Jacques Chirac studied his face anxiously in the mirror. He felt every wrinkle as an insult, a scar upon his soul.
'How ze beauty fades,' he sighed. 'One day soon I will be an old hag. But...not yet, no, not quite yet. It will be a poor thing if I cannot still captivate a gauche Texan.'
Where should he receive him? Yes, in the grand salon. He always looked at his best there, amidst his flowers and his artworks, and with his back to the cruel sunlight.
His maid, Paulette, entered the dressing-room as he applied a last dab of powder.
'Monsieur's gentleman caller is here,' she tittered, curtseying sardonically.
'You will make him wait ten minutes,' Jacques commanded imperiously, 'and then show him into the Grand Salon.'
'Ah! Je comprende. That will give you time to arrange yourself to your best advantage and pull ze shades.'
'Harlot!' shrieked Jacques, clawing at her face and then hurling the powder pot at her as she fled giggling. 'Cruel beast! I will have the skin off your back! Depart!'
Quivering with rage, Jacques stalked about his dressing room smashing vases against the wall and then collapsed back down at his dressing-table and started to sob.
'The cruel beast...the cruel, cruel beast...'
* * *
But ten minutes later he had composed himself and re-applied his maquillage and deployed himself artfully in the Grand Salon, with the shades tastefully drawn and his back to the light.
He glanced at the antique mirror on the wall. Yes, that was the look: regal, forbidding, aloof.
'Enter,' he commanded.
As his visitor came in Jacques was discovered sprawled on his chaise-longue, affecting to be leafing through the reviews of his last speech. He glanced up coldly and indicated that his guest should take a chair with a disdainful wave of his hand.
'If you have brought me a present,' he said indifferently, continuing to read, 'you may leave it on that table.'
'Shucks,' said his guest bashfully, 'I'm afraid...I wasn't aware...of the procohols of the, uh...if I had known now what I knew then, of course I would have...'
Jacques fixed him with a contemptuous look, inwardly gloating. This was how he liked them, tongue-tied and stumbling. 'So. You did not think. It is of no moment. I do not care, me.' He made a pettish moue and resumed his reading.
Ten minutes later he cast the papers aside and yawned. 'What is it that you desire of me?' he sighed, boredly sniffing at a flower from a bouquet.
'Well,' said Bush, 'we'd like your support for this action against Iraq.'
Jacques raised an eyebrow and studied his nails. 'Oh-ho! So you want my support, do you?'
'Paf! I do not think you do.' Jacques pouted. 'I think you do not care. I think you only care about the friendship of your chum To-neee.'
'Now, that's not so. We would dearly like France to...'
'Foo! You do not care, you. You do not want me. No, no. Go and play with your little Tonee.'
'I assure you, sir, that I have the greatest of...'
'Zoop! You toy with me! All the time, all the time you are with your good friend To-nee. He comes when you bid him, that one. I could give you so much more than any naive Englishman. But me, I am not easy. I must be wooed, seduced, tickled.'
He flounced over to the mirror. He regarded his face complacently. Yes, he still had it. He saw with satisfaction the Texan rise and follow him. Such a cowboy. He had always had a soft spot for them. Like a young John Wayne.
And then he felt the Texan spin him around and take him in his arms. For a second he permitted himself to yield to the embrace. But as Bush started to put his tongue down his throat he slapped him hard, and then stroked his cheek.
'So young, so naive, so impetuous! So ignorant of the ways of the world...There is so much I could teach you...I have all that you crave, yes? I am elegant, sophisticated, non? But you must love me! Submit to me! Crawl to me!'
'The hell I will,' the cowboy mumbled shakily.
Jacques flounced away and stamped his foot. 'You will! Yes! You will beg!'
He glared imperiously and with triumph saw the American quiver and blush. Yes, he had him now. He almost felt sorry for him. He took a step forward and pointed to the floor. 'On your knees!'
Too late, he saw the treacherous ray of light that had wriggled in between the curtains to alight on his ravaged cheek.
The Texan drew in his breath in startlement.
'Shucks...you're really old.'
Jacques shrieked and spat and clawed at his face, then fell to rummaging in a drawer. But by the time he had found a bottle of vitriol to throw in his face the American had fled. He collapsed sobbing.
'The beast! The cruel, cruel beast! The cruel, cruel...beautiful beast!'
More political slash