Freedom's Sons: Section II, Chapter 12
[Okay, for my ravenous readers who have been demanding a full and immediate serialization which I am not ready to give yet, here's another tidbit. - HAC]
XII. Cry Havoc
And Caesar's spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war…
-Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene One
The War Cabinet meeting in the White House Situation Room on the evening of July third was tense and vituperative. It had finally begun to sink into the ruling élite’s consciousness that barring some sudden stroke of deus ex machina the United States was going to lose the war, or at least be forced into a position that would be extremely difficult for even the liberal state-controlled media to spin as victory.
After a lengthy briefing on the military situation from Admiral Brava and General Scheisskopf, in which President Hunter Wallace mostly kept silent, Vice President of the United States Hugh Jenner spoke up. For the past several days Wallace had been increasingly morose, withdrawn, and twitchy. A lifetime in politics warned Jenner that something bad was coming down the pike. Wallace knew that now the quick victory he had hoped for was no longer going to happen, his whole career was in ruins. He would be looking for someone to blame, and he would be willing to do anything in order to salvage something from the ruins. Heads of state in such positions are dangerous to the nations they rule. “Mr. President, I don’t think it would be inopportune now to discuss some of the political implications of all—of our present situation,” began Jenner carefully. “I need hardly remind you that tomorrow at two p.m. local time you are addressing the nation and the world in your annual Fourth of July speech. May I ask what you are going to tell the American people?”
“At least we have cable television back on line so he can address the nation and the world,” muttered Secretary of State David Modlin.
“Indeed, Mr. Secretary,” said Jenner. “That’s something of a minor miracle. But what are you going to say tomorrow, Mr. President? I haven’t seen any of your speechwriters around the West Wing any time today.”
“I was busy,” said Wallace sullenly. Yeah, busy with that blonde Halberstam bimbo, thought Jenner to himself. Wallace ignored his question and addressed the two Pentagon officers. “Admiral Brava, General Scheisskopf, I want you both to give me candid worst-case scenario assessments. How bad is this likely to get?”
Albert Scheisskopf cleared his throat. “General Logan’s situation at Anaconda seems at the moment to be the most desperate, sir. His men are out of food and water, and Logan himself is separated from his main force by almost four miles of exposed ground under such heavy enemy shellfire that he can’t re-unite his command. They are outnumbered and outgunned. The situations at Fairfield and Ponderay aren’t much better. The offensive from Aztlan has totally collapsed, and right now we’re having trouble getting accurate information out of there. There are apparently some generals muttering about a military coup against El Presidente.”
The U.S. Army and Marines had thrown together a force of almost 100,000 men that was now moving across American Montana toward Anaconda on the NAR side, in an attempt to break the siege, reinforce and re-supply the beleaguered Group South. The Pentagon had stripped every last remaining combat arms soldier and most of the supply and personnel clerks, motor pool mechanics, MPs, cooks and bottle washers from over fifty bases for the purpose. Even so, half of the relief force was comprised of National Guardsmen in non-combat military occupational specialties, a number of companies that had been thrown into action during their last weeks of basic training, men and women who had been previously deemed medically unfit or too obese for combat, and recent retirees who had been called back to active service. This was no Baghdad Boogie, it was a last-ditch effort to avert the total disaster of having an American army clearly and undeniably decimated and defeated in the field, by a people and a nation whom the American media and ruling élite hated and held in contempt. The column was advancing slowly, and the field grade officers were reporting a high desertion and suicide rate among the ranks.
The Pentagon had also stripped every American continental base of the last of its motorized transport, and had begun commandeering civilian vehicles when that proved insufficient. When that was gone, there was no more. The United States Treasury had no money left to buy any more vehicles, weapons, or munitions, and no one in the U.S.A. or anywhere else in the world would extend them any credit. There had simply been too many bond and T-bill defaults, too many bailouts down through the years that had disappeared without a trace, too much willy-nilly printing of money to cover welfare payoffs and just plain bribes to minorities, unions, and special interests, as well as to pay the daily operating expenses of government that were nowhere near covered by depleted tax revenue as effective production of anything within the United States ceased. The New Deal had lasted for a century, but finally it had collapsed because the United States at long last ran out of other people’s money. There had been too many defaults on things like Social Security and Medicare in the past for anyone to trust America with a dime anymore.
Scheisskopf’s face was haggard. This simply didn’t happen to the mighty by God United States of America military, unquestioned lords of every battlefield they surveyed since 1945. At least they were in their own minds, even if history didn’t quite bear that out in embarrassing little glitches like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. “What do we hear from the Anaconda relief column?” asked President Wallace.
“The relief column is advancing with all speed, Mr. President, and every man and woman in that force will do their duty, I can promise you,” replied Scheisskopf.
“Except for the deserters,” replied Wallace dryly.
“They’re nearing Billings, but there seems to be a problem,” said Admiral Brava. “We still have aerial scouting by AWACs and choppers on that side of I-Fifteen, remember, out of range of the Nazi ray guns. Apparently there is a large enemy force advancing on the relief column from the south, out of Wyoming. The NAR call it their Seventh Army, and we’ve learned it’s commanded by that kraut, Conrad Baumgarten.”
“The one who used to be the sniper back during the Trouble? The one they called Der Judenjäger?” asked Angela Herrin with distaste.
“The Jew Hunter, yes, ma’am,” replied Brava. “This is the flank attack that we were told would never happen by ... ” He didn’t dare to name Wallace and Janet Chalupiak to their faces. “Well, we were assured it would never happen by those who were in charge of planning and logistics, and we were compelled to proceed on the basis that there would be no threat from that quarter. We were assured that Wyoming is nothing but a big wasteland, the enemy is spread thin on the ground and never managed to fully assimilate the proud American cowboy spirit, and besides, cowboys are all closet homosexuals and did I never see the classic flick Brokeback Mountain? The evil racists walk softly in Wyoming, because the white people of that state secretly love all the world’s black and brown people, especially the noble Native Americans, despite the fact that for some reason there don’t seem to be any more Native Americans in Wyoming. The racists don’t dare maintain too great a troop presence there for fear of a pro-American revolt by fifty thousand secretly liberal and gaily inclined John Waynes and Clint Eastwoods on horseback, waving Old Glory and flourishing Winchesters like Rooster Cogburn. We seem to be getting our strategic thinking from old Hollywood movies, by no means for the first time. Wyoming is so ripe for our plucking that we don’t have to worry about it, we will be welcomed in the streets of Laramie as liberators … ” Brava couldn’t help it; his voice was rising almost to a scream of rage.
“It was Bagwell,” offered the Secretary of State, “Gator Dave” Modlin. “I thought we’d all agreed to blame it all on Bagwell, since he’s gone crazy and he’s not able to respond in the media from his rubber room.” Modlin was not being crass or cruel; he was simply stating rather bluntly a policy that had taken shape in the collective governmental mind since Secretary of Defense Marlon Bagwell had fled clucking and flapping his wings from the room. The narrative was already being fed out into the news cycle by administration talking heads and tame media people on the cable networks. Operation Strikeout was Marlon Bagwell’s baby, it had gone south, and Bagwell had broken under the pressure and lost his mind in remorse. The president, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the rest of the cabinet and government were just along for the ride, and certainly not to blame for an American military and civilian death toll which might well top a million.
“We still haven’t figured out how the president is going to explain all this away in his nationwide address tomorrow. Admiral Brava, let’s cut to the chase. Without the nuclear option, what are our prospects?” asked Ronald Schiff bluntly. “Is the United States going to win this war?”
