The Senator By David A O'Neil

Charles … Charlie. Snap out of it, I need you. Wake up, Charlie. Wake up!”

Sarah Paige stood looking at the sorry mass of humanity lying prone across the filthy covers that spread across the bed, trailing down to the floor which was covered with debris and empty whisky bottles. The mass—which once had been the dapper and influential political advisor Charles Simpson—remained inert, not responding to either Sarah’s aggravated voice or her prodding his shoulder.
The Senator
The Senator By David A O'Neil

At his peak, Charles Simpson had been the chief of staff to what many identified as one of the most powerful and influential United States Senators, Sam Irvin, the Republican Senator who represented the state of Tennessee and who was Sarah’s uncle. Irvin had been assassinated by the a cabal of conspirators—identified as Hydra—in their quest for total control of the world’s supply of petroleum. His death had been a part of the galvanizing fuel—along with the death of her new-found love, Scot Treadwell—that drove an outraged Sarah to seek revenge by annihilating the remaining members of the cabal.

Simpson was a native of the Volunteer State, growing up in the mountains near Newport in the eastern part of the state, attending services and being baptized at the local Southern Baptist Church. Being relatively short and of frail stature, Charles eschewed sports and spent most of his time reading and studying history. A brilliant student, he was especially fond of the Revolutionary period and was well schooled in the development process of the newly-formed United States. Among his favorite readings were the Federalist Papers and the works of John Adams, especially the works regarding the Constitutional Congress, of which Adams’ writings were the most complete account of the difficulties the founders of the United States experienced in forming the Constitution of the United States. He had developed considerable respect for men such as Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. Among his heroes were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. The biographies and the political philosophy of these founding fathers did much to shape Simpson’s personal political outlook. His constant studying enabled him to earn a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where he became a member of the Mensa Club as well as conservative political groups. Like most men who came from the mountains of Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas, Charles believed that his word was his bond and that lying in politics was akin to stealing from the public. And he lived by that policy, despite the hypocrisy that permeated the political arena in which he toiled on behalf of Senator Sam Irvin. Nonetheless, he became an extremely efficient and productive right arm to Senator Irvin, and soon developed the reputation as the most influential aide to a senator in the nation’s capital. People who wanted something accomplished learned the best way to get action was to approach Charles Simpson in a forthright manner, and they also learned that their presentation needed to be one hundred percent accurate and for the benefit of the public. Otherwise, their time with Simpson was brief and unpleasant.

At one time acknowledged as one of the most influential people in the Legislative Branch, Charles Simpson not only was on a first-name basis with almost every Senator and Representative, but also was acquainted with their respective chiefs of staff and was familiar with many of their staff members. It was rumored that he was on a first-name basis with Presidents, Vice-Presidents and many of the President’s cabinet members It was said that Charlie—as he preferred to be called— never forgot a name or a face—nor did he ever forget a wrong or a lie—and it was also believed that he knew “where all the bodies were buried.” Without question, when Charlie spoke, people listened; partly because of respect for his position, but also because his talent was enormous.





That was then; this was now. Charlie Simpson was now a broken man, the death of his boss and friend reducing him to a inebriated drunkard that had fallen from the pinnacle of success to the very bottom; no longer interested in participating, not long for this world, lying in his own vomit that drenched the unsavory bedclothes where he lay. Continuously under the influence of alcohol, he no longer shaved and from his appearance no longer changed clothes or bathed; his only interest being whatever bottle of cheap booze that he could scratch up.

The foul stench from his unconscious body was almost enough to make Sarah herself vomit and it was only with an iron will that she was able to smother the urge and try anew to awaken the drunken Simpson. There was still no response.

Sarah resolutely picked up one of the empty whisky bottles and walked into the debris-littered bathroom. Filling the bottle with cold tap water, she returned to Charlie’s bedside. Upending the bottle, she poured the entire contents of the bottle on Charlie’s face and head, with little result. It was necessary to make four additional trips to the bathroom and douse the unconscious body with four additional bottles of cold water to get the first minor response from the still-inebriated man, who only muttered, “Go wa…’

Two additional trips to the bathroom and two additional bottles of cold water got a little more of a response as Charlie struggled to set upright, only to begin falling off the bed. Giving no thought to the fact she was wearing one of her more expensive jackets, Sarah’s initial reaction was to reach out to the filthy blob and help. Her hands were brushed aside by the burly arm of the man who had accompanied her to Charlie’s pig-sty. Mike Malloy was a private investigator, retained by Sarah to help her locate Charlie who had seemingly disappeared from the map.





