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26 Aug

EPISODE 08: INTERNATIONAL CRISIS – by Eugeniusz S. Lazowski

INTERIOR – UPPER FLOOR OF THE BIG HOUSE – PRESIDENTIAL APARTMENT – MORNING.

The soft light of the rising sun enters through the windows of the presidential residence. The First Lady is sitting in front of the mirror with the brush in her hand.

“Darling, what’s the matter with you this morning?”

“Why, does something seem wrong to you?”

Super Dan is nervous, he’s fighting with his tie knot and his toupee is tilted to the side.

“Well, what do you say…?”

His wife comes over thoughtfully, straightens his toupee and fixes his tie knot.

“That’s better.”

“Sorry, I’m not in my head this morning.”

“You’re right, I’ll fix it for you…” she says while she’s fixing his toupee. “Honey, will you hold still? What’s wrong with it?”

“Blanco has called an emergency meeting in the Round Room.”

“And you’re worried?”

“No, I just had other plans…”

“Streap poker or video games?”

“No! What are you talking about, darling?” Super Dan says, his face flushes. “Uh, international commitments…”

“And with who, your combat avatar?”

“Why, no, what are you saying, dear, when did you ever…”

“I know my chickens…”

“And I’m a chicken?”

“No,” answers his wife, observing him carefully, “judging by the size I’d say more like a turkey… Now go do your duty, dear, go.”

His wife kisses him and Super Dan leaves the room. Just outside he accelerates, turns the corner of the corridor, looks around and, as soon as he’s sure he’s alone, pulls out his smartphone and starts playing a video game.

INTERIOR – UPPER FLOOR OF THE BIG HOUSE – ROUND ROOM.

Blanco and Bell have already arrived. They’re waiting for the others.

“They should all be here by now, Bell.”

“I know, but your notice was really short.”

“Yeah, well, some situations unfortunately don’t wait for anyone. Ah, there’s Wright.”

“Good morning. Am I late?”

“No, just in time.”

“What happened?”

“A situation requires our highest attention.”

“Nothing serious, I hope.” Wright wishes.

“I don’t know how bad yet.”

“Blanco, please don’t rush things, or I’ll have to take my antihistamines out.” Bell begs.

“The same old debauched,” comments Byjove on entering, “I knew it, he took the pharmacy with him.”

“Good morning, General.”

“Good morning, my ass, Wright. What’s so urgent that you’re interrupting my schedule?”

“Any military manoeuvres?” Bell asks alarmed.

“No, I was polishing my saber.”

“I’m the one who summoned you, and for good reason,” declares Secretary of State Blanco.

“You mentioned a serious situation.” Says Wright seriously.

“Judging by the trunk of drugs that Bell brought along,” notes Byjove, “World War III is about to break out.”

“General,” answers Bell, “please don’t even say it.”

“Blanco, you’re making me worry.” Wright confesses. “But what is it?”

“No situation is really serious if it can be blown away by cannon fire,” says Byjove in high uniform.

“What a sensitive soul. A poet…” says Moore as he enters.

“Great, we missed him,” mutters the general, “so we’re all right with Bell now…”

“Gentlemen, please,” Blanco points out, “the reason I called you is very serious.”

“Are you talking about any particular crisis?” Wright asks.

“Yes, and I hope we can work something out, otherwise…”

“Or else… what?”

“Otherwise, the military option wouldn’t be out of the question.”

“There, he said it,” Bell whimpers, holding his nose, starting to bleed. “I knew it, she said it.”

“Antihistamines, quick…” Wright’s on it.

“Hurray, finally, it’s about time!” Byjove cheers with his saber drawn. “Who’s next? There’s something for all!”

“General, try to stay calm,” Wright says, “Bell’s sick, can’t you see?”

“Shoot down the mollusk! Prepare the cannons, the gun’s up, the gun’s up!”

Meanwhile, not far from his staff, in the hallway, Super Dan is busy with his video game.The line is clogged, however, suddenly the connection falls down and the display reads: “You lose.

Game over”. Annoyed, he puts his smartphone back in his pocket, accelerates his pace and enters the Round Room.

“There’s something for all?? Who all??”

“I don’t know,” replied Byjove, “who’s there, who’s there!”

“General,” the President asks in amazement, “what are you saying?”

“We bomb them! At last we’re bombing them!”

“What??” Squints Super Dan’s eyes. “Bomb who?”

