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

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chapter 10

And so the first month of my time here ended and the first month of the campaign ended with it. I seemed to be doing remarkably well on a professional and personal basis (if I do say so myself). Phillip was holding a solid 15-point lead according to our most recent polling. The other media outlets polls had us with a slightly smaller lead, but there was no doubt that we were solidly ahead. There was no polling data on my relationship with Angela (for which I am probably grateful), though I am sure that everyone around us had an opinion. All of this good news should have made me very happy, and in fact it did; but I can’t say that the state of the campaign had all that much to do with it. The fact of the matter was that Angela and I were head over heals in love (well I was anyway), and I think that I would have felt ecstatic even if we were the same number of points behind. I found myself walking around in a distracted, daze-like state, with one of those silly ‘all is right with the world’ grins on my face most of the time. Even the overwhelming torture of the endless meetings and inconsequential details of the campaign seemed muted by my happiness at having Angela in my presence.

The say that the first days of being in love are usually like that, but that implies that there is anything usual about love. If there was, it would in turn imply the person telling you this knows anything on the subject. It would further imply that such knowledge, however gleaned, would be willingly shared by its holder. Where love is concerned that’s probably one too many implications. Accurate knowledge on such a subject is more valuable than a winning lottery ticket and just as likely to be shared. My advice would be to stop talking to such people, check to make sure that they haven’t stolen your wallet, then just relax and enjoy the feeling.


Fortunately for the campaign, my lack of focus (real or apparent) did not seem to be having a negative impact on our efforts. The team was managing to cover for the coach, and our team seemed to be running the playbook more than effectively. Paul and Melissa, after the giving the first couple of speeches, had backed off a little on most of their direct participation to avoid over-saturation at this early stage in the campaign. The additional friends that they had recruited from their industry and the other volunteers that we were using kept our message in the newsreels every week. Regardless of who actually gave the speeches, the real credit belonged to Katie’s staff, which had been turning out some truly inspirational writing. I couldn’t help but believe that they were having the proper effect on the voters just based on the way that their writing moved me. We traded on their abilities shamelessly and continued to move some of the best quotes of that work onto the fliers, posters, and bumper stickers soon after the speeches had been given. (Yes you can put a bumper sticker on carriages. Who would have guessed?)

Andy continued to do a magnificent job of getting everything out quickly, and after going through some stumbling by an outside ad agency, had taken on all of the layout work for the printing for the campaign as well. His expertise in this area, along with the level of professionalism in the work that he brought to it, led me to believe that he had served some serious time working for an ad firm somewhere in his past. The fact that there was something of a mystery about Andy and his past life intrigued me. I wanted to ask about himself and his history, but Andy had a way about him that didn’t encourage such conversations. He had always seemed a little reluctant to talk about anything other than the work that needed to be done, and I had enough respect for the man (and enough of my own past that shouldn't be dredged up) that I gave him the consideration left unrequested.

Phillip and Lorelei participated in most of the meetings we held in the Manor and almost every decision as we went along of course, in spite of Phillip’s earlier protestations that he would be staying out of the way. They both seemed genuinely pleased with the progress that was being made in the campaign, though they held themselves back from any direct involvement in the implementation of strategy or verbiage, choosing instead to keep the group focused and inspired. I sensed a level of frustration on their part with some of the methods and strategy that we were using, though they didn’t choose to share that with the group. For my part, any real or imagined insights that I thought I had on their feelings and impressions, I kept to myself. Such a subject simply didn't seem to be the kind of thing that one brought up.


Phillip, for all of his protestation about not being suited to the work of a leader was a natural, and the group operated very smoothly under his direction and guidance. My own relationship with the staff continued improving bit by bit, and as time passed I actually felt that they were beginning to trust me. I don’t know if this feeling was based on the level of success that our strategy had been having or just that people were getting to know me; but I was smart enough to realize that success certainly made things a lot easier. I was trying hard not to feel too pleased with myself over the way that things were going, but couldn't help but find myself more confident in the decisions that I had to make on day-to-day situations. In the end, I couldn’t tell if my confidence was based on the progress of the campaign (for which I knew I deserved no real credit) or the progress of my relationship with Angela (for which I knew I also deserved no credit, but which was moving along nicely now, thank you very much).

