Saturday, December 08, 2007


President Shaw was about to enter the Press Briefing Room for a quick chat about Reynolds’ win, when Jack Hill, his detail lead, abruptly grabbed his arm and led him away. The angry noises Shaw could hear from Hill’s earpiece told him something was very wrong, even before Hill said a word.

Inside the briefing room, things were even more surreal. Cell phones rang in a dozen places at once, and as newspeople answered them they saw every exit closed off by men with heavy weapons. The regular White House employees had been removed, and the men who replaced them looked very angry indeed. A man most had never seen before stepped to the podium:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the inconvenience, but this is an emergency situation and we require your immediate cooperation.

“There has been a shooting involving the media, and I’m afraid we must require everyone to sit down and keep your hands in plain sight.”

For a moment, there was a stunned silence, prolonged as reporters began to realize the deadly earnest of the men holding guns on them.

Across town, Heather Connolly was about to enter her car to go to her Senate office, when her detail lead was stopped by a large group of Secret Service agents Heather had seen before at Camp David. Her pique at the delay was vented at the Secret Service, who Connolly found a hindrance and too sure of their importance to the world. The she saw Sam Wilson come from the group towards her, walking with a grim urgency that she knew meant bad news.

“Let me guess, bomb scare at the Hill?” she suggested, but Wilson ignored the remark.

“Someone shot Reynolds and Green and damn near everyone in a block’s range” he said bluntly. “No word on their condition, yet, so we’re still going to the Senate but no press appearances for now.”

“Why the hell not?” demanded Connolly, “Does Shaw want to control the spin on this?”

“It’s not that,” replied Wilson. “The guys who did this had media credentials and a CNN van. The Service thinks they may not be done.”

For the first time in many days, Heather Connolly was at a loss for a reply.

Friday, December 07, 2007


President-elect Donald Reynolds met in the second-floor foyer with Vice-President-elect Green, as a small entourage led the way. Over the protests of his detail, Reynolds wanted “low-key” security, something no one commented on – publicly.

“Hey Carol” asked Don, “where do you want to go for breakfast? I’m thinking I want to try Franky’s down the street. I’ve heard they have awesome pastries.”

“Don, aren’t we supposed to meet the press at the Verizon Center?” asked Carolyn.

“They can wait a few, while I enjoy a good bear claw” replied Reynolds. And with that, the party took the stairs to a side door and found 9th Street. Not 50 feet away, a news crew jumped to its feet, and Reynolds groaned. Carolyn chuckled.

“Hey, invite them along” she suggested.

“Good idea”, agreed Reynolds. He waved at the crew, a woman and five men wearing CNN International shirts. Carolyn thought it was odd that they carried three cameras, but Reynolds now seemed elated, despite his earlier attempt to duck the media. The woman was saying something about a building, and Carolyn realized she wanted it as a backdrop for the interview.

“Now, just a few quick questions, please” smiled the woman, who seemed exotic to Carolyn, olive in complexion and a little stilted in English. Frank was walking back towards their van, which had an open back door with cables running to and from the cameras.

“Remember to smile”, said the woman, and the men raised their cameras in unison.

Something clicked in Carolyn’s mind as she saw Frank pull out his weapon, yelling “Gun!”

There was a heavy sound like ripping metal, and something slammed into Carolyn’s shoulder, spinning her and slamming her backwards. Her head bounced off the sidewalk as she heard automatic gunfire from everywhere, and the world went black.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Duck in Repose

Robert Shaw was enjoying himself, munching on a croissant while tossing bits of the bread to his collie. Across the table, next to the space recently vacated by the President’s wife, Alan Pearsall tried to decide whether he should try to maintain a dignified air, or play along with the President’s playful mood.

“Welcome to weird-out Wednesday, Al” remarked President Shaw, to which Pearsall did not reply.

“Yep, every loon and moron with a microphone and satellite feed to a TV station will be dissecting the election for the nation, with some of the wackiest conspiracy theories you ever heard of”, continued Shaw.

“Mr. President, you’ve been looking at Kos again?” inquired the Vice-President.

“Well, it does make for some good comedy” said Shaw, “and you should be flattered, Al. They think that since I’m leaving office, you’re going to ‘control’ the next President just like you ‘controlled’ me.”

“How is that?” asked Pearsall. “I have no connection to Governor Reynolds at all.”

“Ahhhh,” sighed Shaw, “but that just ‘proves’ that you’re subtle and devious, and so on.

“Now me, they still say it’s all luck that I won two terms and had a good run and all. That, or an evil plot of your machination.”

“Wait a minute, now I’m confused” said Pearsall. “Is that one from Kos, or CBS?”

