Whatever else you might say about it, Townsend was thinking, this is some set of wheels. Supposed to be able to take anything less than a nuclear hit, totally soundproof, electronics consoles an AWACS plane would envy, and a top-flight bar. He looked around the somber dusk the black windows lent the back seat, trying to figure out what to say to these two Committee To ReElect The Incumbent guys. Always a safe bet, “Nice set of wheels.”Monsoon sprawling across the rear-facing jump seats, continued to give him the blank eyeball-vetting he’d gotten since he’d been ushered into the Caddy, but finally spoke. “It didn’t really belong to that Tupac guy.”
“I sort of figured that.”
“One way to look at it, it’s a job perk. Not just his job… my job, too.”
“Beats the shit out of a bus pass.”
Wiestler, the skinny Jewish guy, chuckled, but not a flicker from Monsoon’s big, florid Kilarney mug. “What I’m trying to get across to you, a D.C. kind of perk. All mental.”
“That’s my impression.”
Monsoon threw an exasperated look at Wiestler. “Lord love us, he’s a sarky as his old man.” To Townsend he spelled out, “What I mean is this, hotshot. Michelle doesn’t get to blast around in this car, do her shopping or whatever. Biden doesn’t get to take it out for a spin, drop by his implant doc or whatever. But I do. See what I’m saying?”
“You’re saying white guys have finally discovered the symbolic value of Cadillacs?”
“Hit him, will you Weasler? You’re closer. Have him audited or something.”
“Look, I’m already impressed. You made sure of that before you did this ‘pick you up in a black limo long as the Mall’ thing.”
“No point in slugging him. He’s as bombproof as …”
Townsend cut in sharply. “My old man. Yeah, yeah. Can we move past that a little? Get to me?”
Monsoon gave him another searching glare, then nodded to himself. “That might be a sort of theme in your life, huh, sonny? Well, sure. This is your show, all the way.”
“Rather, it’s our show,” Wiestler came in. “But you’ve been cast in a plum role.”
“I’d just like to thank all the little people who made it possible.”
Wiestler laughed and Monsoon made a disgusted noise like clearing his throat with a toilet brush. “Okay, sure. You’re young, dumb and full of cum and all over this thing. Think we’re a couple of superannuated puss-guts dwelling on the past. Fine. Thing is, everything in the brief is up to date, the priorities your chief mentioned are iron-clad. Deny knowing if you’re captured or catch the clap; all that crap. Here’s why you’re here: for questions. Got any of those in there with the snappy answers?”
“None came to mind. If I ever figure out what the hell I’m after, I’ll call you up.”
“There you go. We very decidedly expect you to keep in touch. There’s a bag of Dirty Tricks waiting for you in your townhouse: bugs, sweeps, sponders, creepy-crawlies, cams, all that shit you guys do.”
“I don’t suppose there’s a lighter that can kill forty-three different ways or a briefcase that’s full of gold sovereigns that turns into a helicopter?”
“Could be, take a look when you open the package,” Wiestler smirked. “It’ll be like Christmas morning for junior grade spooks.”
“Cool, all I ever got at home was switches and hickory charcoal.” He looked at both of these merry tricksters and took a more respectful tone. “Look. I’m on this and I plan on you guys getting you money’s worth, or whatever you run on. I appreciate you picking me, I’ll keep you posted to the max.”
“There, see,” Wiestler said sweetly, “I told you he could kiss ass if he felt like it.”
“Well, pucker yours up, honey. I’m all about seeing results.”
Wiestler turned Townsend a glance, clucking sympathetically. “Not all Harps are jolly old elves. But listen, kid. I know you’ve heard this until you’re sick of it, but in fact, I did have the privilege of working with your father at one time.”
“Wait, I know this one.” Townsend snapped back into his defensiveness about what he would probably hear again and again until a generation of monkeywrenchers died off or faded away. “Great soldier and patriot, intrepid crime-fighter, bulwark of the American way? He screwed your wife and gave her a dose? Or a variation on those themes.”
“My wife hated him.”
Okay, so she probably did screw him, Townsend thought. Legion of Lost Lambs with Fig Leaf Cluster.
“But what I was going to say was, that son of a bitch really knew how to party.”
Hmm, more dossier on The Dads. “He’s a man of many parts.”
“So say hi if you see him.”
“I’ll certainly pass on your regards.” In the unlikely event, Townsend was thinking.
Munson leaned forward and suddenly the fat-assed bottomfeeder slipped away and there was this force sitting in front of him, an unquestionable wind of will. He spoke softly, but with a palpable intention behind it. “Think you might see him soon?”
“Well, you know never with the Pop.” Understatement of the decade, but better than Fat Chance.
