Mayor Baldwin paced the echo-less floor of his Gracie Mansion office. He was an excellent pacer, although the lack of an acceptable echo irritated him, much like dim lighting would, or overwritten dialogue. He liked a sturdy loafer echo when he paced and thought. Or even when he just paced. But here in Gracie Mansion, the floor was some type of prefabricated laminate, a species that failed to provide the proper acoustics for someone of his remarkable pacing aesthetics. How had Bloomberg taken meetings here; how had Giuliani lived here?
Just then a knock. “Thanks for coming so quickly. How bad is it?”
“It’s not good,” Al Gore said.
“But is it not good from a meaningless environmental perspective, or is it not good from, say, a reelection standpoint?”
“It’s a pandemic, Alec. It’s what I’ve been warning about for years.”
“Don’t get sensitive, Al, I was just asking.” He waved Al Gore to the room’s only couch.
It was called the EIE Virus. That was the official designation. Everyone knew it as the Orgasm Virus. Or Death by Orgasm, the Sex Fever, Deathgasm. EIE stood for Excessive Involuntary Emission, a very real, very new 72-hour orgasm that began innocently enough, got progressively more powerful, and ended in dehydration, seizures, swollen lymph glands, insanity, hallucinations and eventual cardiac arrest. As of that morning, a confirmed 29 people had died, all Manhattan residents.
Lucky for the city, the ultra-capitalist Michael Bloomberg, who knew a thing or two about running businesses and avoiding catastrophe, had been voted out by the responsible populace in the last election. In his stead they had followed the national trend of electing celebrities to higher office, throwing their support behind a professional actor who had won two Emmy’s, two Golden Globes, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. He also played the voice of Makunga in “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.” If anyone was up to mobilize the various emergency response procedures and formulate a survival strategy while facing down a deadly orgasmic plague in a city of 8 million, it was a Baldwin.
“Tell me what we’re up against,” Mayor Baldwin ordered.
“The Orgasm Virus,” Al Gore explained, leafing through a notebook of recycled paper. “Bigger than Swine Flu. Unlike other viruses, it’s not sexually transmitted. It’s emotional in nature.”
“I don’t understand a thing you just said.”
“Just thinking dirty thoughts, an infected person can pass it along.” Al killed the lights and flashed an environmental-friendly PowerPoint presentation against the wall; Mayor Baldwin adored movies and initiated a slight applause with his fingertips. The screen showed a pale brunette, eyes closed, an irreverent smile; the Mayor leaned in. “The first 24 hours are like any orgasm − pleasurable sensations, bodily emissions, muscle contraction, elevated blood pressure, involuntary vocals.”
“Yes,” the Mayor encouraged.
“At 36 hours, a person can still perform daily activities while experiencing orgasmic symptoms. After that, the victim is in shock, fluctuating between terror and bliss.” Al Gore flipped a slide. “The orgasm peaks at hour 40.”
“At this stage, the victim is partially insane.”
Mayor Baldwin fell into his black leather chair that was neither recycled nor environmentally friendly. It was made of baby cows, lots of them, and treated weekly by an expensive and rare oil made of beeswax and the fat of more baby animals; it was unbelievably comfortable. Whatever he was thinking caused him to emit a vulgar smile. An instant later he realized the woman on the screen was destined to die − otherwise Al Gore wouldn’t have showed him the movie − and he quickly righted his frown.
“Emissions continue at hour 60, although by now the victim is unconscious and dehydrated. Often brain dead.”
“She’s going to die, isn’t she?”
“Well … naturally.”
“I knew it,” Mayor Baldwin said. ““Where does a virus like this come from?”
“There’s a theory.” He flipped another slide. “The Earth views humans as infections, impostors, the way we look at the flu. And to rid itself of infectious elements, the Earth creates plagues, just as we create fevers, or internal vaccines.”
“But this is endemic to New York City.”
“Which is concerning. If this theory is correct, it would mean the first time that a city, instead of the planet, has created a plague.”
Al Gore issued a soap opera, commercial-inducing stare, which made Alec Baldwin realize he would not be the one to issue the dramatic news. “And you know what that means?”
“You’re going to write another book?”
“That global warming has teamed up with New York City, and the two are forming a massive, two pronged assault on humanity.” He flicked another slide (New Orleans). “Prong one: They’re going to flood us out.” Another slide (Ron Jeremy). “Prong two: They’re going to kill us through orgasms.”
