The Pres and an Officer
by Harold Pinter
Pres. ruminating. Officer reading Washington Post.
P OK. Get me Strategic Air Command.
O Yes. Mr P. Anyone in particular?
P Who do you think?
O Well, I –
P The Commander. The Commander.
O Yes Sir.
O Commander? The President of the United States.
P Hi there – who’s this? Yes, I know you’re the Commander, but which one? Do I know you?
Charley! Of course I know you, Charlie.
How you doing?
Good. Good. And the folks?
Great. That’s good news. Now hear this. This is a Presidential Command and I want it deployed forthwith. Get me? Nuke London.
That’s right. London. That’s right.
Congress? Fuck Congress. What are you talking about?
What International Community? Are you joking? Listen, I’ve said it once and I’ll [say] it just one more time. Nuke London. This is a Presidential Decree.
Okay. Good. And let me know how it goes.
You know what I’d really like? A double Jack Daniels on the rocks. But of course I gave up booze for God. The whole world knows that.
O You just gave instructions to nuke London.
P You bet. They’ve had it coming to them for a long time. What do you think?
(Rubs his hands)
They’ve had it coming to them and boy are they going to get it?
O But I’m just mildly surprised that it’s London.
P Those cheapskates. Those horizontal pricks. Those scumbags. An elephant never forgets. Nor does a President.
O But I thought they were on our side.
P Our side! Traitors. Stinkypoos. Can’t speak a damn word of English.
O They can’t speak English? Why not?
P Because they’re French, you fool. They live in Froggy land. Well, the Froggy Circus is over. Jesus. I think I’ll have a drink. I know God won’t mind. He’s very fond of me.
O London in England.
O London is the capital of England. They are our allies. Our best friends. Our only friends.
P London? What do you mean?
O London is not in France. Paris is in France. Paris is the capital of France.
P I thought Paris was the capital of England.
P You mean I’m nuking the wrong place?
O Afraid. So.
P Call Charley. Tell him I revoke the order.
O Commander. The Pres. says revoke his last order.
Thank you. (To P) London is being nuked at this very moment.
P But can’t somebody explain to them? I just got it wrong, that’s all. Don’t we have an Embassy over there, in London.
O They’re all dead. London has gone.
P OK. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. The bastards. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Give me the Commander.
Charley? It’s the President. How are the folks?
Good. Great. That’s good news. Now listen. They’re not going to get away with this. The bastards. Nuke Paris.
• © Fraser52 Limited, 2017. All rights reserved
Note: The play is an original and it was drawn from this article where Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter's wife, describes how she came across it. Reading it, it was a pleasure to realise Harold Pinter still remains contemporary. / The photograph of Harold Pinter was edited by me and drawn by the playwright's official website.