Chapter 2

Chapter 2


One hundred hours before the election, the Vice President and Jack were together.  They were in a large room packed with other people, but Jack and the Veep knew who mattered.

The ride over to Superior had been curiously unsettling for Jack.  His route was also the Vice President’s, and every three blocks, a black SUV or local police vehicle was parked along the side of Highway 53.  Where the road curved and Jack could see below the freeway overpass, he could see a black SUV under the overpass.  Bomb surveillance?  Why not.  These people take nothing for granted.

Jack pedaled up to the checkpoint in front of Superior Middle School, wondering if they’d route him to the parking lot with the other cars, but the police woman asked instead, “Are you going straight through?”

“With your permission,” he said.

“Go right ahead.”  She waved him through.  It occurred to him that the panniers saddled behind him might spark a little suspicion, but apparently not enough.

He was a little surprised to see a bike rack directly in front of the entrance, though the fact that there were no other bikes might have told him something.  Politicos streamed past as he locked up his bike, but then a dark suit stepped out the door.

“Sir,” he said, “you can’t chain to this ‘bike rack.’  The one you want is over there,” pointing to Jack’s right.

Sure enough.  This was obviously a portable gate of some kind, a piece of something that might be used to control crowds, with horizontal bars reminiscent of a bike rack, but now that he looked at it…  The agent had called it a “bike rack” for my benefit.  Secret Service sensitivity training is paying off.

“Of course, sir.  My apologies.”  The real rack, obvious now, held one other bike and was a reasonable, safe distance from the entrance.  Think, man.  If something doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right.

Inside, he saw what looked like an airport checkpoint, so he cleaned out his pockets while waiting in line.  Wallet.  Phone.  Carmex. Event ticket.  He laid them on the table and stepped through the sensor, immediately setting off the alarm.  Heads turned his way.

Damned belt buckle.  He should have remembered.

A local officer with some kind of menacing wand in his hand mumbled something he couldn’t hear, and so he stepped back.

“Whoa, whoa!  Step forward, sir,” said officer menaced.

Jack stepped closer.

“Put your hands out!” the officer barked.

“Ok  Ok.”

The wand was suddenly between his legs, up one leg and down the other, pausing, probing at the top, up one side of his torso to his armpit, around his head, back past his other armpit and back down his torso.

“Turn around.”

He turned without argument as the probe prodded and poked.

“OK, grab your stuff.”  He wasted no time, cramming it back into his pockets as he walked toward entrance to the event hall where the remains of a line lingered.  As he approached, the humming energy of the crowd spilled into the hallway.  The chant, muddled at first, soon crystalized into “Four more years!  Four more years!”  His unsettling welcome forgotten, he peered past heads into the packed hall.  No one seemed to be moving, and the crowd steadily packed in behind him.

Suddenly, a voice to his right said, “Jack?”

A vaguely familiar face was looking past him, and the man to his left said, “Sam!  Good to see you.”  The two men caught up, when Jack realized that Sam was a ferret-like volunteer from the Obama-Biden office that he’d met on a few occasions.  When the two men’s exchange had run its course, Jack offered a tentative, “Sam?”

Sam looked him over, trying to place him.

“Jack,” said Jack.  “I’ve phone banked a few times down at the office.”

“Oh, sure.  It’s been a long day.  You have no idea.”  Sam turned to the steadily growing line and shouted out, “Attention, everyone.  We’re going to get you in.  Please be patient,” and ducked into the hall.

“We better get in,” said a woman behind him.  “I left work early for this.”

“Oh, I’m sure we’ll get in,” said Jack, even though he was far from sure.

“I love Joe.  He can have my panties,” she moaned.

Jack looked away, hoping Sam would return.  Pretty soon, Sam shambled back out into the hallway.

“Attention everyone.  We’re going to get you in, but we’re going to have to go this way,“ he said, pointing down the hallway where some yellow caution tape closed off a hallway doglegging to the left.  “Follow me,” he conspired.   A herd of about forty people scurried after Sam and his campaign badge, Jack in the front.

As they approached the caution tape, a female agent who looked like she could both be on the cover of Vogue and break a man in half stopped Sam in his tracks.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“We’re going to take these people around the back,” said Sam.

“We want to see the Veep,” the woman behind Jack added.

“You don’t have clearance,” said the agent.  The crowd pressed closer.  Sam gave a sort of weasely puppy dog look.  “Ok.  Let me see what I can do.  Wait here.”

Meanwhile, the chanting from the event hall was gaining energy was growing more frenetic, and Jack suddenly started to feel anxious about not being in there.

“Well, hey, Jack!” he heard again.  He looked across the tape, and his eyes suddenly found Nick, the husband of one of Jack’s coworkers.

‘Nick?  What are you doing here?”

“This is where I work,“ said Nick.  “I’m a math teacher here.”

“Do you think you can get me in?  You’re on the good side of this tape,” said Jack.

“I doubt it.  Wait.  What are you…”

Without really giving it much thought, Jack ducked under the tape and was strolling over to where Nick had staked out some territory against the wall.

“Hey, you!” Jack heard someone shout.  “Don’t move.”

He turned toward the voice, reflexively putting his hands in his pockets.

“Put your hands where I can see them,” the female agent growled.  “Slowly.”

Jack carefully pulled his hands out and put them up in the air.  Next thing he knew, he was up against a locker with one hand pinned painfully behind his back, the number 237 right at his nose, the agent patting him down for a second time.  This is not really what I envisioned this morning.  His nose hurt where it had been smashed against locker 237.

This entry was posted in Books. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *