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          Sipping a Pimm's Cup, a cream colored cardigan tied about his impossibly broad shoulders, David Sakovich, Chairman of The National Seashore Division of the Department of Homeland Security, answered questions from concerned homeowners last week at the firehouse in Cherry Grove.

          He was preceded to the lectern by Peter LoPresti, a long-time resident whose introductory remarks acted upon the audience (some 300 strong) as a seepage of Chloroform.  They have been edited, leaving his last, only juicy line.

          PETER:  So drop your socks and grab your [Deleted] and put your hands together for David! 

                   [Polite applause.]

           DAVID:  Thank you, Peter, for that rousing introduction.  And thank you, fellow Fire Islanders.  I am honored.  I'll be speaking this afternoon about various federal programs created to protect our precious environment and improve national security.  The difficulty lies in achieving these goals while maintaining our constitutional right to engage in even the most deplorable debauch; to have, in a word, fun; for despite what the Democrats would have you believe, President Bush wants the people of this fabulous country to enjoy the fruits of their labor, their land, and their loins! 

 [Silence.  A seagull crying "Meeee" wheeled over the dunes.]

 DAVID:  There's a chill in the air.  I see you've been gotten to by the liberal media.

 RESIDENT:  What about those programs, you know, what you said -- protecting the environment?

           DAVID:  Later.  I'll be accepting all queries later.

           RESIDENT:     You told me that last night at the bar.

           DAVID:  In a different context.  May I continue?... In fairness to the president, you must realize that the loss of the World Trade Center, several billions of taxpayers' dollars, a major American city and countless innocent lives at home and abroad are merely the dowdy facts associated with the current administration and not the truth as revealed by President Bush, his staff, and in the assortment of press releases that I've placed for your edification on the table in the back of the room under the beautifully stuffed Piping Plover, a gift from our Secretary of the Interior. 

           RESIDENT:  We're worried about hurricanes.

           DAVID:  For good reason.  If I wasn't renting, I'd be petrified. 

           RESIDENT: You mean there're no plans?  If a hurricane strikes, you don't have any plans?

           DAVID:  Of course we have plans, we've loads of plans, we have more plans than Carter has liver spots.  But appreciating them requires a sense of irony that people whose homes are in grave danger are unlikely to possess.  Which is why I'm here.  Consider New Orleans, and think: when the catastrophe comes, do you, fellow Fire Islanders, dazzling urbanites all, actually wish to stand before the bar of world opinion whining and crying and carrying on like they did in Katrina's aftermath?  Of course not.  Besides, what good would it do?  A million-dollar vacation home leveled by wind and wave is hardly a universal symbol of bathos.  I can, however, assure you that after the hurricane has passed, when there is absolutely no danger of personal injury, President Bush will strut about the ruins in an ensemble specially chosen to project the confidence and frontier machismo that has become the sartorial signature of his administration.  The flashing belt buckle, the cowboy boots nipped at the instep, the work shirt and blue jeans.  Really marvelous stuff -- much more appealing than the fighter pilot getup.  But that's a matter of personal taste.  Those of you who are still alive may want to take advantage of this opportunity to pose for photographs with our President and his entourage.

           RESIDENT:  The last director of FEMA -- forgot his name.

           DAVID:  Joe Allbaugh.  Personal friend of Dick Chaney.  Mr. Allbaugh, you may recall, aroused of a great deal of attention last year by nearly refusing a bribe.  Please go on.

           RESIDENT:  Is he the one who made the plans?

          DAVID:  You misunderstand.  Our domestic and foreign strategies aren't products of intellection or scientific process: they're not made, they're received.  A celestial voice issues the President various commands that he wills into effect on Earth.  Simply, Bush is the Creator's accomplice.  This explains his radiant sincerity... Yes?    

           RESIDENT: [Unintelligible.]

           DAVID: What?

           RESIDENT:  [Unintelligible.]

           DAVID:  Perhaps if you loosened the ball gag.

           RESIDENT:  Ah.  Right... So if disaster strikes --

           DAVID:  And it will.

           RESIDENT:  What do we do?

 [David stared into the middle distance for a long moment.  His gaze finally de-abstracted.]

           DAVID:  If we were an egg or an embryo or lingering on the brink of eternity in a hopeless vegetative state, the president would move heaven and hell to insure our survival.  Just ask Terri Schiavo.  But we're between those extremes, alive and lucid on this fragile spit of sand, waiting in dread for what is certain to come.  Feeling abandoned, unequal to the forces gathering round you?  Accept your fears!  Embrace them!  Strengthen yourselves!  No longer will the making of corpses be our president's only achievement; by keeping us in terror -- real and imagined -- Bush is offering the people of this fabulous country a chance to live, in a sense, heroically!  Until the wave or the bomb or the anthrax spore finds us, we're ennobled in his cause, virtuous.  We're Heroes!  And what more can one ask of a president?

 [Silence.  A seagull, etc.  Then they rushed at him.]

                                                 Tony Manzo