“I don’t know, it doesn’t matter,” the general jumps on the armchair, “but we’ll bomb them!”

“Oh, God, the war…” Bell moans with his head back while his nose is bleeding.

“General,” Wright reprimands him as he rescues Bell, “but how about that?”

“Yes, it’s the case! Let’s celebrate! Uncork the champagne, draw sabers, let’s party!”

“But… but…” asks confused Super Dan, “do we bomb or have a party?”

“Don’t worry, Mr President,” explains Moore, “it’s all the same to the general.”

“Sorry,” stammers Super Dan, “I’m a little confused…”

“You know what’s new…” Moore reflects in a low voice.

“No, wait a minute,” he tries to put Blanco in order, “I just said we should consider all options, even the military…”

“Options? Party? “Bombard?” Super Dan mumbles, scratching his toupee.

“Oh, God, the military option…” is Bell’s lament with his head back.

“Bell,” says the general, “you mole, get back in the ground!”

“Excuse me,” he tries in vain to understand something Super Dan, “will somebody please explain to me what’s going on? I don’t understand anything!”

“Holy truth…” Moore murmurs phlegmatically.

“They’re bombarding…” Bell mumbling half unconscious and swabbing his nose.

“But no Bell,” reassures Wright, “we’re not bombing anyone.”

“Yes, yes, let’s bomb,” rejoices Byjove, “let’s bomb at last!”

“Oh, God, the war…” Bell collapses into Wright’s arms.

“Bell, stop it,” snarls the general, “or I’ll burn that pharmacy you’re carrying!”

“Pharmacy”? “Bombard???” shudders Super Dan.

“Welcome to the Big House, Mr. President.” Moore welcomes him.

“Enough! Calm down! Let me explain!” cries Blanco, slamming his hand on the table. “The military is only one option, the most extreme. We’ll try all diplomatic avenues first.”

“No more bombing?” General Byjove disappointed questions.

“Thank God for that…” sighs Bell.

“Yes, but who are we talking about?” the President continues lost. “General …”

“Honestly, I don’t have any idea,” replied Byjove with sadness, “but we bombed someone…”

“What a pair of statesmen,” comments Moore with a smile, “remind me of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.”

“North Korea, gentlemen,” Blanco finally explains, “is the topic on the agenda. The situation is critical.”

“North Korea?” exclaims Super Dan stunned. “Where did it come from?”

“Good morning, Mr President,” says Moore.

“All data in our possession,” Bell explains with a nasal voice for the swabs in his nostril, “show that crazy Kim Jong-un possesses a fearsome atomic arsenal that could theoretically reach our country.”

“What? And what are we waiting for? Let’s bomb ’em!” Byjove says. “Are we still sitting here arguing? Let’s wipe them off the face of the earth!”

“But couldn’t we try an international negotiation,” Bell proposes, “involving the major nations?”

“Bell,” interrupts the general, “why don’t you go to the National Pharmacists’ Convention, so you can get out of the way?”

“Oh, God!” Bell is in a lot of pain, taking more pills.

“General, calm down. Bell’s proposal is valid.” Blanco intervenes decisively. “Strong pressure from the world’s major powers could force Korea to retrace its steps.”

“Are we sure that’s enough?” doubts thoughtful Moore.

“With financial penalties it could work, but it would take time,” Wright points out. “Financial penalties usually take time.”

“Time”? Sanctions?What are you jabbering about?” Byjove opposes. “With a handful of missiles I could wipe out Vietnam in five minutes!”

“But didn’t we lose in Vietnam?” asks Super Dan, who is flabbergasted.

What are you jabbering about?” Byjove opposes. “With a handful of missiles I could wipe out Vietnam in five minutes!”

“But didn’t we lose in Vietnam?” asks Super Dan falling from the clouds.

“Yes, Mr President,” says Moore, “but then we sent Rambo.”

“Ah, well, I thought I remembered…”

“General, this is North Korea we’re talking about,” Blanco explains, “it’s not about Vietnam.”

“Vietnam, Korea, they’re all the same chinks, all dirty communists!”

“Excuse me, General,” Moore asks him, “but at school, during geography classes, what did you do?”

“What questions! I was playing Risk!”

“If North Korea were forced to retrace its steps,” Bell explains, “it would be a victory for the whole world.”

