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"I mean it, Jack, no more." Linda said furiously.
I just shook my head and looked up at her, she finally looked away.
"You've given them twelve fucking years in that damn office, Jack, that's enough, hell It's more than enough!" Linda told me at almost a scream.
The fact that she was screaming didn't help matters, and the fact she was cursing said more than all the yelling put together.
Linda didn't hardly ever curse.
We'd been over this argument over and over again with the same result, one that neither one of us particularly liked.
Finally, I decided to speak up even though I knew it was to say the same things I'd been saying for several years now. "Linda, what this man is doing to this country cannot be allowed to continue. It just can't…"
She started to interrupt, but I held up my hand and continued. "He is destroying the foundations of our country, the basic fundamentals of what makes this country what it is. You know it as well as I do. Hell, you've brought it up more than I have."
"Don't you think I know that? I know what the bastard has been doing, but why do you have to run to the rescue all the time?" she asked looking defeated, already knowing the answer would be the same as the many other times we'd had this discussion, an answer she didn't like.
"Because, the ones who know what's really going on are scared and not running, at least for office, while the ones who don't, and are running, have no chance at all of coming close to getting elected. My God, Linda, did you see the girl up there on the news earlier who is running and says her first action upon becoming President would be to ban the consumption of any meat from any sentient animals of which they all are? Jesus! That's what's running, and you think anybody but some psychos are going to vote for her? Hell, I'd vote for him before I'd vote for her and that's saying a whole hell of a lot you know," I finished up.
There was silence for a few minutes before she softly replied, "I know."
I tried again. "Honey, you know that if there were any other choice, I'd make it, rather than go back into that mess. You know how much I wanted to spend time with you and the boys, not doing anything but being together. That's why I didn't seek a fourth term in the first place. It was because the kids were young and I was missing a lot and didn't want to miss any more, not to mention I really wanted more time with you, to be WITH you."
She laughed as she patted her large belly and replied "You just wanted more time for sex."
"Well that was certainly part of the equation," I said, laughing and smiling up fondly at her, and what was growing quickly within her womb, soon to come out and greet the world.
We'd certainly had time in the last few years, since I left office, to make up for the sex part, and then some. What was truly a miracle was that with all the sex we'd been having, somehow she had managed not to get pregnant until now. Then again, she'd said she wanted a little break.
When we left office, the twins who were our oldest had just turned six the month before, while the other two were four and two. I suppose she did need the break what with four little boys running around the place. Now, though, the twins were eight, and the other two, six and four. I think mommy was missing a baby in the house and I can say I certainly was, though Kelly couldn't make up his mind, yet, whether he wanted more to be a big boy, or stay the baby of the family.
My musings were breached by Linda asking, "Do you think maybe those who really know what is going on are running the other way as fast as they can, for a reason?"
Sighing, I gave myself a little time before starting that aspect of the argument all over again.
"Yes, Linda, I know why they're running, and I'm very tempted to join them, but it's either someone has to stand up and fight what he's done to this country, or turn over the keys to a man who is, and has been, instituting a repressive, theocratic, nightmare upon these United States, and I WON'T be the one who turns tail with the others and runs away to sit on the damn sidelines to watch the destruction of everything this country stands for. I hate to say it, Linda, but there are things I haven't even shared with you, because they are so sensitive, but he's issued secret executive orders that expand his power and that openly defy the Congress, and even the Supreme Court. Linda, I know of at least five US Senators and three US Congressmen not to mention a Supreme Court Justice who he has had assassinated over the last three years, plus another eight that smell to high heaven."
Linda gasped at that and her face turned sheet white as she placed a trembling arm across her extended stomach. "So, you're placing yourself and this family in danger deliberately, knowing what this man is capable of doing?" she asked quietly and with an intense look in her eyes which scarily was directed at me.
"No…" I started to say when she let out with a yell of "NO! What in the hell do you think you're doing, then, because this sure sounds like it to me!"
"If you'd let me finish, then maybe you WIIL understand," I replied forcefully.
"Fine, I'm listening," she said, although I'm not, too, sure how accurate that statement might be, since she'd picked this bone to lock her jaws upon and chew away.
I hadn't told her a lot of this stuff for the exact reason I found myself in now, I knew she'd hit the roof, and I didn't blame her. One thing Linda was, was extremely protective of her family, me included, but especially the children.
"Linda, this goes way, way beyond top secret. You need to know that. You also need to know that the government has technology that is not available, nor has it been released to the public," I told her, and I definitely had her attention now, as I began to continue,
"You know that there are special secret bunkers scattered here and there, all over the country for the President, Cabinet, Members of Congress and other aspects of government that would keep the US Government running in a worst case scenario, but what you don't know is that there are a significant number that are black as in no one knows about them unless the President, who does know about them, passes the information down to his successor. Needless to say, I didn't pass along knowledge of that, or a number of other things." I stopped a moment, looking at her, only for her to say
"Okay. As I said, this was started a long time ago and has been kept completely in the dark. They are usually built with something over them, but the compounds are deep underground and I do mean deep. They are impregnable and can withstand multiple nuclear direct hits. That's how deep and well built they are. They are also very, very large, with everything you can think of and then some, within them. These subterranean compounds were specially built, equipped and staffed for long term usage. They've been built to provide an atmosphere of actually living on the surface, sunlight, the moon, weather, everything. There are parks, forests, lakes, ponds and much more." I said, stopping once again to see how this was going over with her.
Unfortunately, her face was completely blank, which usually didn't bode well…
Clearing my throat, I went on "Well…Anyway, the bunkers are safe, secure and completely unknown outside a selected few, all of which are trusted friends, by the way. They have full access to everything, anywhere, along with communication abilities you couldn't dream of. There are also geo tunnels, completely self contained which can be used to connect these and only these compounds. So, knowing the threat that you and the children could face….." was about as far as I got before she cut me off in a deadly cold voice and said, "You planned on shipping us off to one of these…these places while you stay out there with a bullseye on your chest?"
"Umm….well, honey…ummm, yes," I said quickly, and as her mouth opened I quickly resumed, "It would be totally safe for you and the kids, no restrictions on your movements, other than you would have to stay down there until I get the House in order completely, but you'd have more freedom than you've had since I entered politics. The complete run of the place, so to speak, it's updated continuously with the latest in technology, including the stuff I mentioned before, hell, they even have plenty of fresh food there."
She didn't say anything, just sat there staring at me. "Look, Linda, do you honestly think I didn't think of all the angles and what that son of a bitch might do? Well, I, and my advisors, did. You and the children's safety were the first and highest priority, and in one of these compounds, you'd be one hundred percent safe. No chance of him getting to you, ever. So, yes, I might be in the crosshairs, but you and our children will never be," I finished.
"….And so, with the state of this nation and where it's been heading, but even more important, where its future is being led to, I cannot, in good conscience, sit back and not do everything in my power to put a stop to it, and repair the damage already done. So, at this time, with the full support of my family, I am announcing my candidacy to once again be your President of the United States."
The loud applause was expected, and it got even louder when Linda and the kids stepped forward to surround me, with cries of how were the twins.
It seemed that their birth had caught the interest of the nation, along with my oldest two. Hell, sometimes I think the nation was more interested in them than they were in me.
When the applause died down, Jimmy Sommers of World News Agency asked what the people had been asking, "So how are your kids doing, and especially the new set of twins, Mr. President?
"Well, why don't you ask them, Jimmy?" I replied as Jimmy turned to the children asking them about their newest little brothers.
Between the kids and Linda, the well being of our newest family members was thoroughly covered, but I have to admit that Kelly stole the night when he said loudly "They cry ALL the time, and go POOP, too."
The entire crowd, media as well, not to mention us, although Linda was trying to be a bit scolding, lost it.
Poor Kelly turned a nice shade of red before burying his head into Linda's dress, which everybody thought was so cute and adorable.
He'd be five in a few weeks come November, and then of course, we'd have the twins ninth coming up in the beginning of December, while Steven had turned seven already in August.
The new twins were the first ones who actually had an early in the year birthday, being born on March 25th of this year. They were almost five months old, now, and boy had it been a lot of fun over those last five months. I'm both scared to death, and also more proud than I can say that Linda told me where to stick my bunkers and that she and the children weren't going anywhere except to stand at my side, one way or the other. It brought me to tears and I loved her even more for saying and doing exactly that.
Finally, it was slowing down and Sommers turned to me and smiling, said, "Out of the mouths of the young, as they say."
All I could say, smiling, was, "Apparently so."
I and the others were asked a few questions, easy ones, and then I thanked everyone for their support and coming out before heading backstage, the 'Big Announcement' finally over, although it had been carefully leaked some time ago. The surprising thing about that was the overwhelming response of the people to my return. Although, I admit I almost choked to death when that crazy lady who wanted to ban eating meat declared she was withdrawing her candidacy and fully supporting me, instead, encouraging her supposed many followers to do the same.
I swooped up little Kelly in my arms, fingers tickling his sides causing giggles galore to burst forth, then hugged him to me, reassuring him that mommy and I were not mad at him for what he said, after he asked if we were.
From there, it was back to our suite, where we had a beautiful braised lamb waiting for us. I had loved lamb and years ago had found this little piece of heaven in Lexington Kentucky, where we were tonight, that made the most delicious and succulent lamb I'd ever had, seasoned in a way that was just out of this world. So, I had immediately set it up to have two loins done and delivered to us, along with roasted and definitely seasoned to compliment the lamb, potatoes. To top it off, I'd ordered for dessert, their unbelievable homemade baklava.
The problem was getting the kids to eat the lamb first, then the baklava. Don't get me wrong, they loved the lamb, but dessert is dessert to a kid, even an ex-President's kids.
I was brought out of my thinking by the ding as the elevator doors opened and once we got an all clear, we were escorted down to our very large and luxurious suite, where, before we even got to the doors, we could smell the delicious odors arising from what lay within, making my mouth fill with saliva by the time we got to my door.
Before that, of course, as soon as the smells hit the children's nostrils the ever known call of any parent began to be sounded by four separate boys in unison, "We're hunnnnngryyyyyyy!"
You'd swear they hadn't had snacks an hour or so ago and were being starved to death.
So, in we went, and everybody started running for the table when with a loud whistle they all came to a stop and I told them all to hit the bathroom, because I knew that at least some of them had to go, since they'd been grabbing themselves and squeezing tight and I also told them to wash up for dinner, and do it right.
Linda told them they could get out of their suits as well, as they were all rushing off two and two. I knew each pair would share a bathroom.
As I almost expected to have happen, minutes later, four almost naked children were running back into the room, suits gone and only underwear remaining.
We made it a habit to try and keep a family atmosphere as much as possible with the kids, whether we were home or on the road. They had enough restrictions out here, without taking away everything. And one thing they loved doing was either running around starkers, or in their underwear whenever they could.
I turned to the hand picked protective detail and invited them to join us, knowing they wouldn't, but I always made the offer. When they declined, I told them I'd ordered a number more of them and they would be rotated out as soon as possible, to be able to have a good top quality meal.
As usual, they thanked me and as usual, I waved them off and told them I was sorry they couldn't join us for a sit down dinner. After all, these men and women were almost like family. They knew everything about us, down to when we took a leak.
We all sat down and had a fantastic meal that I find impossible to describe adequately, to give it justice, lets just say fantastic doesn't even begin to cover it.
By the time we were done, all of our bellies, were overstuffed to bursting and the kids had grease all over their fronts from the lamb and potatoes.
It was almost worth a picture, to see four little bodies all greased up on their fronts, because if the juices hadn't dripped on them, then they wiped their hands on their body and had also rubbed any dripped juices into themselves as well. So they looked shiny and how they used to when they were babies and we used baby oil to massage into their skin. Heck, they still liked us to do that to them.
So I told them all to hit the showers and/or bath, with the older helping the younger, and most importantly, to use plenty of soap, especially on their fronts where all that grease was.
What most likely would happen is that all four would end up in one of the cavernous shower/bath combos that was located in each side of the suites of which there were four.
I was surprised to see that a couple of them managed to drip grease all the way down as far as they had, and that they had also used their legs to wipe their greasy hands with.
I could guess, and by the knowing look on Linda's face, that she, too, was thinking the same thing I was, and that was that there was going to be a lot of washing going on in there.
As they all ran off, I had to stop from laughing and could see Linda fighting it as well, although there were secretive smiles on my protective details faces, because they could guess just as easily.
Linda and I had always raised our kids openly and freely about their bodies and even sex, including their sexuality, growing up. There were boundaries set that they weren't supposed to cross, like playing at the supermarket and such, but on the whole, the kids had been really great about abiding with those boundaries and rules which were set.
At that moment, Rick walked in and told me that the interview I'd promised to Lily Manning was now up, and I needed to get going.
So, off I went to clean up a bit, and put my tie back on. Wouldn't do to have lamb grease on my face, now, would it?
Lily and I had known each other and been friends for longer than I could remember, certainly before my first term. It didn't mean she would take it easy on me and sometimes it actually made her go at me all the harder, but I also deeply respected her for that and much more, plus we were friends.
When I got into the room she came over as the did the makeup thing and said hello while thanking me for allowing her to join in on the lamb with the team.
After a bit the interview began and went pretty much as expected with her asking me to clarify some of the things I had said and speak upon others I hadn't.
We did the whole wife and kids thing and daily life etc. including how the family was taking being back on the campaign trail again.
Then out of the blue, she threw a curve ball, a hard one, at me that I wasn't expecting. Only years of experience kept me from letting my jaw drop open.
We knew a lot more than what she hinted at knowing, but still, if it's gotten out to the press to this extent, all hell was going to break loose.
She suddenly asked, "Mr. President, White House sources have told ANC that President Ashwood, in the last few days, has been condemning you as a subversive and traitor to the United States, and that you should drop out immediately. He actually also said you never should have run at all. There are also hints that he and his administration may not allow your name to be placed on the ballot anywhere in the nation, in order to prevent any attempt to run for office again. Do you have anything to say about that, sir?"
I chuckled for a minute before laughingly telling her that conspiracy theories are a part of this nation, but even President Ashwood would not think of abolishing a voting system that has been in place since the founding of our nation. It was ridiculous to even think he'd do such a thing and that while we had major differences, something like that would be beyond the pale, if there could possibly be any actual truth to it, which I seriously doubted. I also told her seriously that while we did have major differences in what we each wanted for this country and where to take this country, I found it hard to believe that President Ashwood would lie to such an extent as to say I was a traitor or a subversive. I served as The President of the United States for twelve years, and people know me and they know my record. No one in this country would believe what you say he said, if he did come out and say it. And I told her again, I found this to be more of some conspiracy theory or something than having any basis in reality.
Then I had a bit of fun saying, "Now the bit about not wanting me to run and wanting me to drop out immediately, I can actually believe. I followed this with a bit of laughter and after a couple more questions, the interview was over and I got up to leave when Lily asked me if she could speak to me in a bit when the crew was gone.
I told her yes, and went back into the room where Linda had been waiting, along with Rick.
We chatted about the interview with me making sure I told Rick, first thing, about the surprise question which had come up, and my response to it.
I could actually see him relax as he said, "He can't do it, now. You've cut his balls off there, so that is one thing solved, we just have the other four hundred ninety three thousand eight hundred and sixteen problems to go."
