“There is surprisingly little voter fraud and not nearly enough to justify blocking vote-by-mail systems in a pandemic.” – Brookings Institution report, 2020

Scene: The sub-basement of what appears to the casual observer to be an Amazon warehouse near Langley, Virginia; except for the helipad, barbed wire, dense forest, and the absence of roads leading into the site.

The interrogator speaks first.

‘Well, Ivan — you don’t mind if I call you ‘Ivan’ do you? — are you ready to talk?”

“I would prefer that you address me as ‘Boris.’”

“Ah, now we’re finally getting somewhere. So, your name is ‘Boris,’ is it?

“No, it is not, but I have always had fondness for Boris Badenov, character on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Title of ‘world’s greatest no-goodnik’ is one I aspire to, and I still go into orbit like space dog Laika when I dream of lovely Natasha Fatale…”

“Hey, none of that kind of talk Ivan, Boris, or whatever your name is. This is America, and you’ll keep a civil tongue in your head. Unless, of course, I have to cut it out if you don’t tell me what I want to know.”

(Sighs) “First I must know how you found me out. I thought I had devised perfect plan…”

“Everyone who sat in that chair before you thought they had the perfect plan, Boris, everyone. A sharp-eyed postal security guard spotted you when you were entering the Philadelphia central distribution center for the umpteenth time. You made a rookie mistake, a classic blunder if you will.”

“But that cannot be! Uniform was perfect! eBay seller guaranteed it was unused, genuine United States Postal Service issue. And they had 99 percent positive ratings!”

“Yeah, but we checked your Web search history, and you made one little a slip-up that brought an end to your little caper. Tell me, Boris Not-good-enov; what do the letters ‘NOS’ mean to you?”

“Nothing, why do you ask?”

“Just as I thought. For your information, pal, NOS is eBay-speak for New Old Stock.”

“What is that, and what of it? Uniform has not changed in years, I Google images…”

“Maybe the uniform hasn’t changed, my Bolshevik brother, but the Mr. Zip shoulder patch has.”

“Who is this ‘Mr. Zip’ you speak of? Is he American spy counterpart of Mr. Big, ironically named tiny boss of Boris Badenov?”

“No, borscht-for-brains. Mr. Zip is the ironically named official mascot of the United States Postal Service. That eagle-eyed security guard — and postal memorabilia collector — knew your uniform patch had been discontinued in the 1970s, so he hauled you in.” (Thinking to himself) Although he admitted he considered offering you a hundred bucks for it and letting you go… “Anyway, what in the name of Hannity Almighty were you up to?”

“My mission was to accomplish impossible… hack 100,000 paper ballots in key swing state and change results of presidential election!”

“Limbaugh Almighty, Bor-van, were you out of your freakin’ mind? What were you smoking when you agreed to take on this nutso assignment?”

“Although I do not understand the words you just uttered, I recognize sarcasm when I hear it. Plan had every chance of success. Before I say more, I must ask you to again guarantee my safety in exchange for full co-operation.”

“Coulter Almighty, man, this is America! We keep our promises, except when we determine that to do so would cause grievous and irreparable harm to our nation.” (Thinks to himself) Void where prohibited, your mileage may vary…

“OK, Here is plan. Thanks to prearranged payoff of postal personnel, I took position as driver of collection truck for absentee ballots. But instead of returning directly to distribution center, I stop at secret location; abandoned J. C. Penney store in abandoned mall outside Conshohocken. There I had crew waiting to steam open 100,000 ballots and change choice for president…”

“Hold on there, Nikita! No way could you steam open that many ballots, change the votes, and return to your distribution center without being missed. Impossible!”

“Possible, with enough people and right tools. With thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers out of work, people part was easy…”

“All right, I’ll give you that. Lots of desperate people out there, but Murdoch Almighty, how would you manage to get all those envelopes opened, change the votes, and re-seal them in time?”

“I will show you. I see you have box with my personal effects. Please remove vape pen and examine closely…”

“No tricks now, my commie comrade! One false move and…”

“Vape pen is trick. Is not vape pen, but micro-steamer powered by secret fuel source that can open thousands of envelopes on single charge. Perhaps you have heard of this fuel, created by Soviet double agent that infiltrated American space program in the 1950s. His real name was Alexi Alexnikov, but your people knew him as Professor Twiddle, and the secret fuel was…”

“No! (Gasping in surprise) It can’t be! He couldn’t be! You mean to say that the secret fuel is…”

“Yes, secret fuel is Carborium X. ‘Twiddle’ played inventor on Superman TV show. No one suspected Carborium X was real, so was easy to take out of your country. How do you think our little Soviet Sputnik beat mighty United States space program into…space?”

“It all makes sense now, comrade Kuryakin! You collect the ballots, drive them to the mall, change 100,000 Biden votes to Trump…”

“Sorry to interrupt, but did you say ‘Change 100,000 Biden votes to Trump’?”

‘Well what else in Sam Hill would your Muscovite masters expect you to do?”

“I confess I am feeling little, how you say…sheepish? Message from Moscow was garbled, and was unclear which candidate’s votes were to be changed.”

“So, don’t keep me in suspense, my blini biting buddy, what did you do?”

“I made what you in your country call ‘executive decision.’ I change 50,000 Biden votes to Trump and 50,000 Trump votes to Biden.”

“But that makes no sense, my math-challenged miscreant! What you did will have absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election!”

“True, but as you might say, ‘Outcome? Schmoutcome! I had to make my numbers, or else…”

“But, don’t you care who occupies the White House for the next four years?”

“Nyet. In Russia we have saying, ‘Chto yest’, to yest.’’ In America I believe you say ‘It is what it is.’ And as beloved comedian and atomic physicist Yakov Smirnov would say, ‘America, what a country!’”

Lawrenceville resident George Point’s freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, U.S. 1, and other local and regional publications. He currently produces and presents Book Talk! for radio station WDVR FM in Hunterdon County. In past years he has served as a reader of submissions for the Summer Fiction issue.

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