Greed and Freedom
Flashes of light were bouncing off the walls in volleys, as if a great fortress were under siege from a battery of artillery. The entire room, which was rather small to begin with, was packed with people who were eagerly and anxiously waiting. Cameras, pads of paper, computer tablets, microphones, digital recording devices and video cameras were ready to be flung out and aimed in a moment’s notice. The temperature was slightly cool. Even though it was in February, one would think that it should have been warmer inside a heated building. Without fanfare or warning a lone man walked from off-stage to the podium that was on the slightly elevated platform.
There was a calm and collected nature that the man emitted. He was dressed in a fine black suit with pinstripes. His hair was black and short; off to the side like an average gentleman of his stature and place. The calm dark brown eyes spoke only of confidence and assurance; nothing could rattle this man. So when the tidal wave of voices and questions began to barrage him, he merely raised his hand and all went quiet. He gave the assembled crowd a sweeping gaze of caution to ensure there would be no further interruptions. Delicately, he pulled a few pieces of paper from the interior of his jacket pocket and gently placed them on the wooden podium. He was ready.
“Good evening. As many of you have most likely heard by now, a U.S. Congressman was arrested by the F.B.I. today on charges of corruption. This man, this individual chosen by the American people to represent their needs to the government, chose to place his own desires and wants above the people he served. This man cared more about how many more zeros he could add to his bank account than about those who have no money of their own. He brought shame, and irrevocable harm to this great government institution for which he ought to feel eternal shame and remorse. I would hope that we could take comfort knowing that the corruption which has eaten away at the very core of our great nation has been removed, but tragically that is not the case here. The F.B.I. and the Justice Department also informed me that this U.S. Congressman had several partners within the House and the Senate, and that together they utilized inside information to line their pockets with immense amounts of wealth. Ladies and gentlemen, today I stand before you to confront a sickness that has infected this family of men and women who serve this country. Greed and selfishness has poked its way through the ethics and pledges that each member of Congress makes to the United States of America. Today, I make a solemn pledge as Speaker of the House of U.S. Representatives that I will locate this corruption with the aid of my colleagues in the Senate, and eliminate it. To that end, I have ordered a full House investigation into this matter, and that a special committee be formed which I will chair to lead the investigation. We will coordinate with the Attorney General and the F.B.I. in any we can to put an end to this corruption. I will not relent until Americans once more have complete confidence and faith in their government again. Thank you.” Speaker Gabriel Baines said and then allowed himself a more relaxed posture.
“Questions? Yes, Carol.” Speaker Baines said as he pointed to a reporter from CNN.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Is your office aware of how long this selling of information has been going on for?” Carol inquired.
“My office only knows what the F.B.I. has told it, and they informed me that they believe these illegal activities have been in production for at least three years, but that it could have also been longer. The Justice Department I am certain will release more details as they become available. Yes, Derek.” Speaker Baines motioned to the next reporter as he took a sip of water.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Considering that F.B.I. statements and reports indicate that it was Representative Bradley, a Democrat from the state of Illinois, who was arrested, is this something that the PJP will use to further advocate their political position that Democrats and Republicans philosophies are tired and out of touch with public opinion?” Derek asked as he waited with pencil in hand. Speaker Baines thought for a few moments before answering.
“The PJP’s first and foremost priority is to eliminate the corruption in both the House and the Senate. As for our political position, well, if you say that the reports claim it was a Democrat then who am I to argue. I do not agree nor disagree that Democrats and Republicans are out of touch with the public, or that their philosophy is the same. However, it was a Democrat that was arrested, so right now they’re the ones who I would think would be more concerned with their political position. Next, yes Edward Bell from the Christian Science Monitor.”
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Do you believe that this committee you want to form will be able to actually accomplish anything productive or useful given the previous failings of these particular types of investigations?”
“Yes. I believe that we will be able to accomplish exactly what we put our minds to. Our goal will be to seek out in a proper investigative manner through the uses of hearings and outside investigation with the support of the Justice Department, all individuals within the government who were or still are involved in this crime ring. Could this committee fail and find nothing, yes that is a possibility I suppose, but not the written reality. We are all setting our minds to this task heart, body and soul, and thus I believe we will be able to find what we want and bring those individuals to court and have them face the American people. Yeah, go ahead, Judy.”
“Mr. Speaker, were you made aware of the F.B.I.’s investigation before the arrest was made today, or were you as shocked and surprised as everyone else? And if you were kept in the dark, do you feel that it was wrong or right for you to remain ignorant that one of the members in your House was being investigated and then arrested?”
“The Attorney General called me a few hours before they arrested Mr. Bradley as a gracious courtesy, and then went on to inform me that I was kept in the dark concerning their investigation because they were uncertain how deep the corruption went. They wanted to make certain that anyone in my office or any of my close colleagues remained blind to what they were doing. He apologized if it inconvenienced me, but I assured if that it was fine and pressed him for as many details concerning the investigation that he could yield. Whether it was right or wrong for me to be kept in the dark, I’m not going to debate. Right now what is important is that we root out this corruption as quickly as possible. Go ahead, Janet.” Speaker Baines said motioning to the back of the room.
“Thank you, sir. Do you think it is possible that this scandal will deeply anger an already jaded American public into thinking that they could do without a strong federal government and move to a political system like something resembling France?” Janet said as she adjusted her glasses and waited for a response to a question, which was a sure verbal trap if the Speaker wasn’t careful in how he responded. He grinned a little as he realized what she was attempting to do. What had happened in France a year and a half ago had been a nightmare for many politicians when confronted with questions about the matter, especially since it had been a presidential election year.
“Any time, I believe, when something of this magnitude happens people will get angry, which is only natural since there was a betrayal of trust. The American public has every right to be cynical about our political system as it is fraught with people who care more about prestige, power and wealth than the common good for all Americans. However, there are individuals who are in Congress that have the desire and will to reform our system and make it the champion of the legislative process that it once was. As for France, well…I guess over the next few years we’ll see how that turns out. Alright, last question. David Storm.
“Yes, Mr. Speaker. What are your fears, if any, that this corruption might go so far and deep that it touches the leadership of the Senate and the House? How would you react, if members of your own party were involved?” Mr. Storm asked.
“If this corruption went that far, David,” Speaker Baines said as he pointed to his stage left, “then I would be so ashamed that I would resign as Speaker of the House.” The room suddenly became alive with muttering for a few moments. “What kind of Speaker could I possibly be, if a large amount of my own party leadership were involved in such an enterprise. I know all of the party leaders, and I am certain that none of them would participate in such a grievous undertaking, and I also hope that the investigations that follow reveal that the corruption made little headway into our ranks. And if members of my own party were involved, I would apologize to the American public on behalf of my party since I am the chairman, and hope that each guilty member would bear the reproach of their shame for the rest of their days. When you betray the sacred trust between the American people and their representatives, there is no amount of condemnation too great. So I ask the American people to endure with us as we endeavor to seek out this corruption, bring the perpetrators to justice, and then heal the wounds left behind. God bless the United States of America. Thank you.” Speaker Baines said and then walked off the platform.
Shouts and clamor for last minute questions and statements bombarded Speaker Baines as he vanished off the platform and out of sight. After a few moments the room settled into a buzzing chatter between different reporters, and individuals getting set up to make broadcasts to their respective media agency. Slowly, as the minutes and hours went by the room emptied until only the janitor and the night security were remaining.
The next day.
“How is it, that we didn’t know about this investigation, or that there was even corruption inside of the House, let alone the Senate?” House Majority Leader Ellen Danes asked to a circle of her colleagues which included: The Speaker of the House Gabriel Baines, Senate Minority Leader Victoria Ramsey, and PJP Vice-Chairman Ray Jones. All of them were silent, because all of them had been blindsided by the arrest along with all of the accusations that had been flying from the press and the public.
“You know how Jack Tredge is; that’s why the President chose him for Attorney General. He does an excellent job of keeping his mouth shut as he investigates, almost as if he was a ghost, not ruffling a single feather.” Senator Ramsey said coolly. She was an eloquent and calm speaker, rarely did she become rash and allow her passions to drive her. It was said by many that she was the voice of thought and reason within the PJP Senate minority, which is why she had been elected.
“Yes I know how Tredge operates, Victoria, but still. You’re the Senate Minority leader and I’m the House Majority leader, you, Gabriel, are the Speaker of the House; second in line to become President. All of us had not only a right to know, but an obligation. I bet they clued their own party leadership in on what was occurring.” Rep. Danes stated passionately. Ellen was the type of woman who played politics very aggressively and always went for the throat when making a political attack. She also wasn’t afraid to play dirty, if she deemed it necessary.
“That doesn’t matter anymore, Ellen.” Vice-Chairman Jones pointed out. Ray had helped Gabriel create the People’s Justice Party and together they had made it rise to prominence throughout the country. He was thoughtful, and slow to action, but very thorough when it came for a task of any kind, especially ones of a delicate nature. “What we need to do, is focus on finding out which members of congress are guilty. And if we play our cards correctly, we may come out on top.”
“I don’t follow you.” Ellen said before anyone else could interject.
“It’s very simple.” Gabriel said as he lowered his newspaper and folded it up. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. “If we are fortunate enough that none of our people, or very few are corrupt in the Senate, and that either Democrats or Republicans are, that could mean that our party could grasp the majority in the Senate.” Both Ellen and Victoria grinned, and Ray was beaming with hope. “However, the corrupt senators have to be from states that can either hold special elections, or it has to be a state in which our party controls the governorship. Therefore, we will find out who those particular candidates are, and begin there; I have a feeling we will not be disappointed.”
“Doesn’t that sound ethically wrong to you at all, Gabriel?” Victoria inquired. “You’re talking about something that sounds like you would be abusing the powers of the House and Senate to further the PJP’s own agenda.”
“Victoria, I assure you that we will not be doing anything remotely illegal. As for ethics, well…I don’t think that anyone will have to break their own ethical code. As I stated in my speech, we are going after the corruption, not a particular party. That is true, but I would personally like to gain an advantage after the dust settles, which is exactly what the Republicans and Democrats are thinking right now.” Gabriel stated, but Victoria didn’t seem appeased.
“Victoria, this may be our opportunity to really make changes and truly legitimize our party after all of these past years of fighting against the established status quo.” Ellen said gently as she grasped Victoria’s hand. After a few moments she nodded her head.
“I will do what I can in the Senate, so long as we remain faithful to our ethics and the principles of the law. Now, what do you propose, Gabriel?” Victoria asked as her gaze and everyone else’s directed at him.
“Each of us will have a part to play in this investigation. I am chairing the committee in the House, and Rebekah Greene has followed suit for their committee in the Senate. You should make it onto that committee, Victoria, but I am keeping you off the House committee, Ellen. Instead I want you to be the liaison between the information coming from the White House, the Justice Department, and the F.B.I. Light a fire under them to get what you want if need be, but cooperation is necessary if we are to be successful. Ray, obviously you need to utilize this opportunity to demonstrate how weak and ineffective the Democratic Party has become to some of their top donors, and assure them that they would have their needs better set if they were to align themselves with us.” Gabriel stated coolly.
