Friday, August 31, 2012

Eastern Curtain - Ch 2

 “Senator Engel’s office, how may I direct your call?”
“Hi Becky it’s Angela, office of the president.  Is Senator Engels available?”
“Angela!  The senator is available; could you hold for one second?”
Senator Engel was not quite the eldest statesman on The Hill, but he was the most powerful, at least behind closed doors.  His public persona was reserved and almost timid in nature.  He avoided press conferences and speeches if at all possible; rarely did he ever make appearances in his district.  Despite his elusiveness and aloofness, his seat in the senate had never been threatened by a serious challenger, for long at least.
His challengers always seemed to be plagued by scandal; exposés about connections to unsavory individuals, embarrassing trysts with staff members or unethical campaign practices always seemed to surface.  If all else failed, an old acquaintance from the past would resurface for an anecdotal character assassination.  At the height of the controversy, the grandfatherly senator would shuffle onto a stage and implore that civility be exercised during the very private, but now quite public, matter of his opponent; like an old friend, the tactic came through for the senator every time it was employed.  The challenger would fade into infamy and Senator Engel would continue to tirelessly toil away for his beloved constituency, and toil for them he did.
The devoted Senator Engel garnered nearly ten times as much pork as the average member of the senate.  Despite all the funds that he brought home to his state, his colleagues jealously regarded him for a different feat.
The Lion of K Street, as he was known, was the darling of every dishonest power broker, corrupt foundation and political organization with questionable loyalties, and he used his power and influence with them to destroy anyone that resisted him.  The Lion ensured that his counterparts in the House pushed his allies’ tome sized pieces of legislation and then ensured its passing in the Senate.  For his unwavering support, his allies granted him the power to destroy anyone he desired.  In back room meetings, far from the public eye, the senator shed his façade of the timid patriarch for his true nature, an abusive and demeaning manipulator that would stop at nothing to have what he desired – more power.
After several moments on hold, a man’s voice answered the phone.
“Angela, how are you dear?”
“I’m well sir!  How are you?”
“All things considered, I’m alright.”
“Great!  Hold for one second; I’ll connect you with the president.”
The senator waited impatiently on the phone.  Why am I the one waiting when he’s the one that called me?
“Fred?  Sorry about the wait.”
“Not a problem Mr. President, for what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Fred, I have some news I want to tell you myself before you hear it somewhere else.”
Senator Engel’s face flushed hot with fury; he already knew what the president was going to say.
“I’ve accepted Governor Baker’s offer; the vice president and I will be leaving in for Austin in two days.”
“Mr. President, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am.  This is an egregious error in judgment; you and your successor would be going into what one could only consider a hostile and unpredictable rogue state.  You do remember they seceded from the union?”
“Fred, I understand your concerns.  I don’t agree with Baker on anything at all, you know that; but he’s not going to let anything happen to us and he’s surely not going to try anything himself.  Baker is fiery and radical in his views, but he isn’t our enemy.”
Senator Engels tried rein in his rage, but it was becoming apparent.
“Might I ask why you’re doing this?”
“Baker claims he has proof that the attacks and the assassination were perpetrated by people other than who the CIA and FBI claims are responsible.”
“Mr. President, you almost sound like you believe his nonsense!  I assure you he has nothing of the sort; the CIA’s evidence is airtight.  This is a political ploy of some sort by the governor to embarrass you!”
“I’m sure you’re right, but Baker truly believes he has proof and he’s on the verge of causing a full blown regional secession; we’ve got states from Louisiana to Utah threatening to throw in with Austin if we try anything rash.”
“It’s all a bluff sir; can’t you see what they’re doing?”
The president’s tone had changed from cordial to confrontational; the senator cursed to himself, he had pushed too hard and too fast.
“It’s not a bluff, Fred!  I trusted you; I trusted your advice!  We really screwed up on the border; you really screwed up the border, admit it!  I will not be the president that presides over a civil war; I will not be Lincoln!”
“Look, Mr. President, you need to remain calm-“
“No; I’m tired of being calm; being calm and towing your line is what got us here!  Everything that you and your people have told me has blown up in my face; the border, the economy, the speech – the damn speech was a disaster Fred!”
“Some very gifted and knowledgeable experts contributed to that speech sir.  Look, I know things aren’t going as expected, but we have to give these things time.  Until then, I have to advise against the trip to Texas.”
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t go; the notion that this is political wrangling by the governor isn’t good enough.”
The senator struggled to develop a riposte, but words failed him.  Before he could respond, the president continued.