In his bare feet, Michel Major Malloy stood six feet and four inches tall and weighed two hundred and forty-five pounds, two pounds less than when he had been starting running back for the National Football League’s Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. As the result of repeated blows to his fragile knees by heavier opponents, Malloy had—after spending weeks in rehabilitation—accepted the fact that his knees were more fragile than the shoulder-pads worn by defensive linemen and defensive backs, and had left the National Football League three years earlier. A degree in Criminal Justice earned during his four years at the University of Tennessee gave Malloy an interest in criminal psychology, but he didn’t want to put in the hours as a rookie cop—already wealthy, he didn’t need to earn a living, so—with the friendly help of the Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia, Malloy had opened a private investigation firm on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

Refusing to lower himself to the point where he would become involved in divorce cases or marital affairs—unless it involved the custody of minors—and as a result of the lucrative salaries the NFL Patriot owners had given him for a few hours on a football field, Malloy didn’t have to take any employment that didn’t fit his personal criteria… which changed from case to case. The appeal by Sarah served as a case in point.

Normally, Malloy would have declined the offer—he hated politics and detested politicians—but there was something about Sarah—some magnetic appeal that had nothing to do with either sex or romance—that made Malloy believe this could be a special instance where he could use all of the talents that he possessed and was in the process of refining. So—unusual for him—after only a few moments of reflection—and without discussing a fee—Malloy had signed on with Sarah and every day he was becoming even more convinced that indeed this woman was a special person.

Malloy reached over and gently but firmly took hold of Charlie’s right shoulder, helping the soaking-wet man sit erect in the middle of the water-logged bed.

“Huh…Wha…Wha…Whe…Who?” Charlie was unable to complete a question, his blood-red eyes unfocused and bewildered.

“Charlie, oh, Charlie: it’s Sarah. Can you here me? Can you understand me?”

“Sar…?”

“Sarah, Charlie. You know me. Senator Sam was my uncle.”

“Sam… Sam’s dead. Go away. Let me be….” Charlie’s tear-filled raspy voice began to trail off as his body slumped, only to be held upright again by Malloy’s strength.

“Charlie, it’s Sarah. Charlie… I need you.”

“No good… it’s no good.,. I’m… Go ’way.”

“No, Charlie. I can’t go away. I need you.”

Charlie leaned over the side of the bed, groping on the floor for something. Sarah intuited that Charlie was searching for another bottle.

“Charlie, listen to me. I’m Sarah and I need your help.”

“No help… no good… need a drink.”

“No, Charlie, no drink. I need you and I need you now.”

“Go away and let me die. I want a drink. I need a drink.” Charlie’s dissipated body began to shake violently.

“He’s got the D.T.’s.” Malloy spoke for the first time. “He’s so far gone that he has to have a little alcohol or he will break.”

Looking around, Sarah found a bottle of Jack Daniels that contained a small amount of liquid. Unscrewing the top, she offered the bottle to Charlie, who was unable to hold the bottle and it was only when Malloy helped him that he was able to get the bottle to his mouth, where he greedily sucked the remaining fluid from the bottle.

Within a few minutes, the tremors began to ease and Charlie was able to lift his head and focus his eyes on his visitors. Recognizing Sarah, he said, “Sarah? Sara… What are you doing here?

“I came to find you, Charlie. If I had known where you were, I would’ve been here sooner.”

“I don’t want you here. Why don’t you just go away? Leave me alone.”

“I can’t go away, Charlie. Not after seeing you like this. Anyway, I need you.”

“Can’t help you, Sarah. Can’t help nobody. Just go away and leave me. I need a drink.”

“You need to sober up, Charlie. And you are wrong. You can help me. And you will help me.”

“No. Don’t want to. Won’t. No good to anyone.”

“Charlie, listen to me. I need your help. I really must have you. I intend to run for the US Senate, to win the seat that my uncle—and your friend and boss—had. I need you to help me win.” Although there were tears in Sarah’s eyes, there was steel in her voice.

“Can’t help. No good. I’m no good. And I don’t want to play anymore.”

“Charlie, listen. Sam Irvin is dead. We can’t help that. But there are many out there that were responsible for his death. I need your help to bring them to justice.”

“No you don’t. You have already destroyed Hydra. They’re the ones that did it. They killed my friend.” Charlie began sob.

This time Sarah brushed by the bulky body of her private investigator and sat down on the wet bed beside the weeping man and took him in her arms. She held Charlie while he cried like a child, tears flowing and finally ending in a fit of hiccups, After long minutes, his body was still. Sarah relaxed her grip but still maintained body contact.

“Charlie, I have declared war on the group that killed my Scott, and my uncle. I intend to destroy every one of them. And they are trying to destroy me. And there are a lot more of them than there are of me. I need your help. I need you. And it’s not just me that they are after. They intend to have a one-government world, with them in charge. They intend to destroy t he United States. They are out there, right now; probably laughing at us—at the United States—as we are helpless to get to them.”