When I look back at it now, this whole period was one of the most truly amazing times in my life. Relationships are difficult to balance at any time, but I think even more so when the two people are working so closely together. I don’t know if it’s a function of all of the time that the two are forced to spend together in such a situation, or the difficulty of separating the work life from the personal life. Angela and I found ourselves in each others company almost every waking minute of the day, but instead of this causing any problems with the relationship, we found ourselves reveling in it. I certainly could not remember being any happier in my life than I was at that time.

That there was now a relationship between Angela and myself, and that it had taken a more romantic turn was at first just a badly kept secret. Katie and Arturo were in on it from the beginning obviously, but the others caught on to the situation all too soon, and generally seemed pleased by the match. (The fact that this relationship was generally well received by those we worked with made it a lot easier on the both of us.) It appeared that all of the people that had known Angela were well aware of her lack of romantic entanglements in the past. The simple fact that I was the one that she chose seemed to make me good enough in their books. The additional facts that I seemed to be trying so hard to please her, and that she seemed so happy in the situation also seemed to weigh in my favor rather heavily.


Of course, each of the members of the staff on hand in the Manor managed to get a couple of shots at the one or the both of us during our meetings over the days following, but this was not unexpected under the circumstances and the good natured abuse quickly died down. Katie and Arturo were something else entirely, seeming to take a continued and perverse enjoyment out of tormenting us. Neither Angela nor I were able to figure out why this seemed to be of special interest to these two particular members of our circle. In the end, I could only put it down to the smugness over arranging our first night together. There seemed something desperate about the way that they clung to the happiness that we were sharing though, and something almost pathetic in the child-like ways that they teased us about it. No prodding by either of us seemed to gain further information however, and we were forced to let it go.

As for me, the wonder of being in love was more than enough for me. As I have taken pains to point out earlier in this tale, my prior experience in the ways of women and love were certainly not anything that anyone would enjoy taking credit for. Not having a lot of positive experience to compare it to, the potential confusion involved with my growing feelings were not something that I would allow to get in the way of the experience.

I remember my first experience in an adult entertainment facility (strip joint, for those of you less refined). I was confused about the technique and the thoughts of the girls disrobing for my supposed entertainment. There was something about their almost lifeless eyes while performing that called seemingly endless questions about the things that were going on around me for those I was with. One of my companions, noting this confusion, put it all in perspective for me, when he said, “For God's sake, stop trying to understand it Sean and just enjoy the show.” I can't say that I ever gained any greater insight into the experience, not that I spent any real time returning to such sites to do so.

I do think that this process is equally true regarding falling in love (Yeah, I know that this sounds strange, but hear me out.). We tend to spend far too much of our time analyzing the experience instead of simply enjoying it, and miss so much of the immediate joy while tied up by “analysis paralysis”.


I vowed that I was not going to make that mistake and treasured every day that Angela and I were able to spend together, simply happy to be with her and hoping that she was finding the experience equally fulfilling. As far as the nights were concerned, that’s none of your business you filthy-minded pervert.

My education in the political process, Macundan society, and local history in general continued at a rapid pace during this period as well. Though I have always considered myself a quick study in most things, I often had to interrupt the rapid-fire conversations in the group by asking questions. It’s amazing how confusing the simplest things can be when one does not share a common background and history with one’s peer group. If you can imagine being dropped into a foreign society with the only common ground being language, then multiply that by about five, you begin to have some grasp of the confusion that I felt at times.

This process during our normal meetings, however annoying it might have been to those around me, helped me to clear up details about conclusions that they were able to reach based on assumptions that everyone but me understood. And while there were times that these questions generally slowed things down, explaining it to me often caused everyone to question the very assumptions that these explanations were based on. As often happens with the questioning of assumptions, the situation often turned into further debate, usually to good result. On any number of occasions when it was all over, it was decided that the proposed plan that we were working on needed to be changed, though sometimes only slightly. For myself, I was pleased to see that our group continually remained flexible in its thinking and discussions of the process, and were always open to a new idea, even if it seemed a bit radical. With very few exceptions, there really is no such thing as a stupid question, and entrenched positions and the people who cannot give up defending them can become not only terribly annoying to listen to, but ultimately flawed in the results they achieve.

Take for example, the people today who insist that the world isn’t flat in spite of the unshakable proof of their own eyes. Ignoring this first hand data, and the countless examples of the people who were killed in particularly gruesome ways for believing otherwise, they persist on insisting that the world is round.


I would have liked to have been able to take some kind of credit for initiating such discussions and using their results as a true sign of my growing leadership abilities. I would have however, merely be taking credit for my own ignorance. I was quite willing to admit to ignorance (which I've heard can be a flaw in a leader, but having never really claimed to be one, who cares), but I was unwilling to take pride in it. I found that I even learned something about how things were and had been in Macundo during the personal time that Angela and I shared.

Even couples in love talk, especially if they want to stay in love. A continued commitment to sharing through communication is the keystone of a growing relationship. It is a restatement of interest in the other person, who they are, and where they came from. It is also a continued willingness to share that same information with that special someone that makes the commitment grow. Besides, most men are much better at talking than they are at sex. (Not that I’m admitting anything you understand.)

Angela gave me a frame of reference through which to see these people; and as a consequence, learn more about her as well as them. It was during one of these learning experiences that she finally shared with me a little bit about her family history, as well as that of the campaign. Although she needed to be prodded a bit to go into any detail on the subject (for obvious reasons), she gradually let me draw it out of her.

Angela it seems was an only child whose mother died of a fever some three years after Angela was born. She had thereafter been raised by and doted upon by a father who never remarried, and who lavished all of his love and attention on her. For her part, Angela idolized her father, worshiping the man and hanging on every word that he said and every thing that he did. Playing the part of the ‘woman of the house’ from her earliest years was her only ambition and one of her fondest memories as a young girl. Later, he was the reason that she had tried so hard to succeed in school, and to enter the army when she was old enough to do so. She wanted desperately to further gain his acceptance and approval by serving as he served, carrying on what she perceived as a family tradition. Her successes were a joy to the both of them as the little girl became a young woman. Though she did everything that she had sought to do in the end, and while she knew instinctively that she had always had his love; she was never able to enjoy that approval as an adult. You see it was Angela’s father who had been killed during the last election.


Simon and my father had been friends since early childhood, and father was totally devoted to him” she said. “Father went into the army at an early age much as I did, and with the full support and the patronage of his best friend, the young prince. With that patronage and the considerable intelligence and talent that he showed early in his career, his elevation through the ranks was steady, but not unremarkable. Simon couldn’t have been more pleased with the success of his friend and protege, and took him into his closest confidence in all things. Simon’s father, the king, approved and supported of the fellowship that the two shared and encouraged both of them to continue it. As for the rest of the royal family, well you can’t make friends of everyone.

It was probably at this period in his life that the bad blood between my father, Simon, and Randall began. As young men, the three of them often took weapons practice together at the king’s behest. Competition was the natural rule of such training and the King and their teachers often made comparisons between the three. Randall was the oldest, but with his obvious physical weaknesses he took the brunt of the punishment during these sessions from both the instructors and his fellow pupils. He performed miserably at everything physical that was set before him, including weapons.

It didn’t matter whether it was swords or pistols; he performed poorly in each and every exercise, and received more than his fair share of training scars as a result, sometimes from my father. These failures left more than physical scars however, and made Randall a sullen pupil and companion at best. He did excel at all forms of the strategic uses of power however, and never lost at one of the games that were used to train the minds of these three young men in such ways.

As poor a loser as Randall was at the physical competition, he was an even poorer winner in these mental games. Father told me that even then the enmity growing between Randall and Simon often caused him to feel that his main duty in life at the time was to make sure that someone was covering Simon’s back. The years passed without serious incident however, the three boys continued to grow and mature, and my father remained Simon’s closest companion and adviser. While never engendering the envy of his peers in the service, the jealousy shown by Randall about the relationship between my father and the younger prince was easily apparent and always present.


Time continued to pass and the boys grew up and became men, married, and began families of their own. The relationship that existed between the two men now extended to their families as well. My father kept a house very near the Manor to be of better service to Simon and the kingdom, and he and my mother were often guests of the king and Simon. Randall though married himself and living equally close, was often as not absent from these gatherings, holding himself apart and brooding all the while. As the only child of the prince’s closest companion, I spent many hours here at the Manor House with both the king, Prince Simon and his two sons. When my mother died, the king insisted, and it only seemed natural, that father and I come to live here with them in the Manor.

