The air in the Oval Office was cold and itchy, scratching at my skin like a lingering guilt. I doubt I could even begin to tell how much time had passed since I started hiding out in this circle of hell, drowning in a sea of forbidden booze, waiting for the phone call that would be my salvation. Time was meaningless here. Although the room was round like a clock, there were no big or little hands in motion. My hands were idle, paralyzed by my own impotence.
Ring, damn you! Ring! Buzz in my ear just one last time.
But the phone remained silent, hounding me with mute mockery. The phone was not my only torment. I looked down at my desk and saw my own hideous visage reflected back on me. Funny, I never thought I would use my own vomit as a mirror, or that the reflection would actually look worse than the vomit itself. This was the new presidential seal, and I was stamping everything with it.
I wanted to make the pain go away, to go back to how it was before. In the old days, whenever there was a problem, I would simply pick up that phone and call a man who could fix things. But I was never the problem, and he was never not there. Things had changed a lot in recent times. People sometimes disappear, and only then do you realize that they were a part of you, the foundation you built your life upon. Good grief, if the American people saw the man they elected President, well, they would just fall to pieces. Funny, I guess that makes me their foundation.
If not for the fact I had my first visitor in weeks, I would have drifted back to a sea of guilty dreams, carried out by the currents of alcohol. Months of pent up frustration and self-destruction all seemed to disappear when she walked through the door. If my recent troubles were a hurricane, she would be the eye of my storm. What a looker, too! She was like a connect the dots game and my eyes filled in all the right lines.
Of all the Oval Offices in the world, she had to walk into mine.
"I understand you're the man to come to when problems arise," she said as she strode into my office, taking a seat in front of my desk.
"That's my job," I said. "You came to the right place, ma'am!" I tried to be nonchalant about removing all the empty booze bottles from my desk, carefully wiping up a small pool of vomit with my dangling necktie. Lady Luck sure was a generous dame, since my new guest hardly took notice of my impressive collection of contraband. These were prohibition times, and I had done a great disserve to America by turning the Oval Office into my own private speakeasy.
"Judging from your appearance, Mr. President, it seems as though that might not be the case."
"Listen here, dollface, I carry the vote of the American people. I can handle any problem."
"Well, it seems that my husband has been having an affair," she said in a hushed, ashamed voice.
"My goodness! Adultery? Not in God's America! Not in my America!"
"Then you can help me, Mr. President?" she inquired with a voice full of subdued hope.
"Don't worry your pretty little head, madam. Now you just tell me this scumbags name."
"Manuel," she said. "Manuel Noriega."
Curses, any name but that one. Noriega - damn him - was my biggest weakness personified. I could have taken Noriega down at any time, sent in a human tackling machine that would have left him as no more than fertilizer in a field of gridiron green. Well, I could have if I had such a tackling machine available. Or if I could pull myself away from the very drink he supplied.
In a way, taking Noriega out would ensure that the supply of booze dries up, cleaning me up by default. And the crime of adultery, well, this would be the cornerstone in a case against him. No jury would ever stomach the thought of a man being unfaithful. Even if I failed, I would fail trying. There is no way I could last another term in this condition. No American would ever reelect the "Vice President." I took her case, because it was my only option.
Using my own vice as a lead, I quickly traced the flow of alcohol back to a warehouse in a rundown section of the Washington, D.C. harbor area. The owner of this piece of real estate turned out to be none other than Noriega, adulterer and infamous booze baron, the man trafficking the terrible tonic into America. Even though he tried to disguise the warehouse as a storage facility for Panamanian umbrellas, any fool could see right through. What eyes could not see, noises would smell.
My first order of business would be to get the jump on Noriega's operation. I snooped about, casing the area for suspicious activity. Noriega and his skeleton crew of thugs kept a low profile, careful not to alert any major suspicion. Adultery would be a start, but bringing him down for good would take more. I would need to collect evidence of bootlegging. In any other location, courage would have left me fleeing back to the Oval Office, but the intoxicating aroma carried me further.
I climbed up a stack of old crates arranged haphazardly behind the warehouse. This higher vantage gave me a view into the warehouse through a broken window. All the other windows had been covered up, but not this one. Inside the warehouse was a bustling maelstrom of illegal activity, of alcohol stills, booze in mass production. This was the smoking gun, and boy did it ever look good. I had to resist the overpowering urges to sneak inside and taste this liquid crime firsthand.
In the midst of all this, I barely realized the gastrointestinal state of the union address rumbling through my stomach was loud enough to get me spotted. My crate tower came crashing down, and as I hit my head against the concrete I looked up and saw a familiar face blocking out the sky. Then I saw a familiar fist block out all light and consciousness. Then I forgot everything.
When I woke up I was tied to a chair and blindfolded. The chair would have been comfortable if not for the tight ropes. Hell, forget the ropes, this chair really was comfortable. I wanted one like this for the Oval Office.
"I see you are awake, Mr. President. I must admit I was not expecting a visit from the leader of the free world!"
"Noriega?" I inquired.
"Who else would it be, Mr. President? I am afraid that your unexpected visit has put me in quite an awkward position."
"The position to untie me and prepare to be arrested!" I heartily boasted, expecting this tyrant to conform to the will of the President of the United States of America.
"No, Mr. President, I've got you by the balls! If you ever want to see your beloved America again, you will learn to respect me as your maximum leader."
"No chance, Noriega. America doesn't need you or your booze peddling ways."
"Maybe not all of America, but it's quite clear you do. I can smell the alcohol in your breath, and your presidential attire looks a bar rag."
