Monday, January 30, 2012

Chapter Twenty: Confrontation

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views… which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of those facts that needs altering”
~Doctor Who

Everyone was extremely busy the next day. 
Epiphany met with the bank again, first to get the Tablet back from the safety deposit box,  as West had recommended, and to place the vial of Heaven’s Tears in it, and then to attempt to deposit the first of 235 cashier’s checks that they would have to deal with.  It was one of the smaller ones, but still more than an order of magnitude beyond what could be federally insured and large enough that getting it into an account took several hours, and a couple of phone calls between two bank presidents to manage.
Edward stayed in the town house, researching investment houses and other financial institutions that could cope with the large amounts of money he would be entrusting to them.  He also spent some time outlining some of the things he wanted the new congress to start working on – once appointed anyway: So far only a single state had named a replacement for their representative, and both of their Senate seats remained vacant.  He didn’t expect much to get passed before the body had at least an interim quorum, but he wanted to get the ball rolling before the dust had a chance to settle.  He narrowed the first salvo down to three things:
1)      Nominating and confirming four replacements for the Supreme Court.  He took a few stabs at making a list, as there were several judges that he felt would be perfect choices, but also knew that the very first person he intended to recruit had some expertise in this area and ultimately if he was satisfied, then so Edward would be. 
2)      Health Care Reform.  The President and Congress had already taken a stab at this and bungled it, and Edward had some very well thought out ideas on how a universal system might work, but still remain largely for-profit and privately managed avoiding the pitfalls that, while exaggerated by the Right Wing opposition, he had to admit at least existed in most of the Single Payer and Socialized systems currently in operation around the world.
3)      Campaign Finance Reform.  This was the one that he admitted he had the least knowledge of how to proceed. He had many ideas, but they were all over the map, with many ‘this-or-that’ scenarios. In any case he knew that keeping corporate money out of the process as much as possible, either by forcing publically-financed campaigns - something this very President had pledged to do and then reneged on - or forcing the funding to come from individual citizens – as this President had done better than any other in history, despite still receiving large corporate donations as well.  As these were two mutually exclusive options, he was not sure how best to approach this.  Fortunately this was a pet issue of the second person he intended recruit.
He had Education reform in mind, but felt that could wait.  He’d planned to leave that almost entirely in the hands of the third person he’d planned to recruit – a man who’s critical thought process, philosophy and writing Edward had admired for many years, and which formed the basis of Edward’s own.  He also wanted to reign in much of the Right-Wing biased media that would form, fully aware that his own actions had done little more than create a vacuum that someone would eventually fill.  But he felt that the simple reinstatement of the fairness doctrine and a Supreme Court that would be willing to overturn the 2003 decision that it was permissible to broadcast demonstrably false news would suffice for now.
As he read and wrote and brainstormed, he swapped emails throughout the day with Gretchen and West.   Gretchen’s response was almost giddy and while Edward could see very little difference from the self-taken photo she’d sent him, there were several things that surprised him all the same; the first being that she had enough self-confidence to DO something as bold as that in the first place, even if she was fully clothed in the picture.   Second was that, while she already looked young for her age, if anything she looked even more childlike now.  To Edward this made her look absolutely adorable, but he was surprised that she was not more self-conscious about it.  Finally, he noticed that she still wore her trademark, Coke-Bottle glasses.  When he asked her about this, she replied bock that she still needed them, and guessed that it was just part of her DNA.  Though it didn’t matter one way or the other to Edward (who had a kind of guilty fetish for girls in glasses anyway) he had assumed that her vision would have been corrected.  She mentioned that she was back at work, and while no one was outright shocked by the subtle changes in her appearance, almost everyone had noticed it – and were finally noticing her because of it. She finished by saying that she felt like she could take on the world, and had regained all of the vigor and idealism that she had when she started the job.
