I heard a knock on my hotel room door. "Senator, your breakfast is here. Do you want it in there or out here?" Agent James asked.
"Give me a Sec, Bob" I yelled, pulling on my robe. I walked over and opened the door. "Good Morning, Bob" I said, as he allowed the busboy to push the breakfast cart in.
"Where would you like it, sir?" he asked.
"The table's fine" I replied.
I handed him a tip and thanked him.
"Thank you, sir, and congratulations on the nomination" he added, and left the room. "Any messages, Bob?" I asked, as he stood in the doorway.
"Not yet, Sir, but may I suggest you check the Newspaper, after you have eaten" he said, closing the door. I picked up the Washington Post first, and the headline read, "Bryce Noda hoping to mince to the White House" and a second, "The polls say Nada to Noda"
"Clever" I said to myself.
"Sir, Sarah is here" Agent James informed.
"Let her in, Bob, please" I replied.
"Morning, Sarah, sleep well?" I asked, and by the looks on her face, I could work out the answer. "Not really. Oh, I see you have seen the Post?" she started.
"The polls?" I asked.
"You took a hit. Sorry, you took a huge hit" she replied.
"How bad?" I asked.
"You were at 54%, and your opponent was sitting on 37%, with 9% undecided; give or take the usual 2% for error. But now, Bryce, you are on 19%. As I said, you took a hammering; but we have a long way to go, don't we?" she tried to cheer me up, somewhat. I knew I would take a huge hit. I am hoping America will back me on my record and the issues, not who I fuck.
"I will start working today. I was going to take a few days to get my ducks in a row; but we have some hard work ahead of us, a lot of schmoozing to do, babies to kiss" I added, trying to pick her up a bit. She smiled, and replied, "We will give them one hell of a fight. They will make a mistake if they go after your orientation. They will alienate some sectors of society in doing so. Bryce, they will let the media do that dirty work for them; and the Mayor of New York has made a statement that does not hurt us.
"Oh, what has Richard had to say? We did bump heads a bit, at times" I replied.
She opened the New York Times to page 2 and handed it to me.
"Senator Noda is an American Patriot. It was an honor to work with him over this city's problems; he did all he could, and the city of New York is all the better for his work and commitment. This American will be voting for Senator Noda, come election day" it read.
"Wow, that is a surprise" I responded. "When did he make that statement?" I asked, just in case it was made before I made mine.
"NBC News, about four hours after you made your announcement" Sarah replied. I was still surprised at that.
"Place a call to Richard, please, Sarah" I said, and smiled as I read it all over again.
"Richard Dawson, line 2" Joss said, and I picked up.
"Good Morning, Mayor" I started
"Good morning, yourself, Bryce. Good to hear from you" he said, sincerity in his voice. "Thanks for your endorsement. I was a bit surprised by it, if I may be honest, Richard" I said, and waited.
"Bryce, we knocked heads from time to time; but I know you had the best interests of New York at heart. Your orientation should not come into it. If they see a guy soft on anything, your military record flies in the face of that view, now, doesn't it?" he went on with a wry laugh.
"Well, thank you, Richard. It was a light on a dark day, and it was appreciated. Will I see you when I'm on the campaign trail?" I asked. "You may, will I see you on mine?" he asked.
"The Governorship; you're running?" I asked.
"I am, now that I know I am not running against you. I would not have won that race" he laughed. "Good luck, Richard; anything I can do, just ask" I added.
"Works both ways, Bryce; good luck" he said, and the call ended. I had a wry smile myself, afterward. Let's see what the powers that be think of that call, when they review it; as I am more convinced that my phones are tapped.
Four days after the convention, Bryce was sitting in his office; having earlier in the day given a couple of press releases, and T.V. interviews to NBC, CNN,CBS; all pre-prepared.
"Are you sure, Bryce?" Danny Logan asked.
"Look, when I talk to someone, I can hear static; so, yeah, someone is listening, I'm convinced of it" I answered, a little pissed.
"Who do you think it is?" He asked.
"Danny, it could be the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security; fuck, it could be Wal-Mart for all I know" I replied. "Could even be Branigan's lot" He added, referring to my opponent from the Democratic Party.
"I'll get someone to look into it. I mean, yeah, if you were receiving threats I could understand. Okay, you have had a couple of crackpots spouting off, but nothing concrete" Danny replied. "I mean, nobody has called...right?" he asked.
"No, nobody has called; unless you want to call Anderson Cooper a crackpot" I snickered.
Danny picked up the internal phone and asked Sarah to come in.
"Sarah, you have friends in the Bureau don't you?" Danny asked, and Sarah looked first at Bryce, then Danny. "Um, yeah, agent Sonia Lucas, why?" she asked. "Nothing, I think, but Bryce thinks his calls are being listened in on" Danny added. I remained quiet.
"Oh, okay; but why don't you just ask?" Sarah replied.
"I don't want to look concerned about it; I could be wrong" I responded.
"Bryce, I can check for you. A security issue is my responsibility for your campaign; and if you are being tapped, I will make some waves and have it removed" she said, sounding a little pissed.
"Am I being paranoid?" I asked Danny after Sarah left his office. "Better to be paranoid, than get caught with your pants down" Danny replied, brow furrowed.
"Don't worry, secret service swept the room; it's clean" Danny snickered.
"Hey, my friend, my secret is out; it's you that has to be careful" I smirked back at him.
"Okay, I have to go. I have a meeting with some lobbyist about fishing quotas in thirty minutes" Danny informed him. They didn't kiss, being careful not to slip up.
A couple more days passed. The strategists had come up with the route to take during the next few months; which babies to kiss, that sort of thing. "The Southern states are our main battleground" Sarah and Cory Fisher added. "What am I polling?" I asked.
