Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 29 & 30

Central Park
& The VP


By Ed Rogers

Chapter 29. Central Park

After Tom and Jake met at the Surf &Turf, they decided to move the meeting to Central Park. After many turns and stops, and several reversals of direction, they determined no one was following them.
    Tom turned to look at Jake and said, “Why in the world did you pick this look?”

    Jake laughed and said, “If you’re going to pay as much money as I did, why not be the person you always wanted to be. When I was a young man and they had me stationed in every stinking hole in the world, I would dream about being on a surfboard off the coast of California waiting for that big wave to come in. I may not be a surfer, but you have to admit, I do look the part.”
    “I’ll say one thing for you, Jake, you do go out on the edge.”
    “Please, the name is Sandy Coldfield. Jake died in Nam.”
    “Okay, Sandy, what are you doing in New York?”
    “It’s the Brotherhood. They are up to something. Jim – or as you knew him, Stepen – heard from Putin there’s a big power play about to go down. Putin asked Jim to look into it, and Jim asked me to help. Then the first person I thought of was you. So here I am.”
    “Speaking of Stepen, or Jim, how did he get out of Russia alive? I heard he got blown up?”
    “The fools put the explosives on the outside door handle. As you know, DA54 needs the DNA of the target before it will explode. Stepen opened the door with his gloves on – hell, you remember how cold it was in Russia that time of the year, everyone had their gloves on. It was not until he pulled his gloves off that his hand touched the DA54 that had come off the door handle onto one of his gloves. It was a small explosion – Stepen lost two fingers on his right hand.”
    Sandy went on, “It was enough to alert him it was time to get out of Dodge. His lieutenant set explosives to blow up the building and called to tell me Stepen was dead. I didn’t know he was alive until I got to Spain. We’ve been having a wonderful time in Spain, you should come visit sometime.”
    “So how is this so-called dead man in touch with the president of Russia?”
    “Hell, it’s not the Russians that want Stepen dead. Stop and think. It’s the same people who killed the President, John Cahill, Mary Cahill, and God only knows how many more people. They are the ones who tried to kill Stepen and me. You can bet that when the time is right, they’ll be coming for you. They never forget a debt, and they owe you big time.”
    Tom thought about that for a few seconds. “What makes you think I can help? I haven’t heard anything. I have two contacts in the CIA, but I can’t find out a thing. I’ve been hoping to pick up some word as to who is behind Mary’s murder, but there’s nothing. After they couldn’t stop my story, it was as if the whole organization went underground or off the face of the earth.”
    Tom shook his head. “Getting anyone to say they even know someone who is a Bonesman has become impossible. My two guys at the CIA keep telling me they don’t believe these people are a part of the Company, and they have tried to find possible ties, but they say there just aren’t any.”
    “I think they may be right,” Sandy said.
    “You’re the one who said the CIA wanted you dead, and if bombing your house didn’t confirm it, I don’t know what else you would need.”
    “Look, Tom,” Sandy said, “that is what got me thinking. Stepen and I have been going over things that took place from the time Cahill showed up in Russia. You can find fingerprints that look a lot like the CIA’s, but there’s always something just a little off. Look at what happened to Mary Cahill. The CIA wouldn’t have done that. Not that they give a damn about Mary Cahill, but you don’t take a chance of getting busted for something that wouldn’t benefit the Company. What did Mary have that was worth killing her for?” Sandy turned his palms up.
    “Then there’s Stepen. How big of balls does it take to go into Russia and kill someone as connected as Stepen and not care if it can be traced right back to you – that is, circumstantially, back to the CIA?” Sandy shook his head
    “Then there’s the way they tried to kill me. Dropping a bomb is way overkill,” Sandy said. “Four CIA spies were working at the compound. The Company knew I was getting into their pockets, so they had these four trying to find out how I was doing it. Why not have one of them just put a bullet in my head? They could have done it at any time.”
    Tom broke in. “Who else could it have been, Jake? – sorry; Sandy – No one outside of a government group could get an airplane to bomb a house in Vietnam.”
    “You’re half right about the outside group. I think the Brotherhood is doing what it does best – staying out of sight and getting other people to do their dirty work.”
    “Are you saying that they convinced someone in the government it was a good idea to fly across three international airspaces just to drop a bomb on your house?”
    “It may have been their only way to get to me, and I’ll bet they thought you were still at the house. Here is how I see it going down: You have a rat in your back yard, a small .22 revolver will take care of it nicely. But if all you have is a 12-gauge shotgun, it may be overkill, but it is the only weapon you have. We find who sent that plane and we just may be able to dig these bastards out of their holes.”
    Sandy smiled as he slapped Tom on the back. “By the way, it’s really good to see you. I wasn’t sure you would get over that drunk you pulled in Nam.”


