A twisted tale of Life, Politics, and what some might consider cruelty to animals ...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chapter 19

The day dawned bright and clear (as, of course, it was supposed to for such a momentous event), and it appeared that the weather was going to fully cooperate with the plans that had been made for the day. The sky had attained that perfect shade of blue that you know had to cost somebody in the special effects department something extra. Colored pennants waved gently in the breeze all around the Manor House like a picture post card, and fought unsuccessfully to carry the day from the wild variety of colors displayed in the flowers of the gardens. The breeze, as always, carried an indescribable scent from these many flowers that was at once both refreshing and intoxicating. (In other words, it was one of those situations in life that in which under normal circumstances would have made everyone violently ill if they didn't have so many reasons to be so happy.)

They had set up a tent-like pavilion in the grass behind the manor near those perfect gardens that makes this place so special. The fact that it also just happened to be one hell of a perfect place to set up a tent went almost unnoticed. (Careful of that gag reflex now.) I had been wandering the grounds for some time now, just enjoying the party atmosphere. Growing curious, I finally wandered into the tent to see how the arrangements had been handled for the ceremony. There was a platform at one end of the open enclosure with a single chair. You could almost call it a throne, but if you did you would be wrong.

The throne was, in fact, in the throne room of the Manor House, where it and any other thing like it belonged. It was also there because it was made of solid stone and was too damn heavy to carry anywhere.


The chair in the pavilion was a truly beautiful one though, and perfect for the job that it was to perform. Not one of those chairs that can be pushed up against a dining room table for someone to who has come late to dinner to sit at, and not one of those ridiculous art chairs that you are afraid to sit on because you know that it will either ride right up your butt crack or will break as soon as you touch the damn thing; embarrassing the heck out of you. It was more like one of those chairs that sit in libraries of the great manor houses of most European nations (like this one normally did), and dominate an entire room (which this one always did). Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they used it for the coming ceremony.

People had begun to gather in scattered groups in the gardens, mostly near the tent. You know, it’s funny. Any time you put up a tent in a field people seem to gather. It doesn’t really seem to matter why the tent is there, a wedding, a party, even a revival meeting. It just seems that people are naturally attracted to tents. Maybe that’s why circuses have been so successful over the years, but I can’t say for certain.

Perhaps we should pour thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars into a government study on the subject. Then we could produce hundreds of copies of the thousands of pages of such a report which could then be distributed to a number of undisclosed locations, then buried in obscure files on shelves so high that no would notice them, let alone read them. We could then call for a series of government investigative hearings, calling hundreds of people to testify about why all of this money was wasted on a study that no one had ever seen, about a subject that nobody cared about in the first place. Finally, documentary film makers could take full advantage of the resultant scandal, claiming it to be the result of a full blown government conspiracy. Tabloid headlines could be cast in the largest type available and faked pictures of the report, the file, and the shelves could be printed in all their glory, creating a mystery nearly as great as that of the alien autopsies. After all, I hear that the woman’s shoe study is all but complete and we will need something to spend our hard earned tax dollars on. Nah, it’s probably already been done anyway.

Inside the Manor House no one was gathering, though the day was to be a big one. For the most part in fact, it seemed to be business as usual. After all, the country doesn’t close just because they are crowning a new king. (Oops sorry, I was wrong. The country does in fact close for the day when they crown a new king ... national holiday and all of that, you know.) While there was every reason to be celebrating, and one heck of a celebration brewing in the tent, those most closely involved with the campaign were in a more subdued mood.


Maybe that is the nature of momentous events. While those who were not directly involved with the event seem to have every reason and desire to celebrate its successful conclusion in spite of the fact that they had little or nothing do with that conclusion, those who were directly involved with the issue are usually suffering from the inevitable adrenaline let down that follows the huge effort required to gain the result that everyone is already celebrating.

Everyone had a reason to be happy of course, and was grateful for the successful conclusion of the personal attacks, the campaign, and the election. That happiness however, was tempered with something akin to a feeling of loss or sorrow. It struck me then as a feeling that might be compared to the gratitude that a person feels when a fever breaks, along with the weakness that is felt from battling it. How could anyone help but remember the trials and tribulations that all of us as Phillip’s followers had faced both on a personal and professional level. That we had been triumphant in this trial by fire and brought this situation to a successful conclusion was something akin to a miracle.

If the truth were to be told, the entire day gave me the feeling of an Irish wake. The people gathered here were glad to be together once more, and dearly loved one another. The reason for the gathering was nevertheless a cause for both happiness and sadness, full of remembrance and expectation. As for me, my part was now over. I guess I was quietly proud of the insignificant part I had played in bringing things to this successful conclusion, but I also felt that I might have, could have, and should have done better. There should have been a way to reach this place without all of the suffering of so many people (even Christy and Randal, though heaven knows they deserved the rewards they were now receiving if anyone did). As they had been since the debate, my emotions started back on the roller coaster ride to nowhere that seemed to be my lot in life, and I felt my mood begin to swing into a dark place. Just as I was falling into that pit of self-doubt and anger, I felt an arm slide around my waist.

You’re doing it again,” Angela said.

What am I doing again?”


You’re trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and though I think that they are nice enough shoulders, they’re not nearly big enough to take such a weight. You’re trying to take responsibility for the way that the world turned out, as if you could actually control it,” she said, chiding me now.

But wasn’t that why I was put here?” I heard myself say for the hundredth time. “Wasn’t I chosen to come here to make this right? Why couldn’t I have done it better? Why did so many have to pay so much?”