Evidently this was the final blow for Randall, who bitterly resented both his father and the situation. He felt that the Manor House of Macundo was for the royal family and their servants and retainers alone. It was not for sharing with some family of common blood, whose only claim to any form of nobility had been manufactured by virtue of becoming an officer in the army. That was especially true of any offspring of theirs. The king however, would hear no argument on the subject. His wife had passed away many years before with Simon's birth, and I think that he lived for his children and his grandchildren. When Simon's wife likewise passed in childbirth with the birth of Phillip, it left the king, Simon, and my father joined by the common bond of rather lonely men. As a consequence of the fact that I was the only female of the household at the time, both the king and Simon doted on me as if part of some tragic extended family. Though both men had sons and were justifiably proud of Simon’s sons Arturo and Phillip, I think that all felt that something was missing in their lives. That there were no daughters, daughters-in-law, or granddaughters in the house, and in some way caused them to think of me as the female part of their household, and one who filled a necessary place in their lives.

When the time came that Simon’s father passed away, there was no doubt that it would be my father who would run his best friend's campaign for the throne; one which seemed all too simple a one. Randall was about as well loved then as Christy is now, though not nearly so much of a public figure. I don’t recall any of the specific numbers from the time, but it seemed as though Simon had a commanding lead in all of the polls until my father was killed about halfway through the campaign. The government launched an immediate and thorough investigation of course, both because of my father’s position in the military and that in the campaign. When the evidence in the crime was discovered and evaluated, it shocked both investigators as much as the general public that pointed to Simon. No one who knew of the relationship between Simon and my father could believe that Simon had anything to do with this hideous crime, but the evidence presented seemed at first, very compelling that he had in fact committed the crime.


It was Simon’s pistol was that which had been used in the killing, having been left right next to my father’s body; and ballistics tests were able to easily confirm that it was the weapon used. The only fingerprints found on the gun were Simon’s, and because he was in hiding as per the custom during this period, he had no immediate alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the shooting.

You can imagine the terrible shock that this was for Simon, and the devastation that this caused the government, the royal family, and the campaign. (You will note that Angela said nothing about how devastating it had to be that a member of what she considered her only family was accused of the murder of her father.) The evidence that they were able to gather was certainly circumstantial, but led to no other conclusion. Regardless of the feelings of law enforcement officials, the police were ultimately compelled to put a warrant out to bring in Simon for questioning regarding the evidence discovered. When no other suspects came of their continuing investigation of the crime, they were further compelled to indict Simon for the murder. At the time, much of the pressure brought to bear on the police was a result of public outcry (which some thought at the time was manufactured), but everything pointed in one direction. That same public outcry for a equally public trial quickly followed, after some rather viscous editorializing in the tabloid press.

Within a week, a bench trial for murder had begun, and the entire country got caught up in the circus that followed. While it had been established that there were no witnesses to the event, everything in the circumstantial evidence pointed towards Simon. Even taken in the whole, it was pretty thin, but none the less compelling. It seemed obvious that the case was not going well for the prince, and I think that Simon would probably been convicted of the murder, if the defense attorney hadn’t finally begun to find inconsistencies in the interpretation of that evidence by the prosecution during their research. While presenting his side of the case, Simon’s attorney was able to bring out the fact that tests that the constables had conducted showed that there was no powder residue on Simon’s hands or clothing from firing either the murder weapon or any other gun at the time of the shooting. Even with the fingerprints found on the weapon, it therefore couldn’t be shown that Simon had fired the gun that had killed my father.


With that fact made public, the defense was able to use it as a lever to enter additional testimony from the servants in the Manor as to where Simon might have been during the time of the shooting as evidence. It appears that the delivery of a dinner to Simon in his rooms on that evening by a servant at the Manor led to more than reasonable doubt as to where Simon was during the time of the murder. The evening meal had in fact been delivered to Simon’s rooms just minutes before the crime had occurred according to the servants, and based on the time line established by the constables. The empty tray was picked up just a short time later, when it was noticed outside the door. While this did nothing to establish for certain where Simon was that evening, it could never the less be established that someone had consumed the meal left for Simon at his room in the Manor during the period that my father was shot. The judge evaluated all of the scientific information that had been gathered, the respective interpretations of that data, and physical evidence that was available in the case. He concluded that there was equal circumstantial evidence to clear Simon as to convict him, and dismissed all of the charges against the prince.

Even after Simon was cleared of all charges however, Randall’s group was able to use the trial as a stone around Simon’s neck for the rest of the campaign. The shadows of not only the normal scandals associated with a campaign, but in this case of a real crime, hung over Simon like a gallows. To make matters worse my father, the prince’s closest and best adviser and the head of his campaign; was not there to redirect the interest and attention of the voters at this most critical time. As for the prince himself, the death of his closest friend and ally, and the obvious connection that it had to the campaign in progress made his interest in the process limited at best. Even when Randall was rejected by 2%, it was readily apparent that Simon took no real joy in the victory achieved. This strange and suspicious turn of events made what should have been a runaway election too close to call until the final vote was counted, and changed my life forever.”

It appeared that the legal system in this world was as screwed up in this world as it was in my own. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that any society that is not ruled by the ‘rule of law’ is doomed from the start. The Founding Fathers of the United States, for all of their wisdom and flaws, understood that, and tried to put it down in the Constitution '... perhaps one of the most insightful documents of government ever created. I would like to believe that they also realized as a part of that process that doing so was an impossible task, and that common sense would have to play some part in all future (and what I am sure that they hoped to be a strict) interpretation of this document.


While these men of great wisdom endeavored to protect us as best as they could, the thing that they couldn’t count on and that they couldn’t protect us from, the thing that screws up the system that they came up with, is the same thing that screws up most things, people. (You might remember my lack of fondness for people taken in large groups, and the legal system is one of the prime examples of how things can go wrong if left to them.)

From lawmakers who enact laws for their own self-interest and those of their paying donors, to judges who think that their own interpretation of these laws are the only valid ones in existence, to lawyers who take not only money but pride in twisting the system into knots in order to win for their clients regardless of the consequences to the law that they serve and to society in general, to juries who ignore the facts, common sense, or simple decency in trying to do the ‘right thing’; the entire process is one mess piled on top of another. That they should do so while abusing the founding document of this country and slandering the reputations of the men who created it is a crime deserving not only contempt, but the most dire of punishments.

This type of screwed up mess is one of the things that makes me wonder if coming down out of the trees and coming up with civilization in the first place was worth all of the trouble. Sure, in this particular example everything seemed to come out the way that it should have; but not being there, I couldn’t tell if the result was actually justice, or simply a happy accident.

Amazingly, Angela managed to recount this entire tale without shedding a tear, though I could see what the story was costing her. There was a still a lot of unresolved grief and anger hiding just below the surface here. She was still her daddy’s little girl, and I don’t think that she had ever really accepted that he was gone or the method by which it had happened. I wasn’t sure what all this pent up anger and grief might mean her, and to our future, but I decided to keep my mouth shut and trust her to deal with it the way that she wanted to and to tell me if and when there was anything that I could do.

I have always known in my heart, that Randall had something to do with father’s death, if he wasn't responsible himself,” she said finally, and the bitterness was so overwhelming that it was stifling. “Some day I’ll prove it!”


I took her in my arms then, and held on as she quietly sobbed. Still too strong-willed to let it out completely; she was at least able to let go of some of it with me; and I could only guess at what it was costing her. I knew that she didn’t need or want me to say anything, just to listen and accept it.

One of the great flaws in the male of the species is that they think that they have to try to fix everything. This is especially true when they hear of a wrong done to a woman or a child, and even more so if such a person is a member of one of these categories that they love. This flaw is not in their desire to make things right, as this is one of the few noble sentiments that a man can have, and a survival trait for the species. No, the flaw arises when they focus so much of their attention on the ways and means of fixing things, that they forget about the problem itself and person that has the problem.

This is especially true when the problem is one that is either beyond their ability to solve, or beyond solving by anyone. Then, feeling frustrated and angry by their inability to resolve the situation for the benefit of that loved one, they often get frustrated with the person seeking relief as well. Yelling at fate in general or the person that needs them in particular follows, hurting everyone involved with the situation and making everything even worse. I am an expert in this type of frustration and in inflicting the damage that can result, so I should know.

This time however, I somehow managed to hold my tongue and control the hormonal influence that normally leads to chest beating in a male primate. I was not however, able to completely control the glandular responses that this information stimulated, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stir with the recounting of this bit of history. I had no doubt that she was very close to the truth with her accusation of Randall. I didn’t want to think about it at the time, but couldn’t help but wonder if this bit of history might come back to haunt us at some point.

Further, some prescient part of my brain forced me to consider that since it appeared that this diabolical side of the family had been willing to go to those kinds of lengths in the past, we might have something to look forward to in our future. To what lengths would they now be willing to go this time around after trying and losing the last time around? I was forced to reconsider the incident of my own pummeling in light of the information revealed. Who, if any of us might become the target of these poisonous bastards, and could we protect ourselves if they did come after someone?

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