Thursday, June 02, 2016

From Slow Coming Dark




[An excerpt from the foremost anti-Clinton novel of the 1990s. Mine, actually. - HAC]

Matt parked his Taurus on the New Bern Avenue extension and walked towards the SBI offices. The day had grown cloudy and perceptibly cooler; in just a few hours the odd time of August known in Carolina as False Fall had descended upon the state, the air warm yet not hot, still yet tense. 

To his disquiet, Andrea Weinmann intercepted him at the door. She was wearing a light cotton summer dress and high-heeled sandals, cut close enough to accentuate a lithe yet voluptuous figure. A broad milk-white expanse of back and front was showing, with the slightest shadow of cleavage and one bra strap visible. Still professional, but just barely, and Matt would have been less than a man had he not wondered what it would be like to slide that strap off her soft shoulder and see the brassiere drop. 

She carried a large purse with a shoulder strap; Matt knew her gun and badge were in it and wondered if there was any bugging equipment as well. He wondered if she was alone or if they were being surveilled by her colleagues. “Hi,” she said, nodding across the street at the old state capitol surrounded by leafy green oaks and statues of the long dead white males who had created and served North Carolina and America. “I wouldn’t mind sitting on one of those benches while we talk, instead of some stuffy cubbyhole in there.”
           
“The pigeons may do a number on your dress, not to mention your hair,” said Matt with a chuckle. “Besides, on one side you’ll have Andy Jackson staring down on you and on the other side our Confederate war memorial. Not a very PC atmosphere.”
           
“Well, you’re not a very PC kind of guy, are you?” laughed Andrea.
          
 “No,” he agreed, escorting her across the street. They seated themselves on a bench. Andrea drew the wrapped remnants of a submarine sandwich from her purse and began tearing off small chunks of bread, tossing them to the squadrons of pigeons who immediately descended to the ground to grab the food.
          
“Pigeons on the grass, alas!” she said. “Gertrude Stein.”
           
“Pigeons in the air, despair!” returned Matt. “Father Gassalasca Jape. How can I help you, Agent Weinmann?”
         
“Call me Andrea, and you know perfectly well how you can help me, Matt. I've budgeted the first ten minutes of this discussion for fencing while you deny that you have Alice Silverman, and I try to make you admit that you do. Are we going to need the ten minutes?”
           
“No,” said Matt with a smile. “You can get right to the threats if you like. Tell me all about how you’ll charge me with obstructing justice and all that crap. Which you won’t, because the last thing on earth Janet Reno and The Man From Hope want is for any of this to be on paper and in a public courtroom. Except for the FISA court, we haven’t quite reached the point of secret tribunals in America yet, although I suspect it’s coming.”
          
“I believe that Senator Schumer is presently working on a draft bill for use in national security and domestic terrorism cases, yes,” said Andrea. She looked off in the distance. “It doesn’t have to be this way, Matt.”
           
“I’m afraid it does, ma’am,” he replied gently. “I still don’t know what kind of a person you are, Andrea. A good person and a good cop, I hope. But the fact is that you and I serve different ideals, different gods if you will. How much do you know about exactly why that unspeakable slaughter on the Jolie Madame happened?”
           
“I know Alice Silverman was involved and may still be involved in a scheme to blackmail the President of the United States,” said Andrea. “I have just been informed from Washington that Senator Jesse Helms is also involved, which makes it even more disgraceful.”
          
“Do you really believe that’s the way it is, Andrea?” asked Matt, his voice still gentle. “I won’t try to argue with you if you do, but I’m curious to know if you really do believe it. If you have made yourself believe it.”
           
“I don’t think about it in those terms, Matt. I’m not a Marxist, but the Marxists have a few good concepts, and one of them is that there is such a thing as objective truth, a political and social truth which can be greater and more morally imperative than any mere state of factuality.”
          
 “Yes, back during the Monicazeit I recall our Fearless Leader’s dialectic contortions over what is ‘is’?” said Matt in a dry voice.
           
