From Slow Coming Dark
[Since the Sea Hag is now re-emerging from her cave, I figured I'd run a teaser for my 2000 novel Slow Coming Dark. This is from the middle of the book, after the major characters have all been introduced, but it will kind of set the stage and maybe pique your interest a wee bit. Remember, this is 16 years old, so it's a bit dated. No Benghazi or e-mails or Huma and Hill being an item. By the way, this is what gets certain of our more prudish comrades all hot and bothered about my writing "dirty books." so I have redacted roughly the last half of what I originally intended to publish here lest anyone get the vapors. -HAC]
“Matt, I’m at Senator Helms’ house.” said Hightower. He sounded haggard. “His private home, not his office. Please come over here right away and tell no one where you're going.”
Twenty minutes later Matt pulled into a graveled driveway on a shady, tree-lined street in one of Raleigh’s inner city neighborhoods, up to an unpretentious but spacious and well-kept two-story home of nineteenth century vintage. He knocked on the door and was astounded when the door was opened by United States Senator Jesse Helms himself, a slightly built, dignified old man leaning on a cane, a humorous glint in his eye behind thick spectacles. “You must be Matt Redmond,” he said, extending his hand that gripped Matt’s firmly despite his years. “I remember those fedoras, used to wear one myself when I was your age. Glad to meet you, son! I’ve heard a hell of a lot about all them darin’ exploits of yours!”
“It’s an honor to meet you, sir,” said Matt, flustered. “Ah, I got a message from SBI Director Hightower...?”
“He’s in the parlor,” said Helms, beckoning Matt inside. “Come on in. Matt, we got a hellacious problem we’re gonna need your help with.” He opened the door to the living room. Matt saw Hightower sitting in an armchair. Then he heard a baby give a short cry. He turned and a stunningly beautiful young woman in a pale beige pants suit rose from the sofa, holding a bundled infant in her arms. Her hair was long and blond, her eyes crystalline blue, and her face was a frozen mask of haunted pain and fear. She looked like she was about to turn and flee out the French doors. The first thing that hit Matt was that this woman was terrified out of her wits. Then he recognized her. “You’re Alice Silverman,” he said.
“You’re Matt Redmond?” she whispered.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said quietly, taking off his hat. “How may I be of service to you?”
“You can save my life,” she said dismally. “They killed Carla and Serafina. I heard their terrible screams as they died, while I was running away with my child in my arms. Now they’re trying to kill me, and kill my baby.”
“Who?” asked Matt urgently. It was as if Hightower and Helms weren’t even in the room. “Who is trying to kill you?”
“Bill Clinton,” she whispered. “He wants me dead. He wants my baby dead!”
“Why?” asked Matt gently. She looked up at him in anguish. “I know Clinton and his works, ma’am. You needn’t fear you won’t be believed. Why is he trying you kill you, and why does he want to kill the baby?”
Her eyes and her voice were dead with utter misery. “Eleven months ago, Bill Clinton raped me. After he was through, Hillary Clinton raped me.” She held up the wiggling bundle. “This is Bill Clinton’s son. Now he wants us both dead. I have come to you because you are the only lawman in the country who will believe me, and who has shown that he has the courage to stand up to them. If you don’t help, then my child and I will die. Will you help us?”
“Yes,” said Matt.
“Matt, before this goes any further, can we have a word in private?” spoke up Senator Helms. “You’ll excuse us, please, Miss Silverman?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll still be here when you get back,” said Alice with a wry smile. “I have no place else to go.”
Matt followed the Senator and Hightower into Helms’ carpeted, book-lined study. As soon as the door closed behind them he said, “With all due respect, gentlemen, what the hell is going on here? How did she get here, and why is she here at all? Has she told you anything about who killed DeMarco or what happened on the yacht?”
“She was never on the yacht,” said Hightower. He seemed to have aged ten years. “She’ll tell you in a bit what happened, and it will blow your mind. Matt, this is big. It's beyond anything I've ever come across.”
“As to how she got here, at four o’clock this morning I was awakened by someone pounding on my door,” said Helms. “By the way, Matt, I believe I heard you're a cigar smoker? Try one of these.”
“Uh...rolled Havanas, sir?” asked Matt, his eyebrows arching.
