Welcome to Chestbeating By Word. Writings on artists, experiences, entertainment and fiction.



“There is a button you can push. Didn’t know that, did you?”

My wife and I are sitting on the broad oak desk in the Vice President’s White House office. We have full glasses of champagne in our hands and red eyes from the joint we smoked earlier. Last year’s legalisation of marijuana has made political party gatherings much more bearable but we still needed to escape. The air at the party was thick with ambition, toadyism and self-importance, and if it wasn’t for the smoked salmon and the fact that I am married to the Vice President I wouldn’t have gone near it, straight or wasted.


“It’s the reset button. If everything gets messed up you just sit at the desk, reach under, find the button, press it three times and everything resets.”

Samantha whispers this to me in conspiratorial tones, her hand beside her mouth like a kid in a playground telling secrets.

I start laughing, snort, which only makes me laugh more and spill champagne on the carpet. Samantha struggles to keep a straight face.

Eventually I say through giggles, “ I know why you got elected, you are such a bullshit artist.”


“There is!” she asserts. “It’s under the desk top near your right knee. It’s in a recess with sliding cover over it. Because after all, if things are going well you wouldn’t want to press it by accident, would you? You know they thought of everything,” she adds through a widening smirk.

Laughing at her own jokes is one of her few bad habits and the dope doesn’t help.

“You want to see it?”

Under these circumstances I am usually very willing to follow these flights of fancy, so I say, “Yeah ok, please show me the …what do you call it?”

Despite the ridiculousness and the “yeah right” tone in my voice I want to believe. After the disaster of The Blowhard we are all high on hope and fervour. Everyone is so filled with good intent and positivity a joint now and again is needed just to bring the energy down a notch.

I was only half serious a decade ago when I said one lazy Sunday morning that Sam should run for President but like a shot she leaned forward on the couch, almost spilling her coffee and looked me in the eyes and said, “You know what? I should. After all no one could be worse than the dead Blowhard and that soft serve Macintyre that came after.” 

 Behind the desk, I roll the high backed chair back off the plastic mat put there to preserve the official government carpet.

“Well let’s see it.” 

Samantha, kicks off her high heels, hikes up her gown and gets down on her hands and knees.

“It’s called The Button and you will have to get down here if you want to see it,” she answers.

So I put my glass down and get down on my hands and knees in my tux and shiny leather shoes that are still new and stiff.   I can smell her new perfume and I am aroused. I briefly consider suggesting a quick fuck under the desk but the first term has only just begun. Why do all the fun things straight away?

Of course deciding to run for President and actually getting there are two very different things and in the end, the Boss, a man of less intellect but more serious and stubborn disposition strangely seemed to capture the people’s hearts and minds more. So, Sam settled for a different role; something that looked like a well-deserved second place. I was disappointed. I had gotten used to saying that running was my idea anyway so second prize was a bit of comedown. But the Boss and her get along ok and as he is a widower it means that Sam will get to strut some serious frocks as the occasion demands. 

We look at the underside of the desk but it is too dark to see anything. The decision is made. Giggling and with drunken clumsiness we both get on our backs and together shimmy like cave divers under the desk and then look up.

There set in the fine grain unvarnished wood is a rectangular cover of a different dark timber. Sam reaches up and slides it back into a rather cleverly done recess and there is the button. The button itself is not surprisingly, government beige plastic and about an inch across.

Later when I thought more about it, I think I was hoping that the button would be red and printed with skull and crossbones. Or maybe a happy face, I guess it depends on how you look at it.

 “Shit,” I say, “there IS a button!”

I reach up to it. She grabs my wrist.

“What are you doing?” she hisses.

“I’m going to press it.”

“Look in the mirror first.”

 “What mirr..?” my voice trails off.

To the left of the button, stuck on the wood is a mirror six inches square.

We look in the mirror.

“Are you telling me the button is real? You press that and what happens… the world resets back to, resets back to when exactly?”

 “Hon I don’t know if it is real or not, I am just saying that under the highest security clearance I had a briefing and this is what they told me,” Sam replies.

“Bullshit, I’m pressing it.” I reach for the button.

Sam doesn’t try to stop me and as I look in the mirror and at our faces I see that her face is all solemn and serious and I am a bit raggedy with a half grin of disbelief and mischief on my face. That’s when I know.

 But I still don’t press it. My finger hovers an inch way.

“Wuss!” Sam says and she presses the button three times.

And… nothing happens.

Well, at least not initially.  Ten seconds later her security detail, a woman named Billie and a man named Sasha burst through the door and probably double take as they scan an apparently empty office.

They yell simultaneously “Madame Vice President!“

I make a mental note that they should work on staggering those yells; I might suggest it later to them.

“Down here guys,” Sam calls out. “We’re ok, just testing,” she adds helpfully a second later.

If looks could kill the VP and her husband would be stone dead, but what are they going to do?

After they leave and we stop laughing I have to say,

“The mirror was a nice touch.”

“Thanks, “ Sam says greatly enjoying the moment.

I can hear the bass from the music in the ballroom.

“I think the dancing has started.”


I ask, “Do you think they will play some Dr John?”

“Sure to,” Sam replies.


“I ordered it.”

“Lets go then.”

Standing Room Only

Standing Room Only

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones