow minute.
Big Boar: What about the lesser Vole? Should we worry about him?
Yertle: Jared I am not worried about at all —he is the lesser of two e-voles…
Big Weasel: (Chuckles) Yertle, is reason you get along so well with our Leader. Nu ladna, Agreed then, we enact second part of Plan.
Big Boar: Which is Unquiet Don’s take down, while avoiding too much investigation into pesky investigation. Distraction with scandal is the game to play.
Big Weasel: As usual. The media are so easily played. By the time all the incestuous dirty laundry is aired everyone will have forgotten all about us. And the gullible American will embrace the sinless Sixpence as just the man to clean house. Once again, depravity will bring the capitalist empire down. To depravity, Amerikanskii style! He raises his glass and they all toast.
ALL: To depravity!
Yertle: So, what do I do now?
Big Weasel: I think it’s time we let the Voles know they are on thin ice financially. As are you, my hapless amphibian friend. Let them know we cannot continue to contribute to their well-being without serious cooperation from them.
A rabbity butler announces the arrival of the Voles. The Silver Vole, wrapped in fur the color moonlight, is dazzling. The lesser vole circles her orbit like a dull rock.
Silver Vole: (favours everyone with a glacial smile before she sits) Hello everyone.
Lesser Vole sits after his wife is seated. Badger signals the butler, and rabbity waiters bring out the first course salad. Yertle’s plate is piled high as salad is his absolute favourite, and when he wears the iron collar greens are just about all he can swallow.
Silver Vole: (to the waiter) Hmmm, I informed the kitchen before my arrival of my dietary restrictions. It’s a raw greens week for me so I believe you need to switch my plate with Yertle’s over there. (Yertle’s face falls as his plate is removed and a smaller salad is put in front of him).
Big Boar: How is your father, Silver Vole?
Silver Vole: Les sees him more than I do. How is he, Les?
Lesser Vole (shifty-eyed and scared-looking) Uhhh…pretty unhinged actually.
Silver Vole: Which is why we agreed to meet with you gentlemen tonight. I think I know what you have in mind. And I might be ready to deal. She turns her piercing gaze on Yertle, who has turned a bright shade of green and is choking on a lettuce leaf.
Yertle: (chokes) GAAAACK!
Lesser Vole: (moans) Ohhhh….
Badger: (growls) Yesss…
Big Weasel, Little Weasel and Big Boar stand up and raise their glasses to Silver Vole.
Big Boar: To Silver Vole, whose peerless beauty is outmatched only by her pure evil.
ALL: To Silver Vole!
To be continued….