The Settling Darkness, Part 2 - The Dusk in Washington:
Dick Cheney's gout is acting up this night in Washington, D.C. Forced to spend the night at the Vice President's home rather than his palatial Maryland estate, Cheney feels the pain in his big toe, the crystallized uric acid settling in the joint there. The ache is tremendous, no matter how many anti-inflammatories he downs with a Chateau Petrus Bordeaux. Lynne's remarked that Cheney's been really hitting the claret and the single malt lately, that perhaps it's contributed to the spiky crystals now stabbing his toe joint. Cheney dismisses her with, "Go write another happy fuckin' kids book, make 'em feel good about the war, call it 'Operation Freedom Fries' or some such shit. And tell the maid to bring up a bottle of le Bon-Pasteur. My fuckin' toe hurts."

Cheney, the news blazing in the background featuring the charred remains of Iraqi vehicles and homes, stares at the mantle, at the trophies he has, the skulls of ex-Ba'athists; the jar of Punjab testicles floating in formaldehyde like so many figs, taken from their owners in the sheds and cells of Baghram Air Base; the photo montage, cut and pasted by his grandkids, of the Abu Ghraib pictures the public hasn't seen - the raped children, the nude women, the beaten and dog-bitten men. The TV flashes constant images, of the Iranian President declaring that his nation won't back down, and of Bin Laden. The future and the past, right there, always present. Cheney puts his foot up on a stool that had been owned by Benjamin Franklin, borrowed from the Smithsonian.

"Benjamin Franklin had gout," Cheney muses to himself. The fight for freedom in this world is rugged, and those who fight it deserve the rewards of the rich life. But the body fights back, says you're not virtuous enough, stabs you in your fuckin' toe joint for the act of relaxation. Cheney's cell phone rings. It's the President. Cheney answers, wincing at the sound of the voice on the other end.

"I took your advice, Dick, but it didn't work," the pinched, patrician whine, so effete, so effected, says. "I put on the Bin Laden speech and dropped my pants. I took out my peter and tried again and again to imagine jackin' off on Osama's beard, but it didn't work. I...I couldn't even get a hard-on. I hate this impotence."

"Mr. President," Cheney says, his stomach turning at the very words, "you need sleep. It's hard for me to talk now. My toe, it's buggin' the fuck out of me."

"Doesn't seem fair."

"How's that, Mr. President?"

"Your name's 'Dick.' Seems like you should have the erectile dysfunction."

"I do have erectile dysfunction, Mr. President."

"Oh. Does it have anything to do with Osama Bin-Laden?"

"No, it has to do with my heart condition. Pull up your pants and go to bed, George." And the President hangs up.

Cheney is tired. His heart, his toe, his mind. His speech in New York yesterday was another affair where he defended everything the administration is doing. He's sick of the bob and weave on the past. Cheney's a man of the future, a man who makes plans. Yesterday is detritus, shit residue on his shoe, to be wiped on the carpets of the Vice President's residence.

Ben Franklin never looked back, he thinks. We revolutionaries are always thinking forward. Cheney smirks, thinking about Iran, about Syria, about so much that can be done in a little less than three years, when there's no one to answer to. Franklin would have wished for such complacency, Cheney thinks. Ben Franklin and me, he ponders as he falls asleep, spilling his glass of Bordeaux all over Franklin's stool.