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In which Clark's joke works: too well, or not well enough?
------- About 5:00 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010 -------
“So you see, Prescott, it’s like everything you do that helps someone else you get paid for it. And the people who do the paying get the power and respect they deserve for paying as they should. It all balances out. If you do something bad, it costs you money and if you do nothing it costs you money you might have earned. It’s a reward system. You just don’t get rewarded for hurting other people.”
“I get it, Hughy. The Bible says that money is the root of all evil. We’re going to change money so it’s a root of good. We’re going to make it God’s money, not Satan’s money.”
“Yes, sir, I think you’re right on the money. That’s exactly what we’ll do.” Hughy was a little light-headed since he’d skipped lunch to prepare for his talk with Frobisher. And Frobisher hadn’t seemed to understand it at all until Hughy had drawn three circles with arrows going clockwise from circle to circle. He labeled the circle at the top “producers”, the circle on the right “consumers” and the circle on the left “Payers.” It was like a light going off in Prescott’s mind.
“That’s just like the three branches of government,” he said. “Each one controls the next so they stay balanced. That way none of the three can get too powerful and dominate.”
From then on it was like feeding candy to a baby. Frobisher believed everything. He especially liked the idea that the Payers would be mostly old folks like themselves who had retired but who were still important, respected, and even admired for their paying.
Hughy secretly thought that Frobisher didn’t really understand at all but merely wanted to believe so strongly that Hughy could have been offering snake oil and he would still have bought it. But that didn’t matter. The important thing was that Frobisher was sold and very enthusiastic about it. Now all I have to do is get him together with Ed and get him started memorizing those new speeches. The Lord’s will be done.
------------ Saturday August 14, 2010 (a week later) --------------
“Ed, I just got off the phone with Prescott. He said the crowd really ate it up when he gave them that new speech. He said that by the end they were on their feet cheering every line. He wants some punching up on the education one. He said it just didn’t generate the rhythm that the others do.”
“Yeah, I know what he means. That was one I asked Clark to write. He’s pretty good, but he isn’t a professional and doesn’t have the experience. I’ll do that one myself now that I have the time. Tell Prescott I’ll have it for him by tonight.”
“Doris,” Hughy said turning her way, “we’ve had three days of these new talks and the crowds are growing. Have we gotten any interest from the local stations on covering one of Frobisher’s presentations?”
“Yes, sir. I got a station from Tampa and one from Miami to send a reporter to this morning’s talk in Ft. Myers. For some reason the Ft. Myers station wasn’t interested. I guess they’ve already written Frobisher off. But I did get the paper there to promise that they would send a reporter.”
“It’s better than nothing. Do what you can to get that local station. Hang in there, Doris.”
Then Hughy went back in his office, closed the door, and got on the phone.
Doris turned to look at Tom, whose desk was beside hers.
“Tom, did you hear that? He was nice to me. He actually was trying to make me feel better about not getting the local station. What is it with him? Two weeks ago he would have chewed my head off for not getting them. Since this new campaign started he just isn’t the same guy.”
“Well I for one am all for the change. I’m getting twice the work done now that I don’t have him cussing me out for every little flub. And have you noticed Clark? Now that Hughy isn’t always calling him an office boy he’s started to act like a man. Hughy has even given him some important things to do like preparing the outline for the debate next week.”
“Hallelujah and come to Jesus. Even if we are losing this campaign at least it feels good to come to work now. It must have been that meeting that Frobisher had with him. Maybe he put the fear of God into him.”
“Could be. Whoops, there’s my phone, back to work.”
----------Wednesday, August 25, 2010 --------
“Prescott, listen, we just got the latest polls in. We’ve gained ten points in just the last week... its now about 58 to 40 or so. You’re really doing the job out there.”
“Thanks Hughy. I feel like a new man, too. You know this new money of yours really seems to be solving so many problems for so many people. I was talking in a poor Hispanic neighborhood last night telling them about the free food and housing when somehow I got off onto who the Payers would be. It struck me that anybody could be a payer and it wouldn’t matter whether they were rich or poor, black, white, brown, or yellow. I started emphasizing that they, themselves could be Payers and do something about the conditions in their neighborhoods, that they could see that the roads were maintained where they live and that the kids got a good education. You know they were even cheering that. They really seemed to like the idea that they could be the ones judging how much pay the rich folks would get. You might mention that to Ed.”
