James Sheffield sat atop a barstool in an almost empty bar, sipping a glass of scotch with two small ice cubes at the bottom. He wore a dark gray suit with an American flag pin on the lapel. He was in his early-forties, but he felt much older. The job from which he had just been ousted had a way of aging people, and he was no exception.
The obese, balding, mustached barman wiped opposite side of the bar, a couple talked at a table with a beer each. There was a man wearing a bomber jacket, sipping his own tall beer. The TV was on, and James was trying his best to ignore it. The story was the same on every channel anyway.
“More news coming from DC this evening,” the handsome anchorman said, staring at the camera. “More information is being released about the now impeached president Sheffield. The stories paint a picture of extortion and kickbacks, not to mention the breaking story of Kim Jenkins, who says -“
The TV mercifully went black. The barman stood, pointing the remote toward it. “Sorry about that, Jim,” he said.
“Thanks,” James replied, “but I doubt I won’t hear it.” He was aware the others were looking at him. He was used to being mobbed by the press leading up to his impeachment, and the day of the announcement was worse.
James reached for his wallet. “I have too go anyway,” he said. “The car is waiting for me outside.”
“It’s on me,” the barman said, holding his hand up. James had stopped by this bar in secret when he needed a drink. It was quiet and out of the way. The barman had always given him a sympathetic ear throughout the entire ordeal with the investigation, and James was embarrassed to never have asked his name.
“You sure?” James asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” the barman said, smiling under his bushy mustache. “I voted for you after all.”
James laughed. “Sorry about that,” he said. “I guess I fucked it all up.” He laughed again, and the barman looked worried by it.
“Is it true?” the barman asked. “What they’re saying you did to that woman, I mean.”
James looked away. “The car’s waiting for me,” he said. “Thank you for everything.”
“Don’t mention it,” the barman said, watching James leave the bar.
James went to the Lincoln and nearly stumbled into the back. The engine revved and pulled away from the curb. The driver didn’t talk, but none of his security detail or government-issued servants had since his impeachment earlier that afternoon. They likely believed Kim Jenkins’s story, and he didn’t care enough to refute it. They had enough to nail him without it anyway.
The only thing to do now was to head back home, a disgraced presidential wannabe. There was only one thing that was going to cheer him up now.
“Turn on the radio,” James said to the driver. “Find me some ninety’s rap music, open all of the windows, and blast the shit out of it.”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
The taxi dropped James in front of his house on Pequot Avenue in Fairfield, Connecticut. His home had been Washington DC for the last two years, but he was finally back to the house where he and his wife lived before he became elected president in a very close election.
Two men followed him from their own car that had followed the cab. Even after his impeachment, James was allowed to keep a security detail. This meant the secret service would grant him a small detail to keep him safe. This small detail consisted of two men in black suits names Horace and Jasper.
“Ain’t this a bitch,” Jasper said, looking around. He was burly, black, and had an afro and course beard to match “We get booted out of DC to hang out with the rich white folk.”
“I don’t see what your problem is,” Horace said. He was white, bald, shaved clean, and as big as Jasper. “It’s nicer out here than anywhere I’ve ever lived.”
“You don’t understand what it means to be a black man in this neighborhood,” Jasper said. “All these women out here are gonna be on my jock the moment their tiny-dicked husbands go to work.”
“Jesus,” Horace said. “Do you ever not talk about your dick?”
James sighed. He knew why the Secret Service was more than happy to assign these two to him. “Can you not talk like that?” James asked. “I thought you guys weren’t supposed to talk at all.”
“Did you hear something, Horace?” Jasper asked.
“I thought I did,” Horace replied. “It couldn’t have been an order, could it?”
“Nah,” Jasper said. “That would be impossible. We only take orders from the President of the United States of America.”
“True,” Horace said. “I don’t see him anywhere around here.”
“Me neither,” Jasper said.
“I might be more apt to listen if my entire family wasn’t relocated because of some impeached loser,” Horace said.
“Word,” Jasper added.
James sighed again and tried the doorknob. He was locked out of his own home with no keys. He rang the doorbell and waited for someone to let him in.
“What are you doing here?” James’s wife, Allison, asked. She was tall, thin, and had a head of auburn hair, trimmed and styled perfectly. She stood in the main hall with her arms crossed.
“I live here!” James exclaimed. “You got some nerve, disappearing when I was under investigation like that.”
“It was embarrassing,” Allison said. “I was told by your advisors that divorcing you wasn’t an option, so I came back here to do it.”
“You were going to divorce me?!” James shot back.
“Not going to,” Allison said. “Did.”
“Wait,” James said. “How can we be divorced?”
“You signed the papers yourself yesterday,” Allison said, “when you were drummed out of the White House.”
“Shit,” James said. He had so much papers shoved in front of him, he must’ve agreed to the divorce by accident.
“So I guess you took half of everything?” James asked.
Allison gave a quick snort of a laugh. “Half?!” she said, fake laughing with her hand on her chest. “My parents bought this house, our cars, and everything in it. You have nothing but whatever you took from the White House on the way out.”
“Great,” James said, putting his hands up and letting them fall back to his sides. “You leave me, and all I get are two smart-ass Secret Service guys.”
“Hey!” Jasper shouted from down the hall. “We can hear you!”
“And we’re only the day shift, dumbass,” Horace added. “The other guys do nights and weekends.”
James sat at the dining room table in his former house, staring into the face of his ex-wife. She sat between his parents. “I don’t understand why they’re here,” he said.
“We knew you’d come here after your impeachment,” his father said.
“So we came here too,” he mother added. “This way, you don’t have to come all the way to us to beg for money.”
“What are you talking about?” James asked. “I have money!”
“Had, dear,” his mother said.
“You had our money,” his father continued. “But we, quite frankly, can’t be seen helping someone who’d besmirch the family name like this.”
“Didn’t our family own slaves,” James asked, “way after it was illegal?”
His mother put down her cup of tea. “We’ve set it up so you can stay at my brother’s house in West Haven,” she said.
“I’m going to stay with Uncle Brian?” James asked. “Is there enough room in his apartment?”
“You’ll be staying in his first floor apartment,” his father said. “Brian died months ago.”
“What?!” James exclaimed. “Nobody saw fit to tell me this?!”
“You were far too busy playing president,” his father said. “Besides, he was an embarrassment to the family.”
“Embarrassment?” James asked. “You mean he was poor, so you swept him under the carpet when mom married into money.”
“Stop that,” his mother said. “You don’t have to be so cavalier about it. You’re not on the campaign trail any more.”
“So that’s it?” James asked, “I have no job, no home, no wife, no support from my parents and no… Hey. Where’s Natalie?”
“She’s at a friends house,” Allison said. “I didn’t want her to be here for this.”
“You didn’t want her here to say goodbye to her father?” James asked. “How could you?”
“How could I?!” Allison snapped. “Do you have any idea what she’s gone through at school since her father was ejected from the presidency? She’s spent most of her time in the safe space with the fatties and the homos!”
“Real nice,” James said. “People like you are why we need safe spaces.”
“Save it and get out, you liberal ding-dong,” Allison said. “See, this is why I voted for the other guy.”
James adjusted to his new surroundings while Horace and Jasper checked for potential security threats. After an hour searching the apartment, they came up empty.
James explored his new apartment on his own. He had never been here when his uncle was alive, and he knew why. It was the first floor of a three-family house, and it was a small one at that. The entire apartment was four rooms: a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. Someone had taken all his uncle’s personal items, but the furniture and appliances were still there.
“This place sucks,” Jasper said, looking around.
“Yeah,” Horace agreed. “My family would be pissed if they got relocated to a place like this. At least Uncle Sam gave me a house to follow this ding-a-ling up here.”
“Hell yeah,” Jasper said, laughing. “My bedroom is about the size of this whole place.”
“Well,” Horace said, cracking his knuckles. “Time to work.” He sat at the kitchen table, pulled a newspaper from his inside-jacket pocket, and flipped it open to the crossword puzzle.
“I’m gonna take my lunch break,” Jasper said, jumping on the couch with a brown paper bag in his hand.
“Go for it,” Horace said, sitting at the kitchen table a few feet away from the small living room, not looking up form his crossword puzzle. “I’ll cover for you.”
“Let’s see what’s on TV,” Jasper said, picking up the remote and turning it on and turning the volume up.
“Can you not do that?” James asked. “I’ve got a raging headache.”
“I’m on my break,” Jasper said, “meaning I’m off the clock. You need me to do something, you gotta wait an hour.”
“Not that I have to do what you say,” Jasper added, flipping quickly through the channels. He finally settled on CNN, watching Vice President Nichols being sworn into office.
“Now that’s a president I’d be proud to protect!” Jasper explained.
