Trump is in the Oval Office, standing by his desk.
He gets a call from his secretary.
Secretary – Putin on the line. Would you like to take the call?
Trump – Sure.
The call goes through.
Putin – Donald!
Trump – Vlady! Great to hear your voice, as always.
Putin – Great to hear you too.
Trump – Just heard the news about the Germans saying that Alexey Navalny was poisoned by your people.
Putin – I didn’t do it.
Putin – You don’t believe me?
Trump – I’ve always trusted you, Vlady… something about your persona that I find reassuring.
Putin – Thank you.
Trump – But the Germans did identify that nerve agent… Novichok.
Putin – I didn’t do it. But let me ask you, because I know you’ll understand, is there any way that we can control everybody that works for us?
Trump – Of course not.
Putin – Exactly. I don’t doubt that Navalny was poisoned, the Germans have doctors as good as yours and mine, but I assure you I didn’t give the order.
Trump – You’ve always inspired great confidence, so I believe you.
Putin – Donald… you bring tears to my eyes… truly… that means so much to me. Thank you.
Trump – My pleasure. How’s everything?
Putin – The reason I called is… I’ve been feeling a little hurt.
Trump – Oh, no, something I did?
Putin – Something you didn’t do.
Trump – Please, tell me.
Putin – You know how, just last week, we announced that we had the first vaccine against the virus…
Trump – Tremendous breakthrough. Congratulations.
Putin – Why haven’t you asked for help from me?
Trump is silent.
Putin – You only have to ask and I’ll give you first priority. I’ll have my scientists make you 50 million doses so you can take care of your vulnerable populations. Why haven’t you asked?
Trump – Vlady… first of all… on behalf of the American people, thank you for that generous offer. It goes to show the quality of your government. I really mean it. The thing is… my scientific community has doubts that you could’ve arrived at the vaccine so fast.
Putin – I’ve had brilliant researchers working on it day and night. We have everybody on a strict schedule. 9 am to 9 pm for 6 days a week. Sundays off. Sorry, every other Sunday.
Trump – Amazing. But Vlady… it would not look good. Imagine… ‘America saved by Russia.’ That’s how the New York Times would title the article making the announcement. Just to hurt me. I’m in the final stage of this election… I thought the virus had beat me but now things are getting better and I think I’ll get reelected. I cannot take any chances.
Putin – Even if my vaccine would be saving thousands and thousands of American lives?
Trump – (hesitates at first) … even so.
Putin – Donald… Russia wouldn’t be doing it for the publicity… that’s secondary… we’d be doing it because of our love for all in need.
Trump – Of course. Yes. But… well… I’ve got very lucky lately… I thought I was sure to lose on account of the virus and now, suddenly, things have turned my way. So, like we say over here, I don’t want to push my luck.
Putin – I thought that you did a masterful job handling the virus.
Trump – Thank you, Vlady. I appreciate it. But I think I was a little slow. Thankfully, though, unexpected events have come to assist me.
Putin – What is that?
Trump – The racial protests.
Putin – Ah, yes.
Trump – The looting, the burning of property, the chaos… I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Unbelievable. My numbers are rising steadily. I’m making up ground. The Democrats are catching on, though, I think they’re bribing the protesters to stop, but even so, we now have all that footage we can play over and over again. It’s going to be beautiful.
Putin – I’m so glad for you.
Trump – You’re staying on, of course…
Putin – Russia needs me.
Trump – Of course, like America needs me.
Putin – Law and Order. Like Assad in Syria, El Sisi in Egypt, MBS in Saudi Arabia, Duterte in Manila… yes… law and order.
Trump – You forgot Xi…
Putin – I did, didn’t I? Well, he’s one of the best.
Trump – It’s as if Mother Nature, in its infinite wisdom, had decided to bring all of us together at the same time.
Putin – You forgot Netanyahu.
Trump – Oops, I did. Yes, my great friend Bibi. May he reign for another 50 years… so he can see the West Bank finally annexed by Israel. What a glorious day that will be.
Putin – Actually, I disagree with you on that one.
Trump – Okay, we’ll talk about it later.
Putin – How come you didn’t invite Romney to speak at the Republican convention?
Trump – (laughs) Funny. He’ll have to do a lot begging before he gets an invitation from me.
Putin – A great show the convention was. And you were superb. All your family was just beautiful. America is so lucky to have you. The world, in fact.
Trump – Thank you, Vlady.
Putin – Have you thought of making one of your children Secretary of State?
Trump – What a marvelous idea. No, I hadn’t.
Putin – I would be one way of spreading your brand.
Trump – Of course.
Putin – And grooming him or her for the succession.
Trump – Brilliant, Vlady, just brilliant.
Putin – I’ve been following the events in your country… and I think Biden wouldn’t have selected the lady as Vice President if it hadn’t been for the racial protests.
Trump – You’re probably right. But, in his defense, he’s been in bed with African Americans for a long time. Plus, he’s a closet socialist. I’ll bury him in the debates. They’ll have to call the paramedics.
Putin – Now that we’re on that subject, something popped up in our screens here at the Kremlin the other day.
Trump – (very curious) What are you talking about?
Putin – A video clip…
Trump – What about?
Putin – Biden’s VP…
Trump – That woman…?
Putin – Right… in the middle of the night… in Minneapolis… with just her security detail around her… all very secretive… at George Floyd’s memorial… saying to George… ‘Thank you, George… if it hadn’t been for you I wouldn’t have been selected… thank you, from the bottom of my heart.’
Trump – Probably fake news… but interesting.
Putin – I thought so too.
Trump – (thinking about it) Interesting. Don’t know the author, do you?
Putin – No. Just popped up on our screens. Haven’t been able to trace it. Anyway… I’m always here for you, like a good friend.
Trump – Thank you, Vlady, thank you.
Putin – So onwards, my friend, another 4 years in office for a brilliant tactician! There’s never been a President like you.
Trump – Thank you, and may you reign in your land for the rest of your life.
Putin – Spasibo (thank you), spasibo.
They hang up.
Trump strolls toward the window, looks out into the city beyond.
Trump – Putin is like a great friend… just keeps giving and giving. Spasibo… spasibo, indeed. One day, after my second term is over, I’ll build that Trump Tower in Moscow.
Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available on Amazon