“Who?” Charlie’s body began to shake again as the effects of the small amount of whisky wore off. Sarah looked around, but Malloy was approaching the bed and he was carrying a newly opened full bottle of Old Forester whisky and a water glass. Keeping the bottle out of Charlie’s grasping hands, Malloy filled the glass with what a bartender would say was three fingers and offered the glass to Charlie. At the last second realizing that Charlie could never hold the glass in his trembling hands, Malloy held the glass to Charlie’s lips, removing the glass after Charlie had consumed half of its contents. Slowly the trembling eased and—with a nod of approval from Sarah—Malloy placed the glass with the remaining alcohol in Charlie’s hands, which now were able to hold the glass without spilling.

“What are you talking about, Sarah?” Charlie’s voice had regained strength as a result of the infusion of alcohol into his bloodstreams.

“There are a lot of bad people out there in the world,” Sarah said. “Not every one of them hate the United States, but many do. And if there is to be a new world order, the old order—which is led by the U.S.—must be destroyed. There’s a conspiracy, an evil force, far greater a threat to the world than there ever has been before. And a great many parts of that conspiracy—especially the terrorist groups or nations that sponsored terrorism—have escaped any form of punishment. They believe that they can get away with anything and there will be no retribution. That will not happen. I will not let my uncle and Scott’s killers get away with it. I will destroy them, one way or another.” Again the steel in Sarah’s voice showed itself.

“What exactly do you mean?” Charlie’s voice was calm, almost normal. He was no longer gulping the alcohol, rather taking tiny sips from time as if to refuel his mental carburetor.

“There is little that I can do alone, at least at present,” Sarah explained. “In fact, there is little that any one person can do. Especially one person that is on the outside, despite whatever political influence I may have. I need more that. Step one is that I intend to run for my uncle’s seat in the United States Senate. I need you as my Chief of Staff, just as you served my uncle.”

“I can’t do that,” Charlie rebutted. “I’ve been out too long. I’ve fallen too far.”

“Nonsense. Or as Senator Sam would say, “Toro CACA. :

“But….”

“Charlie, there isn’t much that has changed in Washington. Most of the same politicians are still in office. Certainly all of the staff members and the civil service people are the same.”

“Yeah… but they all know…”

“They know that you lost someone that you respected and loved. They know that you suffered greatly. A lot of them know you and fully expect you to bounce back.”

“I don’t want to bounce back. I’ve had it.”

“That’s just too bad, Charlie.” Sarah’s cold voice had a much stronger hint of steel in its tone. “I need to win that seat to have the power of the United States Government behind me so that I can get to those others. In order for me to win the election, I must have someone who can match those who would oppose me, card for card, dirty trick for dirty trick. My uncle told me you were the best player in the game. That you could detect a dirty tactic from a mile away and concoct a defense before the opponents even began to launch their tricks. He also told me that you knew who, when, where, what, why and how everyone in Washington did everything that they did, and that you could predict the results of any shift long before anyone was even aware the game was afoot. I need you, Charlie. I must have you.”

“I don’t think so, Sarah. I just don’t think I have it anymore. I don’t even want to have it any more.”

“Charlie, if you can’t do it for me, you have to do it for Sam Irvin.”

“Sarah, that is a dirty tactic; a low blow.”

“Yeah, Charlie, it is. I know it and you know it. But it is going to work because there is no way you can refuse me if I am going after people that were in any way involved with the death of my uncle. And I would—will—do anything.”

“You know that you are just doing it for Scott, don’t you? That isn’t going to bring him back.”

“Well, maybe it won’t, Charlie. Truly, it’s not just for Scott, or even my uncle. True, it started that way, but now there is so much more. Even so, I will sure as hell make those who killed my love—and Senator Sam—wish they had never been born. Now get your wet butt out of that soggy mess, get in the shower and get clean.”

“Yes, Ma’am. You sound like the boss already.”

“I am the boss, Charlie; at least until we get the ones were involved and give them what they deserve.”

“And that is….?”

“The same thing that my uncle and my sweet Scott got. A piece of land about three feet wide, eighty-six inches long, thirty-two inches wide and 72 inches deep, in the shape of a coffin. Now get a move on, they are out the waiting.”





Chapter 2





The Tennessean

100 Broadway

Nashville, TN 37203

26 February 2014

04:21 a.m. EST





“SARAH PAIGE

ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY

FOR

UNITED STATES SENATE





In a press conference called for 4:00 a.m. today, the 26th day of February, 2014, Sarah Paige—CEO of the Scott-Sam Foundation announced her candidacy for the United States Senate seat representing the Eastern district of Tennessee. Paige is founder, President and CEO oft Scot-Sam Foundation, a multi-billion dollar, multi-faceted global operation named in honor of Scott Treadwell, Ms. Paige’s late fiancé and her late uncle, Senator Sam Irvin, both of whom were assassinated by terrorists. Ms. Paige’s uncle, Sam Irvin of Gatlinburg, served in the United States Senate for a number of years before his assassination. This is the same seat being sought by Ms. Paige, who is definitely a heavy underdog candidate as this is her first attempt for public office.