“What happens when the Democrats find out your trying to steal their top donors?” Ellen asked with a curious smile, to which Gabriel smiled back.
“Oh, I have no doubt that it will urge them on to discover the corrupted officials first, and hope all that they can that the guilty are part of the PJP. I personally don’t think many of our party are involved, which is also what I want all of us to keep an ear out for. I want to know before anyone else outside of the party leadership if you find a corrupted PJP member. If we’re lucky, it will be a Democrat first to be drawn out.” Gabriel said as he took a sip of his hot tea.
“Well good luck to you all in that regard, but I must be off. I have a few stops to make before I begin my mission.” Ray said as he got up.
“There’s no rest to your wickedness is there, Ray.” Ellen stated with a warm grin.
“We can’t all have the fun jobs of being the liaison between a group of power hungry officials and overworked agents and analysts. Ciao!” Ray said with a quick wink and exited the office.
“I had best lite that fire under the Justice Department now, otherwise the Republicans will know everything that happens before we do. Keep me posted if you discover anything, Gabriel. Give my greetings to Senator Green, Victoria.” Ellen said with a look of feigned dread.
“I am certain the sentiment will be similar.” Victoria said grinning.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Ellen said as she grabbed her briefcase and then left the office. Now that Gabriel and Victoria were alone the room became quite silent.
“Our plotting concerns you, doesn’t it, Victoria?” Gabriel asked with his cool gaze pinned upon Victoria’s apprehensive expression. She had been a Democrat long ago, but had joined the PJP very early on in its growth and had embraced all of its ideals and championed the cause wherever she went. However, she played politics coolly, decently, and did what she could to remain fair to any opposition against her; essentially she played nice and respectfully. This meant that she was esteemed by many of her colleagues and the public, but her naivety sometimes kept her from accomplishing great political feats.
“Why do you have to call it plotting, Gabriel? You make it sound as if we and our political opponents are in a chess game, and that the goal is to bring defeat and ruination to the other side. That is what concerns me; you, Ellen, and even Ray all believe that in order to acquire the majority we want, and the White House, that we have to connive our way there, instead of showing ourselves worthy to the American public.” Victoria stated quite passionately even for her, but Gabriel appeared unmoved, and unconvinced.
“I’ll let you in on a secret, Victoria, that I would never admit to the public or very few other people. The average American is too stupid, too foolish, and too unaware to make the correct decision for the country. That is why we are here; to push things to go in the right direction so that the end result is what is best for the average American, and if we’re lucky than most.” Gabriel said and then leaned forward on his desk and gazed straight at Victoria. “I have come to see and understand life as a series of games, or trials that are either passed or failed, at least for those with ambitions. For people without goals and ambitions, life is just something to get through with as minimal discomfort as possible. The average man or woman cares to achieve very little, but for those who wish to achieve much there is no better metaphor for life than a series of games, conquests, or trials. Thrive in triumph, plot in defeat, or bask in contentment. There are very few true ways to live in life, I simply have chosen to define my circumstances on my own terms and look where it has gotten me.”
“I understand, Gabriel, but what did you have to do in order to get here; all of this as you put it.” Victoria stated as she motioned to the office. “That is the kind of thing that concerns me; that while we are supposed to serve the American people to the best of our abilities, many treat this job as something more akin to prestige and power as you mentioned in your speech. I just don’t want that to happen to our party as it did to the Democrats and Republicans.” Gabriel displayed nothing on his face; for all one could tell he might have been staring at a wall rather than a human face.
“I understand your worries and empathize with your perspective. You have a great deal of legislative experience like myself, whereas Ray and Ellen do not, so naturally they’re going to be a little more hot headed about the language in how they depict or project their politics. You of all people should know that many want this job because of the prestige and power that goes with it; the power and desire to change something is what draws someone to each party and each government position. In essence, don’t worry about it and if you begin to grow more concerned just let me know and we’ll address it.” Gabriel said reassuringly. Victoria sighed and nodded her head.
“Perhaps this whole corruption scandal just has me worried about the future of this nation’s political system, or something else maybe.” Victoria said as she turned to look towards the window suddenly appearing quite exhausted.
“Are you having trouble with Vincent again, or is Heather going through one of her phases once more?” Gabriel asked.
“No the whole family is fine; Heather and I are actually having sex again after a long absence. It’s just that I’ve been feeling easily exhausted lately, I don’t know why.” Victoria said as she checked her watch.
“If you believe that being on this committee would be too much for you, than feel free to name your replacement; I don’t think Senator Greene would have a problem with that. You should also see a doctor this week; I don’t want the party’s most prized Senator in the hospital.” Gabriel said smirking, trying to lighten her mood. Victoria smiled.
“Thanks, but I should be alright; you have my word though that if at any point I don’t feel up to scratch that I will pull myself off of the committee.” Victoria said. Gabriel looked pleased at her answer. The door then opened from an adjacent room and in walked Gabriel’s chief- of-staff Christopher Hamilton carrying a few folders appearing very calm and relaxed.
“Ah, it appears I have some work to do at last. Good luck and give my best to Senator Greene and Senator Larson.” Gabriel said.
“Of course, and I’ll let you know if I find anything out. It’s nice to see, Chris.” Victoria said as she stood up.
“Thank you, Senator; it’s nice to see you again.” Chris said with his usual warm and charming smile.
“Try not to work the Speaker too hard.” Victoria said with a grin.
“Of course not ma’am, although I will most likely end up doing just that.” Chris said chuckling a little.
“Bye,” Victoria said as she scooted out of the room. Christ gently shut the door behind her and locked it. He then sat down across from Gabriel and handed the folders to him. Immediately he opened them and began to flip through the pages as Chris patiently waited. Gabriel interviewed and sought for his chief-of-staff for a very long time, but he had finally found precisely what he wanted. Chris was highly educated with two masters degrees (one in political science, the other in business psychology), an excellent writer, thinker, and strategist no matter the topic. He was charming and very handsome with short brown hair, blue eyes, caramel colored skin, and about six feet three inches tall.
“Does Senator Ramsey’s perspective bother you at all?” Chris asked indifferently.
“Not at all,” Gabriel answered without hesitation. “Senator Ramsey understands the larger picture of what the People’s Justice Party is attempting to accomplish, but it would probably be for the best if she was kept out of any of the really dirty fighting. I did assure her that no one’s moral ethics would be broken, and it would be a shame for her if she had to go against her conscience.”
“Maybe it would have been better if you had pushed for Senator Cohen to be Senate Minority Leader, rather than Senator Ramsey.” Chris pointed out. Gabriel shook his head.
“No. The party needed someone who could be seen as a unifier for all parties, and Senator Cohen is considered too partisan. His talents though are put to far better use than being the minority leader.” Gabriel said.
“Very well, sir. How would you like me to proceed?” Chris asked sounding completely cold still.
“Given the situation and what’s at stake, I don’t want to know.” Gabriel said as he returned his attention to the content of the folders.
“Does that mean that you would like me use all of my available resources in affect to create a favorable outcome?” Chris said.
“Use what you must within the bounds of good conduct and without breaking the law; remember our goal is to get to the truth behind this corruption, and I promised the American people that I would not relent.” Gabriel finished saying and then looked up at Chris with narrow eyes. The two held each other’s gaze for a few moments, and then Chris nodded his head.
“Of course, Senator; I will get to work on it right away.” Chris said and then got up and began to walk towards the door which he had come through earlier.
“One more thing, Christopher.” Gabriel said as his chief-of-staff turned around and paused. “Let’s see if we can go all the way with this one.”
“Does that mean I have permission to tap into your resources as well, sir?” Chris asked.
“If you believe them to be necessary, then it all is at your disposal.” Gabriel replied.
“Are you sure about all of them, sir?” Chris asked uncertainly. Gabriel tapped his fingers together a moments in silent thought before answering.
“Yes, you may use all of them.” Gabriel replied. Chris simply nodded his head and then left the room. Gabriel waited a few moments and then picked up the phone and dialed a combination of numbers and waited as the phone rang.
“Hello?” A deep voice said across the line.
“I think I may have a use for that favor you owe me. Let’s meet in about three hours, and try not to be late.” Gabriel said and then hung up the phone. He grabbed a nearby remote and pressed play. A wash of opera flooded the room from various speakers. It was Mozart’s The Magic Flute “The Queen of the Night.” Of all classical composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was his favorite, mainly because of his operas, but also because of his life. He was an innovator and changer; his music and ideas revolutionized how music was marketed and produced, especially opera. In many ways he thought the two of them were similar. His train of thought was interrupted by his phone buzzing. “Yes,” he said as he pressed the speaker button.”
“Sir, President Naran would like to speak with you.” Adrienne, Gabriel’s secretary stated.
“Put him through.” Gabriel responded as he picked up the receiver and cleared his throat. “Good morning, Mr. President, to what do I owe the delight of your precious attention on this fine day?” Both men had a mutual dislike for the other. Gabriel carried a chip on his shoulder, because when the President was still a senator, he quashed a piece of legislation that Gabriel had worked very hard to bring to the House, get it passed, and then try to galvanize support in the Senate. It failed though. In turn, Gabriel worked against Naran when he became Speaker of the House and Naran became President. Gabriel blocked him at every turn, although he always managed to have a reasonable explanation for his political maneuverings much to the irritation of the President.
“Good morning to you as well, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to meet with all of the Congressional leadership at the White House tomorrow at one o’clock in order to discuss this corruption scandal. Do you plan on attending, or are you going to send a representative?” President Naran asked with an edge of bitter politeness to his tone.
“No, I will attend in person; after all, the American people must see us as a unified front against this matter, not as a group of individuals fighting for supremacy over the other.” Gabriel replied almost in a jesting manner.
“I agree. We must put our differences aside and unite against this corruption.” President Naran said as he seemed to sound more at ease.
“Don’t you mean the corruption that has crippled your party, Mr. President?” Gabriel posed, but didn’t wait for a response. “It was after all one of your party’s representatives that was caught if I recall, not a PJP or a Republican.” There was a slight pause.
“That may be true, Mr. Speaker, but need I remind you that the investigation is only just beginning. Who knows how deep this corruption goes, how many offices it touches, or even how many members of a single party. I can assure you that the Attorney General and the entire Justice Department will arduously probe any and all leads, no matter where they go.” President Naran said, although he was sounding more pleasant and kind despite the language and words exiting his mouth.
“I would expect nothing less from the impartial system of justice and principles this government was founded on. And I am certain that the House and the Senate will not themselves relent until all guilty parties have been brought to this country’s courts of justice, no matter what or who they use to shield themselves with. As you said, one never knows how deep the corruption goes, perhaps it may cut all the way to the top.” Gabriel finished saying. He grinned to himself as he thought about the President’s expression to his words and pictured it slightly shocked and irritated, which was enough to make him smirk even more.