“We should convince all nations to impose economic sanctions.” Wright suggests. “I’m sure President Trump will be with us. What do you say?”

“Sanctions: Yes.Cheap: no.” says Byjove implacably.

“I don’t understand…” asks Wright puzzled. “What kind of sanctions, then?”

“Military.”

“The voice of reason…” says Moore.

“General, the military is the last option.” Blanco reiterates.

“That’s right, the last option.” Bell repeats, still holding a nosebleed.

“Is the zombie still talking?” asks Byjove.

“Economic or military sanction?” continues Super Dan, who’s getting more and more dazed. “Will someone please explain me?”

“One thing at a time, Mr President,” pretends Moore, “one thing at a time, I wouldn’t want your toupee to go up in smoke…”

“What if we hold a summit between their leader and ours?” is Bell’s proposal.

“Summit? What the hell is that?” Byjove intervenes impatient . “Hey, I’m warning you, no low blows, all right?”

“That’s right, no jokes!” agrees Super Dan.

“General, summit means summit,” explains Wright, “a meeting between their boss and ours.”

“Of course! A fight, a boxing match!” cries the general glowing. “Wright, you’re a genius! Our president definitely wins. He’s got a terrific right hand.”

“Sure, I was a heavyweight in college!”

“Once,” Moore whispered to Blanco, “I asked you who wanted the general on the government team and you said…”

“The President…” replied the disconsolate colleague.

“General, a summit is a meeting,” she tries to clarify Wright, “a discussion between leaders, do you understand now?”

“A discussion between leaders? What leaders?” resents Super Dan. “Hey, wait a minute, I’m the leader here, no funny business!”

“Rest assured, sir,” reassures Moore ironically, “it’s impossible to forget.”

“Discussion?” Byjove winks. “No bombing, then?”

“Absolutely not.” Blanco firmly establishes.

“Not even a missile? A Marine platoon? Not even a boxing match? What kind of a crisis is this? A paraplegic crisis?”

“Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t have expressed it better,” murmured Moore.

“The first option is always negotiation, General.” Blanco reiterates.

“I’m sorry, but weren’t you talking about sanctions?” the president says, now lost in the fog. “What’s the negotiation got to do with it now?”

“One concept at a time, Blanco, one at a time…” whispers Moore to Blanco, “…and speak slowly.”

“You and the president of North Korea should meet to discuss.”

“Ah…I see. Is that what you were talking about?”

“That’s right, Mr President.” Bell replies.

“Sure, meeting… Why would we meet?”

Moore whispered to Blanco, “What’s the penalty for killing the president?”

“The death penalty.”

“Too bad…”

“Mr President,” Bell patiently repeats, “we explained our intelligence analysis earlier. North Korea’s nuclear threat is real.”

“That’s why. Let’s bomb them!” Byjove doesn’t hesitate.

“The first option is always diplomatic, General, don’t you remember?” Bell says again.

“Bell, go back to the geriatric ward where you were caught and stay there! “

“Ah, yes, the nuclear threat…” sighs Super Dan.

“That’s why a meeting between you two leaders would be appropriate.” Blanco says calmly.

“Of course, of course.” The president’s showing confidence. “What am I supposed to do now, call this Mr Ping Pong and invite him here?”

“Yes, and while we’re at it,” Moore suggests, “order pepperoni pizza and sausage for everyone.”

“Mr. President, I’m afraid it’s not that easy,” says Wright, “a long diplomatic negotiation will be required.”

“I love pepperoni and sausage pizza!” mumbles the general.

“We’ll have to contact their government,” Blanco says, “start negotiations, set up a meeting place, maybe in a neutral country, perhaps in the United States of America, their President Donald Trump would glady host this summit.”

“Whatever happened to pepperoni and sausage pizza?” Byjove questions.

“Is it that complicated?” asks banned Super Dan.

“I’m afraid so, Mr. President,” Bell says, “it’s gonna take calm and patience.”

“Bell,” replied the general, “even in an intensive care unit there’s more life than you.”

“Wow,” worried Super Dan reflects, “the phone bill’s gonna skyrocket…”

“Of course, Mr. President, a phone call of at least three months will cost a fortune.” Moore observes, feigning apprehension. “But it’s for peace in the world .”

“Sure, sure, that’s all we need, in these cases is never enough.”

“Fine.” concludes Secretary of State Blanco. “Then we all agree to involve as many states as possible in imposing sanctions on North Korea? Any questions?”

