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Mulenga and ‘The Government Apprentice’



Mulenga Harangua had sent me a message to meet him at his chicken shack. I arrived via bicycle because he insisted, pointing out I could use the public bike share system if necessary. He didn't want an internal combustion engine in front of his place.

There was a cardboard sign out front reading "Political Theater" scrawled in crayon, with an arrow pointing around the side of the place. I got my first glimpse of what was up when I saw a chicken wearing a little cape with some letters on it. As I got closer I saw the letters spelled "Comey." I also saw there were more chickens wearing little capes, each with a name written on it. There was one with "Yates" on it, another with "Bannon."

As I came around the back I saw more chickens. But there was another sight to behold. Mulenga sat on a chair atop a couple of pallets with some boards on them. The chair was an old La-Z-Boy with a leather finish. At least I think it was Mulenga. Mostly what I saw was a lot of orangey yellow hair popping out of every orifice of an oversized plastic football helmet. The head seemed to droop as though in slumber. There was a sign propped above him that read "Bored Room."

The chickens were clucking and strutting and so my attention went back to them. They pecked at grains scattered about. I noticed there were two different colors of capes. The ones I'd first spotted were yellow with black crayon lettering. I read the names on a couple more of them: "Price," "Spicer," "Scaramucci."

Then there were pink ones with purple crayon letters. Those had names on them like "Ryan," "McConnell," "Hill," and "Cruz."

"You're fired," popped out of Mulenga's lips. I looked at him. His head lolled to the opposite side. Another "you're fired" popped out and the helmet head bounced.

"I'll fire the bunch of them," he muttered. "Damn football players need to be fired."

The head bounced up and down more violently. "I'll take the hit!" he screamed. "I'll take the hit. You're fired! You're fired!"

I didn't know a human head could bounce around so much and stay attached. It bounced around like it was worn by a running back taking hits through a crowded line of scrimmage.

"Helmet to the head, helmet to the head!" Mulenga screamed as the helmet and hair flew into the air. At about 15 feet up it exploded, and rained plastic and scorched synthetic hair onto the yard.

I looked back at Mulenga, who was sitting in his chair with a malicious grin on his face. His head was shaved and there was white makeup on his dome and face with a few silver sparkles scattered on top. A patch of black hair in a Hitler-style moustache rested on his upper lip. His hand shot forward and up in a salute. "Hail, hail, hail."

My clapping joined in with the chicken squawks as he stood up and walked over to me.

"So you liked it?" he asked.

"Well, it was very explosive," I said.

"Yeah, that was cool," he waved some kind of remote-looking thing at me. "Here's the trigger. I got this special effects guy I know to set it up for me."

"So what is all this?" I asked.

"I wrote a play called The Government Apprentice," Mulenga said. "You see, I thought I'd take your title and make it more dramatic. Something befitting the stakes the world faces, or at least opera. You want to hear my aria?"


"Yea, it's a rap," Mulenga said, and immediately went into character, swinging his arms out in a big arc with his thumbs and index fingers jutting out. "I showed Sally Yates not to fuck with me. And I went medieval on Scaramucci. I beat down James Comey for that Russia thing. I'm an iced-out hustler and my head is bling." He pointed to his silvery skull.

"Well, that's all gangsta."

"That's because Trump is all gangsta," Mulenga said. "I wouldn't be surprised if him and his boys got some secret gang signs they flash at each other."

"Well, he's going all gangsta on the NFL lately, wishing he could fire the players who protest during the national anthem," I said. "He wants to fire Jemele Hill from ESPN for her tweets. He's just a firin' kind of dude. That's his solution to everything."

"He wants to fire people he can't even fire," Mulenga laughed. "That's what these pink capes relate to on the chickens. Those are all people he is mad at and wants to fire but can't. I got Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell in there. Trump is the fireingest president we've ever had."

"Some of those people listed weren't fired," I pointed out. "They quit."

Mulenga rolled his eyes. "You know as well as I do that the ones who quit were fired and given the choice to quit."

"Yeah, that's pretty much the case," I admitted. "The problem is that with the NFL issue all this noise is obscuring the original object of Colin Kaepernick's protest. It was about the killing of unarmed black people by police."

"Which nobody is talking about," Mulenga said. "But it's in my play. See, the way I do it the cops are dressed like football players and each victim is tackled with a helmet to the head. And then I have the CTE monster gobble them up."

"You turned chronic traumatic encephalopathy into a monster?" I was incredulous.

"Yep, and I have Trump tweet that their protests are meaningless because they are under the influence of CTE and don't even know what they're doing."

"That's pretty cold-blooded," I said.

"That's Trump," Mulenga countered. "And being Trump means never having to say you're sorry."

I laughed so hard I almost fell down among the chickens. "So when will your play be at the Fox Theatre?"

"I'll only be doing it here at the Political Theatre for small, selected audiences," Mulenga said. "I sent an invitation to Trump."

"Good luck with that," I said. "He'll never see it."

"Yes he will," Mulenga said. "I tweeted it."


"And I told him that if he came he could fire the whole cast and crew of the show," Mulenga added.

"That just might get his attention."


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