Chpt 4 –
Outside Moscow. Putin’s dacha.
Putin’s walking in the woods outside his home. Wearing a T shirt and jeans, he’s accompanied by his dog and a Woman dressed in a grey pant suit.
Putin stops, picks up a stick from the ground, rears back and calling to his dog, ‘Fetch, boy, fetch!’, hurls the stick a good distance off. The dog races after the stick.
Putin – How deep do you think the Mueller investigation will go?
Woman – He’s stubborn. Diligent. He won’t give up and won’t be intimidated.
Putin – You think there’s a chance they’ll uncover the full extent?
Woman – There is.
Putin – We have to protect Trump, at whatever cost.
Woman – Of course.
Putin – The more divided Americans are, the better for us. Their focus as a nation will be less clear.
Woman – He’s good at dividing.
Putin – Excellent.
Woman – There are some fringe white supremacy groups that could use financial support. We would make it look like it’s coming from some obscure wealthy southerner. All online.
Putin – Let’s stay away from that.
Woman – We can increase the conversation in support of Republican candidates… we don’t want Republicans to lose the House or the Senate.
Putin – I wish they could come together to put an end to the probe. By whatever means. They know it’s best for them. We’re still looking at Mueller’s background, see what we can use against him?
Woman – He’s clean.
Putin – Keep looking.
Woman – Of course.
The dog returns with the stick in his mouth. Putin pats him on the head, takes the stick and hurls it off again. This time it lands in the water of a nearby lake. The dog races after it.
Putin – The more Trump feels he won the election on his own, the less cooperative he’s likely to be. Which brings me to the reason I called for you.
Woman – Please.
Putin – I need his tax returns.
Woman – Tax returns?
Putin – I’d like to take a look.
Woman – They’re probably in a tightly guarded vault.
Putin – So?
The Woman smiles.
Putin – Melania would like a look, too.
The Woman laughs.
Woman – You’d like Trump to know we got them?
Putin – No… but I may want to release them to the public through a third party, at the right time.
Woman – We’ll get to it right away.
Putin – Thank you. That is all.
Woman (bowing) – It’s been a pleasure. Have a good day.
The Woman turns and leaves.
Putin walks toward the lake where the dog is still struggling to retrieve the stick.
Putin – Washington! Come boy, come! Washington!
White House. Bedroom Suite. Midday.
Melania is standing by the window.
Melania – It wasn’t just once. I’ve been willing to forgive… to see his affairs as indiscretions… but if it were me having the affair, it would be a far different matter. I would be called every name under the sun… and the howls would be unceasing. The disparagement would come not only from men but from women, too. Holy women.
She reaches to the drape and pulls it more open.
Melania – How do you get rid of temptation? Impossible. So it takes intelligence, more so than morality, to see the greater good of maintaining a relationship. But there have to be limits. Without limits then it’s an open marriage and that is no marriage at all. We need limits so we learn to hold our pain. Hold our pain so we can examine it. Examine it so we can process it. If we set limits, we have a chance. A chance to explore who we are… value what we find… and commit to fulfilling our potential. And if we dare to act as catalysts for each other, then we can rightly claim that the partnership is fruitful. Marriage as a partnership to help deliver ourselves onto the world. Affairs and indiscretions will happen because we’re flawed. But without the willingness to examine the source of the affair, then the deceit is compounded and the relationship no longer has validity.
She turns, walks back into the room and sits at the table.
Melania – The theory is clear in my mind… the practice, though, is murky.
She holds her face in her hands for a moment, then, looking forward…
Melania – I am not happy. His affairs have been wounding… far deeper than I have acknowledged.
She sits back and holds her hands on her lap.
Melania – A while back he said he was going to publicly apologize for his behavior toward women… he even drew up a statement that I thought was quite good… but he hasn’t done it. He cannot find the strength in himself. His base forgives his behavior… or looks the other way… and I have, too… but I can’t anymore.
His behavior toward women was unacceptable and the nation deserves an apology. But there’s no apology and instead it continues… the other day he called a lady and a former aide, a dog.
What is that? Where does that come from?
He has no respect for the office he holds. No concern for the role model he needs to be.
She rises and walks off a few paces.
Melania – I’ve talked myself into thinking I can have an impact on him but it’s amounted to nothing. And yet I try… because I have a responsibility to the nation… to this country who took me in as an immigrant. I have a responsibility to act within my powers… to persuade him to come to his senses.
Tears have come to her eyes. She dabs them dry.
Melania – I’ve loved him… but I don’t think he loves me… not anymore… if he did he would pay more attention… though sometimes he has… but he could be doing so much more.
She crosses to sit on the edge of the bed, arms on her knees.
Melania – Soon enough his base will tire of him… soon enough they’ll see through him… they’ll see that to deliver what they truly need he has to have the consent of the entire nation… because it’s going to take a long term investment to empower them… and he doesn’t know how to do that. He knows how to whip up a rage against immigrants… but doesn’t know how to constructively channel those energies. He can build hotels… but he doesn’t know how to nurture people.
He knows how to use them… and yet… I love him.
She shakes her head slowly.
Melania – One day, though… I may choose to not be at his side.
Washington DC. Park. Evening.
A man in a suit (1st) sits at a bench. He checks his cell phone. A moment later, a second man (2nd), also in a suit, approaches and sits next to the first one. They both turn off their cell phones and lay them side to side between them.
1st – Pleasant evening.
2nd – Indeed.
1st – The investigation keeps going deeper.
2nd – Like it or not.
1st – They may yet stumble into something big.
2nd – Any day now.
1st – The democrats are salivating.
2nd – Drooling.
1st – Think Cohen will make a dent?
2nd – I think we’ve seen all he’s got… but he may yet have an ace up his sleeve.
1st – Something is about to break.
2nd – How do you think T will react?
1st – He’ll go bonkers.
They look at each other.
1st – We’ll have to ease him out. In the interest of the nation.
2nd – Like it or not.
1st – Call in a forensic team… certify him unfit for office.
2nd – There’s a way to do it.
1st – I heard about it.
2nd – Pence should slide right in.
1st – We can work with him.
2nd – For a while.
1st – Mitch is whom I’d like to see as Prez.
They both chuckle.
1st – Hard to drain the swamp, ain’t it?
2nd – Damn hard.
Two joggers pass by.
1st – You still jog?
2nd – Three times a week.
1st – I need to get back to it.
2nd – Good for your brain.
1st – What about Manafort?
2nd – Hard fall from grace.
1st – What a lousy vetting job, getting him for campaign manager.
2nd – You’re not kidding. Where was the Party?
1st – La La land.
2nd – Bet you he didn’t jog.
1st – Manafort?
2nd (smiling) – Didn’t get enough oxygen up there.
A squirrel scampers across.
1st – Think he’ll get a pardon?
2nd – He just might.
1st – If he doesn’t, it’s going to be some years in uniform.
2nd – What a come down.
1st – I’m sure he saw himself slipping…
2nd – And he couldn’t stop.
1st – Tragic character… when you can’t stop yourself.
2nd – Playing out as we speak.
1st – Was it John Acton who said ‘power tends to corrupt…’ or was it Clausewitz?
2nd – John Acton, ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
1st – Easy to forget, when you’re counting the money.
2nd – Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to us.
1st – Yep.
2nd – Will you call me aside if you see me slipping… if I ever do?
1st – I promise.
2nd – I’ll do the same for you.
1st – Thanks.
1st – I was about to say it won’t ever happen to me… but that’s a bad sign right there.
They both laugh.
2nd – Yep.
1st – Keep it real.
2nd – Amen.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net. Also available in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout.
This play was published in 2018 and is available on Amazon.