I just shook my head and replied, "I think I'll leave that for tomorrow or something. I do agree with you, though, which is why I answered the way I did. I certainly would like to have been a fly on that wall when he watched it though. I bet he's still screaming." having to laugh at the end, which got one from the both of them, as well.
I asked about the boys and Linda told me the twins were sound asleep while the older bunch had finally gotten out of the shower and were playing quietly in their room.
It was about that time that Lily was allowed into the room and one of my officers stated before shutting the door that she was clean.
Linda got up right away to give her a hug and do a bit of girl talk before bringing her over to sit next to her on the couch.
"Well, welcome again, Lily, you need to visit off duty more, we miss you, and the kids do, too," I told her.
She sighed, sounding tired as she said, "I know, and I wish I could, believe me. I miss you all, too, although I think the kids just miss getting spoiled by their Aunt Lily," she ended with a chuckle.
"Believe me, they love you, Lily, although the spoiling probably doesn't hurt either," I told her, laughing. She just smiled and said, "Gee thanks, I think."
There was silence for a moment or two and I could see Lily was somewhat nervous as I asked, "So, what's on your mind?"
She took a moment to get up the courage to speak, which was highly unusual for her, before saying, "Jack, what I asked you in there is true. I know you blew it off and I think you made the right move. I think doing it that way cut the bastard off at the balls, but what I said is true. Some of the stuff my sources are telling me go beyond that, and it's really starting to scare me, Jack."
I brought my hands up under my chin, thinking for a minute, before making a decision and going ahead with it. "Lily, if that's all your sources gave you, then I need to tell you, off the record, as a friend, that it's much worse."
She gasped as I said it, then asked "How much worse?"
"A lot, and no, I'm not going to go into details. I probably cut those two ideas off before they could get very far, but he has other ones and I'm sure he'll be thinking of even more now, and probably worse, as well," I replied.
She didn't say anything for a bit and silence filled the room before she told me, "Jack, you should know there have been some suspicious things going on in the news industry. Reporters suddenly seem to be getting mugged, robbed, beaten, raped, carjacked and a few have died of heart attacks, or car crashes. There have also been a couple of suicides and overdoses, as well, fatal, that is. I'm really starting to get scared, Jack, because all of them had one thing in common. They questioned and/or outright opposed the current administration. Maybe it's all coincidence, but I don't think so. I know that you still have a whole lot of fingers in a whole slew of pies, even though you haven't been in office, but you need to be worried, Jack, really worried."
I looked at her for a while before glancing at Linda who nodded her head very slightly then returned my attention to Lily
"As friends, Lily, I think coupled with what you told me, that you've put yourself in danger, possiblly a fair amount. You asked the questions that screwed up his plans, and I really think you should consider letting me put some people on you, or you could accept that longstanding offer to be my press secretary, where you'd be under as complete protection as possible." I said to her, before continuing.
"I will be honest about those pies, you're correct, to a point, but I have a lot more than what you could possibly imagine. What that man has done over the last three years is nothing compared to what he has plans on doing in the future. I had realized that some media were getting caught in the crosshairs, but not to the extent you've told me, I'll see that that's looked into, more," flicking a look to Rick who gave a small nod, signaling he got the message. "What you don't know is that his having people killed in such ways is much more than just the media. Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court Judges, and others, including a few military personnel. The last, he can't go too far with, for obvious reasons, the rest he'd just like to kill, but is, at least for now, constrained from doing so, in order to keep up appearances. What I and others are extremely concerned about is how long that is going to restrain him. He doesn't give a damn about appearances now, but cooler heads are keeping him from going off the deep end. We just don't know how long that will last. One major advisor mysteriously had a heart attack at twenty-eight, after being one of those cooler heads. He just was too cool for Ashwood. My sources say the heart attack was helped to take place. Massive and decidedly fatal. There are a lot of things I can't tell you, frankly, but let's just say I have a great deal of resources at my disposal, probably many more than you can imagine. It still doesn't mean even we're safe, Lily, that's how bad it is." I finished up.
Her face was bleached white, now, and she was shaking, which Linda noticed and immediately went to her, drawing her into her arms to comfort her.
There was near silence for a while in that room, before Lily finally pulled herself up but still held by Linda.
"I…I didn't know, I didn't now how bad it was, and you say there's a lot more you can't tell me. I'm really scared, now, Jack, for the first time in my life, I'm totally terrified. This man is the President, for God's sake. How can this be going on? Hell how can it be allowed to go on at all? We have checks and balances to prevent this shit." she stopped but I watched, suddenly, she started shaking again and whispered "Oh my God, my kids, Jesus, Jack please help me keep them safe, he might go after them, please." she was almost begging, now.
I'll get it taken care of right away, Lily, don't worry unless he carries out an attack within the hour, they'll be safe before then," I told her just as Mike came in.
""Yes Mr. President?" he asked as he came to a stop next to me.
"Mike, I have a possible code red situation involving children of a possible target. I need a team out there this minute to pick up and secure these children. Get them airborne and contact me for further instructions; we'll either have them brought here, or to a house in the country," I told him succinctly with the code words at the end which meant one of the compounds.
"Yes sir, I will need full names and the address, and, if possible, pictures as well."
"H..here Lily stumbled out, handing Mike her driver's license, and photos of all three of her kids with their names written on the back.
Mike thanked her and immediately headed out of the room to get things done, and he would, too. Mike was much more than just the head of the protection detail around me.
Silence descended upon the room for a bit, before Lily suddenly said, "Oh my God! I forgot we just took in a foster child. We were thinking about adopting him, Jack. Please make sure they get him, too, please," she pleaded.
Just as I was about to pick up the phone, it rang instead, and I quickly answered to hear Mike say a strike team was en-route as we spoke with a fifteen, one dash five minute ETA to target. I quickly explained about the foster child, newly added to the family, and Mike asked his name and age along with whether or not Lily had a picture of him. She did and he said he'd be right over to get it so he could transmit it to the en-route team. He then asked for restrictions on the team. I didn't have to think and said, "Unlimited and make sure they know there may be hostiles coming over there." He told me he'd relay that to the team, and I remembered to let him know there was a baby sitter there with the kids, and quickly asking Lily, told Mike she would be expecting them, but not going with them. He acknowledged it, and hung up.
One of the detail walked up and got the picture and Lily pointed out the new foster child, because, apparently, it was a group shot; then he quickly departed.
"Lily, you need to call the baby sitter, now. Tell her as little as possible, other than friends are coming over, to take the children." Mike had relayed the fake name, so I went on to Lily, "Tell her your friends name is Esteban, and they should be there in ten minutes or less. Do you understand, so far?" I asked, to which she nodded before I continued, "You know what Chad's favorite item is, don't you?" she looked at me strangely before saying, "Yes, his stuffed Zebra, why?"
I replied, "because the team leader will identify himself as Esteban then when she asks who, he'll say, "Zulu as in Z for Zebra". I need you to tell her without giving it away that is the name he'll use, and something with the first letter will be a confirmation. You can tell her you've received a threat to the children, and these people are taking them to safety, and also, tell her to get out right away and go home."
She nodded, just as one of the officers came over with a small suitcase which he opened and asked for her cell phone. She handed it over to him and he plugged it into the machine before pressing some buttons and flicking some switches, then said, "All set on this side, and as much as we can do on her side, as well, sir."
"Thank you," I replied, telling her to pick up the telephone handset and call her home. The phone would show her cell number. The call couldn't be completely secure, on the other end, but some measures had been taken. It wouldn't stop someone with sophisticated equipment, but we could only hope.
I watched as Lily called and after several rings, the phone was picked up by a young sounding girl's voice saying, "hello."
Lily asked her if everything was okay there and started shaking as tears began to fall from her eyes at hearing "Right as rain, Lily."
Lily said hold on a sec, and covered the mouth piece saying something is wrong, she used the code word we set up if there was a problem, like robbers, and she used my first name, as well, which means it's really bad.
I saw one man run out the door, as Lily put on the acting job of her life, playing like everything was fine, asking about the kids and apologizing for calling so late, but that she'd been held up with everything.
The girl said it was alright, that they'd stayed up late to watch Lily's interview before being put to bed. She told Lily how excited they were at seeing you and their Uncle Jack together on TV.
Lily told her that was fine, and that she'd be there soon to take over and help save her from the munchkins, to which the young woman replied "That would be really good."
They said their goodbyes and Lily hung up, looking at me and saying, "They're in the house and they have the kids. Caitlyn is really scared, but she got the message that help would be there soon."
"My team will get them out, Lily." When she didn't look sure, I added "They'll get them out, or die trying." That got a grateful nod from her before she broke down in Linda's arms.
I picked up the phone and dialed Mike, who answered immediately "Mike, they have the babysitter and kids at the house, as you know, but you need to know the babysitter is aware of help being on the way, even if not what kind. It was done quite well, in context with other conversation, and nothing would tip them off." I had told him.
"Good, one minute to target," he said, before asking, "Anything else?" I said no and we hung up.
I tried to take Lily's mind off things by getting her attention and asking her very seriously, "Lily, we have two alternatives for you, and you need to make a decision within the next little while."
She just stared blankly at me for a few moments before saying, "What?"
"Lily, please, I need you to concentrate right now. This is about the future of you and your children," I said, which seemed to get her attention quickly as she said, "Okay, what do you need from me?"
"Well, you have two choices to make in the next little while. One is that you and your children can be taken to someplace that I personally guarantee is one hundred percent safe from anybody finding you, or ever hurting you or the children. It's a large place and has lots of room to play and run around. It even has horses and other animals." I told her and watched as she nodded before asking "And the other one?"
"They can be brought here, and reunited with you and you all can stay with us in whatever capacity you choose, as in just close friends, or if you want work, we can discuss positions. The thing is, with us, it's not one hundred percent on you or their safety," I replied.
She just looked blankly for a few minutes before saying, "I don't know, I can't think right now."
Linda quickly interjected, "It's okay, sweetie, we understand, just be ready to decide once your children are safe, okay?"
Lily half nodded her head, but it was easy to see she had only one thought on her mind and that was what was happening at her house.
I couldn't actually believe the son of a bitch would do something like this, or at least so openly and quickly. Because he had, it caused me some little worry. I really needed to get together with a few of my people and have a long talk.
Other than occasional whispers between Lily and Linda, nothing but silence pervaded the room as we waited.
I had found out the hard way that waiting is the worst part of the job. I got used to dealing with the necessity of it, but I still didn't like it.
Finally, the phone rang and I think we all jumped a bit before I quickly answered it to the sound of Mike's voice on the other end.
I listened and after a few okays and telling him I'd get back to him quickly, hung up the phone to find everyone staring at me.
Lily was squeezing Linda's hand so tightly I could see it hurt her so I quickly said everyone was alive and away.
The tension seemed to almost visibly leave the room in a rush at my words.
"Are they okay?" Lily asked softly.
"Well, Daniel hurt his foot a bit, kicking one of the bad guys in the nuts" I started to say when Lily interrupted me and started laughing saying, "He didn't…"
I joined her for a moment before saying, "He most assuredly did. Now Chad got his hand banged up a bit when one of the attackers tossed him to the ground to deal with our people, but it's nothing bad, so don't worry. "I could see the brief flash of worry come and go with my words, before she said, "Chad? And what about Johnny?"
"They're fine and away safely. One little problem did crop up, though," I was saying when Lily sat up quickly asking "What?"
"Nothing bad, but Caitlyn was extremely disturbed by what happened and begged then insisted that my team take her and her children with them. So now, we also have them aboard, any ideas?"
Lily sighed in relief before saying, "Caitlyn is real good people, Jack, I don't think you'll have a problem there, and if you remember, you met both her and her kids a few times separately and together. Not only that, but her two are real close with my boys."
I nodded my head before telling her it was decision time.
She nodded that she'd heard me but kept her head down not answering and I knew what she must be thinking. She was a damn good reporter and didn't want to run away, yet she faced a very difficult decision at the moment.
I thought of something and quickly said to Rick, "Find a friend out there to sign off on the adoption of that foster child by her, and have it done immediately before Ashwood can accuse her of kidnapping."
"On it" Rick said, getting up and heading out of the room only to meet Mike heading in.
"You think they'd do that?" Lily asked.
"Oh I'm sure they'll do more than that, but if we can head this off to show the adoption was done yesterday, when you were home, then that is one thing they can't legitimately use against you, because as you already know, you can't just take off with a foster child."
"I hadn't thought about that, Jack, but I just couldn't leave him," Lily said with tears in her eyes.
"I know, and that's why it's being taken care of. I'm sure the actual documents will be here by morning, and it will show you went to this judge, yesterday, and were granted a full legal adoption of this child." I told her gently.
"Thank you so much, Jack, I don't ever know how I'll be able to repay you," Lily replied quietly.
"Hush now, you're family, girl, and we protect our own, don't you ever forget it." Linda told her emphatically.
"Thank you anyway," Lily said again.
"You're welcome, but Linda is right, you are family. Now, though, we need that decision to be made." I said to her.
About that time Mike spoke up "Ma'am, we have a secure connection set up for you to speak to your children and Caitlyn if you like, but we need to know now what you want to do." he told her.
Lily looked up at me before saying, "I need time to think about all this…" and quickly held up her hand when Mike would have spoken before continuing, "But I think I would like that time to be some place completely safe for my family and me."
"Okay, Lily. We'll get you on your way as soon as you're done with the kids. One thing you do have to be aware of, is that there will be no danger to you or to your children, but all of you will be rendered unconscious for the duration of the trip to safety."
I was surprised when Lily didn't protest and just said, "okay."
"Alright, I'll leave you some privacy to speak to everyone and take care of some details with Mike. Just let one of the detail know when you're done and ready."
She nodded and I stood up as Mike connected her to a secure line then led the way out of the room and into a secure conference room down the hall.
"What have you got for me?" I asked, as the door closed behind us and I headed towards a seat. Mike started to respond before we'd managed to sit down, "It was a ten person hit team, with orders to kidnap and take them someplace unfindable then kill them. That's the only reason they were still alive when we got there. There was to be nothing in the house to show anything had happened."
"Just fucking great!" I replied.
"Yeah and our ops heard some of their chatter about the fun they planned with all of them before killing them, too," he said.
"Jesus Christ, you're fucking kidding me! They were going to rape the little ones, too?" I said in disbelief.
"Yes, sir. The good news is that all were terminated and done so in a quite painful manner."
"Well, then, that's another good thing to come out of tonight. When Lily's off and all, you, I, and the lead team need to have a meeting. Can you make sure that is passed around?"
"Yes, sir," Mike replied.
"Oh, cut the 'sir' crap, Mike I get that enough" I said rubbing my forehead. This was getting better and better.
"Yes, Sir," Mike replied with a grin as my head snapped up to look at him.
I couldn't help but grin, Mike could always get that, if not a laugh out of me.
"Were they pros, Mike?" I finally asked.
"The assessment was semi or former, but not active or current," he told me.
"Good, I'd hate to think we had so many around like that in active duty," I finally replied.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," he responded softly.
"Well, let's get them going and call it a night, I think, unless there is anything else you want or need to cover?" I asked of him.
"No, nothing that can't easily wait," he replied.
"Good, this is going to turn into shit city. One thing, were the bodies removed?" I asked as I was standing.
Mike didn't say anything for a moment before replying "No, they weren't"
"What the hell happened?" I asked, knowing he would have sent in a full cleaning crew unless there were some complications.
We called in a full cleaning crew at the same time we called in the strike team, but by the time the cleaning crew arrived, the place was surrounded by police cars and there was nothing they could do." he told me, news I didn't really need to hear.
"Just fucking great. that means someone must have noticed something and called the cops," I said.
"Yes, apparently the hit team was sloppy. Intel captured radio traffic and the 911 call that came in, time makes it just a short while after our people had arrived and were assessing the situation. Basically, the call was of a van in the driveway showing up a while ago, and now screaming and yelling by what sounded like kids, etc. Needless to say, our team made it out just minutes before the country cops arrived." Mike said, as he explained the situation to me.
"Great, we're going to have a mess on our hands for sure, come morning, if not before," I muttered.
"Yep, it's already in the early stages of being picked up. You'll wake up to hell come morning." he said, grinning.
"Just remember, you hate mornings as much as I do, and guess who's going to be up with me," I replied with a smug smile on my face as I watched his quickly disappear.
"I was trying to forget that, you know," he grumbled.
"I'm sure you were, I'll see you bright and early, then, so night, night." I said, still smiling at least until I made it out the door and down the hall towards Linda's and my bedroom, at which point I let out a groan.
I stopped to fill Rick in on the happenings, then told him good night before making the rounds and kissing all my, by now, sleeping babies good night, and then joining Linda.
Sadly, I'd had to tell Rick to wake me, come six in the morning, and after some special, if quiet, time and talking, I got to sleep around midnight, sorry I had missed seeing Lily sent off, but Linda assured me that she and the kids more than made up for it.
Out of a blissful dream of being in the mountains, surrounded by my children, all running and playing, laughing exuberantly in the warm sunshine, in the most beautiful field with a small stream running through it, which the kids were making liberal use of, I began to hear what sounded like thunder, yet I could see no clouds.
To no one, I muttered, "what is that?" as I continued to look around, trying to find the source of the increasingly loud, and more insistent, noise. As I turned, I suddenly found a small and naked boy smiling up at me, as I smiled in return and asked? "Who are you? Or have I added to my bunch without me knowing about it?"
He giggled and waved his finger side to side before saying, "Wakey, Wakey, Mr. President," and with that, the dream began to fade out as the thunder rendered itself into increasingly loud knocking at the door.
While I was still thinking about that dream, which was so peaceful and something else, although I wasn't sure what that something actually was, and not really wanting to wake up fully from it for some reason, darling Linda did respond to the knocks by elbowing me and informing me that if I didn't get up and put a stop to that infernal pounding by doing so, she would remove something very important to me, without anesthesia.
I got up, quickly.
I went to the door and said I was up and I'd be out after a shower to which I got a reply of okay.
So while the dream was gone, somehow the peacefulness and that something else stayed with me, as I went through my morning routine.
By the time I exited the bedroom, I found my lead team sitting around the dining table and a smorgasbord arranged at the front of it.
With my people as cooks, I started by simply telling them the three egg special, which they knew, and went and sat down, grabbing the remote along the way and switching it on to NNC. They were finishing up the national weather channel as Rick said, it had hit the fan which was about what I expected.
As my plate was set before me. with a large patty of ground beef, thick with red juices running from it, and a plateful of hash browns along side the meat, topped with three over easy eggs and a small plate with three pieces of nicely buttered toast, so began the top news story in the nation on the large screen before me.
"Once again, we bring you the top story in the country this morning. Lily Manning, a well respected reporter and long time journalist with ANC has gone missing, along with her children and the children's babysitter, plus that babysitter's two children. What was left behind? Ten brutally murdered men, who, as of the last information from the Kaufman County Sheriff's Department where Mrs. Manning's Lake Ray Hubbard estate resides within, remain unidentified.
Not much information is being released at this time, other than there was blood found at the scene, but they are unsure of who that blood belongs to. Sources have told ANC that the ten men were in full military gear with full military grade weapons, as well. Those same sources state, they are very concerned with the welfare of Mrs. Manning. Caitlyn Johnson, and their children, at this time. They have issued Amber Alerts for all of them. Speculation is running rampant as you would expect, but very few details have actually emerged yet. We want to warn you that the following information is sensitive and if you have any children with you, that you may wish to change the channel or remove them from the room. Several independent sources have confirmed the ten men found dead were shot in the groin and then again in another area that would result in death within five to ten minutes, at most. Whoever shot them, apparently for whatever reason, wished them to suffer severely, as several experts we have spoken with said the specific manner in which they were shot would have them spending their dying moments in extreme pain. We'll be right back."
They went to a commercial as I was eating, and I stopped to look around at the others. Rick spoke up saying "Everybody and your brother's uncle wants an interview, since you were the last one seen with her, and as you'll hear when they come back, the FBI has become involved in the case, even showing up at three AM, demanding to speak with you."
Great, I thought, as Mike added, "Yeah, as usual, their full of themselves. When we told them no, they tried to force their way in, until a few men showed up with vastly superior firepower, which caused, I think, at least one to wet himself before they took off. Also, true to their nature with them, they showed back up in force with ATF, state police and locals trying to force themselves back in, to which two squads of our strike teams already set up for them were in place to say hello.
State and local backed up, hands raised, and then hightailed it out of there."
I had to butt in with "And let me guess, as usual, the Feds didn't have the sense God gave little green apples."
"Well, they found some, after one of our snipers shot one of their agents in the chest. They decided to take our word that you'd speak to them between 0800 and 0900 this morning, and left. Oh, by the way, before you ask, it hit the jerks vest and only after he had raised his gun at us. It'll give him a nice painful reminder for a couple of weeks. Just so you know, they're kinda mad." Mike finished grinning.
"Ya think?" I said, laughing out loud, even knowing Ashwood was going to try to use this against me, but I'd get out in front of it before he could take any shots, hopefully.
Mike also informed me all packages had been delivered safely and were tucked away nice and neat.
We went back to eating and it was as I was wiping my last piece of toast through the remaining yolk and juices from the meat, that I said, "Get ANC in here, in about fifteen minutes."
Rick, who had been finished for a bit now, got up and went to get everything set up.
I wiped my mouth and told Mike to get me a secure video link to Lily right away.
He left to set it up, as I pulled out a smoke and sipped some more on my Pepsi, thinking about moves and countermoves.
Damn, I'd only announced yesterday, and it's already starting to blow up. I hated to think how bad it was going to get as we went further along.
Mike came back in, saying everything was hooked up and pressed the buttons turning the large screen TV into monitor who the conference call.
Before he proceeded, he stopped and said, "You should know we've identified all ten men involved last night. They're kept on the black books and used at the whim of Ashwood, and a few others of his minions but never without Ashwood's final authorization." I nodded and he continued, "Their history is military, but they all had dishonorable discharges, and you don't want to know the crimes. Further, they've been wiped and no longer exist, so law enforcement will be unable to identify them or anything about them."
"Shit, I'm real tempted to leak the real files, but I don't want to give Ashwood the idea I have any access to much, although, I'm sure he's not dumb enough not to expect me to have some. So, anyway, chalk this part up to him. Releasing the info would reveal much more than I want him to know, right now."
"I agree with you, sir," Mike replied as he asked if I were ready and after receiving an affirmative nod from me, he flicked his switches and there was Lily with Caitlyn alongside.
"My God, Jack have you seen the morning news?" Lily started off right away with.
"Yes, that's why I'm calling," I told her.
"Let me guess, you would like a statement from one or the both of us?" she asked
"Got it in one, only add the kids to part of it, to show them perfectly alright." I replied.
"Live or taped?" she asked, which made me stop and consider for long moments. Lily could be entrusted to handle it, but Caitlyn and the kids were the unknown.
She must have guessed what was on my mind because she quickly said "Caitlyn can handle it, and I'll have a quick chat with the kids, too."
"Alright, then you know what to say and more importantly, what not to say, so I'll trust your judgment, here."
"Thanks Jake, just give me a minute here" she replied.
"Alright, and also, set the video feeds to show the entire room, showing you're alone and under no coercion" I said.
"Good thinking, I'll get you to give up the Presidential dig and become a professional yet," she said laughing as she turned to Caitlyn and began speaking.
I laughed, too, as she'd kidded me about this for years. She thought I'd make a great journalist and was disappointed when I didn't become hardly anything of a talking head after my retirement.
A few minutes later, they came back and there were three video feeds, two showing the entire room and one larger one centered on them.
"Jack, Caitlyn needs to ask you something, and I'd kind of like to know, too, although I know you well enough to know there must have been reasons," Lily asked me.
"Well, Caitlyn, feel free to ask me anything you'd like, and if I can possibly answer it, then I will." I told her.
I could tell she was very nervous, but she finally looked straight at me and in a firm voice asked, "Is what the television saying about how those men, I mean about how they were…shot…true?"
"Yes, Caitlyn, what they're saying is, for one of the few times, actually one hundred percent accurate." which got a scowl from Lily and an innocent look from me as I held up my hand quickly and went on, "Caitlyn, I don't know if you heard any of this, but my team arrived, and once they realized that the enemy was already in the house, they set up to look over the situation quickly before moving in. They also heard them talking and their mission was to kill all of you, kids included, but not until they'd had their entertainment, first." I said quietly, and had watched as her face became white and I could see the trembling start as well.
Finally she said softly, "I…I heard them talking but I thought they were only going to…tto, I mean…" before running out of words.
"You thought they meant just you?" I asked, to which she nodded, still looking stunned. "Well, I can tell you they were going to rape the kids, too, and any of them who were still alive after their fun was over, they were going to kill. You and the children were supposed to be taken to some remote location and killed, they just wanted to have what they called some fun, first, before carrying out the final part of that. My men don't quite like that sort of person, so, yes, they shot them where it would be excruciatingly painful, and again, to ensure they died quickly, but would still feel what had been done to them for a bit." I finished up saying sadly.
She didn't say anything for a minute before raising her bowed head and with tears running down her face almost whispered "Good, thank you."
"Not a problem, why don't you take a little break, get freshened up, and round the kids up, giving them their talking to, Lily. And I'm going to start my interview with ANC. I will then be bringing them in here, where it will continue. Let the children play or do what they want, while you're waiting, and don't stop them when we come in until and unless it's needed." I told them.
They nodded and got up, while I went and grabbed my tie, putting it on before putting on my suit coat. Checking my appearance, I added a tie clip and made my way back where I nodded my head towards Rick, where he proceeded to take me to the room we'd be using for the interview.
The whole time I was getting there, I continued to think about exactly what to say and how to say it, but as the door was opened for me and the people inside all stood up, I settled right down as usual with a serious expression upon my face, walking into the room, shaking hands with the reporter whom I knew was a friend of Linda's, before taking my seat where I was quickly swarmed with makeup people.
Finally, Denise asked if I was ready and I told her I was as the countdown started.
And the familiar gesture indicating we were on live as Denise began.
"Good morning, this is Denise Roberts, and we're coming to you live with an ANC exclusive interview with President Jackson Bryce, this morning, regarding Lily Manning, and, I am, as are the rest of the nation, sincerely hoping that with the former President being alleged to have been the last one to see Mrs. Manning, he will be able to provide the American people with some type of hopefully good news about her, as she is a much loved colleague, as well as friend, not to mention a figure well known in so many peoples' living rooms."
She paused for a moment before turning to me and saying "I'd like to welcome our distinguished guest this morning, President Bryce."
I simply nodded and she continued "Alright, Mr. President, can you tell us anything about Lily, her kids or the babysitter and hers?"
I had decided for now, to take a serious attitude to this, for the time being, and began, "Good morning, Denise, I will be happy to answer what questions I can, but first, I have a statement to make, if I may?"
I could see in her eyes that she was thrown off by what she was clearly not expecting, but without even a pause, she replied, "Of course, Mr. President."
"Thank you, Denise, and ANC, I appreciate your time in coming here. At this time, I would like to call for a full and public investigation by the Ashwood administration along with the FBI, ATF and the Attorney General to be made, regarding the reprehensible behavior of Federal agents and their conduct, which occurred around approximately three o'clock this morning, here at this hotel. I believe said conduct was illegal and without justification. Their actions put their lives and those of my protective detail in needless serious danger, not to mention any civilians including hotel personnel who were working this morning," I said, still looking at the camera directly.
I paused a moment or two to let what I had said sink in, then continued.
"At around three this morning, as I mentioned, agents of the FBI came to this hotel and tried to force their way into my room with the apparent intention of questioning me. At this first intrusion, the agents tried to force their way past our personnel, after being told repeatedly that I would speak to them at approximately some time between eight to nine o'clock this morning. At this particular encounter, one of the agents went for his firearm at which point, my detail responded, ending quite rapidly any thoughts on their behalf of continuing their aggressive actions for the moment, at least."
I paused again, taking a sip of water as Denise said, "This is unbelievable, that such a thing could occur, or that the FBI could even think of doing such a thing."
I picked it back up again saying "Well, it happened, and if that was all that happened, then I wouldn't bother mentioning it, but instead, simply file a complaint which I am still going to have done today. Continuing on, now, my personnel fearing that since they had already done something beyond stupid, and might very well do something even more idiotic, we deployed trained military personnel in the lobby, in expectation of trouble."
I stopped before going on again quickly. "I credit my protective personnel for an outstanding job well done, because of them, things did not escalate to the point of being a direct threat to my person, or that of my family. As I said, several strike teams were deployed around the lobby area, and took positions in case of more trouble. A short period later, the same FBI agents, accompanied by many additions, along with multiple agents of the ATF and State and local police stormed the hotel…" I stopped at Denise's gasp and her words of "They wouldn't."
"Sadly, they not only would, but did, Denise. They were in full combat gear with military weapons at the ready. My personnel identified themselves to no avail, except the State and local police quickly withdrew, and were told to get out of the way, because they were coming to get me and nothing was going to stop them. The commander on scene told them that it was not going to happen. At that point, one of the FBI agents fully raised his high powered MP 5 to fire at our personnel at which time a sniper took a pre-emptive shot, hitting the agent in the chest. Our personnel could clearly see they were all wearing military grade full body armor, and therefore deliberately fired into the agent's chest, knowing that other than severe bruising and a fair amount of pain, that the agent would not be seriously injured. Keep in mind, though, we were within our rights to actually take out all of the agents who tried to forcefully breach our security."
I stopped and Denise started where I left off. "I just can't believe that something like this would happen or even could happen. It's outrageous and egregious that anything remotely like this could happen to such a distinguished former President and now a candidate for the Presidency again."
"Yes, I understand your feelings, and share them wholeheartedly, Denise, which is why I'm calling for such an investigation of officers of the Federal Government conducting themselves in such a manner that goes far beyond any manner of justifiable," I told her.
"Yes it definitely does," she replied.
"Now, I'm sure you'd like to get to Mrs. Manning and the others," to which she nodded her head.
"I finished up the interview last night with Mrs. Manning, and after everyone had gone, she wished to speak to me privately. I won't reveal everything, but she told me she learned of a serious possibility of a threat to her and her children. She was extremely concerned, as you can imagine, and told me she was taking them and going into hiding at a safe location which she didn't and still hasn't disclosed to me. From what I understand, she had some friends picking up her children right away, due to said threat. As you know, Mrs. Manning and our family have been close friends since she was a child, and we are deeply concerned, more than i can express right now, that such a threat turned out to be true, and that people would attack innocent little children for what, I understand, was her simply doing her job and thus angering some people. I have no further information, regarding what happened at her house, other than I know she, Mrs. Johnson and all of the children are safe, and other than some bumps and bruises, completely unharmed." I finished up and then she took over
"That…That is unbelievable, those poor kids and Lily, do you have any idea about who is behind such a thing, and do you know who those men were?" she asked me.
