The Cheney family, in happier times.

Politics

Photo by The Cheney family, in happier times.

What Really Happened On the Cheney Family Compound Over Christmas?


A one-act play about two sisters, a lesbian wife, a senatorial bid, and the heartless man who tried to love everyone equally.



Christmas morning at the Cheney home, a luxurious underground bunker compound in an undisclosed location somewhere in Virginia. In front of the enormous, stunningly beautiful Christmas tree, decorated in the family’s traditional manner—twinkling lights; candy canes; tiny, brightly colored missiles and miniature oil rigs emblazoned with the Halliburton logo—sits DICK CHENEY, the paterfamilias of the clan. His formidable wife LYNNE sits beside him, smiling coldly.

On one side of the room sits daughter MARY, her lesbian wife HEATHER, and their two humanely raised, grass-fed, lesbian-parented children. On the other side of the room is MARY’s sister, LIZ, her nameless, faceless husband still in mint condition and in his original packaging, and their five, count ’em five, heterosexually reared “normal” kids. The two nuclear units glare at each other with poisonous hatred.

All of the Cheneys, including Dick, are wearing matching flannel pajamas. Lynne is unwrapping a gift. She holds it up with a grimace. It’s a Sarah Palin Barbie doll.

 

                                                LYNNE

Very funny, Liz.

She clearly doesn’t find it funny.

 

                                                LIZ

It’s just a gag gift, Mom. Just a little something to lighten the mood. We’ve all been working so hard on my senatorial bid, I thought we could use a laugh.

Mary lets out a large snort of derision. Liz ignores her, hands a wrapped box to Dick.

 

                                                LIZ

Open this one, Daddy. It’s from the grandkids.

Dick opens the box. Inside is a bloody, still-warm human heart. Maybe it’s still beating.

 

                                                DICK

Oh, kids! Just what I needed!

 

                                                GRANDKIDS

Do you like it, Grandpa?

 

                                                DICK

Like it? I’m going to use it right away. Gracie, give me a hand.

Gracie, a small girl, holds the box. Dick removes his pajama top; his chest is an open dessicated maw—like a diorama of a thoracic cavity. He removes his current heart, a blackened, decomposing thing, and replaces it with the new one. It immediately comes to life, pulsating wildly. His eyes emit a demonic glow as he tosses the old heart to the family dogs, who devour it hungrily.

 

                                                LIZ

I’m so glad it fits. I sent Husband out to pick one up for you and he comes back with a goat heart. A goat heart, can you imagine? Some woman was selling them under a bridge.

 

                                                LYNNE

She probably bought them with her food stamps and now she’s making a double profit. Welcome to Obama’s America.

 

                                                LIZ

Don’t worry, Daddy. We took it back and got you a fresh one, and this one I guarantee is human. It came from a nice, clean Ph.D. candidate who’s pulling himself up by his bootstraps and paying off his student loans the old-fashioned way.

 

                                                DICK

Well, I’m certainly glad to hear that. But really, it wasn’t necessary to go to so much trouble. The Bilderburg Group keeps a 50-year supply of harvested organs at all times in their cryogenic freezing facility in Greenland.

 

                                                LIZ

I know, I know. But we never know what to get you. I mean, it’s either a human heart or a tie, you know? And you have so many ties.

 

                                                DICK

That I certainly do.

He laughs. It’s terrifying. He replaces his pajama top.

 

                                                LIZ

So, next, there’s this for Mary and for Heather … from us.

Mary pointedly ignores her.

 

                                                LYNNE

Mary. Your sister is giving you a gift.

 

                                                LIZ

Go on. Please take it.

Scowling, Mary snatches the package from Liz. Heather takes hers as well. Mary opens it.

 

                                                MARY

It’s an Indigo Girls CD.

 

                                                LIZ (beaming)

I know things haven’t been great between us lately, Mary, so I wanted to get you both something extra special nice.

 

                                               LYNNE

Now, isn’t that nice?

Heather, meanwhile, has finished opening her present.

 

                                                HEATHER

It’s the same Indigo Girls CD.

 

                                                MARY

What the fuck, Liz.

 

                                                LIZ

Well, I wanted to make sure you each had a copy! You know, just in case something happens. Like if, I don’t know, the two of you decided to split up.

 

                                                MARY

Oh my God.

 

                                                LIZ

Not forever! Just temporarily. Like if you needed a break from each other for a few weeks. Or a few months. Or until after the Republican primary.

 

                                                MARY

Fuck yourself.

 

                                                LYNNE

Mary! The children aren’t used to hearing that kind of language unless it’s directed at Patrick Leahy.

                                                MARY

He can go fuck himself too!

 

                                                LYNNE

That’s better.

 

                                                MARY

Do you even understand how music works now, Liz? Do you? I don’t have a CD player. I don’t have a fucking CD player. I import it all. On my motherfucking computer’s fucking iTunes.

