‘Last I checked, he had a country to run’: A short play, in two acts
If President Obama fills out a college football playoff bracket, he will usher us into a paradise. Paradise is its own Hell.
Henry watches television from the only occupied stool of a dim, dusty bar. It’s an old heavy cathode-ray TV. A digital converter box hangs from audio/video cables, from the back of the TV to a hole punched through a ceiling tile, draping like a holiday ornament.
Henry. Any games on?
Bartender. It’s only seven. Could check and see.
The bartender leans and holds the remote around the corner with an outstretched arm; after a few labored presses, the “last” button flips the receiver box to ESPN.
Henry.Oh, what’s this? This the, uh …
Bartender. Yeah it’s uh, Obama’s fillin’ out his tournament bracket.
Henry. See ..
Henry leans back just a little. The winter sun peels out of the clouds, just as it’s set to dip into the trees.
Henry. And look, I don’t wanna be politically incorrect or whatever. And no offense.
Bartender. Yeah, yeah, no, yeah.
Henry. But it’s like. Doesn’t Obama have anything better to do than fill out a college bracket? I mean, he’s the President.
Bartender. Hey, I hear you.
Henry. Last I checked, he had a country to run. Last I heard, there were real problems that needed fixing. Like the um. You know, Middle East is goin’ to Hell in a handbasket.
Bartender. I heard about that.
Henry. Yeah, and the money problems. All of the money debt.
Bartender. Oh yeah. Ohhh yeah. My brother-in-law? He works for the government. The things he says about the money problems and all of the money debt … he told me on Thanksgiving, he said, “you better be ready. There are gonna be money problems with the debt.”
Henry. But I guess that’s gonna have to wait, huh? The President has to fill out his bracket.
The President. Well. I’ve had the opportunity to watch Marcus Mariota a few games this season, and you know, I’m going to go with my gut here. Let’s put the Ducks over Florida State. And who have we got next?
Host. Over here, we’ve got Alabama versus Ohio State.
The President. [chuckles] Well, they’ve really put me in a spot! But you know … Ohio’s a battleground state.
Host. Ahhh! A little political gamesmanship here, Mr. President?
The President. Hey … you know– and, and hey, I’m a politician at heart.
Host. Now here’s the big question. Oregon or Ohio State?
The President. I just don’t think the Buckeyes can match the pace of that Oregon team. Let’s put the Ducks in the next round. Who’s up next?
Host. That’s it, Mr. President.
The President. Hm?
Host. This is only a four-team bracket, since it’s football.
The President. Huh.
The President turns to the camera.
Henry squints back at him.
The President. Well, I set aside an hour for this. I thought there were going to be 68 teams.
Host. No, sir. We’re all done.
The President. Charlie, what time is it?
Aide. It’s, ah … It’s 7:02. This was supposed to run until eight.
The President. Well. Hey. I’ve almost an hour free. Anything that needs doing?
Aide. Not really.
The President. Oh! I could get started on Game of Thrones. Is that show any good?
The President. Hmm.
Henry. You guys gonna be open for Christmas?
Bartender. Oh, I imagine. Short day, though, maybe eight to midnight.
The President. Can someone get me some paper? Might as well get some work out of the way.
Aide. Need a pen?
The President. Got one.
Henry. Might stop by. Home stuff is a little … you know.