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Saturday, September 2, 2023



"Doctor President Roosevelt's martini" demands Sentient, the ancient alien entity who shares his consciousness. What has Major Richard Blaine gotten himself into? 


“A tough lesson in life that one has to learn early on is that not everybody wishes you well.”

– Julius Caesar


I have a taste for solitude, and silence, and for what Plotinus called “the flight of the alone to the Alone.” 

I have a hunger for the silent horizon of inner contemplation.

A yearning for the lightless edge where the slopes of knowledge dwindle, and love for its own sake, lacking an object, begins.

Where you walk light as a handful of Aurora borealis.

Unfortunately, as Major of the Spartan 300, I had to force myself to command. And part of being a good commander was knowing just how much of the truth to tell your men.

I realized that I had shared too much truth with my men just then when Amos shook his head. 

“You know, Rick, my time with you has been so wild and bizarre, I just don’t know when you’re joking.”

“And after that, I intend to toss down a few glasses of vodka with Stalin,” I said.

Agent Cloverfield laughed, “Now, I know you’re telling the truth.”

“All right, gentlemen and lady, nap time.”

I caught Nurse Reynolds eyeing me suspiciously as if not buying that I had been joking about President Roosevelt.

Still, she lithely curled around her backpack and closed those magnetic eyes. I noticed she’d chosen Lt. Stein for a march mate. 

It was a prudent choice: not only was he a rabbi, but he was deeply in love with his wife, Rose.

Theo, who would have rather chosen Nurse Reynolds, prudently and jealously chose “Doc” Tennyson who was responsible for his love being here in the first place.

Cloverfield had chosen Dickens. At least, he was erudite enough to understand the university professor.

The others had chosen friends:

Reese with Porkins, Johnny Knight with “Kit” Carson, Evans with Taylor, Wilson with Stevens, Floyd with Mercer, Vincent with Lincoln (who insisted on Micheal never Mike, though he would answer to “Link.”)

Dimitri and Kent weren’t friends, but one had the saved the other so many times in Sicily that they were family … “distant, aloof cousins family” but there for each other when the chips were down.

I could feel Nurse Reynolds’ eyes on me through cracked lids.

‘No matter. In moments, she will slip into a coma with the others.’


‘I am quite impressed with your performance just now. They believe it was König, not I, who lined the walls of this tunnel with his devices.’

‘But ….”

“But me no buts, my champion. Our “Dance Card” as you might say is quite full. We must be off on our first metaphysical entanglement.’

As quick as a revolving door takes you from inside to outside and without the accompanying dizziness, 

I found myself in a shadowed hallway, standing upon a lush red carpet, facing a well-waxed mahogany door.

‘The second story of the White House. Listen to that deep laughter beyond that door which has fooled naïve maidens and jaded journalists who should have known better than to be seduced by it.’

‘Not a fan, huh?’

‘He is but another tribal chieftain of a long line of them which I have been forced to observe.’

Sentient sighed in my mind.

‘This one and his mate are the last vestiges of the extinct Gilded Age where sheltered wealth, good manners, eloquence, and hypocrisy reigned. Sadly, all that is left of that age is the hypocrisy.’

‘No more sheltered wealth?”

“Oh, still naïve, are we? Wealth of that magnitude will always be sheltered.’

‘Good to be King, huh?’

‘Not if you are half-paralyzed … which we are here to correct.’


‘Besides, his paralysis is a fourth psychosomatic, born of his guilt over his affair with Lucile Mercer and the attendant tailspin of depression to which his mate suffered because of it. The twain of them could benefit from decades of therapy.’

‘How am I supposed to three-fourths heal the President?’

‘Just surreptitiously take a sip of the martini he is currently swilling, and I will take of the rest.’

‘Sure. I’ll just walk in there and ….”

‘What a splendid idea. First, I will have you walk through the door and “get the lay of the land” as your Cloverfield puts it.’

Like a Zoom lens of a camera, I sped through time and space to find myself unnoticed smack in the midst of a laughing group of adults, one boy, and one Scottish terrier.

Well, the Scottish Terrier noticed me. But who pays attention to dogs?

Sentient gave me a rundown of the situation:

‘The tribal chieftain always changes his suit for the evening, putting on a clean shirt and a different tie. Then he is wheeled into the handsome oval study that is conveniently located right next door to his bedroom.’

An ill-looking man whom Sentient informed me was Louis Howe, Roosevelt’s personal secretary. In fact, that was his official title.

To this day I can smell the Sweet Caporal cigarettes he was smoking. They were pungent. The ashes from his cigarettes fell down the front of his shirt.

Sitting opposite Roosevelt’s desk, Louis Howe laughed, “Want to hear what the Chicago Tribune says about your latest radio speech?”

Roosevelt boomed a hearty laugh. “That rag? The only thing it is good for is the mulch Eleanor makes of it for her roses.”

“It quotes William Randolph Hearst who said ….”

“That man? He has the intelligence of a hillbilly evangelist, the courage of a rat, the fairness of a prohibitionist skirt chaser, the education of a high school janitor, and the honor of an ambulance chasing lawyer.”

A thinner, more ill-looking man Sentient identified as Harry Hopkins snorted, “But do you like him, Franklin?”

To which the group gathered around the President’s desk all laughed.

I liked the man at first sight. His slanted but engaging smile made it seem as if he was on the edge of laughter or about to make a sardonic comment.

Slouched, leaning forward, a slightly cynical expression on his face and a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth—

‘That one is dying of cancer.’

‘‘Can I heal him, too?’

‘If you must, sentimentalist. But first, drink from the President’s glass and arrange that he drinks from it afterwards.’

I inwardly groaned. ‘Sure thing. Piece of cake … Devil’s Food cake … which I have never had, by the way.

‘Duly noted.’

The elegant woman in the satin, sleek dress sitting next to him … Louise “Louie” Gill Macy … was his new wife. She laughed gaily and said,

 “Louis, you never read that paper. How do you know what it said?”

Louis Howe waved a lazy hand at her.

“It was on the radio. You know this city. The radio stations here have such fun requests: ‘This is for Betty … I’m sorry I stabbed you’.”

Amidst new peals of laughter, Louise groaned, “Oh, Louis, you are too much.”

“What can I say?” he quipped, “I’m in the prime of my senility.”

A somber looking man with a disapproving woman hanging on his arm … Judge Samuel Rosenman, the President’s chief speech writer Sentient told me … huffed,

“As with most of the senators in this city. There ought to be one day – just one day, mind you, when it is open season on those scoundrels.”

Dorothy, the judge’s wife, slapped the arm she was draped upon. “Samuel!”

A no nonsense woman … Sentient informed me she was Roosevelt’s secretary, Missy LeHand, who coined the title “the Boss” for her employer.

Having worked for FDR since his campaign for the vice presidency in 1920, and having lived as part of the household after Roosevelt contracted polio, she had a special place at the cocktail hour.

Missy chided the man’s wife. “Dorothy, you are much too hard on poor Samuel.”

Roosevelt looked as if he wanted to take the spotlight off his friend, Samuel. He lifted his martini glass high.

“To the gallant lads even now storming Normandy beaches!”

Sentient knew a cue when she heard it. The room’s clarity intensified around me as if I were tightening the focus of a camera lens.

Dorothy shrieked, “Oh my good Lord!”

Glasses thudded to the rich carpet. I turned to Louise who had managed to keep her martini glass in her fingers.

“Sorry, ma’am. It is impolite to keep your hat on in the presence of ladies. So ….”

I took off my Spartan helmet as Louise gasped, “Has anyone told you that you are the spitting image of Tyrone Power?”

Dorothy shook her head. “What are you saying. He looks like Ronald Coleman.”

