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HUMOROUS FICTION

Dick Cheney’s Wartime Orphanage

“But, sir,” the trembling orphan dared to utter, “I don’t want to go to war.”

“What?” Master Cheney shot back, and cuffed the child with the ladle out of which he had been serving gruel to the youthful and famished populace of his orphanage.

“Please, sir,” the child had the inexplicable temerity to repeat, “I don’t want to go to war.”He looked around at his fellow orphans, who had elected him to speak on their behalf, to assess their continuing support, and turned back to Master Cheney with confirmed confidence. “And especially not to the war in Iraq.”

“But, child,” Cheney reasoned, “why else have we welcomed you into this fine establishment for the improvement of youth and lavished your appetite with gruel, along with the frequent extravagance of a slice of onion and a crust of bread, if not to send you off to war soon as you’re fit and fat?”

“I know, sir, you’ve been good and generous with me, and I’d go to war, but I have a preference for wars that have something to do with an enemy who might attack our country, instead of attacking other people in his own country. I call that a civil war, I do, sir.”

“Ah, ha, you treacherous scamp! Now, after you’ve lived off the unsuspecting generosity of this worthy charitable establishment, you dare to become particular about the kind of war you’ll go off and fight? Bah, humbug!” He turned to the other orphans. “I want you to note what one of your fellow guests in this infinitely caring place of redemption for youthful malefactors has had the gall to voice. He has expressed an opinion about the kind of wars he’s predisposed to fight. Now, what do you think of such behavior? I want you all to take his insolence as an example of behavior you will never in your lives imitate.”

Then, waving his hands toward them, as if he were a conductor asking an orchestra to play a loud passage in unison, he invited them to express their unconditional agreement with his position. “Come on, now, say it, as you’ve been taught since the day you were fortunate enough to be admitted to this remarkable institution. ‘As an American orphan, I was only born to go to war and have no other possible use, and I will go to fight whatever war to which I have the great good fortune to be sent by the estimable Master Cheney and the board of directors of this indulgent institution.’”

Disconcertingly, the host of orphans hesitated.

“Say it, I say!” Cheney demanded, and raised the ladle, “or tomorrow there’ll be no gruel at all, not a morsel for a month!”

The young boys shifted their feet beneath the long dining table, and then they stated, in somewhat random and unenthusiastic unison, the requested lines.

“That’s more like it, lads,” Mr. Cheney commended them, and turned back to his recalcitrant wrongdoer. “Did you hear that, young man?”

“Yes, I did, sir.”

“And what have you learned?”

“That many will say what they don’t believe, but I’m not of that persuasion, sir.”

“Say it, I say," Cheney flared, "or I’ll bring you before the board of the orphanage. They’re meeting tonight, right in the very next room. And you know how unfavorably the chairman of the association, Master Bush, looks on particularly disagreeable children.”

“I don’t care, Master Cheney,” the youth replied. “I will not be persuaded, sir. I have a different idea of the kind of war I’ll fight.”

“Then off you go, young man,” Cheney declared, and grabbed the young malefactor by the ear. He dragged him out of the room and into the great hall, where the board of directors of the splendid institution was meeting.

“What’s this, Cheney?” asked the small and quick-eyed man in the highchair, who was none other than the most revered Chairman Bush.

“A child who, thanks to the generosity of the board and especially to you, sir, your eminence, has been fattened up on a plentitude of gruel, bedded on an actual thin but ample mattress, who will not, despite every indulgence having been lavished on him, go, as previously committed, to Iraq.”

“What? Not go to Iraq?” Chairman Bush exclaimed, and turned a furrowed brow toward the child. “How is such independence of mind possible? Have you not been adequately nourished and pampered? More to the point, do you not know how upset I become when someone disagrees with me?”

“I do, sir.”

“And do you not realize you could be tossed out into the cold and unforgiving streets for such a grave offense?”

“Yes, I do, sir.”

“And yet you will not go off to the war in Iraq?”

“I will not, sir.”

“Well, then, what would you rather do?” He turned to the other members of the board, and reflected with astonishment, “I can’t imagine a better calling for a young lad, particularly an otherwise undistinguished orphan.”

“Why, sir, if given a choice, I’d go looking for Osama Bin Laden.”

“Osama Bin Laden?” the chairman pondered from his highchair and, perplexed, turned to Master Cheney. “Dick, I do believe I’ve heard that name, but I can’t quite place it.”