“One.” Byjove speaking.

“Say, General.”

“Who’s got the pepperoni and sausage pizza?”

“I see world peace is in the forefront of his thoughts,” Moore deduces.

“But weren’t we supposed to meet to talk?” asks Super Dan, more and more lost.

“Mr President,” again attempts to clarify Bell, “economic sanctions will serve to corner North Korea and force it to negotiate later.”

“Oh, dealing… with me?”

“Correct answer!” exclaims Moore. “Tonight’s quiz champion is Super Dan!”

“Mr. President,” he tries to explain for the last time Wright, “the economic sanctions are to wear Kim Jong-un down, so that in a few months he’ll agree to make a deal. Is that clear?”

“Crystal clear!” jumps Byjove. “Work the hips, I told you, a boxing match, it takes!”

“Diplomacy, General,” says Bell, “diplomacy first.”

“Bell, why don’t you go lock yourself up in a drugstore and make your life’s dream come true?”

“Excuse me, gentlemen, but after this hip job,” asks Super Dan totally disoriented, “I’m gonna have to meet this Mr. Hong Kong, right?”

“Kim Jong-un, Mr. President, Kim Jong-un” corrects Blanco. “You better at least start learning his name.”

“To hell with names! King Kong, Ping Pong or whatever the hell it’s called!” yells Byjove. “Don’t worry, President, I’ll prepare you for the meeting! I’ll get you ready for the meeting!”

“General, don’t you understand?” Blanco’s getting impatient. “First the sanctions and then, in a few months, the meeting between the two leaders…”

“What am I talking about? Do you want our president to arrive unprepared for the meeting?”

“Leadership meeting, General,” says Blanco exhaustedly, “leadership summit…”

“Of course!” insists Byjove. “And our president will prove to be more leader than that Chink, won’t you, President?”

“Absolutely, General!”

“Gentlemen, you don’t understand.” The Secretary of State is about to explode. “The situation is critical. What else have we talked about so far?”

“Of a meeting!” exclaims Byjove.

“To talk to this Mr. Ping Pong!” sounds like Super Dan.

“And some pepperoni and sausage pizza!” remembers the general.

“It’s not possible,” says Bell, “I can’t believe it…”

“You’ll believe it, Bell, you’ll believe it when you see him fight, our President!” says the general. “Left, left and then right!”

Byjove warns Bell how he will fight the President, but he hits him right in the face. Bell’s nose starts bleeding again.

“General, you’re out of your mind, what are you doing?” Blanco takes him back.

“Left, left, right!”

“I can’t wait to meet him,” says glorified Super Dan, “that yellow midget!”

“Oh, God,my nose, my nose!” Bell yells.

“General, will you hold still?” Wright scolds him. “You hurt Bell.”

“Stand still? And how do we prepare for this meeting? You don’t want to look bad in front of the whole world, do you?”

“No, of course not, General.” Moore comes in now. “And tell me, how do you plan to prepare for this meeting?”

“Lots of running for breath, rope exercises, abdominals, push-ups…”

“Wait a minute, General, what are you talking about?” stammers Super Dan concerned.

“About his training schedule. Don’t worry, sir, I’ll take care of it. I’ll get you to the fight in top form!”

“But I, I…”

“And then the gym, lots of gym, sack practice, training rounds with a Marine of my choice…”

“What?

“Sounds like a perfect program, don’t you think, Mr. President?” smiles Moore at Super Dan. “I think I can see it already, toned, dry. And the diet, general, don’t forget that…”

“No, never! An iron diet is the basis of all training. Leave it to me, Moore, I’ll get him back in shape like a Marine!”

“Well, General, I’m looking forward to the training.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. President, I promise you tears, sweat and blood.”

Super Dan is alarmed, even his toupee is starting to sweat.

“Well, I say, maybe the diplomatic solution wasn’t entirely to be discarded…”

“Oh no, huh?” smiles Moore.

“No. Um… He had his own cause, so to speak.”

“So now you understand the importance of sanctions and then the diplomatic attempt?”

“But Mr. President,” says Byjove, “you’re not gonna let that little yellow dwarf get away with this, are you?”

“General, sometimes a true leader must set aside his desires and sacrifice himself for the common good.”

Blanco bends his head slightly towards Moore and whispers to him, “You’ve found a way to reason with him, apparently.”

