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The End of An Empire: A Cautionary Tale
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The End of An Empire: A Cautionary Tale

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The Situation Room, the White House, 7:03 A. M.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne:  ... And we pray O Lord that you would bless our President, the officials here with him, and his whole administration with the abundant gifts of your Holy Spirit.  In the wonderful name of the Lord Jesus we pray.  Amen.

(He removes his right hand from the left shoulder of the seated and bowing Donald Trump.)

President Trump:  Thank you Rodney.  Lunch today as usual?

HB:  Yes, Mr President.

(He smiles happily and leaves.)

T:  Okay, people, what have you got for me today?  Mike, let’s start with you.

Pompeo:  There is still some concern about China.  They refuse all of our efforts to re-establish diplomatic ties since we crippled their aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

T:  Paper tigers.  We bloody their nose a little to show them we mean business, and they go and pout in a corner.  Some cowardly sons of b****es, I tell you.

P:  But Mr President, we believe it is highly likely that China is planning to retaliate in some way. 

T:  It’s been months.  They’re not going to act.

P:  China usually moves very slowly and deliberately, sir.

T:  Paper tigers.  Gina, what’s going on next door to the cowards in Russia?

Haspel:  As we planned, Russia is in disarray over the Patriarch of Constantinople’s issuing of the tomos of autocephaly to the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  The new Patriarch, John, who used to be the Metropolitan of Pergamon, is even easier to work with than Bartholomew since he saw what happened to his former boss for not going along with our suggestions.

T:  A shame about Bart’s sudden health problems.  How’s Putin taking all this?

H:  He’s angry, of course.

(Trump slouches a little in his chair, thinking.)

T:  Well, let’s try to brighten his mood a little.  Mike, see what you can do about lifting a few of the sanctions on Russia.  Let them sell a little natural gas to Germany or something.  And call off the boys at the National Endowment for Democracy for a few weeks.  We want to keep the Russians off-balance, not totally p*** them off.

P:  Yes sir.

T:  General Mattis, what are you hearing from Europe?

Mattis:  The European Union is shakier than ever after Italy’s vote to leave.  The common defense force the E. U. proposed isn’t going anywhere for the moment.

T:  Fine.  Is everyone still happy in NATO, though?

M:  So far, sir.

T:  And how’s the expansion going?

M:  South America is coming along slowly but steadily.  Africa is a little bit reluctant because of China’s presence.  But a well-timed coup every now and then, along with the work of the missionaries on our intelligence payroll, will pay off eventually.  The Roman Catholic priests in Latin America and the Evangelical Protestants in Africa we find particularly effective at softening up the locals, especially when we throw in something like a Charismatic woman preacher.  That tends to upend things for our benefit.

T:  I like your style, Jim.

(The meeting goes on.)

***

Lincoln Bedroom, The White House, 11:10 A. M.

(The door opens.  Rodney Howard-Browne enters.  Pres Trump, who has removed his suit coat, takes a sip of his chocolate milkshake to wash down a bite of cheeseburger.)

T:  Rodney, thanks for coming.

(He reaches out to shake his hand.  His cufflink glints a little in the window light.)

HB:  Of course.

(He sits by the President on the couch.)

HB:  You’ve come to like this room, haven’t you?

T:  A lot of great men spent time here.  Maybe a little bit of their greatness will enter me as well the longer I’m in here.

(The President is silent for a few minutes.)

HB:  Is something wrong, Mr President?

T:  Rodney, do you ever have any doubts about America’s mission in the world?  There’s always so much resistance, everywhere I turn.  Turkey, Germany, Iran.  Fake news.  States that want to ignore laws or secede.

HB:  You know, Mr President, I think that just proves you’re on the right path.  All godly people in the Bible underwent some kind of opposition or persecution.  The Prophet Elijah, the Apostle Paul, Jesus Himself.

T:  That’s fine for me.  But what about a country?  We’re talking about millions of people here.

HB:  It works the same way.  Israel has had enemies her whole life.  America, like Israel, is chosen by God for special works in the world.  Sometimes the process can look a little ugly; even some of Israel’s actions in the Bible are repulsive at first glance.  But wherever America’s constitutional values spread, light expels the darkness.  So many backward places have been helped by her:  the South, Hawai’i, Japan, Serbia, and on and on. 

T:  ‘His truth is marching on’.

HB:  Without American leadership, the world would fall to pieces.  But ‘evil hates the Light’.  So attacks against America are pretty much guaranteed to come. 

T:  (Another pause.)  How long do you think America will last?

HB:  Probably until the Rapture happens.  There is no mention of America in prophecies about the end times. 

(Their talk continues until both men leave to prepare for the military parade in the afternoon.)

***

Presidential Watching Booth along Pennsylvania Avenue, 3:35 P. M.

(Pres Trump and his entourage stand and watch as soldiers march and various pieces of military hardware roll by.  The President has a broad grin on his face.  Rodney Howard-Browne turns to speak to the President over the din of the engines and the happy yelling of the crowd.)

HB:  Mr President, you seem to have cheered up since we spoke.

T:  I had some time to think about what you said.  America really is a terrific place, ya know?  I’m sorry now that I sounded so depressed earlier.

(Howard-Browne is beaming.)

HB:  Temptations can be strong, Mr President.  I’m glad you’ve thrown this one off.

(A call comes through the ear-pieces of Gen Mattis and the security detail.)

Operator:  Missile defense systems offline.

(Gen Mattis, already standing at attention, becomes stiff as a board.)

O:  Activity detected in China... Hypersonic missile launching.

M:  Mr President, we have to go. NOW.

T:  What are you talking about?  It’s a great day!

M:  Missile on it’s way, sir!

T:  Who?!

M:  Who else?!

T:  Cowards!!

(Suddenly, the roar of the detonation rends the air.  Gen Mattis mutters to himself:)

M:  Annapolis...

(The blast wave hurtles debris past them.  Pres Trump reaches for the nuclear football.  The cufflink on his wrist does not glint this time; it is glowing red-hot and burns him.  Gen Mattis attempts to hand over the football, but the skin falls from his hand, sending it to the ground.)

HB:  The voice of the archangel!  The Lord has come for His Bri…

(Fire swallows him up.)

Author: Walt Garlington