Sunday, May 1, 2011

Aloha, My Lovely, Part 6: A Placenta in the Sun

From the case files of Sam Stain, Private Eye, who's been hired by Donald Trump to go to Honolulu and bring back the President's placenta

We splashed down in a stream of rushing water, and floated. The little Smart Car’s headlights showed the way as we bobbed along on the surface.
I looked at Al Gore, who was still gripping the wheel, as if he could steer. “The gizmo floats?” I said.
He pointed out the windshield. “Clearly. It’s not a Swift Boat, but it’ll do.”
We were moving fast, the river carrying us downstream, away from the Governor’s goons who’d been chasing us in the big Packard.
“You know,” said Gore, “this is a perfect example of how global climate change has adversely affected the planet. This raging river that we’re floating in used to be a tiny stream, but now, due to increased rains brought on by a warming climate…”
I thought about plugging him, but I couldn’t do it. There was only one alternative. Groaning, I opened the door and jumped.
I could hear the former Vice President’s frantic cries fading into the distance as I hit the water and went under. Gasping and flailing, I fought my way to the surface as the river hurtled me downstream. Then something slammed into the back of my head, and the lights went out.
I don’t know how much time had passed when I came to, lying spread-eagled on my back on the riverbank with a lump the size of a breadfruit bulging the back of my head. It was still dark, stars twinkling the night sky above. I staggered to my feet and stood there, pain throbbing my think-tank. Where was I? I had no clue. I had to get to the airstrip, somehow, and I was running out of time.
An idea crawled up my spine and nipped me in the noodle. I still had Al Gore’s Blackberry. I pulled the phone out, praying that it still worked. It did, flickering to life when I powered it up. A half an hour later I staggered onto the Halawa Beach airstrip, Mapquest leading the way. I was just in time. The sound of a jet engine cut the darkness from above. Looking up, I saw landing lights flashing as a big, dark jet descended out of the west. Moments later its wheels hit the ashphalt runway, a roaring blue 727 with the word TRUMP printed in big, white letters across the fuselage. I recognized the design – it was one of the Trump Airline jets from the ‘80s. The Donald had bought the Eastern Air Shuttle, a flying bus service that flew hourly shuttles between Boston, New York and Washington. He’d tried to turn it into a luxury shuttle, but it didn’t take. The airline went bango a couple years later, Trump defaulted on his loans and the company was turned over to creditors. He must have kept one of the jets for himself, I thought, as I watched the plane bounce down on the asphalt runway.
I followed, running to the end of the airstrip as Trump’s jet wheeled to a halt. A door opened at the rear of the aircraft and a comely blond stewardess lowered a portable stairway. “Welcome aboard, Mr. Stain,” she said as I walked into the empty jet. Well, it was almost empty. There was one other passenger: The Donald. He was sitting in a big swivel chair in the center of the aircraft, facing a flat-screen TV and holding an empty vodka glass.
“Have a seat,” he said. “I was giving a speech in Honolulu, so I thought I’d just swing by and pick you up. You look like shit, Stain. What the hell have you been doing?”
I started to answer but he cut me off, holding his empty glass up so the stewardess could see. “I’ll have another T&T, Tonya,” he said, jiggling the glass. He looked at me. “You want one, Stain? Trump and Tonic. My own label. Trump Vodka. You remember, I’m sure. It was the best, Stain. Everything I do is the best.”
I remembered reading somewhere about his vodka venture. He’d predicted the T&T would become one of the most requested drinks in America, but then the vodka went bust, just like the airline.
“I’ll take a bourbon,” I said.
Trump gave me a disgusted look, then turned to the flat screen. He was watching himself give a speech. “Watch this, Stain. It’s my favorite part,” he said, then he pointed the remote at the screen and turned up the sound.
The Trump on the screen was looking straight at me, his piercing blue eyes dancing with delight. “You wanna know what I’d tell the Chinese,” he said. “Here’s what I’d tell the Chinese. I’d say, ‘Listen you motherfuckers, we’re gonna drop a 25 percent tax on your asses.”
The crowd went wild.
The Donald muted the screen again, then turned to me, smiling smugly. “You see, Stain? They love me. I’m gonna tell you something. Everyone’s saying it’s all a publicity stunt, that I’m not really running for President. But let me tell you, I’m running. It’s gonna be Trump-Blagojevic, 2012. What do ya think? I’ve already got the slogan. ‘Let the hair take you there.’ What do ya think, Stain?”
“It’s catchy,” I said.
His too-blue eyes narrowed, boring into me, and his nostrils flared. “You stink, Stain,” he said. “Why don’t you go back into the dressing room and change your clothes. There’s a whole wardrobe back there from my personal collection. Go ahead. You’ll feel better.”
He turned back to the TV, turning the sound up once again. I got up and walked back to the back of the plane. Behind me, I heard him replaying his favorite line of the speech. The part where he tells the Chinese who’s boss.
Tonya, the stewardess, led me into a private dressing room, filled with clothes from the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection. I picked out a white silk dress shirt and a pair of black slacks. The labels read: MADE IN CHINA. Peeling out of my filthy clothes, I slipped them on. They fit like a dream, the silk cool and clean against my skin, but somehow, I felt even dirtier wearing them.
When I got back to my seat, there was a glass of bourbon waiting for me, but The Donald was gone. I picked up the glass and drank. Then I drank another. Before long, my eyes closed and I went drifting off to dreamland.
I awoke to a gentle rocking, sunlight streaming through the windows of the plane. Tonya’s hand was on my shoulder, shaking me awake. “Mr. Stain, we’re here,” she said.
I peered out the window. She was right, we were on the ground, the big Trump plane parked at a jetway next to a terminal. “Mombasa?” I said.
“Cairo,” said Tonya, smiling. “We had a change of plans. Mr. Trump told me to give you this.”
As I stood up, she handed me an envelope.
Cairo? What were we doing in Egypt? I opened the envelope. Inside were two Disney On Ice tickets and a note. The note read:

I received a tip that what we want is in Egypt. A man named Dennis will contact you at the Sultan Bar, at the Mena House, near the Great Pyramids. Give him the Disney On Ice tickets, and he’ll tell you where to find Obama’s placenta. Contact me when you get back to New York.
- Trump

I took a cab to the Mena House, a spectacular hotel in the shadow of the pyramids, and went up to the Sultan Bar.
“I’m looking for Dennis,” I told the bartender, a dark, elegant-looking man with a big, black moustache. His eyes led me to a dark booth in the corner of the bar, where a little man with a fez on his head sat with his back to me, sipping a martini. I walked over and stood behind him, looking down at the top of his fez.
“You must be Dennis,” I said.
He turned. It was Dennis Kucinich, his gigantic, elf-like ears jutting out from beneath the fez. “And you are Mr. Stain,” he said. “You brought the Disney On Ice tickets?”
I nodded.
“Show me,” he said.
I slid into the booth opposite the congressman and handed him the envelope.
He rubbed his little fingers over the tickets, licking his lips. “Excellent,” he said, smiling.
“The placenta?” I said.
He slipped the tickets into his jacket and stood up. “Come with me.”
I followed him outside, through the luxurious marble lobby of the Mena House to the hotel’s sprawling, jasmine-scented gardens. Above the gardens towered the Great Pyramid of Giza. That’s where he took me, the tassle of his little red tarbouche bobbing beside his head as he lead the way. We exited the gardens and walked out onto the plateau of the pyramids, heading for the spectacular temple of the Pharoahs. We passed the Great Sphinx, reclining as it had for nearly 5,000 years, and made our way to the pyramid’s entrance. The temple filled my field of vision, its sides sloping at a perfect angle to the sky. Gazing up at the smoothly polished limestone, I felt a shudder, as if the cold fingers of time were passing over my spine.
We walked inside, our shoes making loud clicks on the ancient stone. Kucinich led me down a passageway that took us through a series of chambers, each seemingly smaller than the last, until I had to crouch down just to keep my head from smacking the stone ceiling. Finally he led me into a vestibule that opened up, the ancient stone walls soaring hundreds of feet high, sloping together at the same, steep degree as the pyramid itself.
The congressman stood in the center of the room, gazing up at the distant ceiling overhead. “They built this place,” he said. “Not the Egyptians. You know that, right?” His voice echoed off the pyramid’s walls.
“Who?” I asked. “What do you mean, not the Egyptians?”
He looked at me. “They visited me, Mister Stain. I was at Shirley MacLaine’s house, in Washington state. The smell of roses drew me out to my balcony where, when I looked up, I saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent and beautiful. It was watching me. It hovered, soundless, for ten minutes or so, and then it sped away with a speed I couldn’t comprehend. But I felt a connection in my heart and heard directions in my mind. Those directions led me here. Which is where I found this.”
He took something out of his jacket pocket. It was disc-shaped, about the size of a Frisbee, dark brown in color, almost maroon. It looked like it was made of rotten meat.
I moved toward him, staring at the dingus. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Yes,” said Dennis Kucinich, tossing the meat-disc onto the dusty floor of the pyramid. “It’s Obama’s placenta. Or whatever they call it on his planet. President Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, Mister Stain. Nor was he born in Kenya. He came from up there, somewhere.” He pointed up, toward the ceiling, but what he really meant was beyond the ceiling. Beyond the pyramids. Beyond the earth.
“He’s an alien being, Mister Stain. Brought here, to our planet, to rule us.”
“You’re nuts,” I said.
“Am I?” said Kucinich, smiling, his little, rodent-like eyes dancing beneath the fez. “Or am I so sane I just blew your mind?”
I tried to cluck sympathetically, but it caught in my throat. Before I could get it out, somebody laid a blackjack to the back of my head and the lights went out completely.


