Written by Danny Tanner

/surreal comedy/ 

 In the northeastern corner of the tiny Atlai Republic, near the teensy town of Balykcha – it had nine streets – was Vladimir Putin’s hidden underground bunker. The two bodyguards from the bathroom joined them on their travels. Both towering humans went by the name Dmitri and held giant umbrellas over their president’s head all day.
Incidentally, Dmitri meant “devoted to Demeter,” the Greek god of the harvest, possibly explaining the two Dmitri’s pronounced girth. They often fought over who could provide their leader with the most shade and were constantly pushing each other’s umbrellas aside. 

 The following day, Bobby was invited to get up three-hours-before-a-sensible-hour o’clock and instructed to put on his riding uniform. Gulp, Bobby thought. I must have left my riding breeches in my other suit back in St. Petersburg… He dressed as he pictured a horse rider might dress with the limited choices in his suitcase before exiting his apartment with a yawn. As he left the building, however, he was startled to find Putin in front of him without a shirt. Apparently, he had even fewer options to choose from than Bobby. 

As soon as President Putin saw his guest, he glared at the aide that had woken Bobby up.
“What kind of riding uniform is this?” he shouted. “Why is American BOCH not wearing a without-shirt look?” 

 Bobby panicked as Vladimir Putin appeared to be one command short of, “off with his head.”
“Oh, sorry, Mr. Putin,” said Bobby, removing his shirt. “Didn’t get that memo…”
The rest of the day was primarily spent shivering. At one point, they came over a rise and saw a black bear lumbering over the hill.
“Real man wrestles with the bear,” said Putin, staring at Bobby.
“Y-yeah! Sure…” Bobby laughed. “That’d be funny.”
Vladimir Putin continued staring.
“What, me?” asked Bobby as the blood ran from his face. “Like, right now?”
“Yes, but no,” answered the host. “I want to see if you are a man who will do what it takes, but I do not have time to see you disemboweled. Let’s talk business now.”
“Business?” inquired the guest.
“Yes. I hear the United Pants of Growth does well for itself in Mother Russia, BOCH, but you thank no one for their generosity.”
Bobby gulped loudly, “How… how can I thank Mother Russia?”
“Well, I am sure you and Obe Dreipantz will think of something,” answered Putin as he shot a fly out of the air with a crossbow. The two bodyguards hustled over and collected both arrows and kill. Bobby gulped yet again. He knows Obe? he thought. His nipples were aching and erect from the cold, and he tried nonchalantly to warm them without his host noticing. He failed.
“You are too excited,” laughed Putin. “You are not used to Russian cold, eh? Let’s go back…”
“Really?” asked Bobby, trying not to sound eager.
“…after we kill our dinner,” added Putin. 

A little over two hours later, the president had bagged an impressive collection of game with his ancient, American-made Berdan rifle, including three snowcocks, Dmitri #1, and a marmot. He would have also shot two beavers, a brown bear, two Argali sheep, a red deer (marla), a Manchurian wapiti, a snow leopard, two ibex, a Corsac fox, and a ringed-neck pheasant if Bobby hadn’t breathed too loud and distracted him, and if Dmitri #2 hadn’t snorted some of his naswar.

Bobby was ecstatic to return to the heated bunker until Dmitri #3 (who appeared from nowhere) informed him that Vladimir Putin preferred an ice bath after his hunts.

 By the time Bobby had reached lukewarmth again, it was time for a call with Obe Dreipantz. After listening to the frigid, emotionless dignitary, Obe’s spritely and happy spirit was a welcome change.
“H-how a-ree yo-u-u?” asked Bobby.
“Fantastic!” sang Obe. “Wait, are your teeth chattering?”
“Y-y-yes. Never yo-u-u mind, Obe. What’s new in the Big Warm World?”
“Oh, you are going to LOVE this, sexy man!” her infectious voice bubbled. “New idea! What do you think of “No Pants?”
Bobby froze. His mouth fell open to say… something.
“Don’t say anything!” replied Obe from her hotel in Washington, D.C. “We are going all in on stockings! Very soon, invisible, gossamer stockings with excellent respirative qualities will hit the market…”
“Respirative…?” wondered Bobby.
“Breathable, silly,” answered Obe with a laugh. “They let air through. This winter, we’ll present our cool no-pants woolen options for men and women. We’ve got some pretty spicy designs in the works.”
“That sounds fabulous, hon,” lied Bobby. “But I have a problem here…”
“Just let me work out the details, okay?” Obe piped in. “I’m meeting a handful of Senators now, so I’ve got to go. If everything goes as planned, then the Armed Forces will soon be the models for No Pants wearers.”
“That’s…” began Bobby, but Obe was already gone.

 At dinner, Vladimir Putin was jovial and friendly. Bobby wondered if he wasn’t a stunt double. Sadly, the dinner was cut short when Bobby pitched face-first into his bowl of holodets – cold meat jelly. 

The next morning Bobby woke up in the bowels of the bunker, alone, half-naked, with a picture of a Russian bear dumping on a bald eagle tattooed onto his chest.
“The bastards drugged me,” he mumbled to himself as he made his way up towards, hopefully, his clothes and then the exit. He found his clothes, but the exits were a no-go the door was locked from the outside.
Bobby dug the phone out of his pocket and called Obe Dreipantz, who answered unusually fast.
“Howdy-hi-yo, little man!” she chirped.
“Morning!” said Bobby, genuinely nervous (how long will the air in here last? he wondered). “Putin drugged me… No idea where he and his bodyguards went. I’m locked inside his damn bunker in I-have-no-ideastan… Help, please?”
“You mean Mr. Putin did not turn out to be the trustworthy friend you imagined him to be?” the woman laughed.
“Never mind that!” said Bobby a little too loudly. “What am I going to do? How do I get out of here?”
“The first thing you can do is step back from the door. Ready?” she said calmly.
“Huh?” wondered Bobby before an explosion shook the entire complex. He was thrown back into a wall and saw stars wheeling. There was smoke where the entrance to the bunker had dissipated. 

 In its place, a familiar feminine form stood holding a mobile phone to her ear. Bobby had never been so glad to see Obe Dreipantz. But she wasn’t his Obe. It was her twin sister, who lived in Russia, Ember Dreipantz.
“So, you knew Putin was planning to attack Ukraine?” Bobby asked the woman as soon as the ringing in his ears stopped.
Ember nodded, “Yes. My husband, Dimitri, told me.”
“Do you know anything about Obe’s “No Pants” idea? I’m a bit worried… What’s up with wearing pants after all?”
Ember, drinking from a water bottle, sputtered the contents of her mouth into Bobby’s face. She apologized, laughing, “Ah, that… My silly sister! Let’s go check the news.”

As soon as they could, they found a home cinema room. Every outlet reported that Russian forces had begun to attack Ukraine wearing only long woolen stockings. Most of these forces were utterly demoralized and soundly defeated. Russian President Vladimir Putin also took a beating on the stock market for attempting to sell all-weather stockings to Russian citizens and a blow from the press for urging all the good people of Russia to throw away their pants and expose themselves proudly to the world. Sadly, he also allowed himself to be photographed in the no-shirt-and-no-pants look while wearing only Bobby’s swamp rat fur coat, which was one picture no one wanted to see. 

To be continued… 

Mieux vaut tard que jamais...

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