West wrote back that he was not yet back on active duty, but that his current suspension had not turned into an outright termination and that all charges against him had been dropped.  He planned to have lunch with the former Army Major turned Central Intelligent Agent Jason Northville and then meet up with his old buddies Eastman and Southworth later that evening.  He didn’t send a picture, as Gretchen had done, but rather a scan of an older picture, one taken while he was still in the Military. The attachment was called “I_look_like_this_now.png” and when Edward opened it he saw three very young men, one of which he could vaguely recognize as West only about twenty years younger, along with a severe looking man of about forty who carried an air of authority, even in a candid picture, and who was the only one of the group who was not smiling.  Edward guessed that the others were the other friends he’d spoken off and that the dour figure was the Major. West’s last email said that he could not believe how old he had gotten, and that he couldn’t believe what he saw in the mirror now.  He said that he was sure they could count on the Major’s help, once he saw him.
“Oh, my God.” The grizzled veteran replied in shock upon seeing his former subordinate. “You haven’t aged a day!”  He barely managed to get the last part out before a coughing fit overtook him.
West just smiled. “You’re wrong , Sir. I’ve aged twenty some years, and could see and feel every minute of it. This? Is all recent.  Think of it like… having found the fountain of youth.”
Starting to laugh, and ending up coughing some more, Jason Northville finally regained his composure and simply said, “Bullshit.”
“Hey, sir, I know it’s crazy. Stupid even.  But look at me! This isn’t diet and exercise, man!  This? Is fuckin’ magic.”
The Major just gave him a sideways look as the waitress came to take their orders.
“How are you doing, sir?” West finally asked him, after the waitress left.
“How the hell do you think?” Northville replied, before breaking into yet another coughing fit. “I’m fuckin’ dying, West.”
“How long do they think?” he asked, quietly.
“Who knows?  I’m having some more tests done – not at all a pleasant experience, let me tell you – but right now? Anywhere from a few months to a year, unless they can treat it.  For my part, I feel like it’s going to be sooner rather than later.” His breath caught, but he managed to hold off the impending cough.
“Sir? I’ve got a proposition for you.”
Back at the White House, the President was meeting with his closest advisors. While there was some talk of administrative issues, including the four vacancies on the Supreme Court that needed filling, the lion’s share of the conversation focused on one Edward J. Carpenter, whether or not he represented a threat, and how best to address it.  There was a general consensus that what had happened on New Year’s Eve, 2010 was no coincidence and that Edward had some level of involvement.  But the exact level of involvement, and the nature of it, ran the gamut from patsy who’d been promised some power to a full on orchestration, even though no one had any idea how that could be possible given the rest of the evidence before them.  It was painfully clear that no legal case could be made against him, in any case.  They had nothing but his name and his own equivocating “confession” tying him to the crime.  But the manner in which the victims had written his name was just too incredible for any jury to take seriously.  He could simply claim the state was trying to frame him, and who could possibly believe otherwise?  The whole situation was unbelievable, even to those in the room, looking at it with their own eyes, and knowing that none of them could figure out HOW something like that could even be done, let alone figure out how HE had done it.  And even given his confession, bragging even, about his knowledge of the alleged crimes, the fact that it came after one of their people had shot him, and they had left him in a jail cell for two days to die, tainted it to say the least.  And then there were the videos: Two hundred and thirty five of them, all showing that these people had committed suicide.  Every piece of physical evidence screamed at them that his involvement was an absolute impossibility, but no one in that room could ignore their gut instinct that he was pulling the strings - as he all but came right out and claimed - nor the terror that this thought instilled in their hearts.  It was Central Intelligence Director Panetta that finally proposed what either fear or idealism prevented anyone else from suggesting.
“Look… we all know he’s behind this. We KNOW this. Despite whatever evidence he manufactured for us to find, the man walked right in here and practically boasted about it.  He made implied threats to the President and Vice President, and has said that he’ll be back to drive the upcoming agenda.  It’s clear that he not only fancies this as some kind of coup, but that he has some ability to carry it out.  We know we can’t try him.  But we also know he’s guilty. And we know he’s dangerous.  Given only what he’s claimed so far, and realizing what it ties him to? The man is a terrorist. Why don’t we just neutralize him?”