“We shall see, Mr. Speaker, we shall see. Until tomorrow afternoon then.” And without even waiting for him to reciprocate, the President hung up on Gabriel who gently set the receiver down. He sighed for a few moments and then began tapping his fingers together, for it seemed the President was concerned, and as well as he should be. Even though the Republicans had become a political shadow of their former selves, the Democrats were in danger of becoming something similar if the PJP continued its trend of growth and popularity. Therefore, he would have to anticipate desperate blows from the Democrats as their dominance on power began to shift. He needed an edge they did not have. He tapped the intercom button.
“Adrienne, can you get me Senator Slater?” Gabriel asked.
“Give me a few moments, sir.” Adrienne responded.
“Thank you,” Gabriel said. There were some things he would need to discuss with the leading Republican Senator, and essentially their spokesman. He had a feeling that they would have much to discuss.
Washington D.C. was a metropolis that had much to offer, but that it hosted the nation’s capital meant that there were things there you couldn’t really find anywhere else in the entire country because the constant foreign presence. Foods literally from all across and every part of the globe could be found there if you searched hard enough. Also there were places to go if you did not want to be seen, and where discretion was more important than the food. Such places were never named as actual franchises just so the media couldn’t discover them, or other individuals that were interested in the activities of high political life. Instead, codes were used, or pictures, or people went in groups to these locations.
Christopher Hamilton, Speaker Baines’ chief-of-staff was waiting at such a place sipping on a very, very dirty martini as he read the menu. The lights were dimmed, and the booth he was sitting in was wide and comfortable enough for five people. It was enclosed with the exception of a sheer curtain which is where people would enter and exit the table area. Chris looked up when he heard the curtain drawn back by the waiter and the familiar face of Dennis Blake, who was the chief-of-staff for the House Minority leader Rep. Thomas Foster.
“I can see you’ve already started, so I guess I will have a glass of your finest cabernet sauvignon, thank you.” Dennis said as he took the menu from the waiter.
“Yes, sir.” The waiter replied and shut the curtain before he left.
“Anything good?” Dennis asked as he glanced through the menu.
“I was told that the cream of broccoli soup is delicious, as long as you don’t choke on any of the bits of vegetables on the way down.” Chris stated as if he had barely noticed his dinner guest’s presence.
“Hey, if I had known what the F.B.I. was up to, you know I would have given you a heads up.” Dennis stated defensively. Chris didn’t looked affected.
“Then how come you didn’t?” Chris asked. He set his menu down and glared at Dennis, who felt immediately intimidated by his compatriot’s blazing gaze. “How is it that you were completely unaware of such corruption going on in your own party, in your own House for over two years? I have attempted to piece together how such a conspiracy could have gotten past even you and your boss, and the only solution I’ve come up with is that you both turned a blind eye to maybe what you were seeing.” Dennis looked uncomfortable upon hearing Chris’ words, which was unusual.
Dennis Blake was a powerful man in his own right; physically and intellectually. He had been in the political system for well over a decade and knew the in’s and out’s very well of all parties and the system itself. He was driven similarly like Chris, but he was more brute force and lacked much finesse, whereas Chris mainly utilized finesse as an image to project to everyone, but he had a great deal of brute strength and rage underneath as his judo instructor had told him once. To his credit though, Dennis could be quite a dangerous political foe to any person new or experienced to the game. He had many contacts and allies everywhere, perhaps more than any single person in the Capital. Seeing Dennis unnerved was something Chris had never seen from a man usually brimming with confidence; it pleased him.
“Look, we honestly didn’t know what was going on. I’ve started reviewing files and minutes and nothing has come up so far. I don’t know how we missed it.” Dennis said with regret and then stared absently at his menu. For a few moments, Chris felt sorry for the man, but then his mind began to churn with how he could use this new information. Before he could shoot off a question, the sheer was pulled back again to reveal a tall and imposing woman.
“Well boys, are you nice and fucked up yet?” Elaine Griffin asked. She was chief-of-staff to the Senate Majority leader Rebekah Greene. She possessed long, feathered shoulder length brown hair. Her skin was just a hair darker than being completely pale, and she dressed professionally, although somewhat provocatively as well. Of many of the women involved in national politics, she was one of the few who truly could blow the socks off a man. The ambition that she exuded was highly intense and regarded by peers and foes alike. Several highly wealthy business firms tried to get her to work for them, but she turned them down and went for where she really believed the power sat. Politics.
“Not entirely, Elaine. Dennis here was just regaling me with how fucked up your party is though.” Chris said with a coy smile. Elaine merely grinned as she took her seat.
“That remains to be a proven fact, Chris, and I can tell by even your accusatory scowl that not even the Speaker’s office really knows if the corruption has seeped into the PJP or not. Thank you.” Elaine said as she took a menu from the waiter. “I will have a dry martini, and a side of clams.” She then handed the menu back to the waiter. “So I’m right aren’t I?” Elaine said as she leaned back in her chair and gazed happily into Chris’ eyes, which betrayed very little; only to the very well trained could see the truth….sometimes.
“I do not deny that the Speaker, along with the rest of the Party leadership were unsettled about the corruption, and are currently unaware of how deep the corruption goes, or even if as you pose it has infected the PJP.” Chris replied.
“That’s a bunch of crap, Chris, and you know it. If Greene and Foster turned a blind, ignorant eye to what was going on around them, then so did Baines, Danes, and Ramsey. The whole point of these get togethers is to avoid the bollox, and stick to the God honest truth and facts.” Elaine said forcefully as she then took a sip of her drink which the waiter placed and then hurried off.
“And here I thought we were attempting to make certain that not too much blood gets spilled in all of the wars going on.” Chris countered with a smirk. “Maybe, I just thought we were here for the love of the people we serve to make this country a better place, and to have a better future for generations.” Chris finished. There was silence as both Elaine and Dennis looked at him is amazed befuddlement, and then all three of them broke out laughing.
“You had me going there for a while; Chris. What is that, Baines’ new campaign slogan for reelection?” Dennis asked as he wiped some tears from around his eyes as his laughter subsided.
“No, that would be Senator Ramsey’s slogan for reelection, actually. I thought I would try it out and see how convincing it was. What do you think?” Chris inquired as he took a sip of his drink.
“It sucked; at least coming from you.” Elaine answered as she lit a cigarette. “You just don’t sound very convincing politically, or I suppose I just might know you far too well to take any of that seriously. That’s why Baines runs the show, and you run everything else.”
“As true as that is, he’s a whole lot more intelligent than you give him credit for. He did found the PJP, and has single handedly removed the Democrats essentially from their power perch, and has all but made the Republicans politically useless. I think your boss could learn a thing or two from him.” Chris said.
“Oh no doubt, I’m sure, but like she’d take advice or lessons from him anyways. Besides, she has me, and I know I’m more cunning then your boss.” Elaine said as she exhaled a small cloud of smoke.
“Really? And does that mean that I am more cunning and intelligent than you?” Chris posed with a grin. Elaine kept her expression neutral as she thought about it.
“Possible, but highly unlikely. You are after all a man, and chained to thinking with your penis. As a woman I have an advantage over you, which therefore makes me the superior combatant in political fights. Unless you contest that you in fact do not have a penis.” Elaine said.
“Why do your guy’s conversations always turn weird?” Dennis asked turning back to his menu. He was more traditional than Elaine and Chris, so all of the frank sexual talk and combative lingo made him somewhat uneasy.
“True as that might be, Dennis, I would like to continue for a little longer. So your advantage over me, is your vagina or your breasts, or is it both?” Chris asked as he leaned in closer towards Elaine, who in turn leaned in closer to him as well.
“I suppose you will just have to wait and find out one day.” Elaine said softly and then leaned back. Chris’ curiosity was peaked, but Dennis interrupted his thoughts before they became words.
“Can we get something to eat, now that you two are done with your evening sparring.” Dennis asked grumpily as he set the menu down and glared at both Elaine and Chris.
“Why not; I think I’ve worked up quite an appetite.” Chris said as he picked up his menu and began looking at the options. All three of them ordered their food and shifted the conversation to something far less hostile; pop culture. This included everything from film, to the latest American Idol and singing sensation. After dinner was through, and then dessert; drinks were ordered and the conversation began to grow more sparse as the three of them relaxed currently free of the concerns of work and their party politics.
“Well, this is lovely isn’t it, but shall we get down to business before we’re too wasted to do anything useful?” Chris posed as he exhaled smoke from his cigar.
“Speak for yourself; I’m already gone.” Dennis said as he picked his head up momentarily from the table and then set it right back down. Both Elaine and Chris chuckled at their compatriot’s stupor.
“What did you want to know, Chris?” Elaine asked her tone now serious; no more games, now it was time for truth and answers.
“Do Greene and Foster know of any other corrupted members of congress as of now?” Chris asked as gingerly as he could. Elaine finished off her drink before answering.
“Yes they know; what about Baines and your people?” Elaine asked.
“Nothing so far, but he has made finding out the number one unofficial priority. He of course intends to use this information to further the PJP, and hurt the Democrats as well, that is if very little of the PJP is involved.” Chris stated.
“That’s to be expected of course, as Greene and Foster are thinking a similar way. So the question is, how do the Republicans fit into this entire picture?” Elaine posed as she exhaled a waft of smoke.
“Why would you think that the Republicans fit into this at all?” Chris asked genuinely curiously, and suddenly for a split moment it was as if Elaine realized she had said something she wasn’t supposed to. She covered it up marvelously though.
“It’s very obvious isn’t it, even to someone like you?” Elaine asked, but Chris didn’t give any inclination that he knew what she was talking about. She let out a deep sigh. “The Republicans clearly see that both the Democrats and the PJP are ready to pounce on each other over this matter. Aside from using the information against us, they might also use this to sway public opinion against our party, but more the PJP as the majority of their power was taken away by your party. All they have to do is bide their time, and hope that they come out on top after it’s all over.”
“I can see that now.” Chris said softly as the wheels in his mind began to eagerly turn. There was silence between the two of them, and Chris noticed that Elaine was watching him very intently which intrigued him as he had said or done nothing of any value or interest, yet.
“Alright, I don’t know about you two young things, but this old man has to go home and get some sleep before I wake up and face the man of wrath. Which if you don’t get, is my boss, by the way.” Dennis stated with drunken words as he slovenly stood up from the table; Chris gave him a hand to steady himself.
“That’s probably not a bad idea. Here I’ll leave with him,” Elaine said as she doused her cigarette and stood up. “I’ll let you know if I come across anything else, Chris. Maybe one of these nights we’ll leave here together and I’ll fuck your brains out.” Chris smiled at the comment, as clearly Elaine was pretty buzzed and he was not at all despite several drinks.
“How could I not be drawn in by you,” Chris said softly as he stood right in front of her looking at her face with passion. “Drawn, like a poor spider to the black widow’s web never to leave again. No, I do not think so.”
“Better a black widow than a daddy long leg.” Elaine answered with a smile, clearly trying to hide her irritation at being so easily dismissed. Her and Dennis hobbled out together leaving Chris, who sat back down and lit another cigar and began to think.