"Well, Denise, it's someone who didn't like what she said and considering the timing, it was apparently in response to our interview last night. You see, she learned of the imminent threat, just after our interview. Co-incidence maybe, but I really don't place much stock in that. I personally think that something she said in that interview really angered someone enough to have her kids and whoever else was there killed, and I'm sure Lily was a walking target who would have been killed, as well, as soon as it was possible. As to the men, all I know is what I hear on the news, and frankly, to me, it sounds like a hit team. Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but those things do exist, and from what I've heard, it sure sounds like one." I told her.
"I…I just can't believe this, Mr. President. Has this nation actually devolved to the point of assassination teams roaming our streets, now, killing people for saying something they don't like?"
"No I don't think our nation is that way at all. I certainly don't think there are any teams just wandering around waiting to be angered so they can go and kill them. This nation, while it may have used hit teams for national interests, doesn't represent that as a normal thing. Also, I firmly believe that the American people will not condone such actions by whoever ordered it, it's just not fiber of this country to be alright doing something like this."
"So, you think there is someone specific who ordered this 'Hit' on Mrs. Manning's children and the rest?"
"Well, this is guess work, but generally hit teams are sent out by order from someone. They don't operate free and rogue, but under very strict controls and frankly, they are usually military, or ex-military, and almost always are under the control of a government." I told her.
"Are you saying this admin…" She started to ask, when I quickly raised my hand and said "No, I'm certainly not throwing any such accusation out there against President Ashwood, or any member of his administration. Please understand that I was giving you generalities of how these things usually work, and nothing more."
She gave me an intense look before saying, "I apologize, Mr. President for misunderstanding what you were saying."
"No apology necessary at all, Denise, when I'm talking, I've heard I put people to sleep, so forgetting where I started can be easily understood," I said, laughing a bit which she joined in on before I said, "Now, if you can take that camera with you I have a little surprise for you and the nation."
"A surprise?" she asked, looking at me questioningly, but I just laughed and told her it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you before I showed you, now would it?" I said laughing a bit to lighten the mood some.
I stood up as did she, and a cameraman nodded he was ready as I walked over and opened the door, allowing Denise to walk through first, before following her and quickly moving to lead the way into the main room.
I opened the door and walked in with her, but before she could notice the large screen TV, she noticed Chris and Andy standing their eating bacon. I just thought 'Oh no', while they suddenly looked up at who had come in. There mouths had opened but shut when they saw Denise and the camera crew, and just like that, they made this squeaking noise and were literally gone in a flash, as we both broke out laughing hard.
What brought Denise out of her laughing was the sudden voice of Lily saying "That's not funny, those poor boys."
Denise stood there in shock for a couple of moments, before rushing over to the large screen TV, almost yelling, "Lily, Lily, are you okay and the kids?"
"Yes, yes, thank God we are okay." she replied.
I just watched as this was going on not too concerned about the earlier incident, after all, they did have their underwear on for a change and I also knew that this, live or not, was on delay allowing them to cut it out of what went out and I knew they would, as well.
Denise and Lily were going back and forth a bit before Lily finally said, "Umm Denise, aren't you on live right now?"
I heard an "Oh shit" which I also knew would be removed before she quickly stepped to the side and said, all professional, except for the very happy smile on her face, "As you can see, and I do apologize, I got carried away at actually seeing Mrs. Manning alive and looking quite well. Lily, even with President Bryce's assurances, there is nothing like seeing you really okay not to mention alive and apparently well. I can see a group of kids playing in the background, which I recognize some of being yours and I take it this lady next to you and the kids I don't know are Mrs. Johnson and her children? She asked of Lily
"Yes, those are both our kids, and this is Caitlyn Johnson. We're all alive, thank God, and other than a couple minor bruises, the kids are fine, as well. Now…" she started to say when a voice from one of those kids spoke up loudly and said "What about my foot I hurt when I kicked that guy in the balls?"
"Oh my God," Lily muttered, as she said loudly "Daniel John Manning," to which said Daniel John Manning replied "What?" with a completely innocent expression upon his face.
Lily just put her head in her hand for a minute, while Daniel John Manning muttered something, shook his head and went back to playing. I suppose it's a good thing that we couldn't hear exactly what he muttered, though.
The rest of it went absolutely perfect. Without going into details Lily worded it differently, but said about the same thing as I had said earlier on in the interview. I just knew she had been watching the whole thing.
Caitlyn did really well, also, giving some of the story, but demurring from recounting it fully, motioning to the children in back of them which was entirely understandable.
Denise asked how the kids were doing, since they seem, at least on the surface to be alright. Lily and then Caitlyn replied that they were resilient as all kids were, but it would take some time. That there had been several nightmares and wet beds this morning, and none of the kids would let either mother out of their sight and were very clingy this morning, too.
Anyway, in short order, it was wrapped up, Denise thanked me again and signing off, we got the all clear sign.
After thanking me again and saying goodbye, they were all escorted out.
As soon as the door closed, in stormed four boys, two buck naked and the original two still in their underwear, all crying that they never thought we'd shut up and they were starving.
I just shook my head, then asked Rick if Linda had been up yet. He told me she'd come out and eaten then went back to feed the twins. I nodded and walked over to give and get my morning kisses and hugs from the four that were here.
About that time, my twins started whining about a girl seeing their thing at which time I pointed out that they had been wearing their underwear, so Denise couldn't have seen anything at all. They kept whining that she did and I finally asked if when they went swimming, if they thought everyone could see their thing, too. They gave me one of their looks, before saying of course not cause they were wearing their bathing suits. I told them it's much the same thing, but they were still muttering when I left, although through it all, it hadn't stopped them from stuffing their faces, of course.
I had a quick private call with Lily via phone, to discuss eventualities and possibilities and then went in search of my wife and my youngest babies.
I found her with one baby attached to each side, sucking away, and the empty baby food jars put off to the side.
"Hey, baby," I said, moving up to kiss her, then each of the babies. "How you doing?" I asked her.
She smiled up at me and I knew she loved having little ones again, like this, as she said, "Fine, but I swear these two are picking up their eating habits from their big brothers. They each ate a full jar of baby food and they've been going to town on these like they're starving to death, and didn't just finish those jars."
I laughed and told her, "Well you know how the older ones just love to pass down their knowledge." To which she replied, "Don't remind me."
"Of which time?" I asked, teasing her. She just shook her head and wisely said nothing.
"Well, you'll be happy to know that Chris and Andy were munching on bacon in their underwear when Denise and I walked in with a live interview in progress." I told her.
She looked mortified as she said, "Oh No!"
I had to laugh and say, "Oh yes, but it was on a delay and didn't go out."
"Thank God," she muttered.
"Oh come on, babe, it's not like millions of children everywhere don't wander around in their underwear," I told her.
"Yes, but not the President of the United States of America's children." she responded.
"Look, Linda, we've had this talk before, and I thought you fully supported them being allowed to be kids as much as remotely possible," I said, now concerned with her attitude.
"Oh Jake, calm down, sweetheart, I do, and you know it. I just worry that something like that would end up hurting you," she said, smiling.
"Don't worry at all. If something like that happens, then it happens, and you know what, I don't mind letting America know we're just like they are, and our kids are like their kids, too. If somebody doesn't like it, then that's too bad, but I truly don't care and I'll be damned if I'll do anything to interfere with them being normal kids, no matter what the cost, of which I honestly don't believe there will be one. In fact, I think if something like what happened this morning got out, it would only help us, not harm us." I told her finally finishing, only to have her say, "Do save you speeches for out there, plesse?"
I couldn't help but laugh a while at her comments but finally got back to what I had started to tell her in the first place.
"What I was trying to tell you was when we came in and they saw us, or should I say Denise, they made the weirdest little sounds, dropped the bacon and were out the door before it hit the ground." I said.
That got her laughing crazily before I added, "They didn't seem to mind the camera at all, it was Denise, a girl, by the way, seeing, their thing and I quote, that got them totally freaked out. They were still going on about it when I left to come in here."
That just broke her out laughing even more and I had to join in. I mean come on the whole country isn't a problem but one woman is.
I guess that's boys for you.
Two days later.
Well I ended up having that meeting with my attorney's present and several obnoxious FBI agents plus a fully tactically armed strike team surrounding the inside of the room.
It had already started going down hill before they got into the room, when my team insisted on disarming them, it didn't get any better. They didn't like the strike team, they didn't like my attorney's being there and they sure as hell didn't like it when, after asking if they'd watched the live broadcast of the news earlier, and gaining an admission that they had, my attorneys informed them that I had no further information for them than what I had already said.
It went further downhill from there, with the final result being my security team having to forcibly restrain them and escort them out of the building, at which point their firearms were returned to them and they were told not to return, as they were now considered a direct threat to the President, meaning me with the hostility and attempt to take me into custody, which they had quickly been disabused of.
The next day the war started. First with Texas authorities filing custodial interference charges against Lily, in relation to her newest edition, followed by the FBI filing federal charges, including kidnapping and flight to avoid prosecution and a slew of other crap. They also took aim at me, fully disputing my account of what had happened at the hotel between Federal agents and my personnel. They also charged me with conspiracy to assault federal officers, in conjunction with that and the interview. They went on in depth, of course, and by ten am eastern, the President had even issued a statement slamming me for interfering with a federal investigation, assaulting federal agents and conspiracy to commit a felony act and a few other things.
Through my contacts, I knew those minimal charges out of Texas were shoved down their throat, and not made by choice, on their part.
The FBI had even not so subtly insinuated that Lily may have murdered those men, or been complicit in it. They also suggested I was withholding information and aiding and abetting a felon, which was funny since she hadn't been convicted of anything.
By two, yesterday, everything we had set up started being fired with all guns. I went down at precisely two pm and spoke briefly with the reporters. I told them, first, here is a tape of both encounters with federal agents, on the night in question, which was especially good, since multiple cameras with different angles had been set up in and around the lobby and mezzanine, capturing everything said and done in the second encounter.
I also provided them with similar tapes of our meeting with the FBI agents that morning.
I simply told them to go watch what was on them. I also slammed President Ashwood and the FBI for their scurrilous and completely unfounded allegations against Mrs. Manning and myself. I also didn't make it a point to be subtle when I asked exactly how Mrs. Manning, who was with me at the time of the murders, after just finishing a live interview could possibly make it from here to Dallas in ten minutes.
Then, I left, leaving an uproar behind me and an unseen smile upon my face.
Next was at two-thirty pm when Lily's attorney had called for a press conference at which he spent considerable time doing what I wish I could do and that was lambasting Ashwood, the FBI and anyone else, basically tearing them multiple new assholes and also stating that he was filing several lawsuits over several issues, all of which would end up costing the multiple parties lots and lots of monies. Then, as he pulled out a copy of a sworn affidavit from me, stating that Lily had been doing the live interview with me, and then had been with myself and Linda, afterwards. Further said affidavit said we had our protection detail and video that could confirm that.
It was the final piece I was waiting for, as the attorney went into a lengthy tirade against the accusations of kidnapping, etc. that had been made. After said speech, he pulled up a certified copy of the adoption decree.
Chaos erupted, and he pointed to a table behind him, then walked away.
That literally blew everything up in their faces and we didn't need to do a damn thing, we just sat back and watched, while doing a lot of laughing while we were at it.
Two weeks later:
It would be November, soon, and it was today finally that President Ashwood issued what could I suppose be called some sort of apology. Linda and I watched with absolute glee, as he had to force every word such as they were out of his mouth.
Afterwards, even though reporters were yelling questions to him right and left, he promptly turned on his heel and strode rapidly out of the press room.
In the last two weeks, all the charges against Lily and me had been completely dropped and other than being listed as someone they wished to speak with in person about events at her house that night, there was nothing against her anymore.
The thing was that she had spoken with them multiple times, as had Caitlyn, over video conference, but for some reason they didn't accept that.
Too damn bad.
Also, to my satisfaction, a number of federal agents had been terminated and charges were pending on several. The FBI had issued a forced public apology to me the following day, after the release of the video recordings.
The last two weeks had seen people slamming Ashwood right and left from media to people on the street over what he'd said and done, not to mention what many were suspecting he may have done and with some well placed snippets what he might have actually tried to do to Lily's children.
Meanwhile, he had begun extending the tendrils of his traitor/subversive plan farther out, which was not really taking hold, but was unfortunately turning up more and more.
Meanwhile, we kept campaigning but not too hard, since we really didn't have a rival to fight against and we kept up our attacks upon what Ashwood had done these past three years, but more importantly, what all the Presidents before him had done and how our country began and had been until he came into power. We also began our strategy of what we would do to make it right, and what I'd done in twelve years as President. I had a damn good record for twelve years and I began using it.
Oh, we'd do much more later, but the groundwork was being laid. Not to mention we were quite enjoying the fact that Ashwood et. al. were going absolutely crazy trying to track Lily, and were getting absolutely nowhere, although I'd heard of one incident where a guy excitedly reported he had it and was tracing it. Ashwood and all got on video conference and at the end, the guy announced it was coming from the Premier of Russia's office on their direct line.
Sadly for the guy, shortly thereafter, he suddenly received a transfer to a remote listening post in the Arctic.
That made us laugh even more.
Well birthdays, Christmas and New Year's had come and gone, by now, and we were still out campaigning. The birthdays, as always, were special times for everyone and the twins had turned nine, which meant next year at this time they'd be the first of our babies into the double digits. It just didn't seem possible they had grown up that fast.
It seemed like yesterday that they were babies, literally, and now look at them, I thought as I watched all the kids playing out in the snow and having loads of fun.
They just grow up too fast, if there was only some way to keep them little forever.
Already, our true babies were coming up on their first birthday, and it hardly seemed like that much time could have gone by so quickly, yet here we were with next month marking that first year of their life.
I didn't know why this melancholy mood had struck me while sitting here alone, watching out the huge bay window at the kids, while waiting for the meeting to start in a few minutes, but it had.
Somehow, I felt each second as extremely precious and yet at the same time slipping away from me.
I guess I was getting old or something, watching the little ones playing outside with boundless energy as they were. I knew my love would be bringing them in, in the not too distant future, to fill them up with hot cocoa made the old fashioned way with milk and whipped cream on top. It would be too soon for them, but not soon enough for Linda to have them in. The age old argument between parents and children about everything.
They just played and played and becoming frozen in the process was something that just didn't cross their minds, as it had never crossed mine and as I got Linda to admit one time, hers either.
I had to chuckle softly to myself at that, thinking back to that night snuggling together in bed and after she told me she had grabbed onto something making me promise to never tell the kids that or she'd cut it off.
"What's so funny?" I heard and turned around to find Rick and the rest of my lead team entering and taking seats.
"Oh just remembering something with Linda is all," I replied before asking, "So what have you got for me."
Rick looked at Mike who said "Well, it's more of the same, only it's confirmed that he's stepping up moving the chess pieces on the board."
"It goes with what we're getting, too, Jack, it looks like he's setting up a game plan of negating the election, come November if you win, which the polls say you definitely will, and by a large majority, at that. Of course, this is very preliminary but as time goes by, we will be getting more intel in, and can better gauge what possible scenarios there might be." he said before pausing for a moment or two to see if anyone had any comments before continuing on, "None of what's come in so far leads us to believe he's going to go quietly come next January. Not only that, but the background chatter regarding an assassination attempt is still out there, and not dissipating as we had hoped." he finished up looking back to Mike.