“Not on my watch.” Mayor Baldwin punched a hollow fist into his palm. “You can stop this, can’t you, Al?”
“No, damn it, I can’t stop it. I don’t even know why you called me.”
“But you wrote a book.”
“You read it?”
“Of course I read it. Or rather I Googled it.”
“That book was about global warming. Not pandemic orgasms.”
“You just said they were the same thing!”
It was the wackiest plot Alec Baldwin had ever heard – and he had sat through nearly three of his brother Stephen’s films, the first half anyway. A plague, invented by a metropolis, wiping out New Yorkers with the thing they loved most: the supple, sweet, most-of-the-time free sensation of primordial ecstasy. It was transmitted through pheromones, little chemical synapses triggering uncontrollable hormones; just thinking about sex passed along the virus.
“Dirty thoughts,” Al Gore said. “Don’t discuss it. Don’t even think it.”
“I’m not thinking it right now,” Mayor Baldwin said.
“People are scared,” Al Gore explained. “We should call the President?”
“I’ve seen the President’s healthcare proposal. I assure you he knows nothing about STDs.” Mayor Baldwin paced; still nothing below. “I’ll hold a press conference,” he suggested. “After all, these are my people. I can relate to them.”
“All due respect, Alec − I read the tabloids; these people hate you.”
“They loved me on 30 Rock.”
“They loved your character.”
“Then I’ll talk to them as Jack Donaghy.”
Al Gore collapsed his face into his hands, as though regrouping, or giving up entirely his last grasp of withering hope.
“Tell you what,” Mayor Baldwin said. “We’ll call Jay-Z one last time.”
“I don’t think this situation calls for –”
“That’s why I’m an elected official and you are not, Al. Because you don’t understand what the people want. Do you know what I did when I was down 12 points to Bloomberg last fall?”
“Put Jay-Z on a float to sing while you danced behind him with other celebrities.”
“And last week, when the stores ran out of milk and beer and all the people north of 80th Street began looting, do you know how I handled it?”
“Put Jay-Z on a float to sing while you danced behind him with other celebrities.”
Mayor Baldwin tapped his head. “There’s something about that guy that just makes people forget their problems.”
“But the last thing you want people to do is forget the virus.”
“Al, have you ever died from an orgasm?”
“Of course not.”
“Ever come close? Ever passed out? Come to and Tipper’s just sitting there watching Wheel of Fortune, glancing at you like you might be dead?” No answer was forthcoming. “Then perhaps you shouldn’t speak for those New Yorkers who are currently dying from their own orgasms.”
Al Gore began marching madly across the prefabricated laminate. The first thing Mayor Baldwin noticed, other than his guest’s weeping, was the echo. The scene was approaching its climax, and the sly old fox rubbed his hands together. If there was an actor who knew how to close a scene, it was Alec Baldwin. That’s why he had hosted Saturday Night Live 14 times; that’s why he was hosting the Oscars.
“Don’t you see!” Al Gore hollered. “We’ve mistreated our Earth! And that’s why it’s revolting! The planet, the city − they’re trying to eradicate us!”
Mayor Baldwin skipped across the laminate, a subtle, encouraging echo, until he was close enough to slap Al Gore. Then he slapped Al Gore.
“Get a hold of yourself! You’re a professional, for crying out loud!”
He held his cheek. “A professional what?”
“Just a professional. And I’m a professional. And we’re going to finish this scene.” He put an arm on Al Gore’s shoulder, together they paced. “Do you remember that moment in Die Hard, when the terrorists surrounded Bruce Willis in the Nakatomi Tower, and his feet were bleeding, and it looked like the end?”
“What are you talking about, Alec?”
“Point is he didn’t give up. He wrapped his feet in white tee-shirts, and persevered, and threw Hans out the window. And do you remember what he yelled?”
“Sure, it wasn’t the best dialogue. But it got the point across which reinforces our main theme − that when faced with terrorists or orgasmic pandemics, you have to wrap your bloody feet in tee-shirts and push on. Now what do you say, Al? Do you want to lie down and die? Or do you want to put in a call to Jay-Z and set up that parade float?”
Al Gore shrugged. “I suppose we’d better call Jay-Z.”
“Yippee-ki-yay, Al Gore.” He winked. “Yippee. Ki. Yay.”