There was a tail rapping on the outside of his cave. The Stevenmnuchin rose and slowly plodded his way to the entrance. He gasped as he saw the visiting dinosaur.
It was the Maxinewaters.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m with the Welcome Wagon.” Her beady white eyes drilled a hole dead-center through his walnut-brain. “Aren’t you going to welcome me?”
“Madam Chair, I’m afraid I really must be going. I have an important matter to attend to.”
“Oh, and what might that be?”
“Something, uh … foreign. And dignified. Well, kind of dignified.”
“You’ll have to be more specific.”
“It’s my wife. We were playing. Patty-cake.”
“Oh. Patty-cake. I understand. We should all be playing more patty-cake. Mr. Secretary, this will only take a minute.”
“I’ve been standing here for 30 seconds. I’d be happy if you could just come back tomorrow and ask me whatever it is you need. I respect you and want to have a good working relationship.”
“Honey? Who is it?” came his wife’s voice from the back of the cave.
“Mad Max– … I mean, the Maxinewaters!” he shouted over his shoulder. He turned to the madam chair with pleading eyes. He nodded back inside the cave.
She returned his nod.
“Alright. I do get it,” she said with a wink. “But I must inform you that I will be paying you a visit tomorrow. And the day after that. At the very least.”
“Madam Chair, I have it right here,” he said pointing to his pointy head. “Every time the Jackaloo or the Welcome Wagon has paid a visit they’ve never stayed more than a minute. I’ve been standing here one minute now. I can’t believe we’re standing here negotiating on when you’re going to come back. When and for how long are you going to come back? I’ll try and accommodate you.”
She stared at him with those porcelain-piercing eyeballs.
“I appreciate that and I appreciate your reminding me of other Welcome Wagon dinos that have darkened your doorway. This is the new way. And it’s a new day and it’s a new chair and I have the gravel at this point.”
She reached down and scooped up a handful of gravel. He cringed and put a hand over his face, certain she was going to fling it at him any second. Instead, she let it fall back between her 80-year-old claws to the ground. Her eyes still penetrated his very being.
“If you wish … to play patty-cake with your wife, you may.”
He stood there rooted to the spot. His runny nose sniffed the air. It must be some kind of trick. Of course. The Donkeykongrus wanted him to look bad. Make him retire into the safety of his own cave. He was having none of it. Still, he was one confused dino.
“Uh, can you clarify that for me?”
“Yes, It’s clarified. If you wish to play patty-cake … you may.”
“Okay, so I’m dismissed. Is that correct?”
“If you wish to go back inside, you may.”
“Honey! Patty-cake, remember?”
He ignored her.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“You’re wasting your time. Don’t you remember? You have a game of foreign, dignified … patty-cake waiting inside.”
“I would just say the previous Kongrus Kave, I mean the Grandoldparty, they didn’t treat the secretary of the treasury this way. So if this is the way you want to treat me, then I’ll rethink whether I voluntarily allow you to come back here … which I’ve offered to do.”
“Uh, Mister Secretary, I want you to know that no other secretary has ever told a Welcome Wagon dino the day before that they were going to limit their time in the way that you’re doing. So if you want to use them as examples, you have acted differently than they have. As I said, if you wish to go play patty-cake, you may.”
The Stevenmnuchin paused, struggling for coherent thought. He finally found words.
“If you’d wish to keep me here so that I can’t play patty-cake and continue to grill me, then we can do that. I will cancel my patty-cake and I will not be back here in front of my cave. I will be very clear, if that’s the way you’d like to have this relationship.”
“Thank you. Well, well. The secretary has agreed to stay to hear my Welcome Wagon news. I’m happy you’re cancelling your patty-cake and respecting my time.”
The Stevenmnuchin searched the landscape beyond the madam chair.
“Okay. so let’s just be clear, in case a Mediacircustops should roam by. I am cancelling my foreign, dignified … my patty-cake. You’re instructing me to stay here and I should cancel my patty-cake.”
“No,” she said. “You just made me an offer.”
“No, I didn’t make you an offer.”
“You made me an offer that I accepted.”
“I did not make you an offer. Just let’s be clear. You’re instructing me, you are ordering me to stay here.”
“Steven!” his wife shouted.
But his focus remained on the madam chair. Her beady eyes bore down on him.
“No, I’m not ordering you. I’m responding. I said you may leave anytime you want. And you said, okay, if that’s what you want to do, I’ll cancel my patty-cake and I’ll stay here. So I’m responding to your request. If that’s what you want to do.”
“That’s not what I want to do. I told you …”
“What would you like to do?”
“Yes, Stephen, his wife called. “What would you like to do?”
He ignored her. This was party politics.
“What I’ve told you is I thought it was respectful that you’d let me play patty-cake.
“You are free to leave any time you want. You may go. Anytime you want.”
“Please dismiss me. I believe you’re supposed to take the gravel and throw it. Away from me. And say, Welcome.”
“Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this Welcome Wagon. Now then. I have a large family of migrating Latinonachos moving in next door.”
“Did you forget? This is a sanctuary region. The T-Rump said to send all the migrating Latinonachos …”
“Yes, yes. To sanctuaries.”
“They literally have nothing.” She peered over his shoulder. “Are those moolah-moolah leaves covering every square inch of your cave walls?”
“Yes. My signature footprint. Ahem … on every one.”
“Mister Secretary, this migrating family next door. Could you throw them a bone? Please?”
Those eyes again. Those damnable eyes. He steadied himself.
“I don’t know. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
The Maxinewaters turned on her heels.