“We have to get you ready for the Presidential Address to Congress tonight,” Kamala said, her voice a buzzsaw.

“Not until we do something about the ghost,” Joe said, pulling at the hairs on his arm.

“There is no ghost!” Kamala said.

“Strawberry said there was a ghost,” Joe said. “She told me all about it. It was in the press room. The press room is haunted.”

“The press room is not haunted!” Kamala screeched.

“Stop yelling at him!” Finnegan snapped. “He’s afraid of ghosts!”

Joe hit the Diet Coke button and said, “Strawberry, find Strawberry, I need to talk to Strawberry.” The hole in the desk belched frost and closed.

Kamala opened the Oval Office door and said “Someone fetch Jen! She’s probably taking a shit in the press bathroom!”

“I’ll never go into the press room again,” Joe muttered.

“We should be preparing,” Kamala whined.

“He’s fine,” Finnegan said, smoothing lank hairs back on his head. “He’s perfect. He’s America’s great-Grandpa. Everyone loves great-Grandpa, unless he’s like a gropey old creep or something.”

Jen limped into the Oval Office and said, “Mr. President.”

Joe waved his arm around and said, “Who’s there? Step into the light.”

“It’s Jen, Mr. President.”

Joe’s brow furrowed.

“Strawberry, Mr. President.”

“Get over here and let me smell your hair. There are spies all over the place. We can’t trust anyone,” Joe said.

Jen crossed the room and bent down so Joe could smell her hair.

“You haven’t been smoking, have you? Joe asked accusingly.

“Just a couple the other day,” Jen said guiltily.

“They smell funny.”

“They were menthols.”


“I dated Black guys in college, sir.”

Joe looked around the room, grinned, and said, “Well, who didn’t?”

Kamala glared holes into the back of the old man’s head.

“Sir,” Jen said, “We have discovered that there are no ghosts. There was a robot camera in the press room that was making the groaning noise.”

“Robot camera?” Joe asked, alarmed.

“He’s afraid of robots, dammit!’ Finnegan said and hip-checked Jen to the floor.

“Ghosts! Robots! Women his age! Is there anything he’s not afraid of?” Kamala asked and then stomped out of the room.

Jen clawed her way up the side of the desk to stand.

“There are no ghosts, Grandpa,” Finnegan said, “And no robots in the press briefing room. There are just reporters–friendly, tame reporters.”

“I still don’t like them. Look what they did to Ted Kennedy! I drive off bridges all the time!”

Finnegan took a deep pull off her vape and blew fat clouds at the vaulted ceiling.

Joe, his eyes tearing, motioned for Jen to bend down to him again.

“I’m afraid of being poisoned,” Joe whispered to her. “Braid a lock of your hair into a ring for me to wear. It wards off witches.”

Jen patted his hand and felt some tiny bone break.