“Yes, sir, I will. But we have to get ready for the debate day after tomorrow. We have momentum now and we can’t risk losing it. We have your schedule cleared for this afternoon and tomorrow with just a couple of speeches to give the media something to show on the evening news. By the way, have you noticed how much more time we’re getting on the local news these days? Doris tells me that there are three local stations that have cameras on you for every speech.”
“Hughy, I don’t need to prepare for that debate. The Lord will tell me what to say. Whenever I’ve gotten off the prepared speech it’s worked out very well. I think the crowds can tell I really mean what I’m saying. I think the Lord is inspiring me. Hughy we’re doing the Lord’s work in this campaign. He won’t let me fail. You just get me people to talk to and the Lord will convince them through me.”
“But Prescott, you need to have answers ready for the questions they might ask. Prescott this is big. If we blow this debate we might as well hang it up.”
“Son, we aren’t bigger than the Lord. If He wants me to win this then we’ll win it. I tell you son, the Lord will tell me what to say. Now I got to eat breakfast to keep my strength up. Bye.”
Hughy put the phone down carefully, almost reverently. What have I done to him? Has he lost his mind? This isn’t a revival meeting. This is politics. If he starts spouting that Lord’s will stuff on camera he’s going to ruin everything. I have to find out what he’s saying at those local stump speeches.
“Doris, can you get me some video of one or two of the speeches he’s been giving on the stump? I need it fast if you can arrange it.” Hughy said through the open door to the outer office.
“I think I can get some. The local station is showing a lot of Frobisher these days because the crowds are so demonstrative, so they should have plenty of footage.”
Less than an hour later Hughy and his top aides, along with Clark, were gathered around a big screen TV watching their candidate on the stump.
The crowd was cheerful as if expecting a good show. Frobisher got an introduction from a local VIP, then took the microphone. He said a couple of nice things about local institutions and then began to talk about the troubles they were having. You could see people’s heads nodding as he mentioned the unemployment and the difficulty in getting day-care for the kids. He talked about the price of gas and how hard it was to make those mortgage payments and you could see the crowd was feeling it. Then he said,
“Ending unemployment? We can do this. Homes for everyone? We can do this. Day care for all the children? We can do this.” With each “we can do this” the crowd would yell “yes!” or “we can!” At this point Frobisher pulled a small black book from his coat and held it up before the crowd. “I am a Christian and this is my Bible. With my hand on the Bible I swear to you that everything I have said to you here tonight is true. We really can do these things and I have found the way. With God’s leadership we will change things. These evil times will be behind us and we will have a new life, free of these hardships. This I swear to you upon my immortal soul and with my hand on the Bible.”
The crowd which had been respectfully quiet when Prescott had held up the Bible and had taken his oath burst into wild cheers and almost mobbed the stage, holding out their arms toward him. Prescott stood looking out over the crowd with his Bible still pressed between his two hands. His face had an almost unworldly look, as of a man possessed.
“Ed, did you write that part at the end with the Bible and the oath?” Hughy asked.
“No. I never bring religion into any of the speeches. This is an economic thing, not a religious thing. I had no idea he was putting that on the end. I mean the ‘we can do this’ is mine but the rest is all Prescott. It’s really effective, though. You can see he completely believes what he’s saying.”
“But how is that going to play in the debate? Are any of the questioners going to ask about that taking an oath on the Bible?” Hughy asked Doris.
“I don’t think so. We haven’t put anything like that in the TV ads. We have used the crowd shots, though, like there at the end with them holding out their arms and screaming.” Doris said.
“You’d think he was a rock star the way they were carrying on. But a lot of those people were middle-aged women and men. That was a suburban shopping center. I can’t believe it.” Hughy mused, wonderingly. “I think we are going to win this race. I don’t think there’s a thing that the Constable campaign can do to stop us. We’re not only going to win, we’re going to win easily.”
The others looked at Hughy and then at each other.
“What have we done?” Ed said quietly to himself.