Chapter 30. The VP

Vice-President Maxwell M. Midland was on his way to see the President. These private meetings had tapered off after the first two months, and he missed them. Max knew that when Thad called him, it wasn’t going to be easy, and the news wasn’t going to be good. Max Midland wouldn’t have it any other way; this was why he agreed to become Thad Johnson’s Vice-President.
    When Thad asked Max to take the job, Max turned him down flat. He said, “Thad, I have no designs on the White House. You need one of those senators who is looking to be President one day, and that’s not me.”
    Thad wouldn’t take no for an answer. He said, “I’m not looking for someone to run for President. I am looking for a kick-ass bulldog. If you take the job, I guarantee, by the time our term is up, you will be the most feared, and the most hated man on the Hill. I need a hard right fist. Cleaning this mess up is not going to be easy and I need someone I can count on. You were the first, and the only one I could think of who fit the bill.”
    Maxwell Martin Midland loved a good fight. He was a Captain in the Army Reserve and had taken off for two months after becoming a U.S. Senator for a mission into Iraq at the start of the war. Max was part of the Army’s Delta Force, so no one ever knew of his little trip in-country. Max had signed up for the Army right out of college. While at Officer Candidate School he was approached to join the Delta Force. He jumped at the chance and loved every minute of it.
    His first mission in 1987, at age twenty-two, was in Greece. Some Vietnamese were trying to kill a Col. James “Nick” Rowe, and his team secured Rowe until the threat was neutralized. This was not at all what he had expected. He had hoped for more action, but you do your duty and you take pride in your team.
    It wouldn’t be until a year before his four-year enlistment in active service ended that President George H. W. Bush opened up Desert Storm and he got a chance at real combat. The first Gulf War kicked off and Max was there with bells on. He was a first lieutenant and had his own team. They were dropped behind enemy lines in northern Iraq. Their job was to find SCUD sites and destroy their mobile launchers. They destroyed four sites and killed a large number of the enemy. Max was most proud of being able to bring his entire unit home alive. That meant more than the medals and captain bars they gave him. He signed up for six more years. However, the war was over so fast he found himself wondering what had happened. At the end of his last enlistment he was ready to try something else. There was little hope of more combat under the peacenik Clinton.
    At twenty-seven Max found himself out of the Army, with a wife and a child on the way, and no job. An old college buddy of Max talked him into running for Congress. Max won the seat very easily and became the congressman from Nebraska. Then he became the senator from Nebraska. Never would he have thought he might become the Vice-President of the United States of America from Nebraska.
    Max had never played by the rules. If he felt he was right, he would fight until the last man standing. It didn’t matter what party you belonged too if you wanted to take on Max Midland, he was ready to go toe to toe with you. Because of his in-your-face approach, his party leaders felt that Max was a little disloyal. He should have been on many important committees, but the head of his party denied him. But this was like water on a duck’s back to Max. He knew who he was and what he stood for, and that was good enough for him. It was also good enough for Thad Johnson.
    Max walked into the outer office of the President and the President’s secretary waved him toward to door. “Go right in, Mr. Vice-President, he is waiting on you.”
    Max knocked once and walked into the Oval Office. “Good morning, Mr. President,”
    “Max, thank you for coming,” Thad said, “Please set down, I need your help once more.”
    “It will be my pleasure to serve you, sir,” Max replied.
    “A lot of unusual things are happening around the world lately,” Thad began. “I have a report given to the FBI by a General Wainwright that a SEAL team was deployed somewhere overseas. There was no mission and no orders for such a deployment. I can’t find out anything about the team. It’s like it doesn’t exist. In Wainwright’s report, he says that SEAL Team 5 was due for a twenty-day leave after their deployment in Afghanistan, but suddenly they were ordered back to Afghanistan. No one knows who gave that order. The part of this story that worries me the most is that nobody can tell me what their mission is. As President, you would think, by God, some damn body would tell me what the hell is going on.”
    “Mr. President, I don’t know what I can do for you,” Max intoned. “People talk to me less than they talk to you.”
    “Hell, we aren’t going to find out anything here,” Thad said. “Whoever is pulling these strings has got people deep uncover in the military and/or the CIA. There is no other way they could move troops around and there be no footprints to follow. General Wainwright has been restored to active duty and will ship out in two weeks for a tour of our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I can’t wait that long.”
