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Di Leo: Evening Soup with Basement Joe: Wild Mushroom & Onion Soup and a Visit to Elk Grove Village



Wild mushroom and onion soup

by John F. Di Leo –

Introduction: Imagine, if you will, an alternate universe in which a confused old man – Joe Buckstop – stumbles into the presidency, and spends his entire term in his basement. Each evening, an aide walks downstairs and serves him his bowl of soup, and engages him in conversation about current events, in a losing effort to keep his mind hale. Tonight's episode is an excerpt from the ongoing series, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe," by John F. Di Leo, a fictional chronicle of the events of 2021, a political satire available in paperback or eBook from Amazon.

"Hey, is da boss in? Hey? HEY! Anybody in there?"

"Come on, man! Don't yell at an old man! Who are you looking for?"

"Oh, there you are! Wait a minute, don't you got any staff, any guards, any yes-men or anything? You're not all alone in this hotel suite, are ya, boss?"


"Yeah, sure, you know… here in Chicago, we call 'em 'aldermen."

"Look, I have to finish my work and go to sleep. Flying back to the east coast in a few hours. So unless you have business…"

"Sorry, boss, I thought you'd want some soup before you turned in. They told us to get ya some good Chicago soup while you're in town. Sample da local scene, ya know."

"Oh, you have soup for me?"

"Yeah, that's what I said, isn't it? Here ya go… hope you're hungry. Wild Mushroom and Onion Soup. Excellent stuff. From one of those fancy five star restaurants downtown, boss."

"Which one?"

"Beats me. They just handed me the soup, they didn't give me a menu and an engraved business card from the place. Your cook just told them to get you an interesting soup, so this is what they chose."

"What is it again?"

"Wild Mushroom and Onion, boss. With noodles."

"Oh? What kind of noodles?"

"What do I know from noodles? They're noodles. That's all I know. I'm surprised I remembered that much."

"If you don't pay any attention to the food, why do you serve it?"

"I don't serve it. This is the first time I've ever served food in my life. My pop's a deputy committeeman. They said they needed somebody to serve ya soup. So pop volunteered me, sight unseen."

"Well, that was lucky, anyway."

"Lucky? For who? I missed poker night for this. Well, let's get it over with. Here's your soup. They said to serve it with lots of crackers. The restaurant didn't have any crackers. Pompous jerks. Don't they know everybody eats soup with crackers? So I had to buy some. So here's a box of crackers, a stack of napkins and three kids' soup spoons. Got no idea why they'd give ya one bowl and three soup spoons. It's like the old 'one sundae and two spoons' thing for teenagers on a date… but for a rest home."

"Look, just leave the soup and go."

"Can't. They won't let me go. Said I had to talk to you about your day. Don't know why. Might be something to do with how they're sending a nurse over in a little while. They said you had to be done with your food by the time the nurse arrives."

"Mmm. Good soup. Good onions."

"It's Chicago, boss. Can't have soup without onions."

"Why not?"

"It's Chicago, boss! We're named after onions. We cook everything with onions, here. Our pizzas are covered with onions, order a burger and it'll be covered in grilled onions… Our rolls and bagels are made with onions… Yeah, best vegetable on earth. I had sausage and onion pizza for lunch. Best of the best."

"Well, it is good."

"What are ya doing here anyway, boss? I mean, there was a big fundraiser. Why come to Chicago and not go to the black tie fundraisers? That's all this stupid city's good for anyway, boss."

"Fundraiser? No, I can't usually go to those."

"Aw, they're da best, boss. Nobody throws a ten grand a ticket dinner like we do in Chicago. And da broads wear those evening gowns… and they get photographed for the society magazines… that's the way to live."

"You go to those fundraisers a lot, son?"

"Me? Nah, I'm not one of them. Worked on them a couple times. That was cool. Great hors d'oeuvres, great booze… And those evening gowns…"

"That's why they won't let me go to those anymore."

