"Don't wanna be an American Idiot;
Don't want a nation the new media;
Hey can't you hear the sounds of hysteria?
The subliminal mindf@#% America"
"American Idiot," by Green Day
Hannah awoke from her dreamless night drooling on the floor of the spare bedroom. The darkness of the room and the lack of the sounds of wildlife greeting a new day were a dead giveaway that it was still very early; the glowing numbers from her clock confirmed that she hadn't been asleep long. "I must have been exhausted to have slept here for any length of time," she thought, glad Starr was nowhere around to harass her about her looks.
Hannah looked around her. She hit the lights and looked around; papers were strewn about, and Nick was curled up in the beanbag in the corner, snoring quietly. "What a mess," she thought, "I better get this cleaned up before mom sees this and has a baby cow!"
She decided not to wake Nick up, instead gathering up the pile of crumpled paper and placing it into the garbage canister. Hannah stepped carefully around the maze her and Nick had created while trying to find a timeline of events which connected together well. She didn't want to disturb the work much, just try to neaten it up a bit without losing their progress. As she tiptoed around their labyrinth, her foot found a half drunk can of Mt. Dew which Nick had obviously abandoned, and it went down, spilling some of its contents.
"Shoot!" Hannah whispered rather loudly. She quickly bent down, tipped the can rightside up and tried to keep the liquid from seeping too much into the carpet. She gathered up the several pages of writings where the pop had spilled, and carefully walked it into the hallway, then the bathroom, stopping at the sink without spilling any more. As the alien pee colored liquid dripped into the basin, Hannah glanced at the words on the page.
"Pickard appointed head of the CIA."
Hannah stood staring at the words. They were written by her own hand, familiar, yet they stood out much louder than they had last night. How had Pickard, a history major from Harvard, managed at the tender age of 24, to get himself appointed to the head of the government's most secretive agency at the time? He knew of world history, but he had never really studied global affairs. Sure his family had long been friends with the Mann family, and Mann Sr. was a key contributor to President Holmes' campaign, both monetarily and through the nomination of his son to the ticket as Vice President. But even with debts being owed, how did Pickard manage to finagle his way to a post better suited to someone with extensive experience and education in International Politics and Global Policies? Hell, he hadn't even been in the service.
Hannah broke from her trance and realized that this somehow was where the power that Pickard wielded began, his rise to the position he now held, and she thought to herself about what held Pickard back from the ultimate position of power in the U.S., that of the Presidency itself: His dislikeability. Pickard himself could never be elected on a ticket which he headed. It was not that he was an ugly man, or that he wasn't well spoken or too cocky. Something about him just didn't sit well with the average American and it appears that he knew that. He never even tried to run a campaign for the nomination by his party, nope, he just sat on the sidelines, patiently waiting his turn to be called to the podium and accept his addition to Mann's ticket. A man with an ego as big as Pickard's did not seem suited to take the backseat, yet he did it, with all the grace usually supplied through loss. It was as though his dream did not include running for President, despite Pickard's subtle annoyance with Mann in the form of slight head shakes and snickers when he made public appearances. Despite the fact that most people agreed that Pickard was the "brains" behind Mann's actions, they felt secure that Mann had the final say in execution of any plans. Hannah knew she was not the only one who had seen the sinister sneer he gave Mann, which accompanied his smile as they held hands and raised them victoriously during Mann's acceptance of his party's nomination. It was as if Pickard had his ride to the White House and he was not counting on America's electoral vote to place him there.
"Are you okay Hannah?"
A voice startled her from the hallway, and she felt as though she jumped a mile high. It was Nick, bleary eyed and wicked breathed who brought her back home. She looked him straight into the eye and with her most rational and sincere tone, she quietly spoke to him.
"Yeah, I'm okay, but be quiet; I don't want to wake Mom up this early. I think we really need to focus on something that just hit me. Last night, we focused on events and timings, but we didn't have nearly enough time to examine them carefully. We've lived through them, you more clearly than I, yet we have taken them for granted, busy instead with the act of surviving and growing up. Some of these connections and contradictions are plain as day, yet since the Depression began in 2008, something I have always had to live with, never knowing prosperity at all, we as Americans have been too wrapped up in just existing to notice. We've ignored the facts, even as they have played out before our eyes. But over breakfast, which I'm buying, you and I will remove the veils from our eyes and see the truth. Now get ready and let's get outta here!"
Hannah and Nick had decided to hit McDonald's as soon as they opened at 5 a.m., since it would be much less crowded than the local greasy spoon breakfast spot and Nick's co-workers were still walking around half-awake and not likely to bother them at all. Although Nick wasn't sure exactly where Hannah was headed with her theory, he was wise enough to understand that discretion was of the utmost importance.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Pickard placed his private phone back into the base. He slowly finished his last few drops of his insert name or year of sherry here particularly exquisite sherry, one which had been purchased specifically for this day, this time, and relived the previous phone call. The events of the last several days had played out as planned, and it was exactly as he had expected. The old man wouldn't cooperate. Despite his false bravado, he was weak, and the weak had no place in Pickard's destiny.
He picked up the remote and selected insert name of an opera or symphony concerto which has a "wicked" tone to it, a tragedy. The strains of the music lilted through the air, permeating the chamber where he was conducting his own grand masterpiece, the maestro of his own destiny which had been set in motion so many years ago, over another particularly exquisite, though not quite as special, bottle of sherry, at the Manns' country estate in New Jersey. Check on a good place to place the Mann home.
The elder Mann, patriarch of a long line of Americans, was rather disgusted with his youngest son, who was more of a spoiled rich brat than a reflection of his blue blood breeding which the Manns had demanded from him. They were an old family, not noveau riche, and money came with certain responsibilities. Perhaps they did not have a "title" as their ancestors in Europe had, but they still had nobility, and their son was acting more like a Hilton and less like a Rockerfeller. Countless photos of him partying with the biggest names in Hollywood and traveling with rock stars enflamed the elder Mann, causing him great disappointment. Despite the fact that some of the photo ops had him with the likes of Angelina Jolie, a humanitarian albeit a flaming, flaky liberal, and Bono, Douglas really just enjoyed being young, rich and good looking and he took advantage of his position.
Pickard's family had long been friends of the Manns. Pickard's father was the heir to a banking empire, and despite being a rather flimsy excuse for a man, he fit the Manns' picture of proper breeding. Pickard's Mother, Ann, was the ideal socialite, tall and handsome with a stern grace that demanded respect. She more than made up for what his father lacked in regal stature, and Brent Pickard was the apple of her eye, everything his breeding had expected, and the senior Mann was a little more than envious of the Pickards. He had taken Pickard under his wing from an early age, when Douglas was in high school and already becoming a liability. Old man Mann had to carefully cover up his son's constant drug and alcohol use, and Brent stood by and watched how these deeds were performed. By the time Brent entered high school, Douglas was working on his law degree at Harvard, and Brent was assisting the old man with the right spin to create the Mann legacy for one more generation, as well as tutoring Douglas and writing more than one paper for him. It was at this point that the student became the master, and Pickard learned to exploit the old man's weakness for his son to his advantage, and their relationship turned to preparing Douglas for his career in politics.
Outside, day was finally breaking. Pickard still sat in his chair reliving these cherished moments, savoring each one as though it were as fine as the elixir which glided like silk down his throat. Sounds of the concerto rose to a crescendo as Pickard's men were performing their own climax so many miles away.
Link to Prologue:
Link to Chapter 1:
Link to Chapter 2:
Link to Chapter 3:
Link to Chapter 4:
Thanks to my readers for their patience.Â I have had a really tough year, and just returned to the writer's chair!