“Without air power and satellite surveillance support, no,” Brava replied with equal bluntness. “Even if we were to suddenly recover our satellite capability this very minute, the Air Force is now extremely short on available aircraft, ordnance, and pilots. We are losing because we had no idea on earth that either of these two Nazi secret weapons existed, and they caught us completely by surprise.”
“An intelligence failure of the first magnitude,” said Janet Chalupiak.
“A catastrophic intelligence failure, yes ma’am,” said Brava. “We don’t have to blame that one on Bagwell, since we have another scapegoat in the rubber room who will do, and who really does deserve the blame. I need hardly remind anyone here that until recently the Central Intelligence Agency was headed by a woman who is now confined in a padded cell in St. Elizabeth’s hospital, next to our quondam Secretary of Defense, and who frittered away several years using the immense resources of her agency chasing space aliens, when they should have been learning all about these Bluelight things—that’s what they call these death rays, apparently—and about this computer virus that has crippled our eyes in the sky. Mr. President, I won’t bother to suggest a serious rethink on the whole concept of affirmative action at the highest levels of government …”
“Because to do so would be a criminal act in violation of a dozen federal hatecrime statutes!” snapped Chalupiak. “How dare you? You known damned well that the only reason I’m in this room myself is because I’m a lesbian!”
Brava looked at her strangely. Scheisskopf leaned over and whispered quickly in his ear, “For God’s sake, Hector, don’t say it! Don’t throw away a forty-year career!”
Brava recovered himself. “Yes, Madam Secretary, you are entirely correct. For me to suggest any such thing would indeed be criminal, which is why I will not suggest it. I am simply pointing out that for no discernible reason having anything at all to do with government policy or the values of, uh, tolerance and diversity and democracy, through some blind act of the unfeeling gods that has simply fallen on us completely unexpectedly, out of nowhere, something none of us could possibly have predicted … ” Brava paused and took a breath. “ … We seem to have had our ass handed to us by the Northwest American Republic, and before Secretary Chalupiak objects, I think those white men we so hate and despise are in the process of earning the right to be called any damned thing they want, since we don’t seem to be able to prevent them. We have lost almost our entire air force, a good deal of our navy, and we are now about to lose not one, not two, but three, count ‘em, three entire armies, and a fourth if the Montana relief column can’t fight off this attack from the south by the NDF Seventh Army. Ladies and gentlemen, the long and the short of it is that fourteen days in, the United States of America is now royally fucked.” He sat down.
“So what do you recommend we do?” asked Hunter Wallace, staring down at the table. He had been silent during most of the meeting. “Admiral Brava? General Scheisskopf?”
“You know what you have to do!” shouted Angela Herrin angrily. “Send for the briefcase with the codes and initiate the Apocalypse Option! Nuke these Jew-hating motherfuckers back to the Cretaceous period! Let the few who are left crawl in and out of caves wearing animal skins while their precious little yellow-haired children are born with two heads! Six million Jews died in ovens, now let all of them die in one big oven! Do it, Hunter!”
“Do it if for no other reason than to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers!” urged Ronald Schiff. “For God’s sake, Mr. President, that was why Harry Truman gave the order for the drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to prevent massive American military casualties in a land invasion of Japan! Are you less of a man than Truman?”
“I asked Admiral Brava and General Scheisskopf what they suggested we do.” said Wallace.
“Mr. President, without our air power and our spy satellites we are helpless on the ground,” said Brava quietly. “We have almost half a million men completely stalled in the Northwest, running out of food and water and ammunition, surrounded by an enemy that outnumbers them almost ten to one. It also has to be said quite frankly that their personnel are better than ours, better trained and more highly motivated. The Northmen are fighting for their country, for their homes and families. Our people are simply fighting to stay alive for one more day. The U.S. forces are being pounded into dust by a massive amount of field artillery that our pre-war intelligence seems to have grossly underestimated both as to its quantity and its quality—I mean, Jesus! Who the hell uses vehicle-drawn cannons that you just aim like a squirrel gun any more, instead of electronically guided missile systems at ten million bucks a pop?” he added, shaking his head in wonder.
“So what do we do about it, Brava?” asked Wallace sullenly. “Is there any hope at all of getting our satellite surveillance capacity back on line?”
“Not at this time, sir,” said Brava. “Whatever this bug is, it’s simply killed the orbitals. Nobody at Canaveral or in Houston or Honolulu can raise a peep out of a single satellite, and neither can any of the private communications conglomerates get a signal off any of their own orbitals. To our instrumentation it’s all just space junk now. Unless we can persuade the Russians to give us access to their orbital surveillance vehicles then we’re blind for the duration.”
“Premier Malinovsky won’t even take my calls,” said Wallace in despair. “I even tried the old Cold War Hotline that one of our people found and hooked up again, the one that was supposed to ring in the Kremlin. I got a recorded message that the translator tells me is an advertisement for some Russki porno web site.”
“Cossacks! Russian bastards!” said Angela fiercely. “They’re all Jew-haters too!”
“You now know as much about the current the situation as we do, sir,” said Admiral Brava. “I just spent an hour describing it. Unleashing a nuclear Holocaust that will probably poison and render uninhabitable most of North America west of the Mississippi is in my opinion neither a realistic nor a sane option. Those nukes were designed to go off in Russia and China, not in Spokane. One might as well try to win a boxing match by dousing both fighters with gasoline and striking a match. The question is, do we let all those men die or do we put a stop to it and save who and what we can?”
“Mr. President,” spoke up Scheisskopf gravely, “I would rather be flayed alive than utter a single word of what I must say now, but it is my duty to speak. In April of 1865, there came a day when General Robert E. Lee said to his aides, ‘I must go and see General Grant,’ They met at Appomattox Court House. You don’t have to go to Appomattox, Mr. President. You can use a video screen or you can have someone else do it for you. I will do it, although it would be better coming from someone in the political echelon. Maybe they’d respond better to Vice President Jenner, since he comes from Oregon. But the time has come when you have to call President Morehouse and bring this to an end. We’re beaten, sir. Accept that fact, and save what we can, while we can, because once they counterattack they’re going to move into Utah, northern California, maybe Canada, and they will be unstoppable. They may even march on Washington, D.C., and right now to be honest there’s not much we could do to prevent them.”
“And leave the two hundred nuclear missiles that could win this for us in thirty minutes sitting and rusting away in their silos?” snapped Angela Herrin angrily. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“One more word like that from you, General Scheisskopf, and I will have my good friend the U.S. Attorney General convene a very special grand jury to investigate you for cowardice and treason!” shouted Janet Chalupiak in a hysterical rage.
“My God, it’s happening again!” moaned Ronald Schiff into his hands, beginning to weep theatrically. “Once more the Jewish people are betrayed into the hands of Esau!”
Now it was Scheisskopf’s turn to snap. He turned angrily on the paunchy little White House chief of staff and said. “It may come as a surprise to you, Mr. Schiff, but the fact is that there are millions of people who live on this continent who are not Jewish, and who don’t deserve to die or lose everything they have because you have a beef with some racist lunatics out in the north woods somewhere! God damn it, it’s not always about you people!”
“Yes, it is, Albert,” said Vice President Hugh Jenner bitterly. “Let’s not kid ourselves. It is always about them. It’s been all about them for the past hundred years. You going to get your dyke friend the Attorney General to investigate me for treason and hatecrime now, Janet? Will a time ever come in America when we can simply stand up and tell the truth?”