Senate candidate Paige will run as the Republican nominee. The candidate, who prefers to be called “Sarah,” won the Republican primary as she ran unopposed. She will be facing the Democratic Party nominee Robert ‘Bob’ Duke, who lost a prior Senate race to Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.

When asked her platform for office, Ms. Paige stated that the people of Tennessee as well as the people in the other forty-nine states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have been lied to for many years about many things by many politicians in many ways. Ms Paige stated that the United States government has not told the American citizens the truth, is not telling the American citizens the truth, and will not tell the American citizens the truth. In fact, according to Ms. Page, the United States government is not capable of telling the United States citizens the truth, having told so many lies for so long. Ms. Paige makes bringing truth back to politics a main plank in her platform, saying the United States citizen is entitled to the truth, the real truth and all of the truth. She states that no matter how difficult the truth is, she will bring it to the people and she is confident the people are able to handle the truth.

When asked why she called a press conference at such an unlikely hour as 4:00 o’clock a.m., Senate hopeful Sarah Paige said that first responders and the military are at work at that hour and that politicians who feed off the public should do the same.

Charles Simpson, long-time Washington insider and former Chief of Staff for slain Senator Sam Irvin has been named as Chief of Staff by Ms. Paige.





Chapter 3





Rocky Waters Motel

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Friday, 28 February 2014

08:33 a.m. EST





In the conference room located in the new section of the rustic Rocky Waters Motel, United States Senate candidate Sarah Paige’s Chief of Staff Charles Simpson was studying the schedule and program notes that had just been handed to him by Evelyn Davis, his Assistant Chief of Staff.

“Are the others set?” Charlie asked Evelyn.

Evelyn Davis was a short, stocky woman in her mid to late forties, blonde hair beginning to show just a tinge of gray, which she ignored. She was a native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and had migrated to Tennessee with her husband who became an engineer with the Tennessee Valley Authority. After being a stay-at-home mom for more than twenty years, her last child had graduated college and married a concert musician. Finding herself alone—no children, no grandchildren and a traveling husband—she answered an advertisement in the Nashville newspaper on a whim and was an instant hit with Charles Simpson, then Chief of Staff to Senator Sam Irvin. Evelyn remained employed by the Senator until his death, after which she was in limbo. She had since then spent her time working as a bookkeeper at the local Catholic church—she and her now deceased husband had both been of the Catholic faith—but she eagerly accepted when Charles called with the offer to work for Sarah Paige as his assistant. She was also an old pro and knew her ways in and out of campaign strategy. Deep inside she had to admit that she rather enjoyed the give and take of the political infighting that was a part of Washington.

“Sure, Charlie. Of course. John Mercer and Laura Haley—two staff assistants—will be in the audience. The third man, our systems administrator Owen Sherman will be off to one side.”

“Are you sure they have the right questions?”

“Charlie, you know that we’ve been over this a dozen times. Relax, it’s in the bag. They have the right questions and they are new to political campaigns, so no one will recognize them.”

“A dozen and one won’t hurt.”

“Why are you so uptight, Charlie? After all, you’re an old pro at this game.”

“Yeah, but I’ve been away for a while. And this one has really got to work.”

“Why? What’s so important about this run? After all, we did a bunch together for Senator Irvin and we won them all. What’s so special about this go?”

“Don’t mind me, Evelyn, I guess it’s just nerves. There really isn’t anything different, I suppose, except Sarah may just be the politician who can make a difference and I want to do all I can to make sure she wins.”

“Charlie…Charlie… just relax. Like I said, it’s in the bag. We have a squeaky-clean candidate that’s pure as the driven snow, and the other side doesn’t. In fact…”

“True, Evelyn. But you know politics and you know the other side. They are full of dirty tricks and will pull out all stops to defeat Sarah. After all, she is an unknown and you know how much all of the incumbents—on both sides—fear an unknown.”

“That’s a fact, Charlie. But I bet my last dollar that you are a match for any of them. And you know that you do have a top-secret secret weapon they don’t have—me!”

Charlie laughed. “Okay, Evelyn, you win. I’ll quit worrying, but I’ll probably hold my breath until the election.”

Evelyn giggled. “Sure, Charlie. You just hold your breath. After all, it’s only something like eight months away. But go for it.” Her words brought a reluctant smile to Charlie’s face.





***





Mills Auditorium

Gatlinburg Convention Center

Gatlinburg Tennessee

Friday 28 February, 2014

15:35 (3:35 p.m.) EST





The presence of some twenty-five hundred people didn’t completely fill the large auditorium which had been recently renovated and now provided a dramatic backdrop to the opening stop for the Sarah Paige for Congress campaign tour. Many of those in attendance had been supporters of Sarah’s late uncle, Senator Sam Irvin. and had come as much out of respect for the deceased senator as in full support of his niece. Sarah and her Chief of Staff, Charles Simpson, were both acutely aware of the situation but chose this particular stop to initiate her campaign as she was assured of a goodly number of friendly—or at least not antagonistic—faces.





The crowd noises slowed and became quiet as a single figure appeared from behind a curtain that shielded the rear and walked at a unhurried pace to the dais that was situated at the front of the elevated stage, centered from both sides. Sarah Paige approached the podium with empty hands, her notes already positioned on the stand. She stood there for a moment, waiting patiently, while a late-comer made her way to a seat in the middle of the auditorium.

There was not a mike at the podium as Charlie had chosen to have Sarah speak with a wireless microphone affixed to the lapel of the jacket of her light blue executive suit. Finally, the crowd was settled and was silent.

Sarah began speaking in a slow, measured, calm voice that showed no trace of the butterflies that she felt in the pit of her stomach. “Fellow citizens of Tennessee and of the United States. I come to you today as a candidate for the seat in the United States Senate representing the Eastern district of our magnificent state of Tennessee. I have come to ask your support. You will notice that I have come straight to the point and I will be equally as direct in stating the reasons why you may want to consider supporting my candidacy. First, our government has been lying, is now lying and will continue to lie to us. In short, a couple of examples. The IRS scandal cover-up; the seizure of the records of news journalists cover-up and the Benghazi cover-up. I believe that each of you have heard of these, so I will say nothing further at this time.

“It is plain that our government does not trust us—the citizens—with the truth. And we all know why. If they told us the full truth, they would never be re-elected and while we are being open and frank, let’s tell the whole truth. The government cares little about you or me or about our wants and our wishes. They do not work for us, they work for themselves. The only goal the Senators, the members of the House of Representatives and the White House—Republican and Democrat—have in common is not for the good of the people, it is for their own re-election. Otherwise, they could do their jobs in half of the time with half as many people costing half as much with twice the results. And that is the true situation.

“I am not going to make any long-winded speeches. I am not going to make any wild promises about all that I am going to give to you. That is the typical political hyperbole. My campaign slogan is “Put the truth back in government.” It could as easily be “Put the people back in the government.

“So, my solemn vow to you is this: if I am blessed by being elected Senator from Tennessee, I will report the truth to the people I represent: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is my commitment to you. I will do my best to represent you and enact the legislation you want, not working to insure my keeping the job. If I do it right, I will be retained. If I do it wrong, you—the people—have the right and the duty to fire me.”

Pausing and taking a quick sip of water from a glass placed on the podium earlier, Sarah continued. “That’s all I have to say, so I’ll open it up for questions.”

A tall, lean man stood. Unknown to either the crowd or Sarah, it was John Mercer from Charlie’s staff.

“Yes, sir? Wait just a moment, sir. Someone give him a microphone so we can all hear.”

Holding a remote microphone, the man asked, “Senator… er… Senate Candidate Paige, you mentioned Benghazi in your statement. Would you elaborate on your opinion of that situation?”

“Yes, sir. First, it’s a difficult situation. Four Americans died that quite possibly could have lived had things been handled differently. However, mistakes are often made and we must make allowances for those mistakes. Our government officials are not perfect. Even so, the following cover-up and the constant lies about the situation not only from the President’s Press Secretary but members of his administration to the American people signify a vile and corrupt culture that is in existence in our nation’s capital and in our nation’s government. When mistakes are made, admit them, adjust for them and let the people know that you are truly a leader they can have trust and confidence that you have their back.”

A long-legged black woman sitting a couple of seats away stood. Laura Harley, also of Charlie’s Staff. “Candidate Paige…….”

Sarah interrupted: “Let’s make it easy on everyone. My name is Sarah. No need to be formal, just call me Sarah.”

“Well, Sarah… what about the records of those reporters?”

“Bluntly, there are procedures in place for the protection of the news reporters’ sources as well as allowing the government reasonable power . Those procedures were enacted after the Watergate scandal that took down the Nixon administration. Those procedures were not followed by this current administration and the seizure of the reporters’ records are in violation of those procedures. If you or I should have done what the government officials did, we would be in jail. I think the government officials are obligated to have followed the procedures and afterwards should not have engaged in a cover-up to conceal the violations. I believe someone should lose his or her job, at the least, or possibly be sent to prison.”

