To Serve My Country
by David Spowart
Edited by J Matlock
Edited by J Matlock
"Hey Mike Jr., Matthew, how you bearing up?" I asked the 2 sons of Mike Longo who were standing outside of the church, greeting people as they came to pay their respects.
"Mr. Noda, fine, thank you. Sorry, Senator, I mean" replied Matthew.
I shook their hands and entered the small chapel. The agents escorting me stood at the front and rear of the hall.
I sat next to Tucker, who insisted on being by my side. I watched as Margaret took her seat at the front, and sat next to her daughter and her two protective sons. I envied that a little.
President arrogant ass was also sitting on the front row with his wife and his security detail as the minister started the service with onward Christian soldiers.
Andrew Cooper gave a very generic eulogy, impressing nobody. He tried to give some funny anecdotes about Mike, but couldn't convey anything that was vaguely familiar about the man that myself or any of the guys true friends recognized. So, whoever wrote that speech is fired when I take over: no research, no job... Sorry.
An hour later, the service was concluded and the casket taken to the family plot for internment. That part was private, but I was invited. Cooper, however, was not.
I sat with Margaret, and she was holding hands with her children as a prayer was spoken. The casket was lowered, and Margaret, dignified as ever, threw a single white rose onto the casket as it lowered.
"Good night, my sweet, sweet man" she whispered.
We entered the Longo family home shortly after two. Servers were holding trays of drinks, and Margaret was holding a root beer for me.
"Thank you, it was a lovely service" I said, and she smiled.
"I was pleased Andrew Cooper's eulogy was short; he bored me to sleep" she replied as Mike Jr walked over, and she went to greet more guests.
"So, Senator, do you think you can handle her?" Mike Jr. asked.
"Mike, I have no intention of handling her. She will have her opinions, and I welcome them" I replied.
"Oh, Senator, trust me, she will have her opinions. Dad and Mom always debated, and they loved the battle. They never argued, mind you, just debated until she won" he snickered a little.
"Mike, please, call me Bryce" I replied. I noticed, while we were talking, a tall guy watching us. Tucker noticed, also, and approached the guy.
"No, wait" Mike Jr. said.
"Jake, come over" Mike asked, and the guy approached, under the watchful eyes of Tucker.
"Bryce, this is Jake Porter, my partner." He whispered the last part.
I was a little taken back, but didn't show it. "Hello Jake, nice to meet you" I said, shaking his hand.
"Oh, dad didn't tell you, did he?" Mike Jr. asked.
"He was a politician; we don't volunteer information, especially about family" I replied, smiling and laughing just a little.
"So, how long?" I asked.
"We met in college. We were room mates for almost a year before we talked to each other, and yes, we talked all the time, but you know what I mean, right?" he replied, and I laughed at his awkwardness.
"So?" I asked again.
"Eight years, we are getting married in a few months" Jake replied for him.
"Wonderful, hope I get an invite" I replied.
"What? You sure? I mean, Senator... sorry, Bryce, you would be President of the United States at a gay wedding. The press would shit a brick... Oops, sorry" he laughed.
"Mike, look, I am a gay man, why would I not attend the wedding of my Vice presidents son? Mike, it would be an honor" I smiled.
Mike looked at Jake as I looked on. Mike gives Jake the same look of affection that Danny gives me; love, just pure uncomplicated love.
"It's in the mail" Jake replied.
"What has you smiling like the Cheshire cat?" Matthew asked, looking at his younger brother.
"Well, Mat, the President of the United States will be attending my wedding" he replied smugly.
A few minutes later, I said my farewells and agreed to meet Margaret in the morning to go over a few things. The inauguration is in a couple of weeks, and I have not even thought about Christmas, yet. Mmmm Danny at Christmas.
I sat in the back of the Crown Vic and Tucker sat across from me.
"How's Brian?" I asked.
"Dating" he replied.
"Oh, and you disapprove?" I asked.
"No, not like that, he just throws himself all heads first. I mean, he only met the guy a couple of weeks ago, and its Tom this and Tom that. I only want him to be happy; but he is so full on, he might just freak the guy out and then he'll be depressed and, well... well" he stumbled.
