Oval Illusion

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The car made the turn onto a service road across from the Treasury Department building and through what looked to be the south lawn and came to stop at a walkway. “Okay, Simone and Rai” Craig was indicating it was time to exit. “Thanks Craig.” Simone said opening the door.

Nerves set in for both of them as three new men in suits and two women greeted them and walked them along a path to the East Wing. There was no conversation now. Just walking. Heels clicking like a slow sloppy tap dance. Elegance, history and stature were mixed with the sheer lunacy of the state of the nation and Rai and Simone suddenly at the epicenter, as they entered the East Wing. Maybe this would be a big nothing, maybe something dramatic would come of it. Maybe Trump was using them. That was the most likely scenario.

As they entered the thickly framed immaculate doorway, there was what appeared to be a makeshift security checkpoint and another team with metal detecting wands. For the second time today, they were scanned. “Please empty your pockets” one of the security personnel asked them gesturing to a small table at the side of the room. They did so as the wands kept tracing them like electrons on an atom.

The silence was deafening. It was obvious everyone was told to just greet the two, run security, and escort them to the West Wing. It had to be the White House. Meeting him some other place would have made this to appear covert and Rai insisted this be as public as possible, without being public. It would come out later, as reporters probably already picked up on these two unfamiliar guests coming to the White House at such a bizarre time. But for now, the stage was being set.

They approached closer and were pointed to a small conference room. The small group disbanded and the woman said – “I’m Emma Doyle, we spoke on the phone, Rai?” She wore a staff surgical mask and extended her elbow first to Simone saying, “Hi, I’m Emma.”

“Great to meet you, Simone” returned Sim with her usual contagious grace.

“And Rai.” She gestured with her elbow and did her best to convey a smile with her eyes. “Alright, just to review, this is highly unusual and experimental, but, somehow he’s agreed to this. Now, you’ve both had your background and clearance done yesterday and that looks good. It’s been beyond crazy these last few weeks as I’m sure you can imagine.” Simone and Rai were nodding like two bobbleheads. “He’s a little unpredictable, of course so don’t be surprised if we deviate from this outline.” She was handing out a single sheet of paper. It had the official masthead of the office of the President of the United States of America, and Rai could have sworn that it looked almost off center, like a printing mistake.

“Ok, so introductions” … she interrupted herself and spoke into a small microphone clipped on her lapel. “Lorraine … (back to Rai and Sim) … did you want some coffee?”

“Go ahead Emma.” The voice came back over the speaker she had in her ear.

“I’m ok” said Simone.

“I’ll take a coffee … black” Rai said. “Might not get another chance” he whispered to Sim.

“Make it two” Sim rushed to say.

“Changed your mind?” he whispered.

“You might need a second cup” she whispered back.

“Two black coffees please Lorraine.” Emma was the multitasking ball of energy that you would imagine in every office, only this was the Oval Office. “Now as you can see – intros, Q&A, you’ll be joined by my boss, his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and a couple officers at the other side of the room, just a formality.”

Rai’s mind drifted to 2010. He was 41 and desperately trying to make his latest business venture succeed. He imposed a time limit to cold call on 50 doors that day in a North Philadelphia commercial stretch. He would never roam these streets at night. But the cheap rent made it a daytime haven for non-profits, printers, cabinet makers and sundry widget makers. He demanded of himself that he knock on the first door by 9AM. There was something about exact opening moments that made you more memorable – he thought. But his beloved coffee had caused the predictable need for a bathroom, for which he forgot to calculate the logistics. He would never use a potential client’s bathroom. But he couldn’t go four hours holding it.

He thought about his wife, his daughter and that dream. The dream where he is in a prison cell underground. Bars are above; the walls were cement; and the floor dirt. Another prisoner sat next to him. “I can’t get out man” he said to the anonymous cellmate. He stood up with outstretched hands and called to the light streaming in … “I can’t get out man. I grew up here. As long as I can remember … this feeling. This feeling of imprisonment.” Even while asleep, he knew the feeling was the same he felt in his work, imprisonment. He knew precisely what the feeling was and what the dream meant. It needed no interpretation. Because he felt that way all day and night. His life was consumed by trying to break out of economic imprisonment, even while he ruminated upon saving the world.

Then he applied his “At Peace Decision Test.” The test was to ask yourself – if the worst case scenario comes to pass, will you be at peace, and could you live with yourself for having done X.” He knew there was an empty coffee cup on the floor of the car he had borrowed from his father. He came to the conclusion that he could live with peeing in a coffee cup if he is successful in business, but not with having wasted 30 minutes seeking out a bathroom and missing that time toward his goal.

He sat in the driver’s seat, urinated into the cup, and placed the lid on it. Now it was time to go to work.

At 9AM on that day, he knocked on the door of RGD Tubing … and as his daydream snapped, he realized the sound of knocking was from the door of the room where they were waiting. An unidentified person poked his head in and spoke to Emma – “The President will see them now.”

Published by John Katrina

TCB Member, Father, Co-Founder of The Citizen Body, technical philosopher, and artist.

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