On the aisle another man rose. This was Owen Sherman, the third plant from Charlie’s staff. “Ms. Paige?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What about the IRS abuse of power?”

“I know I didn’t mention that in my remarks, sir, because it really steams me and I’m not sure I would be able to use lady-like language when addressing the matter. Let me only point out that the Internal Revenue Service is one of the—if not the—most powerful and frightening departments of the federal government. Those who are guilty of the abuses uncovered should and must go to jail as their flagrant abuses of power were clearly illegal and they knew better.”

A lone woman—the late-comer—stood.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Ms. Paige—or Sarah. Could you delineate what you expect to accomplish if you are elected?”

“Ma’am, I’ll try to be short and precise. I expect to discover the truth behind every action that our government takes, every treaty that is negotiated, every trade and commerce agreement that is reached. I expect to report that truth back to you, the American citizen, for your comment and your action. If I win, you will be my employer. I am to report to you and I expect to represent you in any and every action that I take. I realize that is quite an undertaking but I expect you to hold me true to that course and if I should falter, I expect to be fired. To me, that is what our forefathers and founders wanted. A government that is responsive to the voter, not a government to rule the voter.

“Now, I regret to say my time is up as I really appreciate your questions and your interest. But there is a high school cheerleader group that has reserved this spot for this time period and I’m just not young enough to compete with these vibrant teens, so I’ll just say that I’ll see you again along the campaign trail. God bless and God bless America. Again.”

Shouts of encouragement followed Sarah as she turned and walked back through the curtains to the dressing rooms in the rear, where Charlie was waiting with a report on her performance.





Chapter 4





The seceding days, weeks and months found Sarah and her troupe crisscrossing the state from Gatlinburg on the east to Memphis on the west. There were few towns too small for a campaign stop and the caravan of five busses—all bearing the banners proclaiming the slogans, “Put The Truth Back In Politics” and “Put The People Back In Politics,” and the thirty-plus volunteers who traveled with the group, canvassing neighborhoods, passing out flyers, shaking hands and holding town-hall style meetings seemed to be everywhere. Two, three and even four stops were made every day with a large meeting every evening in one arena or another. Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga received the majority of the attention as they were among the larger cities, and there were campaign offices located in the ten largest cities: Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, Jackson, Johnson City, Franklin and Bartlett.

The hectic pace of the campaign was such that Sarah rarely saw her condominium located on the top of a mountain overlooking Gatlinburg. At the same time, the demands of maintaining a proper appearance dictated that Sarah have a traveling companion, in this case her personal maid, Marie.

Marie was a tiny young girl who had migrated from France as a student to study at the New York City College, and had responded to an advertisement for a personal maid. Marie was almost the typical type-cast French maid that would have appeared with Charles Boyer in a musical; short—barely five feet tall—and weighing less than ninety pounds, Marie was shaped as one would expect a vibrant young girl to be formed. While serving in house, Marie always wore a black maid’s dress with a lacy white apron and a tiny lace cap atop her fairly short and curly black hair. As should be expected, a quaint French accent revealed her origin, should anyone not have guessed at first glance. The presence of Marie made it unnecessary that a beautician travel with the group, as she had received cosmetic training as part of her studies at the New York Radio City Music Hall.

Absent from the tour was Sarah’s most treasured item in the world, her Maine Coon cat, Sophie. Although declawed in her front paws, Sophie had sufficient force with her rear claws to be quite destructive and objected strenuously to being transported from place to place in an animal’s cage. Wisdom dictated that Sophie remain in the Gatlinburg condo, well fed and watered by the manager of the condominium complex, Wilson Williams. Williams was fond of Sarah, her maid and Sophie as well, and would have been happy to tend to the aggressive feline, even if he had not been aware that one of the corporations owned or controlled by Sarah had constructed the housing complex and remained in ownership.





***



While Sarah was a candidate to represent the Eastern District of Tennessee, Charlie was too experienced a campaigner not to realize that voters from across the state could—and would—vote for their favorite candidate, regardless of the district in which they were registered. A lot of time, talent and money was invested in the western part of Tennessee.

Unlike many candidates running for office, Sarah’s campaign staff did not need to rely on contributions from the public. Even so, acutely aware that a person that contributes to a candidate is likely to vote for that candidate, Charlie repeatedly released press notices asking the public to contribute, but to limit their contributions to no more than ten dollars per person, an idea that caught fire and spread across the state. Hundreds of thousands of envelopes arrived at one of the campaign offices or another, many with a simple ten dollar bill. Within twenty-four hours of the receipt of the contribution, a thank-you note was mailed by one of the staff members that was working in that location. The groundswell of public favor increased throughout the state and Sarah’s name was on the lips of an ever increasing number of residents of the state. It was easily apparent that Charlie and his experienced staff had chosen the most beneficial path for Sarah’s campaign and her status as a decidedly underdog began to change. The change in popularity was not missed by her opponent.





