Chapter Sixteen: “One Sip Too Many”
It was late. The West Wing was deserted. Tomorrow it would bustle again, but for now everyone was out on the town, enjoying the parties and inaugural balls and the feeling of being on the winning team.
Mike Bloomberg had begged off. As much as he enjoyed parties, the past few weeks had been trying. So much to do and prepare for. And also, he couldn’t quite shake this persistent . . . what was it? A cold? The flu? That’s what the doctor said. “Get some rest, and it’ll go away,” the doc told him, just after Election Day.
But it didn’t go away. Nor did the headaches. Or the tingly numb feeling that sometimes overtook him. The dizziness. The sudden tightness in his chest. I’m just tired, he said to himself.
Mike sat alone in the darkened Oval Office. He took a deep breath and looked around. It had been quite a ride. The campaign seemed like a distant memory—the stump speeches, the debates, all of it. And it had cost him! Waiting on the platform to give his inaugural speech, Mike had done something he hadn’t done in decades—he’d added up figures on the back of an envelope. Almost $1 billion! Gone! Spent on Web ads and television commercials and Get Out the Vote initiatives. Vans for old people and churchgoers. Flyers and doorknockers in swing districts. Even—and here Mike allowed himself some guilty pride—some really nasty oppo on the Trump boys.
But it was all worth it. He was president now.
Mike poured himself a glass of mineral water—a brand he had discovered on the campaign trail—switched on the desk lamp, and gathered up some papers from the inbox on the HMS Resolute desk. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day. The headaches were coming back, though—he could feel it—and the pages in front of him were blurry and out of focus.
“Burning the midnight oil, Mr. President?”
Mike sat up with a start. He peered into the dark. “Who’s there?”
Vice President Hillary Clinton glided silently to the desk.
“Oh,” said Mike. “It’s you.”
“You’re not looking too good, Mike,” she said. “Pale. Sweaty. Maybe it’s time to get some rest.”
Mike looked up, annoyed. He knew months ago that adding Hillary Clinton to the ticket would have drawbacks. She’s pushy and arrogant and would feel entitled to barge into his office at any moment. But the campaign was over now. He needed to set some boundaries.
“Hillary, I’d prefer it if you didn’t just barge in. If you want to see me . . .” His voice trailed off. He had forgotten what he was going to say.
“Everything okay, Mike? Maybe take another sip of water?”
There was something strange in the way Hillary was talking. Some cheerfulness, like she was almost goading him. Mike reached for the bottle of water and took a long drink. Some of it spilled down his shirtfront. The bottle slipped from his hand. He watched it hit the rug in slow motion. Hillary threw back her head and . . . was she laughing? He couldn’t tell. The room was spinning and all he could hear was the blood rushing in his ears and then his head hit the desk and he could almost see Hillary Clinton replacing the water bottle with another one, and his eyes were open as she dialed her phone.
“Come quickly!” he thought he could hear her say. “Something’s happened to the president!”
The last thing President Mike Bloomberg saw was Vice President Hillary Clinton with a satisfied smile on her face.
Chapter Nineteen: “The Pleasure of the President”
“To be honest, Madam President, I was surprised to get your call.”
Bernie Sanders was an infuriating person. Rude, abrasive, arrogant—usually these were things that Hillary Clinton admired. But Bernie, well, she and Bernie had history. Bad history.
“Let me be honest, Bernie. You weren’t my first choice. But after Elizabeth Warren’s accident—”
“Yes, accident,” Bernie said slowly. “A curious kind of accident. It’s not often that a dog explodes.”
“So true. And yet. To be frank, I wasn’t all that excited about having her around. There’s such a thing as too many ambitious women, don’t you think?”
Hillary swirled her cognac in the snifter. This was going better than she had imagined.
“Now you, on the other hand, seem like a smart operator. You seem to know how to play the game. So I guess my question is, Bernie, how’s your heart problem?”
Bernie shifted in his chair.
“The doctors tell me it’s under control, Madam President.”
“Well, good. How would it look if my second choice for vice president also ended up quite, quite dead?”
Being president was going to be fun.
(continued next page)
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