Although everyone in the room had considered that possibility at some point, it was still met with howls of protest, and vigorous debate from all quarters.  Secretary of State Clinton ultimately spoke for those who were opposed to this measure,  insisting that they find a way to bring him to trial, despite Attorney General Holder’s insistence  that he could see no way to build a case.  Eventually, every point she made were shot down by either Director Panetta or the Vice President, who had developed an intense dislike of Edward during his brief stay in their custody.
As the arguments quieted down the President, who had been listening silently the entire time, looked over to his CIA chief.
“Leon?” he asked, and then simply gave a nod.
Edward sat in his upstairs study.  He had been their most of the day while Epiphany came and went.  He had a fairly good plan of how the money could be managed without too much involvement on their part, and had just about finished outlining his proposals for Health Care and Campaign Finance Reform when his cell phone buzzed.  He didn’t recognize the number, and picked up. “Hello?”
“Get on the floor.” The voice on other end left no room for question or negotiation and the very authority of it sent shivers down his spine.  He fell from his chair and hit the ground.
“Who is this?!”
“My name's Northville,” the voice answered gruffly, “I’m a friend of West’s.”
“Yeah, West told me about you.”
“Good. Now shut up and listen.  West said if I save your ass, you can save mine, yes?”
“Well… two blocks away from you, there’s a CIA sniper with your head in his cross-hairs.”
“Well… I’m on the floor now…”
“That’ll hold him for a minute, but he’ll find you with thermal if he has to.”
 “Thermal, huh?” Edward did some quick thinking, knowing that the man was referring to thermal vision technology, and barrel-rolled over to the fireplace that between the two windows.  Reaching in, he turned the gas logs full on. “That oughta hold him a little longer.”
“Just hit the gas logs.”
Northville tried to laugh, but cut it off as he felt another coughing fit coming on. “Good idea, but it probably only bought you another minute or so. The guy is there now. West said that you’d be able to deal with this sort of thing.  Now, can you deal with it or not?!”
Edward considered his options. He knew that he could take a bullet and live, but his immortality had only been tested against a small caliber bullet to his body. He had no idea what a high powered rifle round to the head would do to him.  Could he even come back from that?  If he could, how long would it take?  And, more importantly, even if the Tears completely reconstructed his brain, how much of HIM would still be left: His memories, his personality, his ideals, his plans… those things that defined WHO HE WAS, and did not come from merely his DNA? He quickly concluded that it was not a risk he was willing to take.  Finally he looked up at the corner of his desk, where the Tablet just overhung the corner edge. “Yeah, I can deal with it. What’s his name?”
“What?! Who’s name?!”
“The sniper.  I need his name!”
“How the hell should I know?!” the gravelly voice bellowed back at him. “You’re lucky I caught wind of this in time as it is!  Now, can you deal with it or not?!  I’m taking an awful risk here, and West said you would hook me up if I saved your ass at some point!  Well, your ass is in the cross-hairs now: Can you deal with this or not?”
Edward thought for a minute.  He knew one way that he could definitely deal with it.  But it was not a card he had wanted to play so soon, and doing so would complicate everything he wanted to do from this moment forward.  But as the seconds ticked away, he could see no other option.  Anything less might not work, and little else was possible given his time constraints. “Yeah, I'll deal with it.  We’ll be in touch.”
He ended the call, tossed the phone aside and reached up to his desk, careful not to rise up off of the floor, or come out from behind the fire that he’d hoped was hiding him.  Tablet in hand, he began to type:
B A R R A C K   H U S S E I N…
Back at the White House, the Cabinet members who had attended the earlier meeting that concluded in Edward's execution order, now listened intently to the communication between Langley and their man in the field.
“Target out of sight. Attempting to reacquire.”
“Acknowledged, Ghost.”
About thirty seconds later, “Switching to thermal.”
“Acknowledged, Ghost. You have permission to fire upon reacquisition.”
“Copy that.”
As they waited for confirmation that their objective was achieved, the President stood up in the back of the room, looked over to the Vice President and said, “I’ll be right back, OK?”
The Vice President just nodded, “Sure thing.”
The radio crackled again. “Interference. Still attempting to reacquire.”