“Hell yeah!” Horace shouted, slamming his first on the table. “Look at those guys behind him. Is that Earl?!”
“Hell yeah, that’s Earl!” Jasper said, lean closer to the TV. “Lucky bastard.”
“I need some air,” James said, walking toward the front door.
“I’ll be out in a bit,” Horace said. “This is history in the making, and I don’t want to miss it.”
James walked onto the front porch and looked around the neighborhood. He sniffed the air, hoping to get a whiff of the ocean, but he smell of garbage caught his nostrils instead. It was trash day.
“What are you doing?” a man asked. He was tan-skinned, short, fat, and almost entirely bald. He was Enrique, James’s new landlord.
“I’m just getting used to my new home,” James replied. “It’s nice to see you too, by the way.”
Enrique looked around the front yard, nodding as he did so. “The grass is getting tall,” he said.
“Sure is,” James said, looking around as well.
“It should probably be mowed,” Enrique said.
“Yeah,” James said, wondering where the conversation was going. “Someone should take care of that.”
“That someone is you!” Enrique snapped. “Your uncle mowed the grass and took care of the outside of this house in exchange for me paying his utilities.”
“Oh,” James said. “I didn’t know.”
“Well now you no, maricon,” Enrique said. “Mow this fucking grass already, or I’ll be knocking on your door with a month’s worth of electric, water, and gas bills.”
“But I’ve only been here a day,” James said.
Enrique took a long, slow breath. “MOW THAT FUCKING GRASS!”
James looked over the old push mower he pulled out of the shed. He had never been expected to do this before. He thought he saw someone pull a cord to start the mower, so he did that. It sputtered and died.
“It needs gas,” a voice said behind him. He turned to see three kids, two boys and a girl, standing and watching him. The boy who spoke wire a striped shirt and had a red hat on. He, along with the others, had to be around ten years old.
“You shouldn’t talk to strangers,” James said.
“You’re not a stranger,” the girl said. She was wearing a pink and white sundress. “We know you.”
“You do?” James asked, a wave of anxiety rushing over him. He had no idea what the children of the country thought of his impeachment.
“Yeah,” the girl replied. “Your Brian’s replacement.”
“Brian’s replacement,” James said. “I guess I am.”
“I’m Mikey,” the boy in stripes said. “This is Lily, and he’s Jake.”
“Hi,” Jake said. He wore torn jeans and a Spider-Man teeshirt. “Brian used to buy us ice cream when the ice cream truck came ’round.”
“He used to take our pictures too,” Mikey added, putting his head down.
“I forgot my wallet,” James said. “Maybe next time. The ice cream I mean.”
“Ok,” Lily said, offering a smile.
“Hey,” James said. “Can one of you show me how to work this thing?”
“Sure,” Mikey said, approaching the mower. “President of the United States, and you can’t even start a lawn mower.”
Lily giggled. “No wonder the economy’s in the shitter.”
James mowed the grass while Horace and Jasper guarded him in their black suits and aviator sunglasses. They stood close by, looking around animatedly with their right hands in their jackets while James walked back and forth. He wished they stayed inside or on the porch, because they were attracting a large amount of onlookers.
“Mr. Sheffield?” a familiar voice asked. James turned to see his former assistant, Tom Hunt, standing and watching him in his blue and white suit. His light-brown hair was neatly trimmed and combed, and his face was free from any sign of stubble as usual.
“Tom!” James said with a smile, letting the lawnmower come to a stop, killing the loud hum of the engine. “How the hell are you?!”
“Good,” Tim said. “You left Washington so suddenly. I wanted to find you and make sure you were doing alright.”
“Doing great, Tom,” James said with a sarcastic smile. “Except for being impeached, getting divorced, being cut off financially, and forced to live in a one-floor apartment with two smart-ass secret service agents.”
“We don’t live here,” Horace said.
“Yeah,” Jasper added. “Our houses are much nice than yours, resident Sheffield.”
“Resident Sheffield!” Horace boomed. “I love that!”
“Thanks,” Jasper said. “I came up with that when I realized he’s not president anymore, and he’s just a resident.”
“Genius,”‘ Horace added.
“Ignore them,” James said. “It gets easier the more you do it.”
“I’m sorry about everything that happened to you,” Tom said.
“Thanks,” James said. “You’re one of the good ones. I just hope you’re able to bounce back after everything that had happened.”