“I know my chickens.”

“Well gentlemen,” the word Blanco refreshed, “shall we close this sitting by establishing the key points of the strategy to be adopted? Bell to you.”

“No bombing, no missiles…” mumbles Byjove to himself.

“Gentlemen,” Bell begins with swabs up his nose, “Gentlemen, Kim Jong-un has starved his people and can no longer increase his nuclear arsenal. “That’s why the sanctions will exacerbate the internal situation even more.”

“…no air force, no Marines, no machine guns…” mumbles Byjove to himself.

“In a few months, he’ll have to come to terms and agree to a summit with our president…”

“…no war, no nuclear carriers, no artillery…” mumbles Byjove to himself.

“In the meantime,” Blanco intervenes, “we’ll prepare to meet with the North Korean leader, but with discretion and confidentiality.”

“…no cannon fire, no marines landing, no saber…” Byjove mumbles to himself.

“We’ll have to be cautious,” Bell says, “they’ll be cornered by the sanctions we propose at the UN.”

Byjove suddenly gets up and walks out.

“Sorry, an urgent call.”

“So you’ll be in charge of contacting Mr. Ping Pong, right?” questions Super Dan.

“Sure, Mr. President,” reassures Wright, “as I said, it’ll be a long and discreet job.”

“Great. Perfect. I was already worried about my phone bill…”

“I don’t believe it…” mumbles Blanco interdict.

“Naive…” says Moore.

Byjove returns and resides.

“Done!”

“Done”? Already?” exclaims Super dan surprised. “Have you called King Kong yet?”

“King Kong”? Who the hell is that?” replied Byjove.

“The leader of Vietnam!”

“That dirty yellow communist? The only phone call I’d make for him is to the missile base to bomb him.”

“General, again with this?” Blanco comes in again. “We’re setting out the moves for the next few months, sanctions and then negotiations.”

“Bravo Blanco, sanctions and then negotiations.” Bell said again.

“Bell, from an invertebrate like you, I could expect nothing less.”

“And then you keep confusing Vietnam with North Korea,” says Wright.

“Wright,” Byjove says, “I used to use maps to play with toy soldiers.”

“And anyway, we sent Rambo to Vietnam,” adds Super Dan, “so it’s a closed chapter.”

“I don’t believe it. And U.S. President Trump is supposed to host such a meeting?” Blanco murmurs more and more despondent.

“You’ve said that before.” tries to cheer her up Moore. “Get over it…”

“The summit could be decorated with Kimjongilia flowers, a variety that only exists in North Korea,” suggests Wright. “The president will appreciate it.”

“The President?” asks Super Dan. “Of course, I’ve always liked flowers, go ahead, go ahead, good idea…”

“Mr. President,” Bell explains, “we were talking about Korean flowers to put the Korean President at ease.”

“Ah… of course, of course, I totally understood.”

“I’m starting to get a rough idea of what the summit is going to be…” mutters Blanco.

“Summit? Don’t use big words, Blanco.” Moore corrects it ironically. “It’s like comparing a bachelor game to the World Championship Final.”

“Korean flowers?” explodes over Byjove. “And while we’re at it, why don’t we get him a couple of belly dancers, too?” But what is this, a floricultural convention?”

“Diplomacy knows many ways,” Bell recalls, “remember, General.”

“But you only know one, Bell: the one for the cemetery, zombies!”

They knock on the door, Byjove snaps up and goes to open it.

Two delivery men come in with lots of pepperoni and sausage pizzas and lots of fresh beers.

“What’s going on?” Blanco says.

“Oh, finally, they’re here!” sighs Byjove with satisfaction.

“But who are these two?” Bell’s stunned questions.

“I think I have a suspicion…” says Moore, “General, do you know anything about this?”

“Of course! I went outside to order pepperoni and sausage pizza and cold beer.”

“Pizza and beers?” slams Wright.

“You got me out of the bombing, the missiles, the invasion of Korea… but not the pepperoni and sausage pizza, I’m not giving in on that one, okay?”

“Great idea, general, great idea.” Super Dan backs him. “After a lot of effort, it’s only fair to replenish the body.”

The staff is disconsolate.Byjove and the president are diving in hungry for pizzas and beers.

This ended the first session to organize a peace summit between President Kim Jong-un and President Daniel Kramp.

See you next week. Ending theme!

Super Dan
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