He was right. I have been wearing this suit for weeks, and it carries with it the chemical scars of my constant inebriation.
"Listen," said Noriega mockingly, "you have plenty of time to think about this. Should you try to escape, you will answer to my big friend here, Senor Knuckles."
I heard the cringe of rusty old hinges as the door shut behind him. Was I alone now? Who was Senor Knuckles?
At first I thought he left me alone, but I realized I was being watched. There is something about having another person close staring at you, not even a blindfold and alcohol can hide the feeling.
"Hey," I said in a confident voice, hoping to use my presidential weight. "I don't suppose you would like to be an American hero and rescue the United States President, would you?"
"American hero? HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT! I would never betray Panama!"
There is no way I could ever forget that voice, and then I suddenly realized that familiar face from before. It was #86/68! All this time I had been waiting in the White House for him to call, to tell me he was okay and that he was ready for action, and here he was working for Manuel Noriega!
"Be reasonable, #86/68! How did you get here? It's obvious you've been brainwashed or-"
"HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT SHUT UP!" said the stuttering giant in a voice that thundered like crashing zeppelins.
"No, #86/68, don't you remember? The night of the big game a few months ago? You got tackled pretty hard and you staggered off the field. We've been looking for you ever since!"
"Big game? HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HIKE! The only game I play is guarding crates! HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT CRATE!"
"You fool, you're talking like a football player. You play football, for America, home of the free and land of the brave. You like apple pie, and hard work!"
"HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT AND MANUAL," said #86/68 just mere inches from realizing his true identity.
"No, #86/68, no! Not Manuel!"
"MANUAL LABOR! HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HIKE! DEMOCRACY, TOO!"
It was a miracle! My words were enough to tackle the months of brainwashing, the false façade installed by Noriega's booze regime.
"Yes, #86/68! You've done it! You remember who you are!"
"Mr. President, am I going to jail now?"
"Of course not you big ape! Now untie me! Let's teach Noriega all about democracy!"
"HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HIKE! GONNA DETOX THE LUMMOX!"
#86/68 and myself smashed through the wall of the room we were sequestered in, making a bold statement to the underworld skeleton crew of thugs manning Noriega's alcohol haven. Noriega himself was on the scene, witnessing in terror the sight of the leader of the free world reunited with his best friend and secret weapon!
"Listen up, Noriega!" I shouted, drunk on the confidence of overcoming addiction and finding my best friend and secret weapon. "Your bootlegging days are over. Never again will your forbidden juice tempt the youth of this fine nation!"
My accomplice chimed in with a chorus of "HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HIKE!"
The fight raged wild and out of control, along the way smashing bottles of booze, stills, and the infrastructure of his underworld empire. For the first time in months, I was reeling from the best high of all: the high of victory. All the months wasted seemed like a distant memory, and I pushed them further and further into the past with each punch and kick delivered to Noriega's skeleton crew of thugs. It was only a matter of minutes before the skeleton crew of thugs was reduced to a pile of battered dust to be swept up by our legal justice system. Noriega himself was all that remained, and the fear in his eyes was more than evident.
"This is where it ends, Noriega!"
"HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT YOUR BOOZE IS ALL DRIED UP HIKE!"
"An impressive showing from you two, but how long until someone takes my place? You can't deny people alcohol forever. They crave it, just as you do, Mr. President! You can't win the war on alcohol ever!"
"Maybe not, but I can send you to jail for a long time. But before I let you off too easy, let's not forget that a crime has been committed! There's a young lady back at my office who trusted you to uphold your marriage vows, you cheating scum."
"ADULTERY? HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT GONNA MAKE YOU A LIVING SWEAT STAIN ON MY UNIFORM!"
And with that #86/68 pounded Manuel Noriega to pieces, leaving a bloody, defeated man lying in a pool of his own booze. Victory had been achieved, but questions still remained.
"Mr. President, how come you smell like booze? Did they spill it on you?"
"No, #86/68, I'm afraid I'm a failure. When you disappeared, I turned to the drink to solve my problems."
"Did it work?" asked the naive all star.
"No it didn't. I'm afraid I'm going to have to resign."
"But I failed too, Mr. President!"
"Well, this is a Christian nation, and forgiveness is Christian. I forgive you #86/68!"
"And I forgive you! HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT TOUCHDOWN! I just feel bad for his poor wife."
"Don't worry about her. I left the Oval Office in awful shape. I'm going to have to hire a maid to clean it up, and she fits the bill just perfectly."
"HUT HUT HUT HUT LET'S GO GET SOME SUNDAES!"
It was good to be back, but more importantly, it was good to have #86/68 back. It was also good to go get sundaes.
First Handicapable, Then Metrosexual, Now Exertainment
Hey there folks, Taylor "Donkey Punch" Bell here with a brand new review of a horrible SNES game known as Secret of Mana! Just kidding, it's actually called Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally.
There are eight characters to choose from, but they don't affect your bike's performance at all. Hell, they don't even look that different once the game starts - even Mystery, who could best be described as a Protoss snowman, magically turns into a normal-looking guy once his profile picture disappears and the game begins. But don't worry, he still intimidates the opposition with his arsenal of awesome quotes, which includes zingers like "Mystery rules!" and "Winning is no mystery." You can also pick different bikes that are rated in a few categories, but the only category that affects the game at all is speed. Since you aren't penalized at all for going off the road, and the game will instantly point your bike in the right direction again, you're pretty much guaranteed to win if you simply pick the bike with the best speed rating and tape down the A button.
Check out the full article or I'm a straight fuck you up with my hatchet, juggalo style.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.