“I got a job with an old contact in New Haven,” Tom said. “It’s not much, but I’ll be close to the mayor. At least I’m still somewhat in politics, right?”
“Yeah,” James said. “That’s great.”
“Look,” Tom said, “I have to ask: what do you think about Kim Jenkins in Hartford?”
“I haven’t thought anything,” James said, “being as this is the first I’m hearing about it.”
“She’s addressing the incoming classes at West Hartford U,” Tom said. “I only know because it’s my alma mater, and they put it in the newsletter.”
“Why should I care?” James asked with a shrug. “She can talk all she wants. I have grass to mow.”
“Even after what she accused you of?” Tom asked. “I was with you during that time. I don’t think any of what she is saying as any merit. Why won’t you defend yourself?”
“Why?!” James snapped. “I’m done, Tom. They had me when they opened the corruption case. I told my father I didn’t want to do it, but I let him talk me into it anyway. All his old corporate buddies sold me down the river, and I lost the presidency because of it. This country is run by filthy men, and I’m included in that. Attacking a woman, even is she’s a dirty liar, during all that just seemed petty, Tom.”
“The James Sheffield I know wouldn’t let himself be pushed around by someone like Kim Jenkins,” Tom said.
“Well he’s gone,” James said, turning back to the mower. “If your haven’t noticed: James Sheffield was impeached.”
Horace and Jasper returned after James woke up the following morning after broken sleep. The secret service had overnight agents stay with him, and the talked to each other for a good portion of the night, and the sound carried through the apartment. James didn’t even know their names or what was said. If they knew Any English, they were pretending that they only knew how to speak Spanish.
James was in the bathroom during the shift change, and he strained his ear to see if any English was spoken, but he heard none. He felt the stubble on his face and decided it was time for a shave. He opened the bathroom cabinet and moved stuff around, searching for a razor. He gave up his search after two minutes, deciding it was time to make a trip to the store.
“Hey,” James said, leaving his bathroom, “can you guys give me a lift to the store.”
“Nope,” Horace and Jasper said in unison.
“Shit,” James said, grabbing his wallet from the kitchen table. “Looks like we’re taking the bus.”
“Nah,” Jasper said. “We ain’t takin’ shit.”
“We can protect you just fine from my car,” Horace added.
“So you have to drive there anyway?” James asked. “Why can’t you just give me a ride?”
“Because we ain’t your chauffeur,” Jasper said. “We’ll be driving behind he bus. Scream out the window if there’s any trouble, and we’ll shoot out the tires.”
James sighed loudly and left.
James filled his small basket in Silver’s Pharmacy, tailed by Horace and Jasper, who were once again donning their aviator sunglasses and looking around as if an assassin was going to jump out of the adult diaper aisle at any moment. He was just about ready to check out when he decided to grab a plastic container of earplugs, remembering the overnighters talking throughout the night.
The redhead at the main register gave him a smile as he placed his items in front of her to ring up. Other than the cheap razors, shaving cream, and the earplugs, he had purchased a few things for his apartment. “Even the President shops at Silver’s,” the cashier said. It broke James from his daze. He saw she was around his age and cute to boot. The name on her tag said “Lois”.
“I’m not the president anymore,” James said. “Now I’m just a resident.”
Lois laughed. “That’s a good one,” she said.
“Unoriginal prick,” Jasper muttered.
“Your total comes to twenty-four thirty-five,” Lois said, hitting the total button on her register. James opened his wallet, and saw he was short.
“I only have nineteen,” he said. “I’m going to have to put something back.”
Lois pulled on the paper receipt that was jutting from the top of the register. “The earplugs were five ninety-nine. That will put you back into the black.”
James sighed. “Take them off then,” he said.
“At least we know why the economy is tanked,” Horace muttered. Jasper laughed behind his hand.
“Are those two always this funny?” Lois asked.
“Almost never,” James said, handing Lois the last of his money. “Thanks.”
“Hey,” Lois said as James turned away. “I know you probably don’t want any unsolicited advice; but I voted for you and spoke up for you when you were in trouble, so I suppose you owe me a minute to stick my nose in your business.”
“Go ahead,” James said.
“It’s not easy asking for a handout,” Lois said. “Trust me; I know. The manager is looking to hire, and I know for a fact he voted for you too.”
James stared at Lois. His father had pushed him into politics as soon as he was out of college, and he didn’t really know how to do anything else. He had always been comfortable living off of other people’s money. He hadn’t stopped to think how he was going to afford to eat now that he spent his last nineteen dollars on toiletries.
