Jon McDonald © 2016
All rights reserved
“Mr. President-Elect, AmVista’s Chairman, Terrance Geiger, is on line one,” Ed’s secretary announced, poking his head through the office door.
Ed picked up the phone. “Terrance, you old dog, what’s up?”
“Ed…sorry…I mean, Mr. President-Elect…” Terrance laughed. “This is going to take some getting used to.”
“I know this is probably not the way these things should be handled now, but I need you to know something very important that might well affect your presidency.”
That got Ed’s full attention.
“Just a moment.” Ed went to the office door and closed it so no one could listen in—neither his business staff, nor his presidential team. “Go ahead, Terrance. What is it?”
“My sources in Venezuela tell me there’s a major military buildup about to take place that could adversely affect the global energy markets.”
“Really? I’ve not been briefed on any such activity.”
“My source is very reliable, and we both know Casados is such a wild card. I’m sorry that we ever had to use him to help us with that Brightway business. And, Ed—” he paused, unsure if he needed to say this—”But I just wanted to remind you to erase any trace of your involvement with Brightway.”
“I’m aware of that Terrance, believe me. I’ve taken all the necessary precautions.”
“Good. And Ed, I just want to be sure you understand, this Venezuelan situation could potentially escalate into a major conflict. Please keep an eye on Casados. He’s a wily critter.”
Ed was silent for a moment. So this was what it was going to be like to be president, he realized in a brief moment of panic. He’d need to surround himself with the very best people as close advisors.
“Terrance, let me have some of my people get back to you for a briefing on the Venezuelan details. I’ll give your report my fullest attention. Thanks for the heads-up.” Ed made a mental note to consider Terrance Geiger as his energy secretary.
* * * * *
Diego steadfastly refused to use a dictionary when he was doing the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle in bed on Sunday mornings. Brandon, on the other hand, had no such qualms. Diego told Brandon he was cheating whenever Brandon consulted the dictionary he kept surreptitiously tucked under his pillow, but Brandon shrugged the accusation off. Chiquita couldn’t care less. The Chihuahua scratched an urgent itch behind her left ear, curled up again between the two of them on the bed, and immediately dozed off again.
“What are we going to do about the apartment when we have to move into your dad’s place?” Brandon asked, contemplatively, after he got stuck on forty-nine down.
Diego responded with a combination of an “Um” and a cough.
That was not a satisfactory answer for Brandon. “What?”
Diego shook out the sports section in annoyance. “I’ve already told you we can’t discuss that just yet. I don’t have all the details about the house. I don’t know what Carmella’s plans are. I don’t know what Dad’s plans are. And I need to have this Secret Service briefing before we have any idea about what we can or cannot do.”
Brandon grinned. “Am I gonna have a Secret Service detail too? That would be so cool.”
Diego shook his head. “I doubt it. I can just see my dad’s Nazi supporters having a fit over his gay son using taxpayer dollars to coddle his male lover.”
“Hey, that’s it,” Brandon yelled suddenly, grabbing his puzzle page.
“Forty-nine down—coddle. Perfect. There’s my last word.”
“Yeah, but you cheated.”
“I don’t think so.”
Diego looked nothing like what you might expect a president-elect’s son to look like. At age thirty-two, with his long black hair, his scruffy beard, and his dark piercing eyes he looked more like a mountain man than a president’s son. That was partly due to the fact that he had just returned from a two-month trip to Bhutan. He hadn’t reacclimated yet to the wilds of urban Chicago after the rigors of meditating in a monastery. He needed a haircut and a shave to be all spiffy and presentable tomorrow morning when he returned to work at Gardner, Chappell, and Banks—a leading Chicago law firm that had taken on Diego as a junior associate, but only after his mother’s urgent and insistent pleading. She was one of their top billed clients and had clout with the brass. Not that he wasn’t bright and well qualified for the position. But his rebellious reputation in the legal community preceded him: he was considered fiercely anti-establishment and too politically ambitious.
He identified himself as a Terraist—a term derived from the word Terra meaning “Earth.” Diego had worked for several years with a number of different mainstream environmental groups, but their inability to accomplish anything of significance only frustrated him. So he’d decided he needed to work from within the system, closer to the heart of darkness—where he could subvert corrupt power structures like a Trojan virus growing stealthily inside an infernal machine. That’s why he’d pleaded with his mother to help him find the right firm to take him on. He relished the idea of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His saucy renegade mother, long divorced from his father, happily complied.
Brandon stared at his wild-man boyfriend. “I’ll be very pleased when I can see your face again. You look like a wilderness wolf-man right now.
“I’ll shave the beard if you cut my hair. I have to be bright and shiny as a new penny when I go back to work tomorrow.”
“Well, maybe.” Brandon hesitated. “But I’m not at all sure I like you going out there again to work for The Man.”
Diego threw his hands up in the air. “But how else can I subvert the system? I have to do something to counteract my father’s dastardly deeds.”
“You are too much. But I still don’t understand how you two can get along as well as you do. He must hate what you do.”
“He does, and I certainly hate what he stands for too, but it doesn’t get in the way of our personal relationship. And he does accept that I live with a crummy, lowlife homo, so he can’t be all that bad.”
Brandon threw the arts section at Diego and bounded out of bed to be the first in the shower. Chiquita sprang from her sleep in shock and consternation at the disturbance and charged out of the room to her supper bowl, seeking solace after the rude interruption of her nap.