Power Play





Power Play

©2001 Rebecca Ann Salcedo



"Unbelievable!" said David, looking down at the open file in his hands.

Rachel smiled to herself and continued to stare out over the bay. Boats, large and small, dotted the bay, taking advantage of the crisp blue day and the light chop. Pelicans vied for perching rights atop the pilings of the waterfront café while waves crashed below them.

"Un-believable!" repeated David, leaning forward over the small round wrought iron table. He reluctantly lifted his eyes from the open file and stared at Rachel with pure amazement. "How did you get this?"

"A very guilty ex-boyfriend in the Governor's office," she said, returning her attention to David.

"He just gave this to you?"

"Yep."

"Why?"

"Like I said, he felt guilty. I guess it has been eating away at him for some time."

"Why you?"

"I suppose he trusted me to do the right thing."

"Do you know what you have here?" asked David, closing the file and placing it in the middle of the table under a heavy glass ashtray.

"Yes," answered Rachel, her smile turning smugger.

"This is an investigative journalist's wet dream," he said with quiet enthusiasm.

Rachel continued smiling in response.

"Woodward and Bernstein would be foaming at the mouth," he said, his excitement growing by the second.

"I know," said Rachel, her gaze drifting back over the water.

"Those twenty-four hour news networks will be chewing over this for months--hell, years probably."

"I know," sighed Rachel, hypnotized by the sunlight flickering on the water's surface.

"This is the story of the century," he said, his voice growing a little too loud. Rachel gave him a sharp look and he checked himself. "How can you be so calm?"

"It's not calm," said Rachel.

"What then?"

"It is--quiet resolve."

David sat back in his chair, folding his arms over his chest. He stared at her with a furrowed brow.

Rachel stared back at him.

"You aren't going to release this, are you?" he asked eventually.

"No, I'm not," answered Rachel.

"Have you completely lost your mind?" he exclaimed with hushed venom, leaning forward again.

"No, not completely," she laughed.

"If you don't release that," he said, pointing at the file, "I will."

"No you won't," said Rachel with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh really, why not?"

"Because," she said, leaning forward, "If you do, I will never sleep with you ever again."

David leaned back in his chair like a man beaten.

"Look, when I first got this, I felt the same as you," said Rachel. "I mean this incredible, once in a lifetime information falls in my lap. My head was overloaded with possibilities. Do I write a juicy article for the Herald, à la Woodward and Bernstein?" said Rachel, indicating to David. "Maybe even write a book or give television interviews. Do I bask in the glory of revealing such dirt--or do I do something positive with it?"

"What are you talking about?" asked David.

"What would releasing this accomplish?" said Rachel. "He would resign, be impeached, or both."

"He should be booted out of office. He's the antichrist."

"He is pretty horrible," laughed Rachel, "but I wouldn't go so far as to say he's the antichrist. Okay, let's say I released this and he's impeached, then what? If the Vice President can't be tied to this, then he'd be in charge and--isn't he already?" she said with a knowing smile. "No matter how you look at it the same old party would be in charge. I think we both agree that wouldn't be good for the country."

"So what do you have in mind?" asked David.

"To use this information for good instead of evil."

"And how are you going to do that?"

"I'm going to give it to someone who can force his hand. With the Senate split, this can be used to force him to work for the people instead of big business. Maybe we can get some positive things through Congress. Increased environmental protection legislation. Universal medical coverage."

"Who are you going to give it to?"

Rachel looked around the outdoor café to make sure no one was eavesdropping. "Who do we know in the Senate who is widely known for his integrity and who has this country's best interest at heart?"

"Oh," he said and then paused. "What makes you think that once faced with this he won't just resign anyway?"

"Are you kidding? He's too self-centered for that. He would never do that, not even for his own party," said Rachel.

"What if he runs for a second term?" asked David.

"That will be part of the deal. Only one term. If he tries to run again, we'll release this. There's no way he'll risk such a scandal."

"Well, I have to hand it to you," said David. "You've really thought this out much better than I would have."

"Thank you," smiled Rachel, "but I'm sure you would have come to the same conclusion eventually."

David reached across the table and took Rachel's hand in his, gently caressing the back of her hand with his thumb.

"You never cease to amaze me," said David with a loving smile, "I guess that's why I love you."

"You guess?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Okay, it is."

"That's what I thought."

"And you?"

"Well, of course I love you. I wouldn't trust you with this if I didn't."

"I just have one question," said David.

"What's that?"

"Do you feel badly about blackmailing the man? After all, he is your father."

"No."

"Remind me never to get on your bad side."

"It's not blackmail."

"What do you call it then?" asked David.

"Political leverage," said Rachel with a smirk.






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