---------- Tuesday, September 7, 2010 in the morning ---------
“Hughy, we’re getting national news coverage of Frobisher. It seems that word of his comeback and the crowds he’s drawing is news in and of itself. We’re having a rally at the high school football field in Naples. The locals say we should have over 20,000 people there. We have people coming in from Miami and Tampa and St. Petersburg. They’re beginning to worry about the parking. Three local stations are covering it live at 7:00.”
“Okay Doris, great job. I think it’s time for Clark to show us the ‘bombshell’ he says he’s been working on. This is our best chance to get maximum coverage. Ask him to come in, will you?”
She turned and yelled,
“Clark, get your bombshell in here, Hughy says its time.” Then she turned back to Hughy with a grin. “He really does have a bombshell, boss. He told me about it yesterday. It should blow your socks off.”
Clark hurried in from his office (he had his own office now) with a folder that was surprisingly thin to hold a bombshell.
“Son, the whole world will be watching tonight, this is the time to hit ‘em with everything we’ve got. Now what’s this bombshell you want to detonate?”
“Sir, what would you think of a single law that we can write on just a couple of pages that implements this whole new money scheme? The whole shooting match on both sides of a single sheet of paper. We can make passage of that law our platform. That way the people can see exactly what they’re getting. When they vote for us they vote for that law. Frobisher promises to do everything he can to get that law passed exactly as it is with no amendments, no changes.”
“Two pages?” Hughy’s eyebrows went up. “Only two pages?”
“Yes, sir. It really is that simple. Now the transition from the old money to this new money will require some additional legislation, but this law really is the new money. It’s the heart and soul of what makes the new money what it is. If this law is passed it won’t matter how the transition is handled, since everything straightens out after the changeover.”
“Son, I think you were right about this being a bombshell.” Hughy shook his head, “this is not politics as usual. This is the most specific thing I have ever heard of in a political campaign. If there were any doubters as to whether we had a real plan I think this’ll be all the evidence they need. This’ll either lock up this election or blow us all into oblivion. I’ll run this past Prescott and see what he thinks.”
“I’m betting on oblivion,” thought Clark. “If this ‘bill’ doesn’t stop this runaway campaign, nothing will. This makes it obvious what a crackpot idea the whole thing is. They’ve talked their way into a corner and they’re going to get squashed like a roach.”
“Congratulations,” Doris said smiling at Clark. “It looks like you really came through for us again. You’ve really saved this campaign for all of us,” and she gave him a hug. It was a motherly hug, since Doris was a good 20 years older than Clark, but it reflected real affection nonetheless. Clark felt a moment of guilt but then hardened his heart. Don had long ago left the campaign but he still remembered Hughy and the others making fun of him when he first joined the campaign. Clark was certain now that he would have the last laugh.
------- Tuesday, September 7, 2010, afternoon at Hughy’s office ----
“There are Ten Points in this bill; each is an essential part of the whole. None of them can be changed without destroying the idea. They must be passed as a set. Do you understand, Prescott?” Hughy was speaking earnestly and with a bit of pleading in his voice.
“Sure, it’s simple, Ten Points just like the Ten Commandments. I won’t forget. You can’t change the Ten Commandments and you can’t change the Ten Points.”
“But Prescott, these are not chiseled in stone. They have to get through Congress without amendments. You know how the committee system works. Somebody’s going to want to change something to give some of his contributors an advantage and before you know it the Ten Points won’t look anything like this. It’ll have changed into some free lunch program for the powerful interest groups. You’ll have to swear that you won’t allow any amendments at all. Can you do that? Can you really mean that?”
“Hughy, I not only can but I will. Nothing I’ve said in my speeches has contradicted any of these points. Most of them are just mechanical things anyway, like having the money exist only in computer accounts.”
“Okay, Prescott, I just want to be sure you understand because this is what we’d like to do. We want to tell the folks that this is the bill we’ll work to get passed. We want to give copies of this bill to everyone at the meeting tonight and to the news media and put it on our website. We want to make this bill the centerpiece of the remainder of the campaign. You understand what that means don’t you, Prescott?”
