The Ballad of Sailor Bill: A Timeline of the Tortoise in the White House

Nick P

Just imagine the conspiracy theories :D

Sailor Bill uses mind control on the President!
Tortoise in charge of US Nuclear Codes!
Sailor Bill died years ago, Walt Disney animatronics make his body move like a robot!
Papa Bill - Lyndon Johnson

The Ecuadorian Ambassador was sweating profusely. But really, could you blame him? He was entering the White House. Bad things happened when the White House noticed small Latin American countries. Almost as bad as when the American embassy was displeased.

The Ambassador represented the government that had replaced a Junta that had overthrown a President who was just a little too friendly with Castro’s Cuba. Said ex-President was now the front-runner in the election. Which probably meant another coup sooner rather than later.

The Americans were also having an election this year, but El Presidente Johnson was not running. He had been, but wasn’t anymore, which he probably wasn’t happy about. The Ambassador had only met Johnson once when he had been credentialed. He had been friendly enough, but everyone knew he could be a very intimidating man.

The Ambassador had very much wanted to avoid this. He hadn’t even been involved initially. The scientists had asked the government, and the government had asked the American embassy. The Embassy had told them to talk with the State Department and The Ambassador had gone to Foggy Bottom. But he had been told that this was a matter for the President, not the State Department.

And so The Ambassador sat nervously in some waiting room or another, nervously tapping his fingers on a briefcase. He tried to calm himself, what was the worst that could happen? Well, the worst that could happen was a coup, but he could also get himself fired.

A staffer approached him.

“The President will see you now,” He said.

And then he was led into the Oval Office. Perhaps the most powerful office in the world. He inhaled sharply.

President Johnson leaned forward on his desk. One hand was pressed against his cheek. He was frowning and he looked rather haggard. It had been a long year for him. And from what The Ambassador had seen on the news, it had been a long week in Vietnam as well.

“Mr. President, the Ambassador from Ecuador,” The staffer said, indicating to both men.

“Take a seat,” Johnson said. “Have we met before?”

“Once Sir,” The Ambassador replied. “When I presented my credentials.”

“Ah,” Johnson said. “Well, what can I do for you? My planner tells me you’re here on a matter for the Executive Residence, not the State Department.”


“Seems a touch odd to me,” Johnson said. “Not sure what the Government of Ecuador has to do with my food and staff.”

“It was recommended by the State Department,” The Ambassador replied nervously.

“Oh really?” Johnson said, swinging his legs onto the desk and looking The Ambassador over.

“Yes,” The Ambassador said. “This is a matter in which the Government of Ecuador has an interest, but the State Department has no binding authority.”

“Really?” Johnson gave a skeptical look.

“The Government of Ecuador has recently begun a push to provide better protection to our nation’s natural beauty,” The Ambassador explained. “Protecting our creatures and plants, so that we do not lose any more species. We, of course, still welcome development in our country especially from a valued partner like the United States. One area of particular interest is the Galapagos Islands."

"The ones with the Darwin's Finches and the Tortoises, right?" Johnson asked.

"Exactly sir," The Ambassador said with a nod. "The Tortoise population has been decimated by rats and goats. Recently the Charles Darwin Society has established a research station and aims to help protect the species."

"Say…" Johnson said with a glint in his eye. "Isn't Sailor Bill one of those Galapagos Tortoises?"

"Yes," The Ambassador said. "We understand of course that he will not be removed. But we would like to bring some people in to study and identify what type of Tortoise he is. Going forward we may attempt to bring others to Washington as part as a captive breeding program…"

Lyndon Johnson burst out laughing.

"Breeding program?" He chuckled.

The Ambassador froze.

"Whittington!" The President hollered. "Find where Sailor Bill is and get him in here! We're gonna get him laid!"

Shortly after, Sailor Bill ambled into in the Oval Office. It was a somewhat awkward fit, getting him through the door, but he managed.

"BILL!" Johnson shouted enthusiastically. "This man here wants you to be part of a breeding program. All the lady Tortoises you need."

Sailor Bill wandered over towards a chair and brushed against it.

"See Ambassador?" Johnson asked. "A regular old stud, let me tell you that."

"So you agree to the proposal?"

"Hell yes," Johnson said. "Funniest thing I've heard all week. Have your scientists talk with my people and the people at the National Zoo and work out the details."

"I will," The Ambassador said, pleasently surprised at how well this had gone.

Johnson stood up from his desk, still chuckling to himself. He walked around and then gave a hard slap on the back to The Ambassador, who winced on surprise.

"Ya know it occurs to me," Johnson said conversationally. "He was pretty young when he got here, wasn't he? And he hasn't had any ladies to have fun with. He's still virgin!"

Johnson howled at that and then gave Sailor Bill a light tap on the shell.

"Hear that Bill?" He asked. "We're gonna make you a man!"

The Ambassador gave a nervous chuckle.

"I needed this," Johnson said. "Heh, Sailor Bill being a daddy! After the past few months I've had? This is just what I needed."

Well, The Ambassador thought, that hadn't gone as expected. But he had succeeded in his mission. And there hadn't even been a coup.
Sailor Bill does not possess human-level intelligence. He lacks awareness of potential threats as such, and is incapable of communicating with Secret Service or Medical Staff. Sailor Bill cannot be trained in emergency procedures.