“Good God, why would we ever want to do that?” asked Secretary of State Modlin, genuinely shocked. “They’d tear us to pieces in the streets!”
“I suppose you’d rather be beaten by the Nazi pigs and be laughed at and cursed by history, than use the nuclear arsenal first given to this country by Jewish scientists like Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller to rid the world of this curse of racism once and for all?” shouted Angela Herrin.
Jenner turned to her coldly. “Ms. Herrin, I am from Portland, Oregon. Grew up there, served in Congress from there, and I once had a home there, a home that these Nazi sons of bitches destroyed when they conquered the city twelve years ago and took everything I had. Since then I have dedicated my life to going back there some day and once again seeing the American flag flying over the place of my birth. There is no man or woman in this room or in this government who despises these people and wants to see them all dead any more than me. But I have no desire to raise the American flag over a heap of molten glass, not to mention give an order that’s going to kill millions of people in my city. People some of whom I know, because for whatever reason they chose to stay behind. And what about Canada? How will Prime Minister Simoneau react when we start slinging around nuclear warheads that scatter nuclear fallout all over the western part of his country and makes Vancouver and Calgary glow in the dark? How about Aztlan? Don’t you think San Francisco and Sacramento have suffered enough from the Nazi phosgene and anthrax? How about the people in other parts of the United States? How will we make the wind recognize the Northwest borders and not blow fallout all over Denver and Salt Lake City and Omaha?”
“Who gives a fuck about flyover country?” demanded Schiff irritably.
Angela Herrin went icy calm and turned back to Hunter Wallace. “All right, then, Mr. President, let us assume that the United States has now joined every other nation on the face of this earth and has finally betrayed the Jewish people to the bloodlust of those who hate us. That’s moral putrefaction, but such is the way with all goyim sooner or later. We have long known that all of you secretly hate us, but we won’t go there. Let’s get practical here. What will happen when the Nazis counterattack, as they will when they have finished destroying our armies with all this nuclear-free leisure we are giving them to do so? How much of America will they decide to help themselves to? The rest of Montana? Utah? Northern California? Will they conquer all of California and shove almost fifty million Hispanic people into ovens for the crime of speaking another language and having brown skins? Suppose they do decide to march on Washington? Or fly on Washington? Remember, they still have aircraft even if we don’t. Suppose they don’t wait until they have defeated the armies at Anaconda and Fairfield and Ponderay?” she asked. “They may have the capability to attack right now. We know they were able to keep these plasma weapons and this computer virus that knocked out our satellites secret. Suppose they have other secret weapons that they’ve been able to conceal? Who knows, maybe Kanesha Knight was right. Maybe somehow these racist devils really have been able to access extraterrestrial technology? Think Hunter! They may have secret attack craft hiding in caves in Wyoming and Idaho that could be hovering over the White House within an hour! Do you remember the scene from Independence Day when the aliens blew up the White House?”
“Back to basing strategic moves on Hollywood movies again, are we?” said Brava with a defeated sigh. “Mother of God!”
“Let me get this straight, Angela,” said Jenner. “You’re trying to frighten the President of the United States into launching a massive nuclear strike that will destroy millions of lives and render maybe a quarter of the land mass between here and the Arctic Circle uninhabitable for thirty years, for fear that Nazis will come in a flying saucer and blow him up with ray guns here in the White House?”
“It could happen!” insisted Schiff stoutly. “They shot down our planes with ray guns, didn’t they?”
“The President is not that fucking stupid!” shouted Jenner. He looked at the unusually silent Hunter Wallace, who was staring distractedly at the table in front of him. “Jesus, you’re not, are you?” asked Jenner in alarm.
And thus it went, around and around and around.
* * *
On her way back from the Watergate in a cab, still light out in the daylight savings time of a summer’s night, Georgia figured out an extremely lame excuse to go back to the West Wing and sit in her little clerk’s cubbyhole where she supposedly did her day work compiling and data-entering economic statistics. She even had her own White House work database where she could keep and review all the crap she entered, although it was a dummy and wasn’t connected to anything else on the White House intranet. The actual statistical data in that area was maintained by the Treasury and the Department of Labor across town.
Georgia would be observed sitting in the cubicle by the security cameras, of course, but she could put on headphones so she would not be physically overheard while she watched Palm Beach For Real. This was an especially moronic reality TV show about four black and brown young men and four young white women having nightly orgies both hetero and homo in a millionaire’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, in graphic detail with full close-ups, of course. At the beginning of the season one of the young women had been Latina, but she was removed after a formal protest from the Aztlan government as presenting an “offensive racial stereotype.” The mami was replaced by an Americanized Korean girl, but the powerful Korean business community had threatened to launch a boycott of the show’s advertisers because Myong “presented a bad example to young Asian womanhood,” and so she in turn was replaced by a white chick. No one cared what kind of stereotype or bad example white sluts presented.
Georgia couldn’t think of any logical excuse for the Secret Service or anyone else as to why she was watching the stupid show on her computer in the West Wing and not on the 60-inch plasma screen upstairs in the East Wing residence; she simply hoped nobody noticed her and asked. Watching a multiracial orgy was all she could come up with to explain her presence where she should not be at this time of day. She knew that her two targets for the tracking bugs were down in the Situation Room now, and she had to get to them, but she didn’t know how. She could see no way she could get anywhere near there, bluff her way in, or explain her presence to the president and the assembled brass if she did.
She closed her eyes and thought of the house on Daly Avenue in Missoula, in the snow, in the summer heat with the window air conditioners humming. She was sure she could still remember every room in the place. Bob had told her that her father still lived there, had kept her room the way it was on the day she had disappeared. The possibility that she could see once more the home of her childhood, could live there again, stand in her old room and see her old toys and books, that she could raise her daughter there and see Allura play on the swings and the jungle gym in the little Bonner Park near the house, take her up on Mount Sentinel, or down along Clark Fork to splash in the water—this was something she had never believed might happen. That world had been gone forever, but now it was within reach again. She had to do this one more thing and then she could finally wake up from this long nightmare, it could all be again. Georgia knew she had to fight down her terror and find some way to do the impossible, so that she could see it all again, and know that it had been real.
Weird, she thought to herself. Here I am right at the center of power, the center of the world, where millions of women like me would give anything to be, and all I want to do is get out of here and go back to a little place no one knows or cares about.
She sat in the darkened office watching the perversions on the computer monitor, and she thought desperately. Any attempt to penetrate the Situation Room while the conference was in progress was out. If she hung around down here in the West Wing long enough she could probably catch Angela Herrin, Ronald Schiff, or both leaving the building, but what then? Walk up and give Ronald Schiff a hug and slip the GPS chip in his jacket pocket? How surprising and completely out of character would that be? Surely the man wasn’t so stupid as not to suspect something funny was going on right away? Plus he would probably be surrounded with witnesses. As to Angela Herrin, Georgia had no clue. The only thing she could think of was Angela’s purse. Some women had a careless habit of leaving their purses or handbags lying around any old where. So far as Georgia could recall, Angela Herrin wasn’t one of them.
