This is a piece of fiction about where college football and the White House meet. -ed.
Reince Priebus and Lane Kiffin go into an airport bar.
“We’re a walking joke.” Reince sighed, sliding into a booth with a view overlooking beautiful Concourse D.
Lane snapped the fingers of his hand, lifted vaguely in the direction of the empty waitressing station before sliding in across from the former White House Chief of Staff.
Reince sighed heavily, again, and caught the eye of the single overworked waitress in hopes she would be merciful and bring him something strong to ease the awkwardness of meeting another Twitter punchline. His agent had said that while his career crumbled over the course of one day, the internet laughed while Rome burned and he was added to an elite group – men who have been fired and left at the airport. The Kiffened.
He looked up, shocked to come out of his own mired thoughts to find Lane harmlessly flirting with the now smiling waitress.
“So is your friend here an assistant coach or what? I’m just so happy that you’re getting another chance and all, even if Florida Atlantic ain’t quite the SEC.”
Reince squinted at the woman.
She looked back, no flicker of recognition crossing her face at all.
Lane watched this interaction with a bemused smile, stretching out seconds into awkwardness before replying.
“Oh him? This is my friend Rob. Not in football at all. You sell tires, dontcha, Rob?”
The pretty, blonde waitress shrugged back into her role after Reince nodded.
“Well it’s certainly nice to meet you both. Coach Kiffin, what can I get y’all?”
“She didn’t even recognize me. Maybe it’s not that bad.”
“Dude, it’s that bad.”
“Did they really leave you on the tarmac at LAX?”
“Yes. It sucked. But I turned a style of getting fired into a verb and the whole country knows my name for sending you a nice tweet after it happened to you so, win?”
“She didn’t recognize me.”
“Are you seriously doing this? Look. Sports twitter lit you the fuck up. The overlap between college football fans and your party’s base is huge. Are you looking to be taken seriously at any point in the next 24 months? Because there is no Nick Saban coming to bail your ass out.”
“Who is Nick Saban?”
“Jesus Christ, dude.”
“WHAT, I DON’T FOLLOW YOUR STUPID SPORT.”
Lane drained his Jagerbomb in mild frustration.
“C’mon. I’ve got something to show you.”
Reince looked across the table flatly. He was in no mood to be dragged around by some glorified PE teacher.
Kiffin’s patient eyes stared back.
“Look, your agent got us together so you can learn how to take shit way less seriously. If you don’t find a sense of humor and fast, you ARE going to be selling tires. Get your ass up, come out to the plane, and let’s go.”
They disembarked at an executive airport in South Florida, and walked to the waiting town car.
“Your boys roll like Bama,” Lane mused, feeling the leather cool under his fingertips as they settled in the back of the car, and savoring it like a man who had missed his favorite food for a long time.
“Wait, this isn’t your car?”
“Fuck nah. Wasn’t my plane, either.”
“Well, The GOP isn’t paying for this. Those guys hate me now. So, I wonder who is?”
Lane looked out the window at the palm trees and strip malls speeding by, without really seeing them, and pointedly didn’t answer the question.
The sun was hanging low as they approached a nondescript apartment complex. Kids ran and played around the pool, and a car was being repossessed. Reince wondered why Lane looked so at home here. They were both men of means, who’s talents had catapulted them to career heights rarely seen for men of their young ages. This was a place for..lesser…people. Reince was suddenly extremely aware of his Dolce shoes as they approached an apartment on the ground floor from which rap music and video game gunfire were blaring. Lane stopped, and turned and looked at the uncomfortable man following behind.
“WHAT are we doing HERE?” Reince demanded.
Priebus’ voice was 2 octaves higher than normal and too loud and it made Kiffin laugh.
“Hehehehe. Dude. You gotta chill out. We’re gonna go in here, we’re gonna get you a drink, get good and roasted. You have nothing to worry about but your idiot pride. Ready?”
