That night the entire Presidential Palace was startled awake by a loud scream that came from Vance the Special Friend.
“Oh boy,” said Vance. “Sorry everybody. I had a dream.”
“What kind of dream, bro?” said Jimmy.
“Bad,” said Vance. “Wow. I dreamed I was chopping up Ma. I was chopping her up and she was begging me to stop chopping her up, but I just kept on doing it. Jeez, what a weird dream. Why the heck would I have a stupid dream like that?”
“Probably you miss ma, Vance,” said Jimmy. “Probably you feel like by leaving home you tore her apart. It’s like a symbolical dream.”
“Jeez,” said Vance. “I really should call her.”
“We both should,” said Jimmy.
“If only they would’ve gave us their number,” said Vance.
“Not to interfere, fellows,” said the mirror-faced Advisor, who slept with special pads around his mirrored-face, in case he rolled over in his sleep. “But don’t you think your dream might have had something to do with what was done today, out at the border? That incident with that Freeda person? I mean, it seems pretty obvious to me.”
“What are you talking about?” said Vance. “Are you nuts? That lady wasn’t my ma. And I didn’t chop up that lady, I disassembled her. Jeez.”
“No,” said the mirror-faced Advisor. “I’m just saying, you know, you ‘chopped up’ Freeda, and so your mind probably-”
“Are you calling our ma a traitor?” said Vance.
“Are you saying we can’t tell our own ma apart from some stinking traitor?” said Jimmy.
“Are you saying because my ma was always mean to me, I secretly want to chop her up?” said Vance.
“Boys, boys,” said Phil, coming in. “No one’s calling your mother anything. Your mother is a saint, a saint of the nation, for having produced two such loyal boys, who have done so much for the country. Will the rest of you leave us alone, please? I wish to have a private talk with my Special Friends.”
So Melvin and the Advisors went out.
“Vance,” said Phil. “I want you to know something. Are you listening? What you did today was very hard. I know that. A weaker person could not have done it. Freeda was one of us, or so we thought, and it took a lot of strength and intelligence to instantaneously realize that in fact she was not one of us at all, she was one of them. That’s what I was primarily struck by, how strong you and intelligent you were in our national hour of need. How strong and intelligent, and also how obedient. A less obedient person also couldn’t have done it. Your obedience today was some of the most obedient obedience I’ve ever witnessed.”
“Wow, sir, that is so cool,” said Vance, his face red and his eyes misting up. “That you would say that to me just, you know, blows me away. And it wasn’t that hard. Not really. I mean it was at first, because of her being a lady and all, but then, you know, it got easier.”
“Boys,” said Phil. “The work you do is very hard. I know that. It is hard, painful work. But please know that the more painful the work I ask you to do is, the more important it therefore must be. For our nation to ascend to its highest heights, the most painful things must be done. We must do certain things we do not want to do at all, and some of these things must be done to some who formerly were part of us but suddenly are not. If it was easy to be the greatest nation in history, every nation in the world would be the greatest, but no, all are not, they are not destined for that, only we are, and the nation that will be the greatest is the one that can do the most painful things to itself while asking no disobedient questions. But still, there you two are, bearing the brunt of the hard work, and sometimes I’m so busy healing our nation that I forget to tell you how much I need you and admire you and are grateful for your presence in my life. So I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of making you each a little token of my appreciation.”
And from under the Presidential Bathrobe, Phil handed each Special Friend a present, which they looked at blankly, never having gotten a present in their lives, and they stood holding the presents, apparently mesmerized by the wrapping paper, until finally Phil tore the presents open, revealing two personal stereos and two tapes labeled “When I Think of You.”