“Well, they do both like the theory” admitted Shaw, “but it’s a bit more coherent than Helen Thomas these days, so I gotta guess it started with Kos.”

“So, anything special today?” asked Pearsall, though he knew the schedule already. Shaw sometimes liked to shake things up.

“As scheduled, we will meet President-elect Reynolds and Carol Green at 10, take some photos and start folks seeing the new POTUS in the Oval Office. Think I can sneak Bingo into the pics?” asked the President, as he scratched behind the collie’s ears.

“What about the Speaker’s request?” asked Pearsall, asking about the Speaker of the House Panini’s demand on television Tuesday, that President Shaw come to the House to answer questions from the Armed Services Committee about the Global Warming effects from military operations. Panini had implied that she would attempt to subpoena the President if he did not volunteer a visit.

“That’s why I’m in a good mood, Al” remarked the President. “In just a few months, the angry monkey parade will have a new Grand Marshal, and I can get back to being a regular guy again.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Scorned Woman

Heather Connolly glared across the breakfast table at her husband and campaign manager. She felt a strong need to break something or hurt someone, but Jeff Connolly had warned her that the media might look badly on a show of temper after losing the election.

“Look at Gore”, he warned. “He was so nasty after losing Florida, no one remembered his good points and in oh-four he had to sit out the election. Don’t be like Gore, sweetie.”

Heather hated being called ‘sweetie’, but Sam Wilson dragged Jeff away before she could launch an effective evisceration of her husband. Heather was not especially happy with Sam either, but one of Sam’s qualities was that no one could stay mad with him.

“Look Heather,” began Sam, “for right now we have to cut our losses. The sharks are looking for any holes in the results-“

“Like Pennsylvania? Like New Jersey?” shot back Heather. Losing those two states seemed impossible to her, which meant a fast one by somebody on Reynolds’ campaign. That, or else Shaw and Pearsall had played some games behind the scenes to make a difference.

“Like anything that can help us.” Replied Sam. “But this one wasn’t close enough for one state to break Reynolds. Derek has accepted it, hell even Duke is facing up to it. I know it’s a hard hit, but maybe you need-“

“-a drink” retorted Senator Connolly.

“and by the way,” she said as she shot Sam a glare across the top of her glass, “do NOT ever, ever talk to me again about meeting with Reynolds and Green. The only way I want to see either of them face-to-face, is when I find something to subpoena them to appear before the Senate.”

“Geez, already thinking impeachment” started Jeff Connolly, but Heather silenced him with another look.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Day of Decision

Carolyn Green checked her appearance in the mirror for the eighth time that morning, still not accustomed to what seemed banefully narcissistic, but which her staff claimed was one of those critical areas of public approval, especially now. She sighed inwardly as she wondered, again, just how she had let herself be talked into taking on this challenge. Well sister, she told herself, you said you wanted to make a difference and by God, you’ll do that one way or another.

Carolyn did not turn on the television that morning; she already knew what the news was saying. The election results had been mercifully predictable, which no doubt annoyed the media types. If God was truly merciful, Carolyn mused, He’d let America have some boredom for a while. President Shaw had called in his congratulations just after Texas made the win official, and – as expected – four hours before Derek Jordan conceded the Presidency to Don Reynolds. Governor Reynolds enjoyed a pleasant phone conversation with Senator Jordan, which was more than Carolyn could say; her attempt to reach her counterpart, Heather Connally, was met with a series of lame excuses by her Chairman, Sam Wilson. Sam was a good guy but a bad liar, and Carolyn could tell Heather was bitter from the loss. Horace Duke, the party chair, called around 5 AM with an ‘explanation’ about why Heather Connally was not available for public appearances or to talk with Ms. Green, but the whole tone smacked of hypocrisy, and calling her private line at 5 AM was simply a cheap shot. Connally would return to life as a United States Senator, where Carolyn had no doubt she would obstruct every move made by President Reynolds.

Carolyn looked around to make sure everything was ready; the hotel room would be tended by Secret Service as well as the 4-star staff, but Carolyn hated to leave a mess or forget things. Her own campaign chairman, John Lake, had set up a breakfast meeting for President-elect Reynolds and herself, along with party Chair Fred Barrett, and of course a crowd of press. Thus the need to act and look perfect, today of all days. Carolyn left the bedroom and nodded to Frank Gorshin, the head of her Secret Service detail. Frank was so good at so many things, that Carolyn had more than once asked him to become her Chief of Staff, but he had always told her he’d have to think about it. Frank brushed a cuff with a subtle movement of his hand, issuing a fast click signal to alert the team that the VP-elect was on the move.