“Yes, Hughy, I do understand what it means. But I was and am already committed heart and soul to this new money. Do you understand, Hughy? My soul is committed to this bill because I know this bill is God’s will. If I were to fail… well, it would damn me forever. Hughy, absolutely nothing in this world can make me go back on getting this bill passed. I don’t care if it’s the only thing I ever accomplish in what remains of my life.”
“All right, sir, because if we do this and the bill is not passed or we accept any amendments to this bill, it would be the absolute end of any chance for election to any office ever again. There’ll be hundreds of copies of your pledge and this bill. Any deviation will make wonderful campaign ads for any opponent you might have. We live or die with this bill.”
“Hughy, I’m an old man. I haven’t got long before I go before God to account for my life on this Earth. Do you really think I care about any election when I have that in my immediate future?”
His hand on Hughy’s shoulder pressed with almost painful force and Frobisher’s eyes burned into Hughy’s eyes as if lit from within. Hughy had a moment of almost awe as he looked at Frobisher. He began to understand why the crowds at Frobisher’s speeches were so enthusiastic. The man simply was conviction itself. His personality, which had been nothing in particular a month ago, had become suffused with passionate determination. He was confident and self-assured. There was no hesitation in speech or shifting of eyes as he looked at you.
“I couldn’t stop him now if I wanted to, Ed,” Hughy recounted later. “He could go on that stage at the stadium tonight and blow that audience away without your speech or my pep talk or any of the fanfare.”
“But he does have my speech and you will give an opening warm up pep talk to the crowd and there will be fanfare and fireworks. That crowd and even the television audience will be blown away. Boss, we are going to be in the big leagues after tonight. That star is going to pull our wagon just as far as we let it.”
“Right, Ed, but stars are really hot and they do burn those who get too close and they do explode when they get old like Frobisher. Stars are dangerous, Ed, and those who commit to stars often suffer for it.”
--- Clark’s room Tuesday night, about 11:00 after the stadium show ----
Clark’s phone rang for the fourth time in ten minutes and Clark finally looked at it. It was from home.
“The question is,” he thought, “is that Mama or Buddy? I don’t think I could face Buddy, but I would really like to talk to Mama. Finally he decided to take the risk and answered.
“Clark, are you all right?” All was well. It was Mama.
“I’m fine, Mama, just tired. It’s been a big night.”
“Yes, we saw it on TV. They broadcast it on CNN. We got to see most of the rally. Oh, Clark, I am so proud of you. They seemed to love your idea.”
“Mama, they just love the idea of free things. We’re just promising them what they want.”
“But Clark, you aren’t lying to them, are you?”
“Well, not really, Mama. You remember that we’re saying ‘We can do this’, referring to everybody in the country. That’s true, isn’t it? We do produce enough food and housing and so forth that everybody could have what they need. It is something that we can do.”
Then Clark’s dad took the phone,
“Boy what is this Bull that you’re peddling down there? I got a look at the bill you guys are putting up. That’s a pile of foolishness. It’s crazy. Who do you think is going to pay for all that free stuff? I ain’t going to pay for it, you can bet on that. I didn’t send you down there to go Communist on me. What kind of kooks are in charge down there? I thought Frobisher was right wing. This stuff he’s peddling is pure Socialism. ‘Free to all as needed’ is right out of the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. That Communist hooey was shown to be idiocy back when Russia fell apart 20 years ago. And here you go trying to sell the same garbage all over again. I got a mind to go down there and pull you out by the scruff of your neck and paddle your behind all the way back home. You got no more sense than a sack of feathers. Let me alone honey, I know what I’m doing.”
“Dad, there is nothing Communist or Socialist about this bill at all. Read it again. There is nothing in there about government controlling anything. It’s all rewards dad, there is no jail or firing squads or dictatorship in it at all.”
“It’s right out of the Communists manual you dumb kid. Nobody is going to pay to feed those shiftless, no-account lazy good for nuthin’ bums unless somebody is holding a gun on ‘em. That’s all Socialism is, boy, it’s the government holding guns on businessmen to force them to feed people who don’t work. It is stealing from the rich to give it to the lazy. It happened in Rome and it happened in Russia and China and they all went down.”
“It’s not like that…”
“Don’t you tell me what it is and isn’t, boy, I read the bill. Now you get your fat, lazy self on a plane and come home or I’m cutting your allowance off right now.”