Another call came over the radio. “Acknowledged.  You are still good to fire upon reacquisition.”
“Copy that.”
Secretary Clinton bit one of her nails as the room waited in anticipation that this would soon all be over.  What they heard next shocked them.
“Ghost, this is base. Abort, repeat: Abort. Code double-black, A-A, zero-zero.”
“Acknowledged. Returning to base.”
Several people shouted “What?!” simultaneously.  The Vice President was not one of them, but he stormed out of the room furiously and bounded into the Oval Office where he found the President at his desk, looking confused and with his hand still on the headset of the phone.
“What the hell just happened?!” he yelled, assuming that somehow the President would already know, despite not having been in the room.
The President gave him a dazed look and quietly answered, “I just aborted the mission.”
“I… I have no idea,” the President said, still sounding out of it.
“Get back on the line!  Tell them it’s on!”
“I can’t do that, Joe.  That’s the nature of that particular abort code: It cannot be rescinded.  Once given, I can’t take it back even with a gun to my head.  That’s… why it exists, actually.”
“But… Mister President…” The Vice President was at a loss for words.  Both men were startled when the phone rang.
The President picked it up, tentatively. “This… is the President.”
“Mister President? We need to talk.” The sound of Edward’s voice caused the President’s heart to skip a beat.  His tone was even but completely non-negotiable.
“About… what, exactly?”
“You know what,” Edward sneered derisively. “I’ll be on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in one hour,” he paused before adding, “So will you.”
Edward hung up, leaving the President and Vice President staring at each other, unsure of what to do next.
Back in his townhouse, Edward was back on the phone with West. “Thanks, West. Northville came through, and that Secret Service access code you gave me got me right through to the Oval Office.  But I need some more help.”
“Name it.”
“Can you meet me at the Lincoln?”
“Sure, why?”
“I’m meeting the President there in just under an hour.”
West knew better than to doubt either his sincerity or resolve. “Okaaaaay… Yeah. I’ll be there.”
“Great.  And uh… by the way… would you happen to have a laser-sight on your piece?”
West laughed. “No, but I can get one. Why?”
“I’ll explain it all when you get there. See if you can grab a three-way communications device while you’re at it as well too, OK?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Great, get going. I’ll see you there.” 
Edward grabbed the tablet and walked downstairs. He found Epiphany watching TV and blogging during the commercials, unaware of the drama that had just transpired upstairs. “Hey, Piff? We’ve got to take a ride.”
Edward and Epiphany arrived in time to find West waiting just inside the memorial, out of sight from the street.  He wore an almost identical black trench coat as Edward and his breath was visible in the cold air of this January night.  “Good to see you, West. You got the earpieces?”
“Yeah, what’s this all about?”
“They tried to kill me again. For real, I mean, not at my request.”
“So I’m HOPING that the President will be here shortly.”
“Yeah, but…”
“I know: he won’t come alone. If he comes at all. That’s where you come in.  You can stay out of sight in there, yes?”
“Well… sure, I mean… The Lincoln Memorial is a favorite spot for speeches and rallies, so every Secret Service Agent knows where the hidey-holes are.”
“Good.  Anyone out here pulls a gun? I want you to light-up their chest, OK?”
“With… this?” He asked, indicating the laser sight, mounted underneath the barrel of his gun.
“Yes.  And let me be clear about this… First of all?   NO ONE gets shot, unless I do. Understand? But IF I do? EVERYONE – except the President  - goes down.”
“Because while I know I’ll survive, I’ll need you to get my body the hell out of here. I don’t think I’ll be able to run after that.”
“And you’ll have some help.  That’s what we need the three-ways for.  Epiphany’s in the car, just over there, on the corner.  If we need help, we’ll be able to let her know - assuming we can identify any of the guys who show up. I assume you know the names of the Agents assigned to the President?”
West sighed, “Assuming they haven’t reassigned anyone? Yes.”
Edward could sense his trepidation. “Steady there, West.  I don’t want ANYONE to get killed tonight, got it?  Just be ready with that laser-sight and let me do the talking.  No one’s actually getting shot, if it can even remotely be avoided.”
