I lay in bed, still thinking of what had transpired between Danny and me. I never thought of him as possible partner material. I mean, what if it did come out; what if the press does dig up those photos; and to the real point, who took the picture in the first place? I mean, Luke was almost three years ago.
I slept very little before my 6am alarm call. I had an early interview with Diane Sawyer; and she admires Danny more, so I have to be on my guard. The vote is in a few days, so a slip up now would ruin my chances.
I arrived at the studio with my entourage in tow; secret service flanking me. I got out of the back of the SUV and entered the building. Cameras flashing all around me; cheers from some sections, and, of course, the odd heckle.
"Good morning Senator Noda" Diane approached me with her customary smile. "And to you, Diane" I replied. We had met before and we got on okay; but I still wary.
"Thank you for agreeing to the interview. I know you must have a busy schedule" she replied. "Yeah, no rest on the campaign just yet" I responded.
The interview lasted just over ten minutes, and I could detect no mistakes. She wished me luck on the campaign. We left the studio and headed back to the hotel for a strategy breakfast. Danny's advice still irked me somewhat.
"Penny for them" said Sarah. "Oh, nothing. Diane's interview is still buzzing around in my head" I lied. "Are you sure? You look a bit distracted" she added. "Yeah sure" I responded, looking at my day planner on my tablet.
We ate breakfast and planned our route to gain the votes for the next phase of the campaign. I was up by 7% after the latest polls. The race was now just between Danny and I. My staff went door to door, rallying supporters, and battled some bad weather in doing so. We transported people via bus to vote; and at the end of the week, I sat in my hotel room watching the results being analysed. Shortly after 12am I received a call.
"Hello" I answered. I knew who it was; our own exit polls told us we were way ahead.
"Hello Bryce. Congratulations" Danny replied. "It was a good campaign" I responded. "Yes, it was" he added.
"Danny, it still has to go to the convention, you know, " I stated. "Formality" he responded. "Danny, the matter we discussed, I am not sure what to do about that; and then there is, well…you know…the moment" I hesitated.
"Bryce, as I said, if we can find out…look, enough over the phone. You want to meet up? Say, tomorrow afternoon…your hotel. We can put it down as a good loser wishing you well" Danny replied.
"Sure…what time did you have in mind?" I asked
"Early…you will have interviews all day, knowing the party" he added.
"Okay…how does 8a.m. grab you?" I asked.
"Perfect…see you then, Bryce; and again, congratulations" he added, and then hung up.
I walked back into the living area to a huge round of applause; and noticed on the ticker at the bottom of the screen on CNN that the two states had been called for me. Danny was right. I had the votes to put me on the ticket.
The following morning came; and, sure enough, Danny Logan was prompt. His tailored suit was sharp and perfect. In fact, my erection that appeared as soon as I woke up; had not fully subsided. I greeted him with a handshake and welcomed him in. I had already ordered a continental breakfast and coffee. I informed all my staff that this would be a private meeting, and to wait for it to finish. I shut the door.
"You look well Danny" I started. "As do you" he replied. "Bryce, I hope you do well. I mean, if the Democrats do their job right, and dig in the right places; they will find shit out. You know that" Danny said, with concern in his voice. "Danny, if I come out now, the party will scrap the vote and select a new candidate; perhaps you" I informed him. "Nope, I lost. They won't touch me" he replied.
"Look, wait until the convention. After they name you as the candidate; come out when you give your speech. To be honest Bryce, I would be surprised if the Democrats don't already have the information; and are just waiting to spring it during the presidential campaign" added Danny.
"Danny, I need to think. This is all coming at me too quickly. I will have to talk to my parents. If I do decide to come out, I will lose the election by a massive landslide" I responded. "I wouldn't go that far; remember, they said a black man would never sit in the oval office. Barrack Obama proved that notion wrong" he added.
"Yeah, but Black and gay are totally different propositions.. The south would not have a gay president. It's against Christian teaching" I added.
"I still do not know who took the photograph of me; I need to find that out" I added further. "The private detective got it through a contact. He told me the name of the man who had hired him" Danny informed me. "Who was it?" I asked.
"Do you know a lawyer by the name of Frank Fishman?" he asked. "Yeah, I know Frank Fishman" I replied. "Yes, I know you do. He's your family's law firm, is he not?" asked Danny. "My Father's, yeah" I said in shock.
"So your dad must have hired him" replied Danny. "Either him or my Mother" I replied. "Well, I think you need to have a family conversation, before anything else" He added. "But Luke was at least three years ago, Danny. Why hasn't anything been said to me?" I asked, not really needing an answer: purely rhetorical.
"Bryce, the only people who can answer that are his lawyer, and, well, your parents" he replied. "I am not a kid. Why have me followed?" Again: purely rhetorical.
Danny left, and I said I would be in touch. As he well knew, the next few days were going to be hectic. I rang my parents' home and the maid answered. "Good Morning, Mary. Are my parent's home?" I asked; and she answered that they were, but had company. I asked her to relay a message for my Father to call me back at his first convenience. All sorts of things were flying through my mind. First: I was about to run for the biggest job on the planet; and, Second: my parents know I am gay, and have known for some time. But they chose to not share the new information with me.
Five minutes passed and my cell rang.
"Good morning, Bryce; congratulations" My father started.
"Thank you, Dad. It will be tough, but I am up for the fight" I replied
"Of course you are, my boy; you are a Noda. We are of good stock" he laughed out.
"Dad, I need to see you and Mom before anything happens with the campaign" I started. "Problem Bryce?" he asked. "I will discuss it when I come down; but I think you know what the conversation is about" I added. "Bryce you have me at a loss" dad replied. "Okay Dad, not over the phone. I will be down this afternoon and we can have a talk then. Can you clear what ever schedule you and Mom have?" I asked.
"Sure, I can do that" dad replied. "Oh dad, can you have Frank there as well? I need to speak to him" I added, and ended the call. I am sure my dad's mind is working overtime; as it has been over three years since the photograph had been taken.
I had meetings most of the morning. I had arranged to be in Washington the following day, to meet with senior party members; and to get ready for the biggest battle of my life. If they only knew.
I, at this point, had not even thought about a running mate. I would sort that part of my campaign after the confirmation at the convention. I am sure the meeting tomorrow would have some suggestions of who it should be. For one, I would have to agree on the person. Secondly; I would have to be able to work with the person.
Sarah had me booked on a flight back home to visit my parents, for a conversation I had never envisioned having. Scandal and politics tend to end somewhat badly. Okay, I mean controversy tends to get voters' minds working overtime; and opponents can take advantage of the fact. I had never had to confront my parents over anything. Okay, there was the dog incident when I was just eight. I mean, why send the dog to a farm to live; we lived on a ranch. Later, I realized they were just sparing my feelings. That is the closest I had come to confrontation.
The three SUV's arrived as I arrived at the Airport. I jumped into the middle one, flanked once again by secret service agents. I had also been given a bodyguard named Chet; a former navy seal. An hour later, I arrived at my parent's home; flanked by an army. Okay, slight exaggeration; but it felt like it. I opened the door and was greeted by Mary.
"Welcome home, Mr Noda" she said, taking my jacket. "Thank you Mary. You are looking well" I replied. "My Parents?" I asked. "The living room; Mr Fishman is with them" she responded. The knots in my stomach were playing up; probably fighting with the butterflies for more attention.
I walked into the living room and kissed my Mother. "You look well, Mom" I responded. "Dad, you look healthy" I said, shaking his hand with the Noda firm grip. "As do you, Son; and again, well done. I am very proud of you, and so is your Mother" he replied. The smile was beaming from both my parents.
"Congratulations Bryce; I knew you could do it" added Frank Fishman, a rather portly man; plenty of good living, and it showed. "Thank you Frank" I said politely.
"Okay, what is it we need to discuss, son?" my dad asked. I took a deep breath and sat down facing my parents; with Frank to the side of me. "Before I start, there is something I need to know" I began.
"Why have you had me followed?" I said, looking at my Dad; then Frank. "Sorry Bryce, what do you mean; followed?" asked my dad; Frank looking a little uncomfortable. "I do not know about now, but I will find out; but three years ago you arranged to have me followed" I again informed him. "Bryce, I have no idea from where you have gotten your information; but I can assure you I arranged no such thing" my dad replied, with some scorn.
"Mom, did you arrange this?" I asked, and she looked total flummoxed. "Bryce, sweetheart what is this about?" she asked; but not with a denial. "Mom, again I will ask the same question" I repeated.
"Darling I was just worried about you" she replied. "You kept disappearing and I was worried you were in trouble" she added.
"Mom, I had a private life that I kept private. But, because you arranged, through Frank, there are now photographs; and they may scupper my campaign.
"What photographs?" my dad asked.
"Bryce, I can assure you, I have those photographs; and nobody but me and your mother has ever seen them" replied Frank. "Oh, and the Private detective that took them, of course" he added.
"What photographs" My dad asked, yet again.
"Well Frank, you are wrong on that account. Danny Logan has seen those photographs; so obviously, the private detective kept a set for himself, and sold them on" I spat out, with some scorn attached.
"Can somebody please tell me, what photographs?" my dad shouted, demanding attention. For once, I was worried about his reaction. I now knew my Mother knows; but my dad does not. I have always looked up to my Dad; and he has always been proud of me. But now?
"Dad, you are going to find out; so I may as well be the one to tell you. Three years ago I went out of town and met up with a lover. We met in secret as I was a new senator, and scandal would have killed any future plans. "Okay, so you met up with some woman. Was she married? Is that it; some celebrity or something?" he asked.
"No dad it wasn't a married woman or a pop singer or an actor" I replied, and then added; "Dad, his name is Luke Thomas. We went to Stanford together" I added.
He looked at me in shock.
"Dad, I am gay; and I think the Democrats know".
To be continued…
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