Helsinki — The Play — Chapters 8, 9 & 10
Oval Office — White House — Night
Trump goes in and sits at his desk. He pushes back on his chair and puts his feet up.
Trump — Annoying as it is sometimes, it’s useful to hear that liberal point of view. Not that she doesn’t have some good ideas. What I said about American women giving me a free pass, at least the ones in my base, that’s true. And I got in. Love them.
How did Melania put it?
Something about women feeling suppressed for so long that they could not bring themselves to choose one of their own. Interesting how that view doesn’t get any press… wonder why?
Maybe their less suppressed sisters being nice and tolerant.
Madeline Albright came up with that line that women who didn’t vote for Hillary deserved a place in Hell. Got you, babe.
The women in my base were being pragmatic… that’s what it was… they knew that what I brought to the table was far more important than my peccadilloes.
He pauses, then glances over his shoulder at the portrait of Andrew Jackson.
What say you, Stonewall?
He gets up and goes to stand in front of the portrait.
Trump (speaking to Jackson) — You held back the British in New Orleans and I will hold back immigration. Stonewall they nicknamed you, and surely they’ll come up with something for me, something to immortalize me… because the Wall goes, brother, I promise you that.
Jackson winks back at him.
Park in Washington DC. Early Evening.
A middle aged man and a woman, walking side by side, approach an empty bench.
They both wear business suits. They sit, both take out their phones, turn them off and place them between them.
Man — You can smell blood, can’t you?
Woman — There’s that scent.
Man — If we win both Houses we’ll have a chance to impeach him.
Woman — Manafort, Cohen, Gates… the dominoes are falling.
Man — Man going down and he can’t stop himself. How many times have we seen it?
Woman — He made his choices… now he’s got to live with them.
Man — We’ve got to win in November.
Woman — Have to pull all the stops. You think he colluded?
Man — I didn’t think so but, since Helsinki I’ve changed my mind.
A Man with a child in a stroller go by.
Man — Russians want him in… so there’s going to be a massive effort to support him.
Woman — What would you do?
Man — My take… go straight to the people sitting on the fence, tell them, ‘this is who your leader is. A vote against Trump is a vote against Russia’s interference, a vote against Trump is a vote for a sovereign America.’
Woman — You’d concede the base…?
Man — Pretty much. Run the video clip of Helsinki… ‘if he can’t stand up to Putin, will he stand up for you? Brand him an appeaser.’
Woman — ‘Hey John Voter, wake up buddy! Trump’s doing a number on you. He’s given you a platform to rant and rave but who’s listening? You’re going nowhere with the hooting and hollering. He’s cranking you up but where are you headed?’
Man — Go check out the Wall.
Woman — Right.
Man — Where are the programs to get you up to speed with the global economy? Where is the education you need?
Woman — Basic stuff.
They look at each other.
Man — The Street loves him.
Woman — Sure, they got their tax cut and deregulations.
Man — The economy is going strong… can’t take that away from him. You and I are worked up about him but people like to hear that jingle in their pocket… and may be willing to look the other way.
Woman — True.
A young couple in love saunters by.
The Man and the Woman glance at each other and smile.
Man — How’d we get here?
Woman — The debates. Not a single one of them stood up to Trump. Not a single one took him to task. Clinton should’ve made mincemeat out of him but she didn’t. And that was it.
Man — Comey put the last shovel full of dirt on her.
Woman — Unbelievable.
Man (singing) — What a difference a day makes… 24 little hours…
Woman — It’s sad.
Man — Well, it’s payback time. There’s a lot of angry women running for office.
Woman — And they should.
An elderly, frail looking woman walks past with the aid of a cane. She limps a little.
Trump walks into a large room in the Kremlin. In the center, Vladimir Putin is sitting facing a small table with two bottles of water and an extra chair. Putin now rises to greet the advancing Trump. The two men shake hands. Putin signals for Trump to take a seat. He does.
There are no translators.
Trump — Glad you could make it.
Putin — For you, anytime.
Trump — Thanks
Putin — What can I do for you?
Trump — I’ll get straight to the point.
Putin — Please.
Trump — You interfered with our election in 2016.
Putin — I did.
Trump is surprised.
Trump — You have been denying it all this time.
Putin — We were in public. In private it’s a different matter. That’s the beauty of meeting alone.