West took a deep breath. He knew many of those men personally and hadn’t fully taken into account that he might end up killing some of them at some point. He had killed before, but never a fellow Service member, and never someone he knew on a personal level. “OK.”
While West got into position, Edward made a quick jog down to the car to give Epiphany her ear piece.  He made it clear that she was to take absolutely no action, unless West gave her a name, and Edward had already been shot.  She was angry enough that they had already made one attempt on his life, and horrified at the idea that they might try again, but she said that she understood and agreed to do nothing but stand by and watch until West gave the word.  She didn’t know if she trusted West to this extent, but it was clear that Edward did and for now that would have to be good enough for her.
Edward jogged back and sat down about a quarter way up the steps and waited for someone to arrive.  It was not long before what he could only assume what the Presidential Limousine drove slowly up the hill, stopping at the bottom of the steps.  It seemed like several minutes passed before a door opened on the far side of the vehicle.  “Finally,” he thought.
But the Secret Service Agent who got out didn’t merely stand by for the President.  Instead he drew his gun and charged towards Edward, who was still reclined on the cold marble stairs. “Here we go again, Edward groaned to himself.  By the time the Agent had reached him, Edward did something that made the man pause: He pulled his shirt open, exposing his chest to the men. “You sure that’s gonna work, son?  By the way…,” Edward nodded towards him, “You’ve got something on your shirt.”
The agent risked the slightest glance downward and caught the red dot on his chest, being projected by West, from inside.  He immediately took his gun off of Edward and started waiving it around as he scanned the surrounding area for what he assumed was a sniper.
“Hey! Keep that gun on me, son!” Edward snapped. “You’re basically in a Mexican standoff here, so it’s not really a good idea to take your piece off your hostage.  That’s right, back here. There you go. Keep that pointed at me and you’ll be just fine.”  Edward recognized this man.  He was positive that he was one of the Agents standing by when West shot him.  That would help.  This guy would KNOW that Edward could back up his bravado. “Let me ask you something, friend: Did you realize on the way over here that the man you’re protecting just sent you to your death, knowing that there was no possibility that you’d succeed? He might as well have told you to put out a fire and armed you with nothing but a box of oily rags. I hope you’re beginning to realize that, at best, only one of us is going to die tonight.  And it’s not going to be me.  But the thing is? There’s no reason ANYONE needs to die here.  I don’t want to kill anyone.  And you? You just don’t have the tools. And you know it.  Tell you what… Why don’t you get back into that limo, and tell the guy who sent you to get his ass out here.  And if he’s not in there?  You drive yourself back to 1600 and then tell him to get his ass out here!”
From the agent’s point of view Edward’s tone was unsettlingly steady the entire time, especially considering that he had a gun pointed at him.  For one brief moment, studying his eyes Edward thought he might still try it.  But the agent couldn’t get two undeniable facts out of his head:
1)      He had already seen this man get shot and recover from it almost immediately.
2)      There was a gun pointed at him as well.
Edward could see the exact moment at which these two facts and his better judgment won out over his sense of duty.  His shoulder slumped. The last bit of fire left his eyes. His outstretched arm bent before falling to his side.
“It’s OK son.  There’s no reason to lose your life in a hopeless battle.  Besides, it’s like I said: NO ONE has to die here tonight.  Now go on. Get your boss out here.”
The Agent went back to the car. After a few minutes, five more agents got out of the car and surrounded it.  They were clearly ready for action, but their guns remained holstered.   Edward fingered his earpiece.
“West, if recognize anyone, start calling off the names for Epiphany. Piff? Pull up the relevant pages, but for God’s sake be careful.  I fucking mean it when I say that I don’t want ANYONE to die here tonight.”
“Copy that,” West signaled back, sounding as if this was all somehow official.
“Got it,” Epiphany said casually.
Once they were all in position, the Agent in charge approached Edward, his gun still holstered.
“All right, we’re going to do this your way.  We haven’t had any time to plan, so here’s how things are going to go: If we see a gun; If we hear a shot; if we see anyone other than you near the President; if we are given ANY reason, WHATSOEVER, to engage you, we will charge in and do everything in our power to eliminate you and anyone protecting you.  Is that clear?”
