Revels of Rivals

The Monsoon swizzled his watery drink in time with the oomp and pah of the game but chubby blonde’s aftermarket boobs, idling wondering if it was a sign of decline that he found cheesy strip clubs relaxing these days, rather than stimulating. Probably. Among so many others. The jackals of The Hill were probably snuffling in the darkness, the Beltway Buzzards circling too high to yet be seen. He tipped a unilateral toast to hungry predators everywhere, siphoned up a moderate snort, and held out a folded bill, trolling for a receptive G-string.

“If I can tell from here that’s only a one, she sure as hell can,” Jerome Weistler scoffed. “Think she can’t smell a Reno banknote from down the block?” He nodded acceptance of Munson’s lightly flipped finger. He also found this misnomered “Gentleman’s Club” relaxing. And one relaxing thing about it, it was unlikely that anybody of any importance would see him with Munson in a hole like this. Even if there was enough light. And if they did, they’d think twice about mentioning it.

Monsoon was on his wave length, as so frequently. “How come the Senators can reach across the aisle, but if guys like us, the real power, even shake hands it’s godawful corruption?”

“Forget the aisle. I’m good when they don’t reach across the bathroom stall.”

It seemed ironic and contra-instinctual and all that, but it also stood to reason: Jerry and Monsoon were the only two guys in Washington, if not the world, who really knew what the other one did and thought. Each saw his opponent as his only real peer in a world of peerlessly moronic muggers and shysters and shitforbrains. Monsoon had once suggested that they just switch jobs. Both resign on the condition that the GOP National pick up Monsoon and the Committee to ReElect hired Jerry. His Republican counterpart had laughed, then furrowed his brow. “But wouldn’t there be issues of trust?” Which had cracked them both up so bad the Atlantic City tarts they were tag-teaming had been afraid they’d have to figure out how to flee the scene of a double coronary.

They’d been friends since Sixty Eight when Jerry canvassed for Bobby and Monsoon was an under-assistant junior intern flackster for what he now called SpiroDicky. Back when they actually could switch jerseys between games. By now, of course, they were too powerful to have much say over their lives. But they could sure monkeypuppet other lives around.

Monsoon shifted his florid bulk and eyed the scrawny Weinstein. Who gazed back unflustered through his scuffed horn rims that seemed constructed to announce: What, you never saw a skinny Jewish geek from NYU before? And who wasn’t overly empathizing with Monsoon’s bitching about running Obama’s re-election campaign. They guy had all the incumbent advantages and did nothing but whine. Like now.

“The guy played on a state champ hoops team. Played in college fr crissakes. But did I get to use that in the campaign? Nooooooo. Running against Palin who’s playing up her state championship for MukTuk High every time she turns around.”

“Yeah, it’s so unfair for white females to have a basketball advantage over black males.”

“Natural order of things, there’d have been hours on ESPN comparing their roundball careers,” Monsoon ranted. “The campaign could have been about basketball. But I couldn’t touch it.”

”Well, run Palin again next time and maybe we can have a Network Sports Celebrity Half Court Shootout.”

”You’re on. But I’m just saying. What if McCain had a black grandfather but you couldn’t bring it up?”

“I’d have leaked and pretended we didn’t want the press to go with it. But we’re Republicans. Think we hire people of uncertain racial extraction?”

Monsoon jiggled his slushy drink and gave Jerry the aggressively bland smile that let him know he was about to pop one of those no-man’s-land things that came up now and then among the other nut-cutting, log-spiking and barn-razing. Didn’t bother with a question mark, “Aphra Alisander.”

Jerry smiled coyly, delighted to be caught out. “You’re already on to those credit cards?”

“We’ve been waiting for one to light up, and that went off like a twenty dollar slot machine yesterday.”

“But there’s something you don’t know?” Monsoon secretly loved it when Jerry was snotty/smug like that.

“Oh, you know… what, why, who. We already got the where and when. Or won’t she be alone in that Cancun suite? Is Aphra short for Aphrodite?”

“Well, I’d say so. But that’s just because I know what she looks like.”

“If she looks like her mama I’d say you’re right.”

“Oh, you remember Debra Alisander? Good trivia points.”

“Even Debra Fathiya would be trivia these days, but I remember who she was. Talked like Huey Newton and looked like Cleopatra Jones.”

“Well, standing by her daughter she’d look like a boy.”

“Whoa. So what hold has she got you guys’ nuts?”

“You tell me. Betcha can’t figure it out in thirty days.”

“You’re on. Hundred bucks?”

“Covered. Who’ll hold the money?” Both their eyes turned to the blonde stripper, who had sniffed out the wagered C-note and was indicating total approval.

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