“Yes, your reverence,” Cheney reluctantly admitted, “I seem to be afflicted with the same forgetfulness.”

“He’s a terrorist, sir,” the young man informed them.

“A terrorist, you say?” asked Chairman Bush.

“Certainly, sir, you remember terrorists. They have an organization named Al-Qaeda?”

“Hmm, Al-Qaeda, did you say?” Bush mused. “Curious name, isn’t it, Master Cheney?”

“Most curious,” he agreed, “and quite disagreeable sounding, if you ask me – especially when it emanates from the lips of a particularly disagreeable youth.”

“Who did you say he is?” the Chairman asked the youth.

“Why, sir, he’s none other than the leader of Al-Qaeda.”

“Of Al-Qaeda, did you say?”

“Now, you’ve got it, sir,” the child replied with only token praise.

“Of course, of course,” Chairman Bush acknowledged, “I had forgotten.” Then he leaned forward. “So you’d go after him, you would?”

“Yes, sir, soon as I’m told,” returned the young man, pumping out his chest with manful pride.

“Yet it might be dangerous,” Bush suggested.

“I know that, sir, but it’s a war I believe in, and so I am prepared.”

“No fear, eh, lad?” Cheney queried, with his lips at a curious angle.

“Oh, a bit, sir, but not enough to deter me. And, I do realize, sir, I have only been fed and fattened to fight.”

“Yes, I’m glad you recognize that,” Bush noted. “But why won’t you go to the war we want you to go to?”

“I will, sir, as soon as I’m sure it’s the right war. If I went off to the wrong one, I might, I’m afraid, be mistaken as un-American.”

“Un-American?” Cheney blathered, and asked the board members in general, “Have you ever seen such an insolent and undisciplined miscreant?”

“There’s no hope for the lad,” a member of the board lamented.

“None at all,” another member nearly wept.

“He’s got a mind of his own, and we can’t have that,” yet one more regretted.

“Aye,” sighed an especially distraught member, “one day he’ll be hung, I swear it.”

“Hung for certain, no doubt about it!” added another.

Chairman Bush leaned toward the lad, and said, “You must fit in, lad, or be farmed out to an uncertain and no doubt unavoidably disappointing destiny.”

“What’ll it be?” Cheney pressed. “Iraq or exile from this very commendable institution for the expedient extermination of youth?”

He reached once more for the child’s still-inflamed ear.

“No need to pull at my ear again,” the young man said, slipping from Cheney’s swift grasp. “But, if I may, sir, I’ll take hold of yours, while you walk me to the door.”

And with the quickness only youth can command, he reached out and gripped Dick Cheney by a lobe. “Come along now, Master Cheney, to the door with me.” And, to heap insolence upon insolence, as he dragged Cheney from the room, he called to the Chairman, “As you can see, sir, I have a willing escort.”

Eyeing Cheney’s pained expression, Chairman Bush couldn’t help but snicker, as he did not quite know how to chuckle. The innocence of the practice evaded him.

Once the lad and the master were beyond the door, a member said, “Well, then, another naysayer luckily weeded out.”

“Yes, and we’ve got to weed them out,” Chairman Bush agreed, “or before you know it we’ll have every child in the orphanage having his own ideas about this war and that. Imagine, the lad wants to go after – what was that fellow’s name again?”

“I believe he said Osama Bin Laden, sir.”

“Yes, yes, that’s what it was,” Bush recalled. “I’m sure of that.”

“Good riddance is what I say,” another member of the board stated.

“Good riddance it is!” Bush confirmed, “to the disagreeable child and anyone else who disagrees with me. As you fine gentleman, who, I’m pleased to recognize, always agree with me, know well, disagreement is the one thing I am unable to tolerate, ever!”

“Never, sir!” the entire board chimed.

“And, if on rare occasion I am afflicted with it, what do I do?” Chairman Bush required of their imaginations. “Why, I plug up my ears!” And with that he poked his fingers into both ears and, smiling, perhaps idiotically, said, “See. Now, I can’t hear a thing, so I know I’m right and always right and never ever wrong. And I’m sure you all agree!”

“And I’m sure we all agree!” they chimed in unison.

And so all was well again in the orphanage and always would be well, because all that could or would be heard was, by the consent of all, complete agreement or nothing at all.

By Tom Attea

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