Mike woke as his alarm clock announced it was 5:30 AM. His eyes fluttered for a moment before they opened fully. He lay there organizing his thoughts. This was going to be a telling day. First breakfast with the Chamber Chair, then meetings with the Treasury Secretary, followed by another meeting with State before lunch with the Idiot. He yawned one last time, stretched, then rolled over out of bed. What was that lump on the other side of the bed? Oh, he remembered now. She arrived late last night, after he was already in bed. She entered his bedroom, undressed and crawled into bed next to him.
“I wonder what her name is,” he thought. “It doesn’t really matter. She probably won’t be back again.”
He padded into his ornate bathroom. He hated the gold fixtures everywhere, but the Idiot insisted. He removed his pajamas and entered the shower. As he was shampooing his hair he felt a gentle touch on his back. With a sigh he thought, “Fine. She has to make a living.” And let her soap and rinse his body. Twice.
Mike left the shower and returned, passing through the bedroom to his walk-in dressing room. He was always amused by the large quantity of identical dark blue, single breasted suits. He always thought he could do with two or three and a good dry cleaner with two-day turnaround. Oh, well, not his choice.
He finished his morning routine, dressed and added a red tie, cinched with a perfect Windsor knot. This was as much his uniform as black tee shirts and jeans was that bohemian Zuckerberg’s.
He still had 40 minutes before his breakfast meeting, so he called for coffee. Seconds later, having anticipated the request, his man-servant entered with a tray of coffee and biscuits and set them on the table next to Mike’s favorite chair. Mike sat in his chair and sipped the coffee after dunking the honey-molasses biscuits. This was Mike’s favorite part of his day. Then he felt/heard the “pop” in his auditory system.
“Breakfast with the Chair is in 10 minutes. Be early.” Then another little “pop” and he knew he was alone once more.
Mike stood, brushed any crumbs off his lap, and headed for the door. As he walked past the bathroom he saw the girl, naked, brushing her long brown hair. Again, he wondered what her name might be, before he exited his suite and totally forgot her.
The Chair was a small man with a strong southern accent, and no chin. Sometimes, Mike made him repeat statements to he could decipher what he said or meant.
“Just another moron,” thought Mike. “I am surrounded by them.”
They entered the small dining room at the same time through identical, opposing doors. In unison they nodded at each other before taking their seats across from each other.
“Morning, Mike,” said the Chair. “Thanks for meeting this morning. We need to discuss our mutual boss.”
Mike thought, “So this is about the Idiot. I should have guessed.” Aloud, Mike said, “What do you mean, Mr. Chairman?”
“He is digging a hole he will never be able to climb out of, and he is pulling us down with him,” continued the Chair. “We have to do something or all of us will lose our jobs come November.”
“You worry too much, Mr. Chairman. Everything is under control and the boss is taking care of business. Just look at the response he receives at the rallies. The people love him. As far as they are concerned, he can do no wrong.”
“Sure, his base loves him but there will be a lot of new voters out there this year and we could have major problems in the general. We have already lost a number of incumbent seats.”
“I told you to stop worrying. Everything is being handled. It will be just fine.”
“From your mouth, Mike,”
“Yes. From my mouth. Remember that,” Mike said quietly, as the waiter entered to take their order.
They continued with small talk through their breakfast. As they talked, a server would occasionally stop by their table to refill water glasses and take any other requests they may have. He walked, head bowed, but efficiently, taking no obvious notice of what the two men were saying. He would leave as quietly and unobtrusively as he entered.
After they finished their meal, Mike stood, stating he had another meeting in a few minutes. He thanked the Chair for his time, even though it was the Chair who requested the breakfast meeting, shook his hand and made his exit.
The Treasury Secretary was waiting in Mike’s antechamber. “Good morning, sir. Thank you for meeting so early,” he said.
“Not too early, Mr. Secretary. I have been awake for hours. I just met the Chamber chair. We had a good, encouraging chat this morning. A great way to start the day,” Mike lied smoothly, naturally.
“I wish I could be so encouraging, Mike, but I am afraid we have major problems,” responded Treasury. “The lack of revenue will cost us billions, probably trillions. I don’t know how we will recover from this, much less, sustain our programs. I am afraid the people will wise up and realize we are just using their money for our own purposes.”
Mike heard a soft “pop” in his ear and knew they were no longer alone. No one outside their Organization knew Mike had an implant, basically an advanced cochlear device that allowed the Organization to speak to him. He also had electrodes embedded in his neck and voice box that gave him the ability to subvocalize back to the Organization.
“Shut him up now Mike. Shut him up or we will replace him,” said the voice in his head. It wasn’t actually like hearing. The words just appeared in his head, more like a feeling than hearing.
“Mr. Secretary,” Mike said letting his anger rise. “Stop. Stop talking. I assure you we are fine. The people will not question our budgets, programs or spending. They are sheep and we are the sheep dogs. They do what we say, think what we say, and believe what we say. We nip their heels and they run.”
“But the boss is out of control. He says and does things that just aren’t possible. We have to control him, Mike.”
“No, Mr. Chairman! YOU don’t control anything. I control everything. I control you, your counterpart on the other side and I am in total control of our boss. He says nothing without my telling him what to say. Remember that, I am the one in control. No one else. Me.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you,” the Chair sputtered, nearly weeping. “It’s just I want to keep my job. I need this job, and I see the boss trying his best to scuttle us all.”
“I said stop, Mr. Chair. I am in control and there is nothing to fear. That’s enough for now. Go back to the chamber and re-assure your associates that everything is under control, and believe me, it is.”
The Chair thanked Mike, apologized for over-reacting and took his leave.
Mike sat there for several minutes, thinking, his fingers tented in front of his face. “How did we get saddled with such spineless morons,” he thought. Here we are, the most powerful country on earth and we are led by incompetents.
He felt the “pop” in his ear. “Well done, Mike. Keep them under control. Things are moving fast now, and we cannot afford any slips, understand?” Mike understood. “Pop.”
“It’s like herding cats. Spineless cats. They are all so scared of losing their jobs, they no longer do their jobs. Now, how can we use that to our advantage,” thought Mike.
He rose, stretched and left the room making his way past countless offices. Each member required so many assistants, and under assistants, toadies! No wonder nothing was every accomplished. Well, it won’t be long now. Mike knew changes were on the horizon. If he just kept herding them in the general direction.
“No,” he thought as he approached the offices of State. “Not cats, they are sheep and I am the sheep dog. Cats have a sense of importance, of independence, of superiority. These people are sheep. They have no idea where they are going and are just looking for someone to drive them home for the night. We can drive them home. Drive them home or let them drop where they are. We don’t really care, as long as they don’t stand in our way.”
“Good morning, Mike,” the Secretary of State called, startling Mike. The Secretary was approaching his offices from the opposite direction as Mike and they met in front of the entrance, shaking hands. “Thank you for coming, I know you are a busy man.”
“Not at all Mr. Secretary. Never to busy for you,” Mike responded. They entered the offices of the State Department and quickly moved into the Secretary’s inner sanctum. This room was something of legend. Major deals were made here. The fate of the entire world hung in the balance of who was allowed into these halls. Mike knew it didn’t really matter what was said here. His Organization held the real power and pulled all the important strings. Let them play their diplomatic games to no avail if it made them feel important.
“Mike, we have a problem,” the Secretary said. “He is making problems for us and we do not see a way out of it. What can you do to shut him up? China is about to cut relations with us and we cannot have that. They own nearly half of the country and I we wouldn’t survive without their money.”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Secretary. I am having lunch with him again today. I am sure I can quiet him, or at least soften his stance on dealing with China. It is under control.”
“I am sorry, Mike. I don’t see it. We have already lost several of our strongest allies. We cannot afford to push our major banker and backer away too.”
“Pop.” “Stop Him, Mike. We have too much riding on State’s influence to let him go negative now. Shut him off him now.” “Pop.”
“Wait a minute, Mr. Secretary. Are you losing confidence in my ability to control him? Are you afraid you could be replaced?” Mike looked into the Secretary’s face. “You are, aren’t you? Well, you are right. I could have you out of here tomorrow, if I wanted. Is that what you want? Just let me know and you are gone, or better yet, stop obeying your orders and you will be replaced, permanently. Do you understand me, Mr. Secretary? “
The Secretary was sweating profusely now. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead, neck and jowls. He was scared. His future rested on his remaining in charge of State.
“Yes, sir, Mike. I understand. Just let me know what to say, or do, and consider it done.”
“Who carries a handkerchief any more?” Mike thought. “What a spineless… sheep. I have to get out of here or I will lose my mind and do something really rash, and this moron would definitely not like that.”
“As long as we understand each other, Mr. Secretary. I say jump, you ask how high. I have my luncheon with him in an hour and have another stop as I make my way back to his private dining room. Don’t do anything stupid and don’t do anything without clearing it with me first.” Mike looked closely at the Secretary, with an “or else” look.
The Secretary nodded as Mike stood and strode out the door, back toward his own suite of offices. As he walked he tried to calm his mind and control his temper. Lunch with the Idiot is never easy, and this one will be more difficult than most.
Mike checked his reflection in the mirrored wall before leaving his office. He squared his shoulders, flashed his trademark smile, opened the door and turned toward the Idiot’s offices and lunch.