Sunday, August 26, 2012

F3 Cycle 94 "Inside the Sausage Factory"

   F3 Cycle 94 Prompt: Write a 1000 word story about someone who has no self awareness, or, alternatively, someone who has far too much. Include the following words: curve, substitution, relief, sacrifice, strikeout.

   The multiple flashes of hundreds of cameras and the screams of an equal number if shrill reporters  in a scandal-induced feeding frenzy so extreme a Bull shark would flee in abject terror barely penetrated the awareness of Richard Connor as he escorted the young United States senate hopeful to his awaiting limo. With his right arm wrapped tightly around Duncan Allen’s waste and his left ramrod straight Richard used his own inertial and that of his charge as they ran down the steps of the Spartanburg courthouse, easily pushing the reporters out of the way.
   At the last second, one of the rear doors to the limo opened allowing Richard to casually, but forcibly, push the young man into the vehicle. Once the object of the reporters’ crazed attention was out of view, they lost all interest allowing Richard to enter the car from the front passenger door. Inside the limo, chaos had already erupted among the other people inside.
   “We’ve got to call a press conference!” Emily Smalls, the press secretary yelled. “Those bloody jackals are crucifying Duncan on all the major news channels.”
    “There is no way in hell I will allow that,” Thomas Wilson, the chief lawyer for the campaign said. “We have not finalized the settlement with Ms. Tanner’s attorney and that bitch would love for us to slip up so she could stick another knife into the campaign and Duncan.”
    “Debra Tanner will not get a goddamned dime of my father’s money! Susan Allen, Duncan’s wife, screamed at the top of her lungs. If she and her lawyer pursue this any further I demand we take them to court. My father has the best private investigators on retainer and can find or manufacture anything on anyone.”
   From the extended rear-view mirror mounted on the limo’s ceiling, Richard was able to view the near panic on the faces of those in the back desperate to save Duncan Allen, the man party officials had called the new golden boy of American politics. Blessed with a rugged, handsome face along with being able to shape deals on the floor of the South Carolina state senate high-level party officials saw an unlimited future for the man in national politics. Duncan’s one flaw was his tendency to want illicit little trysts with every woman that caught his eye. The fact that Duncan’s sexual tastes pushed several boundaries only made the times he miscalculated on who to pick for his nighttime encounters even more problematic.
   Richard did his best to tune out the bickering even though there were several times he looked up into the mirror to see Susan Allen staring at him. He was new to the security detail protecting Duncan, his wife, and staff and was just happy to have a job. The one bizarre thing in all the activity going in the back of the limo was Duncan Allen. The few seconds between the times Richard had pushed Duncan into the limo and he himself had closed the right front door after getting inside, Duncan had donned a pair of headphones and was listening to some sort of heavy metal music.

   Other times Duncan just seemed to tune out all the proceeding going on around him. Richard realized that Duncan, while coming from middleclass roots, had through a series of lucky breaks married into a rich family, been recognized to have a charismatic personality, and then groomed for political office. Duncan Allen was about as much as a nonentity as a person could be and still be breathing. His chief advantage to his political benefactors was of course, his complete and utter controllability.
   “How about a pizza everyone, I hear there is a great place out next the college?” Duncan suddenly blurted out after removing his earphones proving the train of thought going through Richard’s mind. While everyone else groaned in frustration over the idiotic statement, Bob Parker, Duncan’s campaign manager, patted his latest political creation on the knee telling him they had to catch a plane down to Charleston then returned to his Sphinx-like silence.

  Duncan’s speech to the Charleston Chamber of Businesses that afternoon was a huge success putting him into a party mood. So much Richard was very happy that he was off duty and staying on a different floor of the Meeting Street hotel from the immature candidate. The responsibility for security was going to lay with one of the guys in longtime employment to Bob Parker. Richard had already seen Duncan go upstairs with a very attractive woman he had met at the dinner after his speech. The fact that Mrs. Allen had flown home to Hilton Head and that Duncan’s companion for the night was herself a married woman was something Richard chose again to ignore.
   Richard was fully awake after just a few seconds of the emergency ringtone sounding on his cell phone. He checked his watch to see it was a little after two o’clock in the morning as he ran out the room. Being a former army Ranger years of training allowed both his body and mind to accept such punishment but he was still surprised after arriving upstairs to see Duncan wearing nothing but his underwear and handcuffs while being lead away by two uniformed cops.
   Being hired security to very important people had its perks in South Carolina and one of them was the ability to navigate police lines and go inside the hotel room to see Bob Parker comforting the naked woman Duncan had taken to his bed that night. She was in tears and had several Charleston police detectives standing close by obviously taking a statement.
   Richard said nothing but Bob Parker looked up to see him standing there. Instinctively, he knew what had actually gone on in the room that night and much to his surprise when Bob smiled back at him Richard knew he was right.
   “Fuck it,” Richard said after turning and walking out of the room.

    The bar was several blocks down from the hotel and one of those places that never really closes. Richard sat on the bar stool nursing a beer when Bob walked in obviously looking for him. Richard was not the least bit surprised when Bob took the stool next him and ordered a whisky.
   “Why did you sacrifice your own guy Mr. Parker?” Richard asked figuring it was going to be the only topic of conversation between the two.

   “He became far too much a liability for the party but more importantly for me. I will admit he was the worst strikeout I ever had.” Bob said matter-of-factly. “The twit had a great smile and could memorize lines like an Oscar winning actor but he overplayed his hand.”
   “So what’s next?” Richard asked.
   Bob picked up the small glass, threw it back swallowing the brown liquid, and then smiled at Richard then throw him a huge curve ball. “That’s entirely up to you. In you I see something far more disciplined and even talented than Duncan ever could have been. I can make something of you son.” After that Bob Parker got up and began to walk out but stopped, fished for something in the pocket of his sports coat, and handed it to Richard. “Here,” he said, “Susan Allen told me to give you her private number, give her a call sometime. I have it on good authority she will be a single lady very soon.”

   Richard watched the man walk out and smiled after ordering another beer. He might be nothing but a substitution but there could be far worse things to happen to him in this life.


Windsmoke. said...

That's politics for ya. Great read.

lime said...

sausage factory indeed. no wonder it all makes me sick.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Now that song by The Who, "Substitute" is going through my head :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about being completely powerless and naive. I feel sorry for Duncan.

Pixel Peeper said...

Oh, what a wonderful analogy! Chop it up, grind it, shape it, add some filler, squeeze it into a narrow casing, and - voila - you have a politician.

Randal Graves said...

I much prefer kielbasa to politician.

Beach Bum said...

Windsmoke: Yeah, probably the world over.

Lime: Fact always being stranger than fiction there is an incident I know about that happened here in South Carolina that I will never write about. Politics is always a messy subject but this was straight out of a banana republics police state.

Life As We Know It: LOL!!!

Playing; Welcome! That's the game.

Pixel: Absolutely. God help us all.

Randal: LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

What a compliment. He's dumped this non-entity, thinks Richard will be great to take his place. Not sure if Richard will last long either - not dumb enough.

frances said...

Sleeze in politics?! Very well written. Poor Richard!

Ranch Chimp said...

Sometime's I wonder how in Hell do you come up with these stories Bum? ... but nonetheless, some really good stuff indeed, I have an eye when it come's to talent, so YES, take that as a compliment!

Later Guy ....

Mike Williams said...

I know your sidebar says you write like Kurt Vonnegut but this story seemed more like Carl Hiaasen. It's in your familiarity with the setting and the characters. You bring them to life, even to lifeless Duncan. Good Read.

Joyce said...

Terrific read indeed. A nice dark and nasty peek into the world of politics. How much of this is actually fiction? Hmmmm....

I can only wonder just how far Richard will go and how long he will last. He doesn't appear to be puppet material, but then again, that's pretty much what they previously had. Maybe they want a bit of brain, but too much would be potentially dangerous for all of them. He's right though; there are worse things life could hand him...

Love this!