    Thad paused for a moment. “Max, if I cut orders for your Delta Team, can you lead them on a mission into Afghanistan?”
    “We are at your disposal, Mr. President,” Max answered, trying to keep the excitement out of his voice.
    “This will be a two-pronged mission, Max,” Thad began. “The first part of the mission will be to find this man.” Thad handed Max a folder with a picture of an Afghan who looked to be in his late fifty’s. “All the information on him is in the folder. He’s the head drug pusher over there and we seem to be in bed with this bastard. I want you to make it clear to him: he is no longer in the drug business. Then ask him nicely if he will tell us who the Americans are he is working with.
    “Next,” Thad almost shouted, “find out where my damn SEAL Team 5 is. I’ve got people working on finding the assholes that sent them there, but I want them back before something bad happens.”
    “Mr. President, if you would like me to go on a fact-finding tour of Afghanistan,” Max said, “I will be more than happy to get my team together and fly out tomorrow morning.”
    “Thank you, Max,” Thad said as he put out his hand. “God’s speed to you.”
    Max walked back to his office, but the adrenaline was pumping through his bloodstream and it was all he could do to keep from running. His heart was beating so loud he could hear it in his ears. He felt the eyes of everyone he passed on him and wondered if they could read his mind. If they could, they would know just how damn happy he was right then.
    Max couldn’t wait to get out of the shit hole they called DC. He had always known the higher up in politics a man went the dirtier the air got. Right now, he really needed a fresh breath of clean air.
    He longed for the days when he was in combat. You dare not say something like that aloud, people would think you were crazy. However, on the battlefield, you didn’t have to guess who the enemy was; he was the son of a bitch trying to kill you. Your friends, your brothers – you knew who they were also. They could always be counted on to be there; someone always had your back. In Washington, DC, the guy who you were depending on to watch your back would more than likely turn out to be the one putting the knife in you.
    As the Vice-President entered his office, Mary Kay Wright walked around her desk to intercept Max with a hand full of messages.
    Max just waved his arm at her and said, “Not now, Mary Kay. I have to go out of town for the President. You’ll need to clear my calendar for the next week. I should be back within seven days.”
    The door closed, and Mary Kay was standing there with a hand full of messages and a bewildered look on her face. Suddenly the intercom came to life, “Mary, get me Gene Turner on the phone, please. If he isn’t home, track him down. I need to talk to him right away.”
    Gene had been with Max right out of boot camp. There was no one in the world Max Midland trusted more than Gene Turner. They both knew that they were alive today because the other had laid his life on the line for him. The last time Max saw Gene was at the funeral of his wife three months ago. He planned to get with Gene before this, but life just got in the way of good intentions sometimes.
    “Mr. Vice-President, Mr. Turner is on line five for you, sir.”
    “Hello, Gene. Max here. How the hell are you doing, man?”
    “I’m holding my own, Mr. Vice-President. It’s good to hear from you, sir.”
    “Gene, I wanted to get down to see you, but this damn job has had me tied up in knots. I hope you will forgive me.”
    “Nothing to forgive, sir. Janie is gone, and the world moves on. The same will happen when we take leave of this world. I knew where you were, sir. If I needed you I would have called.”
    “Well, all the same, I’m sorry it’s been so long, but if you are up for it, I’ve got a job for the team. I need you to get them saddled up and ready to ride. We pull out at 1700 hours tomorrow.”
    “Just tell me where you want us, sir, and we will be standing tall waiting for your orders.”
    “I need you to be at the Air National Guard field by 1600 hours tomorrow. I’ll have a colonel meet you with your orders. He will not know your name. There is no need for anyone to know who you are. Bring nothing that can ID you. I’ll be landing no later than five o’clock. It will be touch and go, so make sure you are on time.”
    “Sir, are you saying you will be going on this mission?”
    “Yeah, I need to see if my big, chair-born ass will still fit into a saddle. I’ll see you tomorrow night, Gene. It will be good to be back together with the guys.”
    “We’ll be there waiting on you, Max.”
_______________
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which these excerpts are taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]


Copyright © 2017 by Ed Rogers

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