Do you really think that it was so much, what we all went through? Do you think that we didn’t understand what we might be up against when we signed up to work on Phillip’s campaign? Didn’t it all turn out all right in the end? What do you think you are some kind of mythic hero? Oh, don’t we think we’re so special,” she replied, almost laughing at me.

The real question that you should be asking is why things turned out as well as they did, considering how little you knew about what you were getting into. Maybe the question that we should all be asking is did everything turn out all right because of what we did or in spite of it? If you ask me, the way that things turned out is continuing proof that it is far better to be lucky than good. As for who had to pay and how much they did, don’t you think that you’re paying now? Do you expect this feeling to go away anytime soon? Isn’t that enough, or would you like a couple of physical scars to help you feel better about yourself and everything else? Maybe you even think that physical or emotional scars would make you the tragic hero instead and more attractive to the ladies, as if anything could? And by the way, if that’s your plan, I can arrange for those scars anytime your schedule is open,” she smiled, showing her nails.

Hey!” I retorted, rising to the occasion. “If I am, in fact the mythic hero of the day, you will have to face the fact that heroes are intrinsically handsome. It is part of the nature and definition of the beast. I resent your implications and insinuations regarding my charm, good looks, and wit; while freely admitting that they might be limited by the dull, ugly lump that they're contained in.”


She sighed and hugged me a little tighter while mumbling what I thought was “My hero” under her breath. Maybe she was right though. Maybe in the end winning was enough and needed to be. Maybe all of the after the fact analyzing in the world was nothing more than pretension on our part. No matter what happens in the world, we each play our part, and we usually don’t get to choose it. We do get to choose how we are going to feel about it though, and far too many of us have trouble getting ourselves to understand that the glass is half full, not half empty. Sometimes winning is just as hard as losing. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I had a beautiful woman standing next to me who thought that I had nice shoulders. Besides that, if I had learned anything from all of this, it was that I could never win an argument with Angela.

I was beginning to feel so much better that I was about to commit the cardinal sin of telling her that she was right and I was wrong, when I was saved by the bell. Quite literally saved in fact, as the bell in the tower began to sound, calling everyone out to the ceremony.

This was a great relief to me on a number of levels, not the least of which was the fact that that I was saved from having to admit that I was wrong and someone else was right. I have never been any damn good at doing this, and was not sure that I could learn to be. Besides, who knows what cataclysmic cosmic events might transpire should I actually complete such a learning process and truly accept the possibility of error, let alone voice it to another person.

Thus having saved this universe (and myself) from a fate worse than death, I simply took the lady’s arm and guided her outside to the gathering crowd.

Angela and I had walked back to the Manor House, exchanging greetings with people that we knew from the campaign, and seeing who else might be around. This was the big event and along with the cream of Macundan society, many of our local campaign workers had been invited to the ceremony. By the time that the bell had sounded its last peel, quite a crowd had gathered for the day. We reached the door to the Manor House just as it was opening. It was Phillip, answering the same call that we had just all heard.


Prince Phillip looked truly regal in robes of midnight blue and dove gray, with white piping on the sleeves and collar. Even the ruffles on the white shirt that he wore beneath looked as though they had been starched twice for effect. As for Lorelei, she clothed in a gown of soft gray, in a perfect compliment to her prince. I will not try to describe the perfection of the lady in that moment. I don’t have the words for such things, and if I did, I am sure that I they would only get me into more trouble than I want to be in with the lovely lady at my side. The two of them stood at the main entrance of the manor, looking every bit the royal couple, and gazed with smiling eyes at the slowly assembling group. Arturo made his way to their side as they waited, and his tail seemed to be marking time to music that only he heard.

There was no impatience or hurry in them, just a look of benign humility and satisfaction. When the crowd had finally stilled, the three of them made their way slowly towards the tent. There were no trumpets or martial music being played. In fact, there was no sound at all but a quiet hum of subdued conversation and that of the birds quietly singing nearby. That too seemed to be as it should be. No blaring trumpets or banging drums, just the sounds of ordinary life.

The crowd parted almost imperceptibly as they made their way forward. They paused seemingly at random for a word with one, a clasped hand or shoulder with another. It reminded me of the way a politician enters a room in an election year in the same way that a parade resembles a train wreck. There was nothing phony about this. There was no posing for pictures, or making sure to speak to the ‘right’ people. There was no posturing or cheer-leading going on. It was more like a man walking down a sidewalk in a quiet friendly neighborhood and greeting the friends that he met along the way. A warm glow seemed to gather around them as they passed. There was anticipation, but not excitement, as they moved slowly ahead. Finally they reached the chair in front, and turned to face us all.

My friends,” Phillip began. “How long have we labored to reach this time and place? How many and great were the sacrifices made that allow to come together as we have today? I will not embarrass any of you with the list of those deeds and sacrifices, both great and small, which bring us to this happy time. Nor (and now that half smile lit his face), will I repeat to anyone living or dead, some of the mistakes that we made along the way.”


I know that my face turned bright red at this point, but I was surprised to find that I was not alone. As I looked around guiltily, I noticed more than a few had colored to match my own embarrassment. I let this go and chose instead to face my own demons, keeping the promise that he sent us as he looked at us all.

The time now, is for all that was past to be left there, as we seek a brighter future. Let no heart be sad now. Let everyone be glad in the promise that the future now holds for us. Let all hold true to the faith that we carried and the vows that we have fulfilled this day. Though much was sacrificed, and much was lost; we stand together today in a hope and belief of the better days to come.”

