Episode 9

ALICE IN SWAMPLAND

By Dakota Orlando

© 2019, 2020

Episode 8. Lie! Lie! Lie!

Once everyone was in the Roman column room again, the Great Kanaima walked to the door next to the one at five o’clock.

“The door at six o’clock.” He stopped short of it and turned to Stephen. “Open it.”

Stephen did, and they walked in, though the army ants decided to dance through last.

The Great Kanaima threw out his arms stopping the dancing ants. “Mar-a-Lago. This is the door to Florida. We’re getting close.”

“I heard they changed the nickname for this state,” Kellyanne said.

“Yes,” Sarah replied, “The Supreme Court changed it back in W’s day. It’s called the hanging-chad state now.”

Stephen raised a salamander brow. “What’s happened to the sunshine?”

“It was eclipsed by the dark side,” said Jim the Army Ant. He looked at his compatriot ants who grinned. “And we intend on keeping it that way.”

Looking around at what appeared to be an office, a dozen, two-foot-high sow bugs sat in chairs along an empty wall with their backs to it. It was easy to tell that furniture had been displaced for something unusual.

“Who are the sow bugs?” Alice asked.

Stephen pointed to them. “They’re lesser White-House staff.”

“Minions?” asked Kellyanne.

“No,” replied Sarah. “The minions are his voters. The sow bugs work here. They get paid for being fools.”

The Great Kanaima pointed to the desk, behind which sat a black leopard, a strange contraption perched before it. “That’s Keith the Black Leopard, my security chief. There have been too many leaks in the White House of late. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Alice shook her head. “Whenever the people of Oxford, or anywhere in England for that matter, have a leak, they task it to a plumber.”

The Great Kanaima patted Alice’s head. “My little cherry blossom, this is a whole other kind of leak. You need to learn the realities of politics. By the way … do you have to take one?”

“A leak?” Alice wrinkled her nose.

He elbowed her gently. “I know a beautiful hotel room in Moscow. It’s great … and beautiful.” He pointed to his head. “I have a good brain, and I know these things.”

Kellyanne whispered to Sarah, “Uh, oh. The PP tapes.”

“Nixon had his tapes,” Sarah replied.

“Yes, but they weren’t golden.”

“Next sow bug,” Keith called out.

One of the sow bugs climbed off a chair and walked to the one beside the desk and sat.

The Great Kanaima turned toward Alice. “Let’s just watch the interrogation, and then you’ll understand.”

“What is your name, Ed?” Keith asked.

“Ben.” A loud buzz sounded.

“You’re lying, Ed. Now, tell me your name.”

“Sam, ‘the Seersucker,’ Sow.”

Bzzzzzz!

“Ed, you’d better tell the truth.”

“Well … duh … you told me my name.”

Keith sat back and shook his head. “It didn’t buzz. You must be telling the truth.”

“Duh. Can we move on?”

“All right. Where were you on the afternoon of August the fourteenth this year?”

“I was mating with Gloria the Sow Bug.”

“Hmmmmmm! No buzz.”

“You think I’m impotent because you spell my name E-d?”

Keith’s eyes opened wider. “No.”

Bzzzzzz!

“Oh, ye of little faith,” Ed said.

Keith jerked his head back. “Let’s just continue. Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the communist party?”

“Yes.”

Bzzzzzz!

“Don’t get funny, Ed.”

“Well, you know I’m not, so why ask it.”

“Hold on.” The Great Kanaima strutted to the desk. “We never ask that question.”

Bzzzzzz!

He pointed to the gadget. “What’s that?”

“The lie detector,” Keith said. “You don’t like it?”

“Well,” the Great Kanaima replied. “Yes, I like it.”

Bzzzzzz!

“I mean, I like to see it used.”

Bzzzzzz!

The Great Kanaima glared at the machine. “On others!”

They stared at the machine.

The Great Kanaima shifted his weight from one foot to the other and back again. “Go ahead and ask him about the latest leak to the failed New York Times.”

“You know who leaked it?” Keith asked.

Ed shook his head.

“The lie detector can’t read gestures. Please voice your answers, Ed.”

“No.”

No Buzzing.

The Great Kanaima waved his forearms around wildly. “Wait a minute, Keith! Ask the question again.”

Keith nodded.

Bzzzzzz!

Alice pointed to the machine. “I thought you said it could not read gestures.”

Dinah stepped forward. “I would think that you would not want to continue this without a certain degree of accuracy … for ‘Truth is truth to the end of reckoning.’”

Keith plopped his forepaws on the desk and looked at the Great Kanaima. “Who is this little nobody of a girl? Why is she interfering with my work?”

The Great Kanaima stomped one foot. “Just ask Ed the question again.”

Keith turned toward Ed. “Do you know who leaked the latest information to the New York Times?

“No.”

No buzz.

“The failing New York Times, Keith!” the Great Kanaima said.

Bzzzzzz!

“The fake-news Washington Post, Keith!”

Bzzzzzz!

“Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!” the Great Kanaima snapped at the lie detector. “It must think I’m a narcissistic, misogynistic, psychopathic demagogue!”

Ed pointed at the machine. “Hey, it didn’t buzz.”

Alice stepped beside him. “Well … that is quite an admission.” She turned to the Great Kanaima. “I do not know what all those things are that you named, but they must be incredibly ghastly.” She pointed to the machine. “As your advisor, I am advising you to abandon this thing.”

The Great Kanaima slapped his arms along his sides. “Lie, lie, lie! This unbeautiful thing is supposed to detect lies, not make up lies.” He pointed at it. “Well …,” he sighed heavily, “I’m not going to let it get my dander up.”

“I agree with Alice,” Keith said. “You should have used good, old-fashioned torture as I suggested.”

“Yes,” Dinah said. “‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.’”

Alice shook her head. “Dinah, I do not think that is Shakespeare.”

Dinah bowed. “George Orwell. 1984.”

“Ah,” the Great Kanaima said, “I love the eighties. I’ve set up all of Swampland to run like the eighties.”

Kellyanne whispered to Sarah. “He’s never left them.”

“A 1980s solution for a 2020s problem,” Sarah whispered back. “Fails every time.”

Kellyanne nodded. “A disaster that’s for sure.”

“The iceberg ahead of the Titanic,” Dinah offered.

“What?” Kellyanne and Sarah asked simultaneously.

The Great Kanaima threw his forearms out to either side. “Enough. Let us leave Keith to finish his task. There will be no torture of my sow bugs. We’ll save that for the rapists, murderers, and drug addicts on the Mexican border.” He walked toward the exit, stopped, and turned. “And maybe the Puerto Ricans.”

“Yeah. You could bomb them with C-131s full of paper towel packages,” offered Stephen.

“Shut up,” the Great Kanaima said. He continued toward the exit followed by his entourage.

“He could also save the torture for the Democrats,” Kellyanne whispered to Sarah.

“And Nancy the Speaker,” Sarah whispered back.

Kellyanne nodded. “Especially Nancy. She kicks his ass daily.”

They marched from the room.

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