None of this was good news, it sounds like if he didn't kill me, he'd try and plunge this country into a civil war at best, or possibly martial law at worst. Then, of course, there was the possibility of both.
Damn the bastard.
Mike began again saying, "It looks like he's setting up his own not so little military cadre which, if it continues along these lines could end up presenting a problem."
"What are we looking at?" I asked, already fearing the worst.
Mike hung his head a minute before raising it and looking straight at the President. "Sir, he's increased his buildup of personnel loyal to him, including commanding generals in key positions, while moving others out. The Generals of course are stacking the rank and file with people who will follow their and the President's orders, first, and above all else. If this continues on this path as we think it will, then by November, he'll have several DACs who are loyal to him, and not the oath they swore."
"Shit!" I muttered in consternation.
I know I had a lot of friends in the military, both those which I had served with as well as those I had worked with during my Presidency, but this wasn't shaping up to look like a very good picture to me, at all.
Mike had given me a moment, thankfully, as I thought out the ramifications and when my head came out of my hands, he continued, "Sir, long term projections based on the data we have now, and over the last three or so years, indicate that he has DAC three totally under his control, as of right now. He mostly has DAC Two under his control, and projections indicate total control by November. In addition, DAC four looks like it might be a mess. The northern area command we're fairly confident is, or will, go with Ashwood and all, since they are so close to DC and are part of the moving around pieces game. The southern part, our projections indicate may refuse to support him and support you instead, thereby having basically a civil War within one Defense Area Command zone. Also, we and the projections indicate most, if not all, the southern states will fully support you and fight against Ashwood." he told me, stopping for a bit to let me absorb it all.
It sounded like civil war to me, both militarily and civilian wise. Christ, that is something we did not need. How could this egomaniac take us over that edge of all things?" Had he completely lost his friggin mind or something. Someone had to be telling him similar information. Damn.
I nodded at Mike to go ahead and he continued. "Right now, you have a solid lock on DAC five and most of six, while projections show six going your way in totality by the election. Zone 1, considering who is in command, I would say is totally in your corner. Would you like a breakdown of the states and which among them is projected for each side?"
That was too much, as I stood and said, "Hell no, I don't want projections on a civil fucking war, and who will be on what side. It's bad enough that it looks like there might be a military one. Not to mention the crazy son of a bitch has the launch codes. He's fucking nuts enough to nuke one of our own bases, or even cities, for God's sake." turning my back and going to the window, I looked out at the now childless snow and tried to calm myself some. I knew blowing a gasket wasn't the best of ideas, but to think of a military brother fighting military brother was unthinkable and to top it off with a civilian civil war was even beyond that.
While I knew if it came to that, I'd lead the country down that path in order to save it, I sure as hell didn't want to be that person.
Finally, after calming slightly, I turned and returned saying, "Sorry about that, and yes before you ask, I do have the stomach to go down that road if we must, but I'll be damned if I'll do it unless that's the absolute last fucking choice. Frankly, it's likely he'd nuke a city or two on our side if it came to that, in an attempt to win such a war. The cost is almost, almost but not quite too high to pay, to save this land, which I will do at any cost. None of you need to worry about me doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. I sure as hell won't like it, but I WILL do it."
"Yes sir," were the replies from those assembled.
"Alright, any other news?" I asked.
Rick spoke up then, "Well, lots of heat from both houses of Congress. He's openly defying them now, and they're not happy campers, except for the few that got elected with him. The Supreme Court ruled, as you noted the other day, that his executive order regarding restrictions on the press was unconstitutional, as well as his gun legislation from last year. Sources tell me he is now going to be trying to ban gun ownership nationwide, as in a full outright ban on owning any type of firearm. From what we're hearing, both houses of Congress will be basically talking it to death, prolonging anything for as long as they can, hoping they can drag it out to the election. They, and everyone else, are afraid another executive order will be forthcoming if they don't at least play along with it for a while. The big question will be, how long they can get away with it. Ashwood is already planning an executive order, by the way." he told us all as we shook our heads in disbelief.
"The man's completely over the wall," Johnson Elliot stated into the silence.
"I think we all know that, already, J," I said laughing.
That broke up the tension somewhat.
"Well, we knew it would come. He thinks removing weapons will make his complete takeover much easier, since no one would be armed to protest it." I said, smiling as several people around me snorted in amusement.
"About like last year's executive order, where hardly any law enforcement would do a damn thing he ordered, regarding guns." Mike said, still smiling.
"Yeah, no one but a few gun nuts in the law enforcement community and his cherry picked guys at FBI and ATF. I still don't understand why there is any debate in this matter. With the laws made by previous administrations, and the final laws the Congress and I made, I thought the whole debate was wrapped up."
"It'll never be wrapped up, for some. They still think owning guns should be severely restricted, or outright banned." Rick added.
"Well, we, as a whole, put together sensible legislation that applied to all states and codified it into law. Everything we did during my twelve years stood up to Supreme Court Justice's decisions and not by some five-four crap, either. I think the worst we got was six-three in our favor. Look how crime went down and the criminals started getting shot right and left, and life was much better. Even if the American Gun Association fought us on some of the things, like professional police training courses and certification before a CCW permit would be issued. Add the required intermediate gun and gun safety class, for anyone who wanted to own a gun, and you saw accidental shootings and the like drop like a rock, as well. Plus, training of the kids in the minimum to know what to do if they came across a gun, reduced childhood accidental shooting to less than one hundred a year, last time I checked." I said.
The others started laughing and I realized I'd sort of been sounding like I was on a campaign speech, but then again, each and every one of them knew how important gun rights were to me, and my belief of their importance to the country as well.
"Okay, okay you can cut it out now, I know I what I just sounded like, already."
"Yeah, it's still funny, Jack, you're not only giving us a campaign speech for something that you already passed, but you're preaching to the choir on this." Mike just had to say.
"Yeah, yeah, real funny. My fault, I know, but what he's been trying to do and those Sheriff's he's arrested and put in Federal prisons are still rotting in those jail cells." I replied.
"Well, it is a first priority item when you take office, Jack. Hell, there is not one county across the country who had a Sheriff taken that has not left his spot open for when he gets out. They all stand behind them." Rick said.
"Yeah, I know. I just wish we could do something as I've wished since it began." I replied, sighing before leaning back on the couch, relaxing.
After a moment, I asked again, "Anything else?" to which Rick spoke up. "Well, other than some other stuff that looks like it might be coming down the pipe in a few months, and some petty stuff on his part, not really." he told me.
"Petty stuff?" I queried.
"Yeah, usual BS. He wrote himself a higher salary again, while cutting that of both houses of Congress. Named a couple more things after him, that kind of thing." he responded.
"Petty ass mother fucker!" I said, which got everyone laughing, before I asked if anybody had anything to add, or any questions.
The answer was no, and after saying goodbye, they all got up and left, except Rick and Mike which was not unusual at all.
After sitting there for a while, Rick finally came out with it. I knew one of them had something to say, since there wasn't the usual banter back and forth after a meeting such as this.
"Jack, you're not going to like this; one of those things in the pipeline is that in addition to what he's already done, he's going to try and undercut or outright repeal legislation regarding gays.
Now I saw red. "That cock-sucking motherfucker! What the hell does he think he's playing at?" Several administrations, for some time, had removed the stigma associated with being gay, but I got to put the final touches on the last of all that had come before. It was one of several things I considered among my greatest achievements, and things I could stand up proud about.
"What he's always been playing at. An intolerant view of the bible which he thinks everyone should be under." Rick said.
"Maybe I'm being egotistical or something, but it seems at times he'd doing things to deliberately piss me off," I replied, now truly pissed off.
"He's probably just petty enough to be doing exactly that." Mike informed me.
I turned quickly to Mike and asked point blank, "How is it going with Project Medusa?"
Mike looked at me for a moment, long and hard before answering. He, Rick and I had been over this many times before, and while it was something drastic and certainly not to any of our tastes, due to this man, it had to be laid out on the table to see if it was a viable option if things went way south, which I was personally seeing more and more of a likelihood as time went on.
"Same, we can terminate Medusa, but the snakes are all around and extend even further. We're still looking at ways to kill all of them at the same time, or if it's even feasible to do so." Mike replied.
"Let's take a look at this from another angle, and your intel people will have a job to do, but let's look at this from the objective of taking out the head and then count how many snakes that would actually continue the head's plans and not allow the normal transition of power after an election," I told them, Mike, in particular.
"You think the snakes might not have the stomach to carry on what the head started?" Mike asked me carefully.
"I think there are probably at least a few that would, yes. The question is, how many of the rest wouldn't have that stomach. It's fine, they're all attached right now, but what about when severed from said head?" I asked
"Damn, why didn't we think of that?" Mike asked, not looking too happy, as Rick jumped in.
"He might be on to something here, Mike. I mean, a few close in snakes might have the stomach to set off a nuke, bypass the chain of succession, or start a civil war, but how many of the more distant ones would? And of all of them, how many close or distant has the actual stomach to do it? You may just find the nest not nearly as full as you thought it might be, in that regard at least."
"You're right, damn it." Mike said, before excusing himself from the room. I knew he'd be going to shake the tree and hard, at that.
Rick laughed and lit a cigarette while I lit one of my own, before saying, "I think that's about it, Jack, there are things I'm hearing, but i'ts way to soon to make anything concrete about them. The intel people all have the info, so they're keeping eyes and ears open about them, to see if any clearer picture or any picture at all appears," Rick said.
I just nodded my head and got up to grab a Pepsi, asking Rick if he wanted one as well and getting a no, I went back over and sat down.
"Just remember, Jack there is really a good chance he's pushing your buttons on purpose, fitting in with his agenda, just makes it even better for him. Don't let it get to you." Rick told me, as I answered, "I won't, don't worry."
We sat there in companionable silence for a while, finishing our smokes before he took his leave, letting me know I probably had a bunch of other people to see that were waiting impatiently.
I started to ask him, but he opened the door and I got my answer as four boys stripped naked from their recent hot baths came running into the room heading straight for my lap, all trying to get to a piece of it.
It felt good, as they all jumped up on the couch with me and I just hugged them tightly to me, kissing each and every one of them over and over again, starting with one and going to the end before repeating the process, all the time, with fingers wandering sides and bellies getting giggles in return.
I can't tell you how long I spent under that mass of giggling loving gaggle of boys who I should mention were kissing and hugging me when they could, as well, before Linda came in smiling and sitting next to us on the soft cream leather couch.
Then it was MOMMY! no matter how many times she'd told them she wasn't deaf and they all went to her for a while, before splitting their attentions on each of us, switching off on a regular basis, like they had it all worked out so each would constantly be with one and then the next, on a rotating basis.
I even got a chance to surreptitiously place my hand on her stomach and give it a quick rub which got a knowing smile from Linda.
All I knew was how much I treasured each and every second of such times and wished they would never come to an end. Usually, I'd end up with a couple snuggling in with me while Linda got the same treatment. It relaxed me and made me feel so wonderful to just hold them and love on them.
It made my life complete, and I always hoped to have a house full of little ones even if I knew I wouldn't have, some day. They would, as nature intended them, grow up, but in the meantime, I spent every second I could loving on them, although Linda said I was spoiling them rotten.
I simply told her you can't spoil a child with too much love, and after all, they got into their fair share of mischief, which they got punished for, so they weren't getting spoiled. At least that's what I told her, but somehow, I think she still believed I spoiled them, not that she didn't do her fair share of that kind of spoiling either.
Finally, as usual, I ended up with two snuggled into me while two were doing the same with Linda. We'd put in a movie and all of us were watching it, just relaxing and enjoying things for a welcome change.
On the campaign trail, there never seemed enough time to do this, but here in our Kentucky home, we always made sure we had plenty of time and I wasn't wasting a second of it.
I walked out from behind the curtain which had been set up to the podium and stopped, refusing to answer any questions until quiet pervaded the room.
"Thanks, and let's keep it this way, shall we?" I stated, although I got no answer.
Pointing to a reporter out in the middle, she promptly stood up and asked, "Mr. President, do you have any comment on the recent introduction of legislation by President Ashwood to ban gays from working, being around, fostering or adopting children?
"Yes, I do. The comment is stupid! This legislation flies in the face of years of bringing about full equality for gays in all manner of life, to be on par with the rest of the people of this country. The legislation which President Ashwood has introduced is stupid, harmful to not only gays, but unknown numbers of children as well. It's an outright assault upon their person and most importantly, their rights. Think of the many, many families out there this would completely destroy. Hundreds of thousands of children, if not millions, have been born, fostered or adopted by gays, and this legislation would take those children away from deeply loving parents and the parents away from their children. Our party has fought for what we have now, for many, many years. Look at how many children became fostered and adopted here in this country when massive child services reforms were passed, including guaranteeing that home prospects were to be given the same chance as any other person to foster or adopt a child."
I stopped a moment, holding up one hand as I took a sip of water from the cup in the other before going on.
"All the arguments against were proven completely wrong, and they had been before the comprehensive legislation it was my privilege to introduce and see passed with members of both houses of the Congress in session at that time, and alongside me, working and making it happen. The thousands upon thousands of children in group homes, juvenile detention centers, because of nowhere else to put them, and many, many others began to be fostered and adopted as part of a complete package passed back then. This kind of legislation is not what our country stands for, it's not what it's about, and it is just plain wrong. It's also prejudiced, unfair and extremely harmful. I will lend my full support to seeing to it that this piece of crap never sees the light of day." I finished up.
The reporters looked stunned, except for the vets who had been around me when I was President, and I quickly found and pointed to one of them.
"Mr. President, after that, I suppose this won't get the shock your previous response did but have you any comment to President Ashwood's call for you to disclose the location of Mrs. Manning, so she can be directly questioned, regarding the murders which took place at her residence?" he asked.
I suppose I should mention here that the gloves had started coming off a few weeks ago, and I was more than ready for a fight if he wanted one.
"Certainly. I really strongly suggest the White House doctor check President Ashwood's hearing, because it's been said so many times and he's apparently not getting it, for some reason, it's either the incapability to understand something simple, or his hearing must be damaged, at least that's the only two things I can think of. Look, Mrs. Manning has responded to many interview requests with numerous branches of law enforcement over the course of these many months, she's remained in hiding. She has gone up, down and sideways to answer them fully and completely. She's even allowed some of her older children to speak with law enforcement." I paused again, taking a sip of water before continuing.
"So, Mrs. Manning, by any definition, has been fully co-operative and forthcoming with various law enforcement agencies which have questioned her and her children. There is no need and there is more than enough reason for Mrs. Manning to fear for the safety of both herself and her children, and therefore, will remain in hiding. The insistence of the President's continued demands that she come out from hiding are extremely baffling to me, and it makes me wonder why he wants her to be out and a target again." I paused to let that sink in to a couple of gasps of those who got it the first time around, before finishing the questioning. "And as I've also repeatedly said publicly, as well as to various law enforcement agencies in private, Mrs. Manning did not and to this point in time has not informed me of where she went into hiding. President Ashwood can call for me to disclose that information until the end of the world, but it won't make a bit of difference, because, once again, Mrs. Manning never told me where she was going or she went."