Problem is I’m on a time limit here, Georgia thought to herself. She had to get the trackers planted now, tonight. If she’d had a few days to plan, it would be a lot more feasible, but somehow she had to get both Jews tagged before they left the building in perhaps an hour’s time. It’s just not possible, she thought to herself in despair. At least not without making herself as conspicuous as a cow in church and alerting everybody that something odd was going on, including the Secret Service agents she knew were watching everything in the White House from the basement control room. Hmm, Secret Service agents ... Georgia thought. Okay, if I can’t get to Angie and Ron directly, maybe the bodyguards …
She knew the hulking, big-nosed and blue-chinned Israeli Motti Kravitsky by sight. She knew that Ronald Schiff’s four-man detail was usually headed by Agent Elmore Pettis, an Oklahoma cracker of the Christian Zionist persuasion who had specifically asked for the assignment because he considered it an honor to be allowed to protect the safety of one of the Apples of God’s Eye. Thinking back carefully, she recalled that at one time or another over the past few months both men had given her the eye in the White House corridors. Just the odd casual glance and bit of body language, Elmore’s hinting at the Christian man’s wonted deep fascination with Scarlet Women and Motti’s brief but naked animal lust of the Jew for anything blonde and gentile.
This wasn’t unusual, in the White House or elsewhere. Georgia knew perfectly well from the age of fifteen that she was a stunner. She was accustomed to virtually all men reacting to her in a certain way that without a single politically incorrect or even impolite word made it quite clear what they were envisioning about her in their minds—except for Bob Campbell, who appeared to be well and truly Married with a capital M, which she admired and envied in him.
She had also discovered at age fifteen or thereabouts that she could use her beauty to get what she wanted from men, anything from drugs to a passing grade in algebra. Tonight she just had to use it to get close enough to two men to plant something on them while they were sufficiently distracted not to notice. During her stay at the White House Georgia had picked up on the fact that as in all hierarchies, there were rules, there were pigeonholes, and she had her own pigeonhole. She had been there three months and she was now a known quantity. She might as well have worn a sign on her back marked “Private Stock,” but that meant her role was known to both the Jewish and the Christian gun thug. They knew who she was, they were used to seeing her around, and they would not suspect her after a single apparently accidental encounter, unlike SAIC Lee Lyons and the huge negro gunman Hadding, who seemed to suspect everyone. It was the only plan she could think of, and it would have to do.
But where to find them? They would be somewhere nearby in the West Wing, since they would be expected to escort their primaries home after the meeting. There was a kind of bull pen in the security control room in the basement, with a break room, where Secret Servicemen on lunch breaks who didn’t feel like working out in the White House gym hung out. It included a small in-house bar with a prized indoor smoking permit, although only liquor and marijuana cigarettes were allowed and only then when an agent was officially off the clock. No tobacco. At least that much lip service was paid to the law in the seat of government. The president and his senior staff were of course allowed to have a nice relaxing and flavorful Cohiba in the Oval Office, or anywhere else, but the lower ranks who weren’t Jewish and therefore privileged had to make do with the White House’s unofficial smoking area in the Rose Garden.
That’s it! thought Georgia. The Rose Garden! She had seen both Agent Pettis and Mordecai Kravitsky in the Rose Garden puffing away, although Kravitsky flaunted his Judaic privilege by smoking pretty much anywhere in the White House he chose. Georgia knew this because the Jew smoked god-awful Russian latakia cigarettes called papirosy, and you could always tell when he’d just passed by in the corridor because it smelled like the carpet was on fire. Maybe she could find both of the gunmen smoking in the Rose Garden. With any luck she could misdirect them long enough to plant the GPS trackers on them. If she saw Kravitsky she even knew what approach she’d use with him. She would ask him to recommend a good Israeli restaurant to which she could take her stepfather and stepsister Talia for Marvin’s birthday. Her mother too, if Amber weren’t too drunk or doped.
Georgia got up from her desk and turned off the computer, put down her headphones, and drew her own cigarette pack from her purse. With careful thought, she considered putting one of the small chips inside the paper wrapping and trying the “keep the pack” trick when one of her targeted individuals asked her for a cigarette, which would have worked fine on TV, but how was she to get one of them to ask her for a cigarette, especially since the Israeli smoked those hideous Russian things? Plus she had no idea what brand Pettis smoked. No, she would have to place the trackers into both men’s pockets, or some other secure location.
Georgia now had at least a semi-legitimate if illegal reason for being in the West Wing; if challenged she could claim she just wanted an evening stroll in the lovely Rose Garden, and count on the Secret Serviceman or staff member to take in the smoldering cigarette butt in her hand. If she’d light up a joint it would be legal and would make more sense; the Rose Garden was a beautiful place to get high even on a muggy Washington summer night. But Georgia feared that even one toke would set her back down on the spiral she had leaped off of at Bobby Campbell’s request three months before, and so she elected to inhale a carcinogen that would destroy her lungs instead of a narcotic that would fry her brain. She strolled down the corridor past the Secret Serviceman at the desk, knocked perfunctorily on the door of the Oval Office, and when she got no answer she opened the door and walked right through, then out the French doors into the dark steam bath of the Rose Garden, pausing to light her cigarette with a flourish right in front of the security camera.
Even at this time of night, she was not the only smoker in the garden. There were half a dozen other White House employees, from cleaning staff to policy wonks, strolling up and down the graveled walks or sitting on the stone benches by the discreet ash cans, in the easy confraternity of the American smoke hole. Georgia quietly did a circuit of the garden, nodding to people of her acquaintance, At first she thought she was out of luck, and she began feverishly to turn over in her mind any other possible place she might run into either Agent Pettis or Mordecai Krivitsky. But then she saw Pettis sitting on one of the stone benches, a forbidden Tiparillo in his teeth. She sat down beside him. “Hi,” she said. “Agent Pettis, isn’t it?”
“Yes ma’am, and you’re Ms. Halberstam,” said Pettis almost bashfully, no doubt ashamed of the sinful and impure thoughts he had entertained in his mind regarding this young woman, temptations sent by the devil. He was a trim and well-built man with a short reddish crew-cut, in the usual impeccable Secret Service suit and tie which marked his calling as much as any bemedalled general’s uniform.
“You like cigars?” she asked, nodding at the Tiparillo.
“When I can get them,” he said. “I can’t get them often, though.”
“Lee Lyons a hard-nose about the Demon Weed?” said Georgia with a merry laugh. “Well, you are an officer of the law and all that, you know.”
“Lee knows I smoke. Half the agents on the detail do. The smoking itself he looks the other way about. He says we need to keep alert at all times and jonesing for a cigarette interferes with our job performance. But he doesn’t approve of any of his people dealing with buttleggers to buy tobacco, since after all they’re criminals, and so we kind of have to scrounge. Most of us have a deal going with somebody at the TEA to slip us confiscated contraband out of the evidence lockup for cash under the table, but good cigars are hard to come by, at least at the prices they charge.”
“You don’t get a law enforcement discount?” asked Georgia with a giggle, slipping the blue-striped GPS chip into her palm in case she got a chance to plant it.
“Not from those hustlers at TEA, we don’t,” said Pettis, shaking his head mournfully.
“Uh, look, Agent Pettis, I’m not a cop and I got a solid connection for the plant life, so I can get you whatever you want, Cohibas, Macanudos, Havanas, you name it, and I’ll let you have them for what I pay for them,” offered Georgia. “How’s that for a law enforcement discount?”
“Well, I might just take you up on that, ma’am,” said Pettis interested.
“Uh, you’re on the Chief of Staff’s detail, right?” asked Georgia.
“Yes. Why?” he replied.
“Isn’t that Mr. Schiff in the Oval Office?” asked Georgia innocently, pointing to the French doors, where she had in fact detected some movement inside. Pettis turned to look. Georgia deliberately blanked out her mind so she wouldn’t think about what she was doing or hesitate, and she deftly slipped the blue bug into Pettis’s jacket pocket. Her hand did not tremble. Pettis got up and stubbed out the remains of his Tiparillo in the ash can.