Trump — You can’t do that.
Putin — I did it.
Trump — Why?
Putin — It was wide open. Low lying fruit, as you Americans say. How could I resist? I’m an old KGB hand. You’re not exactly new to intrigue but, next to me, you’re a newbie.
Trump is disconcerted.
Putin — Look at it this way… real wars are bloody and painful. We both have a long history of it. In WWII alone, Mother Russia lost 20 million people. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Your country has never suffered a loss of that magnitude. Of course, we would do it again if we needed to, but cyberwarfare is so much cleaner. And more effective.
Trump — What are you after?
Putin smiles warmly.
Trump (pressing) — What are you after?
Putin — Don’t you know?
Trump (impatiently) — I am asking.
Putin — The American mind.
Trump stares at Putin.
Trump (emphatically) — You can’t have it!
Putin nods thoughtfully.
Putin — My cyber warriors will see to it… and I can’t be stopped.
Trump — Can’t be stopped?
Putin — Historical forces beyond my control, and yours, have been set in motion. Believe me, we’re mere pawns.
Trump — Pawns?
Putin — There’s two sides to your famous America, one side that wants education and fairness of opportunity… so the motivated and capable can climb up the ladder… and another side, sitting on top, that wants to knock down the ladder… so no one but their favorites will follow. So you fluctuate between being a meritocracy… very honorable… and a nepotocracy.
Trump — Nepotocracy?
Putin — Ring a bell?
Trump — What?
Putin — That’s the side you and I are with.
Trump rises abruptly.
Trump — I’m not listening to this. I’m leaving.
He turns and stalks to the door. But he finds the door locked and he can’t open it.
Trump — Let me out!
He slams his fist on the door but there’s no response.
Putin, unconcerned with Trump’s pleas but affecting a sympathetic air, rises and takes a few steps toward him.
Putin — Please listen. This is the most important part. The two sides of the American mind have tried to dialogue… and sometimes they’ve succeeded… and when they have the American mind has been brilliant… like in battling the Depression during the 1930s… and in WWII… and the Marshall Plan afterwards… but at other times you’ve been a disaster… like in dealing with racism.
Trump advances toward Putin with determined step and the two men come face to face.
Trump — We defeated you in the Cold War. Our economy left you behind!
Putin — Yes, you did. You crushed us. You were the victor. I accept it.
Trump — Thank you.
Putin (a hint of sadness in his eyes) — My dear and beautiful Soviet Union… broken up into pieces. It was very sad and painful to see it happen. And the whole world stood witness.
Putin turns around and returns to his seat. He resumes speaking, now and then glancing up at Trump who remains standing near him.
Putin — That was the American mind at work… the American mind that does science… and art… and the humanities… the mind that is intoxicated with the pursuit of riches… any and all types of riches… the mind that takes on any challenge… the cradle of Intel and IBM and Boeing and Northrop… and the miracles in food production and medicine… and MIT and JPL… and Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla and Hollywood… the insatiable American mind that wants to dominate and transform the world… devour us all… to impose your culture…
Putin is looking Trump in the eye.
Putin — … The insatiable mind that seduces talent from everywhere…. from Russia too… my dear Russia… immigrants flocking to your country lured by your way of life. Believe me, we lament their leaving… and most of all, lament that they don’t return. Your gains, my dear sir… and our losses.
Trump narrows his eyes, warily.
Putin — Who knows what would’ve happened if Sergey hadn’t left…
Trump — Sergey?
Putin — Sergey Brin. The cofounder of Google, born right here in Moscow.
Trump — He got out. He went to Stanford.
Putin (smiling slyly) — It will take time, of course, but we will do it…
Trump — Do what?
Putin — … with great stealth…
Trump — What?
Putin — … my cyberwarriors will work to steadily erode your values… but it’s for the good of the world, you must understand… so that we create a level playing field… because you’re too much out in front… and the cyberwarriors will do so by targeting your culture… accentuating your differences… minimizing your similarities… so your dialogue will be impoverished… degraded… and finally stopped.
Trump — Stop our dialogue?
Putin — The pearl that lies at the center of it all… the light that when shining shows you the way.
When it goes out, for it will, I will rejoice as I never have.
Trump — I won’t let you.