“There's a few things about Cuba I like,” chuckled Helms, his eyes twinkling as he and Matt both lit up. “Anyhoo, like I was saying, I get woke up at four this morning and I find this lovely Hollywood movie star and her baby standing on my porch, with an incredible story to tell. An incredible credible story, if you follow. A story that I believe, Matt.”
“And what will you do with that story, Senator?” asked Matt bleakly. “Impeachment failed. Sir, let me be blunt. I know that you personally did everything you could and I don’t fault you at all, but your colleagues in the Senate had the chance to rid our country of this sick, drug-addicted tyrant and they dropped the ball. We’re stuck with him now.”
“And the United States Senate shall carry that disgrace throughout its future history,” agreed Helms. “As to what I intend to do with her story, that’s easily told. I intend to make one of the final acts of my lengthy life on this earth the thwarting of William Jefferson Clinton, at least in this one small matter. Maybe that’s a petty reaction, but there it is. There is nothing at all that we can do with Alice Silverman politically. The people of this country have rendered their verdict and that verdict is that Bill Clinton gets a pass, whatever he does. With rage and bitterness in my heart, I have come to accept that. God will judge America for this. I will no longer try. But I still believe that truth and right and justice have enough power and strength to do one thing, and that is keep that girl and that baby alive. I can’t undo the past eight years, Matt. I can do nothing to bring back those nuclear secrets from China or restore the presidency of the United States to some kind of dignity, nor can I bring Vince Foster or Admiral Boorda or Jim McDougal or any one of a dozen others back to life. But I can damned well make sure that two more deaths aren’t added to Clinton’s total body count. Those two lives in there are lives that Bill Clinton will not take. I have sworn that to her.”
“How?” demanded Matt. “How will you keep that promise, Senator, when every other attempt over the past eight years to restrain Clinton from any act, no matter how murderous or treasonous, has failed? I think you both know I'll do whatever I must, but how can you keep her and that baby alive if the most powerful man in the world wants them dead?”
“I haven’t lived on Capitol Hill for almost thirty years without learning a trick or two,” said Helms grimly. “Matt, let me tell you exactly what I am asking of you. I want you to keep Alice Silverman and her baby safe while I negotiate with that yellow dog piece of hillbilly white trash in the White House for her life. I’m flying back to Washington tonight, and tomorrow I am going to ask for a private appointment with the president, ask in such terms that he will be sure to see me. I am going to say some things to him that I believe will convince him that it is best for him and for those whom he serves to accommodate me in this little matter of Alice Silverman’s life. I want you to keep them alive while I do this.”
“I will, or die myself in the attempt,” replied Matt quietly.
“From what I hear, you will.” replied Helms. “Son, I wish to God we had ten thousand more like you in this country. Then maybe we’d have a chance.”
“Matt, you of all people know what you are committing yourself to,” said Hightower. “I don’t mean just Clinton’s gunmen. You heard what that woman from the FBI said about the Mob sending that character Visconti in on this, the one you said you wouldn’t want to go up against unless you had to? Sounds like you may have to if you get in this deep. You sure about this, Matt? What about Heather and Tori?”
“They will understand and expect nothing less of me,” replied Matt. “I want to ask one thing of you both. I want to call my partner Cowboy Garza and have him in on this, and I want to call my wife and have her here when we hear Alice Silverman’s story. I can't do this without both of them.”
“Do you think you have the right to involve your family?” asked Helms.
“Yes, and neither of them would ever forgive me if I didn't involve them. Gawd, let Tori miss a chance of meeting Alice Silverman? She’d rend me in twain! OK on clearing Cowboy’s case load for this, Phil?” Hightower nodded.
“Son, you do what you have to do,” said Helms. “Just make sure that just this once, the good guys win one. This old bull still has enough horn left on him to be of some use. I’ll back your play all the way.”
Matt took out his cell phone and dialed his wife’s work number. She answered. “It’s me. Heather, it’s happening again. You walked through the fire with me once, Watson. Will you do it again? Are you with me?”
“All the way, Holmes,” she said with out hesitation.
“Then beg off work somehow and come to Raleigh, right now,” he said. “I’ll give you the address and tell you how to get here. I want you in on this from the ground up. We beat them once before, Watson. Now we’re going to beat them again.”
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