Roman Holiday (Vol. 47, Issue 4)
The year is 54 A.D. and Ronaldius Reaganus Caesar is about to deliver his State of the Empire speech to the Imperial Roman Senate. As the Emperor prepares to enter, all are seated.
Herald: Presenting his most royal majesty, the beloved of the gods, the conqueror of the dread Hollywoodians, the evil Los Angelines, and the animalistic Bonzonians, your most powerful Emperor — Ronaldius Reaganus Caesar.
Reaganus: Patrician colleagues, before I open the floor to debate, allow me to tell you of the flourishing health of our great Empire. When the gods chose me to lead our nation some years ago, I was somewhat apprehensive. After all, Rome was in shambles. It didn’t seem possible for any one man to turn things around. The people were in agony; the sick and the old littered the streets. But I solved that problem — I took the sick and the old off the streets, I kicked them out of the city.
Vice-Emperor Bushocles: Excuse me, great Emperor, but...
Reaganus: Not now, Bushocles, can’t you see I’m busy? As I was saying, after I ridded our society of the poor and the helpless who were making life miserable for us all. I concentrated on improving our economic status. If you remember, when I was provincial Governor of Hollywoodia, I instituted a brilliant new policy. When it came time for the citizens to pay their taxes, I gave every household a little present. If a man paid one hundred sesterces in taxes, I gave him back a bushel of wheat. I called it “supply-food” economics. It didn’t really do anything for the company, but people were so happy to get food that it took their minds off how poor they were.
Bushocles: Emperor, I really must have a word with you.
Reaganus: Georgius, leave me alone, I’m speaking! Now, also during my reign, I appointed my consort Nancia to be in charge of the new foster-slave program. When a new slave came to work in our mills, we arranged to have one of the experienced slaves show him the ropes. You know, where to get the best swill for lunch, how to apply salve to lashings, the works. And people say the Romans are inhumane!
Buschocles: Emperor, please, this is urgent.
Reaganus: All right, Georgius, all right! What’s so important?
Bushocles: Emperor, your toga is open in the back.
Reaganus: Oh... um… thank you. My Senators, the floor is now open to free debate. The chair recognizes Edwardes M, Kennydius,
Kennydius: Emperor, I must address you on behalf of many in the Senate who share my concerns. The recent perfection of the sword in battle disturbs us greatly. Man has taken the final step with this terrible weapon. It is clear that nothing will ever surpass the sword in potential for destruction. And yet, Emperor, you don’t seem to be the least bit concerned about limiting its production.
Reaganus: Edwardes, the sword is our friend. It protects the weak and helpless. We need the sword to keep the Empire on top. We need it to make Rome great again. The sword and my leadership — together, a new beginning.
Kennydius: You will not reconsider this choice of direction?
Reaganus: Of course not. We have too much money invested in it already ...um... I mean I’ve given it serious thought, and I’m sure it’s the right choice. What is all this endless bellyaching over war, Kennydius? Maybe when we're out on the battlefield, you’d rather sit home and knit uniforms.
(Scattered giggles are heard throughout the chamber.)
Kennydius: (Visibly upset). Then, Emperor, what about your decision not to let women enter the military?
Reaganus: Edwardes, at least I can keep my wife at home — where she belongs.
(Other Senators begin to snicker.)
Kennydius: (Through clenched teeth.) Emperor, what about your expenditure of forty million sesterces to build new bridges for our legions?
Reaganus: That money is totally justified. Armies need good facilities for transportation. Edwardes, you should know better than anyone what a bridge can mean to a man’s career.
(Laughter builds again, louder than before.)
Kennydius: For the love of Rome, these remarks must stop! (Stabs the Emperor.)
Reaganus: Et tu, Kennydius?! Can't take a joke any more?
(Reaganus falls, under the statue of the great Roman general, Georgius S. Pattonides.)
Keenydius: What I did, I did for all Rome, Let there be no more jokes about bridges, wives, or liberals!
(Senate leader Mare Anthony Bakerius rises to speak.)
Bakerius: Hearken unto my words, Senators, What Kennydius does, he does not for Rome, but for Kennydius. Remember, Reaganus himself provided us with a sucessor. If you recall, some months ago, one of our great leaders from the past was invited out of exile by Reaganus. I am confident that this man will be more wise, more caring, and more honest than all of us, Gentlemen of the Senate, I give you your new leader — Richard Milhous Nixonius.
(The Senate, as one voice, shouts — “Hail to the Emperor, Hail to the Emperor . . .”)