‘Hello Rat, it’s Mac; how are you?’
‘Mac! My favourite Presidential Spokesman! Fine! You?’
‘I’m fine Rat and, before you ask, the President’s fine and so are his many wives and children, but it’s you I’m calling about.’
Rat’s brow creases, in spite of the Botox. ‘Me? Why would you be calling me about me?’
Mac sighs heavily on the other end of the line. ‘This business with you and Spelde. It should never have come to divorce in the first place, but now you’re admitting you made a mistake, and the President isn’t happy about that. You should have just kept her and married another woman as well.’
‘You know I can’t do that, Mac! As the spiritual leader of this country, I have to do the right thing.’
‘Not if you want to be Archbishop one day. If you don’t keep the President happy, he won’t change the Constitution to allow your church to become the official State Church, and you won’t be able to be Archbishop.’ Mac waits for a response, and when none is forthcoming, presses the issue. ‘You do want to be Archbishop and fly in the President’s private jet and visit ‘n Skandla, don’t you?’
‘Look Mac,’ says Rat. ‘The President knows he has my full support; I’m even getting fat like him, but I can’t have more wives. Not while I’m the spiritual leader of the country.’
‘You know,’ says Mac smoothly, ‘we can make Desmond spiritual leader again by patching things up between him and the President. Is that what you want?’
‘No, no, no!’ says Rat frantically, adjusting and re-adjusting his tie and fingering his comb-over. ‘It’s just that I can’t do it until the President changes the Constitution.’
‘Aah! So you’re not opposed to it?’
Rat laughs shakily, then says, in his most sincere TV preacher voice. ‘No, Mac. He’s the President and he has my utmost respect and support. Remember in 2009, when I invited him to address the members of my church and televised the whole thing?’
‘So…do you have any more wives lined up? Ones you can marry when he changes the Constitution?’
‘We-e-e-ll…I haven’t really given it a lot of thought,’ says Rat, scrabbling in his desk drawer for his Rennies, his heartburn killing him. ‘There are some ladies in the church I could seriously consider.’
‘Are any of them black?’ Silence ‘Did you hear me, Rat?’
‘Yes, yes, I heard you. You just caught me off balance.’ He’s sweating heavily now. It’s one thing to support a black President, but to have more than one wife and have at least one of them black? Spelde would have a fit. She would think she was a maid or something! ‘I just need time to come to terms with having more than one wife, that’s all.’
‘Think about it really hard: your Archbishopric depends on it.’
‘Just wait a minute, Mac. If I go ahead and do this after the President changes the Constitution, I think I would rather be Cardinal. Purple suits me better than red.’
Mac sighs in contentment. It really is easy to manipulate people: some more than others. Greed and ambition always win the day. It did with him, so why not Rat? Now for the clincher.
‘Rat, we need you to start preaching sermons that extol the virtues of obeying the President and not displeasing the ancestors, but you must use your own words.’ He waits for a response, then smiles in triumph.
‘Yes, of course, Mac! I’m sure I can find scripture to support the President and ensure the people vote for him. You’ll speak to the President about making me Cardinal?’
Mac laughs to himself. ‘Of course, Rat, of course! Consider it done. And have a good day.’
‘Thank you, Mac and God bless you.’ He puts the phone down and smiles. Now he just has to find the scriptures to convince Spelde that polygamy is fine.
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