PRES: Gentlemen, I must tell you that we have just received a credible threat from–[Outer Office Secretary Mabel enters as CAMERA FOLLOWS HER IN. All heads turn, a bit peevishly, for she is interrupting an urgent meeting between the President and his Top Advisors in the Situation Room. SLOW PAN and CLOSEUPS of each Top Advisor as they ponder this interruption. Their concern, heartache and conflict are written on their faces.]
MABEL: I’m sorry, Mr. President. It’s Billy Bob at CTU. He says it’s urgent.[She hands the President a cell phone. ZOOM IN on cell phone.]
PRES [repressing annoyance]: Couldn’t you have just buzzed me on the intercom and put him through to my land line?
MABEL: I’m sorry sir, but I felt like handing you a cell phone.[CLOSEUP of cell phone as she hands it to him. 4-WAY SPLIT SCREEN of President’s cell phone, Secretary of State’s cell phone, Secretary of Defense’s cell phone (still on belt clip), and a Security Guard’s cell phone. [ZOOM IN on President’s cell phone, crowding out other panels of the SPLIT SCREEN. [CUT TO SLIGHTLY QUIVERING PAN of Mabel exiting the Situation Room. Her personal tragedy and need to reorganize her desk are written on her face.]
PRES: Yes, Billy Bob. What is it? Have you confirmed that Bin Laden has the power to thin the rainforest, blow up all our major cities, and make people wait even longer at the airport?[QUICK CUT after QUICK CUT as the others gasp; the country wouldn’t be able to endure any more hassles at the airport. [2-WAY SPLIT SCREEN. We see Pres on left screen and Billy Bob on right screen. SCREENS SPLIT AGAIN and we see Pres on upper left, Billy Bob in upper right, Pres tapping on his desk with a pencil in lower left, and Somebody Doing Pushups in lower right. Last screen SPLITS AGAIN and we see the Eyebrow, distraught and pulsating, of the Guy Doing Pushups. [CUT TO cougar mauling Push-Up Guy. A baby cries in the background. [CUT TO a FLEETING CLOSE-UP of Billy Bob’s Left Nostril. [CUT TO Pres, waiting. [CUT TO Eyebrow, severed and bleeding. [CUT TO Billy Bob Nostril, hesitant. [CUT TO PRES, waiting. [CUT TO 2-WAY SPLIT SCREEN. We see Pres on left screen and Billy Bob on right screen. The Pres screen BECOMES THE SHAPE OF A TRIANGLE and the Billy Bob screen BECOMES THE SHAPE OF A CIRCLE.]
BILLY BOB: Mr. President. It’s worse than that. Seven minutes and 35 seconds ago, Jack Bauer was killed by heavy traffic while crossing the street. Apparently he was looking at his stopwatch, which he has a habit of doing on the hour every hour, when he should have been looking where he was going…. Bottom line, Mr. President: we’ve lost Jack Bauer, the man who has–
PRES: Hold on… I’m putting you on speaker, Billy Bob.[PRES presses speaker button on speaker phone on desk after fiddling with controls for a bit. He plugs a wire into the cell phone and connects it to the speaker. He presses speaker phone button again. Seems to be working.]
PRES: Can you repeat what you just said?
BILLY BOB: Mr. President. It’s worse than that. Eight minutes and 4 seconds ago, Jack Bauer was killed by heavy traffic while crossing the street. Apparently he was looking at his watch, which he has a habit of doing on the hour every hour, when he should have been looking where he was going. Bottom line, Mr. President: we’ve lost Jack Bauer, the man who has headed up every anti-terrorist mission in the field for the past three going on four years.[We hear show’s standard looks-like-Bauer-is-really-dead-this-time theme music. [Hush falls over the Situation Room.]
PRES: Thank you for calling. [Buzzes intercom.] Mabel?[CUT TO Mabel at her desk in the outer office.]
MABEL [leaning toward intercom]: Yes, Mr. President?
PRES: Come in here, please.[Mabel enters Situation Room. Pres hands her the cell phone.]
PRES: Get Bin Laden on the line, Mabel. We’re going to have to surrender.[Mabel leaves to dial the number in the outer office. She sits down at her desk and efficiently presses a speed-dial button with her pencil. [Laden’s phone rings….]
