This may be the most fun I’ve ever had writing. Last year I entered a four-round flash fiction contest and this story got me first place in my group of round one. Sadly, I came short in round three, so I did not win the contest overall, but I’m still darn proud of this story and hey, now I can share it!
This contest gave us three prompts: a genre, a place, and an object. I got political satire, a pizzeria, and a helicopter.
Oh yeah, I had fun. And I hope you do, too. Let me know what you think in the comments!
“Mr. President, we have a problem.”
President Rich Powers didn’t even look up from his son’s Fortnite game, scribbling down all the relevant bullet points so he could appeal to the kids in his next speech. “Mm-hmm?”
“Senator Charity is unveiling a health care reform initiative.”
“Sir, from what our spies can show, it’s pretty good. I think she could appeal to the Conservative base, too.” Jenkins held out a file folder the color of watered-down butterscotch. The president grabbed it in his ham hand and flipped through the pages.
Jenkins watched with fingers crossed. President Powers had been underestimating Senator Charity for too long. She could decry the rich, then smile so sweetly her followers forgot she was a billionaire.
President Powers had definitively won the last election, but Jenkins knew that was because the man had been a pro wrestler in a flamboyant purple jumpsuit with the slogan, “Don’t wrest with the best!” American curiosity beat American virtues on that one.
Fortunately, President Powers’ weathered brow crinkled as he read the enemy’s battle plans to take back the White House, a plan that didn’t just dump the bill on the rich or the poor. During election season, no less. President Powers tapped the envelope on his thigh, still beefy from crushing heads between it.
“What should we do, sir?” Jenkins asked, sweating internally. He liked this job. He wanted to keep this job. But only President Powers would give it to him after that N-word slip. Damn Liberals. He was only quoting a rap song…
The president asked, “When is she revealing this?”
“Today, sir. Five o’clock.”
“Five o’clock?” His wide cheeks spread with glee, like a happy buttocks. “Well then I have the perfect idea. Have the Ball Buster ready at ten-til-five.” That was the latest name for the presidential helicopter. Washington and Roosevelt would have been proud.
So at ten-til-five, Jenkins squeezed in next to his boss and two guards as the chopper lifted off the helipad. Then the president gave the pilot his destination.
Jenkins stared at the president’s watery eyes and his utter lack of chin. Mama Maria’s was a pizza joint only a few miles away, a local flavor started by an Italian immigrant. Real American Dream kind of place. Great breadsticks. Political clout, however, wasn’t on the menu.
“Sir, I don’t see how—”
“Watch and learn, Jenk.”
He hated that name.
It took less than five minutes for the Ball Buster to loom over the pizzeria, a nice family restaurant with absolutely no parking spaces for helicopters.
“Land on the roof,” said the president.
The pilot’s head swiveled like a loose screw. “Sir, but—”
It was a tight squeeze between the air ducts and the giant plastic statue of a mustached woman—yes woman—brandishing a pizza, but the pilot had a military flight career before he took photos of himself holding cold water bottles just beyond the reach of emaciated Iraqi children.
The roof door, thankfully, was unlocked, so the president and his little entourage marched in, the president humming “Hail to the Chief.” They descended into a hallway between a ramshackle office and a hospital-white kitchen full of blinking teenagers.
“Evening. How are you? God bless.” He walked past a slack-jawed girl dripping sauce onto the counter, and shoved the kitchen doors open like a gunman invading a saloon. The effect was similar. Every patron froze, pizza slices suspended in midair between plates and mouths.
The president took his own space in an empty booth and told Jenkins to sit across from him. Secret Service flanked either side. An apt blonde waitress rushed to the table and asked for their order.
President Powers said, “We’re taking Mama’s Mega Challenge.” The whole restaurant gasped.
Jenkins didn’t know what that meant until thirty minutes later, when the reporters had converged and snapped their cameras outside the window like a lightning storm. Mama’s Mega Challenge was a thirty-inch pizza with three rules: thirty minutes, two people, no throwing up.
“Sir?” Jenkins croaked.
The president tapped his bald, Kingpin head. “Genius, isn’t it? Now help me win this.”
So, Jenkins gagged down pepperoni and olives as the president blabbed about American values between smacking mouthfuls. Innovation, small businesses, immigration roots. Smile for the cameras.
Despite his chatter, the president ate three-fourths of the gastric vandalism someone called food, swallowing the last piece with eighteen seconds on the clock. Crowds cheered, cameras flashed, and bowels shook their fists at the God who had betrayed them.
After ten minutes of mozzarella fever dreams, Jenkins heard the president say, “Jenkins, check the news sites.”
Daydreaming of tomorrow’s breakfast of spinach and Ex-Lax, Jenkins took out his smart phone and skimmed the news sites.
Suddenly, he got it.
Jenkins saw his sweating red face and the president’s fat smile on every site. Every site. Senator Charity’s initiative had dropped nearly an hour ago, but did anyone care? Hell no, the former-wrestler president with cheese on his lips who’d landed a flipping helicopter on the roof took precedence.
Jenkins struggled to speak through his gag reflex. “That’s…incredible.”
The president leaned forward and whispered, “Jenk, didn’t my last election teach you anything? It’s not the better man who wins; it’s the most interesting one.”
President Powers had done a lot of crazy things. Today it was eating a thirty-inch pizza. Two years ago, it was delivering a speech on global trade while wearing his old electric-purple jumpsuit, short shorts and all. But he had never lied. And Jenkins realized that his one-fourth of a galactic pizza had helped change the course of history.
Don’t wrest with the best.
Jenkins asked, “What should we have for dessert, Mr. President?”
President Powers grinned. “Atta boy, Jenkins.”
Tears of awe in his eyes, Jenkins said, “God bless you, sir.”
“No, Jenkins.” The president waved at the still-snapping cameras, sober reverence in every feature. “God bless America.”
4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction–“Don’t Wrest With the Best””
“gastric vandalism” that’s good.
Yep. “Standing out” is preferred to virtue and wisdom nowadays.
Pretty scary when that’s how we choose our leaders.
Great flash Michael!
Thank ya. I just read the news a lot and realized how much of news is about grabbing attention. Sickening.