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Saturday, April 15th
Godfrey stood at his stall, leaning against the counter in what he hoped was a casual manner. There was a crowd in front of him, mostly reporters and media people. Cameras hovered over his head, recording his every word and making him uncomfortably aware of his every action. Meg was standing behind the news people, watching him.
“Mr. Anders,” one reporter said, “You’ve shown concern about Marshal Wheatly’s ability to lead before. What’s happened to change your mind?”
“Joy changed my mind herself,” Godfrey said, trying to remember talking points from the list Meg gave him. “She’s pushing to expand food quality testing. She’s brought in help for the police force from other stations while we’re shorthanded. She’s also raising the pay for the station’s police officers.”
“Saul Mai has pledged to double the public school’s funding,” another reporter called, “What does Marshal Wheatly intend to do for them?”
“Ma’am, do you have any idea how much money we invest in the school?” Godfrey asked. “Mai’s pledge sounds nice, but it’s completely useless. The schools don’t want for anything, and teachers are the highest paid professionals on the station. As they should be.”
“Do you know anything about the whereabouts of Detective Sennett Montgomery?” another reporter asked.
Godfrey’s smile soured, “I’m sorry, but this is supposed to be about Marshal Joy. I’m not privy to any information regarding Detective Montgomery.”
Meg was bustling through the crowd. “I think we’ve taken up enough of Mr. Ander’s time for now. If you have any more questions, he’ll be at the police barracks this afternoon with the Marshal. Thank you.”
“Since when am I going to the barracks this afternoon?” Godfrey whispered as the crowd dispersed.
“Since I had to cut this one short,” Meg said, looking down at her wrist pad. “Good job deflecting that thing about Montgomery. Good job overall, in fact. The marshal’s polls are looking way up.”
She looked up. “I’ll have an intern come by with some talking points about the missing Detective.”
“Don’t bother, I’m not talking about the Montgomery family,” Godfrey said.
“We can work with that. I’ll come up with a statement for you,” she said, “See you later.”
“Do you want something to eat before you leave?” Godfrey called.
“No time to eat,” Meg said, starting to turn away.
“I’ll make you a smoothie, at least,” Godfrey said, “You can drink that.”
Meg stopped, as though thinking about it. “Alright, I guess some food wouldn’t hurt. Why do you always have to feed people?”
“It’s a thing where I’m from,” Godfrey said, tossing fruit and milk into the blender. After a moment of thought, he threw in some protein powder as well.
As he sent her away with her smoothie, Saul came up to the stall. Meg walked faster, intentionally not looking at him.
“How ya’ doin’?” Saul asked.
“Been busy,” Godfrey replied, “Can I get you something?”
“Nah, not hungry,” Saul said, “I came by to talk.”
“Okay, talk fast,” Godfrey said.
“I guess I just don’t understand. You’ve always been one of my biggest supporters. You were sure as hell the only one to stand up for me when I was accused of hurting my niece. What’s changed?”
“Saul, I think you know what you did,” Godfrey said.
“What, that business about the detective’s daughter?” Saul asked.
“No,” Godfrey said, “I don’t think you’d even do what you said you were going to do. But you thought it was what I wanted to hear. I don’t want a politician who’s going to tell me what I want to hear. I want you to tell me, and the rest of the station, the truth.”
“I understand,” Saul said, “You want an honest politician. Say, is that a caffeine cuff you’re wearing?”
“It is,” Godfrey said.
“How long have you been wearing that?” Saul asked.
“I don’t know, yesterday morning,” Godfrey said, “Look, if you’re going to give me shit about using modifications, I don’t want to hear it.”
“No, not at all,” Saul said, “But let me tell you something.”
His hands darted across the counter and pulled the cuff from Godfrey’s arm. A wave of exhaustion washed over Godfrey, and he fell to the ground. As he lost consciousness, he heard Saul say, “There’s no such thing as an honest politician.”
Godfrey woke to the sound of beeping. He was in a bright room, a hospital room. The curtains had been drawn, the door was closed.
He sat up, finding it to be a challenge. He felt as though someone had buried him in the sand and he was fighting to get out of it.
To his surprise, Meg was sitting in a chair next to his bed. She wasn’t touching her wrist pad. She was just sitting on the chair, staring at the wall.
“What’s going on?” Godfrey asked.
“It’s my fault,” Meg said, “I’m sorry, Godfrey, I fucked it all up for us.”
She turned to him, the light bouncing off the tearstains on her face. “I saw Saul walking towards you, and I just, I just let him go. Walked away like you weren’t even my responsibility. And he just took you right out.”
“Well, it’s about to backfire,” Godfrey said, “Get some of those news people in here. That son’a bitch sucker punched me. We’ve got all kinds of words for that sort of thing where I’m from. Let’s see how many they let me say on camera.”
“Won’t matter, Joy’s pulled out of the race,” Meg said. She pressed a button on the side of the bed.
The screen on the wall lit up, showing a news feed.
Saul was standing at a podium, looking out at a sea of people. “That Marshal Wheatly would stoop so low is beyond me. We all believed in her. I believed in her. But that she would drive a young man to the hospital is inexcusable!”
The face of the newscaster reappeared, with Godfrey’s own face in a box behind him. “Several members of Marshal Wheatley’s campaign team have come forward with allegations of overwork.”
Meg silenced the screen. “Fucking whiners,” she muttered, “I guarantee I know who they are, too.”
“Joy’s already resigned?” Godfrey asked, “This is bullshit, I was attacked.”
“Don’t bother getting all excited,” Meg said, “No one’s going to listen to you if you tell them that it’s all shit. They’ll just think you’re lying to protect her.”
“But-,” Godfrey was interrupted by his wrist pad lighting up with the police shield.
“Good,” he said, grabbing it. “We’ll see how this goes for Saul. I’m pressing charges, dammit! Hello, Patty?”
“Anders,” Patty said, “Is April with you?”
“No, I’m in the hospital,” Godfrey said, “Why would she be with me?”
“Damn,” Patty said, “She’s missing. She and her police detail vanished from the school. We found one of the officer’s bodies on Level One. But we have no idea where the second officer or April are.”
Copyright © 2018 by Nicole C. Luttrell
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