Vlady looked at the red phone and sighed. It wasn't going to ring today, he knew, and yet, an autocrat can wish can't he?
Poor little Ivan had drawn the short toothpick in the kitchen and had to tell the President of the Russian Federation that Barack cancelled lunch with him. His aides now lined the wall on the far side of the room. They knew from experience to stay absolutely quiet when Vlady was sulking.
"Why would he cancel?" Vlady whined.
The aides looked at one another, unsure as to whether they were supposed to respond or not. Suddenly and surprisingly, Alexander Valery Bogdan Gorunov, who had just turned twenty years old last week, took a step forward and said, "Perhaps, your Despotness, it has something to do with Syria?"
"That's ridiculous," Vlady shot back, "They send guns, we send guns. It's just business. It's no reason to cancel lunch."
"Well, then, perhaps it has something to do with the law allowing us to arrest gay tourists?"
Vlady gave Alexander Guronov his famous KGB stare, his icy blue eyes shooting laser beams through his young aide's skull. He went back to staring at the red phone.
"How am I going to fill my day now that Barack has cancelled lunch? You don't remember the good old days, Alexander Valery, when we could just take a few boys down to Odessa and send all those little Ukrainians running for cover. Little Bush was fun, too. He didn't care so much about hurting someone's feelings. All I had to say was 'I hate al Qaeda, too,' and then we'd talk about how stupid the French are and what we liked to hunt. He never stood me up for lunch."
Vlady turned his head to discretely dab the tear that appeared at the corner of his eye. He took a deep breath and finally asked Alexander Guronov the question he had been thinking all morning.
"Do you think, Alexander Valery, that it could possibly be because..." He stopped. No, he thought, he couldn't possibly ask this out loud.
But with the stupidity of youth, Alexander Valery pressed him to continue, "Yes, your Dictatorship?"
"Well, do you think... is it possible... Do these pants make me look fat?"
"Please stand up, your Tyrantness."
Vlady stood. He was right, his grey twill pants pooched out in the front giving him a pot-bellied appearance. It was hard to tell if it was just the pants or the stomach within the pants that was creating the pooch. But there was a good chance that the new Speedo Vlady was looking forward to wearing on vacation at the Caspian Sea would not be flattering. But even Alexander Valery Bogdan Gorunov, just days beyond his teenage years, knew affirming Vlady's suspicion of gaining weight was a one-way ticket to Siberia.
"No, your Despotness, no, you look as slim as ever. Top form. Perhaps it is Snowden?"
"Why would Snowden be a problem? He promised to show me the new version of Angry Birds on his iPhone. Surely, Barack understands that it's no more than that, just lunch, not even dinner. I didn't take him for a ride in my car. I didn't even show him my Super Bowl ring!"
With another deep sigh, Vlady went back to staring at his red phone wishing it would blink furiously with Barack's love.
"Please your Oppressorship, you mustn't sit by the phone waiting for him to call. Let's go look at the map, maybe we could send a rocket or two into Taiwan? That would make both you and the Chinese premier very happy."
Vlady picked up his hand mirror and ran his hand through his thinning hair. He sighed again. "No, Alexander Valery, Ican't go with you, I don't want to miss his call."