 

                                                LIZ

Okay. Fine. Sorry I’m too busy being a wife and mother and senatorial candidate to keep up on all the latest iPod trends.

 

                                                MARY

I’m also a wife and mother! I’M ALSO A WIFE AND MOTHER!

 

                                                LIZ

But you’ll never be a senatorial candidate, will you, Mary? Not in your present incarnation. Unless you run for the…Democrats.

 

                                                HEATHER

That’s it! I’ve heard enough!

 

                                                MARY

Heather, please, don’t get involved.

 

                                                HEATHER

I am involved! I’m a human being, not just some sort of unfrozen lesbian partner product!

 

                                                LIZ

I resent that!

 

                                                MARY

I resent you!

 

                                                HEATHER

I need my softball bat! Somebody bring me my softball bat!

 

                                                LIZ

Why? Because you’re a lesbian?

 

                                                HEATHER

No! Because I’m going to bludgeon you with it!

All the children start running around wildly, clapping their hands in delight. They chant in unison.

 

                                                CHILDREN

KILLING KILLING KILLING KILLING!

Dick springs out of his chair, his chest still dripping blood.

 

                                                DICK

Enough!! I said, enough!

 

The children’s chanting stops.

 

                                                DICK

I have heard just about e-fucking-nough of this! Liz, you can taunt the lesbians into beating you into a coma with a softball bat, but bear in mind, nobody in this compound will hesitate one minute to pull the plug. You aren’t having Christmas at Ralph Fucking Reed’s house. And Mary, you can feel as betrayed as you want by your sister condemning your legal marriage in order to score cheap political points with a gang of complete fucking lunatics. That’s your right. But have you really learned nothing from me? What have I always taught you?

 

                                                LIZ

To lie.

 

                                                MARY

And be a hypocrite.

 

                                                LIZ

And always look for personal profit.

 

                                                MARY

And that torture is necessary and anyone who says otherwise is a weak-kneed liberal pussy, even though pussies don’t technically have knees. And I should know, right?

 

She winks at the audience.

 

                                                DICK

That’s right. That’s right. But you seem to have forgotten that you’re both Cheneys. You’re Cheneys, goddammit! Not feeble-minded sentimentalists like the Bushes! (in a high-pitched girlish voice) Oh, I’m writing a book about Haiti! Oh, I’m painting a portrait of myself in the bathtub! Oh, I’m going to be an earring designer and give all the profits to one-armed children in Sierra Leone! Oh, I’m going on the Today show because I want to give back. Please like me. Please, please, please! Fuck ’em! Cheneys don’t give back! We don’t care if any of those fucking morons like us! We don’t owe anybody anything, goddammit! I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it gives us pleasure to lie and pillage and rob and torture and lie. But it doesn’t matter! We put our personal misery aside in order to profit off the misery of others! Because that’s the true meaning of being a Cheney! That’s the true…

 

Clutching his chest, he suddenly collapses, gasping for air.

 

                                                LIZ

Daddy!

 

She runs to Dick’s side, ripping open his pajama top. The fresh heart, so recently acclimated into this chest cavity, has already turned withered and black as the last one.

 

                                                LYNNE

Oh, God, it’s that heart. It’s that fucking heart.

 

                                                MARY

This was your plan all along, wasn’t it bitch? Daddy needs a new heart.

 

                                                LYNNE

What are we going to do? What are we going to do?

 

                                                LIZ

Something I should have done long ago. Gracie, get the axe!

 

Gracie fetches a small axe from the wall. Liz hacks through her husband’s packaging, hacks through his rib cage, and rips out his bloody, still beating heart. She plunges it into her father’s chest. They all gather around, watching anxiously, except for the grisly corpse of Husband, who lies in a pool of his own viscera, his sightless eyes still staring at the ceiling.

 

                                                LIZ

Come on, Daddy. Come on…

 

Then…

 

                                                MARY

His eyes flickered. Oh my God, he’s opening his eyes.

 

                                                DICK (weakly)

Where’s Rumsfeld? I need to talk to fucking Rumsfeld.

 

                                                CHILDREN

Hurray!

 

                                                LYNNE (blinking back tears)

Liz, I don’t know what to say. You saved his life. Again.

 

                                                LIZ

I know. But how am I supposed to run for Senate now, without a male husband product? They’ll think I’m her.

 

                                                MARY

You’ll find someone else. I hear John Edwards is available.

 

Liz lunges at her, looking for blood. They freeze. JOHN EDWARDS strolls on stage.

 

                                                JOHN EDWARDS

Hello, I’m John Edwards. You may recognize me, but I hope to God you don’t. On January 6th, Elizabeth Cheney dropped out of the Wyoming Republican primary, citing health and family concerns. She was more than 50 polling points behind the incumbent, Mike Enzi. In other news, I have changed my party affiliation and am in the process of moving to the great state of Wyoming.

 

                                                MARY (mouthing to him and the audience)

GO FUCK YOURSELF.

 

THE END

                                               

 

                                               

 

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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