Putin — In the chaos that will follow, in the darkness… your people will clamor for autocracy… a wonderful system… vastly underrated… a system where the majority rules… and minorities learn to live with it… suck it up… as you’re fond of saying.
Trump (to himself, as if considering the possibility) — A world where the autocrat is the light…
Putin — Yes! Brilliant! Oh, dear man, you’re so much like me… that’s why I like you so… that’s why we’re so fond of each other. Every time you cry out, ‘Fake News!’, my heart leaps with joy.
Trump — It does?
Putin — Yes! Believe me, I’m rooting for you to succeed. You have my full backing.
Trump steps back, shaking his head, distrustful.
Trump — No… no… there’s something wrong here… you’re tricking me…
Putin — Donald, please… I am eager to learn from you, I tape all your rallies.
Trump — You tape my rallies?
Putin — Yes, so I can study them and learn to work a crowd, learn to please it, to excite it, for you are the master, the one and only… oh, how I wish I had your gifts!
Trump (moved) — I am very good.
Putin — An artist.
Trump — Thank you. Did you know I have a star in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame?
Putin — Of course I know. They should add a statue.
Trump frowns, suspicion growing again.
Putin — I owe you more than you owe me.
Trump — I owe you?
Putin — It’s nothing… nothing compared to what you give us, and are giving us…by your example… every day… how you rose from nothing…
Trump — Nothing?
Putin — I mean, from being a distinguished hotelier and shrewd judge of character… Manafort and Gates aside… to beating and smashing the Clinton machine.
Trump — Thank you.
Putin — You’re most welcome. And I’m so sorry, we tried to get you the popular vote, we really did… but it was not possible. I know you wanted it badly. I’m so sorry.
Trump explodes with anger.
Trump — What? How dare you? You did not win me the election! American women did!
Putin — There’s no need to get upset. We will do much better next time, I assure you. We’re already working on it, improving our techniques.
Trump (loudly) — You will not interfere with our elections, do you hear me?
Putin (rising, stepping up to Trump) — Please lower your voice. For your own good, Donald. You’re overweight and out of shape… and I wouldn’t want you to have a heart attack. I’m serious. You’re too valuable an asset.
Trump — Asset?
Fuming, yet controlling his rage, Trump paces off for a stretch, then turns to face Putin again.
Trump — Are we being recorded?
Putin — I record all my conversations.
Trump is incredulous.
Putin — For history’s sake, believe me, because we’re on the right side of history, you and I, don’t you ever doubt it. Would you like a glass of cider, a bit of caviar?
Trump — No!
Putin — Calm down, it will be all right.
Trump stares angrily at Putin.
Putin — We need to be composed when we step out for the press conference,
Trump (panicking) — Press conference?
White House — Bedroom
Abruptly, Trump sits up in his bed, confused and agitated.
Trump (crying out) — Helsinki! Helsinki!
Melania is by his side, holding him.
Melania — You’re here, you’re not in Helsinki! Dee, you’re here with me, in our bedroom!
He gives a shudder and turns to face her.
Trump — What happened?
Melania — It must’ve been a bad dream.
Trump — A dream?
Melania — You’ve been shouting Helsinki! Helsinki!
Trump — A dream… yes… thank god… but it was so real.
Melania — What happened?
Trump — What else did I say?
Melania — Just that.
He falls back down on his bed, immensely relieved, face sweaty with perspiration.
Trump — I didn’t say anything else?
Melania — No, just Helsinki.
She gets up, puts her robe on and crosses to sit at his side. She holds his face in her hands and kisses him.
Melania — I’m so sorry. Why don’t you talk about it?
Trump — I can’t remember anything… did you hear anything else?
Melania — No. Just Helsinki.
He sighs, shakes his head, the expression still strained. He looks at her and takes her hands in his and kisses them.
Trump — Wow. I felt so alone.
Melania — Talk about what you remember, maybe the whole dream will come back.
Trump — I can’t remember anything. What time is it?
Melania — 5 A.M.
Trump — Might as well get up, then.
He does and walks to the table adjacent where he takes a seat, his worries weighing on him.
Melania — What a coincidence…
Trump — What?
Melania — Helsinki is 7 hours ahead… the dream happened about the same time you held that news conference on July 16th.
Trump looks at her, baffled.
Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net. also available in anchor.fm, apple and google podcasts and buzzsprout.