OK, I know that I have made crummy remarks about politicians and in my opinion most them deserve much worse than they get. I know that the citizens of the world are no bargain, but no one deserves the mass of treacherous thieves that usually constitute the world of politics. I feel the same way about most of the members of the legal profession. It should therefore be no surprise to anyone that so many lawyers go into politics. The combination of the two always made me look at most governments as a dog infested with both fleas and tics, with the two groups only really worried about how much blood they could drain from the poor, dumb animal before they got kicked off or simply chose to move on.

The only things that kept any hope alive in my heart for us is that there is no chance that I could ever be elected to anything on the planet (even if it was a miserable job), and that occasionally the genetic mutation of an honest, decent person holding political office occurs. This does not happen often enough to really change our world for the better, but does happen enough to let us plod on in our miserable conformity in the hope that it will eventually.

Prince Phillip was one of those genetic mutations, but I would never insult him by calling him out. My feelings for those who govern aside, I was always a sucker for a great speech. You have to be more and worse than a cynic not to be stirred by the great speeches of history. From Caesar to Churchill to Kennedy and Reagan, they all knew how to lift us to our feet when we thought that we were still on our knees, if not flat on our back. There is something about them that makes us feel good about the person giving the speech, and about ourselves. All I knew at this moment was that there was something in my heart, and in my throat, that fought now for release. I fought vainly to hold the emotion behind misty eyes, and suddenly I heard my voiced raised as it had been by so many others, in so many other times and places. (Besides, it was part of the plan.)


God save the King!”

The chant was taken up as one voice, and I heard it repeated again and again. Angela squeezed my arm all the tighter now. I had let her in on what was going on when I arrived at the room that night. (As if I was stupid enough to keep such a thing a secret from her.) This morning at breakfast, the rest of our inner circle had been informed to nature of our little surprise. We discussed about how best to accomplish this final goal, and after the initial shock had settled, we got to work on making it happen. The plan that we ended up with may not have been a great one, having the dual shortcomings of being planned on short notice, and being my idea; but it was all that we had.

On queue, Phillip now smiled and raised his hand to still the shouting. It was only then that he, along with Lorelei, stepped aside by a pace or two, to take up a position to the right of the chair. Now from the front of the crowd, Katie came forward, and after bowing to Phillip and Lorelei, took a place just to the left of that same chair. Dressed in a gown similar to Lorelei’s, but distinguished by being a compliment to the midnight blue that Phillip wore. The crowd was murmuring in confusion, not understanding what was happening before them, but the show was far from over. Arturo now moved to stand just in front of the chair. He turned first to Katie, then to Phillip and Lorelei, acknowledging each in turn with a bow of his head. When the tension had reached almost a fever pitch, he suddenly leaped up into the chair and turned, seating himself before the stunned assemblage. He nodded again to Phillip.

Here is my brother Arturo,” he said. “Elder son of my father, our late king Simon, and heir to the throne of Macundo. God save the king!”

God save the King!” Angela and I cried, taking up the chant, soon joined by the rest of those we had coached and scattered in apparently random places throughout the crowd. I had turned to be watching the crowd; and as I watched, could see it happen. Shock turned into amazement, then realization. It started softly, but built like a wave crashing on the shore. The crowd was completely caught up in surprise first, and then caught in the mystery and the joy of the moment. The cheer carried over the fields around us.

God save the King!”


As I turned from the crowd behind me to the throne ahead, I couldn’t help but notice a certain blue pinstripe suit in off to one side and almost out of view. Of course it had to figure that he would be here, and I was surprised that I hadn’t considered that possibility before. He had taken up the cheer as well, but turned towards me as I stood gazing in his direction and gave me a little wink and a small salute before turning back to a certain blue dog, quietly receiving his accolades.

As for Arturo, his only facial expression was that of a quiet smile as he sat surveying his subjects, but the tail of the new king was going a mile a minute now, as well it should be.

Man’s best friend indeed!



Well that’s about it,” I said to Tom as I wound down and signaled to Michael to bring us both another beer. We had finished a couple during the telling of the tale, but the telling was after all, thirsty work.

What do you mean, that’s it? What happened with Arturo and Phillip? Did the rest of people accept Arturo as the King? Did he ever become human again? What about you and the little guy? How and when did you get back? What happened about your relationship with Angela? ”

Then you believe me,” I sighed.

Well, I must say that what you’ve told me is a bit of a tale and then some,” he replied, eying me as if I had just offered to sell him an insurance policy or a used car, instead of the telling of a story that he had asked me for and the gift of another beer. “I can’t say that I believe you, and I won’t say that I don’t. I mean you have to admit that what you’ve told me is a lot to take in at one time. In spite of my better judgment however, I am inclined to grant you the benefit of the doubt, assuming of course, that you tell me what the hell happened.”

Well as to Arturo accepting the throne, there was a good deal of shock and more than a touch of resentment when the whole thing was revealed. People don’t like it when they think that politicians are trying to put one over on them, and they certainly did in this case. They might have even had some grounds for it if Phillip had known about the situation before he started his campaign, but he didn’t. If you really think about it, anyone ready to take Christy and his old man as the leaders of a government might find a talking dog a step in the right direction. Things settled down quickly enough when they saw that his government, like most other good ones, had little to do with their day-to-day happiness.