The word "appear" or appears should be amended to these assessments... I mean who knows what kind of alien-high-tech is inside that shell? Notice how he never lets anyone inside? I tell you he's an alien!

"My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing on Sailor Bill's command." - Ronald Reagan

In all seriousness, this is a funny timeline that definitely deserves to win Best Character in the next Turtledoves. You do a great job at making Sailor Bill feel like he's not just part of the White House, but part of America.
Hot Mic - Richard Nixon

NIXON: …so the polls are looking good there?

HALDEMAN: Yeah, well it is California. You you’re from there of course.

NIXON: Lots of hippies there though.

HALDEMAN: True sir, but they do seem to approve of the policy. Californians that is. I…we don’t have hippies being polled I could get you a youth poll-

NIXON: No, no. This is fine.

NIXON: What about Minnesota? I lost it big last time but Humphrey was from there, and he [inaudible] McGovern.

HALDEMAN: I’d have to check, I think you have a shot.

DEAN: Definitely a real shot.


DEAN: Fuck. What was that?

HALDEMAN: Just the Turtle.

NIXON: Actually Tortoise I think, at least that’s what the help tells me.

HALDEMAN: What’s the difference?

NIXON: I think it has to do with if it lives in the water or something like that.

HALDEMAN: Then what’s a [inaudible]

NIXON: What now?

HALDEMAN: A terrapin.

NIXON: I don’t know, I’m not a zookeeper.

DEAN: I think that’s the mascot of one of those ACC schools

NIXON: Maryland.

DEAN: Speaking of Maryland and Sailor Bill, we may have some shit coming down the pipe on that front.

NIXON: What?

DEAN: Uh, well, Agnew had a thing the other night here at the White House. And he uh, put a little sign on Sailor Bill. It was just a Nixon slash Agnew in seventy-two sign, but that might not fly well.

NIXON: Were there photos?

DEAN: Yes.

NIXON: So all the Democratic newspapers are gonna plaster it all over.

HALDEMAN: Not just them. Some of ours are playing it up to. People love Sailor Bill.

NIXON: Some people will raise hell, playing politics with a symbol like that.

HALDEMAN: I mean he is your property right?

NIXON: You don’t see me brazenly using the Oval Office for campaigns though. Would be [inaudible]

DEAN: I think his exact status is uh, up for debate. But I think, well I think he is some form of government employee.

NIXON: Which would be a Hatch Act issue, right?

DEAN: Yeah, yeah, and I think he’s technically in the Navy which probably has its own issues.

HALDEMAN: He’s not even a human.

NIXON: Still.

DEAN: We I mean look at it this way sir, if when you left office in seventy-seven and tried to take Sailor Bill, there’s no way you could take him with you. Kennedy or Reagan or Agnew or whoever would keep him here.

HALDEMAN: Right, but there’s no law saying that.

DEAN: No, I think Agnew is in the clear on this anyway. At least from the Counsel’s perspective.

NIXON: But there would be political hell from it. Can you imagine Ted Kennedy demanding time with him? Or hell McGovern?

HALDEMAN: Yeah, ok, I see.

DEAN: I think you could probably get away with some politics, but you’d have to, well, Agnew wasn’t very subtle with this.

NIXON: No he wasn’t. Shoot him a memo or something, something quiet, tell him to knock it off. Why the hell didn’t I get Connally on the ticket?

HALDEMAN: Yes sir, should I lean on our press to stop it?

NIXON: Let them have their fun, but don’t let them go overboard.

HALDEMAN: Will do.

NIXON: Is that all for tonight?

HALDEMAN: Yes sir.

DEAN: Yes.

NIXON: Goodnight then.

DEAN: Goodnight Mister President.

HALDEMAN: Thank you, Mister President


DEAN: Night Bill.

HALDEMAN: Why are you talking to it?

DEAN: [inaudible]

NIXON: Well, looks like it's just you and me Sailor Bill.

NIXON: Want a drink?

NIXON: I was in the Navy too you know.

NIXON: Lots of Irish.

NIXON: You aren’t Irish are you? You’re from Ecuador or something.

NIXON: You don’t seem like a Latin though. None of that energy.

NIXON: You are pretty lazy though. Maybe that’s it.


NIXON: Yeah yeah. Are you sure you don’t want a drink? I wouldn’t tell anyone if you don’t.

NIXON: Heh, the stories you could tell. Hell, I bet you heard Johnson talking about…a hell what am I talking to a tortoise for?

NIXON: I’m headed out. You need to get out.

NIXON: Move you damn reptile.

NIXON: Don’t fucking look at me like that.


NIXON: Alright, alright, you beady-eyed freak, I’ll send the help in with some lettuce or something. Goddamn.
Gotta be honest on this one - never have thought that I would be so quickly attached to a fictional tortoise XD Nevertheless glad do found this TL
NIXON: I was in the Navy too you know.

NIXON: Lots of Irish.

NIXON: You aren’t Irish are you? You’re from Ecuador or something.

NIXON: You don’t seem like a Latin though. None of that energy.

NIXON: You are pretty lazy though. Maybe that’s it
That is a certified Nixon Gamer Moment

NIXON: Move you damn reptile.

NIXON: Don’t fucking look at me like that.


NIXON: Alright, alright, you beady-eyed freak, I’ll send the help in with some lettuce or something. Goddamn.
And here we have the moment Nixon's career was doomed ITTL. No Republican would stand by him after he called Bill a 'beady-eyed freak.'