One of the reasons why Chris insisted on meeting at this particular location was because he knew the owners well, and ordered his drinks special to appear as if he was drinking alcohol, but never at all. People talked so much more easily when drunk, and he listened and was able to subtly interrogate when he was sober and in control of his mind. When Elaine had mentioned the Republicans and then tried to dismiss it, Chris knew something was up, but what was it that she was trying to hide. Even Dennis was helping her out by feigning sleepiness and asking to leave right when he was about to probe deeper; even drunk the man was still sharp enough to waylay progress. There was something about the Republican Party that the two of them knew that they did not want Chris to know, and he knew he would never find out from them, so he would have to try a different method. Pulling out his cellphone, Chris dialed a number and waited.
“Yes?” Came a rather odd female voice from the receiver.
“Is he there right now?” Chris asked.
“Yes he is currently enjoying the full use of all our services; should I get him for you?” The female voice asked.
“No, I will be there to pay him a visit shortly. Thank you.” Chris said and then hung up the phone.
No matter what it was, Washington D.C. seemed to have it. Regardless of how odd and strange of a sexual fantasy, some poor demented soul or unscrupulous entrepreneur would sell it and make a fortune off of it. Chris had always thought it ironic that the Capital of the United States was perhaps one of the most perverted of all American cities. He parked his car down a seedy alley, which was populated with some homeless people, rats, and rabid cats. There was a beaten up steel door that he then proceeded to pound on and then waited. Within a few moments some noises of metal grating came from the other side, and then the door cracked opened a little bit. Two peering eyes looked at Chris closely, who was impatiently tapping his foot. The door then opened up all of the way and there stood a man dressed in drag, but very well.
“Which room is he in?” Chris asked bluntly.
“Not even a hello?” The man in drag asked with a disappointed and saddened look.
“I’m sorry, Judy; it’s been a long day, and I’m still trying to get to the bottom of it.” Chris said.
“Honey, I’ve been at the bottom of it my whole life, and trust me it ain’t anything special or else everyone would want to be in that position. Come on in.” Judy said as she gestured Chris inside. They walked through the store room and into a hallway which was dimly lit with yellow and red lights. The worn red carpet, the peeling white paint, and dirty ceiling were only a few light reasons why the building should’ve been condemned and torn down years ago, but as long as someone paid taxes the city didn’t care. The building was an old motel, but it had been converted into an exotic brothel of sorts. Moans and muffled screams of ecstasy came from behind the shut doors as Judy and Chris passed them.
“How’s business been?” Chris asked as he walked by a girl of no more than twelve years old, even though she looked like she was seventeen.
“Business is a bitch like always, but the boss is far worse. He’s in this room, with two of my better employees, so try not to scar them with your devilish antics. You scared away two of my best prostitutes last time.” Judy stated as she pointed to the door.
“I’ll try to remember, that is if you unlock the door.” Chris said with a smile. Judy rolled her eyes. She took a large wad of keys from her pocket, and after finding the correct key she unlocked and opened the door. Chris stepped in to see a naked adult man kneeling on a bed, as a boy of fourteen was naked behind him, and another naked boy of roughly the same age was jerking him off. The man saw Chris and immediately panicked by pushing the two boys away from him and covering himself up with the bed comforter.
“What…..how….why…!” The man was stammering but Chris held up his hand to silence him.
“Here you go boys; sorry to interrupt your work.” Chris said as he pulled out a couple of hundred dollar bills. The boys took one of each on their way out, and Chris shut the door behind him. He then turned and looked at the man, who was as pale as a ghost, as a cat would that just caught a mouse. “So tell me, does the high ranking Republican Senator from Kansas know that his chief-of-staff gets off on playing with boys, or does he do that too?”
“No, please don’t tell anyone, Chris. I would be ruined, and I would go to prison. I hardly do this anyways though; this was a onetime thing, and I swear I won’t ever do it again.” Stan Hall begged.
“I could care less if you were involved in a gangbang with five boys and three lesbians, but what I do want to know is what does the Republican leadership know about this corruption scandal. Don’t lie to me either, otherwise you might as well turn yourself in to the F.B.I. now rather than have me do it eventually.” Chris warned as he took a seat.
“The corruption scandal?” Stan said aloud to himself and then he nodded his head. “Yeah, umm…all I know is that Senator Slater and Senator Madison know what the corruption scandal involves; what enterprises. Apparently someone was stealing money from the Republican Party, and didn’t do a very good job of hiding their tracks. So with some discreet accountants, they were able to trace the money, although the last I knew they were unaware of who was behind it. I swear that’s the truth and all I know. Please don’t turn me in, or tell anyone.” Stan said convincingly. Chris leaned forward and eyed the naked man very carefully.
“This is what you’re going to do, Mr. Hall. After I leave this room you are going to get dressed and head on over to your office and make photocopies of all the information pertaining to what you just told me. I will then send someone over to pick it up. If you leave any information out, deceive me, or run away I guarantee that you will spend the rest of your life in prison. Understand?” Chris asked and Stan nodded his head. “Good, and I wouldn’t return to this place; I believe the F.B.I. have had it under surveillance for about three months so far. Lucky for you, that they don’t know about the underage employees here.” Chris then stood up and walked out of the room. He checked his watch.
It was about 1am. He decided it would be too late to call the Speaker. In the morning when the Speaker arrived at the office, he would have everything ready for him. That would be if Stan Hall didn’t flake out on him.
“Did you get what you wanted?” Judy asked from behind Chris.
“I did thank you,” Chris said as he handed Judy a couple hundred dollars. “I’d keep an eye on the F.B.I. if I were you by the way.”
“Oh they’re nothing, but thanks for the advice honey. Did you want to sample anything while you are here? Maybe a boy, a girl, a couple of my better young men, or young women; or maybe you want something a little older or more kinky?” Judy asked as she nudged up against Chris.
“You’re very kind, my lady, but I’ve had my fill of…odd sexual experiences for three lifetimes. Have a good night.” Chris said and then walked down the hall towards the rear/private exit.
“Oh you know I will.” Judy said with a grin.
7am the following Morning.
Chris sat across from Speaker Baines as he looked over the various reports and information that he had assembled from the files that Stan Hall had given him about six hours ago. He had been up most of the night and had only a few hours of sleep, but he felt as sharp as a knife, although he figured that would last for only a limited amount of time. When Hall had given him the information, it was obvious by his highly disheveled appearance that he wasn’t taking betraying his party very well. However, the man valued his life and career more than his party loyalty or affiliation. Chris knew he would be able to use him whenever he wanted to, and he reminded Hall of it before they had parted ways for the night.
“And you’re certain of the source where you obtained this information from?” Gabriel asked as he continued to thumb through the papers.
“I can assure you of the source sir; it came all the way from the horse’s mouth.” Chris replied.
“Anything I should be concerned about?” Gabriel asked as he looked up at Chris.
“I foresee nothing that should concern or worry you sir.” Chris said calmly, as that very well was the truth.
“Then we shall move forward with this information,” Gabriel said. “It appears that our Republican counterparts are far more ahead with discovering this corruption ring than anyone else. It looks like they stopped digging when the F.B.I. made their arrest and when the Democrats and I made our statements against the corruption. Clearly the corruption is at its deepest in the Republican party as of now, so that is where we will begin our digging.”
“How would you like me to proceed, sir?” Chris asked. Gabriel tapped his fingers thoughtfully together.
“Obviously we cannot sit on this information for long, but we must do it long enough so that we can get a head start over the Justice Department and the Democrats and also not alert the Republicans to what we are doing.” Gabriel said almost to himself. “This is something we cannot risk investigating independently; both of us must pursue the means availed to investigate and prosecute afforded to Congress.”
“That will take time, sir, and we will have to cut through a lot of red tape which will alert everyone to what we are doing.” Chris pointed out.
“That is more than true, it is a fact. Instead of us poking our noses around, I want you to meet with her and give her what we have. She is to report directly to you and no one else, but discreetly. You can assure her that the usual agreement remains in place, and that if she has any further questions to direct them to you; she is never to contact me whatsoever.” Gabriel stated quite adamantly.
“Of course sir, when would you….” But, Chris was interrupted by the ringing of his cellphone, which was programmed not to ring unless it was absolutely urgent. “What is it?” Chris asked as he answered the call.
“Have you watched the latest news?” Ellen asked sounding somewhat frantic.
“No, I haven’t gotten around to it; I’ve had a busy morning.” Chris answered beginning to become unnerved.
“Turn it on then,” Ellen responded urgently. Chris grabbed the television remote and the unit buzzed to life. The darkness immediately transformed into the picture of Senator James Slater who was making an announcement surrounded by several of his colleagues.
“He was a good man with a lot of prospective talent, and he will be sorely missed. I have sent my condolences to his family already, and I have received support from the President and party opposition leaders. Stanley Hall, will be missed by not only myself and my staff, but also by the many friends he had. God rest his soul, and bless those loved ones whom he left behind. Thank you.” Senator James Slater said and then moved off-screen with the rest of his colleagues. The picture then shifted to a news reporter.
“There you have Senator Slater’s statement concerning his longtime chief-of-staff Stanley Hall who was found dead in his apartment early this morning after police were called to his home anonymously. Investigators have yet to finalize their reports, but initial evidence indicates that Mr. Hall hung himself. Our thoughts go out to the Senator and his staff, but also with Mr. Hall’s family.” The news reporter said at which point Chris shut off the television.
“Thanks for the heads up, Ellen; I’ll be certain to inform the Speaker.” Chris said neutrally, although inside he was completely shocked and caught off guard.
“Did you know him well?” Ellen asked. Chris hesitated before answering.
“We knew of each other, but we never shared an intimate friendship.” Chris answered.
“I’ll let you go so you and the Speaker can come up with some sort of formal statement to release publicly. Take care.” Ellen said.
“Thank you.” Chris said and then hung up his phone. He stood there feeling numb for a few moments and then took a seat. Gabriel had been quiet the entire time, carefully observing his chief-of-staff.
“The source?” Gabriel merely asked. Chris nodded his head. “I’m assuming you found him at one of the local pleasure palaces last night before he gave this to you?” Gabriel asked as he held up the folder of papers.
“I was told by my man that he appeared quite distressed at the hand off, and he had quite a secret to protect, but I hadn’t thought that he would have jumped to such brash actions.” Chris said. Silence hung in the air for a few moments.
“I suggest you meet with her immediately, before our lead diminishes any further.” Gabriel stated.
“Don’t you think I should work with you to create some sort of formal statement of condolence on behalf of the PJP?” Chris asked.
“I’ll have Ellen and her staff work on that. We have enough work to deal with besides the death of a Republican chief-of-staff. It is a tragedy to be sure, but we cannot dwell on it or risk losing all of the momentum that has been already generated. I want you to report back to me after you’re done with your meeting with her.” Gabriel stated and then handed the folder to Chris.