"Oh, right. Yeah, I can see that. Ya gotta learn to look and not touch, ya know, boss? But you're probably a little old to learn new tricks, huh?"

"I'll just have my soup, here."

"So boss, I've been wondering…. what did ya talk about when you went to Moneybags' business today?"

"Huh? Oh, right, the vaccine."

"They said you gave a long talk. What else did ya talk about?"

"Just the vaccine. And how it's important. It's your patriotic duty. Gotta get the vaccine."

"That's all you talked about, Boss? Come on, you're not gonna tell me you came all the way to Chicago to talk about mandating a stupid jab, boss!"

"Too many people aren't getting it. It needs focus."

"Ah. Okay. Well then. Look, it's just you and me here. Just the two of us. So I'm gonna ask… wouldn't you have wanted to talk about something else, anything else?"

"What else is there?"

"Well, I mean, you fly in here talking about that made-up mandate of yours, that doesn't exist and never will, and it's so weird, you know? When it doesn't even exist."

"You lying dog faced pony soldier! I told the gang at OSHA I wanted a mandate, and that's that! Get the shot or get fined! Simple as that! Not my fault they're dragging their feet…"

"Boss, everybody's talking about how there's no legal grounds for doing it the way you wanted. Everybody. It's like, the closest thing to consensus in politics since we all made fun of FDR for that pansy cigarette holder of his."

"You did?"

"Well… not me personally, boss. I mean, he died half a century before I was born, boss. I'm just saying, ya know, I'm just saying!"

"I'm confused."

"So how much did Moneybags pay ya to do this shindig at his place today, anyway, boss?"

"Huh? I wasn't paid for this! This was official business!"

"Oh, yeah, right, sure. Sorry, boss. FEC. I shoulda known. Sorry I slipped there… but I read something like, how this guy whose business hosted your event has given one and a half million to the Party, and how he gave a quarter million to you just last year, boss. Cool!"

"How did you know that?"

"It's in the papers, boss. You can't show up to do official business in a private donor's business, giving him tons of free national publicity, without at least a couple papers noticing. I mean, this isn't the journalism of my pop's generation, but still… even they won't bury a story that jumps in the air and does a tap dance for ya. They make sure it at least gets coverage downtown, anyway."

"Oh. Wow. I didn't think people paid attention to what people donate. I thought they lost interest in that a generation ago."

"Not likely, boss! As long as the FEC mandates they publish it, the people will know about it. And we party guys, we need to mold that news and spin it so there's a good message to come out of it."

"Man, this is weird. This is the second time this week somebody's mentioned the FEC to me. "

"Aww, don't worry, boss! They don't enforce those limits against Democrats! You're just fine, as long as you don't change parties."

"No, don't worry about that. I can't change parties."

"Why not, boss? This is Chicago. The Republicans'll take anybody!"

"Oh, no, I was thinking if anything, I'd change to the socialist party. But they won't have me."

"Why not, boss?"

"I don't know. Bernie just told me once never to try, they'd never have me."

"Why not, boss? You clean up pretty good. It's not like they have formal dinner parties like us Democrats do. And they sure don't have the interns. … but never mind all that, I hear the nurse coming in with your shot."

"Oh, a nurse? Is she cute?"

"Look, boss, if I can give ya some last advice before the nurse walks in… Whatever you do, don't call him cute, boss."

…end of transmission…

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based transportation and trade compliance professional, writer and actor.  A one-time political activist and former county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, his columns have been published by Illinois Review since 2009.

John's first book, a collection of his short stories about voting fraud originally run in Illinois Review, is available on Amazon under the title "The Tales of Little Pavel."

The first volume of his new fiction series, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe," a political satire, set in a parallel universe not quite identical to the Earth of 2021… in which a confused, crooked old man becomes president, and a young aide brings down his nightly bowl of soup and engages him in conversation, in a losing battle to restrain the onset of dementia.  Volume one covers the first ninety days of this strange new world.

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Evening Soup with Basement Joe Volume One

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo


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