A Desk And A Hard Place
The past four hours had been the most breathtakingly romantic stretch of time in Monica’s young life.
It had taken six days for Congress to pass a temporary spending bill that would end the government shutdown. And although the risk of a second shutdown was looming, with Newt Gingrich refusing to back down, Bill had told Monica repeatedly over the past few days that he couldn’t have done it without her encouragement. The praise was nice, but it was nothing compared to what Bill did for her earlier that night.
Monica had shown up at the Oval Office late that night, as she always did. Only this time, Bill was wearing a jacket, and a Secret Service agent had been holding Monica’s own jacket for her, after having gotten it from her office without her knowledge. She wasn’t sure why they were seemingly going out, or where they were going, and when she asked, Bill just smiled back at her, letting out a huff of a laugh. Without saying a word, he led her out through the Oval Office doors onto the White House portico, and off to the lawn, where Marine One had wound up its engines. Monica stopped dead in her tracks. Bill turned back, smiling at her bashfulness. “Come on,” he insisted. “You’re gonna love this.”
They cruised around over Washington DC for what felt like an eternity, buzzing over every famous landmark Monica could name, and many others she couldn’t. Marine One’s pilot talked to them over their headsets, playing the dual role of tour guide and talking about the history of all the monuments and memorials below them. Some time later — it must’ve been at least an hour or so — they landed someplace Monica was unfamiliar with, where they darted off to a short, unmarked limousine. With only one Secret Service SUV trailing them, their car sprinted through Washington DC, taking them to a McDonald’s restaurant that would surely normally be closed at this hour, but opened up exclusively for President Bill Clinton and his secret guest, or friend, or date, or whatever Monica was in that situation. They ordered dinner, drove back to Marine One, and ate burgers and fries while their breathtaking private aerial tour of the Nation’s capital continued.
After their dinner in the clouds, Bill got up from his seat and stood before Monica, smiling down at her, and then dropped to one knee. Her heart stopped in her chest, and her eyes watered. Was he going to…
“Monica Lewinsky, I need to ask you something.”
“Oh my…” she didn’t know what to say. He was going to do it.
“Will you…” he paused, his words tangling up in his throat. “Will you be my legislative affairs adviser?”
It wasn’t what Monica thought he was about to ask her, but she loved it all the same. Her eyes lit up, widening brightly like those of a child spotting presents under the tree on Christmas morning. “Oh, Bill! Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!” She tried to leap forward to embrace him, but her seatbelt yoked her back. After fighting with that for a moment, she tried again, this time managing to jump onto him, her arms and legs wrapped around him as they hugged each other as warmly as they did tightly.
It was another hour before they got back to the White House, where Bill ordered desert and had it sent up to the Oval Office. They ate peach cobbler ala mode, while Bill explained what Monica’s new job would entail; she’d now work in the Legislative Affairs office, and would report directly to Bill on all the goings-on of said office, while passing orders back to them. It would mean she’d no longer be working under Doug Band, but she was okay with that. It also meant she’d transition into a higher-paying role. Monica never imagined she’d earn two huge promotions in her first year in Washington DC, but it had happened, and she couldn’t be happier to have gotten that news from this man she was falling in love with.
Bill had made Monica so happy that she wanted to return some of that joy in the best way she knew how. The other night, Bill had said that he’d love to engage in their common relationship activity — they had taken to referring to it as “poison removal” — while he was on the phone with a foreign leader. And so Monica whispered into Bill’s ear that she wanted to try it, and Bill raced off excitedly to the Resolute Desk, waiting impatiently for Monica to get down underneath that desk, so he could plop down into his chair, grab up the phone, and put in a late-night phone call to British Prime Minister John Major, for whom it would be early morning.
It was there, on her knees and beneath that famous desk, carrying out her act of “poison removal,” that Monica found herself reflecting on the past few hours. As Monica worked, listening to Bill asking the Prime Minister why they called soccer “football” and why they called potato chips “crisps,” she smiled to herself, as best she could with her mouth doing what it was doing. This had been a beautiful day. A day she would remember for the rest…
“Get off the goddamn phone, Bill Clinton!” Monica froze in place, terrified. It was Hillary. It was Hillary Clinton. She was there. She was in the Oval Office. “Get off the phone! Hang up! Hang up NOW!”
“Yes… yes… dear…” Bill was trembling. Monica had no idea what she was supposed to do in that situation. She froze in place, not moving a muscle, her head still sitting in Bill’s lap. “Wh… why are you here so late, Hill…”
“Shut your trashy hillbilly mouth!” Monica heard a door slam. She was terrified. Whatever you do, don’t bite down. “What the hell is this I hear about you sneaking out of the White House a bit ago and flying around on Air Force One?”
“It… it was only Marine One, Hillar…”
“Same fucking difference! Do you think these are toys? Is this a game to you, Bill?” She paused for a moment. Bill said nothing. “ANSWER ME!”
“No! No, it’s… it’s not a game, Hillary. I… I was just… I wanted to…”
“And what the hell is this? Two plates of pie? You ate two whole plates of pie? Do you want to be a fat-ass president, Bill? Is that what you’re trying to do? Taft needed a special bathtub built for his fat stupid ass. Is that what you want, Bill? A fat tub for your fat ass?”