LADEN VOICE MESSAGE: You have reached the voicemail of Osama bin Laden. At the sound of the tone, please leave a–
1…2…3[As Mabel re-enters Situation Room, another phone rings. We see 12-WAY SPLIT SCREEN of all cell phones in the room.]
PRES: Is that for me? Whose cell is that?[Mabel picks up second call on another cell phone she happens to be carrying.]
MABEL: Mr. President, I have Billy Bob on one cell and Mr. Laden on another cell. Whom do you wish to speak with first?[CLOSEUP of Mabel. CUT TO CLOSEUP of the President.]
PRES: Well, who’s that on the Nokia? Billy Bob?
MABEL: Yes sir. How do you want to handle this?
PRES [biting his lower lip]: I’ll take that one first I guess…. Yes, what is it, Billy Bob…? Oh, thank God! Everybody, Bauer is alive![We hear show’s standard Bauer-is-alive-after-all theme music. Everybody chatters and yelps gleefully. High-fives all around. 12-WAY SPLIT SCREEN of high-fives, followed by 12-WAY SPLIT SCREEN of people patting their cell phones to make sure they’re secure.]
PRES: Okay, okay, settle down now, settle down now, people. I’m still on the call…. Uh, so why the misinformation, Billy Bob?
BILLY BOB [in other panel of SPLIT SCREEN]: Just some bad intel, Mr. President. But if you were thinking of surrendering to bin Laden, I’d wait until Jack has a chance to follow through on his latest lead. Apparently his mother knows something relevant to the investigation, and he’s almost through beating the shit out of her even as we speak. We’ll know more in a few minutes.[Mabel is gesturing furiously at the other cell phone.]
PRES [loud and authoritative]: Uh, okay then, Billy Bob. Keep up the good work, and please keep me posted. I want reports at 18-second intervals. I’ll do a fake-surrender with Bin Laden and stall him, until Jack can track him down and beat the shit out of him too.[Mabel continues to gesture furiously at the other cell phone.]
BILLY BOB: Mr. President, we’re pretty busy at this end as well, but I will be sure to keep you posted.
PRES: Er, okay, then. Give me that.[CUT TO Mabel pulling at her hair and stalking out of the Situation Room as President fiddles with wire to connect this cell phone to the speaker after detaching the other cell phone from it.]
PRES: Hello, Mr. Bin Laden? Uh, yes, we are prepared to meet your terms. But you need to give me an hour or two to prepare my people for the conversion to an Islamo-Fascist Dictatorship. Can you live with that? And then I’m sure we can arrange a smooth transfer of power…uh…hello? Mr. Bin Laden?
VOICE OF BIN LADEN: Yes. I hear you. Yes. I heard you before. I heard everything. The line was open, you unwashed infidel. Reception is bad out here so I told your assistant not to put me on hold. It is all very enlightening, your deceptive Western dog ways. Well, obviously there is no deal. I do not accept your surrender. Ptui, I spit on your weak stratagem. And there is no way that Bauer can reach us in time. By the time I hang up this phone, Mr. Western Dog President, everything will be in motion. By morning, the security procedures at your airports will be more cumbersome and obtuse than ever. Praise Allah! Okbah, Hockbah, Doobah Labbah Ding Dong! [Click.]
PRES: Wait, I–did we get a trace?[SPLIT SCREEN of Secretary of Defense eyeing Secretary of State, and Secretary of State eyeing Secretary of Defense.]
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE [in somber and gravelly tones]: Uh, did you want us to trace the call, Mr. President…?
PRES: We’re doomed.[300-MILLION-WAY SPLIT SCREEN of all Americans and resident aliens around the country. Their concerns, life stories and conflicts are written on their faces. [CUT TO Jack Bauer drop-kicking his 70-year-old Mom.]
BAUER: WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME! Just tell me, Mom, where’s that guy you bumped into at the supermarket who knows the guy who knows the guy who overheard something about the current location of bin Laden??? NOW!!!!
David M. Brown is the publisher of TheWebzine.com, and recently posted at Laissez Faire Books blog about the Yahoos at Yahoo, the latest re jailed pot-dissident Steve Kubby, and the real reason the Lost Liberty Hotel ballot measure didn’t make it to the ballot in Weare, NH.