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President-elect Hassan I Sabbah X Kent looked out on the crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park as they waited for

him to emerge and deliver his acceptance speech. America had had enough of being governed by angry, elderly white men in dark suits, or at least *somebody* thought so. The noisy (but significant) minority had used everything they could find against him, any one of which would have been sufficient to reduce his share of the vote to a level comparable to the Socialist Worker’s Party or God’s Lightening a mere eight years ago. They had scanned his background for dubious associations. Naturally, this was not too difficult when some of those dubious associations were your parents. Hassan I Sabbah X Kent was a product of the baby boomlet that occurred more or less nine months after the legendary Ingolstadt Festival of the Arts in 1973. His father was Clark Kent of the seminal 1970s band Clark Kent and the Supermen; his mother was Rhoda Chief, lead singer of The Heads of Easter Island. Hassan often joked that his name meant “He Who Should Never Run for U.S. President.” In reality, he thanked every power in the universe that his dad had been the dominant influence in his naming rather than his mom. Imagine trying to get elected with a name like that of his half brother, Jesus Jehovah Lucifer Satan Chief. For many years, his half brother had insisted that he was Puerto Rican and that his name was “Haysoos.” Apparently the musical genes of his parents were recessive. Hassan had desperately wanted to play the guitar as a teenager, and wasted many hours practicing with his father’s students in the Miskatonic University music department when he could have been attending to his schoolwork, or something else in which he wasn’t completely hopeless. Everyone said he was the most dedicated student they had ever taught; he just lacked one thing, the slightest iota of talent. His teachers and the Miskatonic students he had tried to jam with made gentle hints that perhaps he should look for another field of endeavor, but they went over his head. Finally, he came to the realization himself. One day when he was about sixteen, sitting on the stairs in the Charles Dexter Ward Fine Arts Center trying—and failing—to tune his instrument, the sentence formed in his head, “Perhaps this isn’t the best use of your time and talents.” It seemed to come from somewhere else, but it was clearly in his head, not in his ears. This was not the first time he felt guided by an intelligence from outside himself. He knew better than to talk about it, of course. And he knew better than to act upon it uncritically. Hassan had gotten into the usual trouble that young people could get into in the 1970s and 80s, especially when your parents were not just hippies, but counterculture icons. Many times he could have gone too far and done something that would have disqualified him from running for Superintendent of the Chicago Water Department, much less president. But there was always that presence guiding his decisions and keeping him from getting into too much trouble. Was it God? Was it his Higher Self? Was it just his own prudence? He didn’t know and he didn’t care. He knew he wasn’t schizophrenic, because then he wouldn’t be able to maintain his objectivity. Sometimes he wondered if he wasn’t something like the shamans his mother told him about. But fortunately, he didn’t have visions of being torn apart by birds, and other such bizarre phenomena. Nor had he been told, like the last president, that he had been chosen to lead

the Righteous Americans in a Holy War to Destroy Evil, and if he ever were, he would seek therapy and medication. President Jose Tequila y Mota of the Socialist Republic of Fernando Poo struck a pose in front of the mirror in his suite in the Hyatt Central Park West. The face that looked back at him was middle aged, with a few wrinkles beginning to creep in around his eyes. It was a handsome face, verging toward what people called distinguished. His mistress Pilar de Brujeria—younger than him by over a quarter century—kept nagging him to shave his mustache. Only dictators and washed up 1970s porn stars wore mustaches anymore, she said. He responded, “Dictators, 1970s porn stars, and me.” True, some columnists and pundits in the world (meaning mostly American) press noted the alleged resemblance to Saddam Hussein, and in a strange way it seemed to energize them in their efforts to make him the face of Evil and Anti-American Mischief. However, he hadn’t gotten where he had by consulting focus groups about his appearance. He did what he did, and it was up to the rest of the world to keep up. And if they wouldn’t or couldn’t, too bad for them. Only once had he been persuaded to shave off his mustache. That was after his nearly miraculous escape from the firing squad when his 1973 coup failed, betrayed by Yankee Infiltrators in his inner circle. His mustache was so distinctive that without it, he was able to book a flight to Algeria from the Fernando Poo International Airport. Security forces scanned every face and randomly searched anyone who looked the slightest bit suspicious, never recognizing the Generalissimo, as he called himself then. But once he was safe in Algiers, he promptly grew back his facial hair. He remembered what his father said: “A man is not a man if he has no wife, no horse, and no mustache.” He didn’t have a wife yet, although he had no shortage of women who’d be glad for the opportunity. Every day brought sacks of mail from admirers of every kind. Horses were an anachronism, but he had the Yamaha that a wealthy left-wing Japanese heiress had given him. And, by God, he definitely had the mustache. Nearly 30 years after his abortive coup, Jose sat in an internet café in Capetown, South Africa. He logged into his Yahoo! email account, and saw the heading of the newest email, “Your Assistance is Required in a Small Matter.” His cursor lingered over the delete button, but he decided to open it. Sometimes these scams were amusing, and he wasn’t in a hurry. When he opened it, he recognized the message as the code he and his fellow conspirators in the 1973 coup used to indicate readiness for action. Was it just an effort by the secret police to get him back to Fernando Poo to complete the job they’d bungled? As far as the world was concerned, he was dead. The government of Fernando Poo was not eager to advertise its failures, and the governments of Algeria and later South Africa had granted him asylum only on the condition that he keep his head down. Only a few old comrades from the army and the Fernando Poo Separatist Movement were aware of his continued existence. Ultimately, Jose decided he didn’t care. He scraped together what funds he had and purchased a ticket to Fernando Poo under the alias he habitually used, Jose Cuervo de Frio. This time, he didn’t shave his mustache, and it didn’t seem to matter. Like most places in the third world, the population of Fernando Poo was overwhelmingly young, and most people didn’t remember him. Those who could remember couldn’t be bothered. Or so he thought. Once on the plane (Lufthansa), he estimated that the flight should take several hours, with a stop over in Lagos, Nigeria.

Too nervous to pay attention to the in flight movie, which he had seen anyway, he took one of the strong tranquilizers that were sold over the counter in Capetown and drifted off to sleep. He was awakened by a sharp bump. He looked around, and he realized that they had landed on the tarmac in what he recognized as Fernando Poo, pretty much the same all these years later. In the distance were the spires of the Cathedral of St. Toad. And crowds. Jubilant crowds, bearing large posters and banners with his face on them, and signs saying “Bienvenidos Presidente Tequila y Mota.”