“The meeting might have broken up. I didn’t get the call, but I’d better go check and see if the boss is clocking out for the night,” he said. “Can you get your guy to price some of those Havanas you mentioned? I haven’t smoked a rolled Havana in years.”
“I’ll ask next time I see him,” she promised. He walked off toward the Oval Office. Georgia took out her phone and quickly texted Blue on COS main goon and driver, called up a photo of an androgynous rock star who performed wearing nothing but a huge strap-on dildo and painted over the WPB message, then texted to Talia He’ll be at the JFK Center reception, make sure Marvin brings you, then sent the message. She finished her cigarette and watched for Pettis to re-appear. He didn’t.
Pettis actually interrupted a heated discussion in the Oval Office between President Hunter Wallace, Ronald Schiff, and Angela Herrin. Ronald looked up as Pettis came in and said, “Oh, good, I was about to call you, Elmore. I’m outta here.” Schiff got up. “Mr. President, you have a choice. You can make history during your Fourth of July address tomorrow by announcing that the missiles have been launched and the war is over except for the mopping up, that you have kept your lifelong promise to the American people and reunified the nation, and that a ghastly mistake which was made twelve years ago has been corrected. You can then rest assured of a third term, a fourth, who knows? The sky is the limit for the man who serves the Chosen of God, as you used to understand. Or else you can come across as a mumbling schmuck and announce that we fucked up, that the United States of America is going to crawl on our bellies to devils in human form, and from now humanity has to live with a nation-state based on a moral inversion that will poison the rest of history with an antediluvian hatred that should have perished from the earth forever in 1945, but which you are too spineless to end.” He turned to Angela Herrin. “Maybe you can talk some sense into him. Mr. President, tomorrow afternoon I am going to sit down with Senator Nivens and talk about his future. It’s up to you what I tell him.” Schiff stalked out of the room.
Angela sighed in exasperation. “Hunter, why won’t you do this for us? You’ve always been so reasonable about everything else we’ve asked of you? Why balk at this one last favor?”
Wallace’s face was that of a small, stubborn little boy. “Number one, because I don’t appreciate being bullied, Angela. I know that the world owes a historic debt to the Jewish people and I have always been willing for this country to pay it, especially after what that bird-brained bimbo Chelsea did. But you might remember who is in fact the actual President of the United States, and you might at least show a little respect instead of treating me like a six-year-old who won’t eat his vegetables! The second thing is that you and Ronnie are being as brave as lions with my ass, and don’t you think I don’t know it! I’m the one who’s going to get the blame for probably having to permanently evacuate the city of Vancouver, I’m the one who’s going to have to carry the can for all the fallout and somehow find the money to pay compensation and to repair the damage all over the country, and that means I’m the one who is going to go down in history as the trigger-happy president who couldn’t find any other way to win the great game besides kicking over the table! You realize there are going to be survivors, at least a few, and that at least some of them are going to be kids?”
“Racist kids,” said Angela. “Kids who were going to be raised as racists and Jew-haters if you hadn’t stepped in.”
“Do you think the bulk of the American people have sense enough to grasp that, Angela?” demanded Wallace. “Christ, you of all people should know what dumb-asses they are! You’ve helped me pull the wool over their eyes often enough. That’s all I need, pictures on the six o’clock news of cute little blond kiddies with radiation burns! What do you think that will do to my approval ratings?”
“Hunter, you know damned well we can give you any ratings you want!” said Angela impatiently. “We can give you a ninety-nine point nine percent approval rating if you like, although I wouldn’t recommend it since we do need to retain a little credibility. We can shit-can any media coverage of radiation-burned kiddies. We can assure you the biggest re-election landslide in American history—we count the votes, remember? I always thought you got it—we can do anything we want, morally because we are God’s Chosen people, and practically because we’re smarter than everybody else. But you have to work with us on this.”
The phone on Wallace’s desk rang and he hit the intercom. “Yes?” he said irritably.
“Admiral Brava for you,” said a voice. Wallace picked up the receiver. “Yes, Admiral.” He listened for a minute. “Dear Christ in Heaven!” he moaned. “I’ll be right down.” He stood up.
“What is it?” asked Angela.
“The racists have launched a major assault on Anaconda,” said Wallace. “They’re attacking from the west with the setting sun behind them. Planes, rockets, and they’ve brought in their crack SS units and Panzers. It looks like they’re trying to wipe out a whole American army in some kind of Custer’s Last Stand, and from what little communication is getting through to the Centcom in the Pentagon, they may succeed. Also, the Anaconda relief column has been enveloped by the enemy army from Wyoming and they seem to be falling apart.”
“In God’s name, you shlumpf, what will it take to make you do what has to be done?” shouted Angela angrily. “Patterson has the football in his safe, just down the hall! He can be here in twenty minutes, along with General Fein and Colonel Rabinowitz!”
The briefcase containing the nuclear attack codes for the U.S. Strategic Defense Command was called the “football.” For years it had been carried everywhere with the President of the United States by an aide, but in the year 1998, Bill Clinton had become distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and lost the briefcase somewhere, after which it was kept either in the Pentagon, or in the office safe of the White House military attaché, who in this administration was Lieutenant Colonel Pat Patterson. After an incident in which Hillary Clinton attempted to stave off impeachment proceedings by attacking China, but was talked down by her lesbian lover of the time, only the attaché had the combination to the safe. In order to get the briefcase with the codes, the President had to convince the attaché and two other field grade officers that he or she was neither insane nor under the influence of drugs or liquor. Wallace started at the names of the other officers, two of the highest-ranking Jews in the military. Fein was Quartermaster General, a position he apparently parlayed into an eight-figure income which was the target of repeated media reports and Congressional investigations, while Rabinowitz was a public relations specialist. “Got your own crew standing by, eh, Angela?” demanded Wallace. “Don’t you trust Scheisskopf and Brava to sign off that I’ve got all my marbles?”
“They’re interested parties,” said Angela. “Too interested. They might make problems. Best to present them with a fait accompli.”
Wallace shook his finger at her. “You see! That’s—that’s what the fuck I’m talking about, making all these plans without consulting me, like I was just a glove and you’re the hand!” He stormed out.
In the meantime Georgia had strolled calmly up to the French doors of the Oval Office, figuring she’d try the White House mess to see if she could locate Mordecai Kravitsky there, but when she looked through the glass panes she was astounded to see none other than Angela Herrin herself standing on the famous carpet with the Presidential seal, staring after the departing president, mad as a wet hen. Alone.
Bob once told me that when the white man began to fight back, somehow his luck changed and things started to fall into place, Georgia thought. Jesus, I guess he was right! How lucky is this? Georgia had no idea how she’d pull this off, and there were of course cameras inside the Oval Office as well as audio recorders, but she palmed the red-striped chip in her left hand, opened the French doors and stepped inside. Angela turned and saw her. “You lost, blondie?” the Jewess snarled.
“No, Ms. Herrin, there was nothing on TV so I decided I’d go have a smoke in the Rose Garden,” said Georgia calmly.
“Well, you need to get your ass back up to the residence bedroom. That’s your work station, I believe?” said Angela icily. This was clearly not an invitation for a cozy chat. Georgia didn’t see how she could prolong the encounter much less slip the GPS on the woman, and so in her mind she switched back to Plan B and figured she’d go find Kravitsky. Georgia started to move around her without a word to leave the room, but suddenly Angela took her arm, and on her face was a careful, rueful smile.
“Wait! I’m sorry, Ms. Halberstam, that was inexcusably rude of me, and I apologize,” she said. Georgia was astounded at how quickly the Jewish woman did a complete 180 in attitude. “I’ve been having a very bad day, a terrible day, in fact, and I took it out on you. Please forgive me. I know we don’t know one another, but do you mind if we sit down and have a little talk? I’m going to have a drink. God knows I need one. How about you?” She moved to the presidential sideboard.
“I’ll just take a ginger ale or a club soda or something,” said Georgia, sliding carefully down into an armchair in one corner if the office, facing another chair. It was the first time since she had been at the White House that anybody had ever invited her to sit down in the Oval Office itself.
“Suit yourself,” said Angela, going to the sideboard and pouring out a ginger ale and then hefting a liquor bottle over a glass. “I’m having a large V&T myself.” She came over and handed Georgia the ginger ale, then sat down and took a heavy slug of her vodka and tonic. “Ms. Halberstam, I’m hoping you can help me. I’m hoping you want to help me, and help the country as well. I understand that you’re from Montana originally, and that you and your mother had to flee from your home state when the Nazis took over twelve years ago?”
“They’re not all Nazis,” said Georgia before she could stop herself. “I mean, some of them are Christian fundamentalists and Odinists and whatnot,” she added hastily.
Angela Herrin shrugged. “To us they’re all Nazis,” she said. “It’s as handy a term as any. But whatever they are, they are the people who drove you out of your home and made you a refugee when you were only a child, and so I assume you have no love for them. I know Marvin Halberstam casually, and he once mentioned to me that you and your mother had a rather adventurous time of it escaping from the Northwest.”
“I don’t think adventurous is quite the term,” said Georgia.
“Of course not,” said Angela soothingly. “It must have been horrible. But would you like to be able to go back to Montana someday?”
“Very much,” said Georgia with a nod.
“Well, that may be possible, but we need your help. That is, the responsible elements in the Cabinet need you to use your, ah, unique access to the President to persuade him that he has to take certain steps in order to win the war, which I’m sure you’ve realized isn’t going as well as we had hoped by this stage.”
You mean you’re getting your asses kicked by the NDF, thought Georgia. “Yeah, I kind of picked up on that,” she said. “What steps are you talking about?”
“Ah, well, there’s the problem,” said Angela. “Hunter is a very proud man, and like most proud men he doesn’t like to feel as if he’s being manipulated by the women in his life, even when he is, if you get my drift. I can’t tell you anything specific about the actual policy the President needs to implement. It’s classified top secret, and if I tell you anything I would not only be violating national security laws, but if you were to let slip any details he would know that I talked to you, and he would think he’s being manipulated.”
“But you do want me to manipulate him,” said Georgia. “Although I don’t understand how I can do that if I don’t know what you want him manipulated into doing. In any case, what’s in it for me?” Georgia understood that a Jew would expect such a question, and it would be out of character for her own high-class hooker persona not to make such a remark.
“How about a ten million dollar bonus?” said Angela, seriously.
“You have my full attention, Ms. Herrin,” said Georgia. “But how do I earn that ten mil, if you won’t tell me what it is you want me to persuade the President to do? That’s assuming I can persuade him of anything, which I can’t guarantee. We don’t exactly conduct deep political and philosophical discussions on policy and statesmanship when we’re together.”
“I understand that, Ms. Halberstam,” said Angela. “What I would like for you to do is to apply a kind of psychological massage that will make him more receptive to the whole concept of complying with our advice, that is to say chief of staff Schiff’s and mine as well as the advice of certain Cabinet officers like Secretary Chalupiak, who also lost someone near and dear to her at the hands of the Nazi murderers. Tell me, have you ever discussed your past with the President?”
“Not really, although before I came here I discussed it with damned near everybody else,” said Georgia. “He knows I’m from the Northwest, of course. I had to go through all kinds of security clearance bullshit, and the Secret Service has a file on me that could probably tell you what I had for breakfast on this day three years ago, so I assume Hunter knows all about me, but he’s never asked. It’s not my past he’s interested in.”
“No, of course not,” said Angela, giving her a once-over glance that made Georgia wonder if the stories she’d heard about all Jewish women being bisexual were true. “What I want you to do, Ms. Halberstam, is to talk to the President about your past, in great and heart-rending detail. Tell him about your idyllic childhood in Montana that was ripped from you by hatred and cruelty. Can you do that?”
“Yes, I can do that,” said Georgia with a nod. You’d better believe it, sister, she thought.
Angela Herrin went on: “From what I gather from Marvin and from reading that extensive file you mentioned, I understand the reality was bad enough, but don’t hesitate to embroider a bit. I want you to let him know how badly you want to go back to Montana and see your childhood home again, but how terrible it is that you can’t do so as long as those evil men are in power, how horrible it was to be chased by dogs and racists with guns across the snow as you and your mother were fleeing to freedom …”
Fleeing to the next interstate exit with a Sheraton sign, thought Georgia. Let me get this straight, bitch: you’re trying to get me to psych up the Doughboy to drop a nuclear warhead on my father and my brother and my baby nephew, without knowing what I’m doing, for which you are willing to pay me a lot of money, so that makes it all right. Christ, the Party is right about you people! Now shut the fuck up and give me some opportunity to put this bug on you, so you can die tonight!
Suddenly Angela’s phone rang. She carried it in a leather pocket on the outside of her Gucci handbag, which was on a table at the end of the Oval Office sofa. She got up, walked over, picked up the bag, pulled out the phone, and said “Yes?” into it. She listened intently to whoever was on the other end, moving back toward the two chairs where she and Georgia were sitting, the purse in her hand. “I’m still trying to bring him around,” she said. “I’m talking to someone now who might be able to help, in fact.”
Angela glanced at Georgia and realized she probably shouldn’t be speaking about this in the clear, and so she switched to Hebrew, a language which sounded to Georgia like a tuberculosis patient choking on his own diseased lung phlegm. She threw the handbag down on the seat where she had been sitting and turned away from Georgia, who slid her hand over and was about to open the bag when she saw the small telltale LED light at the end of the zipper which told her that the bag was alarmed. Unless she knew what stud or special hidden switch or accessory to touch or flip, if she tried to open the purse it would beep or blat or screech or in some way warn the owner it was being tampered with. In a world when wealthy white and Jewish women were prime criminal targets not just for rape but for simple robbery, Georgia had heard of high-end purses and handbags that blew indelible dye in the faces of thieves who stole them and tried to open them, even electrocuted anyone who tried to cut them open. It made sense that the White House press secretary would own such a bag. It meant she couldn’t open the damned thing to plant the tracking device.
Then she saw the empty phone pocket or pouch on the outside of the handbag. Angela Herrin was turned away from her, gabbling in Hebrew to whoever was calling her. Georgia took a quick glance around the ceiling corners of the Oval Office and spotted both small CCTV cameras. She knew there was also a small fiber optic lens in the President’s personal computer terminal for video conferencing, but which could also be used to monitor the office. The screen was turned away from her. Georgia got up clumsily out of her chair, holding her empty ginger ale glass in one hand and steadying herself on the arm of the opposite chair where Angela’s purse lay. Hoping her body and the back of the chair would shield what she was doing from the spy cameras, Georgia slipped the thumbnail-sized red microchip into the leather phone pocket or holster, and then walked to the sideboard and put the glass down on a coaster. She turned to Angela, who was still speaking in Hebrew to her unknown caller, and whispered, “I have to get upstairs. He’ll expect me to be there when he goes up himself.”
Angela took the phone away from her head. “I understand,” she whispered back. “We’ll talk later.”
Georgia walked out of the Oval Office. When she got upstairs to the unmonitored presidential bedroom she texted a quick message, Red on the bitch, concealed it in a savage political cartoon from the Washington Post showing Hunter Wallace gripping a snake with a Swastika on it with three fists and arms marked “Group South, Group Center. And Group North” and sent the message, supposedly to Talia Halberstam. Apparently the Post’s cartoonist was a bit behind on the military developments of the past few days, but then most of the American people had no idea that they were losing the war. They were still being shown videos from two weeks before of the three Baghdad Boogies beginning, as well as stirring live reports from journalists embedded within the three columns, most of which were outright fakes generated by computers and performed by professional actors.
* * *
Lieutenant Bob Campbell sat in a small room under the eaves of the Renwick Gallery, surrounded by old American masters including a couple of Grandma Moses winter landscapes in watercolor, and several Buckminster Fuller geodesic architecture models from the 1930s and 1940s. The ancient curator Doctor Herrick had provided him with a large hero sandwich and a bottle of water, pointed out the alarms and motion detectors on the top floor, and left him to his vigil. Campbell had spoken briefly to Herrick before he left. “I’m told you knew the Old Man?” he had asked.
“Never met him,” replied Herrick.
“But Major Cardinale said you were personally converted by the Old Man,” said Bob.
“I was, but not in person, if you see the difference,” said Herrick. “Long, long ago the Old Man used to do an internet radio broadcast once a week. Northwest Freedom or something like that, I can’t even remember what it was called, and I had to destroy all my downloads and copies once it became a death penalty offense to possess them.”
“Radio Free Northwest,” said Campbell. “We’re taught about that in history class and they play some excerpts for the students. He converted you with his podcasts?” asked Campbell.
“He did not,” replied old Herrick. “I was an arrogant imbecile and I thought I knew better than he did about what was what. I did not. I viewed his podcasts as entertainment, not something to actually be listened to, taken seriously, and certainly not acted upon. Northwest Migration wasn’t something anyone actually did, it was something one tapped a keyboard about on the internet. The result of my refusal to listen and act is that my life became a living hell, and by the time I realized that the Old Man’s rantings about Northwest Migration were meant to be acted upon and not laughed at or languidly discussed on effete pseudo-intellectual blogs, it was too late. My three children are all dead. My son became a heroin addict and died of an overdose. My oldest daughter was raped and murdered by niggers when she had a flat tire up in Maryland one night, while my youngest daughter married a Mexican from Aztlan and was beaten to death by her husband while she was pregnant. I have several mestizo grandchildren whom I have never seen, and have no intention of seeing. They are nothing to do with me, and they may have died in a V-3 attack on California for all I know or care. My wife went insane and died in a mental institution.”
“Euthanized?” asked Bob sympathetically.
“I think so, but I can’t prove it.”
“Why didn’t you Come Home after Longview?” asked Campbell.
“I didn’t act when I should have, and my family paid for it. Why should I reap a reward from their suffering?” replied Herrick bleakly. “I didn’t Come Home because I haven’t earned it. Stupidity comes with a price, young man, and I haven’t paid my tab yet. I do what I do for Vince on occasion as part of settling up that tab.”
“You ever meet a girl named Betsy?” asked Robert glumly. “You two seem to have a lot in common.”
“Yes, I have met Betsy and I know her story,” said Herrick. “I wish to hell somebody could persuade her to Go Home. What happened to me and my family was my fault. I simply assumed that what the Old Man was talking about was all impossible, that nothing would ever actually happen. The very idea that anything would ever actually change, or that anyone would ever actually do any of what he was talking about was absurd. It never even entered into my thinking. So I didn’t listen and I didn’t act when I should have, and those I loved paid a hideous price because I was a lazy dumb-ass who didn’t have sense enough to realize that Rome was burning even with the Old Man bellowing it in my ear. I had a choice, and I chose not to listen. Betsy didn’t. I did something, by default, by not doing anything, which is another way of doing something, if you get my rather confusing drift there. Betsy had things done to her. She deserves to Go Home. Do what you can to convince her, if the subject ever comes up.”
Bob had a small pair of field glasses through which he could view the famous façade of the White House across the North Lawn, now lit up with floodlights in the darkness of the hot summer night. He thought of Georgia inside. He wondered what she was doing, and then decided he didn’t want to know. Then his phone bleeped. He flipped it open, saw the stupid cartoon, decrypted and read her second message Red on the bitch, and forwarded it to Cardinale. Then he settled down to wait. It was out of his hands now.
Bob was tense with worry about what might happen to his WPB comrades, but the armchair Herrick had given him for his little observation post was comfortable, and he actually managed to fall asleep for a while, until Herrick nudged him awake sometime later. “Thought you might like to know how we did,” said the old man, extending his own phone. Bob looked down at the screen and saw that it was tuned to CNN. An Asian female announcer who actually looked pale beneath her makeup was speaking:
“Repeating the hour’s top story, two murderous terror attacks in Washington, D.C., have stunned the nation’s capitol tonight. A D.C. Metro Police spokesman says that at eleven thirty-five p.m., White House press secretary Angela Herrin and her bodyguard, former Israeli Army Major Mordecai Krivitsky, were shot to death outside Ms. Herrin’s elegant town home on Twelfth Street Northeast in the D.C. suburb of Brookland. At almost the same time, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Schiff and two members of his Secret Service security escort detail were murdered in an attack on his limousine outside a downtown Washington night club, using a bomb or some other kind of explosive to penetrate the vehicle’s armor. A second government limousine was also damaged in the terrorist attack. No details are yet available on … ”
“Any of our guys hurt?” demanded Bob.
“No, they all E&E’d clean,” replied Herrick. “I talked to Vince. They caught Schiff on 14th Street just as he pulled up to the Black Cat Club, with one of those Panzerfaust rockets. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but they disassemble until you can fit one into a briefcase, and the warhead is only fourteen ounces …”
“Yeah, they showed me,” said Bob.
“Anyway, they work. Went through the armor in that limo like a hot knife through butter,” said Herrick with a chuckle. “I know because downstairs I have access to a raw news feed for a couple of cable networks, and they showed the remains. That car looked like a child’s toy that had been put into a microwave, and it looked like they were trying to scrape Schiff off the back seat with spatulas.”
“How about Angie baby?” asked Bob. “I understand she was the main presidential handler for the Sanhedrin or whatever organized Jewry calls itself these days.”
“Aron Habrit, which means Ark of the Covenant,” said Herrick. “The idea being that the Torah has now been taken out of the holy land of Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world are now the ark which holds the covenant between God and Abraham, their usual quasi-mystical horse shit. Anyway, the Herrin woman paid the price for living in a toney goyische old money neighborhood: no covered parking. Caught ‘em on the front steps of the brownstone. Two of the team riddled the big Jew with Uzi bullets, which I think is poetically appropriate, and Duke got Yentl with a neck shot so she strangled on her own blood. Kind of a variation on kosher slaughter.”
“And they’re all away clean?” asked Bob again.
“Every one, thanks to the fact that some electronics whiz kid Vince dug up was able to track the targets, make a plan and run interference for the teams surveillance camera-wise,” said Herrick. “He told me to tell you to keep an eye out for any unusual activity around the Heart of Darkness down there and be ready to hit Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck if necessary, whatever that means.”