“Dad, I’m not coming home. I have a job in this campaign and I’m seeing it through. I’ll live in a box rather than quit now.”
“Then you’ll have to live in a box because you’ve got no home to come back to.”
“Buddy! No, please, you can’t.”
Clark was trembling with fear, anger, determination, and outrage. He’d gotten a lot of congratulations from Hughy and even Frobisher, in addition to the rest of the staff. Why Frobisher, himself, had taken Clark’s hand in his powerful, practiced grip, looked Clark deeply and sincerely in the eyes, and said,
“My boy, you are a Godsend to this campaign and to the American people. I will never forget what you have done for me and, more important, for the people of this State and nation. I am eternally in your debt.”
Clark had felt the power of Frobisher’s newfound charisma and felt that Frobisher had meant what he had said. Doris was as proud of him as a mother could be and he was getting respect from men twice his age. There was no way that he could give this up now and return home like a whipped puppy with his tail between his legs. He would send some letters home to Mama and reassure her that he was all right.
His father was no doubt raging at his mother and there was nothing he could do about that. He had practically been disowned. He needed sleep. But his mind was still racing with what he had experienced at the football stadium.
The night had been successful on a scale that he could hardly believe. The crowd had been “on” from the beginning and Hughy’s warm up had hardly been necessary. Prescott had started with the usual points from the stump speeches but had soon built up the “We can do this” message to a peak, then said, with fireworks exploding overhead, “and this is how.”
It seemed like the air was filled with sheets of paper, each with the bill printed on it. Each of the Ten Points was numbered and Prescott quickly read through them. After each he said, “Just like that, word for word, no changes”. And he said what the point would do for the people. This means no one can steal your money. This means prices will never change. This means no unemployment, ever again. This means no taxes of any kind for anybody, ever. With each point the cheers grew louder, especially the free necessities point. When he finished with the tenth point and said “any of you can have this power” the crowd again cheered lustily raising their arms to Frobisher on the stage.
And Clark was thinking "Why can’t people see how silly it is? Tonight’s rally should result in the crowd turning on Frobisher and ridiculing him. They should be laughing at the whole idea.” This was supposed to be Clark’s big moment when Hughy and the others were shown up like the people in the Emperor’s New Clothes fairy tale.
Clark thought, "they seem to think those sheets of paper are magic or something. Well maybe they are magic in some way. One of them turned dad into an idiot… and right in front of Mama, too. There isn’t anything Socialist about the new money. It’s just silly, that’s all. I mean the Ten Points don’t even talk about government powers or anything like that. They don’t mention anything about enforcement, even. They don’t say anything about what anybody has to do. Dad’s just an ignorant redneck that’s all… Of course, Hughy and Frobisher are really rednecks, too and they seemed to understand right off that there’s nothing Socialist about this idea."
On the stage at that point Frobisher reached into his coat and brought out his Bible. The crowd which had been so loud became suddenly quiet. Clark felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as Frobisher placed his hand upon the Bible and, into the almost total silence intoned, “I swear that I will do everything in my power to get this bill passed, exactly as it is written on the paper in your hands, upon this Bible and my immortal soul.” For a moment the silence remained. Then a cheer began to arise from the crowd and here and there people were dropping to their knees in an attitude of prayer. Before long one side of the crowd was chanting “We can” while the other side answered “Do this.” Hughy asked Doris,
“Did you arrange that?” and Doris shook her head no.
Then Prescott had said to the crowd, “This is how you and I will do this. We will spread the news of this bill to all the States in the nation. The television here tonight will help but the real work will be done by you, the people, you will tell your friends. You will show them this bill. You will explain to them how it works and why the bill must be passed in exactly these words with no changes at all. You will show them the way. Now go forth from this place to your families, to your friends, to your acquaintances. Tell them; show them that this is the way. This is the way and… we… can… do… this!”
The noise of cheering was so loud that Clark literally could hear nothing. The crowd began surging out toward the parking lot with their copies of the bill clutched in hand or folded into pockets. They were missionaries of a new faith.
Waiting for them were campaign workers with booklets containing directions for how to teach others and the reasons why each point had to be exactly as it was. They also had large clip-on buttons with the number 10 in bright colors.
