Air force One carrying President Obama flew through the night returning from another PR moment in Afghanistan. Overhead shone a gibbous moon bathing a sea of clouds beneath in its radiant light. Sitting back in his comfortable seat sipping hot coffee, and wishing he had a smoke, Obama thought about his brief visit with that crazy bastard Karzai. I can put up with him for now, thought Obama, though in the end he was fairly sure Karzai might get a missile down his chimney, an unfortunate accident for the old drug runner. Christ, he had the nerve to thank the American people for their tax money, Christ. Yeah, a missile down the old chimney just might be in order. I can always find another sock puppet, no shortage of those. I’m the president of the United States and I have the power of life and death over all the little Karzais in the world, they survive by my good will as God, er, I mean president.
Suddenly, Air force One was hit by some strong turbulence and the plane drops straight down into the clouds of the storm raging below. Obama wiped spilled coffee from his cloths as the pilot got the plane level and under control. Outside lightening split the black void as rain pelted the window next to Obama’s seat. The thunder was ear shattering and with the next flash of light the plane shuddered but plowed on through the night. A secret service agent dressed immaculately in a blue suit hurried down the aisle, “Sorry sir,” said the agent, “but we’re having trouble with the controls, maybe the turbulence damaged something, but we can’t gain any altitude to climb out of the storm. I’m afraid it’s going to be rough for the rest of the trip Mr. President.”
“Can we land?” Obama asked.
“Yes Sir, nothing wrong with the landing gear sir, we just can’t go up, a little weird but we’re okay,” replied the agent.
Obama thanked him and went back to his own thoughts as the agent left going into the next cabin, probably to go back to sleep, thought Obama. Not that I blame him, been a long trip and now this damned storm, ah well. Even after the coffee Obama felt drowsy and he soon began to drift off to sleep. But what was that music he was hearing? It sounded like, yes, it is, it sounds like Charlie Parker playing Confirmation
one of Bird’s most famous compositions. Obama loved Jazz even though he preferred White music and he especially liked Charlie Yardbird Parker, also known as “Bird.” In fact Obama had almost been inspired to be a musician by Bird but in the end he chose a different path. A more pragmatic one thought Obama, after all, Bird died without two bucks in his pockets despite his great talent and look at me, got my own jet, lots of bucks coming in, I’ll make a fortune after I’m done being president on the lecture circuit, hah!
But where was that music coming from? Now Parker was playing Now’s the Time
and as Parker’s awesome solo reached its peak lightening struck again and all the lights in the plane went out plunging everyone into darkness but came on again a second later and when they did Obama saw Charlie Parker sitting across from him as he finished the last chorus of Now’s the Time.
Parker put his horn down in the seat next to him his eyes narrowing as he fixed Obama with a glare and said, “Now’s the time man, now’s the time.”
Obama wondered if he was dreaming, Parker died over fifty years ago, he couldn’t be here on this plane, could he? “Y-y-y-you, can’t be here, your dead!” Obama shouted. Parker winced, “be cool man, you don’t have to shout, it’s just you and me and I’m here to have a little talk with you. We all got together you know, Monk, Trane, Powell, Dizzy, and all the rest of the cats and they sent me here to have a little pow-wow with the prez, no, not that Prez, you man, it’s you, you’re screwing everything up.”
“Well, just look at you, you’re black on the outside but on the inside you're lily white. You been throwing in the wrong substitutes and playing the bridge on the wrong chorus. You don’t even make sense most of the time. You tell stories but they are incoherent which isn’t cool, not by a long shot. Telling stories is only part of the deal man, you have to make sense, your stories have to be logical or it sounds like Chinese Jazz though you sound more like Tommy Dorsey to me, you’re just too damn white that’s your problem. I’m here to fix that. These wars you have going, they're hurting everyone, and when things go south you know it’s the minorities that get the brunt of it. It’s like you turned your back on your own people and that’s got to stop. We all thought you were pretty cool at first but after your first year we know better. You’re not cool at all man, no, not cool at all. It’s time to end the wars and bring the boys back.” With that Bird picked up his horn and started playing Back Home Blues.
Fuming, Obama said, “Hey, all I’m doing is playing the White Man’s game and beating him at it, look at me, I’m a living legend, a walking, talking, historic moment, I hold the power of life and death over my minions, I’m the first Black President, doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
“I see,” replied Bird, “It’s all about you isn’t it. Don’t you ever think of consequences and those who have to pay them?
“Why should I, I have power and they have nothing, they are nothing, I’m the decider not them.”
“Man, you’re even more outside than I thought. I thought you were kidding when you said Ronald Reagan was one of your heroes but now I see you’re really bent. That Afghan War is a song without an end, just keeps taking the coda and repeating endlessly. How are you going to end it?
“End it! Who said anything about ending it? The war is reason enough for its own existence; I’m making sure I get reelected by showing people what a Democratic President can do because staying in power is the name of the game. It’s everyone for themselves and the weak will go to the wall, that’s reality Bird, that’s the way it works. Look at you, you were the king in your day, musicians threw their instruments in the river because they couldn’t play like you. You didn’t take any crap from anyone so why should I?”
“That’s not the same, it’s not like I was offing people,” Bird said. “And that’s what you’re doing, and not just soldiers but innocent men, women, and children as well and that’s just wrong, just wrong. I mean, how do you sleep at night knowing that your orders result in the death of little kids?
“I don’t think about it” Obama replied. “Besides, you're nothing but a dead junkie, you boozed and drugged yourself to death so where do you get off talking down to me?”
“Well maybe you should think about it” replied Parker, “I’m all of what you said man, I don’t deny it yet I also gave immense pleasure to millions of people and inspired thousands more to play music, I gave people joy and you give them death, that’s the difference between a dead junkie and yourself Obama.”
At that moment young kids appeared out of nowhere to walk down the aisle toward Obama, their faces somber and sad, those that had faces at any rate, for many were horribly mangled and didn’t have what you could actually call a face any longer but they said nothing as they silently looked at Obama as they passed. Obama felt his dinner rising up his gullet and sprang for the bathroom tripping over what looked like a child’s shoe. When Obama awoke he was chilled to the bone and covered in a clammy sweat but he was in his seat on board his very own Air force One and it had all been a dream, nothing to worry about. No, nothing to worry about at all.