Read Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
“Get up, Flynn!”
From his bed, a prone Flynn cracked an eyelid. What he saw compelled him to sit up straight.
“Come on, Flynn – I’m a busy man.”
“But…” said Flynn, not believing what he was seeing.
“Yeah, yeah… I know…”
“You’re…you’re Donald Trump.”
And in fact, The Donald was standing at the foot of David Flynn’s bed - dressed in an Armani suit, smoking a cigar and looking down at Flynn with a undisguised look of disdain.
“Actually Flynn, tonight, I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present”
“But you’re Donald Trump!”
“But why you?”
“You don’t listen to many people, do you Flynn?”
“Well – of course I do – I’m a State Rep! I listen to people all day!”
“Like you listened to those people with the signs yesterday on the town square?”
“Flynn, let’s face it – you’re not exactly a man of the people. Just some people. Especially big rich important people - like me.”
Flynn shrugged. It was just the way of the world, after all.
Flynn’s bedroom disappeared, replaced in the blink of an eye with a board room, dimly lit despite the hundreds of candles, golden wreaths and pine boughs which hung from the luxuriously wood paneled walls. Flynn’s bed had been transformed into a vast mahogany conference table where The Donald sat at one end with Flynn by his side.
“Here,” said Trump, handing Flynn a cigar, “this is an authentic Cuban. Beats those crap sticks you’ve been smoking.”
Flynn reached in his pocket for his gold lighter, but the cigar Trump had given him had already magically lit itself. Ahh… sighed Flynn, tasting the rare flavor, “This is the good life.” He was liking Christmas Present, very, very much.
Trump stood up and went to a credenza at the side of the room where a crystal decanter rested on a silver tray.
“What’s your poison, Trump?”
“Me, ah… Dewars, if you don’t mind,” smiled Flynn.
“Funny – I thought you were a Kool-aid man.”
“Never mind,” said Trump, handing Flynn a heavy glass. “Hey – let’s get out of here – somewhere with some action.”
Flynn was suddenly feeling quite good. Lightheaded, buoyant, filled with holiday cheer.
Then, The Donald snapped his fingers and they were sitting at a crowded blackjack table.
“Hey, where are we?” Flynn asked, rubbing his eyes which were momentarily flooded with garish light and cigarette smoke.
“We’re at Foxwoods! The world’s largest casino! That enough action for you, Flynn?”
“Marvelous!” cried Flynn. Things were looking up. And as if to punctuate this fine moment – a cheer went up from the table – someone had just hit it big. Flynn was about to ask Trump for some more Dewar’s when he heard a familiar voice at the end of the table.
“I’ll be home soon, honey. I promise. Daddy’s still busy at work.”
Flynn turned to see none other than his right hand man, Bob Cratchit, talking on his cell phone.
“I know I said the same thing an hour ago…” Cratchit continued - even as his eyes remained glued to the activity at the table, “But this time I mean it…”
“What’s Cratchit doing here in the middle of the night? He’s got to be at work for me first thing in the morning!”
Trump turned to face Flynn, “Shouldn’t the question be, 'Why is Cratchit’s kid calling him in the middle of the night?' Or 'Why isn’t he home with his family instead of gambling away the Christmas Club in this overwrought stink joint?'”
Trump pointed back in Cratchit’s direction. Flynn watched him put the cell phone back in his pocket – then proceed to lose his very last cent.
“Let’s get out of here,” said Trump “Let’s go to a party…”
“Yes, let’s,” replied Flynn, anxious to get away from the depressing image of his aide, a guy he thought he knew pretty damn well, gambling the night away and lying to his kid.
And suddenly Flynn and Trump were in the crowded living room of Flynn’s grandson, a Bridgewater selectman. Across the room toasts were being raised, laughter was filling the air, and Christmas carols pumped loudly from iPod speakers. In a room of teeming with liquored-up humanity, Flynn was in his element – except that this evening no one could see or hear him.
Nevertheless, Trump and Flynn hobnobbed cheerfully and surreptitiously around the room for quite some time. There were several local politicians here, not to mention most of his grandson’s fellow selectmen. Flynn was feeling wonderful – until he was struck - quite abruptly - with the realization that he had not been invited to this party.
“Excuse me, Donald,” asked Flynn, “didn’t you say you were the Ghost of Casinos Present?”
“You’re learning, Flynn,” replied Trump.
“Well then, why the hell didn’t I hear about this party?”
“I dunno.” Trump replied, “But let’s go find out.”
Trump and Flynn made their way through the crowd to where young Flynn stood speaking with a small group of friends.
“So, what does your grandfather think about this casino business,” one of the friends was asking.
“Well,” said young Flynn, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “Every time I try having a real conversation about it – he keeps telling me it won’t come for 11 years. And then he changes the subject. It’s really irritating.”
The friends laughed. Then, one of them said, “I’ve heard people are starting to call him ‘Father Slots’ lately – because of his big pro-casino conference in Boston this week.”
Young Flynn shook his head, “Yeah, it’s embarrassing.”
Trump looked at Flynn and laughed, “Well Flynn, I think you’ve got your answer. Looks like your invite to this shindig didn’t exactly get lost in the mail. ”
“Damn kid.” Said Flynn. He turned to The Donald, “This party’s a bore. Let’s go where the action is!”
“Now you’re talking, Flynn! Action it is!”
But instead of finding himself transported to a party or casino somewhere, Flynn and The Donald stood outside the door to Flynn’s darkened office.
“What’s this? No one’s here! It’s after hours!”
“Are you so sure?” asked Trump “Listen.”
Flynn heard a noise in his office. Stepping inside, he found Bob Cratchit leaning over a ledger – the campaign contribution fund ledger to be exact.
“What the hell’s Cratchit doing in my office in the middle of the night?”
“Perhaps he’s here for the wonder of it all.”
“Flynn, shouldn’t you be asking yourself, ‘What’s Cratchit doing in my office in the middle of the night after losing his shirt at Foxwoods a week before Christmas?’”
Flynn's face grew a deeper shade of his natural crimson as he walked around behind Cratchit to see what he was doing with the campaign fund ledger.
A look of both shock and anger crossed Flynn’s face. “He’s cooking the books!” he exclaimed! “Damn him! He’s stealing from my campaign fund!”
“Happens all the time.”
“What do you mean ‘Happens all the time?’ You mean he’s done this before?”
“No, he’s never done this before, but chances are, he’ll do it again. It’s a pretty common scenario among problem gamblers. Just wait until the world’s biggest casino is less than ten minutes away! You’re not going to be the only one. Problem gambling effects more than just the gambler. Other people always get hurt. Sometimes they get hurt in the pocket book. Or in your case, the campaign fund.”
“Not me! He’s out of here first thing tomorrow morning!”
Trump shook his head. “Flynn, I’m disappointed. You’re a terrible apprentice. Haven’t you learned anything tonight?”
“Well sure! I’ve learned my trusted aide, Bob Cratchit, is a no-good thieving son-of-a-bitch!”
“Flynn,” said The Donald.
“Yeah?” replied Flynn, still fuming with anger.