“Sometimes is isn’t, Matt. I understand how cynical and depraved that sounds, but it’s an accurate assessment. The objective truth here is that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been the best presidents in this century. They have presided over a period of prosperity and progress without parallel at any previous time in this country’s history. The Clintons have defeated inflation and Serbian fascism, and we have come as close to defeating poverty as it may be possible to come. We have also come as close to genuine social and racial equality, true diversity, and an inclusive society as anyone on earth has ever come. It’s possible we may be able to achieve an inclusive and diverse, multi-cultural world of prosperity and equality for all time, if the Clintons are allowed to continue in office, or rather if Hillary Clinton can become President in 2004. 

"But she has to win that Senate seat in New York and build her political base and show the people her vision for America, while Al Gore keeps the chair in the Oval Office warm for her for this next four years. I know you don’t share these values, Matt, and I am sorry for you in a way, but in a way not. You are among the last of your kind, and I have to admit, I find your courage and your own obvious commitment to your ancient way of life to be noble and incredibly attractive. 

"But Matt, your world and Jesse Helms’ world is dying, hell, it’s dead already. There can never be any going back, only forward. Matt, you’re young enough to change. You’re young enough to have some part in this brave new world to come, and it really will be a brave new world.”
          
 “And the price of my entrée into this brave new world is to hand over a young woman and a baby to be murdered?” asked Matt sadly. “You don’t know me very well, do you?”
          
 “Oh, Matt, we’re not going to kill Alice and her baby!” snapped Andrea. “We want to question her about those murders on the boat! You know, the crime the FBI is investigating? Yes, it’s also true that during the process of investigation I hope we will be able to persuade Ms. Silverman to abandon any idea she may have of embarrassing the president or Mrs. Clinton, but we’re not executioners or thugs. I told you, I’m not like Chuck Bennett.”
          
 “Not like your former lover, Chuck Bennett,” corrected Matt.
           
“I see you still have your ear to the ground in the Bureau,” she said with a rueful smile. “Matt, I last slept with Chuck Bennett four years ago. I gave him a hell of a farewell orgy if I do say so myself. But when I walked out of his apartment next morning it was all business between us from then on, and he knew that and accepted it. I never carried a torch for him, I always knew he was corrupt and dangerous, and as far as I am concerned you did what you had to do. That’s the truth, I swear it. I repeat, I am not an executioner or an assassin.”
          
 “But the Three Musketeers are,” pointed out Matt.
           
“I am not in any way involved with that crew, Matt, and dammit, I really do mean that!” she insisted. “Rather the reverse. I have strong reason to believe that Mr. Blanchette and Ms. Martin and Mr. Lambert are involved in these multiple homicides. They will be apprehended and if they resist they will be dealt with.”
          
 “Ahhh...comes the dawn! So that’s it!” asked Matt, suddenly comprehending. “That’s what you’re doing, eh? Tying up a very ugly loose end for Bill and Hillary before he leaves office? A little termination with extreme prejudice? Or is that truth too objective for you?”
           
“It’s right on the money,” replied Andrea grimly. “I should think as a law enforcement officer you would be glad to see the end of those three and you wouldn’t be too squeamish about the politically hygenic aspect.”
           
“Hey, Andrea, no kidding, you catch those three anywhere in North Carolina where I’ve got jurisdiction, let me know and I’ll be there with bells on, two guns at the ready. Bob Blanchette is a notch I definitely want to put on this Python of mine.”
           
“I’ll do that. From what I’ve heard of Blanchette and Lambert, we will need all the help we can get. Now, do we get Alice Silverman?”
           