Another hand went up, and I pointed to it, and I got the question of, "Do you have any further comments on the gun control issue?"
"Well, I was going to say no, until you said 'Gun control issue', which this legislation President Ashwood has introduced is NOT! This is in no way gun control, at all. It's a blatant all out attempt to ban weapons in the hands of law abiding citizens in this country, and that's all it is. We had reasonable and logical gun control in this country. What he wants is not that. This is a direct attack against the second amendment of our Constitution, the People's protected right to keep and bear arms, and our fundamental freedom in this, our country. He wants to take away ALL firearms for ALL citizens unless they are active duty military or law enforcement. All guns. I'll stand here and say right now, that President Ashwood, you, sir, will never take my guns, and I will never give them up, nor register them."
The rest of the press conference was fairly anti-climatic after those questions, and the explosion which took place following the gun answer. Some skirted those issues again as always. Seems the reporters kept trying to find new ways to ask the same question, so they got a few new ways of saying it's stupid and idiotic to add to their sound bytes for the evening.
By the time I got back to my room, Rick was in quite the good mood.
"What's got you so happy?" I asked, taking off my tie and jacket while grabbing a Pepsi and a cigarette, which I proceeded to light.
"Well, besides you in that press conference kicking his ass, sources are already telling me, we may not have to worry about him anymore, because they think he's going to have a stroke."
I quickly looked at him and said, "You're joking, right?"
He shook his head and said, "Probably, but I can tell you his blood pressure is way up, he's throwing either a major tantrum or a series of semi-major ones, all over the White House. He's throwing things and screaming at the top of his lungs, not to mention he's fired three people already who happened to be in the wrong place during this. So who knows we might get lucky," he said, finally giving in to full throated laughter which I couldn't help but join. Wouldn't that make life much simpler.
Linda walked in about then and set off a fresh round, just as we were finally calming down from the first when she said, "Hi honey, you do know you going to get that disgusting man a stroke if you keep doing this."
Even though she said it with a gleeful smile on her face, so I knew she was enjoying every minute of what she'd seen, it still sent Rick and me into convulsions again and then her asking what? didn't help any at all.
Eventually, we got control of ourselves enough to explain it to her which then set all of us into another bout of laughing.
By the time Mike walked in and found us, he wasn't sure whether to call the medics or the guys with the white coats, thinking maybe the stress had finally sent us all over the edge.
It was repeated when we finally could explain it to him as well. By the time we were all done, with tears running down our faces from so much laughter, we realized just how much stress we'd been under and how much had left with this laughing bout.
God, did it feel good.
June 6th 2012
It had been the culmination of a foregone conclusion, but I had won the open primary in a virtual landslide.
We were watching it come in on the TV like we were supposed to do, and mainly so we could later truthfully state we had, although we spent more time playing with the kids than actually watching the damn thing.
After all, what was the point.
At this moment, this election was a foregone conclusion.
Everyone knew it, and were just waiting for November to come along to make it official. Other than a few radicals, no one wanted any more of Ashwood, no matter what. If there were some way of removing him sooner, they would do it, but as of now, they figured to just wait a few more months and the headache would be solved.
They, of course, were very wrong, according to our intel.
There had been secretive talks for several months now, on impeachment, but things went nowhere on it as they hoped to just see him gone in the normal way. It was few that knew that it wasn't going to happen.
As I looked at my kids and those of Mike and his partner, who had come down for the occasion, I couldn't help but think why would anyone even want to separate such a happy family, yet Ashwood was drumming his drum non-stop on the two bills he'd introduced earlier this year.
What few knew, and others suspected, was that he'd reached his boiling point some time ago, and was decidedly not pleased with the constant debates that ended up resulting in nothing at all happening. He'd even taken the extraordinary step of convening both houses of congress in a joint session, just so he could harangue them about not moving forward with his two bills.
That, of course, endeared him even more to the Senate and Congress.
What those of us who knew, or the ones who strongly suspected, was that Ashwood's boiling point had been reached long ago, and he was going to sign executive orders to both laws next Monday, if full implementation of the laws hadn't been advanced in the Congress and Senate.
That meant trouble was coming.
Trouble which I feared would result in a major escalation, which could quite possibly throw the country into civil war before we even got to November, and it was going to start next Tuesday morning when a unanimous opinion was issued by the United States Supreme Court, finding both laws illegal and unconstitutional, along with other things such as discriminatory and a direct and deliberate assault upon the Constitution, which the President had sworn a duty to uphold and protect, along with a scathing commentary of his failing to do so, and actually contravening it.
Everyone else that Ashwood had pissed off, including SCOTUS as well. I also knew they were charging him with several crimes, including contempt of previous rulings.
Yep, next week all hell was going to break loose, and I was sincerely afraid of where the pieces would fall and how much harm this country may end up enduring.
I'd already told Mike he could keep his family with us, or in with Lily. He said he was going to talk it over with his other half and get back to me, but knowing them, I doubt they'd turn tail and run and their oldest was liable to go out and give Ashwood a piece of his mind all on his own.
Have to make a note to myself about that, and to keep a watch on him, because if there was ever a kid to do it, that kid would be Mike's.
They'd been through enough, and really didn't deserve this anymore than any of the gays did, but sadly, it wasn't up to me, at the moment.
I had to smile, thinking back to the trial they had been through. Mike's boy had balls that was for sure, because through all the intimidation that the prosecutor tried to radiate, the kid had just thrown it off and left half the country laughing their asses off, and the other half choking to death while laughing their asses off.
Thinking back to it, that one question and answer had ended the trial, because the prosecutor just couldn't recover from that. He'd not had a good time of it already, when the boy had taken the stand and was asked by the idiot if there had ever been any sexual activity taking place in their home. The boy's face had made the funniest expressions before saying "Well, I guess dad and papa do it," Then the prosecutor stepped on his crank by saying, "That's not what I mean. Has there ever been any type of sexual activity that has gone on in that house besides the two men?" The kid had just looked up and with a completely innocent look that remained on his face throughout, replied "You mean do any of us kids play with our dicks, Jeez, we're boys, we're always playing with them."
Of course, his brothers in the background being overheard by the microphones saying "Is he like stupid or something?" didn't help matters, no not at all did they help.
That, as they say, was the end of that, the poor prosecutor actually had to be hospitalized for a period following those events.
I shook my head and Mike noticed, asking if something was wrong. I told him no, just trying not to laugh, remembering his son at the end of the trial.
That brought a loving smile to his face as he looked over to said son, before turning back to me and saying, "I don't know what I ever did to deserve such a sweet lovable creature in my life."
"I don't think any of us do," I replied softly, looking at mime as he silently nodded in agreement.
Mike's kids and his partner needless to say, were his life, as mine and Linda were mine.
It never ceased to amaze me that when all the kids from our two families got together, they all got along better than when I had mine alone. It was like they were all truly one family, and I knew they all loved each other like brothers, but it still amazed me how harmonized, I guess the right word would be, that they were.
Mike caught my attention and when I looked up at him, he softly said, "We're worried that staying will present unnecessary problems to you."
"You, and that that equally thick headed guy you're so in love with, listen to me, because I'm not going to say it twice, you got that?" I told him, to which he replied, "Yes Sir!"
I had to laugh at that before saying, "I don't give a damn about what anyone thinks or says. You decide what to do based on what you all think is best for your family, and that is to be your only consideration, understand?"
"Well, sir, then we've decided with that already mentioned caveat, that we don't want to run and hide like rabbits trapped in a hole, literally. We want to stay and fight, but more importantly, rub his fucking nose in it," he said before quickly adding, "Sir!"
He had been smiling with a feral grin on his face the whole time, and I responded with "Then lets rub it in real good!"
Of course, somebody had to overhear that last part and ask, "Rub what real good Uncle Jack?" giggling the whole time.
"Your butt after I turn it bright cherry red," Mike said with a straight face. That brought the boy up quick, as he cocked his head and looked intensely at his father before grinning and saying "Un uh."
Mike started to make a swift move towards the boy and that resulted in a high pitched squeal as the boy was up and out of the room before I even realized it.
Both of us broke down in complete laughter at that.
It didn't last long, as a sulky voice said, "You were teasing me again, weren't you?"
Mike looked up at the voice, and still laughing, said, "Well, why don't you come over here and find out."
That brought silence from his son, and I noticed everyone in the room, who we suddenly realized, had been watching this whole series of events.
The boy in question just stood there in the doorway looking at his dad for a long minute before yelling "OKAY!" and taking a running leap directly into Mike's arms where some serious cuddling proceeded to take place. as I looked on with my own fond smile.
Several hours later…..
Several hours later, which translates to be as soon as decorum would possibly allow me to go out and do it, Linda and I, along with the kids, all headed to the ballroom, and I made damn sure Mike and his entire family were right up there with us when we took the stage, more of one big family than two separate ones. All the kids had been given drinks and drained their bladders, whether they wanted to be or not, so we should be okay there. They'd also had snacks, so the hungry problem should be taken care of, or at least long enough for me to finish my speech, I hoped.
And now, we were taking the stage, my family and extended family around me with Mike and his partner standing next to Linda and the kids, all intertwined between us.
I spent a few moments, as usual, saying thank you, thank you, until the applause died down, and I could start my speech. I really hoped this would have some value in the end.
"Once again, I would like to thank you, and my wonderful family, including these fine gentlemen next to me, and of course, all our children, for the sacrifices both have made to see me reach this point in the electoral process. Tonight, I'd like to remind you a little about my party and what it has accomplished since it came to power in 1965.
The New Republican Party, was formed, not just from Republicans, but also Democrats and Independents. Great Americans who have only one goal in mind, doing what is, and was, truly best and right for this Country. Caring for it's citizens, and protecting them was, and is, our overriding duty. In 1965, the True Republican Party put forth and had elected it's first President.
It, over the course of the last forty-seven years, has addressed a host of vitally important issues. Those Issues include integrating black people fully into our society. Those who, for what ever reason, did not want to integrate, were deported to wherever they wanted to go. This set the standard of, 'this is America, if you don't love it, then there is the door.
We've fought civil disturbances and put a rapid stop to gang violence, riots, and the like. Showing the country and the world this type of animalistic behavior would not be tolerated here in this country, on our streets.
In the course of our tenure, we have addressed the issue of welfare, equitably and fairly, instituting programs to actually help the poor and those who have fallen on hard times, and provided them with meaningful spending to ensure they can climb up out of poverty, and out of their problems to lead productive and quality lives." I paused as applause broke out, and took a sip of water, letting it die down before continuing.
"We have spent the money to raise those in need, up, we have provided free training or higher education to those who wanted it and needed it. We stopped the practice of giving just enough to eke out a subsidence level living and provided real support to real families but that is no longer true today because of this President. Yet, we also set sound limits and features to guarantee there would never be a permanent welfare class in this country.
We took those who wanted to stay on welfare for the rest of their lives, and forced them to work. We took those that wanted to work, but could not find a job, and trained them to work in a different field, one that they chose. We helped to bring people out of the need of welfare, and brought them back to a place where they could care for themselves and their families. We found that most people do not WANT to live off of government hand outs, and helped them, so they did not have to.
In the course of those forty-seven years, we have done much to be extremely proud of as both a nation and a party. We, along with several other nations, prosecuted the drug war to the fullest extent, while providing free help to get people whose lives were being ruined by those drugs off of those drugs." I again had to stop, at the wild applause that came forth.
Once again when it died down I went on. "As I said, we prosecuted the war on drugs to the fullest. We went to countries making these drugs and shipping them to our streets to harm husbands and wives, partners and sons, to harm our children. We went to them and told them, either you stop it, or we will. Some did, some didn't. For those who didn't, they learned the hard way that, much like you don't mess with this great state we're in tonight, you also don't mess with the US with impunity, and get away with it.
"Even through the naysayers and protesters, we prosecuted, to the full extent possible and with the dedication and perseverance of our fighting men and women, we won the Vietnam war. Because of that, we now have a regional cooperative group of nations which serve both our interests in that region, both then and still today. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Taiwan, The Philippines, are now full partners with us, along with Japan in the Pacific theater. While Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are close allies. They have become prosperous, and we, as well as they, have benefited from that outcome in tremendous ways. Politically, economically and culturally.
"In the course of those forty-seven years, we have seen the United States become fully integrated. We have fought off those who would invade our country, while providing a clear path for anyone else to coming here legally.
"We instituted a massive nation wide deportations of those who refused, after several opportunities, to integrate into out society. This is the United states of America! Yes we are the melting pot, but that does not give any group the right to come here and force us to change to suit them, they change to become an American. We made English the official language of this country, and offered support to anyone who needed to learn it. We were not cruel about it, but we would not spend billions catering to those who refused to become part of this great nation.
We passed laws which hurt the employers of those who refused to integrate, and hit them hard where it counts. We made living here illegally, a nightmare, and most left.
We built a secure, military controlled neutral zone, along our borders with the most advanced technology being used, then, as it is now to stop any further invasion of our sovereign territory. We fought another Mexican-American war, which was exceedingly brief, but ended up decimating the enemies forces. This showed, not only Mexico, but the rest of the world that, deliberate violations of our sovereignty for the purpose of alleviating their own internal problems would not be tolerated."
I stopped again as applause thundered through the room and took more of my water placed before me, wondering again at the stupid rule that you could only have water at these type of things.
Ah, time to go on once again. "This is the party and this is the country that refused to be intimidated by the oil cartels. We did not put up with the higher prices they wanted to impose upon us. We did that once again with the spectacular men and women of our armed forces, even though they weren't actually used in that conflict. That conflict taught us though that we needed to find our own sources of oil and/or different ways to power our needs. Not only in vehicles, but in many other aspects of our lives. What started in the 1970s because of the middle eastern oil nations, has brought us today to more efficient energy solutions and also to be virtually self sufficient, energy production wise. We do not have to depend on the whims of men on the other side of the world, to maintain our standard of living and low energy prices." I ended to loud cheers and more applause.
"While many would say it was the Republican Party that did this, the True Republican Party, let me tell you here and now that for forty-seven years, it has been you, the people of this great country, who have done it! It's been you…you who have made the innovations, it's been you who have sacrificed, and it has been you who have spoken out and spoken up about what you want, and where you want this country to go. It has been our privledge to take you there, but never forget we couldn't have done it without you!" I gave up because the ongoing applause had reached a level that even with the shouting and yelling, it was insurmountable.
This was one I'd have to wait out, as I looked at my entire family arrayed around me, all smiling and waving sometimes, enjoying the attention as most kids would.
After it quieted down, I tried again. "It has been you, the people who wanted energy that respected our environment, yet worked in the way you were used to. It was you who made the Congress, Senate, and President make those energy dreams come true, and leave our environment healthy at the same time. All without destructive polices to businesses. So we have the beautiful mountains from sea to shinning sea. We still have the amber fields of grain, and all are clean, because of our party's, and your invaluable help.
"When two hundred and forty-six Americans were taken hostage by a desperate regime in the middle east, over our increasing independence from them for our energy needs. Not to mention the fact that those in power hated this country and what it stood for. The President and both houses of Congress sat down with the military and drew up a concrete plan to get them back, while removing the threat, if not forever, at least for a very long time.
