Epilog: “Pieing the Veep”
Part 1. The Conspiracy
“Vice‑President Torgesson must be pied!”
The members of the Board nodded and all spoke at once, in a hubbub. The Chairman of the Board glared around the room, then pounded his gavel. “Ladies and gentlemen, order please!” The members of the Select Adhocracy for Assassinations settled down. “Now you all know it as well as I do; the Vice is out of control, and needs to be stopped!”
“Defcon alerts, states of emergency, classified information, covert actions, executive degrees...” the General grumbled. “That’s Presidential behavior!”
“But ‑ assassination?” said Madame Senator. “Won’t that be... expensive?”
The chairman nodded at the Banker, who said, “No problem. This operation has full corporate sponsorship.”
“The media will get its cut, too,” said the chairman. “You’ll need to co‑ordinate with them through Ms. Armstrong here.” The banker and the anchorwoman nodded politely at each other.
The General added, “We will attend to security matters. But we’ll need a diversionary force ‑ and also a witness crew to accompany my strike team.”
The chairman said, “For the first, co‑ordinate with the peace demonstrators. Ms. Berkeley here will be your liason.” Another nod. “For the second, contact Armstrong.”
Madame Senator commented, “Assassination is certainly a crime; and any crime requires motive, method, and opportunity. Torgesson’s record constitutes our motive. Now we have funding, coverage, muscle, and eyes. That constitutes method. Now all we need is an opportunity.”
“Well put, Senator,” the chairman said.
He pushed a button, then said into a grill, “Send him in.”
The door to the room opened, letting in bright light. The members of the Select Adhocracy turned; squinting, they saw the silhouette of a man smoking a pipe.
The chairman said, “Come in, Mr. Dobbs, come in. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. We have a little job for you...”
Part 2. The Betrayal
Vice President Torgesson stood in the Oval Office of the Black House. He stood straight and tense, hands gripping each other behind his back. He stood at the window of the Oval Office, staring out the window of the Oval Office, glaring out the Black House window at the raucous and chaotic demonstration booming outside the Black House gates.
He asked, “Bob, why are they doing this to me?” He waved his hand at the demo. “Don’t they know all that I’ve done for them?”
Mr. Dobbs approached. “They don’t, of course,” he soothed. “How could they?”
“I suppose not. But still... look at that mob! How can they make so much noise, Bob?”
“I think I see a rock band playing over there... and isn’t that a big‑screen TV?”
“Bah! They treat it like a game, a party! But this is Government! We have serious work to do here, Bob!”
“Just so,” said the Veep’s closest advisor. “Which is what I wanted to talk to you about. There’s something they want you to know.”
Torgesson turned and asked, “Who do you mean? And what?”
“I mean Them,” said Bob Dobbs. “And as for what I mean...You’ve read the Unconstitution? Of course you have. You remember how it ends? ‘Throughout the long and painful history of humankind, it has been the invariable custom for politicians to resort to assassination during their corrupt power struggles...’ ”
“Yes, I remember that part,” the Veep said, looking thoughtful.
“ ‘...therefore, in the interest of civilization, let us acknowledge this custom, the better to administrate it in a humane and orderly fashion, with minimal loss of life.’ ”
“Interesting,” said the Vice President. “Whom should we take out?”
“You don’t understand,” said Bob. “This isn’t about them. It’s about you.”
“ ‘Since the state is a symbol based upon murder, let this state of anarchy be based upon symbolic murder’,” Bob continued.
“They’re planning to assassinate me?”
Bob nodded. “ ‘Therefore let it be customary, in this anarchy, that if any government officer were to be struck gently, firmly, and directly upon the face by a custard pie, before witnesses, then that officer shall be deemed officially assassinated.’ ”
“A Custard Pie Assassination? For ME??!”
“Yup,” said Bob.
“This is an outrage! It’s... low farce!”
“Better than high tragedy. ‘Other soft or liquid foods may substitute for the custard pie, provided that their impact be harmless and humiliating.’ ”
“ ‘Officially assassinated persons shall be deemed dead in the eyes of the law. They shall be expelled from all offices in perpetuity; nor shall their official power, official finances, nor any other official roles be acknowledged by any serious persons in positions of authority.’ ”
“A coup, is it!” Torgesson roared. He rushed to a window, looked out, and said, “They’re opening the gate!”
“The guards have been bribed,” said Bob.
The Veep rushed to the Oval Office desk, and yelled into a mike, “Security!”
“Even the elite guards have been bribed,” said Bob, “or else detained.”
“We’ve got to get away! We have a few minutes, maybe they won’t find us!”
Bob shook his head, slowly. Then (slowly) he opened his jacket and removed a small electronic device. Its red light was blinking. “Radio locator device. It’s been running all this time. The pieman knows we’re right here.”
Sudden pounding at the Oval Office door.
“That should be him now,” said Bob.
“You betrayed me!”
“Yes. I too was bribed.”
“ ‘And let it also be customary that the assassinated officer be permitted by the people to escape from the assassination scene with life and limb intact.’ ”
The Oval Office door burst open, and the strike team rushed in.
Part Three. The Act.
Torgesson attempted to flee, but was quickly caught and pinioned by four beefy linebackers. Cameramen and photographers closed in as he struggled to escape, in vain. Then, bringing up the rear, the Pieman came.
The Pieman wore the traditional gorilla suit and bore the traditional custard pie. The newsmen parted before him. Some saluted.
“How traditional! No cutting corners on this assassination!” Bob thought to himself as he turned his back and thoughtfully puffed on his pipe. Outside the 50‑foot TV was showing a live shot of the action. “Live network coverage!” Bob mused.
From behind him Bob heard the immistakable splat of pie hitting face.
The crowd roared.