Saturday, January 17, 2009

Paying the Bills

Oh, crap.

"Bill! ¿Que honda, mi perro?"

Note to Self: Find a new bar.

"Not too much, Bill. Guess you're hiding out, eh?"

He plops down on the bar stool next to mine. Oddly enough, he's looking much better than the last time I saw him. Somehow fitter? Haler? Happy? Is that Armani?

"From what?" he asks, jovially.


I roll my eyes--maybe hiss, too. It's hard to say. He ignores me and raises a finger to the bartender.

"A Tecate and a shot of Patrón for me."

"That's pretty expensive," I mumble.

He looks at me. "No," he corrects, "make that a Negro Modelo."


"And a Red Stripe for my friend. Hell, give him a shot, too."

"Thanks, Bill, but that's not necessary."

"What is, Bill?"

"Oh, I don't know," I shrug, "coming clean to the Feds."

Bill laughs heartily. Funny, when I tell a joke, you can hear a pin drop; but when I'm deadly serious, the room explodes in laughter. The bartender puts down our drinks.

"Ooh," Bill coos, "how about that lovely corned beef and potatoes?"

"They're out," I damn-near scream. The bartender gives me a queer look. "They're out."

"Yeah. We're ... uh ... out."

"Maybe I should go back to the kitchen, talk to mi hermana, see what she can rustle up for her Mexican brother."

"She's gone, quit," I say, hurriedly. I just want him gone. "The new cook's Russian. All she can make is pork."

"Whatever," the bartender sighs, and walks away.

"That's no problem, Bill. I love pork."

"So, I've heard."

Bill gives me a quizzical look. "What's the problem, Bill? I thought we--I thought--you know--I thought we'd made a connection. You wrote some really nice things about me in Tome."

"You read that?"

"Well ... one of my aides ..."

"Of course."

"So then, what's the problem, Bill?"

"Well, Bill," I exhale deeply. "You are under federal investigation for corruption."

"Oh, that," Bill pee-shaws. "These things happen."

"Pay-to-play happens?"

"That's Blago. Not me."


"Do they have me on tape?"

I look at him. Incredulous.

"No," he whispers, harshly, "do they? What have you heard?"

"Dude, I take care of Poohbutt all day. I don't hear shit."

"Oh yeah," Bill chuckles. "'Talkin' Shit ... Literally.' That was funny--or, so my aide says."

"Some company gives your PAC a couple grand, so you, Governor, give them a fat million-dollar contract?!"

"You're oversimplifying things," Bill says, stiffly.

"Damnit, Bill. What happened to-" I start whining mockingly- "I served 14 years in Congress. I was deputy minority whip? I met with Saddam and Slobadan and the Sudanese?' What the hell happened to Blair, Jo, and Tootie?!"

"Ahhh, Tootie--"

"What the fuck happened to Vanessa del Rio, nigga?!"

Someone gasps. Bill jerks back.

"Oooh ... ahhh," I stammer. "Did I just say that? I'm sorry. I've been watching a lot of Boondocks lately." I inhale ... exhale. "It's just that--well--now more tha--why the quick buck, Bill? Just why?"

Before he can respond, there's a commotion at the door. We all turn. A well-tailored, well-muscled, well-armed phalanx of crew cuts, sunglasses, lapel pins, and funny, white ear-wires quick-step into the bar. Between them flows a river of Saudi robes. Suddenly, the place reeks of petrodollars. On the next wave of visitors comes a hearty, twanged laugh. The entire bar gasps.


He and his Saudi/Secret Service entourage head directly to us. Immediately, thoughts of Rodney King flash through my mind. Old habits die hard. I cringe when this Bill slaps me and the other Bill on our backs. I hope someone's getting this on their camera-phone.

"Ha, ha," he chuckles. "Bill ... Bill."


"Uh ... Bill?" I ask.

"A round on me! For everybody in the hooooouuuuuusssse!" the new Bill trumpets.

The crowd cheers. The bartender gets to work. New Bill gives me a deep, penetrating look. Damn, he's creeping me out. He does have charisma. Suddenly, I want to find a cigar and a little, blue dress.

"Now, Bill," he says to me, "don't be so hard on my boy, Bill, here. He's a good man, a fine politician, a fine Latino politician--a key demographic, you know."

"Oh, I know."

"One day he'll make a fine Commerce Secretary when this all blows over and, who knows, maybe one day, a fine President. Insha'allah."

The Saudis give a crude chuckle.

"Besides," Bill continues. "I taught the man everything he knows."

I give Bill a heated glare. He shrugs uncomfortably. 'Nuff said.

"Now, I'm off to go 'make a speech,'" Bill concludes. "See ya in the funny papers!"

Bill, the Secret Service, and the Saudis flow out of the bar. I watch, dumbfounded. The bartender slaps the tab down before me.

"That'll be $247.82."

"He didn't pay?!" I gasp.

The bartender shrugs.

Bill shrugs.

"We're always paying for what that man does."

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