Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Crown Arena on Tuesday in Fayetteville, N.C. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Columnist

Paul Manafort and Mike Pence, panting, manage to trap Donald Trump underneath a giant net, even though Trump claws and buzzes furiously against it.

Manafort: (into walkie-talkie) I have him, Ivanka. He’s down.

Trump: bzzzzzzzz

Manafort: Buddy. Buddy.

Pence: Brother.

Manafort: Get his phone. Get his phone away from him.

Trump: rrrrrrrrrr

Pence tries, but not too hard. Buzzing intensifies. Pence sticks his hand under the net, then abruptly withdraws it. 

Pence: He stung me!

Manafort: He’s tweeting something. What is he tweeting?

Pence: (reads) There is great unity in the campaign! Perhaps greater than ever.

Manafort: Donald, you have to listen. You can’t go on like this. If you’re in there, please listen.

Trump: rrrrrrr

Manafort: Donald, please. The pivot, it’s going the wrong way. You’re supposed to be more presidential, not less.

Pence: You know, Andrew Jackson was once president, and he used to threaten people with guns. So in a way, vague threats of gun-related violence are presidential …

Manafort: Please stop helping.

Pence: I’m honestly surprised I’m here. He doesn’t even like me. Last week he bit me on the ankle.

Manafort: (through gritted teeth) There’s no one else.

Pence: His popularity floor remains very high among Americans.

Manafort: We don’t need more of them. We need more of us. More people who can control him. Or think they can.

Pence: I don’t understand.

Manafort: I almost wish Corey were here. Say what you will about the guy, he has a firm grip. And we could use another hand subduing Donald ever since he ate Paul Ryan.

Pence: Ate him?

Manafort: I’ve never seen someone suck a man’s spine out and devour it before. It was — (he shudders) I don’t think Newt Gingrich is even in the country after witnessing that display.

Trump: (proudly) rrrrrrr

Pence: Is he like this a lot?

Manafort: (to the net) Donald, you have to listen. You’re pivoting in the wrong direction. You are supposed to be pivoting TOWARD presidential. Not toward Apocalyptic Sludge Monster.

Trump spits out a vertebra through his long, sharp teeth. It lands at Pence’s feet. 

Manafort: Donald, do you have anything to say about what you told the rally in Wilmington, about “Second Amendment people” stopping Hillary Clinton? “By the way, if she gets to pick her judges,” you said. “Nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.” Really? The Second Amendment solution? You’re going the Sharron Angle route?

Trump: (indifferent) rrrrr

Manafort: We’ve tried to cover for you. The campaign replied by claiming you didn’t say what you said and that everyone understood that you were talking about the, uh, voting power of Second Amendment enthusiasts as a bloc. Or, you know, their famed, uh, persuasive legal arguments. Our statement makes no sense, but Sean Hannity bought it. We’re in a post-fact era.

Pence: When they asked me, I said you didn’t mean any harm by it.

Manafort: By suggesting “Second Amendment people” can “do something” about President Hillary? Not mean harm? What did you think the “Second Amendment people” were going to do after the election?

Pence: Given his knowledge of the Constitution, I assumed he was trying to say something about quartering troops and had the wrong amendment number. I try not to assume that he means most of the things that come out of his mouth. It is the only way I get to sleep at night.

Manafort: Striking myself on the head with a heavy mallet so that I fall unconscious is the only way I sleep at night.

Trump begins to struggle against the net again, flying up a few feet into the air and spewing corrosive spit everywhere, then sinking back down. It takes a long time to subdue him, and Pence’s flag pin melts.

Pence: I didn’t know he got like this.

Manafort: Were you even paying attention for most of the campaign? [Expletive] it, where is Ivanka? I don’t think he’s going to respond to me.

He crouches down next to the net and murmurs soothingly. 

Manafort: Donald, I know you can hear me. You have to pivot back the right way, okay? Just until November, okay? Nobody’s going to vote for you like this.

Trump: you think that

Manafort: Donald. People are listening. People who think that “The Catcher in the Rye” is a special message written just for them to suggest a very unconventional way of impressing Jodie Foster. You can’t just go around as a presidential candidate saying things like this. Okay, buddy? It implies that you think you’re running for another office, like Dictator For Life or Chief Werebat In Charge, and that you don’t trust the democratic process.

The net begins to twitch. The twitching continues. Trump stands almost upright and adjusts his tie. 

Trump: Presidential.

Manafort: That’s right.

Trump’s wings tear through his suit. 

Trump: IT PAINS ME TO TAKE THIS FORM!

He emits a ghastly roar and flies up to the ceiling. Pence and Manafort lose their grip on him entirely.

Trump: don’t you see

there was never anyone else

there was only this

i was always this

He snaps the net in two and devours the pieces. Manafort and Pence watch as he wings off into the night, bellowing hideously.

Manafort: My God. My God. What have we done?

Pence has fainted.