"As you all know from your history books, Operation Party Time was initiated. Our military went into harms way once again to protect this country and it's citizens, and rescued all but one hostage who had already been tortured almost to death and didn't survive. At the same time as they went in to retrieve those hostages, other parts of our military destroyed the country starting with its leaders and working out from there. That country for all practical purposes, no longer exists, and our people came home less than a month after being taken. America will never be taken advantage of and it will never bow to regimes such as that, nor will it be held hostage or allow its citizens to be either. We stand tall and we stand free and we don't take crap from anyone!!!" I ended loudly to the rising crescendo that quickly overwhelmed the room.
Several minutes later, and screw the tradition, with a Pepsi in hand, I continued.
"For forty-seven years, with the support of you the people, we championed many things from the civil rights movement to the Gay movement. Sometimes things didn't move as fast as we wanted them to, or should have done, but we kept in there fighting, and slowly but surely, in some cases, rapidly in others, changed a nation and its perceptions of people from being some special group to seeing them as Americans. Because Americans they were. It was you the people who made that possible, through frank and open discussion and representing the best parts of what makes America work. Without your support, the laws wouldn't have worked, plain and simple. As the old saying goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Well, America not only came, but drank well and fully, resulting in fundamental changes to perceptions of people who were different than them. Was it easy, no. It's hard to walk a mile in another person's shoes, for most people, but you did it. Do we have a ways to go considering there are people out there who still hate irrationally, the answer is yes. But I can assure you we will never stop trying."
Stopping for the applause once again, I sipped on my Pepsi some more before going back to them.
"Our party listened when you, the people, began presenting worries over the education system and where it was going. We began to fix the problem and make sure our students learned instead of not learning.
We banned the unions who were controlling teachers and controlling what went on in the classroom. We caught and forced out those educators responsible for educating our future teachers, but were instead filling these future teachers' minds with their own social agenda, whether is be right wing or left wing, and made sure they never taught again.
Then, we went after the teachers who were teaching this stuff to our children. Once we had rooted out the cancer within our education system, we began looking at curriculums and how your children's day was being conducted. Along with that, we looked into what and how they were being taught things outside the curriculum, which caused even more concern. This was yet another cancer within the existing system which needed removal, and we proceeded to do exactly that.
Then we took that curriculum and addressed it, changing it to emphasize the core fundamentals of what the children should learn. Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Then other important materials like art and music, increasing the core subject material taught, and the variety of material as the child aged through the system.
We got rid of the social engineering garbage that was being subtly, and many times not so subtly, force fed to your kids. No longer did your children come home lambasting you for smoking or not recycling, now they came home and discussed history, math, science and other subjects they were actually being taught. Heck, my oldest two bring me math that I don't even understand, and I have a masters degree or two." That got a lot of laughter and I noticed pink faces on my two babies. I gave them a loving smile then turned back to the crowd.
"In addition, we made sure to provide help and tutors/mentors to those children who needed it, to make sure no child, if we could help it, ever lost out on a full education. This has helped immeasurably in broken families, where there is no second parent. We've addressed the poor who used to be allowed, far too easily, to slip through the cracks of the system and become lost. But most of all, we took children from abusive homes, or who don't have a home, and gave them a parent or parents to give them a loving home in which they can learn.
The changes in the education system didn't happen overnight, but over years, we did it, and we did it with the wholehearted support of most of the American people. Today, we have a great educational system in this country where our children are learning and learning well. We're number three, world wide, which is pretty darn good in my opinion, and the teachers and staff at schools across the country are constantly trying to improve that, while still allowing children to be children.
We also corrected a very great wrong with teachers and staff in our schools, and started paying them more towards what they are truly worth. These teachers are responsible for bringing up, alongside the parents, the children of this nation, the future generation, which will inherit this country, and seeing them being paid less than the local garbage man was something that could not be allowed to continue. With such great responsibility should come commensurate compensation. We worked hard and we started down that path to where we reached the goal of getting them the salaries which they richly deserved. We've also worked to continue to fight to save children from slipping away, but we have even more work to do to make it happen."
Once again, wild applause broke out and I waited for it to die down before going on.
"We, over the course of those forty-seven years, have put more police out there in your communities, helped with training costs so your communities wouldn't be overburdened, and saw that their salaries reflected the job they actually perform which is to put their lives on the line each and every day. During my administration, we've joined with communities all across this country and put up a nationwide radio network that covers darn near every inch of this land. It allows all agencies in the public safety sector such as police, sheriff, fire, ems and some others to operate on a system that was built to primarily be easily upgradable and to work with high powered repeaters across the country. A person in Miami can speak over his hand held radio with someone who is in Seattle Washington. They can even have people from multiple cities all talking to one another. They don't have to use it though, and can stay on their own existing systems, or they can use both. Either way, my administration brought about the network with a lot of help from police, fire, ems providers as well as both houses of Congress. That and Federal agencies are on the system as well, with mutual aid channels available to everyone. The FBI can, with a simple change of the channel, speak to Dallas PD right now, and vice a versa.
In disaster areas, FEMA can communicate with local agencies and they with Fema again with a simple channel change. This is something that working with both houses of Congress, we were able to cut through all the crap and red tape and get it done, but not only that, get it done right. It went operational in mid-2010 and got a few kinks worked out to where it is now fully functioning the way it was supposed to. Our countries first responders can now communicate anywhere and anytime and I'm damned proud of that." I said to thunderous applause.
After it had died down, I started up again, saying, "I had the honor and privilege of being your President from 1996 through 2008. I had many proud moments during that time, whether with members of the public or with congress.
But almost everything I accomplished, was built on the backs of the Congresses and Presidents who came before me. I got to, many times, put the icing on the cake, but it was they who made that cake and baked it so it would be there to receive the icing I had the honor of spreading.
Two of the greatest things I accomplished during my time as your President, one especially that I am most proud of, are under unconscionable attack by the person who currently sits in the President's chair. That is the Final Gay Equality Law, which did away with the remaining restrictions in place on a significant portion of our population, and also enacted actionable laws to ensure such things as the right to become a foster parent or adopt a child, if qualified under the same qualifications as anyone else.
It did a number of other things, too, but that part is, to me, one of the most important, because a whole lot of children who desperately needed to be loved, were united with a parent or parents who were just waiting for a child or children to love. It created families where there had been none, and it gave hope to so many children as well as to so many prospective parents." I stopped, as the applause took over once more then continued.
"The other law was much tougher to pass, but again it's one I look back on with great pride in accomplishing it's passage. That law was a sensible and reasonable approach to guns in this country.
Neither side got totally what they wanted, but America got the best law to ever be passed in my book. This law closed a lot of loopholes, but didn't ban any guns, as many wanted and many more feared. It required background checks and permits, on all purchases of a firearm, through a store or gun show, or several other things.
But with the right to keep and bear arms, comes a great responsibility, and this law addressed that in plain and simple terms which are easy to understand and even easier to undertake and implement. If you want to purchase a firearm, you must submit to an FBI background check, a serious one. Assuming you pass that check, then you must complete an intermediate level full firearms course, and a safety course as well. If you pass that, then you may purchase and keep a firearm in your home, and transport said firearm with restrictions on how it may be transported, so it can't be accessible to any occupant of the vehicle.
If you wished to have a concealed carry permit, then you must undertake a full police firearms training class, the same as a police officer has to go through. If you didn't pass, then you didn't to carry concealed. But if you took the full course, and passed, you would be issued a Federal Concealed Carry Permit, along with identification and badge, stating you are fully trained and authorized. This class was also to include Federal as well as state laws governing firearms use.
The law also had another component in it. That was, if a person was interested, he could take additional required courses, which weren't that many, that would authorize him or her as a reserve police officer. Depending on what and how many courses set up by what agency, state or the Federal Government, the person could be a city or county reserve officer or one for the state. Alternatively, there was a Federal course that could be taken which would allow that person to be considered a reserve officer of the Federal National Police. The law also mandated a refresher course or courses, as applicable be taken every six months, or at the discretion of the agency involved, not to exceed every nine months in length between sessions.
The law also had a mandated portion in it to teach every child in the country basic gun safety, and what to do if the child should ever find a gun. All children had to take a refresher course every two years from the initial course, and that initial course began in kindergarten.
Crime went down, accidental shootings went down, and gun accidents involving children playing with guns, finding guns or accidentally firing a gun went way down. So this law had many positive effects. It included money to law enforcement agencies, and to assist people in taking the required courses, along with incentives to take further ones.
Another thing it did, I am proud to say, is that it put more police officers out there in various capacities, depending on how much training they had taken, out on the streets of America or in police stations and other jobs. Vehicles outfitted for law enforcement were provided to people who were fully trained, as well as agencies for those newly trained, if the officers didn't have need of a personal vehicle. It let the cities, towns, counties and states decide on what training had to be taken, how much and at what level would these reserve officers work, as to the needs of each agency. The only requirement of the agencies was that they not make the courses and obstacles more than a normal officer would have to undertake, in order to become a police officer." I stopped again because my mouth had gone dry, plus the usual applause.
"In the end, this cost the various governments very little if anything and gave them additional manpower. Sometimes, for more mundane tasks, and sometimes for full police work. It also had the effect of significantly boosting our fledging Federal National Police, which had started a year earlier, and was another of the accomplishments I was very proud of. A national police force under Federal law and jurisdiction who worked with local, county and state departments to assist them, not take over from them, thereby not only providing valuable resources to this nation, but also freeing up more of the resources of local agencies who now had many more units to disperse. They also were able to respond and work in anywhere they might be needed without jurisdictional issues."
This was also met with wild applause, as I sipped on my drink. It really wouldn't do me good to suddenly have to hit the bathroom in the middle of all this. I had highlighted some of our party's history; now it was time to move forward.
I began again, in a serious tone, this time. "Ladies and Gentlemen, not to mention munchkins, here this evening the first two of those laws has come under savage attack by the sitting President. As he has done in the three and a half years he has been in office, he has insistently attacked the foundations of this country, of America and of all that being America stands for. He ran as a Republican, but what he calls Republican is not what the founding fathers of the True Republican Party ever envisioned or wanted. Matter of fact, the True Republican Party, which I am a member of, was formed by Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, to combat exactly what this man is, and has done.
They were well aware of extremism on both sides, and extremists on no side, they sat down and laid out the overriding principles by which to form this party. They found sitting around the lunch table or dinner table, maybe at a bar after a long day or even in their offices, talking, and during that, they started noticing that they weren't really that far apart on most things. That being out in the public eye was blowing up small things into gigantic cavernous spaces, without any seeming way around them. But in those places where two, three, or four might gather, they found out the Democrats didn't want to decimate the military, and the Republicans didn't want a super sized one either. Both actually wanted one that was fully prepared to deal with whatever mission or missions might come up, and they wanted one that had the latest technology with which to work.
They found out that the Democrats didn't want to turn tail and run from an enemy, but to try diplomacy over a bomb, first. While the Democrats found out the Republicans weren't blood thirsty war mongers just itching for something to bomb, but that they believed that if it was necessary, that the US military wouldn't start it, but they'd damn well finish it, with the full support of the government. They found out, each, that the other wasn't as had been made out." I said, stopping to take another drink to some applause, then once again began.
"The Democrats found out that the Republicans didn't really want to starve poor and minority people and children to death, but simply felt lifetime welfare was unacceptable. While the Republicans found out the Democrats didn't want lifetime welfare, but wanted to make sure the poor had money with which to eat and pay for their heat and other necessities.
As time went by, they found things out on a host of topics. Some, they didn't quite agree on, and as you know, it can get a bit loud even, when I was in office. But on the whole, the combining and formation of the True Republican Party brought out the best in both parties. Though, since it ended up adhering to a great deal of true Republican philosophies, it came to be called the True Republican Party and eventually, even the true was dropped leaving a combination of Democrats and Republicans working, usually with each other, for the good of this nation. There was no room left for the extremeists, and they were shown the door.
In the last forty-seven years, we have made tremendous strides in so many areas. Who would have thought that today, Russia and most of it's member states are close allies, rather than enemies? That black children are treated the same as white ones. That we boost up those, white or black, who need it, and do everything we can to make sure they succeed. Now, don't get me wrong, we didn't focus just on white or black children, but made sure that every child, regardless of their race, religon, sexual orentation, disability, or anyhting else, got the same treatment as every other child.
Who would have believed, forty-seven years ago, that we would have recognized that gays are no different than you or I, or your next door neighbor. That they might be your son or daughter, and you just don't know it. Look at the suicide rate among teens, which has dropped since we stopped an us vs them mentality. Look at the strides and accomplishments this great country has brought forth, and look at how much more there is to do, don't let it stop." I paused again before quickly resuming
Because of his actions, the policies and more with which he has governed this country during the last three years, the problems which existed and we had been fighting to eradicate have instead been worsened. They have been turned back to policies of many years ago, they have hurt this country, and for some they have had devastating consequences. The decimation of the Prosperity Act which completely redefined what was once called welfare has placed millions back into subsidence living and for many its a life worse than that. Other diversions of funds or misappropriations of funds which have occurred have resulted in a drastic increases in homelessness. What is even worse is the appalling number of families, families with children who are out on the streets of this great nation without homes, places to stay, or even food in many instances, facing the elements, sadly even freezing to death in some instances which you all know about. But of all the horrendous results of this President's actions over the term of his occupying that office, I believe the worst to be the horrific number of children, alone or roaming in packs who have been put out onto the streets by his actions and policies. I've been told of two year olds left to fend for themselves with institutions turning them out on the street because they have no room due to Ashwood's policies and this is not America. This is not what we as a nation are or stand for. This is an abomination.
This time though when I stopped I was met with no loud cheering nor was I met with loud applause but instead an almost eerie silence had descended upon all as if they had finally had the enormity of what we were facing strike them. After pausing for several long moments I continued
"Listen to me, please, when I say that this man sitting in the President's chair does not represent the ideals, the fundamental philosophy of either our original founding fathers or what we have stood for over the last forty-seven years. This man does not represent you, the American people, he imposes in an almost dictatorial manner, laws and ideas which he has come up with, but which bear no resemblance to what this country is or is about. He defies the Congress and the Senate, going so far as to openly defy the Supreme Court of these United States. He has rolled back laws and reforms which have been made over decades, and even as we speak, he is trying to do it again. He no doubt has even more drastic plans for the future." I stopped for a few moments, as some were starting to applaud again from the silence of my last part, then I began again
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we MUST stop him, we MUST reverse the damage he has done and we MUST get him out of office, to do that. The United States has a wonderful future ahead of us, but not with him leading it. HE MUST GO! AND COME NOVEMBER, HE WILL GO, AND THEN WE CAN REPAIR THE HORRIBLE DAMAGE HE HAS INFLICTED UPON THIS GREAT NATION, AND MOVE FORWARD WITH EVEN MORE TO MAKE US EVEN BETTER.
"HE IS NOT A REPUBLICAN, HE IS NOT ACTING IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THIS COUNTRY, AND HE MUST GO THIS NOVEMBER, HE ABSOLUTELY MUST!!!!!
The room absolutely erupted and went wild and it was some little while before I could get the words out to say thank you for coming and good night, followed by handshaking and finally departure.
We all, thankfully, headed back to our suite and Rick made a motion to me letting me know there was something he needed to talk to me about.
I really didn't want to talk to him, or anyone, right now, but knew I'd have an interview in a while with a bit of time in between and that Rick wouldn't have said anything unless it was something important for me to know.