“Do you think he’ll give me an interview?” James asked.
“Sure he will,” Lois said, smiling wider than before. She turned toward the office door fifty or so feet away. “Hey, Larry!”
“WHAT?!” an annoyed voice shouted from the office.
“I got someone who wants to interview for the job!” Lois shouted back. “I’m sending him in!” She gave James another smile and nodded her head in the office’s direction. “Go on in.”
“You guys are really informal here,” James said. “I came in for razors and ended up with a job interview.”
“That’s America for you,” Lois said.
James sat in the small office across from the store manager, Larry. He was an obese man with almost no hair and glasses. “President Sheffield,” he said, a wide smile across his face. “Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”
“I thought you voted for me,” James said. “Lois said so anyway.”
“She was pulling your chain,” Larry said. “I’m a die-hard conservative. I would’ve never voted for a liberal wad like you.”
“Well I guess we’re done here,” James said, getting up.
“Wait,” Larry said, holding a hand up. “That doesn’t mean I won’t hire you. I don’t like most of the people who work here anyway. I don’t want to find out about you taking once red cent and giving it over to your liberal buddies, though. Don’t think I’m going to overlook what you did.”
James sighed. “This isn’t going to work out unless you understand something about where I came from,” he said. “Republican and democrat, conservative and liberal. These are just words. Each and every politician that walks into any kind of position in Washington is guilty of what they pinned on me on some level. Kickbacks, under the table funding, and bribes are just unavoidable if you want to be in politics. They just came after me because of…”
“Because of what?” Larry asked.
“Nothing,” James said, looking away.
“Because of Kim Jenkins?” Larry asked. “So it’s true. They just wanted you out before what you did to her was brought to light.”
“I’m not talking about this,” James said. “If you don’t want to hire me, I’ll go.”
“Do you have a phone number?” Larry asked. “I’ll have to call and give you your schedule after all.”
James lit up, shocked that Larry was actually going to give him a job. His joy soon faded as a realization came over him. “I don’t have a phone,” he said.
“Not even a home number?” Larry asked.
“No,” James said. He was sure there was a phone in his apartment, but he didn’t know if it had a number one could call.
There was a sound of a clearing throat, and James turned to see Horace standing in the doorway, holding a white strip of receipt paper. “Use this number,” he said, handing it to Larry. “It’s my personal cell. If you call, I’ll make sure you get him.”
“Thank you,” James said.
James walked toward the bus stop with his small bag of items from Silver’s, ready to take the bus home and pass the time until the phone rang and got the schedule for his new job. “Hey!” Horace shouted, standing next to his car. “Get in.”
“Really?” James asked.
“Yeah,” Horace said. “Do you even have any money left for bus fare?”
James felt embarrassed. He only have some change left in his pocket, not even enough to ride the bus home. He hadn’t even thought about it after the eventful trip to the store. He walked to the car and got in the back.
The ride home was silent. The usual pair of Horace and Jasper weren’t speaking or joking like they usually did. They were halfway back to James’s apartment when Jasper finally broke the silence. “I can’t believe you,” he said, addressing Horace. “What did we talk about?!”
“Come on,” Horace said. “The guy doesn’t even have a phone to get a minimum wage job.”
“And now you’re driving him home,” Jasper said, crossing his arms.
“You know I can hear your guys,” James said.
“Quiet,” Jasper said, staring out his window.
“Look,” Horace said. “Did you really want to spend the next two hours following him home in the car while he walked?”
“They pay me by the hour,” Jasper said.
“And they’ll pay you the same whether you spend it in the car or in the house,” Horace said. “At least it’s more comfortable in the house.”
“Remember what we talked about,” Jasper said.
James looked out his own window, wishing he wasn’t there as Horace and Jasper were pretending. He wondered what else they had talked about.
James came out of his bathroom, freshly shaved and in a good mood for the first time since the impeachment hearings began. He was poor, but he had a rent-free place and a job lined up for food money. The generosity of the cashier, Lois, lightened his mood further. The only dark cloud was Jasper’s mood as he sat on the couch with his arms crossed. He still hadn’t forgiven Horace for his own act of pity and generosity.
The TV was on again, and it was no coincidence that Jasper had flicked to one of the many news channels broadcasting about Kim Jenkins and her resurgence in Hartford.
“Look at this,” Jasper said. “She’s making a big speech tonight. That is so brave of her to come out and tell everyone what you did to her.”