Edward shrugged. “I wouldn’t have assumed anything different.  For our part, we have no intention of harming anyone.  If shots are fired, they WILL come from you first, and everyone one of ours will be focused entirely on you lot.  But I don’t want that. And you don’t want that.  And considering how he’ll likely be in the middle of all of it? Your boss definitely won’t want that.  The fact is, if I wanted the President dead, he’d already be as dead as the two hundred and thirty five people you all suspect me of killing.  I’m here to do two things: One? Have a conversation. And Two? Not get shot.  So it sounds like were all basically trying to accomplish the same thing.  Now… Shall we get on with it?”
“Raise your arms, spread your legs.” Edward complied as the agent patted him down several times, very thoroughly.  “All right.  You just remember what I told you.”
“And you likewise,” Edward replied back evenly, smiling.
The Agent took his position at the bottom of the stairs and nodded towards the limousine.  To Edward’s surprise, the President came out through the far door.  He really thought they would have to go back for him.
“Good evening, Mister President,” Edward started, flashing a cold smile. “I presume you know why you’re here.”
The President glared at him for a moment, before answering. “Why don’t you tell me?”
Edward gave a short laugh. “First off, you were going to have me killed, you naughty little boy.  Then, for some reason, you had a change of heart…”
“That’s an interesting way of putting it,” the President interrupted.  When he reflected back on what had happened, he would have characterized it as being compelled; controlled even.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I KNOW the decision wasn’t yours. The same way I knew that I was in the crosshairs.  But it doesn’t matter, you see: No matter what you or anyone else, throws against me, it will always fail.  You’ve already seen one form of this, when West shot me.  And now you’ve seen another  manifestation of this.  How did it feel, if I may ask?”
Again the President just stared at him for a moment. “It was as if those few minutes of my life were taken from me.  It was like… lost time.  It was like blacking out and coming to and finding out you had done things that you couldn’t remember anything about.  Decisions that you made, but were not conscious of.”
“And did you find it to be a good feeling?”
The President again didn’t answer right away, but Edward could perceive the slightest shiver in him as he thought about it.
“Yeah. I wouldn’t imagine it would be.  The thing is? You never have to experience it again. It’s entirely up to you.  All you really have to do to avoid it, is to follow a few simple pieces of advice.”  This was a bluff.  In reality the President was now permanently inoculated from Edward’s power. 
“Do whatever you tell me too?” the President asked sarcastically.
Edward laughed. “No, no. Nothing so dramatic.  First off? Just don’t try to kill me again.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?  Besides: You already know it won’t succeed.  You’re oh-for-two now.  So you should realize that trying again will simply be pointless.  And… of course… will result in you and those around you having control of their choices and control over their actions taken from them.  I can’t even promise you that no one will die, should that be the only way to avert my demise.  But you see… It just doesn’t have to be that way.  You and I? We are not on different sides here.  What you want for this country?  Is exactly what I want for this country.  I’m not trying to take over, and I’m not threatening anybody.  I don’t want anyone else to die, and that’s why it so important that you at least listen to what I’m saying here.”
“And what is that?”
“That we don’t have to be adversaries.  We can easily, easily be each other’s greatest assets.  Imagine it: Universal health care, a strong economy, clean energy, a settling of all global conflicts, objective news media and even honest political campaigns.  It’s all possible, Mister President. It’s what I want.  It’s what a majority of the country wants.  And that majority? Expected that you would bring it about, when they voted for you two years ago.  As did I.  And you know what? I still want you to bring it about.  I still want your Presidency to go down in history as one of the great ones. I want you to be remembered, as either the man who set things right, or, at a minimum, the man who started things going in the right direction again.  Is that really so bad?”
The President raised his eyebrows. “Depends.  What do these things mean to you? What are the ends you’re trying bring about and what means are you willing to use?”
