The time was 2:32 AM eastern standard time. President George W. Bush could not sleep, so he slipped out of the king bed, leaving Laura sound asleep behind. He walked out of the room in his bare feet wearing navy blue satin pajama pants with a white t-shirt. George was having difficulty making it through the night without waking at least twice. Not to go to the bathroom. Not because of hunger or thirst. It wasn’t anything George could put his finger on. He remembered back to the months immediately following his election against John Kerry. Those were months where he slept through the night and felt strong and clear-headed every morning. That election was a shot in the arm for George, and everything, all his body parts, his sleeping, his eating habits, his sex life with Laura, his relationship with staff and his cabinet, his interest in following sports – it was as if he was back at college on one of those many drinking binges where his youth precluded hangovers and life was filled with possibilities. But that had all passed. In just two years, George’s body chemistry had changed. Little sleep, no sex, eating crappy food, the exercise stopped, the football and baseball fantasy leagues he secretly played were history, he talked with few of his staff, he felt distant from his daughters, his left hip had been stabbing him with a consistent dull pain.
He reached the end of the hallway where a man in a black suit and tie with a walkie talkie was standing. George did not recognize him. Or maybe he did. George did not remember.
“Good evening, sir,” said the man with the walkie talkie.
“Hi,” said George.
“Can I get you anything, sir?” asked the man with the walkie talkie.
“How about a bottle of Coca Cola,” said George.
“Certainly,” said the man.
“And those little airline bottles with whiskey. They have that in the kitchen. In one of the cabinets. You know about that?” said George.
“I did not know that, sir,” said the man.
“Yeah, well, they have them. Can you find two of them. Whiskey. Two little bottles of Jack Daniels. Pour both of them into a bottle of Coke. Of course make room for it in the bottle, and bring it to me,” said George.
“I’ll have to radio for it, sir. I cannot leave my post,” said the man.
“What’s your name?” asked George.
“Timothy, sir,” said the man.
“Timothy, look, I know you answer to the Service and not me. But can you radio for a someone to come up here and hold your post for you while you run this errand for me,” said George.
“Yes. I can do that,” said Timothy.
“I tell you what. Why don’t you grab a few bottles for yourself. We can sit down and shoot the breeze. I need to calm down so I can get some sleep,” said George.
“I am not supposed to do that, sir,” said Timothy.
“Yes, yes, I know, I know. But then just bring a few extra bottles with you. We’ll discuss protocol when we chat. OK?” said George.
Timothy paused briefly, then raised his walkie talkie and pressed the button on the side of the handset.
“This is Alpha One West. Send up a temp replacement. Request of of Alpha One,” said Timothy.
“Roger, roger,” said the voice on the handset.
“Thanks, Timothy. I feel better already,” said George. George sat on the chair in the hallway, waiting for the replacement and for Timothy to do his errand. He could have a few drinks. The Presidential pressure was enormous, and he made it almost six years in the hardest job of the world without touching a drop of alcohol. One drink was not going to kill him. But not sleeping was going to kill him. The Jack Daniels would help him sleep. It would help him forget about the state of things, and he could avoid the dreams. It was those damn dreams that kept waking him. That was it. Whiskey kills dreams. And that’s what he needed to do. It was the only way to be the leader of the free world. No dreams.