When I came to, my head was throbbing and my eyes didn’t want to focus. I made them. I was sitting in a first-class airline seat, with a portable DVD player in my lap. A card on the seatback in front of me read “Hawaiian Air.” Someone was shaking my shoulder. It was the flight attendant.
I felt like I was having a deja-vu. Or, was I?
“Sir, we’ve landed.”
“Landed?” I mumbled, my mouth full of marbles. “Where?”
“Honolulu,” she said, smiling. “You slept most of the flight. You were talking in your sleep, too.”
I rubbed my temples. “Oh yeah? What was I saying?”
“Something about Obama,” she said. “It was hard to make out.”
It was a dream. The whole thing, just a cockamamie dream. Being kidnapped. Joe Biden in drag. Al Gore. Kucinich. The Pyramids. All of it. I hadn’t solved any case. Obama wasn’t an alien. Either I was headed for the loony bin or … I looked down at the little DVD player on my lap. Fox News was on the screen, Sean Hannity spewing a mouthful of gibbering hooey. That was it. I’d been watching Trump’s lousy DVDs and I fell asleep. The teabags had opened, and the wingnut juice seeped into my brain. I folded the screen closed, then I stood up, shaking my head, trying to clear the gibberish.
I staggered off the plane and into the terminal. In my pocket, my cellphone buzzed and hummed. I answered it.
“Stain, it’s Donald Trump. I need you to come back to New York. Obama released his long-form birth certificate. I’m very proud of myself that I was able to force him to do this.”
“I thought you wanted the placenta,” I said.
“Maybe later,” said The Donald. “But right now I’ve got something else that’s more pressing. I want you to look into his college transcripts. I read somewhere that he was a bad student. Horrible. I’d like to know, how does he get into Harvard, how does he get into Columbia if he wasn’t a very good student? I knew lots of kids, Stain. Rich white kids, with lots of money. Their fathers had all sorts of connections, and yet they couldn’t get into Harvard. So how’d this guy do it? There’s something fishy about it, Stain. I can smell it.”
I hung up. Sweat seeped out of my pores and clung to me like a stench. I felt dirty, like I’d been rolling in filth. I went to the ticket counter and picked up the ticket, then I stopped at B. Dalton’s and bought a book for the flight home. A biography of Barack Obama. I read it cover to cover, soaring 30,000 feet over the Pacific. Trump was full of it. So maybe Obama didn’t get straight A’s at Occidental College or Columbia. There are plenty of other presidents who didn’t get great grades either, including George W. Bush. In fact, Bush was a dunce, but you didn’t hear anyone asking to see his credentials once he got to the White House. Maybe they should have. And once he got to Harvard, Obama was brilliant, graduating Magna Cum Laude and named president of the Law Review.
By the time we touched down at JFK, I knew what I needed to do. I hopped in a cab and headed downtown to my dingy office, and I went to work. It took me a couple of days of digging, but I found the information I needed. When I had it all, I called Trump and told him to come to my office.
He came in, his face a pompous mask of glowing bronze, his hair swooping like a puma, ready to pounce.
He sat down in the chair across my desk, his face filled with expectation. “Well, Stain, did you get the dirt on Obama’s college transcripts, like I asked you?”
I pushed a manila folder at him. “It’s all there,” I said.
He opened it, pulled out my report and looked. His eyes glinted as they swept across the top page. Wrinkles appeared in his forehead, and his face turned red as the ink on his casino ledgers. He looked up at me, his lips trembling with rage. “What the hell is this? This isn’t what I asked for…”
“No, but it’s worth something, just the same,” I said.
He thumbed through the pages. “This is all my dealings with Ghaddafi in 2009.”
“That’s right,” I said. “It reeks like a Boardwalk Port-a-Potti.”
“Where did you get this?”
“I found it. That’s what I do, Mr. Trump. I find things.”
“What is this, a shakedown?”
I shrugged. “Call it what you like. A warning.”
He squinted, his deep-blue orbs twinkling with anger. “What is it that you want, Stain?”
I leaned over the desktop and stared straight into his tan-in-a-can kisser. I said: “I want you to shut your big bazoo. Stop lying about the President. That’s all. No more lies. Got it?”
Trump’s lips quivered, as if he were about to smooch something. It wouldn’t be me. “And if I don’t?”
I stood up, moving quickly around the desk. I stood over him, my hands clenched into fists of rage. “If you don’t, I’ll steal the marmot. You know, the one on top of your head.”
He looked up at me, a smug smile playing across his lips. “Don’t threaten me, Stain. I leave particles of guys like you in my wind.”
“That must be painful,” I said, snatching the dead marmot off his head. Stepping quickly around the desk, I opened the window that looked out over the Avenue of the Americas, and I tossed it out. The sound of car horns honking echoed from the street below.
Without taking his eyes off me, Trump ran a hand across the top of his bald dome. He looked ridiculous. Like a clown, like an inconsequential foof. Like a dirty, bald-headed crumb. “I have another one at home, Stain,” he said.
“Then I’ll get that one too.”
“I have two more at my brother-in-law’s house.”
“I know where your brother-in-law lives.”
“Damn you, Stain.”
He got up and went to the door. Before opening it, he turned to me. “You’re a dead man, Stain. You know that, don’t you? As soon as I leave here I’m going to pick up the phone and make a call. That’s all I’ll do. Make one phone call. And then men will come here and rub you out. It may be tomorrow. It may be the next day, or the day after that. But they will come.”
I shrugged, pouring bourbon into a dirty styrofoam cup. “I’ll be here,” I said. “Waiting.”
He went out. I watched him walk past the bullethole in my frosted glass window, and then he was gone.
I put my feet up on the desk, leaned back in my squeaky office chair and drank.
I would wait. Like the sign on the door said, I was Stain.


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