“You should. In fact, I recommend it.”
“I’ll look him up as soon as I get back. Promise.”
“How about before you go?” Only grammatically a question: in real time a flat out command.
“Okay. I’ll do that. Pass on your compliments.”
Monsoon gave an ostensible smile. “Good. Don’t show him that picture of the spade bitch. He’d be on the plane with you.”
Townsend replied with a non-smile of his own. “ She’s hot as an inside tip. all right. I’m so glad you people are equal-opportunity exploiters.”
“I think we’re on the same page,” Wiestler said smoothly.
Monsoon nodded. “Ready to rock.”
A silence of finality and mutual lack of camaraderie settled into the back of the world’s most expensive General Motors car and Townsend looked around, checking it out. And sort of wondering where they were going and why. “We should take this juggernaut over to Accokeek,” he said brightly. “Pick some street drags.”
“The attention span of the young,” Wiestler nodded with mock sadness. “How about we watch the rest of that tape?”
“Fuck that,” Monsoon groused. “I had to sit through the real thing.”
“Aw, it was just getting good.” Wiestler pushed some hidden button and the plasma screen lit up, showing the set of the POTUS Show, the Prez leaning forward towards a beaming Caroline Kennedy on the guest sofa.
Obama grabbed even Monsoon’s disaffected attention by saying, “Being a designated New Yorker would confuse your self-image a little?”
“Not that much. I’ve always been a fan of the, whatchacallem, Yorkies. I just forgot and left the little cap in the limo.”
Weistler whinnied in glee and turned up the volume while Monsoon shook his head. “Can you believe that, kid? Chief Executive as Arsenio retread.”
“I prefer Jimmy Kimmel, frankly.”
Onscreen, Obama smiled ebulliently. “Doesn’t sound like trading on unearned cachet from your family name in order to run for Senator of a state you never lived in and actually despise created much of a problem for you.”
“Well, like I said, Barry, Hillary has always been a major inspiration to me.”
Weistler howled with laughter and even Monsoon cracked a jaded smile. “I gotta admit, that was almost worth it.”
Obama hid his reaction. “I’m surprised you didn’t make a bid on my old seat in Illinois.”
“Oh, I shopped around. But I got turned off by his whole, ‘What would you pay to be a Senator? Don’t answer now, because you also get…’ approach. You don’t treat a trusted public office like a blue light special. Plus I found out some of the bribe was earmarked for alcohol treatment centers in Chicago.”
“You have a problem with rehab, Caroline?”
“It’s a waste of time. My uncle’s been drinking like a fish for decades and he holds down a job. So what’s the point?”
“This has got to be scripted,” Weistler said between guffaws. “She’s not smart enough to come up with that.”
“How about stupid enough?” Townsend tossed in, but was ignored.
“You’re looking at reality TV there,” Monsoon told him. “God help us.”
“So, anyway, that’s behind you for now. Any future plans we should know about?”
“Well, it looks to me like the Secretary of State gig is easy to snag. I’m thinking of marrying some famous guy and going to secretary school.”
Townsend thought Weistler might wet his pants over that one, but the show clicked off as “Cadillac One” coasted to a regal stop. He couldn’t see much outside the one-way windows, but motioned the older men to proceed him. Both gave him canny smiles and big apres vous waves. He stepped out of the limo right into a clot of Secret Service men surrounding Barak Hussein Obama.
Townsend was cool as they come, practically from birth, but was taken aback by suddenly standing in the presence of his Boss In Chief. He froze up, staring as Monsoon and The Weasler exited the other door and walked around, grinning. He was impressed in spite of himself. Had to admit there was more to the guy in person. Much less reminiscent of that little stuffed sock monkey he’d had as a kid. But still, a lawyer.
He could see an expectant look on the prexy’s face, so he cautiously extended his hand, wishing there was photographer around. Start a collection of presidential flesh-pressing shots to rival his father’s.
Obama smiled, did a sort of yuppified black fist salute.
Townsend shrugged, flashed a peace sign that he quickly lowered to waist level.
“Rock breaks scissors,” he told the President. “You win.”
He nodded then moved quickly away from the clump of prezbiz.
Obama glanced after him, shaking his head, then entered the car. The door was promptly closed by guys who made it look like hermetically sealing the fate of the world, but the window whispered down. He shot a quick eye at his re-election honchos.
Weistler was laughing. “Stone, paper, scissors. I like him.”
“Pain in the butt,” Monsoon groused. “Like his old man.”
Obama nodded. “Who used to get it done, right?”
The window hummed back up as the Cad ghosted out of the building like a mafia sting ray.
“Fucking brat,” Monsoon muttered, but Weisler didn’t ask who he meant.