I’ve had it with the leftists. All this mumbo jumbo about human rights, empowering women, and the rights of the Islamists to run for office is not only bad for the nation, it’s bad for business, bad for our cholesterol, disruptive, and generally not nice. “Take away their right to vote, or at least their packets of Cleopatra. Put your foot down man, I said to Mustafa the other day.
“Right now we’re focusing on the Islamists and the economy. As soon as the economy is running at 8 percent and the Islamists at 80 miles an hour, we’ll turn on the leftists. It’ll be a piece of cake. One afternoon at most, or shall we make it at 3:30 am? ‘The streets are deserted, the air is crisp, and I am going to catch me a leftist.’ Mustafa was reciting one of his best-known poems, written circa 1976. For some reason, he never published his full works, but I know them all by heart.
While Mustafa dillied and dallied, the leftists struck again. A well-known leftist economist suggested that the presidential family should be turned into a royal family, so that we might restore parliamentary monarchy, a prospect that would set us back 50 or 60 years if you ask me. So I phoned Mustafa again. “When are you going to round these guys up?
“Actually I kinda like the idea. Are you free this afternoon? Six would be good actually. Sort of gives me time to make those arrests I’ve been putting off all week.
Mustafa showed up at the appointed time with a child that couldn’t be more than four or five years old. I didn’t understand. “Who’s that? I told you to go after the leftists, not the children.
“Allow me to introduce His Imperial Majesty, Ahmad Rashad the Third. From now on, he’s your charge. His entire education, spiritual well-being, and political training are in your hands.
In the next hour or so, Mustafa explained the plan. He was going to outmaneuver the left, wrong foot the right, and confound international policymakers. Instead of declaring Egypt a monarchy, he was going to declare the region an empire.
“I thought we were going to do that in coordination with the Americans, following a propaganda campaign and a couple of civil wars that would deliver Tunisia and Tajikistan into my hands. I felt cheated.
“Things have moved up. With the Republicans battling the Democrats in the Congress, the Iranians racing against time to make nukes, and the UN running all over the place, we thought we’d trump them all. We’ll declare an imperial federation of the Islamic world, with an emperor who’s young and attractive and appeals to both Western and Eastern sensibilities with a program so progressive it will take the world by surprise.
“What makes this kid so special?
“He’s got royal blood.
“You mean he’s a descendant of a dead king or something?
“Better still. We have tested the entire population of Arab children and this kid’s DNA is amazing. It is the closest match we have to all of our national figures, dead or alive, put together. His genome chart will take your breath away. Ahmad Geldawi, the first Arab to write a full orchestral symphony. Danny Maalouf, the first scientist to crack the mathematical formulas of Puntus Bartholomew. Amin Abdel Gawwad, who invented the three-column frontal attack tactic that brought the Ottomans to their knees. This boy has their genes. He’s a genius in waiting, a born diplomat, scientist, and theologian.
“Is he by any chance your nephew? I asked.
“This is privileged information, merely coincidental and absolutely anecdotal. Alright, just keep it between us for the moment. How long will it take you to get him ready?
“I don’t know. Ten years, 20, perhaps 30, I was playing for time. The stakes were high. A boy of your own, loyal only to you, molded to your views, sensitive to your priorities. Let’s admit it, the sky was the limit. “If you’re really in a hurry, I can perhaps get him ready in five years, but it will cost you more, I said.
“Money is not an object. You’ve got five weeks.
“You expect me to teach this boy to read and write, look good in public, speak with authority on religion and international politics, and learn how to handle the grumpy masses in five weeks?
“If anyone can do it, you can.
“Do you have any other requests? Rollerblading, hang gliding, ice skating, mountain climbing? Do you want him to pull a car with a string tied to the left nostril, drive a truck on its side wheels, or eat 75 pizzas in an hour?
“Use your imagination. On second thought, perhaps some knitting wouldn’t be a bad idea.
“You know how it is. I work late most nights, and it’s getting chilly. I could use a new scarf.