The 1992 Democratic National Convention, held in New York City, turned-out to be a stage-managed anti-climax. Before the convention had even begun, Burt Gort inexplicably dropped out of the race in order to accept Cliff Williamson's offer to be his vice-presidential running mate (12 hours after Donna died, incidentally). With Gort's sizable chunk of delegates now in his pocket, Williamson's nomination was nearly a forgone conclusion. Topping it all off, his powerful friends in the Democratic National Committee (including DNC Chairwoman Amy Richardson) controlled the convention's most important committees, thereby deciding who would be allowed on the floor and who would be allowed to speak, as well as stifling any organized effort by wayward delegates to deny Williamson the nomination on the first ballot. As it became obvious, early on, that Williamson possessed a clear majority of delegates, all of the remaining candidates (except for California Governor Jeremy Brownstone) suddenly swung their support to him, so as not to be left out in the cold should he actually become president. An impressive 80% of the delegates (over 3,000) opted for the Williamson/Gort ticket on the first ballot. President Hedges and Republican power-brokers had to have been disturbed by this rare display of Democratic Party unity.
Like most political observers, I had been bewildered by Gort's announcement, on the eve of the convention, that he was throwing his support to Williamson. At the time, the melodramatic part of my mind feverishly imagined that Donna's death had emboldened Williamson to strong-arm Gort - by means fair or foul - into quitting the race, without the threat of Gort (or his many supporters) using his relationship with a transsexual as political leverage. One less noisy skeleton rattling in the closet. I had scolded myself then, Forget it - don't even THINK about that shit! It was more probable that Gort had knuckled-under because he realized he was doomed to fail, what with Williamson's supporters pulling the strings at the convention.
Angie had been floating on Cloud 9 ever since Williamson clinched the nomination, even after having been unceremoniously dumped from his campaign. Dreaming of reaping political rewards should Willamson win the presidency, she immediately redoubled her effort to register new voters. And very soon after the convention ended, she got further energized when couriers dropped-off at the committee office two $20,000 checks from wealthy liberal contributors, to fund the Democrats' all-out national effort to expand the voter rolls. But she was none too pleased when I reminded her (yet again) that we, in turn, were legally compelled to donate all monies in excess of legitimate expenses to other Political Action Committees. In response to that, she replied with political astuteness, “In that case, we should open more offices to eat-up more expense money. I've been thinking we should do that anyway - have branches in Reno and Carson City. We can afford it, now.” At least this latest scheme of hers fell within the range of legality. And I liked the idea that it might keep her too busy to backslide into the habit of smoking crack.
“It's your decision, babe. I just work here.” She then plopped down into my lap and gave me several stimulating kisses. “Mmmm – feel like playing around with the help? We can duck into the janitor closet or something.”
She giggled indulgently and slipped out of my grasp. “Don't be silly, Den. We've got to get busy! There's a hundred phone calls to make if we want to open those new offices before it's too late - the election's less than four months away!”
* * *
Next day at the committee office, Angie answered a phone call and then hollered from within her small private office, “Denny, this guy specifically asked to talk to you! He didn't mention a name - he's waiting on line two.”
Glad to break-up the monotony of verifying the signatures and addresses on voter registration forms, I replied, “All right, I got it.” A moment later I said into the phone, “Denny speaking. What can I do for you today?”
An unfamiliar male voice rasped, “Listen, shithead, you've meddled in our affairs once too often. You've managed to seriously annoy some very important people – you understand? You think we don't know what you were doing in Atlanta and who you were talking to? If you don't want to end-up in the middle of the desert with a bullet in your brain, then I advise you to mind your own fucking business from now on - and that goes for that loony black bitch you run around with, too. Think about it.”
Both fearful and furious, I could see nothing but the color of blood before my eyes, and wanted nothing more than to reach through the phone line and throttle his neck – so much for my recent vow to keep a tight rein on my temper. “HEY, you fucker! Who is this?” But he had already hung-up. I was about to slam the phone receiver down into its cradle, but stopped short when I noticed its suddenly decrepit condition. Unconsciously, my right hand, now throbbing in pain, had cracked it open, breaking the thick plastic component nearly in two while the guy was threatening me.
Angie came out of her office and asked, “What the hell was that all about, Den? Who were you yelling at?” Then she jokingly asked, “An angry husband, perhaps?”
“Yeah, right. I have no idea who that was. Whoever the creep is, he called me a shithead and warned me to mind my own business, among other things.”
“Hey, do you suppose it has anything to do with our wanting to expand the committee into northern Nevada? The last thing those goddam Republicans want is more people registered to vote.”
“True enough, but that call had nothing to do with the committee. It's just some government-related crap I can't talk about – it's nothing, really.”
She wasn't convinced, as she rolled her big blue eyes. “You always say it's 'government-related' when you don't want to discuss something. I bet the Republicans are tapping our phones - again!” Glancing down at my desk, she then exclaimed, ”Holy shit, Den! What happened to your phone?”
Putting on an act, I waved a hand dismissively. “Aw, it's cheap imported junk like everything else they sell these days. Tsk - you can't even slam down the phone anymore without it flying apart.” But in reality, one would need the strength of a gorilla or The Incredible Hulk to inflict so much damage to the nearly indestructible receiver, yet somehow I had managed it almost as easily as crushing an empty beer can (my aching hand notwithstanding). This was the third such incident I had experienced in the past 30 days - the second incident since only last week. It now appeared that In addition to my on-again-off-again psychic powers, I was developing into some sort of third-rate superhero, possessing physical powers that only emerged on occasions when my anger boiled out of control.
Considering the implications of that harassing phone call, it must have been the fact of Donna's death that had gotten those very important people so annoyed with me. I could scarcely believe it, but “They” appeared to suspect Tina and myself of having been part of a sinister political plot to murder him. On the surface, their suspicion about us almost made logical sense, owing to our personal connection to Williamson, my curious phone call to Donna's mother in Atlanta and meeting with Grant Hawthorne immediately afterward, and, obviously, Tina's role in putting Donna in the hospital. Moreover, if this mysterious “They” were also aware of my psychic capabilities, then their suspicion suddenly made a whole lot of sense.
Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop