He’s pacing in his office in his bunker.
He looks a bit tense but controlled, mostly an enjoyable feeling. He’s just finished a half glass of vodka with his filet of salmon, done ‘a la Vladimir’ by his personal chef. He is careful with his drinking. Always has been. He remembers Boris Yeltsin very well, and how drink undid him.
On the other hand, if it hadn’t been for Yeltsin, who handpicked him, he wouldn’t be where he is now.
He thinks about freedom, how the West carries on and on about it. Absurd.
‘There’s no freedom on earth, not really, it’s all in heaven. Which is why I’m not disturbed by all the casualties I inflict, death merely passage to a great and fair world. I mean… sometimes it does occur to me that heaven is a useful fiction but… what are the chances of that? Minimal. Have to play the odds… and I’m a gambling man.’
He paces some more.
‘The thought of the cartel drug lord in Chihuahua, Mexico, enters his mind. ‘How interesting. The young fellow kills two Jesuit priests and gets the third one to hear his confession. He didn’t kill him, so the likelihood is the priest pardoned him. What was he going to do, staring at the two dead bodies in front of him? “No, you’re a murderer, I’m not going to pardon you.” Of course, he pardoned him. Then said a couple of prayers with him, to console and send him off. I would’ve done exactly the same thing. Save your skin. Oh, the power of the gun.’
He stops and takes another sip of his vodka.
‘I have thought of putting a military base in Mexico. Just to piss off the Americans. I doubt the president of Mexico would let me, but just the talk of it would be enough to rile the Americans, which I love to do. I can even talk of putting bases in other countries, too, say Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba. Just to keep the Americans guessing.’
On the TV monitors affixed to the wall, scenes of the destruction in Ukraine flash by.
‘I am the toast of the world. I am reviled in some sections, sure, but in others I am a hero.
And I love the invitation to the upcoming G-20 meeting in November. Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president, personally extended the invitation. Just beautiful. I’d love to attend. By then I will have conquered all of Ukraine, or if not, at least destroyed most of their infrastructure, their schools, universities, hospitals, industries, malls, whatever. Turned them into beggars. Just so they never forget what it means to defy me.
The West will soon forget them, anyway, worried as they are of having to pay more for gas and so on.
And when I get to the meeting, there will be leaders of nations lining up to shake my hand and bow and have a photo taken with me. For posterity. Beautiful.
Narendra Modi will be there, and Xi Jinping, and I’ll try to mediate between them. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, if India would join our bloc? They’re cooperating so far. Then it would be Russia, China and India, against the West. We would be invincible.’
He crosses to a mirror on the wall adjacent and looks at himself. He smiles.
‘I’m strong and fit, good for another 20 years in power.’
He thinks of Trump.
‘I’m sorry to hear about what he went through after his defeat at the polls. I can only imagine what it would be like for me. Of course, I’d never give Russians the chance. But I’m sorry for Donald because I like him. I wish there was some way… well… not now. I certainly hope he runs again. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have felt so certain that I could get away with invading Ukraine. I mean… I knew it wasn’t in him to rally the Europeans to oppose me… and he wouldn’t have started something on his own. Instead, he would’ve called me up and said something like, “Vladimir, you’re making me look bad by threatening to go in all the way like that… so in the open… instead, do it with stealth… get one of your people to run for president of Ukraine and get the comedian out. No military intervention, just infiltrate the government… meddle with the electoral process… and I’ll make sure NATO never makes Ukraine a candidate for membership. Be more subtle.” And just that thoughtfulness on his part, would’ve saved lives… Russian and Ukrainians both, and we would all be grateful.
Of course, they wouldn’t be free… they would be part of my growing empire… but again, what’s all the fuss about freedom?’
He paces a little more.
‘This freedom thing is a ruse the Americans play on their people. Are people killing each other, free? Of course not. This freedom thing is a mirage. Opium for the masses. Hmm. I know that’s not original but sounds good. Can’t remember who said it. Must be the vodka.
Are all those homeless people in America free? Right.
All the poor people free, too? Sure.
The only really free people in America are the ones with money. The rest don’t even vote or are too tired after work to think about it, which is why Trump stands a chance of getting elected and… if he plays his cards right, even getting the constitution changed so he can run again, for a third term, though he might be too old by then. But good for his successors. Anyway, he’s sure to beat Biden easily. Biden doesn’t have a chance, not with the drubbing I’m going to give Ukrainians and the relentless inflation.
The supreme court voided Roe vs Wade. The two term limit is next. Beautiful.
Count on me, Donald, even if you can’t hear me.
And, yes, I’d love to accept an invitation of yours to Mar-A-Lago and play a couple of rounds of golf. And do an appearance with you in your platform, Truth Social, and the world would be a more peaceful place. With fewer dead and ill. And Donald would let the Russian vaccine be used worldwide. Or talk to Xi, so he would use it in China. Not that their vaccine is bad. Just not as effective as mine.’
He opens his arms wide, a smile on his face.
‘Oh power, how grateful I am that I can hold you, how grateful that I will have you until I die.’
He frowns. His thoughts turn to the testimony of Ms Cassidy, a White House aide, on her recollections of what happened while the January 6th rioters were headed to the capitol.
‘That got away from Donald. If we had spent more time together, I would’ve made clear to him that he was in his right, as president, to have a gun on him, just in case, and when he got in the limousine to go to the capitol and lead the charge of the protesters in an unprecedented act of heroism, and the driver refused, he would’ve flashed his gun and made it clear who was boss. I bet the driver would’ve taken him… and the counting of the ballots would’ve been tampered with and Donald’s election would’ve been ratified by the conservatives in the supreme court and the world would’ve been spared the misery of Ukraine. Trump would have, single handedly, changed the course of history.
But it got away from him.
Not too late, though. There’s still time. Overturning Roe vs Wade is just the start. We have another election coming up. And Russians and Americans will become the best of friends.’
‘I love me.’
Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts