The Senator

“I don’t mind telling you, Jack, that little fucker has me nervous. Are you sure the Joint Chiefs had no other intel for you?”

“No, ma’am, Madam President. If you ask me, they’re just like the rest of us. They’ve all got gut feelings, sure, but none of them wants to go on record and be proved wrong.”

“Goddam motherfuckers. What the fuck do they think we pay them for? I tell you, Jack, all those stars the fuckers wear, they don’t mean shit.”

“No, ma’am.” Secretary of State Jack Powell knew that when his boss was in this kind of temper, his best option was to stay out of her firing line.

“Okay, well we’ve got nuthin’ from our so-called experts. What next?”

“Well, we, er…” The president’s flattened palm left Jack in no doubt that her question had been rhetorical. He cut himself off mid-sentence.

Already standing, President Walters moved toward the door of the Oval Office, so swiftly that she sent a small pile of papers flying from the desk. Ignoring them, she opened the door and called, “Dave? Could you get Bill Wainwright on the phone? Right away, please.” Closing the door so that she and Powell were alone once more, she turned to find him, on his knees, frenetically scrabbling at the papers.

“Watch out, Jack, or you’ll give your tailor a coronary. All that kneeling can’t be good for your creases.” But there was no time to appreciate her weak joke as almost immediately, a buzzer rang.

“Yes?” The wonders of her teleconferencing equipment.

“Madam President, I have Mr Wainwright on the line.”

“Thanks Dave. Would you put him through, please?” A change in background noise. “Bill?” She raised her voice slightly for the benefit of the call. A deep response came through her state-of-the-art sound system.

“Jilly!” His familiarity betrayed years of friendship. “How’s your swing coming along? And how’s that scoundrel of a husband?”

Today, however, Jill was in a hurry, and his questions flew over. “Bill? I’ve got Secretary of State Powell with me. We’re concerned about the situation in the gulf.”

But Bill made her wait. “Jack, dear boy. How are you? And how is your good lady?”

“She’s fine thanks, Bill.” Powell introduced himself to the conversation.

But the sharp-tongued Bill was not done yet. “And your wife?”

Slightly embarrassed, Powell cast an unsure glance at the president. Wainwright’s joke might have been funny, were it not so close to the mark. But Jack was among friends here. Besides, Jill knew all about his latest twenty-year-old. The Secret Service had some uses, after all.

Wainwright became business-like. “Totally unpleasant state of affairs. I spoke to some friends just last night; they are not at all happy.”

“What do you think he’s up to?”


In the sumptuous, oak-panelled study, Bill Wainwright uttered “Send my love to Bobby”, a brief afterthought, before ending the call. They were both on a schedule that day. For beside Bill, a starched nurse had appeared.

“Time for your lunchtime meds, Senator Wainwright.”

The former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee was relieved. “And not a moment too soon. My leg is really bad today, so would you mind fixing me some pain relief, too?”, adding unnecessarily, “the strong one?”.

“You won’t walk for me today? Not even as far as the door?”

Swallowing his medicines like they were candy, Wainwright replied, “Not today, thanks, Mary. And would you mind telling chef that I’ll take my lunch in the Orangery? I’m ready whenever he is”. Pressing the lever on the arm rest, Wainwright’s wheelchair fired instantly into life, propelling him silently through the door.


I was fascinated to explore the contrast, here. We have a guy who, one minute, is advising the President, and the next needs to rely on a chair to get himself around his house.

My inspiration for this piece came yesterday. While showering, I was thinking about how to design some software. In terms of the software itself, a pretty mission-critical decision.

Unfortunately while doing so, I wasn’t thinking of the far more mundane task of “not falling down”, and having lost my balance, only a quick recovery prevented me from toppling backwards into the tub.


  1. DAMN! More accidents happen in the bathroom than anywhere else in the house! Close call! Bet that got your heart pumping!

    Excellent story, really entertaining. I especially enjoyed the disparity between Parts 1 and 2, your choice of typically American names and the natural flow of conversation between characters . Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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