Clark also had helped set up new web pages which told how to organize parties to explain the new money based on the old Tupperware or cosmetics parties. At the time he had thought they were for local people but he now realized that they would work just as well anywhere.
Actually, the success of the campaign was changing things for Clark. He really did feel better about himself moreso than he had at any time since he had entered public school. The people at the office really seemed to depend on him now and respect him. In fact, Clark, in some strange way, was even glad that the crowd had liked the Ten Points Bill. Sure, he’d been expecting it to be the key to his revenge on everyone but now that they all seemed to like him the idea of revenge was losing its attractiveness. Maybe he didn’t really want revenge. Frobisher was really a pretty nice old guy and the gruff, demanding Hughy Ormund had changed somehow, and was treating everybody like they mattered to him rather than being members of a chain gang. Could it be that Clark had misjudged them?
And now his father had demanded that he come home after the triumph as if he were a naughty puppy to be scolded and hit with a rolled up newspaper. Well he wasn’t going to do it. He was going to stay with the campaign. Maybe it was destiny or fate or something like that. Maybe it was just dumb fool's luck. Whatever it was, he’d found self-respect almost despite his own best efforts to bring ruin and contempt on Frobisher and the campaign staff. Despite his efforts to be a Sampson and bring down the temple around his own ears, it appeared he, instead, had been a David, slaying the giant Goliath in the campaign. Some practical joke. But who was the joke on now?
Because if revenge wasn’t what he wanted, what could he do to make up for the mess that he had gotten them all into by his crazy idea? How could they possibly say to the voters, “Oops, I really didn’t mean all that stuff. You really do have a hopeless situation. Sorry.” Not only would they lose the election, but they might be lynched.
Why did they believe such silly stuff? Why did they think that they could be better off by doing away with money, or with currency anyway? And who would pay for all those things that were to be given to people free?
Maybe I’d better look into this stuff a little more deeply, Clark thought. Since I have a tiger by the tail maybe I’d better learn all I can about the tiger.
Well, yawn, that can wait until tomorrow morning.
------ Wednesday, September 8, 2010, the morning after ------------
“Doris, I want to see Clark as soon as he gets in, Okay?”
“Thanks, Doris; I don’t know how I’d get by without you.”
Hughy shut the door to the outer office and sat behind his desk muttering to himself.
“How did Frobisher do that? Last night was like the biggest revival meeting I ever saw. Twenty thousand people who felt the spirit chanting and cheering. When the rockets went off and the audience was showered with copies of the bill you would have thought it was the Super-Bowl. And Prescott was, well, I don’t know, he didn’t seem nervous before going on stage. It was like he knew just what was going to happen. He had them in the palm of his hand the whole time. He was never that good with an audience before. He was always a little stiff and I know he would have been a basket case before a crowd like that last election.”
“You wanted to see me Hughy?”
“Oh, yes Clark. Sit down. You’ve done a really great job for us this election and I want to talk about the future with you.” Hughy had arisen and walked around the desk to close the door behind Clark. On his way back to his seat he gripped Clark’s shoulder firmly as he went by.
“Clark, I don’t think there’s any doubt that your idea last month saved this campaign. We were going into the tank big time before you gave us that money idea. We both know that it’s really your idea and not mine or Frobisher’s. I also realize that we need you just as much now for what’s to come as we did for what’s past.”
“I don’t understand, boss. We pretty much have the election won don’t we? I mean the polls last week showed us ten points ahead and gaining fast and that doesn’t include the effects of what we did last night at the stadium. What do you need me for now?”
“Clark, this campaign is just for this year. But what we’ve done has also committed us for the next two years. We won’t have a prayer for the next election unless we succeed in Washington this coming year. If you thought it was tough winning here, you should see what we’ll be up against in Congress. And to win that battle we need support from all over the country. I know we’ll get some because there are already other candidates that are adopting our campaign approach in other races. Yeah, I know, most of them are the candidates that think they have nothing to lose and are going for this money thing as a last chance to win but the point is that in at least a couple of cases it seems to be working for them, too.”
“Look, we need to get this idea into every campaign we can and though I know this sounds like heresy, it really doesn’t matter whether the candidate that uses it is from our party or not. In fact, it’ll help if we get people from both sides of the aisle to support this issue. We don’t want it to be a party issue. So what we need to have you do is come up with a “campaign kit” so to speak. We need to have some set speeches and debate points and even ads all ready to go when the other campaigns contact us about using our ideas. It’s late in September so we only have a month to get this done. It’s going to mean a lot of work but it’ll be worth it to us later.”
“Okay, boss, I expect to work hard. It’s not as bad as trying to get three term papers done in a week.”
“Yes, but that’s just the beginning. When we go to Washington I want you to be with us as part of Frobisher’s staff. He wants you with us, too, Clark. We think very highly of you. We want you and your ideas with us when we fight the far bigger battle that’s coming in Congress. That’s where we’ll get the really organized and highly-financed opposition. That’s where, if we do lose this thing, we are most likely to fail. It’s for that fight that we really need the support of the people. We need to continue the campaign after the election in every district we can contact. The big problem is that we won’t have much money to do it. It’ll have to be a shoestring effort. You’re going to have to keep it alive on the Internet and by personal contacts. We don’t even have a good idea of how the opposition, and there’s bound to be opposition, how they’re going to attack us but they’re sure to do so.”
“Well, boss, we’ll need volunteers and we’ll have to use cells like in the spy novels. Frobisher’s call to have the people spread the word last night is really the only way we can do this on a shoestring.”
Hughy’s face lit up,
“So you’ll stay with us, you’ll come to Washington with us?”
“Well, of course. I couldn’t leave with the job half done.” Now what did I mean by that? Clark thought. But he did feel a lot better than he had when he first got up this morning.
-------- Still Wednesday morning, back home in Georgia --------
“Buddy, please tell me you didn’t mean it last night.” Lozelle pleaded. “Please tell me you thought about it and you don’t feel the way you did. Clark wouldn’t do anything bad. He’s a good boy, he really is.”
“Lozelle, you don’t understand. I got to get him away from them fools down in Florida. They done hypnotized him or something. Don’t worry, honey he’ll be back today. He won’t risk losing the money.”
“I don’t know dear. He’s sounding so confident when I talk to him these days. It’s like he really knows what he wants to do now. Are you sure he’s coming back?”
“Of course I’m sure. Don’t be an idiot.”
Buddy picked up the phone and called the Frobisher campaign headquarters.
“Let me talk to Hughy… Hughy Ormund… your boss, girl.” Bunch of incompetent nitwits. No wonder they can’t run a campaign.
“Hughy, boy, what’s this I hear about you fellas going Communist on me?”
“Communist, Buddy? What are you talking about?”
“You know damn well what I’m talking about. It’s that damn bill of yours. It’s right out of the Communist Manifesto. It’s pure crap, Hughy. What are you trying to do?”
“Buddy, if this bill is Communist then Henry Ford was a Communist. This bill is the strongest support Capitalism and the free market ever had. It’s going to keep the government off the back of the businessman. It’s going to end taxes, Buddy, permanently.”
“Like hell it will. You got to tax people to get the money to pay for all that free stuff you’re giving away. No other way you can get the money for it and I’m not gonna stand for it. You send my boy home, now, or I am gonna see that your boy, Frobisher loses this election and gets run out of Congress. You do it now, boy. If he ain’t home in his Mama’s lovin’ arms by tonight I’m making one big contribution to whoever Frobisher is running against and starting my own ad campaign against him tomorrow. You got that Hughy? Send him home now!”
And Buddy slammed down the phone and sent shards of plastic all over the desk.
“Damn cheap phones. Used to be you could hang up hard and the phone didn’t break!” Buddy fumed.
“What was that? What happened?” Lozelle hurried in looking unkempt and frantic.
“Oh it’s just this damn phone broke. It’s nothin’. Everything’s fine.”
“You weren’t talking to Clark were you? You didn’t say anything mean to him did you?”
“No I wasn’t talking to Clark. I was just making sure he’ll arrive home today so you can see he’s just fine. Now quit worryin’ and calm down,” Buddy finished, almost shouting.
Lozelle resumed the sobbing which she had interrupted when she heard the crash and rushed from the room with a wail.
Previous: Chapter 3
Next: Chapter 5