Missy frowned. “Are you all blind? He looks just like Gary Cooper.”

Roosevelt grunted,

 “I read it in that MI6 report on you, Major Blaine. But I didn’t believe it. Your face looks different to different people.”

He frowned at me. “What do you make of it, Major?”

“I believe it is a metaphor from the Father teaching me that none of us are seen as we truly are.”

Roosevelt’s military aide, Major General Edwin Watson, grunted, “The Father is it? Being an orphan, you don’t know yours, do you? So that makes you ….”

Missy snapped, “That is enough, sir!”

I flicked eyes to the suddenly pale twelve-year-old boy whom Sentient told me was called “Buzzie” and smiled, 

“What I am is an accident of birth, General. But you, sir, are ….”

Missy glared at me, and I finished “… a self-made man.”

Roosevelt boomed in delighted laughter. 

“Bravo, Major. Bravo! You defended yourself while protecting an innocent at the same time.”

Louise said, “Isn’t that what heroes do, Mr. President?”

“I’m no hero, ma’am.”

The Scottish terrier came out from behind the desk and sniffed at my right hand.

The President frowned, “I gave you a Silver Star, young man, because I was told you had lost your hands in battle.”

“Oh, I have hands like a bald man with a toupee has hair.”

“But the fingers move?” murmured Missy.

“I got these 413 years in a terrible future where the Nazis won because I wasn’t here to act as a needed catalyst.”

The Major-General growled, “I don’t believe you.”

I winked at Buzzie. “Me and dead owls don’t give a hoot.”

The boy and Roosevelt both laughed out loud.

I bent down and petted the dog and whispered, “Fala, Murray the Outlaw of Falahill.”

My eyes welled with tears.

“I always wanted a dog, Mr. President. But St. Marok’s Orphanage didn’t allow orphans to own pets. And even if Headmaster Sterns had allowed me to have a dog, it would have just been so he could kill it in front of me to see the look on my face.”

Louise gasped, “What kind of orphanage was this?”

I smiled of salt. “The kind where ….”

I looked to Buzzie. “Put your fingers in your ears … and I will give you a gift that only one other boy has.”


I nodded solemnly. “Promise.”

He quickly plugged his ears as the President smiled sadly. “That bad, son?”

“Yes, sir. Headmaster Stearns supported the orphanage and his … habits by selling the attractive girls and handsome boys to the surrounding houses of … prostitution.”

Louise shook her head. “No!”

“New Orleans is the most corrupt city in Louisiana, maybe even the whole country.”

Buzzie couldn’t take it any longer, and he took out his fingers from his ears. “Can I?”

I nodded “yes” as the Major-General gruffed, “I don’t believe you.”

I winked at Buzzie. “Jimmy crack corn, and I don’t care.”

Buzzie laughed, but this time Roosevelt did not.

The general huffed, “Soldier, you were not invited here!”

“That’s exactly what the Germans screamed at me and my Spartans when we charged upon Omaha Beach. Can you believe it? They actually shot at us.”

The President scowled, “So we have secured that beach?”

“Not so you’d notice, Mr. President. Tomorrow afternoon, General Bradley would have recommended we call off the invasion as Omaha was impossible to secure. It was pretty much a death trap.”

I took the glass from the President’s limp fingers and held it high.

“To the doomed second charge of the Light Brigade and the thousands of widows, orphans, and weeping mothers it created."

I took a sip and almost spit it out. “Oh, merde! You drink this for the taste?”

The President smiled this time. “It is an acquired taste.”

“It would take me a decade to acquire the taste, sir!”

“I don’t recall it tasted that bad.”

He frowned, took a sip, and smiled wide. “Why, this tastes brilliant!”

The President actually downed the rest of the martini in one gulp.

Missy exclaimed, “Do not!”

He smiled. “I promise not to make this a habit … but, oh, my! The room is spinning.”

‘Oh, Sentient, what have you done now?’