Now it was Edward’s turn to pause.  “I'll tell you what.  If you’ll humor me, I’d like to come by tomorrow morning with a couple of proposals. Three, in fact, that I’d like you to take a look at.  They’re not written up in the legalese that you lot are accustomed to, but I think you’ll find that the ideas are well thought out, and fairly principled.  In fact I’d be rather surprised if you didn’t find them inherently appealing.
As for the means…? Well, let’s consider that for a moment…  Suppose it is, as you imply.  That I am a threat.  That I’m somehow behind everything, including compelling you to call off your hit-man.  I can see how you might be squeamish about using that power by allying with it.  That’s understandable.  But think about it: Does that even sound rational? If I had… whatever it is you think I do? Why the hell would I bother with all of this?  Why would I expose myself? Why get shot?  Why stand here having a pleasant conversation with you when I could just as easily have taken over, or at least just continued to pull the strings, comfortably and safely from the shadows?
But there’s another explanation here.  And it’s as I’ve already said: Things just tend to work out for me.  The universe looks out for me.  I know what I need to, when I need it, and just seem to be fated to be in the right place at the right time.  The fact is? I don’t want anyone to be harmed, or to die.  Not from bullets, nor from war, nor from poverty, nor from hate, nor from a lack of health care, nor from the quality of their air and water.  And seeing as how that’s not so different from what you want? Why would you even choose to fight me? It’s insane.  As long as you're on the side of democracy and the American people? I’m on YOUR side!”
“And how about democracy?”
“I’m trying to restore Democracy!  Was it democracy in 2000 when the Supreme Court decided to STOP counting everyone’s vote and declare a winner prematurely?!  Is it Democracy when a single corporation can use their money to drown out the voices of every grass-roots movement in existence?  And why should the voices of those who merely want more money for themselves, when they already have more than everyone else, be given equal consideration to those who just want their drinking water to stop being polluted?  Who want access to health care?  Who want an opportunity to get a job and earn a living, just as the very bastards who cheat them of one keep telling them to do, even as they lobby congress for more tax breaks, fewer programs to help people and fewer regulation that would prevent them from doing harm!  There may be a legitimate difference when it comes to deciding how to actually DEAL with a problem, but that is simply NOT the case when the only problem that the people with all the power even want to RECOGNISE is that rich people don’t have enough money!  You talk about democracy?  What part of your democratic ideals allows the voice of one person to count more than that of another, simply because they have  more money?!  If democracy is meant to be one person, one vote, then why do want to continue to let those who already have more power than they should and more money than they could ever spend, set the agenda when their agenda is only doing more to protect their own wealth and position?!  Is that what Democracy is supposed to be?  Is that what your party – the Democrats – are supposed to stand for?!”
Edward took a moment to compose himself, and lowered his tone. “Look. Will you at least hear what I have to say?  Let me drop by tomorrow.  Take a look at my ideas.  If the only opposition you have to them, is ‘congress will never support it?’ My answer is just this: Leave that to me.  Will you hear me out? Or are you going to continue to try and keep up your inevitably fruitless battle with me?”
Edward stopped talking.  He was done. He had made his bluff and said his piece and now it was up to the President to decide how he wanted to manage the situation.  Minutes passed while the President just stared at the ground.  It was all the normally verbose Edward could due not to try and prod him, but he just kept reminding himself that this silence was just as uncomfortable for the President. He knew that if he said anything at all at this point, he’d lose.  He just stared back at him, letting his words sink in.
Finally the President sighed. “Fine. 8:00 tomorrow, in my office. Show up early: The security folks will take their time.”
And with that he went back to the car.  Edward watched as the vehicle sped off into the cold, winter’s night, exhaust vapor trailing behind it.  When it was far enough to be out of sight, he fingered his earpiece again.
“West? Thanks a ton, man. Well done. Epiphany? Let’s go home.”


  1. *phew*


    My apologies to those who've been waiting for this.

  2. I've been enjoying it so far, keep it up!

    Also, I noticed that your link from Media Matters doesn't seem to be working recently. Seems you misspelled "power".

  3. Thanks for the heads-up! I'll be sure to fix that.

    And I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying it. Thanks!