Fiction: World Cup Wager


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The president, or President as he preferred, with a capital ‘P’ to emphasize the importance of his position, agreed immediately to a bet with the visiting Prime Minister, or prime minister, lower case ‘P’ ‘M’, as was only befitting one not the holding the position of elected leader of the free world.

“Of course we’ll win,” said the President, “though I hate to take your money, as our country already has so much more of it than yours.”

“You do know my country is ranked higher than yours, yes?” said the prime minister. “We’re also ahead of you in the group standings by three points.”

“I don’t think so,” said the President. “I’m pretty sure we’re number one.”

“We are speaking of tonight’s football match, yes?”

“Football? Then you know we’re the best. It’s not football season already though, is it? Markus, is it football season yet?” The President called out to his aide standing in the corner taking notes.

“Not real football, no sir,” said Markus.

“Pardon me, I forgot, what is it you call football here? Handtouch?” the prime minister looked to Markus for an answer.

“Don’t talk to him,” said the President. “You’re in a meeting with me. Let’s deal with this one-on-one, head of state to head of state. The people didn’t elect Markus to represent them now, did they Markus?”

Markus said nothing.

“There, see. That’s good. Good job, Markus. Now where were we?”

“The handtouch match tonight, yes? What shall be our wager?”

“Well, you can bet anything you like, Mr. prime minister. It doesn’t matter, because we’re going to win.”

“In that case I would like the territory of Guam. It will make for such a lovely holiday destination once my country has developed to the point where we can afford such luxuries.”

“Guam, you say? Markus, do we have a Guam tucked away somewhere? Is that the one with all the Spanish speakers who don’t pay any income tax?”

Markus said nothing.

“No, it’s okay Markus. When I address you directly, as your Commander in Chief, you may respond.”

“Half, sir.”

“Half what, Markus?”

“Guam does not pay any income tax.”

“Ah, heck, then good riddance to them. You’ve got yourself a deal, Mr. prime minister.”

“And what of our end of the agreement?”

“There’s nothing you have that we haven’t already given you, through foreign aid and various other channels and whatnot, am I right?”

The prime minister said nothing.

“Ah, I’m just pulling your leg. You folks there must have something, don’t you? Oil? Diamonds? I thought all poor countries were sitting on top a gold mine of some sorts. No pun intended.”

The prime minister said nothing.

“Tell you what, if I win, you have to stand up on the table at tomorrow night’s state dinner and cluck like a chicken. Have you ever clucked like a chicken, Mr. prime minister? I bet that would be pretty funny to watch.”

Without a word, the prime minister shook the President’s hand to affirm the agreement and withdrew for his intern-guided tour of the non-sensitive areas of the White House.

The next evening the prime minister did in fact stand on the table and cluck like a chicken, only it was to gloat over his country’s 4-1 trouncing annexation of a certain island, which the President signed over petulantly between the entree and the dessert. It was humble pie.

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