Chapter 5





Tennessee Democratic Party HQ

Suite 203, 1900 Church Street

Nashville, Tennessee

Tuesday, 24 June. 2014

11:25 a.m. CDT





Six men were seated around the elongated table in the conference room of the suite that was the headquarters of the Democratic Party of the state of Tennessee. All of the men were in their mid-forties with one exception. That one exception was the Democratic Party nominee for the Senate in the upcoming election, Robert Duke.

Duke, looking younger than his sixty-one years of age, was a tall, slim man with a full head of silver-colored hair, exquisitely coiffed in the executive style befitting a political candidate. Although he was slim, he was by no means small, standing six feet and four inches tall and weighing some two and fifteen pounds, or some five pounds heavier than his weight when he was a starting running back for the University of Tennessee football team that had won the national championship during his senior year. His fingers were long and slim—a pianist’s fingers—and were well tanned as was his face and neck. His eyes were deep-set, sapphire blue and his eyebrows were full and bushy, giving him a well-groomed professional look that had found popularity with the female voters who dominated the Democrat voting bloc in the state. His normally broad and calm brow was now wrinkled in concern.

The other men were John Roberts, Duke’s Chief of Staff and head of his campaign effort. Roberts was a very large man, not obese but solid and blocky. Not even the expensively tailored pin-stripe suit that he was wearing could make him resemble anything more than a lineman on a football team or a stevedore on a wharf. His face was mostly covered with a inky-black stubble and his dark eyebrows were long and thick, curling up on the ends. Despite his appearance, Roberts had grown up in the suburbs of Alexandria, Virginia, the son of a successful political lobbyist. As a young teen, Roberts had worked as a page in the United States Senate at the time he was earning his Masters degree in political science at Georgetown University. .

Beside him sat Sam Taylor, the number two man in the organization and the head of the public relations for the campaign. Taylor was an elderly man, short and skinny. His back was stooped as he had suffered from polio as a child and the deformity caused by the disease caused people to refer him as “that old hunch-back.” But only behind his back, as Sam was vicious at heart, belying the appearance of a gentle senior citizen. Taylor was noted throughout the political arena as a person who could get things done, albeit his methods were often suspect. An alumni of the University of Virginia, Taylor had spent his college recess working for the Democratic Party as a public relations writer, and had been chosen by Duke to head up his efforts to win the Senate seat.

A third man of the group was Jerry Reynolds, an ex-policeman from the Knoxville area. Having been terminated for cause, Reynolds had been caught taking bribes from Vera Mayner—the head of a prostitution ring that covered most of the eastern half of Tennessee. Some of the bribes that he demanded were not in the form of money and the prostitutes that were required to furnish those favors resented his abusive ways. One of them had informed the local newspaper and when Reynolds’s actions had become public knowledge, the police commissioner had no choice but to terminate the offending officer despite his great rate of success in solving criminal cases assigned to him. Having only sparse hair, Reynolds had chosen to shave his head—his idol had been Telly Savales in the television role of Kojak. Behind his back, the other men on the committee referred to Reynolds as “That Would-be Kojak.”

Another man was Paul Jennings, a native of the Harlem section of New York City, who had relocated to Tennessee, where he opened a private investigative firm. Having been a detective with the Long Island Police Department, Paul had planned on remaining in law enforcement until he reached the mandatory retirement age but found himself increasingly less than fond of the overcrowded conditions and the cold weather of the north—decided to move southward. Not wanting to be in a state with the hot weather of Alabama or Florida, Jennings chose to reside in Newport, Tennessee and live in a state where he could fly-fish for river trout as often as he wished. And that was Spring, Summer and Fall. Looking much older than his forty-three years, his hair already completely grey and his face full of wrinkles, Jennings resembled Martin Luther King Jr., only at a much advanced age.

The last man in the group was Larry McFee. McFee was a technician, having graduated Tennessee Technology Center At Knoxville, where he had specialized in modern technology. His achievements in college completely surprised his professors, as McFee was a virtual carbon copy of the character Gomer Pyle, from the television show, ‘Andy Griffin’. McFee was pleased that his appearance was so misleading, looking like a country bumpkin or a hillbilly hayseed made everyone overlook his near-genius IQ. To add to the misleading picture, McFee eschewed the custom-tailored suits his companions wore, dressing in khaki pants and plaid shirts; speaking with a totally phony drawl as he tried to imitate Jim Nabors’ brilliant portrayal of Gomer. His primary job for Robert Duke was to plant recording devices on Duke’s opponents. In earlier situations he had been completely successful and often obtained enough dirt to cause Duke’s opponent to drop out, or at least sway the public opinion in Duke’s favor. So far, although he had planted several devices, he had been unable to obtain anything detrimental to Sarah Paige or her campaign. The little information that he had been able to record was completely free of anything that would benefit Duke.