“I didn’t… I mean, I wasn’t…”
“‘Dur-dur-dur-dur-dur!’ That’s what you’re saying right now! Eating pies, ordering late night dinners and desserts for yourself, going on late night helicopter rides… where does this all end for you, Bill? Or should I call you ‘Tubby?’ Yeah, I like that name for you.” Hill slammed her hands down onto the desk, and Monica jerked like a gazelle spotting a lion coming up from the brush. “Tubby hubby! That’s what I’m going to call your dumb fat redneck ass from now on!”
“I’m… I’m sorry… I…”
“And now you’re promoting people? Did you seriously go over my head to promote this girl to legislative affairs without my fucking authorization? Who the fuck do you think you are?!”
“What… who… do you mean…”
“Monica Youblowsky, or sheblowsky, or… I don’t know, some dumb Jew girl you promoted today!”
“That’s… that’s anti-Semitic…”
“Did you just call me a fucking Nazi? Is that what you just called me?” She slammed something else onto the desk, and then Monica heard the distinct sound of shattering glass from across the room. “You want me to be a Nazi Bill? You want Nazi Hillary? Oh-fucking-kay, Nazi Hillary is out to play now, Bill!” Something else smashed, this time on the opposite side of the room. “Tell me who the fuck this Monica girl is and why the hell you promoted her or I’ll cattle-car your tubby ass to the gas chamber so fucking fast you’ll sing that ‘Tradition’ song from Fiddler on the fucking Roof!”
“Monica Lewinsky… she’s… she works for Leon… she’s… she’s a family friend… I did it… for Leon… I did it for Leon!”
“You don’t take orders from Leon Panetta, Bill. You take orders from me!” The desk creaked above Monica’s head. Hillary was clearly leaning down over it. She rapped her fingers onto the ancient wood, emitting a sound that reminded Monica of the velociraptor’s claws in the movie Jurassic Park. “You need to clean up your act, Bill Clinton,” she proclaimed, in the calmest and most sinister voice Monica had heard her use. “This isn’t acceptable behavior. I will not tolerate this nonsense. I will not tolerate your behavior risking my chances at taking the Oval Office. I made you. I own you. You’re my property. You’re my slave. You do as I command. And if you’re a bad slave, if you do something without my authorization, you’re going to get the whip. Do you understand what I’m telling you, boy?”
“I do… I will… I’ll do what you tell me to do.”
“Good. Very good. I’m glad we could come to an understanding, Bill. I’m glad you’re finally coming to grips with whose in charge here. I wear the pants in this house, Bill. I swing the big dick. You’re only here because women aren’t allowed to be president yet, for whatever stupid fucking reason that is. You’re only here to help me break that rule. Do you understand what I’m saying, Bill?”
“Good. Now understand this. You’re going to kick Al Gore off of your ticket. I want him out of my White House by the end of the week.”
“But Al is… Al is…”
“Al had a snake in the White House, Bill! A dangerous, poisonous snake! Or did you not hear about that?”
“A snake?” Bill knew exactly what Hillary was talking about. Monica knew that, because her mouth was wrapped around the part of Bill Clinton’s body where that very same snake had bitten him. “That was Al’s snake?”
“The Secret Service found the snake in the White House, and they found the box the snake was supposed to be kept in too. Al swears up and down he didn’t know anything about the snake. He’s just as childish as you are. Two little boys who’d rather play Nintendo games than run the country. Two little boys who don’t deserve to be here, of all places, at the White House.”
“But what if Al is telling the truth? I know Al really good, and he ain’t one to tell lies…”
“I don’t care what you think. Al Gore is fired. My decision is final.” A few moments later, Monica heard the door close, and with Hillary’s exit, Bill suddenly exploded under the desk, as if seeing Hillary leave the room were the most euphoric thing that could’ve happened.
Bill pushed back, tucked his shirt, and put himself away, as Monica crawled out from under the desk, looking for the mug she often used to spit out the “poison.” It was then that she realized Hillary had smashed the mug during her fit of rage, prompting Monica to frantically search the room for something to spit into. It was then, during that hunt, that Hillary came storming back into the room.
“And another thing, Bill… you? Why are you here? Where did you come from?” Monica couldn’t respond, not with her mouth being full. She just stared back at Hillary blankly, unsure of what she was supposed to do. “Well? Answer me!”
“I called her in, Hillary,” Bill lied, darting over to them. “This is Monica Lewinsky. I called her up here to fire her, like you asked.”
“She came quick, didn’t she?”
“She was already…”
“Why can’t she speak for herself? How did you get here so quickly, girl?” Monica looked nervously over to Bill, who was looking nervously back at her. “Well? Do you know how to talk? Speak-a de English?”
“Hillary, I think I need to do this without you here. I ain’t no good at… at firin’ people.”
Hillary smugly eyed Monica up and down. “I thought I’d gotten rid of this one already. They all fall for the Dolley Madison trick. This one… she must be smarter than the average intern. You know what? Keep her. Keep her on legislative affairs. I won’t make you fire her. I want you to save all of your energy for firing Al Gore.”
Monica wanted to smile, but she was afraid the contents of her mouth might spill, so she just stood there, puffy-cheeked and terrified. She thought she’d need to say something, or make a sound, or something, but just then, Hillary huffed at the both of them and stormed back out of the Oval Office, slamming the door shut behind her.
“Well then… that was a damn close call,” Bill said, stating the obvious.
Monica picked up one of the glasses from their dinner and spit into it, gasping for breath as soon as her mouth as clear. “You’re telling me.”