Lane turned and pounded on the door like a cop before Reince could even form a word. The music turned down and a dark face peered from behind the security chain for a second before the door flew open.
“KIFFIN, MY MAN!”
Before Reince knew what was going on, he was inside on the couch with a beer in his hand, sitting next to a laughing Lane who was telling a room full of strangers about how his friend here had gotten Kiffened as well.
Reince cringed and smiled painfully with every laugh and verbal jab the men threw. The beer kept flowing and eventually, someone brought out a bong.
“Didn’t you watch Friday? How the hell you gonna get fired on your day off, Mr. Penis? Well, since you ain’t got no job, and ain’t got nothing else to do, we gonna get high.”
“Oh no, I couldn’t.”
“I don’t recall asking. Don’t make me call Bannon to call you a pussy until you do it.”
As Reince Priebus sat in a beer soaked haze after taking his first bong rips in decades in a stranger’s apartment, something broke inside him. Something dark cracked and for the first time in days, allowed the light in. He began to laugh. Loudly. Without reservation. A big, barking laugh that hadn’t escaped him since he was a boy. He laughed until tears streamed down his face. The room laughed with him. They took hits and giggled and egged on the silly little man in $1500 loafers. When the laughter subsided, Reince realized that he hadn’t asked if they recognized him. Hell, he hadn’t even been introduced properly.
“So, who are you guys?”
The biggest one answered. His tattooed face contorted in to a half grin.
“Friends of the program.”
Reince replied, “Do you know me?” and the room responded in laughter, harder than ever.
Lane elbowed Reince in the ribs. “Time to go, buddy.”
The town car pulled up outside of Mar-a-Lago. Lane and Reince had a good long time to talk on the way over, about humiliation and depression, about failing up and being the butt of every joke. About how talent only takes people so far, and the rest is guts and the ability to do the right thing even when the wrong thing presents itself over and over. All the campy sports lessons that Reince had missed, crammed into a short drive to a golf course.
For a place known to be the hangout of the President, security was pretty lax. Lane and Reince were unobserved as they broke in to the clubhouse and swiped all the bleach out of the cleaning closet. Nobody saw a thing, even as Lane’s flip flops clacked and Reince cussed his stupid expensive shoes as they got soaked while crossing the the first fairway.
They stepped on the green and exchanged glances. It was now or never. They worked in silence, slipping back to the car under the cover of darkness. The men hugged and exchanged promises to get together again once they returned to the airstrip, Lane walking off to wherever, and Reince going back to his disaster of a life.
The jet was already started as he got on. Reince made his way back to pour one last nightcap before being seated, and noticed he wasn’t alone. The smell of Old Spice and skeeze permeated the cabin. He caught a glimpse of greasy, slicked back hair peeking over a seat back.
“Oh, no.” Reince said aloud.
“OH YEAH” Anthony Scaramucci replied.
“THAT WAS A NICE DICK YOU DREW ON THE PRESIDENTIAL PUTTING GREEN. I THINK YOU’RE READY.”
“Ready for what, Mooch?”
“Well, you know those comic book fucks that go around saving the world?”
“Never heard of em.”
“HOLY SHIT, YOU TOLD A JOKE. YOU ARE READY! Anyways, now its time to do your duty to your country. It’s time to join…The League of Extrordinary Bros. We’re gonna take down Trump for making us look bad! We need revenge!”
“Jesus Christ, dude. Who all is in this league?”
“Well, so far it’s me and you and Lane during the off season and maybe General Flynn if he has time.”
“Anthony, I’m not fucking doing this. Thanks for the day trip and all, and for helping me find a way to move past being made into a meme in an even worse way than usual, but maybe I’ll take this knowledge that I’ve gained today and try to flip it in to bipartisan support for impeachment. Who paid for this plane?”
“Flynn took care of it.”
“I’m sure he paid in nice clean Rubles.”
“Nothing dude. It’s been a weird day. Just take me home.”