“I know what it means,” said Campbell. “If it’s not necessary I will need to ease on out of here and into downtown about eight in the morning, just as the rush hour begins, which in a way is good because I’ll have a lot of cover on the street. I need to pick someone up and then we’re out of here, permanently.”
Herrick looked down at him in the chair. “I haven’t been fully briefed on what you’re doing here, son, and I have no need to be, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I figure we’ve got somebody in the belly of the beast tonight. Whoever they are, they must be one hell of a soldier.”
“Yep,” said Bob.
“Well, if I don’t see you again before you leave, good luck,” said Herrick.
“We’ve had great luck so far,” said Bob Campbell. “Phenomenal luck. Now please God it lasts just a few more hours.”
* * *
Special Agent in Charge Lee Lyons of the Secret Service was not completely politically naïve. He sensed that POTUS was on the edge, and he was enough of a realist to understand that this was not good for the country or for his career, and he needed to tread carefully and keep every angle covered. For this reason, when word arrived at the White House that Angela Herrin and Ronald Schiff had been assassinated, instead of immediately informing the president, he called over to the official residence on Observatory Circle and routed Vice President Hugh Jenner out of bed. Jenner was dressed and back at the White House in 20 minutes. “Are we in any doubt as to who did this and why?” he asked Lyons.
“I think the more germane question would be the how, Mr. Vice President,” replied Lyons. “We’ve always known since Longview that there was an NAR intelligence network in D.C., two in fact, one from the War Prevention Bureau and one run by their Combined Military Intelligence, and down through the years we’ve picked up traces and signs of their activity, but nothing concrete until the events outside the South African embassy a few weeks ago when they seem to have pushed Kanesha Knight over the edge into insanity.”
“Are they that good, or do we really suck?” asked Jenner.
“A bit of both, sir,” replied Lyons honestly. “I think everyone in government is aware of the weaknesses in the FBI’s performance for the past generation, for reasons we are not allowed by law to discuss. Basically, the FBI are great at fabricating cases against political targets. Their technical people could create totally believable video and audio footage which would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you and I conspired together to hire a hit man to murder the Dalai Lama, if it was deemed politically desirable. But they’re complete stumblebums when it comes to for-real spy-catching, and have been for decades. The Walker family spied for eighteen years and earned over a million dollars from the Russkis, and the only reason John Walker was ever caught was because he was too cheap to pay his ex-wife alimony and she turned him in. Jonathan Pollard failed every psych test and lied on his vetting forms, his behavior was so erratic that even his co-workers at Naval Intelligence thought he was nuts and tried to get his clearance revoked, and the FBI only paid attention when he was actually caught on a security camera stealing and photocopying classified documents.
One of the primary if unspoken rationales for creating the Department of Homeland security after Nine-eleven was that the FBI was so clearly incapable. The ESMA here in the District is an attempt to counteract our own counter-intelligence incompetence by simply spying on everybody all the time.”
“And even that doesn’t seem to have worked!” said Jenner bitterly.
“No, sir,” agreed Lyons.
“You know that there is—was—a serious policy disagreement over the conduct of the war within the special Cabinet and Joint Chiefs committee that meets in the Situation Room?” asked Jenner.
“Yes, sir,” said Lyons with a nod. “It’s kind of hard for the staff here not to know, with all the yelling that goes on down there and in the Oval Office and in the corridors. We do have ears, you know. Ms. Herrin and Mr. Schiff wanted to launch a full nuclear strike at the Northwest. So did Secretary Chalupiak, and I assume she still does. Admiral Brava, General Scheisskopf, and yourself are against it. Secretary Modlin agrees with whoever spoke last, Secretary Bagwell turned into a chicken, and no one knows which way the president is going to jump on it. Now, my question, sir, is how did the Northmen know who in the War Cabinet was pushing for the nuclear strike, and how did they know where to find Ms. Herrin and Mr. Schiff tonight?”
“You think the NAR has somebody inside the White House?” asked Jenner, his blood running cold.
“I do, sir,” said Lyons. “I will go so far as to say I think it’s the president’s special friend of the moment, Ms. Halberstam.”
“Do you have any evidence for that suspicion other than the fact that she was born in Montana?” asked Jenner.
“None, sir, but I was always against her coming here. Her background check revealed a completely amoral character.”
Jenner gave him a tired smile. “Lee, let’s be completely honest here. Any woman who will put up with what Hunter Wallace does in the bedroom, for any amount of money, is going to be at least half a freak. You’re not going to get Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm doing the afternoon shift in there in the executive lounge.”
“I am aware of that, sir,” said Lyons. “It’s just a feeling. Call it a cop’s gut instinct.”
“The president is very fond of this young lady and he is going to be, well, distraught when we tell him what happened to his press secretary and his chief of staff tonight,” said Jenner. “I don’t think it would be wise to compound the shock of tonight’s news by flat-out accusing his favorite mistress of the past few years of being a Nazi spy. Plus I’m one of these dinosaurs who doesn’t believe in charging someone with a capital crime without some kind of proof and then torturing a confession out of them. What can I tell you? I’m an old fuddy-duddy that way.”
“So what should we … ?” Lyons suddenly remembered that Jenner was not empowered to issue orders to the Secret Service. “Ah, what would you recommend, Mr. Vice President?”
“I would recommend putting a special security watch on her down in the control room, including activating the secret cameras in the bathrooms which we all know you have already installed,” said Jenner. “Watch every move she makes. Go over all her phone calls, which we know you intercept and at least archive. Check them out for anything that seems suspicious. Then we should …”
The door to the Oval Office opened and a uniformed Army major appeared at Jenner’s side. “Mr. Vice President, you’re needed in the situation room,” he said. His face was almost green.
“I’m not the commander-in-chief, Major,” said Jenner irritably.
“No, sir,” said the officer with a gulp. Tears formed in his eyes. “But we think you need to be the one to wake the president and tell him what’s happened. It’s bad news.”
“Spit it out, man!” snapped Jenner.
“Combined Military Group South is gone, sir,” said the major, openly weeping now. “It no longer exists. We received General Logan’s last transmission from Bowman Field in Anaconda as the goddamned SS was overrunning his position, and the town is gone as well. Re-taken by the NDF. They wouldn’t allow any of our people to even surrender. It looks like they killed them all. Two hundred and twenty-five thousand soldiers and U.S. Marines who left Billings two weeks ago on a Baghdad Boogie, now they’re wiped out. It’s the worst military disaster in this nation’s history. And the relief column, sir …”
“Go on,” ordered Jenner, dazed and in shock.
“They’ve broken up.”
“What the devil do you mean?” demanded the Vice President.
“The enemy army moving north from Wyoming beat them to Billings, occupied the city, and then hit our column in the darkness just outside town, at a place called Huntley,” said the major. “They’ve broken up. They’re running, sir. They’re just throwing down their weapons and running for their lives through the night, every man for himself.”
“Dear God!” whispered Jenner, appalled.
“We have to wake the president,” said Lee Lyons in a dull voice.
“Not yet,” said Jenner. “Major, have Admiral Brava and General Scheisskopf been informed of this catastrophe yet?”
“Yes, sir,” said the officer. “They’re at the Pentagon war room now monitoring what fragmentary radio and other communications are coming in. They figure Group Center at Fairfield and Group North at Ponderay are next in line.”
“Get them over here,” said Jenner. “Not Chalupiak or Modlin. We will wake the president together. We have to end this.”