“Of course sir,” Chris replied. He took the folder and shuffled out of the room and into his adjoining office. Once he shut the door, he plopped the folder down on his desk and sank into his chair. He massaged his aching head and immediately he began to feel the previous night’s stresses weigh heavily down on him. He glanced over at his phone and noticed that he had several messages already since the morning began. Knowing how much work he had yet to do, he hesitantly pressed the listen button.
“Twelve new messages,” a robotic voice from the machine said. “First unheard message.”
“Hey, Chris, this is Tom Culridge, Rep. Frank’s chief-of-staff. Listen, my boss wants a meeting with your boss, so I was wondering if you could scratch my back, and I think I might have something that you might be interested in. Give me a call back as soon as you get this.” Tom said and then Chris deleted the message; he knew what the man wanted to give him, and it was worthless, but if he could get another Democrat to join the PJP, then it would be worth it.
“Next message,” the robotic voice said.
“Hey, Chris, it’s…it’s Stan.” The voice said shakily, and immediately Chris’s ears perked up. He made sure no one was present and he quickly locked both doors in his office and then sat back down and listened intently. “I can’t do this, I can’t betray my Party by helping you anymore, no matter what the cost. It has been pressing down on my conscience ever since I handed your courier those papers. What you know about me it isn’t….it isn’t all that I am. There is something wrong with me and I don’t know how to get it fixed. Fuck me. I don’t know why I am confessing to you, but here I am. I just…I just…damn it! I just wanted to tell you that I can’t do this anymore. I can’t carry this weight any longer, and the weight you have put on me. I just can’t do it. Goodbye.”
“End of message.” The machine voice said. Chris pressed delete, and then stopped the machine from playing the rest of the messages. He began tapping his fingers. It had been a long time since he was responsible for someone’s death, and yet the sting wasn’t any different, nor the sense of heaviness on his chest that he felt. There was nothing that he could do about it though; Stan committed suicide, he did not force him into it, nor was he responsible for his more fiendish behavior. That seemed the more likely cause for why the man ended his life. Still though there was a part of him that felt partially responsible for his death regardless.
With a sigh, Chris grabbed his sunglasses and car keys. There was nothing he could about Stan’s death, so there was no further use of dwelling on it; there was much he still had to do, and the least he could is make certain that his former colleague didn’t kill himself in vain. He was about to walk out the door when he glanced down at his desk phone. He looked around and saw a rather hefty looking statue which he picked up and smashed the phone until there were only jagged pieces remaining. He didn’t want any loose ends.
The room was full with people; almost elbow to elbow. It was one of the more popular coffee spots in the Capital and it is usually where he met her, at least when it was busy in the daytime. When the coffee house was crowded it was like being invisible at night regardless if light was everywhere. Even though Chris wasn’t directly trying to hide, he preferred to blend into the background whenever he was doing business in public. He checked his watch. She was five minutes later than she usually was. He didn’t have the time to deal with tardiness, so as he picked up his cellphone to call her, he saw her making her way to him. She was very tall with long blonde hair, and light brown eyes. Men and women lusted after her body wherever she went, although they would have been shocked to know that she was a transsexual.
“Wow. What a crowd is in here today, huh?” The woman said with a smile, and even though Chris wasn’t returning her pleasantries she kept on smiling. “I figured you’d be in a foul mood after the events of the last day or so, which is why I brought my own coffee to speed up our meeting since I’m certain you have so much to do.”
“That’s why you’re the best, Sarah. You do realize that you’re late?” Chris asked as he leaned back in his chair, with what little room he had. The question didn’t even faze her; she opened her coffee and began to sip it.
“Don’t annoy me with your obsessive trifles, Chris; what does he want?” Sarah asked.
“He wants it all ASAP, and of course as discreetly as you can manage.” Chris said as he dropped the folder down in front of her. Sarah looked up at him and then picked up the folder and quickly thumbed through it. “Everything you need is in there; he told me to tell you that the usual agreement remains in place, no expense is to be spared in your investigation. However, he does want results quickly.”
“He does realize that poking my nose around congressional affairs is difficult, and highly expensive?” Sarah asked glancing up at Chris for a moment who grinned.
“I would be doing it myself, but he has other things he wants me to do.” Chris said which then made Sarah smile.
“Threatening me already; isn’t it a little too early in the morning for that, or are you fucking yourself once again?” Sarah asked as she put the folder into her purse.
“I don’t like using you, I don’t like you, and I always try to dissuade the Speaker from using you, but he always does.” Chris said firmly.
“I see. Was that before or after we were dating for a while that you found out I used to be a man?” Sarah asked. Chris leaned forward showing anger with his piercing eyes.
“No one wants to fuck a woman who used to be a man, which is what you’ll always be; some intelligent freak that the Speaker has an odd attachment to.” Chris whispered and then stood up to leave.
“Maybe the reason he has an attachment to me is because he’s my father, and I don’t remember any complaints when I was blowing you.” Sarah responded with a grin. Chris gazed at her trying to keep himself from lashing out at her.
“Contact me when you discover anything.” Chris said and then he pushed his way out of the coffee house. He got outside and lit a cigar, not caring where he was or what time of day it was since he usually only smoked after seven in the evening. He walked down the street towards his car. A memory of when he first met Sarah flashed across his memory. Immediately he had found her astoundingly beautiful, fun, and highly intelligent. The two of them had dated for over a couple of months, and fooled around sexually a lot, though one night the two of them were very drunk. Her inhibitions were so low that she couldn’t stop him from taking off her clothes and discovering that she was actually a he. Chris immediately vomited and stormed out of her apartment and never spoke to her, except when the Speaker insisted on it. He had described the situation to his boss, and he understood and disclosed that she was actually his son, but that she had skills that he needed and that Chris would have to learn to work with her.
So as much as Chris detested Sarah and the thought of working with her, he did what he had to for his career, like so many other people who worked in Washington D.C. and American politics. He yanked open the car door and got inside. After tossing his cigar out the window he turned the ignition and drove off. It wasn’t entirely public knowledge that the Speaker’s son had become a transsexual, but he didn’t go to any lengths to hide it. He wasn’t ashamed of his son’s decision, but he viewed it as none of the public’s business what his son chose to do with his sexuality. Chris had advised him to put distance and avoid Sarah, but the Speaker ignored his suggestions and told him when it came to his child, that Chris’ job requirements did not include that area of his life. Therefore Chris avoided the topic whenever he could and focused on politics and ensuring the success of the PJP, which looked as if it would be brighter than ever.
1pm-The White House
“I’ve asked all of you here so that together we can help navigate the country through this difficult time.” President Naran said to those seated around him in the Oval Office which included Speaker Baines, Senator Ramsey, Senator Greene, Senator Slater, Rep. Foster, and Rep. Danes. The President’s chief-of-staff Lisa Conners was also present. The Democrats appeared quite pleased to be there while the PJP delegates tolerated the meeting, although Gabriel looked like he was enjoying himself. Senator Slater, the lone Republican representative appeared quite neutral, as if his mind was a million miles elsewhere.
“On behalf of the PJP, I’d like to thank you for extending such a gracious invitation to my colleagues and I.” Gabriel said with a grin.
“It is my belief that only together will we be able to get to the bottom of this corruption and reassure the American people that we are indeed trustworthy.” President Naran continued.
“I agree wholeheartedly, Mr. President, so what do you have in mind?” Senator Greene asked. She was sitting closest to the president, since she was in effect the most powerful Democrat in congress, not to mention she and the president had a close working relationship and excellent personal friendship.
“I believe that the best way to see this matter through without dragging the entire congress through the ringer is to forgo any congressional committees that would be formed into investigating the matter, and instead have the Justice Department do the investigating. Having to comb through every member of Congress’ affairs will take a long time and be very messy, which affect how the American public see us. That is why this course of action that I am suggesting is a better, cleaner and quicker choice than dragging the whole matter out in front of all Americans.” The President said. The room immediately became quiet, even the Democratic leaders looked a little stunned at the President’s suggestion. Rep. Danes however appeared the most visibly flabbergasted with her wide opened eyes and almost gaping open mouth.
“No offense, Mr. President, but that’s ridiculous.” Ellen began. “Congress is there for the American people to provide a level of visible accountability whenever the federal government overreaches and makes horrific mistakes. We must have congressional committees so that the American people can see that their government isn’t turning a blind eye to corruption.”
“Didn’t you hear what the President said, Ellen?” Rep. Foster said. “He stated that the Justice Department would be taking point on this corruption scandal, of which they’re better equipped to do so. Therefore there wouldn’t be a congressional pony show to parade before the public.”
“What about transparency?” Senator Ramsey pointed out quickly. “For years everyone has been boasting about how transparent their government is, or administration; I don’t see how this action would be transparent to the public, or even to Congress at any level.”
“The Attorney General would give Congress monthly briefings on investigation, which would provide not only transparency to the members of the government, but to the public as well.” President Naran stated.
“But the Justice Department could withhold information as long as it wanted to, or only selectively brief Congress on what it wanted. I don’t see how that would quickly resolve this matter; the executive branch seems like it would be holding all of the cards in who gets to know what.” Ellen stated boldly.
“You’re such a conspiracy theorist, Ellen.” Senator Greene said with a deeply sarcastic smile, which Ellen did not take kindly to. “The President has said that each of us have the same goals; to get to the bottom of this corruption, and restore American confidence in the political system. No one is holding any particular cards, and despite what you may believe, no one is out to get you or your party.”
“Both she and Senator Ramsey have a point though.” Senator Slater said as he seemed to have awakened out of his lethargy. “Transparency isn’t alone the question, but rather this matter occurred in the U.S. Congress, not the executive branch, and although there are criminal acts that the Justice Department must look into, I would think that this affair is something for Congress to take care of, not the office of the President of the United States of America.”
“I can appreciate that line of thought, Senator Slater, but I am still asking that Congress forgoes those actions in lieu of something that would make the process easier to investigate, and keep the public in the loop but not right in the middle of it all. I’m not trying to usurp power from Congress, or try to hide anything from the public; I’m merely suggesting that we take a more circumspect approach to this matter, nothing more.” President Naran said keeping his tone reassuring.
“American politics isn’t easy, and it can get very messy at times, Mr. President.” Gabriel said as Ellen was about to interject again. “That is the point though; a group of ordinary American citizens preside over matters of state, and fight through all of the issues when necessary because that is what we are. We are a republic, not an assembly of states being dictated to by any one person. These hearings that will be held by committees will investigate the members of the House and the Senate, and the American people will have front row seats so they can see which members of their government betrayed them, and which ones remained loyal to their oaths.” There was silence after Gabriel finished for a few moments.
“Does that mean you are refusing my request?” President Naran asked cordially, but it was obvious that he was restraining his facial expression from showing something much more hostile.
“I can speak for the entire PJP when I say that we will not stand for sitting idly by in regards to rooting out corruption in Congress while the Justice Department holds their investigations. We welcome their assistance, but we will not yield our duty to them, which is not a burden, but rather an honorable privilege, albeit a grave and solemn one.” Gabriel responded. President Naran grinned.