James sighed. “You have no idea what went on between her and me,” he said.
“I don’t?” Jasper said, turning around.
“Careful,” Horace said softly from his crossword puzzle.
“Fuck you,” Jasper snapped, turning away from James for only a second. “I don’t care if I lose my job for telling him. Kim Jenkins is a friend of my cousin, and she told me everything.”
“Kim?” James asked, “or your cousin.”
“It don’t matter!” Jasper snapped. “You fuckin’ rapist.”
Horace sighed and closed his newspaper, ready to pounce if Jasper attacked.
“Is that what she’s saying?!” James said. “I raped her?!”
“Did you not?” Jasper said.
“No!” James retorted.
“Then what happened?” Jasper asked.
“Will you believe me if I told you?” James asked.
“Probably not,” Jasper said.
James looked over at the TV, where Kim Jenkins was being interviewed about her relationship with the former President of the United States. Her dark hair was in a professional bun, and she wore her thick, black glasses, making her look like a librarian.
“You know what?” James asked. “Get me up to Hartford, and I’ll ask her myself.”
“What?” Jasper asked.
“You heard me,” James replied. “What do I have to lose? They can’t impeach me twice, right?”
“They can arrest you,” Horace said, getting up from the table.
“Not if I only talk to her,” James said. “She doesn’t have a restraining order against me.”
“Not yet,” Horace added.
“Come on,” James said. “You want your answers? Let’s go get them.”
“Fine,” Jasper said, getting up, “but if she says you raped her, I’m kicking your ass.”
“Fair enough,” James said. “We just need to make one stop on the way.”
Tom Hunt stood near the podium in front of New Haven town hall. He had accepted a job as the mayor’s aid, and he he stood proudly as he made a speech about new housing developments. The only distraction as he proudly watched the mayor speak was the black car with tinted windows parting the crowd, red and blue lights flashing from the bottom of the windshield.
The car stopped as everyone turned to look, no knowing what to expect. Even the mayor stopped talking about housing projects to see what was going on. One of the back doors opened, and James Sheffield emerged, looking more serious than he had in a long time.
“Tom,” he said as cameras clicked away and the crowded whispered about the disgraced president. “I’m going to Hartford, and I need you to come with me.”
Tom looked toward James, then he looked into the stern face if his new boss, the mayor. “Go to him,” the mayor said, placing a hand on Tom’s shoulder. “He needs you now. Just be sure you come back to me.”
Tom nodded once and jogged to the car and got in behind James. A single tear rolled down the mayor’s face. “Be sure you come back to me, Tommy.”
Horace drove with Jasper in the passenger seat. James and Tom sat in the back, going over what they were going to do once in Hartford. James was wearing the only suit he currently owned, the one he wore the day he was impeached. It still smelled faintly of booze from his last trip to his favorite DC watering hole.
“So you know what you’re going to say?” Tom asked.
“Not in the slightest,” James said. “I just need to talk to her. She needs to know that she can’t go around spreading lies to make tabloid money. It isn’t right.”
“And what you did was right?” Jasper asked, “feathering your nest with taxpayer’s money?”
“Is that what you think I did?” James asked. “I didn’t take a dime from the taxpayers for anything. The ones who were paying me were big corporations and colleges. Every president does it. It’s an eight-year gig at most, and everyone who’s held the office had feathered their nests before they left.”
“And that makes it alright?” Jasper asked.
“No,” James sighed. “That’s the oldest excuse there is. ‘The guy before me did it’. I’m through with excuses. I let my father’s politics corrupt who I was and what I wanted, and I deserved what I got. What I don’t deserve is to what this woman, Kim Jenkins is putting me through.”
Jasper sighed, but he offered no more argument to James’s point of view. He just rode on to Hartford with the others.
Jasper’s car came to a stop on the side of the Capitol University hall where Kim Jenkins was speaking. Tom urged Horace and Jasper to use their Secret Service badges to get them a quiet entrance into the hall, and they did that, despite Jasper still keeping an angry silence about the whole situation. With just minutes before Kim’s speech, James was staring at the door where she readied herself to speak to the nation.
“Know what you’re going to say yet?” Tom asked.
“Yes,” James said. “Will the three of you wait here?”
“Come on,” Jasper said, exasperated. “You make us drive your ass all the way up here, and you won’t even let us hear what you say to her?”
“I have to agree with him on this one, boss,” Horace added. “We need to hear.”
James looked at Tom for some kind of back-up or reassurance. “Don’t look at me,” he said with a shrug. “You pulled me away from my new job for this.”
James sighed, putting his hand on the door knob. “Alright,” he said. “Just try to be professional.”
“You know it,” Jasper said. “I’m professional as fuck.”
The door the room given to Kim to get ready opened, and she put down the notes to her speech. “Is it time already?” she asked, turning around. “I thought I still had…” She trailed off when she saw James Sheffield, his assistant, and two Secret Security guards standing in her room.
“Kim,” James said. “Please don’t scream.”
“What do you want?” Kim asked, her demeanor becoming something between sinister and serious. “It better be something I want to hear, or I will scream.”
“I just want the truth, Kim,” James said, “even if you lie to the press. Just tell me why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
Kim looked into James face as those standing behind him watched. “The truth?” she asked. “About what you did to me?”
“Ha!” Jasper said. “I knew it!”
“Kim,” James repeated. “Why have you been telling people I raped you?”
Kim was silent. She looked into James’s face. “You took advantage of me,” she said. “I was naïve. You raped me of my innocence.”
“You were far from innocent,” Tom added.
“Oh snap,” Horace said.
“Excuse me?” Kim asked.
“I was the one who brought you to President Sheffield,” Tom said. “Remember?”
”Former President Sheffield,” Kim said.
“Don’t change the subject,” Tom said. “You came to me to meet James when you two ran into each other in the halls of the White House. You begged to just meet him one-one-one. Lucky for you he had an open relationship with his wife.”
“Tom!” James snapped.
“What?” Tom asked. “You’re the one who wanted to put all the cards on the table. I can’t help it if the truth makes you look bad.”
“Fine,” James said. “Just let it be known that Kim wanted to sleep with my wife too.”
“Dude.” Horace said. “That’s awesome.”
“She never did though,” James said. “I barely got half a hand job before she went screaming down the hotel hallway.”
“You took advantage,” Kim said.
“Who wouldn’t?” James said. “Seriously!”
“So what are you going to do now?” Kim asked.
“Nothing,” James said. “Just tell me to my face that you’re blowing this out of proportion for the attention, and I’ll go back into my self-imposed obscurity.”
Kim sighed. “Is that what it looks like?” she asked.
“That’s what it is,” James said.
“These journalists got ahold of me,” Kim said. “They wanted my story. They told me I can have books and appearances. They told me I could meet Howard Stern and make a porno.”
“Damn,” Jasper said. “I guess you were wright, Shef.”
“I still want to you hear you say it,” James said, not breaking his staring contest with Kim.
“Fine,” Kim said. “I’m embellishing the story for a bit of attention. It doesn’t make your situation any different, does it?”
“No,” James replied, “but karmic justice is a bitch. Just think about what you’re doing and the lies you’re spreading. They used you as a tool to get me out of office, and you reveling in it like a pig in shit.” James stood up and went back to the door. “I hope your speech goes well.”
James left the room, followed by his small entourage. Kim looked at the door, unable to compose her thoughts.
“Five minutes,” a voice said, jarring her from her daze. It was Judy, the woman who had been put in charge of handing her.
“I’m not doing the speech,” Kim said. “Cancel it.”
James rode in the backseat back toward West Haven after his confrontation with Kim Jenkins. The ride was quiet, and a small smile stayed on his face. It was a small victory, but it was a start.
“Hey,” Jasper said. “I’m sorry I went off on you about that bitch. I had no idea about your open relationship and all that shit.”
“Don’t worry about it,” James said.
“Just don’t forget who was the better man and apologized,” Jasper said.
Horace laughed. “That was beautiful,” he said.
“Come on, man,” Jasper said. “Lets dump this asshole off with the night crew and get a beer.”
“That’s more like it,” James said, looking out the window.
James stood on his porch the following morning, vindicated. He took a deep breath, relishing where he was. Kim had canceled her speech and the following interviews, and the press had started to find holes in her story, questioning whether or not any of it was true. It was going to be a long time before he could live with himself, but at least he felt as if he had a small piece of his life back.
“Good morning,” Enrique, James’s landlord said, coming up the walkway toward the house.
“Good morning,” James replied, answering with a smile.
“Lovely morning,” Enrique said.
“Yep,” James said. “It sure is.”
Enrique looked around. “The weeds around the fence are getting tall,” he said. He turned to give James a stern look.
James looked at Enrique, his smile fading.