[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
001 002 Prologue 001-002 003 004 005 Chap 1 003-005
Chap 2 006 007 008 Chap 3 007-008 009 010 Chap 4 009-010 011 012 013 Chap 5 011-013 014 015 016 017
Chap 6 014-017 018 019 Chap 7 018-019 020 021 022 023 Chap 8 020-023 024 025 026 027 Chapter 9 024-027 028 029
030 031 Chapter 10 028-031 032 033 034 035
Revenge Should Have No Bounds 036
Chapter 11 (5 of 10): The Mayor
Roy admired Bob’s glib effortlessness in handling these amoeba-like masses of talking heads that flowed around him in a ceaseless jockeying for position. He was tall and skeletal, tanned, and had black eyes that glinted in the high wattage of the TV lights. Women found him irresistible. But he knew how to keep himself in the background and let the focus fall on his client, the candidate du jour. “And here he is,” he suddenly said, pointing to Roy. “Ladies and gentlemen, our mayor and our next senator.”
The mob shifted in lock-step like a flock of starlings or school of fish that had found their true leader. “Sir, sir,” the clamor arose.
“Please, people,” Bob shouted. “No interviews now. Please let the man get some lunch. You’ll all have plenty of opportunity to ask questions at our news conference this afternoon. Sixteen hundred, right here in the lobby.”
“Sir,” a persistent young woman called; she had a mike in one hand and with the other was beckoning furiously to her audio and video guy, “sir, just one question!”
Roy smiled at her and looked straight into the camera. Silence fell over the crowd. “Sure, one question.”
“How does it feel to be running again?”
“It feels just fine,” he laughed. “We’re off to a good start, and we have every expectation of winning in November. My record speaks for itself.”
“Will that be your last term as mayor, sir?”
“Now that’s two questions.” The crowd laughed. “But I’ll answer anyway.” He donned a more serious mien. “Yes, it will,” he began, and in passing saw the creases of worry spreading over Bob’s face. “But I have plenty of experience from the business world and a strong commitment to taking my message directly to the people. There are other ways to serve my community and my nation.” Bob’s face still had that tight and tense look. “It’s time this country got back to some old-fashioned values, personal responsibility and family togetherness. That’s the bedrock this campaign will be built on – and any future ones.”
The reporters went into feeding frenzy.
“Sir, sir, does this mean you will be running for Senator Oxley’s seat when he retires?”
Other reporters redoubled efforts to shout the same question at him, but he was firm. “Thank you, good people, but that’s it for now.” He had caught Bob’s frantic signals to stop before it turned into an uncontrolled free-for-all, the kind of innocent event that so easily could result in an inadvertent but damaging comment it would take days to sort out. “Let’s hold off till four o’clock.” He tried to push through the throng. “Thank you,” he said as he made his way slowly forward. A large group of interested bystanders had gathered beyond the reporters, and some of them reached out to shake his hand as he passed. He smiled left and right and shook hands at random with a select few. “Roy Rany. How are you, nice to see you. I’ll appreciate your vote in November.”
At last he and Bob broke free and headed into the restaurant bar. It had been Bob’s idea that rather than sit in the suite and eat their meals, he should take as many as possible in public view. “The exposure is great,” he’d explained. “Makes you look like just one of the folks. Before all of this is over, you’re never going to want to set foot in another greasy spoon as long as you live. Unless, of course,” he added slyly, “you run for the senate.” They both chuckled.
Not that the restaurant here was hardship duty, but he surmised Bob would be proved right in the end. As they went to be seated, people continued coming up to him, and he obliged with a handshake and a congenial remark about a child’s dress or the sudden snow or the excellence of the food.
At last they extricated themselves from the trailing well-wishers and got a booth. Bob had pulled out a sheaf of reports from his valise.
“I’ve got the latest polls here,” he said beaming, “and they’re top of the line.” He licked his finger and began to thumb through the printouts. “You’re very high on believability and sincerity. That’s extremely important. There’s some fuzziness in terms of what you stand for, though. We’ll have to try to sharpen the focus there. Caitlin comes across positively, but there’s some question about Rae.” He held up his hand as Roy opened his mouth to argue. “I know, I know, Roy. But I’ve got to tell it the way it is. Fifteen percent think she’s your mother, and that’s fine. But it’s the rest of them I worry about: ambiguity, lack of clarity – that’s extreme death in the voting booth. Some of them even thought she was your grandmother.” He looked warily at Rany.
“But I introduced her as my sister last night when we declared,” he said in a hurt and puzzled voice.
“I know. I was there, and I heard you. Lesson number one, Roy. You should know this by now. I mean, this is your third campaign. People generally believe what they see, and most of all they believe what they want to believe. Not what they hear or what they read, or even know. The vast majority of voters – and these are the folks we’re trolling for – make up stories about you in their heads, especially if it’s based on what showed up on TV. It’s not something they decide to do, and in fact if you ask them about it they’ll deny it. But it’s a fact. Trust me on this one. Rae just doesn’t look like your generation, and that’s all there’s to it.”
“I hear you, Bob. But Rae is in,” he persisted. “It’s not negotiable!” He moved his silverware around.
First Caitlin, now Bob.
He simply couldn’t kick Rae loose. He wouldn’t.
TO BE CONTINUED