“Could everyone leave the Speaker and I alone please?” President Naran said. For a moment no one moved, and then one by one everyone got out of their seats and sauntered out of the Oval Office. Eventually the president was sitting by his desk, and Gabriel was sitting a few feet across from him; both of them were pensive, but it was President Naran who appeared anxious and possibly irritated.
“What are you hoping to find with your committee investigations, Gabriel?” President Naran asked pointedly as expression hardened.
“The truth of course, Mr. President. Why, are you afraid that I may find something else besides the truth?” Gabriel shot back. President Naran chuckled.
“You amaze me. You still believe that our two parties are at war with each other, and nothing will satisfy you until you’ve what, eliminated both the Republicans and Democrats from office? I don’t believe that is an obtainable goal, so why don’t you stop fighting me at every turn that you get.” President Naran said. Gabriel leaned forward and his grin turned to a scowl.
“Mr. President, both of us know why I don’t care much for you either as a president or a politician, so let’s stop pretending. I will put it simply this way; your party is hiding something in regards to this corruption scandal, as you represent the only party that frowned upon the idea of investigation committees. Whether you deny it or not is irrelevant, but I assure you that we will eliminate all of the corruption in Congress, regardless of political party or any other factors. You can either be a help or a hindrance, but I assure you that any resistance against the actions taken by Congress concerning this scandal would not go well for your administration’s agenda, or the agenda of the Democratic party.” Gabriel said and then stood to his feet and buttoned his suit jacket.
“I suppose then we shall just have to see who is right, and who loses.” President Naran responded simply.
“Then you had best begin covering your party’s tracks quickly.” Gabriel said and then he walked out of the room to where he and his colleagues were waiting for him. He nodded at them, and they followed him through the White House halls.
“What did he want?” Ellen asked eagerly.
“He wanted me to relent apparently my war like campaign against the Democratic party for the sake of the country’s well-being.” Gabriel answered.
“What was your response?” Victoria asked.
“I told him to get his house in order because Congress would be knocking on it soon, and we wouldn’t be calling ahead first either.” Gabriel said.
“So then it’s full steam ahead then.” Ellen said smiling widely, although Victoria looked on uncomfortably.
“Indeed. We shall begin immediately, except now Ellen you are going to be the chief harasser of the F.B.I. rather than the liaison, due to their unlikely cooperation most likely because of that little meeting. Do you think you can handle that?” Gabriel asked, but he needn’t have to, because she was more than well enough equipped to deal with such an organization.
“I’ll begin by threatening their funding by a loss of a million every time they stonewall Congress’ investigations.” Ellen said with almost too much satisfaction.
“That’s the right attitude, but remember to not make enemies of the F.B.I., but rather the Justice Department if it becomes necessary. Whereas most of the F.B.I. remains when a new president comes or goes, the Justice Department can change drastically.” Gabriel pointed out.
“Perhaps we should have listened more closely to what the President was offering and saying instead of shutting him down so quickly.” Victoria posed. Ellen looked at her in amazement, but Gabriel gently grabbed her arm before she could say anything.
“The President had valid concerns, Victoria, but the only reason he brought them up was because he knows something that the Democratic Party has to hide which he doesn’t want us or the Republicans to find. We will be doing what’s best for the country, not for our political affiliations.” Gabriel said in an attempt to reassure the seemingly doubtful senator.
“I suppose you’re correct as usual, Gabriel, but I hate the idea of being at odds with the President; there’s just something about it that doesn’t sit well with me.” Victoria stated.
“Look at it this way,” Ellen began. “He’s choosing to be at odds with us; we are simply doing our jobs, and if that gets him riled up, then he has to work through that himself. Nothing we do can change his perspective.”
“That’s true.” Victoria said, and then there was silence between the three of them until they got outside the White House. “Well, I need to get back to my office; I have meetings scheduled with PJP senators for the rest of the day about their dealings with other members of congress. You two have fun taking on the Justice Department.” Victoria said and then walked down the steps to where her car was waiting for her.
“What should I do first?” Ellen asked as she and Gabriel watched Victoria’s car drive off.
“Go over to Justice and get all of the files they have on the corruption scandal, and if they refuse tell them your threat and then let me know.” Gabriel said as his car pulled up. Chris got out and opened the door for the Speaker.
“This is going to be fun.” Ellen said sarcastically.
“The idea is though not to have too much fun yet as we haven’t even gotten to the part we shall enjoy the most.” Gabriel said with a smirk and then he got into his car. Chris shut door after he got in as well and the vehicle drove off.
“How did your rendezvous with her go?” Gabriel asked Chris.
“It went well sir; she was her usual humorous self.” Chris stated and it was quite clear that he didn’t really want to talk about the experience.
“How long is it going to be until you’ve let that dreadful thing go, Chris?” Gabriel posed as he glanced over at his chief of-staff. For a few moments it seemed Chris was struggling to find the right words to say.
“I don’t know how long it’s supposed to take for one to get over such an occurrence, since I am assuming that they don’t happen frequently.” Chris stated stiffly.
“She told me that she got surgery and had it removed, that way nothing like that ever happens again.” Gabriel said.
“Good for her sir; I’m sure the next man won’t be as shocked as I was.” Chris said sounding even more awkward than before.
“Yes I suppose so.” Gabriel said and then silently studied Chris until he realized that his boss was staring at him.
“Did you need something sir?” Chris asked.
“Would you like to know why I asked you those questions, or would you prefer to remain ignorant, blissfully perhaps?” Gabriel asked, although Chris immediately didn’t look that excited to know the rhyme or reason to his employer’s line of questioning.
“It’s up to you sir.” Chris answered simply.
“The reason is rather simple actually. I found your weakness, which means others can as well.” Gabriel said. Chris looked at him confused and surprised. “I see that you are perplexed, but let me explain. Never have you appeared as easily uncomfortable, shocked, or disconcerted unless she is brought up. Your pride, Chris, is your greatest enemy. What happened, happened; best thing would be to let it go and move on, lest it trips you up. I would also suggest working on keeping your pride a little more hidden, because your enemies will sniff it out and twist it to their advantage. And trust me when I say that a man with broken pride is an ugly thing indeed.” Gabriel said and then turned his attention out the window.
“Thank you sir,” was all that Chris stammered out. He looked out his window and the more he thought of the Speaker’s words, the more they made sense. He had so much control over his emotions, but Chris had to admit that pride was something he had difficulty with, or rather arrogance. Sarah had wounded him deeply emotionally, but more than that she had made him look like a fool for not realizing that she was actually a she. There one thing he hated more than almost anything else; he hated looking like a fool, and he deeply despised people for making him appear as thus whenever it occurred. He supposed that would be something he would have to work on, if he wanted to go deeper into politics.
“I want to go over the remainder of my schedule for the day and tomorrow as well, and then you can have the rest of the evening off.” Gabriel said. Chris tried to not look surprised, but inside he was, as his boss never let him go early. Perhaps the man felt bad about his situation with his…former son and now daughter.
“Of course sir,” Chris said as he pulled out the computer tablet in his briefcase beside him.
“Do have any plans tonight?” Gabriel asked in an unusual conversational manner which he usually saved for donors and his colleagues, not for his help, despite how close the two of them were.
“Umm…yes sir, you could say that I have plans tonight.” Chris answered and then grinned.
* * *
A lamp plummeted to the ground as Chris cleared the desk off and placed the beautiful woman in his arms on it. The two of them were kissing passionately, while also attempting to take each other’s clothes off. The woman, Melissa, was a young aide to a Republican Jr. Senator with long brown hair, tan skin, and no common sense at all. When it came to his play sex, that was how Chris preferred his women; beautiful and naïve. He reserved his most passionate sexual energy for women who were intelligent and driven, possessing an iron will similar to his own. Play sex was fun and kept him satiated until the next serious woman came along. He would never describe himself as a womanizer; he merely looked at sex as a pleasure filled experience involving two people, at least in his case. He was always very forward about his intentions before and afterwards.
There were some women with whom this didn’t go over very well with before and then even after they were made aware of what he wanted. He had angered some women, but for the most part he had more numbers in his book to call for return sex, which was just fine with him. Melissa was fine with the casual sex, and as a matter of fact she was quite good at it and had broken several hearts already in congressional circles. He skin was soft and smooth, and not only that but her…
Chris’ mind suddenly stopped. He jerked his head away from Melissa, who tried to pull him back towards her. He wondered who could be bothering him this late at night.
“Just ignore it; I want you inside of me.” Melissa whispered to Chris, who couldn’t agree more and went back to kissing her passionately. As he was taking off her bra, the doorbell rang followed by more knocking, much louder this time.
“Fuck!” Chris swore under his breath.
“Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?” Melissa asked impatiently. Chris scowled at her.
“We’ll get to it eventually.” Chris said and then walked out of his study and over to the front door. His belt was off and his pants unbuttoned, but he didn’t seem to notice or care as his shirt was off as well exposing his very sculpted upper body. Hot sex was one activity he couldn’t stand being interrupted. He unlocked the two locks on the front door and yanked it open and was immediately angry and surprised with who was standing there.
“At least I interrupted before you almost reached an orgasm.” Sarah said with a smile.
“I can see discreetly is a foreign word for you.” Chris said as he eyed Sarah with severe irritation. “This won’t take long, just wait a few more seconds.” Chris said and then Melissa came from around the corner fully dressed carrying her things looking quite angry.
“I don’t do threesome’s with another woman. So don’t waste my time again unless it’s a man coming to the party late.” Melissa said in a huff and then stormed out of the apartment and down the stairs until she was out of sight.
“Should I call her back for the threesome?” Sarah asked trying to contain her laughter and wide smile.
“Shut up, and please get inside.” Chris said. Sarah walked in and Chris shut door and locked it. Without saying a word he marched right back to his study and began looking around. Sarah followed him and stood in the doorway watching as he tore up his study.
“Did she steal something of yours, or are you taking your anger out on your own possessions?” Sarah asked. Chris merely held up his hand for her to be quiet as he continued to look, eventually he found a listening device inside of a pencil holder. He opened his window and threw the device as far as he could and then shut the window.
“Now, what do you have for me?” Chris asked as he grabbed his shirt and put it on.
“It’s nice to know that you haven’t lost your touch.” Sarah commented as she reached into her purse.
“I figured she was playing dumb just to get inside, but I would have preferred to have the sex than just settle for a listening bug. Thanks for ruining a long night of potentially great sex, and hopefully this will be the last time you surprise me at that particular moment.” Chris said as he sat down behind his desk; Sarah sat across from him and tossed him a large manila envelope.
“I doubt you will be so fortunate. Give that to him, I have a feeling that he will like what he sees, and it should give him the leverage to get everything that he has ever been dreaming of.” Sarah stated as she watched Chris wide eyed rummage through the many papers inside of the envelope.
“I’m surprised that you were able to get all of this so quickly; but I’m assuming that it’s going to cost him a fortune?” Chris asked as he put all of the papers back inside.
“Of course, but nothing he can’t spare not to mention my own personal fees and expenses. So if that’s all, I will leave you to plan your strategy.” Sarah said as she got up and left the study; Chris was following behind. He unlocked and opened the door; Sarah was about to exit when she paused and gazed at Chris.
“You realize that aside from being able to make babies, I am a woman through and through. I know what pleases a man.” Sarah said as she got closer to Chris and as she reached for his shoulders, he grabbed her hands and squeezed tightly. From her facial expression, it was obvious she was in pain as Chris continued to squeeze tighter.
“I’m not gay. You are a man and will always be a man no matter how much you hide it. You will never have me, and I doubt someone will truly want to be with someone as damaged as you when they discover your secret. Get out.” Chris said softly and then released Sarah’s hands. Her eyes were filled with tears and for a moment it seemed as if she was going to break down and cry, but she breathed in deeply with her head high and walked away.
Chris gently shut the door and locked it. He looked down at his pants and noticed that he had an erection and it sickened him. The problem was that he liked Sarah the woman he thought of in his mind who wasn’t a man, but in reality she was a man and there was no way that he could be with a man, no matter what his body told him. Perhaps he would get some therapy for it so he could find a way to finally get over her, or him rather. He pulled out his phone and dialed the number for Gabriel. The phone rang a few times before he picked up.
“Mr. Speaker, I have something that I need to share with you immediately. Where can I find you?” Chris asked as he looked down at the manila folder.
“The session will now come to order.” Gabriel stated as he pounded his gavel a few times. The crowd present, along with all of the media immediately became quiet. On the panel along with Gabriel was the House Minority Leader Thomas Danes, and several other members of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and PJP. It had been a week since Sarah had given the information to Chris, who had then briefed Gabriel on the contents of the folder that he had been given. The room was filled to the brim as everyone had come to see today’s opening of the Special House Committee corruption investigation. Chris was sitting down behind Gabriel waiting patiently as he took note of all the people present. His eyes fell across the crowd and he see saw many familiar faces from the press and government, but then he caught a glimpse of Sarah.
A part of Chris smiled; for she had come to see what her work had reaped, not to mention seeing her father in action on such an investigatory committee was akin to the NFL Superbowl for recent modern politics. His eyes then rolled over to where the first testifier of the investigation was sitting with his counsel behind a rather neat looking desk. From what Chris could tell, the man appeared overly calm and cool, as if he was clueless as to why he had been called in to testify. The man was actually quite powerful and wealthy, and one of the key supporters of the Democratic Party, not to mention a major financier. Republicans had been trying to take him down for years, but they never ever had anything on him, which is why it was a mystery to everyone why the Speaker had called him in. Only Gabriel and Chris knew the real truth as to why he was here, but everyone else would soon know as well.
“As Speaker of the House of U.S. Representatives and Chairman for this committee, I would like to welcome everyone on this day March 1st, 2035. Thank you to all of the committee members for participating in the goal to eliminate corruption from the U.S. Government, and to Mr. Blaine Zetteross for being here today to testify before this committee.” Gabriel began saying.
“It is my honor to be here, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that I will be able to be of some help for my country. Thank you.” Mr. Zetteross stated. He was a man in his early fifties with graying and slightly thinned hair. He was dressed in a black pinstripe Hugo Boss suit. His smile didn’t hide his incredible self-confidence but rather showcased it; as if the man had nothing to ever be scared or concerned of.
“Yes, we’re all thankful for your immense patriotism that you have showed this country by heavily donating to the Democratic Party for the past ten years.” Gabriel said still smiling as was Mr. Zetteross.
“There isn’t anything wrong with assisting a bunch of people that believe what you believe in, along with the larger portion of the American public, who decidedly voted in President Naran for a second term. So yes, I have fully and enthusiastically supported the Democratic Party for many years.” Mr. Zetteross responded happily as he leaned back comfortably in his chair.
“So you would admit that you and President Naran are good acquaintances or good friends?” Gabriel inquired.
“I would say that we are good acquaintances, as we have met for several charity balls and fundraisers. He has also been kind enough to invite my family and I over to the White House on a few occasions.” Mr. Zetteross answered.
“And just for the record, Mr. Zetteross, you are a multi-billionaire with majority holdings in several media companies, and you are also the CEO of an international hedge fund called Blue Diamond which is responsible for over trillions of dollars of various investors and investments. Is all of that an accurate depiction of your overall professional career?” Gabriel inquired.
“I suppose that will suffice, although you seemed to have severely simplified what I do, Mr. Speaker.” Mr. Zetteross responded with a small laugh. Gabriel laughed a little himself, although he made it sound a tad bit forced.
“Yes, Mr. Zetteross, I suppose that I did. Have you ever heard of a small stock investing group called GreenSky?” Gabriel asked as his expression suddenly became more serious. Mr. Zetteross tried to hide his surprise, but Chris smirked upon seeing his hidden grimace.
“I do not believe that I am aware of that company, no, Mr. Speaker.” Mr. Zetteross answered hesitantly.
“I see. Well then, have you ever heard of another investor group called Wade&Wade?” Gabriel asked.
“No, Mr. Speaker, I do not recall hearing that name before.” Mr. Zetteross answered.
“I find that very odd, considering that your name appeared on their earnings report for the past five years, along with GreenSky as well. Can you tell me how your name got on those reports, Mr. Zetteross?” Gabriel asked. Mr. Zetteross looked like he was about to speak, and then he took a drink of water and then wiped his forehead off.
“Ah, I suppose that it would have to have been forged, because I do not recall receiving money from those to companies at all, nor do I recall ever receiving information pertaining to the function or awareness of those two companies.” Mr. Zetteross answered.
“Mr. Zetteross,” Gabriel began saying as he dropped the folder he was hanging onto and took his glasses off. He leaned forward on his elbows and gazed directly at Mr. Zetteross. “Do not lie to me or anyone else on this committee again for this point on, are we clear?” The room had become deathly quiet as everyone watched the exchange turn from light to heavy within a few minutes.
“Very well,” Mr. Zetteross simply responded.
“Now, I shall continue.” Gabriel said as he put his glasses back on and picked the folder back up. “Were you aware that these two companies, of which you were receiving personal income numbering in the billions, were heavily populated by members of the Republican and Democratic parties and three members of the PJP? By that I mean, did you realize that the money you were profiting from came from U.S. Congressmen and women trading information, some of which was top secret, to make money off of the stock market and the occasional crime and terrorist organization?” A number of gasps echoed throughout the room. Gabriel didn’t bother hammering down with his gavel quite yet; he wanted people across the world to hear the shock and surprise inside of the room. Mr. Zetteross was about to pass out.
“Umm…I did not know that the information that the members of Congress were…selling was illegal. I was under the understanding and belief that they were operating within the bounds of the law, and I was completely unaware that they were breaking rules or procedures of this country. If I had known, then I would have certainly have informed the F.B.I. and cut off all of my professional ties with them.” Mr. Zetteross said.
“I don’t believe you, sir, and do you want to know why? Because, twelve years ago you argued against the law prohibiting any government official from selling and therefore profiting off of any information that they are privy to while being employed by the U.S. Government. You lobbied for a long time in favor of voting down the law, but lost. I also don’t believe you, because of the thirty million that you donated to President Naran’s reelection efforts and Super Pacs, twenty-five million came from profits from those two specific companies that you wired specifically to those organizations. Is this your signature?” Gabriel asked as he held up a piece of paper.
“I can’t really see…” Mr. Zetteross was saying and then an individual in a suit took the paper and brought it over for him to see. After a few moments of nervous observation, he nodded his head. “Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is my signature.”
“Well I’m glad that we got that out of the way, Mr. Zetteross. Now, before I allow my colleague, Representative Danes, to ask his questions, I have one more topic I would like to address. As this signed document shows that you were indeed aware that the money you were profiting off of private federal and top secret information, were you also aware that President Naran’s Chief-of -Staff was organizing these two companies?” Gabriel asked.
“No I didn’t know that, Mr. Speaker.” Mr. Zetteross answered quickly.
“Not only were you aware that he was running these two companies, but you two go all the way back to college and have been helping each other out ever since. Is it true that he came up with the idea to sell information from the government, and relied on you to hide the profits and then quietly dispense them. All he had to do was come up with the information and recruit some members of Congress so that he could acquire as much widespread and detailed information. Your skills and knowledge of the business world most likely aided you in this regard, and your rich media empire helped you cover it up. Am I wrong yet, Mr. Zetteross?” Gabriel asked, but the man was speechless. “I’ll take that as a no, so I shall continue. Mr. Zetteross, are you aware of a Mr. John Sorn?”
“No I am not, Mr. Speaker?” Mr. Zetteross answered as we wiped down his forehead again which was dripping with perspiration.
“I had the F.B.I. track him down, and he gave some interesting testimony regarding his job description at these two companies, GreenSky and Wade&Wade. According to his testimony he was hired by the CEO as a forensic accountant to make certain that the money disappeared forever and could never be traced where it came from or where it went once it went through his hands. He was actually quite successful for according to what he said was nine years, and was kind enough to provide documentation to back up his statements. Did you hire this man?” Gabriel asked.
“No, Mr. Speaker, I did not. As I have mentioned already I was not the CEO of these two companies, and was only a participating member that was clearly deceived about the true nature of the business that these two companies were doing.” Mr. Zetteross said.
“Lying won’t save you, Mr. Zetteross, and the F.B.I. officials can tell you who are waiting for this hearing to be over before they arrest you. They were kind enough to grant this committee the privilege of questioning you before they question you themselves. However, I digress. Now, since you didn’t hire him, would it be safe to say that the President’s Chief-of-Staff and your close friend hired Mr. John Sorn?” Gabriel asked.
“If you say so, Mr. Speaker?” Mr. Zetteross stated and then turned to talk with his two lawyers next to him.
“I wasn’t stating that was the truth, I was merely asking if it was, but you are clearly either ignorant or too shocked to give me the correct answer so I will help you out. According to this form that I hold in my hand, he was hired by then U.S. Senator Luke Naran. You may commonly know him as our current president.” At that moment the room erupted into chaos. Gabriel didn’t even bother getting people to be quiet. He allowed the noise to hang for about thirty seconds before getting everyone to calm down.
“Alright everyone calm down. Now for the record, Mr. Sorn will be appearing before this committee tomorrow to continue that line of questioning. For the time being he is being held by the F.B.I., but I do have a written statement by him for the members of the committee. It will be available to the press by the end of the day. Now, Mr. Zetteross, I have one final question to ask you, and please don’t lie to me again. Were you aware of the President’s previous involvement in these two companies?” Gabriel asked, and the room went virtually silent aside from the clicking of cameras and flashes going off. Mr. Zetteross was gazing at the desk as if searching for the right answer.
“Yes I was aware of his involvement. It was Senator Naran and Lisa Conner’s idea to create these two companies which would be under an umbrella corporation in one of my side hedge funds, hidden quite thoroughly. They were ghost CEO’s, but it was my name that was the official CEO. Sena…President Naran dropped out of the group though when he announced his candidacy to run for president, so Lisa remained the sole ghost CEO.” Mr. Zetteross answered.
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Zetteross. I now yield to my colleague the Congressman from the state of Illinois.” Gabriel said and then switched his microphone off.
“Well done, sir.” Chris whispered into Gabriel’s ear, who grinned.
“Oh this is just the opening show.” Gabriel whispered back. He then sat and listened as the remaining members of the committee grilled Mr. Zetteross for another three hours. After which the hearing came to a close and the F.B.I. took him into their custody. Gabriel, Chris, Ellen, and Victoria were watching from afar as the media mogul was pushed into a car and driven away.
“So what does this mean, Gabriel?” Ellen asked quietly.
“It means that the PJP has the potential to have a majority in the senate, and a clear shot at the White House in the next presidential election. It means that we have moved forward into history at last.” Gabriel replied and then all of them walked down and gathered into an SUV and drove back to the Speaker’s office. With as much that happened everyone was relatively quiet on the way back, aside from texting and answering phone calls. Eventually they arrived at the Speaker’s office, and outside of it were a swarm of news reporters.
“Does this come with the new territory?” Victoria asked uneasily as she gazed at the voracious looking women and men who were packed up against each other shoulder to shoulder.
“Come now, Victoria, don’t tell me you’re camera shy?” Ellen asked with a warm smile.
“Not really, but I don’t like the idea of being mobbed either.” Victoria answered.
“Chris, you and Rogers lead the way, we shall follow. Shall we, ladies?” Gabriel said as he opened the door and stepped out to a raucous cacophony of shouts, questions, and camera flashes. He waved and smiled as he walked into the building with Ellen and Victoria right behind him. He didn’t bother responding to the barrage of questions, which he would answer in due time. All five of them made it into the building without being molested, and to the Speaker’s office which was buzzing in almost pandemonium.
“Mr. Speaker you have messages from the several Democratic, Republican, and PJP senators, representatives, governors, officials, news agencies, business leaders, and even a couple of film producers.” Adrienne stated sounding a tad bit flustered, but Gabriel appeared quite pleased.
“I think I shall speak with the film producers first.” Gabriel stated looking quite smug; both Victoria and Ellen rolled their eyes.
“Very well, sir, but before you do I have the President holding for you.” Adrienne stated and everyone quieted down somewhat, but Gabriel did not appear stressed at all.
“Patch it through to my office. Will all three of you join me, please?” Gabriel motioned to Ellen, Victoria, and Chris. They nodded and all four of them walked into Gabriel’s office. Chris shut the door and stood by anxiously. Victoria and Ellen sat in their usual seats across from Gabriel who was seated at his desk. He took a deep breath and hit the speaker button on the phone. “Mr. President, what can I do for you?”
“You think that you’re going to get away with this, Gabriel.” President Naran stated. Gabriel was silent as he considered the threat. “I know that you obtained this information through less reputable sources, and I promise you that I will discredit every single one of them; I will not be taken down by you, or any other thug.”
“What did you have in mind then, Mr. President, because if you missed today’s show, I highly doubt that you would survive an impeachment hearing.” Gabriel posed. He was tapping his fingers together listening very intently.
“Perhaps, not everyone has to go down with the ship. Perhaps, most of everyone else goes down, but a few survive.” President Naran stated softly. Gabriel continued tapping his fingers. He looked up at Ellen and Victoria who somewhat confused, but when he and Chris locked gazes both men knew instantly what was going on.
“These survivors, Mr. President, do they pass on the torch then willingly, or are they going to put up a fight?” Gabriel asked.
“I’m certain that they could be persuaded to pass on the torch as long as certain guarantees were made.” President Naran replied.
“This torch that we’re talking about, how bright will it glow?” Gabriel asked.
“I think it will glow just enough to cast a strong light.” The President responded.
“Not good enough; I want the light to dominate substantially, otherwise there will be no survivors.” Gabriel said forcefully as he leaned forward towards the microphone. Ellen and Victoria were still looking mildly confused.
“Very well,” President Naran said after a short pause.
“I will send Chris over to your deputy chief-of-staff as soon as possible. Try to remain afloat until then, sir.” Gabriel said and then hung up the phone. He leaned back in his chair with his hands folded and began to ponder what he had just done.
“What were you and the President just talking about?” Victoria asked.
“Chris fill them in, I’m busy thinking.” Gabriel answered. Both Ellen and Victoria seemed mildly taken aback by their colleague’s abrupt terseness.
“The Speaker and the President were just negotiating terms for the President to remain in office, while the PJP becomes the majority in the Senate and acquires an even larger majority in the House.” Chris answered.
“Is that true, Gabriel?” Victoria asked sounding almost hurt.
“Will it work, Chris?” Ellen asked. “Forget the public for the moment, but can we really swing the law, procedure, and all of the parties to get behind this idea without taking any damage to ourselves?”
“It will be tricky, but with the President’s support I believe everything should work itself out, at least theoretically. The Republicans are a little bit of wildcard, but with some new political power, I think that will satisfy them.” Chris answered.
“But…” Victoria was saying but then Ellen cut her off.
“Fantastic. What can I do, to begin galvanizing the PJP House members?” Ellen asked enthusiastically. Chris was about to respond, but Victoria stood up and put her hands firmly on Gabriel’s desk and looked directly into his eyes.
“To be simple and call it politics would be stupid, Victoria, so I won’t. I am simply taking a situation and turning it to our advantage, which is a part of our jobs.” Gabriel said as he finally looked up at Victoria with just as much of an equal gaze, but she didn’t relent.
“I didn’t sign up for dirty politics when I joined the PJP. The President should be removed from office and a probe done to look into every member of his cabinet along with all of his staff, maybe even the Vice-President. We shouldn’t be trading our integrity merely for more seats in Congress! You assured me that none of us would have to break our principles.” Victoria stated firmly.
“None of us have, Victoria.” Gabriel stated softly as he too stood to his feet, appearing quite intimidating. Victoria removed her hands from the desk and backed up a hair suddenly feeling quite small. “Your little make believe world of political perfection only exists in your mind, not in reality. Politics isn’t for boy scouts or church girls, not if you really want to make change happen, not if you really want to make a difference. Politics is war, and wars are won or lost, not by being naively innocent, but by being brutally and intellectually efficient with all resources and advantages given. I have made several judgment calls not in the name of God, religion, peace, love, or even the fucking betterment of humanity; but rather to raise this party up, a party that will change this nation and the people in it. Real politicians want power, but great politicians crave power. I choose to be a great politician, Victoria, and you can choose to be whatever you want, but do not condescend and judge those whom you are too afraid to join.” Gabriel finished saying and then sat back down and began to think once more, as if nothing had happen.
“Very well, Gabriel, if that’s what you believe, then I believe it is time for me to retire from politics.” Victoria stated with a hint of sadness.
“But you could be Senate Majority Leader, Victoria. If you stay you could change so much.” Ellen said, but it was clear from Victoria’s expression that she would not change her mind.
“You’re very kind, Ellen, but I don’t agree with party politics, or politics anymore. I don’t want power and I certainly don’t crave it. I think I’ll be a college professor. I will announce my resignation at the end of the week, that should allow all of the interested parties enough time to find a suitable replacement. Well I won’t keep any of you; have a good day.” Victoria said and then turned to walk out of the office. As her hand touched the door knob Gabriel called out to her.
“Everyone craves power, Victoria, especially women.” Gabriel said. Victoria didn’t even turn to say anything, she simply opened the door and walked out. Chris shut it behind her. The room became silent for a few moments.
“Who do you think will become the new Senate Majority Leader?” Ellen asked.
“I don’t want to be bothered with such trifles right now; they’ll work themselves out fine, I have to figure out everything else. Why don’t you begin to get a feel in the House for what all of the representatives are thinking, I need all of the information I can get.” Gabriel stated.
“Of course, Gabriel.” Ellen said. She looked like she was about to say something else but thought better of it. She quietly stood up and walked out of the door. Chris shut it behind her after he gave her a reassuring look and then locked it. He slowly walked over to Gabriel’s desk and sat down. The two men sat silently for minutes.
“I need you to see her again, Chris.” Gabriel said as he shifted his eyes to him. Chris breathed in deeply and nodded his head.
“Of course sir.” Chris simply responded.
“I need her to find a way to help the survivors look completely innocent regardless of the blatant evidence.” Gabriel said.
“I will let her know, sir.” Chris said.
“President Naran will be a useless president from this day on; I will have all of the power, but he will still be president which is what he wants most of all. In the Midterm elections the Democrats will lose power in droves as people will flock to us and the Republicans, and then a few years after that, I will announce my candidacy to run for president, and I shall win it.” Gabriel said as he smiled at Chris, and Chris couldn’t help but smile himself. That would mean that he would become chief-of-staff to the President of the United States of America, and in effect become the second most powerful man in the world.
“I’ll leave right away, and then I’ll swing over to the White House after I’m done.” Chris said and then got up and left Gabriel to his thoughts. As he entered his office, he glanced at the Speaker and could swear that he saw him say the words President Gabriel Baines. Chris shut the door; he liked the sound of that title.
Chris was tapping his fingers waiting in the usual spot for Sarah to arrive, but this time he wasn’t angry in the slightest that she was thirty minutes late. He was dreaming of all he would be doing as chief-of-staff for an American president. That’s when Sarah plopped down in the chair across from him beaming with happiness, which didn’t displease him for the first time in a long time since he had known her secret.
“I’m used to seeing the irritated look, not this I want to fuck somebody look. What’s got your dick thick?” Sarah asked.
“You should know as your hard work is what brought about the downfall of the Democratic Party, but that’s not why I asked you to come. He wants you to find a way to make certain that the evidence exonerates the President, and these members of his cabinet. Here are all of the necessary details.” Chris said as he handed her a manila folder.
“Same as before?” Sarah asked as she stuck the folder inside of her purse.
“Of course.” Chris responded.
“Great, then I suppose I will be off.” Sarah said. Chris grasped her hand though before she could get up.
“Please wait, Sarah,” Chris said. Hesitantly Sarah sat back down and waited uncertainly. Chris cleared his throat.
“I’m not gay,” Chris began.
“Yes, we have already established that.” Sarah stated as she rolled her eyes. “Anything else?”
“Yes, but please let me talk.” Chris said. Sarah sighed and motioned him to go on. “I am however very attracted to women who are intelligent and strong willed and know what they want. Before I knew that you were man, I thought that you could be the woman that I could fall in love with, and take along with me on this great adventure of life. But with my political future it would have never worked out. I love you, Sarah, I do truly, but I am not in love with Ethan who you really are. I am sorry that I cannot overlook that, but my mind cannot rectify it otherwise if I could then…”
“Shh.” Sarah said and covered Chris’ mouth with her fingers. There were tears in her eyes and she was smiling. “Thank you, Chris.” She said, and then she stood up and walked over to Chris and kissed him on the forehead and then walked out of the coffee shop. Chris felt better than he believed he would have when he played the conversation out in his head. He sighed and leaned back in his chair grinning.
“What a woman,” Chris said softly.