Derby fantasy

[Ed. note: Given that the 146th Kentucky Derby will be just a fantasy on the first Saturday of May this year, we offer U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth’s fantastical vision for the Run for the Roses from 2000 when he was LEO’s editor and owner.]

(The following short story contains the names of 23 possible Kentucky Derby entrants. One of them is the winner.)

Situation Room, The White House, Washington D.C.

“Mr. President, the situation is critical. We are on the verge of war.”

The speaker was Graeme Hall, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He stood next to a huge map of Asia, laser pointer in hand, looking as serious as the crisis team had ever seen him. 

“If I may direct your attention to this map of China, the shaded area is the location of the Chinese army’s largest battalion. The heavily unshaded area represents the Japanese invasion force — 500,000 Toyota Land Cruisers, and every tenth one is armed with a high-yield nuclear weapon,” Hall said. 

“Wait a minute,” President Clinton said. “How the hell did a half million SUVs get from Japan into China? Just snuck in?”

“Of course not,” interrupted Admiral Harold Ronton of the U.S. Navy. “The vehicles were already there. They were shipped prior to the deputy finance minister’s China visit last month.”

Deputy warlock, you mean, Hal,” The president interjected. “He’s been killing everybody since the exchange rate went their way.”

“Mr. President, you’ve been reading too much Harry Potter. Warlock may be a bit strong. The Japanese have shown incredible aptitude for trade coups,” the admiral replied. “Next to us, no country’s been able to globalize their economies as well as the Japanese.”

The President stopped to consider the crisis. It was clear the Japanese were massed for a major military initiative. They had always been more than ready to strike at their huge neighbor to the west, but there was no way such a small country could control such a large one for very long. 

“OK, what in the world are we supposed to do here?” the President began. “Obviously this isn’t a situation for military intervention. Maybe we can just wait for them to run out of gas. You know, those Land Cruisers only get about 12 miles a gallon.”

“That’s Hal’s hope, isn’t it Hal?”

The speaker was the CIA director, who had been silent up to this point in the discussion. “We’re certainly in observation mode right now,” the Navy chief said. “But even if they run out of gas, that doesn’t solve the problem of 50,000 bombs in China. Our best reconnaissance pilot, Captain Steve, is at 60,000 feet right now. He’s on the horn if we want a report.”

“Isn’t he a nephew of the vice president?” Clinton asked.

Anees,” came the reply. “You know the veep’s family are big fans of Stevie Nicks. She was named after her.”

Commendable,” the President replied. “I wanted to name our daughter Elvis, but you know Hillary.”

No one said a word, and the President drifted off. He had had a few drinks before he was summoned to this emergency meeting, and his attention span was somewhat impaired. “Doggone-it,” he thought, “Here I am only a few months from being out of here, and I get this situation. How I’d love to hop into my big camper, the Harlan Traveler, wheelaway from this damn place and go cruising through the Ozarks with my golf clubs and cigars. As if impeachment wasn’t enough, I have to deal with some auto invasion.”

His revelry was interrupted by the CIA director. “Mr. President, I think we ought to hear if Steve has anything of interest to tell us.” 

“Oh, awright,” said the Commander-in-Chief. “I guess we’re paying a lot to have her up there. Put her on the ssspeaker.” His speech was beginning to slur. “Hey, Cap’n. Seen anythin, interesting on your little trippi?” He giggled a bit at his own condition.

The pilot’s voice was as clear as if she had been in the room. “I think so, Mr. President,” she said, ignoring the condescension. “I was able to tap into the Japanese radio network through their lead aircraft in their air cover, the Fusaichi Pegasus.” [Ed. note: Here’s your winner.]

“What’s fusaichi mean?” President Clinton asked, seriously butchering the pronunciation. “Some kind of war chant?”

“I’m not allowed to say, sir,” came the reply from the speaker. “It’s a rule.”

Curule?” said the President, sounding sleepy. “What kind of rule is that?”

Again there was silence in the room. The President looked confused, but it was clear he would not let this pass. Finally General Hall asked if he could speak to the commander-in-chief in private, and the two moved to a corner of the room. 

“It was my rule, Mr. President. I was trying to keep you in the dark on that.”

“Well I don’t want to be in the dark. I want to know what fussich means.”

“It’s fusaichi, Mr. President. Foo-sa-itchi.”

“Whatever. What’s it mean?”

The General took a deep breath. “Cigar sex,” he whispered.

The President mentally weighed the concept. Then he smiled. “Cool,” he said wistfully. “Very cool.”

Not to be continued … •