"Well, before the convention, it wasn't close between you and Branigan" Cory replied. "And now?" I asked.
"Senator, you are on 22% and Branigan is on 57%, with 21% undecided" Cory added. "CNN has it a little closer, but not by much" Sarah added. "Okay, shock factor; when we start campaigning, that will change. I have faith in the American public" I smiled.
"And besides, that is up 3%".
"Okay guys, lets break; we will speak again this afternoon" I concluded the meeting. "Bryce, Agent Tucker wishes to have a word" added Sarah.
"Sure, send him in. I thought he was off for a few days" I added.
"Senator" Tucker said, as the door opened. "Tucker, come in" I replied.
"Senator, this is my son, Brian" Tucker said, introducing a younger version of himself.
"Hello, Senator Noda, it's such an honor to meet you" replied Brian.
"And you, Brian; won't you both take a seat?" I responded.
"So, your father tells me you are studying political science. Are you enjoying it?" I asked.
"Very much; I am studying the Constitution, and the amendments made to it. It's very interesting" Brian replied.
"Sir, can I ask you a personal question?" Brian asked.
"Sure, fire away" I replied.
"Coming out, I mean the way you did; why did you do it?" he asked.
"Brian, for me, that is a simple answer. I want to be President, but I want to be honest doing it. If it got out during the campaign, it would have destroyed any chance I had; so I made the decision to do it then and there. I talked it over with the leaders of the party, and they backed my decision" I informed him.
"Sir, I have so much respect for you. I told dad that you were my favorite to win, but now I want to help" He added.
"We would be happy for your help. What can you do?" I asked.
"Sir, I am good with computers; I could even man phone lines, if I needed to" he replied.
"Okay, we could use some interns. I will let you organize them when we get started, okay?" and Brian smiled at the acceptance he felt.
"Okay guys, we need to wrap things up. I have a few meetings scheduled, and enjoy the fishing, Brian. We will see you in a couple of weeks" I said, shaking both Tucker and Brian's hand.
"Oh Sarah, come in, this is Brian. I am putting him to work with organizing the interns" I smiled, and she shook his hand. "Welcome, Brian, we need the help" she smiled, and he returned the smile and the handshake.
"He starts in about ten days. Can you organize a desk?" I asked.
"Yes, Bryce, here, or in the offices?" She asked.
"On the ground and running" I added.
She smiled at that. She left my office, and Brian and Tucker followed her out. My cell rang, and I sat down to answer it. Before I could say anything, I heard a slight echo on the line. I am even more convinced now that someone is eavesdropping on my calls.
"Hello, Bryce Noda" I say, as I did not recognize the number.
"Faggot" and the line went dead.
"Shit, that's my private line. How the fuck do these crackpots get my number" I bemoaned.
I picked up the intercom phone and asked the agent to come in.
"Oh, Hi, Bob. Bob, I need to arrange for a new secure cell phone. I was just called by some crackpot, so I need a secure line" I informed him.
"Sir, was it a threat?" he asked me. "No, just insults" I replied. "We could trace it, if you wish" he informed me. "Bob, if I ask you a security question regarding myself; will you give me an honest answer?" I ask, and look for a response.
"If I can, sir, yes" he replied.
"Are my calls being monitored?" I ask.
"Sir, to be honest, and for security reasons, ever since the terror threat was escalated in 2019, all calls within Washington are monitored for national security; not just personal" he replied.
"So that's' a yes, then" I replied.
"What I do not understand, Bob, is, why have I not been advised of this?" I added.
"Sir, you will have to ask someone with higher clearance than myself. My pay grade only allows me so much, sir" he adds.
"Okay, thank you, Bob. That will be all; and the new cell, as soon as it can be arranged" I add, as he leaves my office. Now, I'm wondering if I have compromised Danny with this new bit of confirmed information.
My office phone rings.
"Yes" I reply
"Sir, Senator Longo on line three" My secretary responds. "Thank you, Joss" I reply, and click the button for line three.
"Afternoon, Mike, hope you are well" I say.
"Thank you, Bryce, just checking in. I have that interview with CNN in about 10 minutes. Anything I need to avoid?" he asks me.
"Mike, you have been an amazing politician; you do not need my advice on how not to screw up on TV" I laugh. "Just thought I'd ask" he snickers back at me.
"Okay, going to make-up; chat later on, Bryce" he adds, and hangs up.
"Old goat" I say to myself, as I replace the handset.
My day ends as it began; a little hectic. I arrive at my home some forty minutes after I leave my office; security detail in tow, and an agent driving me. My house was in the process of being checked out by agents, I climb out to stretch my legs.
I drop behind the car, agents scrambling; one lying on top of me. "Stay down! Stay down!" I heard one yell. "Did you see where the shots came from? Anyone have eyes on the perp?" I heard another yell.
"Senator, are you hit, Sir?" I heard another one yell. I was in shock. Fuck!! Someone just tried to kill me.
"Senator, are you hit?" he asked again.
"No, no, I don't think so" I replied.
"Sir, look, look at the tree" a younger agent said, pointing at the tree in my yard; but saying it to the senior agent, Bob.
"Paint balls! Shit, it was paint balls" he moaned.
"Sir, it was probably a prank; a prank that would have gotten them shot" Bob adds.
"You okay, Senator?" he asks me.
"Just a little shaken, but, yeah, I'm okay" I add, standing back up, and walked into my house. I have to admit that this prank scared the fucking shit out of me. I could use Danny right about now, because, besides this being a prank; what if some crackpot has real issues with the possibility of a gay President, and really tries to take me out.
To be continued...
Hope you are still with me on this, Bryce hits the campaign trail next chapter, and he feels like someone is watching him, and a letter arrives that has him concerned.
Comments as usual at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @DavidSpowart for updates and ideas for upcoming stories oh yeah and my life.