“No,” said Matt. “But you’ve been frank with me, so I’ll tell you this much. Alice Silverman is not involved in any plot to embarrass or blackmail Bill or Hillary Clinton. Quite the opposite. She wants one thing and one thing only, and that is to be left the hell alone to raise her child and never again be reminded that Bill and Hillary Clinton exist, or as close to that state of affairs as possible. She is safe with us. Don’t worry about her. You don’t need her testimony for what you’re going to do, since this is never going into a courtroom and we both know it.  Let us handle the Silverman end of things for you while you hunt down the Three Musketeers. If you’re as sharp as I give you credit for being, you can get to them before John Visconti does. You can even make things cleaner still by blaming the dead Musketeers on Visconti and then wasting him in turn, if you can catch him. 

"There is an old saying that the law is supposed to be a shield and not a sword, but that’s horse shit and we both know it. I am not naive or idealistic, Andrea; I lost any illusions I had about the law long ago. As far as I am concerned you can stack Blanchette and Visconti and a hundred dead hoods up like cordwood. I’ll give you my applause, and like I just said, I’ll even give you a hand if it comes down here in the Old North State. But Alice Silverman is not a hood. She is a scared young woman with a baby who has the right to live her life without the constant shadow of Luther Lambert’s axe or your kind of persuasion. Your leader has given you a mission, Andrea. Do it and go back to Washington.”
           
“I can’t do it like that, Matt. I think you know that.”
          
“Then we’ll just have to see how it plays out,” said Matt, rising from the bench.
         
“If we come for her, are you going to shoot?” asked Andrea directly.
          
“I don’t know. For God’s sake, Andrea, don’t bring it to that! Aside from anything else, it would be almost impossible to keep it quiet. We have one thing in common, all of us, you and me and Alice and your superiors in Washington, we all want this settled without any sound and fury. Let’s start from that common ground and see where it goes. Now, have your people had enough time to find my car and plant the homing device yet?”
          
 Andrea laughed. “I’m here alone, Matt, but by all means, get yourself dirty crawling under your car looking for a tracker if you want. By the by, there’s something else. I realize this isn’t the most auspicious time to bring up the subject, but once this messy case is over, if we’re still on speaking terms at all, any chance of you and me getting together for a long weekend in a nice, dark hotel room? I imagine your contact at the Bureau has already told you, for the chosen few I’m a garden of delights.”
           
“I don’t doubt it a bit, ma’am,” said Matt. “And no jive, I’m honored you would offer me a stroll through the garden.” He held up his left hand. “Do you know what the ancient custom of the wedding ring symbolizes, Andrea? It symbolizes a chain, a binding together of a man and a woman. The other day you met the woman who wears the other half of that chain. She and I are bound together in spirit, so that even when she is not present in body, she is always there in my heart and in my thoughts. 

"A while back, in the wedding chapel down in Dillon, South Carolina, I made to Heather the most sacred promise that any man can make. My name isn’t Bill Clinton, and I am not part of your brave new world, ma’am. That promise I meant, and that promise I will keep. Always. Until death do us part, and in Heather’s case, I think if ever I lost her I would keep that promise until death reunited us again. One day, if you are fortunate, some man will wear the other half of your ring and will feel the same way about you. I wish that good fortune upon you with all my heart, Andrea, and that’s the truth.”
          
 “That’s the best thing any man has ever said to me, Matt,” she replied quietly. “Thank you.” She watched him walk away through the trees and the still, gray air. It will be you, she thought. It will be my ring on that finger of yours one day. I don’t know how, but I will make you love me as you love her. I know now that it has to be. It’s you, Matt, only you.
           
Matt Redmond paused briefly on his way back to his car. He looked up at the large statue of the three U.S. presidents born in North Carolina, Polk and Andrew Johnson and above them all on his horse, the chiseled Ulster granite face of Old Hickory himself, the soldier and statesman Andrew Jackson.  

The house you once honored with your wisdom and your strength is defiled, he thought. There is a darkness descending on the land, a slow coming dark. A toad is sitting in your chair, and he is sending villains and bitches to murder women and children. But you have sons who have not forgotten, Mr. President. We will fight on.

* * * 

Want to read the whole thing? E-mail me at nwnet@earthlink.net and I'll send you a free .pdf. Call it my contribution to the national effort to beat back the Hildebeest.

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