So when we got back to the room, I kissed Linda and thanked Mike and everyone for being there and told the kids how proud I was of their behavior tonight, then gave each of them, including Mike's, some huggle time and kisses before telling them I needed to speak to Rick a minute and then I'd be back before the TV interview.
Once in the other room, Rick looked at me as I walked over, grabbed another Pepsi, and pulled out a cigarette, lighting it on the way to the sofa. How I wished I could have smoked while on that bloody stage tonight.
Rick grinned and asked me, having already sat down, whether I wanted the good news or the bad news first. I just asked him if the good news was I didn't have to go on camera in a bit, to which he shook his head.
"Of course not," I muttered which caused him to laugh. He knew of my irritability when it came to interviews.
Just tell me, and let's get this over with so I can spend a few minutes with the kids before I have to go on.
Rick smiled and said, "Well your speech went over really well in the White House as you can imagine. I hear he's even worse now than the last time. We might actually get a stroke this time around. The doctor has already been called, although my sources say it's something to calm him way down with, or just plain knock him out for the night."
"Now that's the best news I've heard today. If only you could delay the doctor for a while though, but at least this gives him a good taste of what's coming in a few months." I said smiling.
He laughed, then turned serious and said "You're not going to like this at all."
"I usually don't, when it involves him, so what is it?" I asked.
"Well, to start with, it doesn't involve him," Rick said, which got me sitting up and saying "Oh?"
"Yeah, in a move probably meant to detract from your winning, and your speech tonight, five minutes after it started, a letter was released to the press from over one hundred and fifty nations." he said.
"What?" I asked totally confused.
"Jack it was a demand letter that the United States and the other super powers reconstitute the United Nations as a supranational body, and then a manifesto of what they expect once that happens." he told me.
"Oh they did, did they?" I asked with a very cold voice.
"Yes, and part of the letter was a condemnation of you and outright calling on the American people to not reelect such a person as the one who disbanded such a vital and much needed organization to office yet again, yada, yada, yada," he told me, as I sat back shaking my head. "Well, to start off, they can go fuck themselves twice over, so you can put out that as a press statement, when you're ready. Rephrase it of course, but make damn clear my sentiments get through." I told him.
"I will, and you'll get asked about it in the interview, by the way. They gave me the heads up on that. Just so you know, contacts have let me know the major powers have similar sentiments to what yours are, and are preparing statements but allowing you to go first, since you were the primary target of attack." Rick replied.
I nodded my head and said, "That sounds fine by me, and I have no problem with it coming up in the interview. If they think I'm bad for what I said in 2002, they're really going to get an earful, tonight. At least we don't have to worry about Ashwood wanting anything to do with them."
"No you don't, because he would want even less to do with them than you do, since it would hand over sovereignty to the UN when he wants it all for himself, as king." he told me.
"Alright, then, is there anything else or can I have some family time?" I asked him.
"Have at it; you have about thirty minutes to T-off" he told me.
"Okay, come get me when I have to go," I asked of him and he nodded as I put out my ciggie and got up to leave.
And that's what I did for the next thirty minutes, get mobbed by munchkins, mine and others, but all of it wonderful. It was them and Linda which kept me not only sane but going through all this. Having this to come home to was all worth it.
The time, however, ended all too soon, and I got myself presentable then went out and down the hall to where the interview would take place. They had to fix my hair, which had somehow gotten mussed up, and apply the make-up, but finally, I was sitting down and Brad, something, was ready to start.
He went through the usual questions one would expect, and I gave the usual answers, and then he asked some intelligent ones, to which I gave some thought and answered them as well. He finally came to the letter and asked me if I'd heard of it or read it.
"Well Brad, I've been given a brief summation of it, yes." I replied.
"And, sir, do you have any comment or statement you would like to make?" He asked this time.
"Actually, yes I do, but it wouldn't be able to be aired on television." I said, chuckling, with him joining in, before I picked it back up. "In the early part of my second term, after years of crap from third world nations who wanted nothing more than to leech off the first world countries, to support them… I reached a point, to where their increasing demands for us to cede at least some of our sovereignty to the poorer countries, their increasing demands for taxes on first world countries, for everything under the sun, with all the revenue going to them, and a host of other things.
I made the decision, which frankly had been thought about for some time before I came on the scene, to flat out tell them to pack up and get their keisters off our land, and pulled out, along with the other major countries in the world, from that organization… thereby disbanding it fully and completely." I told him.
"And do you have any regrets, Mr. President, about doing that?" He asked, to which I replied.
"Yes, Brad, I deeply regret that it wasn't done a lot sooner than the time it was."
"Those are pretty harsh words, Sir." he said.
"Well, Brad, the major superpowers formed the United Nations to better foster open communication and sharing of knowledge between us. It was also formed to address international problems, and/or incidents, in an attempt to prevent any escalation which might lead to military involvement and/or war.
It was primarily for the major powers involved in the second World War to be able to diffuse problems or potential problems, via a forum for open dialogue. In the past, after it was first created, other nations were brought into it and as time went on, it became a free for all for everybody to jump in. That was fine for a short while, as it was clearly established who was in charge and more importantly who was not.
It gave a voice to the supposed needs and voices of these countries' peoples. The problem came when the third world began to think the richer nations of the first world, owed them something, and that they should be getting it. They began to put anti-American and anti-western representatives as leaders of the UN and attacking either us as a country, or the totality of Western nations. They felt, for instance, that we should provide food, which we did, by the way, to countries that had starving populations, yet they would not take any responsibility for trying to change the culture. Most of these countries had populations in extreme excess of the land the country could support. They made absolutely no effort to try and teach their society that having ten children each was just not a sustainable path to be on.
Then they began demanding cash, which was provided, yet very little ever reached those in need, but instead went to governments or corruption within their countries. When we stopped the cash and went back to food, the food would be held in warehouses until it rotted, because the governments or corrupt officials were trying to sell it to those who couldn't afford it, instead of giving it away like they were suppose to." I told him before stopping to take a break and have a few sips of water as Brad asked me if that wasn't a little harsh.
"No, if anything I'm not getting into more things which were never made public that are worse than the items I'm mentioning. To continue, if I may, these anti-American and anti-western, third world countries started passing resolutions condemning us for a myriad of things they felt were unacceptable to them, mostly in terms of not giving them enough money, or not ceding enough control to them. The things that were going on, by the time I disbanded the organization, were so odorous in nature that, long before the G5 had been basically running their own UN, if you will, as it was impossible to put up with their constant attacks upon us.
But as I started to say, the demands for laws affecting our citizens, our children, our rights and our basic freedoms had increased to such a level that something long considered, became something easily done at the level they reached. You also have to keep in mind that we didn't stop helping other countries but we did insist it was our people in there overseeing where and how the money was being spent, so that it actually was there to help the people and not line some tin plated wanna be dictators' pockets.
We still go in and build damns like the recent one in India, along with such things as water processing plants and sewer systems. We just don't put up with these petty small piss-ants taking a crap all over us, like we did for a while there." I finished up.
"Well, I guess that is clear enough for the American people and certainly for these nations and their demands, Mr. President." Brad said smiling.
"Well, Brad, as you know, I've always spoken it straight and didn't mess around with a bunch of bull. I want the American people to understand me as I did when running for office the previous times. I don't want my words subject to interpretation, I want them out there plain and clear as daylight. If you don't like what I have to say, that's fine, but at least you'll know it straight on what it is that I am saying." I finished, still smiling while sipping some more of my glass of water.
"Mr. President, I found listening to your speech earlier you seemed to spend a lot of time on your party and it's history. Is there any special reason for that?" he asked of me.
"Oh, most definitely, Brad. I went into our history because I've noticed some comments coming up again about one party rule in this country, and that it might not be a good thing. Even though some may ascribe what I'm about to say to other motives, I'll honestly say I think it's the best system for our government, and I fully support it. I also support anyone who wants to challenge our party. If they have something better going, then by all means, put it out there and let people vote on it. The problem, though, with those who see it as a 'One party rule' of the country is this. It isn't." I said stopping allowing him to ask the question I knew he would.
"It's not? Then can you explain what it is exactly?"
"I'd be glad to, and I'll even refrain on the most part from repeating my speech from earlier." I said as he laughed and I joined him before continuing.
"The people who came up with the original concept and put it into motion were from all sides out there. This wasn't Republicans, or Democrats or some other party which formed this party; it was all of them. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and others coming together with the singular overriding mandate of 'Make what is best for this country, happen. Make it work'.
That motto still holds true, today. 'Make it work'. They're still what you'd call Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives and Liberals within the party, but they have all united under that one rule, do what's best for this country and make it happen. There are still differences, arguments and even sometimes fighting about things, but working under that core constraint, people get things done, period.
Trust me, just because you don't see the different sides out there having a peeing contest like we used to do when we were kids, doesn't mean that anything like other arguments, debates or opinions aren't there. They most definitely are, and those differences are aired, discussed and thought out, and the concepts of allowing this to take place are what make the True Republican Party what it is, and as successful as it has been all these years." I finished up looking to Brad.
"So, you're saying it's all the differences united to work things out under one banner that make it what it is?"
"Most definitely. I, for instance, might see something that looks simple to me and I send it on down to the legislature and they get to looking at it then come back to me and say what about this and this, which leaves me going oh, wow they're right, I didn't think of that. From there, we talk. How do we get from here to there and sometimes it comes down to, with this new information, do we really even need to go from here to there?" I replied.
"Well, thank you, Mr. President, it explains it in much more detail and makes for better understanding of the whole process. I do have another question, one I touched lightly upon earlier, but now I'd like to get a more in depth response from you. You really seem to have something against this President and have come out attacking him quite viciously already, so I would like to ask, is this something you're truly comfortable doing and why?" Brad asked.
"Wow, you sure pack a bunch of question into a couple of sentences there." I responded chuckling with Brad for a moment.
"Can you answer?" he asked of me.
"Of course. I firmly believe, heart and soul, that this man is the antithesis of everything this country stands for, has stood for, and that he's been leading this nation down a treacherous path, which is one, that for the entire existence of this country, has been the thing we fought against most. An almost theocracy headed by him. He has openly defied the legislature and Supreme Court, and he continues to lead us along this path of hatred, prejudice, bigotry and complete intolerance. It's not what our founding fathers fought so hard for, and it's not what our nation or its people are about. It's not us. It's the opposite of everything this country was founded upon and everything we have fought so long to protect and achieve. It's the opposite of what we are and definitely not where we want to be or go." I told him.
"Well, some are arguing that with the 60s Supreme Court decision, it made it clear that we are a Christian nation, and that this President is just attempting to codify it more into our societal structure than has been done in the past." He asked me, which I didn't see coming.
"Well, first of all, Brad, some people have always been zealots which is often found in any religion, but sadly, includes the Christian ones as well. Second, like racists and bigots, zealots want to destroy those who are not like them. They want to force their beliefs onto everyone else and further make those people live under the guidelines and rules of their religion, which they live by. This President, unfortunately, qualifies.
Referencing the 1962 case you probably mean, the Supreme Court made several things very clear, much as we had been operating under for a couple of hundred years. Their basis for their decision finding that this is a Christian nation founded upon the Christian religion was based on the famous Danbury letter which they looked at in depth. They then looked at the circumstance surrounding and communications regarding what led to such a letter being written, along with a whole host of other documents. As the evidence clearly showed, when put in context with that letter, the letter was designed to specifically address Danbury's worry that their sect of Christianity would be in disfavor with the state government, while another more accepted church would be given preferential treatment. And taken in it's entirety, within that all important context, it clearly showed Jefferson telling the Danbury church, that there was a clear separation and wall between government and religion, for the purpose of not showing preferential treatment to one Christian sect over another, as had been done in England, which they had fought the war of independence for." I stopped for a moment to drink some water wishing I could have a cigarette before continuing.
"Now the court expanded on what the founding fathers had said and meant, but which we had been living by for quite some time, and that was to make it clear and unassailable that all religions of any kind were welcome in this country, which I firmly believe in. They also made it clear that they would be treated equally under the law, but, yes it did establish what everyone had always known, which was the foundation upon which this country was built. The Court decision did not, and I want to stress that, did not, say that this ruling allowed any religion, Christian or otherwise, to be imposed upon the people in a repressive manner. I guess what I'm trying to say is that while the Supreme Court made a clear and concise statement against those who attempted to hold the Danbury letter up in isolation, to assert their claim of separation, they didn't allow any room to make this nation into a theocracy.
All Christian religious sects are allowed as stated in the Constitution, and a plethora of supporting documents, but all other religions are also allowed and are given the same freedom to practice their faith in the manner their religion dictates, without state or Federal interference. A Muslim child does not have to recite the general morning prayer of 'God bless our mom, dad, sisters and brothers etc. and God bless the United States', before the Pledge. Many schools have adopted a moment of silent prayer for the children, so each can pray or not as his or her religion would apply. That Muslim child would probably pray for the same thing only it would be to Allah rather than the Christian God, and these types of things make it easier. This is not what this President has done, it is not what this President is doing and its not what this President plans on continuing to do." I finished, hoping that would be the end of it.
"Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, this has ran a bit longer than expected, but it has been a very interesting and enlightening conversation. I'll just ask one last question and then we'll sign off for the evening here." He told me before asking what I had planned on doing next.
I told him I planned to take a couple of weeks or so, mostly off, to spend with my family and then I would be back out there speaking to the citizens of America.
We said goodnight, he thanked me again, and it was over, with me walking out already loosening this infernal tie, looking for everyone.
Rick, of course, met me and told me I did great even with the unexpected ones and he really liked my comments on the UN.
I just laughed and then found all the munchkins and the three parents sitting watching a movie. I went for mine and snuggled up after rearranging some kids and soon had wifey and munchkins draped all over me and we all watched the rest of the movie.
Well something I didn't think I'd be doing again is this, since I never planned on returning to writing. But here I am and it's all Roland's fault. Seriously finding out all the authors I'd be working with and the rules we'd be operating under along with the fact the headaches of the past would not be a part of this new universe we'd be writing in finally convinced me to agree, that and I was half asleep.
So I have returned after several years of absence and hope I can still write worth a damn. This part of the chapter which I wrote is the set up chapter for the new story. The other three admins/authors read and made some changes which I think made it even better. So a big thank you to Zachy, Roland and James Short for their help in this not to mention getting me to begin writing again.
I hope you enjoy the first of these chapters and since this one was split off from one chapter and we've added a lot already to the remaining bit so it shouldn't be too long before that goes up as well.
So many thanks to them and Darryl as well as Boxerdude for their editing skills which make this readable at all.
Until Next Time………………………….DS
The first thing that I will say is that I am so totally happy that Dark Star has begun writing again.
I really like this new story, which shouldn't surprise anyone, since I have been a huge fan of his work for many years.
One of the most wonderful things about DS's stories is that his political views make so much sense.
Having said that, you should know that his and my political views are, for the most part, polar opposite.
Here is the funny part. I would heartily agree with almost everything he postulated here.
The welfare system that is currently in place is a total disaster, in so many ways.
We have a situation where it is completely impossible for someone who is on welfare to reach a position where they can logically find work, and continue to work. As soon as they get a job, all support stops, and they are overwhelmed by all the bills they find themselves required to pay with no help of any sort.
I could go on for hours, but then, my rant would be longer than this chapter. I know, I have done that before.
Let's not go there.
I can already see that this story is going to be right up there, with Dark Star's previous stories. I am already totally involved, and can hardly wait for the next chapter.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher