Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 25

The Brother

By Ed Rogers

Rubin Johnson was two years older than Thad and had been the workhorse of the family. Rubin was named after a very close friend of their father’s, Rubin Goldberg, who became a mentor to his namesake. From the elder Goldberg Rubin had received, along with the name, the wisdom, and the need to work hard at whatever project he took on. Unlike Thad, who had had a very easy time in school, Rubin pushed himself to be the best in every class he took.
    Now he was the head of one of the largest corporations in the top 500, and he was taking life easy. Most people worked themselves to death trying to stay on top. Rubin believed that once you got on top, if you didn’t have enough money by then, maybe you shouldn’t be there. He could walk away tomorrow and not lose a dime – a freedom he had worked hard to achieve. Now he was going to let his family enjoy some of the benefits of his labor. He had a wonderful wife and two sons and a daughter whom he wanted to spend the remainder of his life making happy.
    The two brothers had grown up as different as night and day, but with an undying love for each other. Their different approaches to life seemed to complement the other. Rubin gave Thad the anchor he needed to become steadfast, and Thad gave Rubin the light-heartedness to not take himself so seriously and to enjoy the fruits of life.
    Rubin had stayed in the background as Thad’s star began to rise. However, when a reporter wrote a story during Thad’s second Senate race saying that Thad was taking dirty money from some gangster, Rubin took great offense and almost took the reporter’s head off. They settled out of court for fifty thousand dollars. After settling the lawsuit, Rubin decided he wanted nothing more to do with politics. He raised money for his brother, but he never read another newspaper story about Thad.
    Rubin had had no idea Thad was going to be offered the Vice-President’s job, and then just months later to become President. Even today, he had a hard time thinking of his little brother as President of the United States. Yet, there he was sitting in the White House. He wished his father had lived to see Thad in the Big House, but Thad Sr. died two years ago. Their mother couldn’t be more proud of her two boys. Her pride was in who her sons had become, not in what they had become.
    The call from Thad was so unexpected, Rubin found himself stammering for words. Thad had never asked Rubin for his help on any government project. The brothers had always understood they could ask for the other’s help at any time – there had just never been a need before. Now, Thad was asking him to come to Washington. “Sure, Thad, I’ll pack and be on the first flight tomorrow morning.”
    Rubin turned everything over to his assistant and signed out for a thirty-day vacation. The job was the easy part. But telling his wife, Sue, that he was taking their vacation time and going to help his brother – that was going to be a hard pill for her to get down, but this was Thad needing his help. Thad would never have asked unless it was damn important.
    Thad had told him to go to the Air National Guard station and he would send the VP’s plane to bring Rubin to Washington. Thad didn’t want some newspaper guy or woman with nothing to do but hang out at the airport to start wondering what the President’s brother was doing in town.

Getting off the plane at Andrews Air Base was quite possibly the most exciting thing Rubin had ever done. No one was allowed to approach the plane. Guards from a special unit had the job of watching over the plane and its passengers. A limousine with the seal of the President on the side waited for him. As they pulled off, police lights were flashing everywhere. He thought, so this was what it was like to be President.
    The trip was faster than he thought it would be, and from the back of the limousine, he could soon see the White House. Looking at the home of the President of the United States, it suddenly dawned on Rubin: It was the President of the United States who was asking for his help, not his little brother. Rubin felt his mood turn from wonderment to worry. His brother he was sure he could help, but what could the President of the United States need from the likes of him?
    Rubin was escorted to the private office of the President, which lay off his personal quarters, and within minutes Thad was there with his arms around Rubin.
    “I’m so glad you could come. I know Sue is going to be unhappy with me. If there were anyone else I could trust, I would never get you involved in this dirt we call government business.”
    “This is family, Thad, and Sue understands what that means.”
    “The truth is, Rubin, what I’m going to ask you to do must stay between the two of us. You report to no one but me. I know you’ll need to call Sue and tell her you made the flight okay. You can also tell her it may be a week or two before you’re home again. You can use that telephone. I’ll need your cell left here and I’ll get you a secure one. Tell her I’m very sorry but she may not hear from you for a while, but she can call me any time; she has my private number.”
    Thad paused to make sure Rubin heard the offer, and then handed him Putin’s briefcase. “I wish to God you didn’t have to know what is in this briefcase, but I believe the Russians are up to something. It contains proof that the stories about the past President are true – all the stories about the oil deals, the impeachment, everything. However, it came from the Russians, so I need for you to find proof of our own, one way or the other, to confirm this information or disprove it. I’m in the dark as to what I can believe, and that is a bad place for a President to be.
    “There’s that reporter, Tom Warring, who wrote the stories last month about the so-called Brotherhood and President Benton. Warring has no idea how close to the truth he came. Or the Russians have taken his story and made a fake into a truth. I need to know one way or the other. After you have gone over the material I’ve given you, see if you can get this reporter’s help.”
    “Thad, I’m no damn spy – I’m a businessman. I thought you needed help with the Stock Exchange, or even the World Bank or something dealing with money. This is way above my head. I’ll be like a fish out of the water.”
    “These people operate like a business. It sounds like the murder of Benton was a hostile takeover. Now I believe the Russians are trying to pull me into the middle of a fight that is not of my choosing. I need someone I can trust with my life to find out who is involved, and how they’re trying to make this happen. After you see the things in that briefcase you’ll understand why it was you I turned too.”
    “Thad, once again, I’m telling you, I don’t think I can do this,” Rubin pleaded.
    “You are the only one who can do this, Rubin. No one will go against you, they know you’re my brother, and you will have the most top-secret clearance I can get you. You will be operating with the power of the Office of the President. I beseech you, Rubin, I need you, and your country needs you.”
    “Damn, Thad, I’m your brother, you don’t have to lay all of that on me. I’ll do it, but if it doesn’t work out right, don’t blame me. This is all on you.”
    “I will leave it up to you as to who you bring into this and how you handle it,” Thad said. “Just please be careful. If anything happens to you, Mom will kill me.”
    “Okay, little brother,” Rubin said, “where do I start?”
    “Stay here as long it takes to go over everything in the briefcase – the briefcase cannot leave this room. After that, I would say go to New York, and maybe see Mr. Warring.”
    Thad stood and gave his brother a hug goodbye. “Here is the name and number of your aid. His name is Col. Walter Camp; he will get you anything you ask. When you have finished, call him and he will arrange your transportation. He also has a report he received from a General Wainwright about a SEAL team that may be part of the plot. Someone has sent the team on a mission and neither I nor the general can find out who cut the orders. The Russians’ showing up with a briefcase full of information at the same time – it has me nervous. The idea that American troops are on foreign soil and the President of the United States can’t find out who sent them, or why they were deployed – it’s unacceptable. I need the name of the person who sent these men on their mission – then they need to be found and brought home. I want to know if this Brotherhood is behind the troop movement and what the Russians have to do with the whole damn thing.
    “Don’t take your time Rubin. I need answers fast. Here are the orders that give you the authority to act on my behalf. If anyone gives you any shit, you call me and I’ll take care of them. I’m turning in for the night, but I look forward to hearing from you. Once more, thank you, Rubin, you don’t know what this means to me.”
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which this excerpt is taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]

Copyright © 2017 by Ed Rogers

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