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Last week Donny Marchand brought you the first part of his entertaining story, The Like Lee Story. If you missed it you can read it here.
Now for the second part of Donny’s story. Sit back and enjoy:
Senator Steve Dalston was a gentle but authoritative man. A rare creature in politics in that his aims were honest and selfless. Mindful of the rules he was also compassionate enough, to take account of people’s circumstances when they had gotten themselves into trouble. To his daughter Tillie he was a super-hero, and Dalston himself was just plain soppy over her.
So, when Tillie told him about her new boyfriend Like, and how nice he was, the senator gave her the benefit of the doubt. The two of them could both be a bit gullible, but for very different reasons.
It wasn’t until after dinner during dessert that Tillie managed to conjure up the courage to tell her father about her plans.
“Papa, I know I should have asked you first, but I just couldn’t help myself.”
“What on earth are you talking about, Pumpkin?” questioned Tillie’s bewildered father.
“Your gonna to be mad at me, I just know you are!” exclaimed Tillie.
“Now, don’t you worry your pretty little head off, sweetheart. I’m sure whatever you did, isn’t half as bad as you think,” Dalston reassured her.
”I’ve invited a friend to come and stay with us for a couple of weeks during summer vacation,” Tillie nervously informed her father.
“Who, Margo or Penny? That’s fine, you’ve had them over before, and they were no problem. Even sharing your room caused no difficulties. So what’s bothering you now?”
“No, Dad, it’s not them that I’ve invited,” answered Tillie sheepishly.
Well then, who did you welcome to our humble abode, Attila the Hun?” retorted Dalston jokingly.
“Ac… actually,” stuttered Tillie, “it’s that nice boy I told you about, Like.”
The Senator sat straight up, and practically choked on his words when he answered, “Well, sweetie, that sure is an unusual request. I need a minute to consider the consequences please.”
As he sat there mouth wide open, starring into space, Tillie held her head in her hands anticipating the worst. Then suddenly he leaned back into his chair, hesitated for a moment then calmly asked, “How old are you now, Pumpkin?”
“I’m seventeen and a half,” Tillie snapped back.
“Well, I guess you’re old enough to have male friends visit you too, so okay. But, he sleeps in the guest house understand!” declared Dalston.
A grinning Tillie ran over and gave him a big hug and lots of kisses.
During his stay Like managed to worm his way into Dalston’s good graces, while Tillie persuaded the Senator to help Like quickly elevate his political career.
* * *
After the summer vacation was over, the gossip that did the rounds constantly, and got the most whispers was the one that received the honour of “Gong of Hearsay”. This year that distinction was awarded to the unremitting plot that, Like was secretly spearheading a campaign to launch himself as the new president of the Young Carers. Preposterous, thought many of the students. Like wouldn’t do such an underhanded thing. Obviously those scholars needed university education badly.
Elroy though, knew it was true, but he decided not to resist the skulduggery, because he didn’t believe he could defeat Like. The ambitious unprincipled charlatan was too cunning, and ruthless for Elroy to outmanoeuvre in this game of politics. Besides, lately Like seemed to be getting a lot of privileged backing from the party in D.C. Better, he thought, was to step aside, and hang on to the coattails of a rising star. That way he might have a chance to fulfil some of his own ambitions as well. And to no one’s surprise, except Tillie and her father, the moment Like was appointed president of the Young Carers, he dropped Tillie like a hot potato.
Semesters came and went, and for Like graduation day lay just ahead, perched on the near horizon. And over time he had manipulated and strengthened his associations with his contacts working in the Capital. All that is except Senator Dalston. There he had made an enemy for life. No matter, he thought, in time I will be more powerful than him.
Even while still attending university, Like managed to get his sticky fingers into the foreign aid pie. A corrupt backward government looking for some free loot disguised as assistance, approached Rheingold-Smythe to see if he knew anyone who could help. Elroy said he did, and told them he’d get back to them soon. Elroy contacted Like whom he was now working for, and told him about the approach. As quick as you could say fraud, Like had set up the deal. They would receive a yearly stipend of eighty million dollars, and Like would get a thirty percent kickback.
With his cut Like opened up an office on K Street, with Elroy running it for him. Elroy in turn hired Parker to be his Gofer. So, the young boys’ circle immediately became the new old boys’ club.
* * *
As the years rolled by, Like’s influence in governmental affairs and decisions grew by leaps and bounds. Noted for his speeches, he proudly became known as the great orator. Most of the populace became hypnotized by his every word, and were convinced that he told the truth. However, a different faction of the public thought he was full of hot air, and said he promised much but delivered nil.
Of course becoming popular on the hill wasn’t without its trials. When you’re on the way up you make many enemies, and they are always waiting and willing to knock you back down. Some want to get you so bad, that they even reserve a notch in their sidearm for you. So Like needed someone to keep an eye on his back, and that job was given to Elroy. Suddenly Rheingold-Smythe, had been elevated from office boy to advisor and guardian in one foul swoop. Parker was understandably passed over, and Doogie was called in to fill the position vacated by Elroy. Marianne, who was working for the firm Cheatum, Stealum, and Lye, was hired on a consultancy basis. So the Philadelphia gang as they were now known, were infiltrating the landscape at rapid speed.
The title Senator Lee sounded quite good to him when the offer to be the candidate for the state of Pennsylvania was presented to him, by a contingent of members of the Caring Party out of Philadelphia. A generous budget would allow him to enlist more recruits from the university gang, which was also part of his overall scheme. Two or three of the contingent would stay on as well, but mostly to arrange the campaign trail.
After Like accepted the nomination, the party members headed back to Philly. They told Like that a couple of them would be returning in about a week to help out with the operations. Like got in touch with Doogie right away and told him to get George, Hector, and Paul, down from Philadelphia to assist. Doogie said he was pretty sure Fernando, and Rebecca would want to lend a hand also. They left it at that for the moment, and Doogie promised to keep Like up to date with the help situation.
“Hello… Hello…” answered Elroy.
“Hey, buddy, you ain’t gonna believe this!” Like screamed over the phone.
“Tone it down will you. You’re bursting my eardrums.”
“Is that you, Elroy?”
“Yes it’s me, what’s the matter?”
“I just had a visit by some guys from the party office in Philadelphia.”
“And, what was their problem?”
“No problem at all. They want me to run for the Senate on the party ticket, that’s what.”
“That’s great news. Any idea when they expect you to begin campaigning?”
“Right now, look I’ve got an important job that I need you to do for me tout de suit.”
“Yeah, what’s that then?”
“Do you have that list I gave you awhile back?”
“The bribe list. The one that has the names of people that can be bribed on it. That list!”
“Oh yes, I have that under lock and key.”
“Good, now how many districts in Pennsylvania are close in the vote count? Do you know offhand?”
“I think it’s about ten.”
“Okay, I want you to get to the returning vote officer in each of those districts, and grease their palms, understand?
“No problem, but where do we get I money from?”
“Don’t worry I’ve got that coming.”
“Okay, then when do we start?”
“Tomorrow, meet me at the office about one, and we’ll get on with drawing up the plan, Okay?”
“Sounds great, see you mañana then.”
“Yeah, tomorrow it is!”
The victory party was a smash. Like had defeated his opponents by a landslide. No candidate had ever won an election for the Caring Party by such a wide margin in all the years that it had existed. So now, not only was Like a Senator, but also one of the most important people in the party. He was definitely on his way to the top. Still in the years to follow, his adversaries continued to claim that with Lee, much was promised, but nothing was ever delivered.
* * *
Within the blink of an eye Senator Lee also added Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to his credits. As Chairman, the Senator had vast control over who received government contracts regarding domestic defence, computer programming, government building renovations and repairs, etc. When awarding the contracts the Senator and a number of his committee associates always choose the company that had agreed to give them kickbacks. Although these backhander deals were only verbal and done in secret, the companies knew that if they rescinded they would lose the contract. Ironically, another responsibility of the committee was investigating government department fraud. This was another money-spinner for the members, in the form of good old-fashioned blackmail.
It was only a matter of time before Like was designated as the Secretary of State. Now he was definitely one of the big boys. The President himself had commissioned a huge banquet in Senator Lee’s honour, to commemorate his appointment to the new office. The affair was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington.
Anybody who was anybody made sure they were there. Even people who wanted to be somebody attended, most likely through the back door. Helpful and Forgiveness were brought down from Hermitage to stand at their son’s side on the platform, as the President paid tribute to the new Secretary of State. And all the while, the President couldn’t help but sense, that he was sharing the platform with his successor.
Typically of Like, behind the scenes he had invited all of his own lackeys, and cronies in waiting. He knew that to keep a grip on power, one must surround oneself with lots of yes men. By the end the night all the grovelling and backstabbing was over, and everyone had gotten their chance to wish him well. Even all those people who didn’t mean it.
* * *
Anatoly Crushedovic the notorious arms dealer, and oligarch barged passed the Secretary’s Personal Assistant, and marched straight into his office.
“Why have you put a hold on the movement of my goods at the dockyard warehouse!” screamed Crushedovic.
“By any chance do you mean the anti-aircraft missiles, and their launchers, that are designated for Somalia?” asked a smiling Secretary Lee.
“Yes that stuff,” remarked Anatoly nonchalantly.
“But you told me that stuff, as you put it, was only rifles and machine guns, didn’t you?” quizzed Like.
“That’s what I though it was. I didn’t know anything about missiles until this morning, believe me,” answered an adamant Crushedovic.
“I don’t believe you, but that’s not the point,” Like responded.
“What is the point then?” questioned an innocent acting Crushedovic.
“The price,” answered Like emphatically, “the price has gone up.”
“So how much do you want now?” asked the Russian bandit.
“A half a million,” Like replied.
“What!” barked Anatoly, “that’s highway robbery.”
“If you want me to lift the embargo on your contraband, and let you send it to the land of the pirates, then that’s the price. Take it or leave it,” said a stern Like.
“Okay I’ll take it,” an angry Crushedovic grumbled.
“As soon as the money is in the usual account, I’ll let your stuff go,” retorted a smirking Like.
Crushedovic stormed out off the office, cursing under his breath.
“By Anatoly!” yelled a sarcastic Secretary Lee.
It was no surprise when Like soon became a nominee in the primary presidential elections, which he won hands down. One of his opponents in the primaries was his enemy Senator Dalston. However, he didn’t possess the Machiavellian traits needed to defeat his foe, that scorpion Secretary Lee. Dalston was simply too honest to be convincing.
As expected an overwhelming majority voted the Secretary of State in as President. But three and a half years into his Presidency the country was in a shambles. Economically it was at an all-time low. The jobless figure was much higher than it had ever been before, crime was snowballing, and corruption was rife.
So when President Lee spoke on television from the oval office, promising that things were definitely going to get better, no one believed him. For too long he had made assurances, and pledges to the people without keeping them, and the citizens had now had enough, and were waiting impatiently to give him the boot. They needn’t have bothered anxiously waiting though, because the party itself had decided that Like could no longer win any kind of election, even as an incumbent. So without a moment’s hesitation, they removed him as their candidate for the upcoming presidential election. And adding insult to injury, in his place they installed his old nemesis Senator Dalston.
Oh, how the mighty had fallen! And from that moment on, whenever someone in authority said things that the people didn’t believe, it was always referred to as; a likely story.