“That’s exactly what I thought, Fred.  I’m going to Texas, the decision has been made; and when I get there, if that ignorant, cowboy governor has anything resembling evidence that what we released to the American public was false,” the president paused for a moment and took a deep breath, “heads will roll Fred, and yours will be one of them, do you understand me?”
“Mr. President with all due respect, I believe this trip may be very dangerous for you if you choose to follow through with it.”
“Is that a threat, senator?”
“Absolutely not, sir.”
“When I return, some things are going to change in this town; I want a meeting scheduled with you and your policy makers when I get back.”
“I’ll have Becky set it up with Angela, sir.  Have a safe trip.”
“Oh Fred, one more thing; the governor told me something odd in our last conversation.  He said he knew I would get a lot of grief if I made this trip; he also said he had a message for anyone in my inner circle whose objections to this were without reason or justification.”
“Oh?  What’s our governor’s message?”
“He said, ‘It’s a buyer’s market,’ do you know what that means?”
“It’s a what?”
“Buyer’s market.”
“Sounds like all the other bilge that is pumped from his mouth; I have no idea what he’s talking about.”
“Well, never mind then; I look forward to our meeting when I return, senator.”
“Likewise, sir.”
The senator slammed the phone against his desk repeatedly as he roared with acrimony over the conversation.  Who does he think he is!  He glanced down and noticed the president’s biography that lay on his desk; he flung his hand in a fierce sweeping motion and sent the book sailing across the room.  The book collided with an antique lamp atop an even older end table and sent it crashing to the floor; the broken lamp only exacerbated the senator’s rage.  His secretary cautiously cracked the door to check on the senator.
“Is everything alright sir?”
“Get out!”
The senator closed his eyes and tried to regain his composure; this was not the time to lose his senses.  He paced the office while he gathered his thoughts; there was not much to consider, he knew he had only one recourse remaining.
He retrieved the phone and dialed Becky.
“Yes sir?”
“Becky, bring me some coffee with three splashes of Irish cream.”
“Yes sir.”
“And Becky, I’ll be on a conference call for the next hour; no disruptions, alright?”
“Yes sir; be right there with your coffee.”
He sat on the plush couch and waited impatiently for Becky to bring his drink.  After several minutes, she arrived with a nervous smile and handed it to him; he took it without a word and waited until she left before transitioning back to his desk. 
He procrastinated by tidying his desk and taking several sips of the concoction Becky had brought him.  Finally, he picked up the phone and dialed a number; the phone rang several times before her heard a man’s voice on the other end of the line.
“It’s me.”
“I know who it is.”
“The president and vice president are going to Texas; I tried to dissuade him but he’s determined to go.”
“That’s no good, senator.”
“That’s not even the worst part; the governor of Texas sent us a message.  I think the president garbled it, which is understandable; he wouldn’t have known what it meant.”
“Don’t keep me waiting, what was the message?”
“I believe he was trying to say, ‘Byers marked it.’”
The other end of the line was silent for several moments before responding.
“So Byers is alive?”
“I don’t know; we know he spoke to the governor before going to Houston, so that may have been when Baker got the information he has.  My men on the ground haven’t seen any sign of him.  If he’s alive, he’s in deep cover.”
“I would suppose that means Baker has substantial evidence.”
“It appears that way.”
“Alright, I’ll see what I can do.”
“What about the Speaker?”
“I don’t suppose that coward will be a problem.”
“What about Byers?”
“What can we do?  We don’t even know if he is alive; just keep looking, if he’s still breathing he’ll turn up eventually.”
“Call me in several days.” Click
The senator reclined in his leather chair as he reflected on the conversation.  This would be the largest and most dangerous offensive maneuver of his long and storied career.  As he noticed the blinking light on the phone, he stretched forward and dialed Becky again.
“Sorry to disturb you sir; is your conference call complete?”
“I’m on the phone with you, aren’t I?”
“Oh, right; um, your ten o’clock is here, shall I send her in?”
“You may.  Thank you Becky.”
She walked in without saying a word and took a seat in the chair across from him.  He had a look of annoyance as he stared at her, so she waited for him to speak.
“Why is William Galleani still alive?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know; no particular reason, really.  I’ve just grown fond of tormenting him, I suppose.”
“I think a month in that hole is enough; he’s probably close to insanity.”
She giggled, “Oh, we crossed that bridge a couple weeks back.”
“Just finish it, okay?”
“Fine; is there anything else you need?”
“The next few days may get precarious; I need you to lay low.  Better yet, just stay home altogether.  I need William eliminated today though; I don’t need him alive knowing what he knows.”
“Consider it done; I apologize for waiting this long.”
“It’s alright; now go.  Check back with me after the news breaks.”
“What news?”
“You’ll know it when you see it.”


  1. This is getting better and better. Keep it up. Thanks.
    Papa Mike

  2. Thanks - see some things I need to amend but otherwise yea, building steam. Halfway thru with part 1, should have the whole thing on amazon by maybe end of the month.