“Guys, we had better do something. That Paige broad is gaining every day. If her momentum continues, she could well win this thing, and then where would we be?” Duke said.

“Well,” Larry said. “Since the only other Republican candidate dropped out once Paige announced, she has had all that time to concentrate on us. No wonder she is gaining. But she is still far behind and I don’t think she can make up enough ground before the election.

“Bob,” Jerry added. “We know she’s campaigning effectively. What we need to do now is decide what we are going to do to take her out.”

“Take her out?”

“Not what you are thinking, Bob.” John spoke. “Although that might not be a bad idea at that. What Jerry means is that we have to derail her train, and do it soon. What we have to figure out is how to do that.”

“Yeah, John, you’re right,” Sam stood up while speaking. “And do it without leaving our fingerprints all over it.”

“We have people who can do most anything,” Jerry spoke again. “And they can do it without involving us.”

“They have to be able to do better than they did against Irvin when he was running.” John said, leaning back on the rear legs of his chair. “He was always able to get out from anything we tried.”

“You know it, John.” Sam said, leaning his elbows on the table. “But it wasn’t Irvin—he wasn’t that good—it was that clown of his, Charlie Simpson.”

“Charlie Simpson is certainly not a clown,” Paul interrupted. “He is street-savvy and is at least as astute as anyone that we have. Maybe even better.”

“Well, if we can’t get Paige, perhaps we can go after Simpson or one of the others.” This time it was Duke who took the floor. “We all know that Simpson is—or at least was—a worthless drunk.”

“That’s true, Bob. At least it was true. He got on the bottle right after Irvin was killed.” John said.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “He did get on the bottle, but now he has gotten off again. And when he is sober and on point, he is the toughest son-of-a-bitch in town.”

“Maybe he did things while he was the town drunk that we can use,” Jerry said.

“Probably,” John rebated. “But it’s not likely it would be anything that would bring Paige down. Additionally, the fact that Paige was instrumental in rehabilitating Simpson makes her look even better.”

“What about if we took Simpson himself out?” Larry, questioned.

“Might have worked if we had done it earlier,” This from the normally reticent Paul. “If we had taken him out before the campaign got hot, we might have gotten away with it. Don’t believe we should take that chance now.”

“Well, we can at least hope that he gets run over by a street car or something.” Sam said.

“Hope? Well, I guess that is all we dare do.” John replied.

“Get back on point, guys.” Robert Duke moved around the table and the chair at the head of the table, looking down its length at the five men, three on one side and two on the other. “We need something strong. Strong and quick.”

“How about a sex set-up?” Jerry said.

“No, Paige is too well shielded and never goes out except to make a speech. And then she is surrounded by security and several media types.” John replied.

“Could we do an ‘illegal immigrant’ employment?” Paul questioned.

“No, all of her personal employees—except her maid—are United States citizens; in fact, Tennesseans. The maid is from France, but she has become an American citizen. And Paige is too far removed from the hiring practices of her corporations. Anyway, they hire people from all over the world and transfer them in company. That makes them all legal.” John replied.

“Could we make her a lesbian? Maybe with her maid?” Sam asked.

“Not with the love affair she had with Scott Treadwell. Plus, his death tugs at the feminine heartstrings. And then there are all those good-looking studs that surround her on the trail.” John refuted.

“Could there be something in that?” Paul put in.

“Don’t think so,” John replied. “She has that point covered as there are others that always travel with her, including Reverend Greene – that Methodist minister that is so well known and extremely popular with the people.”

“Have they got every damn thing covered?” Duke’s frustration showed up in his angry voice.

“I told you that Charlie Simpson is good.” John said. “In fact, he is the best and if we don’t find a way to stop him, you had better be packing to return home, because Sarah will win this election.”

“Paul,” Robert Duke looked at the private investigator. “Have your people tail everyone connected with Paige’s campaign. Every one of her staff, all of them. Follow them day and night and find us something Otherwise……” his voice tailed off.

“The cost of…..”

“Hang the cost. If we don’t do something we lose, and if we lose, that means we lose millions and more. And we will all be out in the streets. Just do it. And do it now”

“We will get right on it.”

“If anyone comes up with something—no matter how small or how stupid—let me know and we’ll get the ball rolling.”

Sam, Senate candidate Robert Duke’s Chief of Staff, stood, indicating that the meeting was finished.





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