As to whether he became human again, looking back on it, I never thought that he was anything but. In fact, he may have been the most human of anyone I have ever met. As for me, I am learning to abandon my prejudices; and to hold neither size, color, nor species against anyone.

As for my diminutive friend, well you know that he was at the coronation already, and in spite of contributing absolutely nothing to the situation, he seemed awfully pleased with himself about its successful conclusion. Where he is now, is beyond me. When will I see him again? I dare say that for my part, I am certainly in no hurry to be seeing him any time soon. I’m also sure that I can expect him any time that he's damned good and ready.

When and how I came back is today, and how I got back is I don’t know. When I woke up this morning, it was about two weeks after the coronation. Things had begun to settle back down into what would be considered a routine at the Manor House, and as I told you, most of the furor over the change in sovereign had begun to settle down. While I had no official duties with the campaign any longer, and not even honorary title with the new government, I was allowed to stay on in the rooms that I had been provided in the Manor House. Arturo had offered to give me ceremonial rank in their military so that I could continue to serve the throne; but I was just chauvinistic enough not to want to be a lieutenant, and take orders from my girlfriend. (As if I wasn’t taking them as a civilian anyway.)

As had become my habit every morning, I decided to go for a walk after breakfast in the morning, being mostly by myself at that time of the day anyway. The front door of the Manor House opened for me as it always did, but when I stepped through, I was just outside of the lower room entrance here at Gibby’s. Taking this as a sign, I simply decided to step in. Since I never understood how I got to Macundo in the first place, how I returned and why it was to this place simply didn't occur to me.


Where Angela fits into the picture now is simple. She's the woman that I love, and I may never see her again. I never even got a chance to say goodbye to her. We knew that it could happen any time of course, but I can’t say that knowing that makes it feel any better. I suppose that after the last couple of weeks, with no hint that it was imminent, we had begun to almost take the situation for granted. I love her, and I can’t have her; which will probably make me a pathetic, miserable, self-absorbed son of a bitch for most the foreseeable future. As for that future, when I can look at it again, I shall choose to remain a hopeful romantic where she is concerned. If I am racking up any frequent traveler points for all of the places that I have been and my work with the little guy, then maybe I will get to go back. If not ... well I choose not to think about that.

In the meantime, being with people and self-medicating with alcohol prevents me from getting too morose about my coming loneliness. The beer is good, the company exceptional, and I appreciate you giving me a chance to unburden myself. I don’t know why I'm back, any more than I know why he sent me. Hell, I don’t even know what day it is!”
It’s Wednesday, the seventh of June Sean, in case you really needed to know,” he said, grasping my shoulder. “Sean, if there is anything true in life; it's that we eventually learn to make our lives go on without those we must leave behind. For my part however, I think that you will make it back to her in the end.”

Thanks for the vote of confidence, I'd rather that I never have to wait for the eventually part, but if I do then I hope that you are right.”

But this story of yours is all so fantastic, even if it’s a delusion,” he said. “Have you ever thought about writing this all down?”

You know, maybe I’ll just do that,” I replied with a shrug and a small smile. “Maybe I’ll just do that.”

The End

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chapter 18

The rest of the campaign seemed to almost be an anti-climax. Our morning began with our normal meeting the next day, and it was surprisingly subdued considering the previous evening’s successes. The newspapers, which should have been filled with the pictures and transcript of the debate, were instead filled by the shocking revelations that had been made afterward. The front page of every paper was full of stories about the confession, the subsequent reopening of the investigation, and the possible crimes and people with which people could be charged. Speculations as to how this might affect Christy’s campaign were also made, but almost in a sarcastic way. One paper even took the time to seek a comment from Christy about his feelings about the potential impact that the day’s events might have.

As if having your father and campaign manager admit that he was a murderer three days before an election could or would cost you some votes in that same election, and whether that admission, the potential vote loss, and the potential criminal charges were concerns you had. The only real question in my mind was whether Christy knew anything about it, and under Macundo law, could be charged as an accessory before or after the fact.

As for Phillip’s campaign, most of us had not stayed that night to see the furor that erupted from Randall’s revelation, and so had not discussed any of this with the rest of the group. Angela and I had in fact, spent most of the night discussing how this revelation affected her and the rest of her life. There were more than a few tears that flowed that night, but I think that maybe for the first time, the experience was a healthy one for her. While it was gratifying for her to know how it had happened and that her father’s killer could now be brought to justice; it did nothing to bring back her father or all of the lost years she had spent without him. On top of everything else, she was no doubt about to be bombarded by the press again. There would probably be little chance of avoiding it in light of these revelations, and she needed to steel herself for the coming media assault. Phillip, though knowing how tender the subject had to be, knew that it had to be addressed first thing in the morning meeting.


Angela, you know how I and all of the rest of us feel about what happened to your father those many years ago. There is nothing that can be said in consolation for your loss, but our thoughts are with you at this time. You know better than anyone, that the press will be at our door today with questions for both you and the campaign, and we will follow your wishes as to how you would like us to handle them. What would you like us to do?”

It was generous of course, to let her make the choice, since what we said or did in the next couple of hours could have a great deal of impact on the election. It was typical of Phillip however that his first thought was of others, and not personal advantage.

I would like you to tell them all to go to hell, but I won’t. On the other hand, I will not answer any more questions for the press about this. They have already had one chance at me during this campaign, and I don’t want to be made the issue this close to election. Andy and Katie, can you guys put together a statement and give it to the press? I don’t want or need to approve it, since I don’t care in any way what you say to them. Just make them understand that as far as I am concerned, this is over.”