"You're worried he might do something stupid again" I replied.
"Well, yeah" he replied.
"Tucker, you have to let him breathe. Yeah, he will suffer heartbreak, we all do. Just be there for him. You cannot do any more than that" I add.
"Yeah, I know, I just love the shit out of him... sorry" he responded like a good parent should.
"We are here, Sir" the agent driving informed us.
I was soon sitting in my den with a hot cup of coffee, looking over schedules for the next few days. I have a meeting with the CIA and homeland security over the coming week, and a meeting with Tony Buchannan of the FBI, also; a long week.
A knock at the door broke me from my concentration.
"Sir, Senator Logan is here."
"Let him in, Peter, please" I replied.
Danny walked in, looking a bit down. The door closed and he just cried a little; not tears, but I could see he was holding back a little.
"Hey, what's up, you okay?" I asked.
"My sister, she miscarried. Fuck, Bryce, she's had 3 now. She's devastated. I was strong for her and Miles, but... I couldn't hold it any more" he replied, and I pulled him into my chest.
"Shit day all round" I add.
I pull away slowly and wipe the moisture from his eyes. The hurt for his sister is apparent, and I can see he feels for her.
"Drink?" I ask.
"Scotch, rocks, hold the rocks" he replies.
"Oh, a really shit day" I replied.
"You should have seen her, Bryce, she looked totally deflated. Miles was lost and didn't know what to say to her. Four years they have been trying, four wasted years" he said, taking the scotch.
"Sometimes shit happens to good people, you know that. I am sorry, Danny, and I hope she recovers" I say.
"But?" Danny asks.
"She's alive, she's strong, she'll try again. Human will dictates that. Some people die every day for no reason. At times, it's car crash, planes go down, soldiers die daily... she's alive, Danny" I said, kissing his forehead.
"Fuck, you are good" he responds.
"I won, remember?" I said softly.
"You won me" he replied, and my heart gained some weight just then.
"How was Mike's service?" he asked.
"Respectful" I responded.
"Cooper's speech?" he asks.
"Boring. It was as if he never knew the guy. He mentioned fishing with him; he never fished. His writer and researcher are out of a job, come January" I add.
"That bad, huh?" he asked.
"The widow almost fell asleep; ask her" I replied, holding him against my side on the sofa.
"Oh, and we have a wedding to go to. Mike Jr. is getting married in April" I informed him.
"Who's the lucky girl?" he asks, and I spit my coffee half way across the room.
"Na ha, him" I reply.
"No kidding, who?" he asks again.
"His college room mate, Jake Porter " I reply.
"Oh, hang on, Bryce, you will be in office; you can't, not yet" he responds, shocking me a little.
"Why not?" I ask.
"Bryce, a gay wedding so soon? Don't rub peoples faces in it. They are giving you a chance, don't rock the boat, not this soon" he replies.
"Danny, look, I am attending the wedding of my Vice Presidents son, it would be an insult to my intelligence and integrity not to go. You see that don't you" I ask
"You said we, though" he added.
"Yeah, you are my plus one"I snicker.
"Look, the press know we are seeing each other, so let's not hide our feelings, okay? I've done enough of that shit, and I'm tired of it. I love you and I do not care who knows" I say, looking into his eyes while holding his chin up.
"How did I get so lucky?" he replies.
"It's me that got lucky. I never thought I could ever have this" I reply.
"What plans do you have for Christmas?" I ask.
"Nothing that cannot be changed, why?" he asks
"I don't want you anywhere but with me. No holidays apart; well, unless Russia invades somewhere, or Korea bombs Seoul, that is. I might have to change my plans then" I snicker, kissing him again.
"I'll call my folks tomorrow and tell them I have plans for the holidays, then" he said with a lascivious tone and expression as he said it. What have I let myself in for ?
"So, back to the service, was Cooper that bad?" he asked.
"Babe, he read like he was giving a speech..." he interrupted.
"Babe, you called me babe" he snickered.
"Yeah, and?" I asked.
"Well, okay, you've said you loved me, and called me by other terms of endearment, but babe? Do I look like a pig to you?" he continued to laugh.
"No, but I do love you, and sorry, but babe fits. If you don't like it..." he interrupted again.
"No, no, it's fine. It just sounded strange, coming from you, is all" he replied, his laughter subsiding.
"Okay then, I'll continue" I said, slapping his knee in mock offense.
"His speech was boring and had nothing to do with Mike. He even called him Mick at one stage. He had to keep checking his notes; and, as I said, Margaret almost fell asleep" I repeated.
"How he won the election is still a mystery to me" I added, kissing his cheek.
The next few days went as expected: the inauguration fast approaching, my speech written, the local reverend to my home or my parents' home, agreeing to officiate my oath of allegiance and my promise to defend the constitution.
News from Thom Brent that Branigan is being investigated for blackmail and fraud did not come as a surprise; but if they discover a link to Cooper, and therefore, Mike Longo's death, they can fry as far as I am concerned.
I was sitting in my office just three days before the inauguration, remembering the Christmas I spent with Danny. It was beyond all expectations, alone with my soul mate. Well, when I say alone, me, Danny and about 20 agents,
"Bryce, the Director of the FBI is here to see you" Sarah informed me, somewhat surprised by the visit.
"Good morning, Senator" Tony Buchannan said, as he entered my office.
"And to you, Tony. How can I help you this morning?" I replied.
"President Cooper" he replied.
"What about him?" I asked, being a little coy.
"Bryce, I can call you Bryce, can't I?" he asked.
"For now, yes" I replied.
"Bryce, the FBI feels that investigating the President and Branigan could shine an unwanted eye on the governing authority. We also feel that if it were to go away and be handled covertly, there would be no scandal" he started, and I started getting irritated .
"Director Buchannan, I had attempts on my life. I have been shot, and my friend killed, and you want this to just... what... go away?" I asked.
"Bryce...." I stopped him.
"President elect, if you please" I corrected.
"Sorry Sir, but all manner of things that happen here and around Washington are not meant for public scrutiny; and sometimes, some bad things are kept quiet, for the betterment of the country. You understand, don't you, sir?" he asked, treating me like a failing high school student.
"Look, I know you and Andrew Cooper have a history; but for me, that is irrelevant. There will be no cover up, do I make myself clear, Director Buchannan?" I said in a firm voice.
"As you wish, Sir" he replied with distain in his voice.
"Oh, and Director, the two pardons that President Cooper enquired about and you were, let's say, helping him with, they won't happen. Do I make myself clear?" I said, again in a firm voice.
"Sir, you have no control over that at the moment. If President Cooper pardons them, that is his right, and I cannot interfere with his right" He replied.
"Mr Buchannan, if I am right, the good Mr. Cooper is about to be brought up on charges of abuse of power, fraud, bribery and possibly murder. Now, if you wish to be implicated in this ... fine, carry on; but, mark my words, he is going to pay for what he has done, and anyone associated with his crimes will go with him" I informed him. I watched the color drain from his face.
"Mr. Noda, have I lost my job?" he asked.
"Depends on how you handle this. I have seen and read your reports, and you are well respected. Don't destroy your career for some misguided loyalty, Tony" I replied.
"Thank you, sir, and you have my loyalty" he replied.
"Can I speak frankly, sir?" he asked.
"Of Course" I reply.
"Sir, I was not at all sure a gay man could guide America and be the Commander of our forces; and I have to admit when I am wrong. I think you could be one of the best, sir" he said, standing up, as did I, and he shook my hand firmly.
"And, just so you know, sir, I will let Agent Brent run this investigation... unimpeded" he added.
"Good decision, Tony" I said, as he left my office.
Forty eight hours later, Branigan was arrested and charged. He is also talking about a deal regarding information pertaining to Andrew Cooper's involvement and connection with the murder of Mike Longo. As it turns out, it was all about money. If Branigan had won and the two jail birds were freed, Andrew Cooper would have received a nice little retirement fund. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, they say.
Thanks for still following this first part of book 1 of Bryce Noda's Journey . The next and final chapter will be the Inauguration and all that goes with it; and, as usual, please comment by email. email@example.com or Tweet @DavidSpowart