Consider it done sweetie,” Katie said. “Andy and I will put something together and get it out to the sharks in the water in such a way that they know that you are to be left alone. In fact, I can guarantee you that it will be put to them in such a way that no one will bother you.”

The rest of that meeting was a series of reviews of the various statements and responses that were given during the debate. Few, if any of us, thought that we would be receiving any questions about the debate over the next couple of days, but I wanted to be prepared on the off chance that a reporter would use such a question just to find a way to throw us off. Since our candidate had stayed on message the entire evening, there was little for us to discuss, and the meeting broke up fairly quickly. Andy and Katie quickly left to meet with the writing staff on Angela’s statement, and to begin to fend off the barrage of press people who were camped outside the Manor House. Phillip and Lorelei had both agreed to take questions from the unruly mob out there, in part to be able to spare Angela any further embarrassment and in part to continue our strategy of access to the candidate. With a clear understanding of the sacrifice that everyone was tying to make in order to spare Angela any additional hurt, she and I went out through the back, and into the gardens, where the press had not been allowed to gather.


We walked through those gardens for what seemed like hours, mostly in silence. Knowing that my best course was to let Angela lead the conversation where she would, I simply followed where she led, physically and conversationally. Eventually she began to speak of things about her father that didn’t have to do with the work that he did for the government or the king. She spoke of him as the man that she had known. She spoke of similar days and walks that she took with him through these very gardens with as a young girl. The two of them just enjoying the sights and the smells of the flowers, and sometimes discussing the things that were happening in her life at the time. She was amazed that with all of the duties, responsibilities, and burdens of his own life, that he was able to express an interest in her lessons, her friends, and just the things that she took pleasure in. I think what she most enjoyed of the remembered experiences though, was the company of the father that she so loved and admired. As she did, I could see some of the little girl of that time begin to emerge again, and that with that emergence, the beginning of an understanding that there was so much more to this man’s life than the manner of his death.

It is a tragedy that he can’t be a part of my life any more,” she said. “But of course in a way, because of the man and the father that he was, he always will be.”

Dad’s are like that,” I replied, “and so are moms for that manner. When we’re young, we can’t wait to grow up, move away from our parents, and be on our own. When we finally do grow up and move away from them, in one way or another, we find that the things that they gave us when we were children mean that they will always be there. We find out that what we have become and the person that we are is really because of all those things they gave us. Our only hope then is to hope to be able to pass something half as good on to our own children when the time comes and because of this, contribute to own future.”

And what about our future, Sean? Neither one of us has wanted to bring it up, but is there going to be a future for us?”

God Angela, I wish I knew. I know that I want one. I want it more than anything that I have ever wanted in my life. I also came to the realization some time ago that there are a lot of things in my life that I just don’t have any control over. No matter how much I want to have you as a part of the rest of my life, whether or not I'll be able to, or how long I will be with you is just one of them.”


I guess that I always knew that Sean. I couldn’t expect much more with the way that you entered my life; but just like with my father, it was something that I just chose not to face. We've seen where that kind of thinking can get you, so I’m just not going to let it be that way any more. I guess that if the experience with my father has taught me anything, it’s that we don’t get to choose when the people that we love will leave us. We have to be able to let go of worry on that score, and just enjoy the time that we do get together.”

There was nothing I could do at that point but take her in my arms. It was a great speech on both of our parts, but I don’t think that either one of us really bought into it. Circumstances may cause us to accept whatever comes our way, but that doesn’t mean that we have to like it. On the other hand, I was in love with a beautiful woman who was in love with me; and here we were, wrapped in each other’s arms, on a lovely warm day. Such things should not be wasted … and weren’t.

A lot of literature has taken great pains to explain to us that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. Perhaps there is something to all of it, but I think that such statements are usually made by people on talk shows trying to sell you their latest book. You would have a difficult time however, convincing someone who has either just lost that one special person, or knows that they are about to. There is no doubt in the world that all of life's philosophers and poets agree that being in love is the best thing in the world, any world.

Like most things in life however, it's a joy that carries a price at every stage of its existence. In the first stage of falling in love, that price is the frustration of not knowing how the other person feels. The exquisite torture that defines the beginning of a relationship, when you think that you know what you feel, but unsure of your potential partner is also part of the pleasure. You therefore hide most of what you feel behind a self-imposed layer of indifference as a protection for an all too fragile ego. This indifference, rather than the love, is usually sensed by that potential partner, and pushes them into the same shell of uncaring towards you. The dance that ensues, as the two people gradually let down their respective guards, and reveal more of their true feelings has been the stuff of literature, song, and movies for more years than anyone can remember.


The middle stage occurs after the relationship has become firmly established. It usually hinges on one party or the other (or both) beginning to take the other for granted in some way. While this is certainly not what one intends to do, it is certainly understandable that at some point in a relationship, the constant stress of winning the other person and the tension involved in interpersonal relationships should be followed by some sort of let down, either physically or emotionally. This inevitable let down causes stress and strain again in the relationship and forces one party or the other (or again both) to attempt to re-win their partner or face the prospect of losing them forever. Either the partner is re-won, at the cost of the additional effort; or the partner is lost, with the cost of the loss of the relationship.

The last stage is the inevitable loss of the partner. Whether through mischance, ignorance, loss of love, or death itself; it's inevitable that all relationships will end at some point. How large the cost is here, is determined by the personal investments of the parties involved, the length of the relationship, and the nature of the loss itself.

On the other hand, I have never met anyone, nor has anyone that I have ever known met anyone, who has been able to make the claim that they have never loved. Oh, they may talk about unrequited love, or love never spoken, they may even talk about falling in love with the wrong person (in some cases, over and over again); but no one ever claims to have never been in love. In fact, the truest thing said about any of this is that the only thing more costly than the pain of one of the stages of love previously mentioned, is the personal price paid when one is not currently in love. There is little or no doubt that there is nothing more costly in life than loneliness.

In the end, all we really know is that it is better to “be in love” than to have “been in love”. While remembrance of a relationship, good or bad, might be worth something; being in love beats just about anything else in the world. By the way, my book should be on sale beginning … oh, never mind.

Oh yeah, you are also probably wondering what was happening in the rest of the world as that next 24 hours passed for us. Well, as for what happened to Randall after that evening’s events, he was charged with the murder of Angela’s father the following day. The revelation of the newsreel tape in all of the following day’s newspapers and newsreels caused a sensation. While justice moved slowly however, it moved inexorably. A true feeding frenzy built up over the next few weeks, as the public looked forward to what looked to be a particularly nasty trial.


They were to be disappointed however, as nothing ever came of the charges. Randall somehow managed to escape the inevitable fallout of his actions and the retribution that was coming to him by dying in his sleep on the night before the trial was to begin. There were a number of questions asked about the suspicious timing and potentially suspicious nature of his demise, but I’m not sure that too much effort was really put into finding the cause. The truth of the matter was that everyone seemed grateful that the bastard was dead and no one wanted to look too closely into how it happened. If there was anything criminal in passing, maybe that was only justice. The lack of any kind of trial meant that any information that Christy might have had on the issue would ever come out however, and no charges against him would ever be filed against him for any crimes. (Which does seem rather suspiciously providential for Christy, I don't mind saying.)

Randall’s subsequent funeral was a small one. Even though he was a royal family member, he was one who died in shame, and the only people who seemed to be disappointed at his demise were the reporters looking forward to a couple more weeks of headline grabbing stories filled with the putrid details of an event best forgotten.

It's at times like this that you're really forced you to ask yourself the tough questions about the human race. When you take the tragedy of the ending of a human life, add in the potential of political scandal, and multiply that by the prurient interest of the general public, you come up with the kind of answer that sells lots of newspapers. The total picture that this paints of the human race is not a particularly pretty one.

The only thing that I can compare it to is the relationship between the drug dealer and the addict. As reprehensible as the drug dealer is, his services are only necessary because of the needs and desires of the addict. Both and neither are to blame, as neither could exist without the other. There is no good in such relationships, only bad; and the fact that so many of us seem to be addicted to the blow-by-blow descriptions and analysis of such events should be troublesome to us. It will only be when we tell the world that such things should not be treated as entertainment, that we will take our next step forward on the path of societal evolution.


Angela's story however, was not the only one that was seeing some rather startling revelations. Sources now seemed to come out of the woodwork, hoping perhaps to see their stories lost in the landslide of Randall's confession; and in turn further burying the rest of Christy’s campaign in scandal after scandal over the next forty-eight hours. Misha’s assistant confessed to his part in the plot without the introduction of the document that she was holding, and plead out to the crime for a deal on jail time. Katie’s accuser, perhaps sensing the turning of the tide, dropped the suit and admitted that the entire case was a fabrication put up by Randall and the PAC that supported him. The real arsonist who had destroyed Andy’s business was discovered and arrested; and he too confessed to being part of Christy’s PAC. Christy himself had gone back into hiding on his father’s estate, and was having nothing but ‘No Comment’ statements from that refuge on his behalf. In the span of just 48 hours, all of the clouds that sat over this campaign and the people who were leading it for months had disappeared. The press was singing our praises unceasingly for the next week, and we seemed to sail forward on a tide of positive public opinion right through Election Day.

Oh yeah, the election. As you might imagine, the success that Phillip achieved in the debate, added to the backlash caused by all of the information that had come to light about Christy’s family and campaign made the election a foregone conclusion. Christy lost by a 98% to 2% margin, and there was some investigation into voter tampering on his part to make it that close. I can’t tell you that the result presented our team with any real degree of jubilation, (I think that most were equally happy to be out from under their personal problems.) though it was very gratifying to be able to see that the right man would get the job. Certainly there was celebrating being done on Election Day, but for those of us closest to Phillip it was all rather subdued.

We gathered together for dinner as usual on the day after the election results were beginning to be posted. Katie had already released a statement to the press thanking everyone that had supported the campaign. It was pretty amazing to realize that while we were going through all of our trials and tribulations that apparently everyone was on our side. Of course this might have been some twenty-twenty hindsight in light of the recent revelations about the competition, but who cares. No one could be found on Election Day that said that they hadn’t supported Phillip from the start. As we sat around the empty plates that evening, enjoying the last of the wine, discussions naturally began as to what was next for each of us.

I thought for a long time, that this was it for me and that when the campaign was over, that I would finally retire,” Andy began. “But more and more of late, I think that I would like to begin my business again. In fact, I might say that I have been hounded into making such an attempt.”


Damn right you have,” Katie put in. “I won’t have any partner of mine in as a short-timer or in only half way. He’s in it for long haul if he knows what’s good for him.”

Really” I exclaimed! “The two of you going into a partnership?”

Yep,” she said. “But not of some two-bit printing business like he had before. We are starting a full service advertising agency that will handle every aspect of the clients needs, including the printing. What’s more, we’re taking my entire writing staff with us. I can’t let people that I care about go back to the bottom feeding life of the newspaper world.”

But weren’t you part of that world?” Andy asked sweetly.

Shut up partner,” Katie smirked, “We’ll get along a lot better and much longer if you stop casting aspersions on my name and character.”

Don’t forget about me,” Misha added. “I'm going to be part of this partnership as well. Much as I like government service, I think that it was time that I moved on. Besides, maybe this time somebody that knows how to can and should keep Andy from getting himself into the financial trouble that got him locked up with this nest of thieves. And speaking of thieves, it will also give me a chance to protect Andy from letting his partner abuse her position and her expense account.”

I never did any such thing!” Katie sputtered as the rest of us laughed. “Hey, what about you two?” she asked looking at Paul and Melissa.

He is already signed up for another movie, and I’m sure that the exposure of the campaign will help his career immensely,” Melissa informed us. “I on the other hand, will be taking a little time off. You see I’m getting married.”

Congratulations!” came from all over the room, but I followed with the inevitable question. “Is he someone that you can admit to, or just some movie hunk that you couldn’t keep your hands off of?”

Both,” Paul replied laughing. “At least in a way he is anyway. You see, it’s the stunt double of her co-star in this last movie.”


Hugs and handshakes were exchanged all around, and the ladies immediately huddled together giggling for some time over the subject of men in general and husbands in particular. In addition, there were bridal showers and wedding plans to discuss. Paul shrugged; knowing that in such discussions, brothers are no longer family, they are simply men. It was also quickly apparent that such discussions are also a queue to the men in the room that their presence was no longer required. We men therefore adjourned to the patio adjoining the dining room, and though it was premature even by Macundo standards, cigars were passed around. Arturo’s stand was duly set up, and he joined us in the celebratory atmosphere. Fragrant smoke soon began to fill the area, carrying even into the dining area and drawing the ladies out to join us. Glasses were refilled, and a toasts proposed to the happy couple and their impending nuptials.

Hey, what about you?” Melissa asked, turning towards Angela. “What can we be looking forward to in your future?”

Well, there are some things that I’m not sure of yet,” looking in my direction. “I’ve never left the service though, so I expect that I will be going back to where I left off before the campaign began.”

That’s not entirely true Colonel,” Phillip put in.

What do you mean Colonel?” She shot back, her eyes wide.

Well, it won’t be official until after the coronation, but a promotion and appointment to the cabinet of the new government is already in the works.”

Such news called for additional hugging and toasting and was duly performed. That it was well deserved was beyond question. That everyone was as genuinely pleased for Angela as she seemed to be for herself was also apparent.

As for my own situation, no one asked, and I volunteered nothing. Angela and I continued discussing the situation since that day in the gardens, but with no further results. I wouldn’t ask her to marry me, not knowing whether I could stay, no matter how much both of us wanted it; and she would not press the issue, knowing my mind on the subject. We could do nothing but enjoy each and every day that we were able to spend together, and try not to look too far into the future. The looks that the two of us got from around the patio made me believe that we were not alone in the awareness and understanding of our current situation.


To be honest with you, I thought that I would be gone the moment that the election was over. If the truth were told, I hadn’t been able to sleep a wink since Election Day. I kept expecting to fall asleep in Macundo, and wake up God only knows where. I knew that if I let that happen, it would be without Angela. The resulting stress had played hell with my sleeping and waking, and I can’t help but believe that it showed. There was nothing I could do to change the outcome of the situation of course, but being helpless was not going to stop me from fretting about my future constantly.

Wasn’t I sent here to see that Phillip became King? Wasn’t he now going to do exactly that? And if I wasn’t sent here to see that done, why was I sent here at all and placed in charge of the campaign? The questions kept coming, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted any of the answers. I couldn’t bring myself to face a problem that I didn’t understand, so I chose instead to ignore it. I knew that doing so wouldn’t make it go away, but I didn’t know what else to do. I pushed all of this away again for a time as Angela stepped up to my side and slid her arm around me. This was a night of good news, and I wouldn’t let my somber thoughts intrude upon it.

The evening of celebration continued long into the night, and soon even my lovely Angela left my side with a snuggle, a kiss, and a promise to be waiting. The hour had gotten late, and the lack of sleep, the two cigars, the wine, and later the whiskey had all taken their toll on me. As I looked with somewhat bleary eyes around me, I suddenly noticed that only Arturo, Phillip, and I were left. All the others had undoubtedly taken their leave at some earlier point, but when that might have happened, I couldn’t quite seem to remember. I was attempting to blow smoke rings into the night air, which should have been a dead giveaway to me that I was more than slightly inebriated and should be leaving myself. Sober, I knew that I couldn’t do it and didn’t try.

Sean,” a voice said, and I turned to find Phillip at my side. “I can’t tell you how grateful that we are for everything that you have done. I know we’ve said it before, but it is nevertheless true. I can’t say that I understand where you came from, or even why you were sent to us, but it has meant a great deal to me, and to all of us. I don’t know what your future plans are, but I want you to know that you are always welcome here.”


Thank you Philip. I really appreciate the offer, but quite frankly, I know even less than you do about what my future plans are. I think that you know how much I would like to stay here and why, but I don’t know if I can. I fear that as they always have been, these decisions are not mine to make. As for the thanks, I don’t know how much I really did, but whatever it was, you are more than welcome to it. It was the least I could do for a truly good guy.”

You always have underestimated your role here,” Arturo said standing up as he entered the conversation. “I only hope that you choose to stay with us and continue to play some advisory role in the government.”

Any government that would be worth being a part of wouldn’t have people like me involved with it. The kind of advice that I spread around should be used to fertilize roses. That being said, any help that I can give, I will; but please let’s not make this formal arrangement, it would only ruin both of our reputations.”

We’ll put that aside for now Sean, but there’s something else that you need to know about all of this that's very important. Something that we need your advice on desperately. In fact, I would venture to say that you might be the only one that could be trusted with this. Sean, I am not going to become king tomorrow.”

Huh,” I sputtered, sobering up in an instant. “What do you mean you’re not going to become king? What about all of that stuff about the people and having the best leadership? What about serving the people’s best interest? What about all of the speeches that we've been … uh, you've been making? What about all of that stuff that you said at the debate about serving the future? What have we been doing all of this for?”

I didn’t say that I wouldn’t serve. I just said that I wouldn’t be king.”

Wait a minute,” I said, trying to slow my racing brain. “There’s something else going on here. Why the sudden change of plans? Why do you seem so calm about throwing a job away that you have been fighting to get? Why does Arturo seem to know what’s going on?”


It’s simple enough Sean,” Arturo said, stepping up between us. “I am the elder brother. I will be king.”

I know that I have been drinking boys and girls,” I replied, trying to clear some of the fog from my head however unsuccessfully. “But can we please run all of this by the dumb guy one more time, preferably in single-syllable words.”

It’s really quite simple,” Arturo said. “As Phillip and I were working on his preparation for the debate, we spent more and more time together. Over time, we rediscovered the bond that we had as young boys and never really lost.”

I don’t know when exactly it happened,” Phillip continued. “But suddenly I knew that this was the brother that I had lost.”

The brother that I had lost! This put a rather unique spin on the events of the previous days and weeks. Of course now that I knew, I could put the signs together;, but the implications of what they were telling me was staggering.

Our father knew it, of course,” Arturo continued. “I told him soon after it happened and I had returned to the Manor, though I suspect that he knew it immediately. How exactly it happened, neither father nor I was able to find out, though both of us suspected that Randall and his family had something to do with this as well. He always felt that he would find a way to tell the others and that in the end, it would make no difference. But he died before he could do whatever it was that he wanted to, and the chance was gone. That Randall was in fact involved seemed confirmed, at least in my mind, when Christy made the crack about the country going to the dogs during the debate. But by then, Phillip and I had already made the decision as to what we would do. If Christy lost the election, I would take the throne that Phillip never wanted in the first place.”

I suddenly remembered a similar remark on that first night that I had met Christy, though I chose not to share it. It was only now that it began to mean something ...

Yeah, OK,” I stammered, “but how can you decide that? The people voted in Phillip.”


That’s not exactly true, Sean,” Phillip smiled. “By the laws of our election process, the people of Macundo voted against Christy, not for anything. Since Randall’s heir lost the election, Arturo’s heir won it. No one ever asked during or before the election who that heir was going to be.”

I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that still, but no matter. Don’t you think that there will be some kind of public outcry when you pull this one out of the drawer?” I asked, shaking my head.

Maybe at first, but I think that they will see the logic of it over time,” Arturo said.

Wait a minute. What about Katie? Arturo, she told me about the two of you. Have you told her?”

As a matter of fact, I did last night. Though you wouldn’t know it, she has been very important in my life for some time. I hid a situation from her that neither of us could fix for some time, but the choice that Phillip and I decided upon made it imperative that she know, and know it from me. I have known that woman for a number of years, and thought that I knew everything that might be expected in dealing with her. I was never so thoroughly wrong. Oh sure, she was initially surprised, but not as much as I would have thought. What she really was, was mad as heck that I had kept it from her for so long.”

I can only imagine,” I replied chuckling. “That would have been a dressing down worth hearing.” (At this Arturo looked embarrassed, and if I didn’t know better, I would have said that he even blushed.) “Hey what about your heirs Arturo? I don’t want to get too personal, but I mean…”

You needn’t worry Sean,” he replied. “Phillip and I have worked that out. Katie will be my queen, and who knows, maybe some day we can find a way to reverse this spell, or maybe it will just wear off on its own. Then she and I can have the family that we always planned. In the event that this never happens, Phillip’s heirs will be named my heirs, and the succession will be assured.”


It sounds like you guys have worked out most of the details, and I’m sure that once the dust settles, if it ever does, that you'll be able to work out the rest. I have to say that I am certainly surprised by this, though I always thought that there was something about you Arturo. I also appreciate you sharing this with me before the ceremony tomorrow. Will you be unveiling this slight revision in plans to the people at the coronation tomorrow?”

Of course,” they answered at the same time. “It wouldn’t do to have the wrong brother crowned king?”

Right, this ought to be some party then.. Well if you don’t mind gentlemen, I’m going to toddle off to my room and sleep on this one. The two of you have given me quite a bit to muddle over for one alcohol soaked evening. If I have any thoughts on the subject I will be happy to share them with you tomorrow. In the meantime however, if you will excuse me, I will take what is left of the night to consider these events carefully.”

Yeah right,” Arturo snickered, as I turned to find my way back to my room. “Try not to keep Angela awake all night with the snoring.”