Quatrain by Medler, John - HTML preview

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January 20, 2013, 12:15 p.m. EST. Washington, D.C.


President Tim Woodson had just taken the oath of office, but the speech was beginning fifteen minutes later than expected, because Supreme Court Justice Dan Perkins had never shown up. It took an extra ten minutes for the Secret Service to shuffle Justice Ginsburg up to the podium.

“My Fellow Americans,” announced President Woodson. “What a beautiful day it is today. I want to thank all of you for your support during these troubled times. Now is the time to come together as Americans, to forge a new path, with renewed ideals, and a strengthened purpose.

“As I told you on the campaign trail, my Number 1 focus as President is going to be protecting all Americans from the senseless attacks of Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. We all remember the Cincinnati Massacre vividly. I have invited all the family members of those slain in that massacre to be present in the gallery below me today. Today we are all family, we all share your loss, and we all re-commit ourselves to stopping those evil individuals who would seek to weaken our resolve through violence and fear. Family members of the Cincinnati Massacre, I have some good news to share with you this afternoon. Early this morning, in San Antonio, Texas, the San Antonio Police arrested the terrorist responsible for the massacre in Cincinnati.

“I would like to tell you a little bit about that arrest, because it is a story of true American heroes. F.B.I. Lead Investigator Ruddy Montana and his team of investigators have been following up thousands of leads ever since the bombing occurred. They have fielded thousands of calls, investigated physical evidence, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and tracked everything from fibers left at the scene to shoeprints in the mud. Their investigation ultimately led them to a storage lot in downtown Cincinnati. Surveillance tapes from that storage lot facility revealed the face of the bomber. The F.B.I. handed out that picture to law enforcement officials all over the country.

“This morning, an alert police officer named Ray Gallagos, with only six months experience on the police force, identified a vagrant wandering the streets of San Antonio and interrogated him, believing him to be suspicious. The police officer was quickly able to identify the man from the F.B.I. photo as the Cincinnati Bomber. The man panicked and ran into the Alamo, one of our country’s most historic buildings, and a site where true Americans once fought for freedom against great odds.

“When the killer ran into the Alamo, he got more than he bargained for. He ran into some real American heroes. Rosa Trujeo, a maid working in a local hotel, was in the Alamo with her three small girls. She was on disability for a leg injury and carried a crutch. Ms. Trujeo pummeled the bomber with her crutch. At that point, Tommy Dickerson, a 60 year-old Vietnam veteran who was visiting the Alamo, tackled the bomber to the ground and tied his hands behind his back. He was assisted in tying the knots by a den of Cub Scouts who were visiting the Alamo with their den mothers. Truth is certainly stranger than fiction. A terrorist subdued by disabled mother of three, a 60 year-old veteran, and a bunch of children. It makes me proud to be an American, I can tell you that. After Dickerson hogtied the criminal, he called out to the police, who had just surrounded the building. He was handcuffed and is now in custody.

All of you may remember the story of the Alamo, where Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett and a band of other regular Americans held off a superior force for days until the last man gave his last breath for freedom. Well today, we will remember other great Americans at the Alamo, who, like their forefathers of old, faced great odds with bravery and courage and true grit. And this time, the Americans won!”

The crowd erupted with loud applause and cheers.

“Thank you. Now, as we applaud the Americans who were able to apprehend the Cincinnati terrorist, we must remind ourselves that the battle against terrorism continues every day. This morning, many of you may have wondered why Supreme Court Justice Dan Perkins did not swear me in this morning. I have just been informed by the Secret Service that during his morning jog, an assassin with a sniper rifle attempted to shoot and kill Chief Justice Perkins.”

The crowd gasped and looked on with concern and open mouths.

“But the proponents of terrorism met another American hero this morning. Gil Johnston, one of the three Secret Service Agents guarding Chief Justice Perkins, bravely got between the assassin’s gun and his intended target, saving Chief Justice Perkins’ life. The Chief Justice was not injured, although he was obviously very shaken up. His Secret Service protector, unfortunately, was not so lucky. I am sorry to say that Agent Gil Johnston died at the scene from gunshot wounds. Agent Johnston was a veteran of the Gulf War, and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He leaves behind a wife Nancy and two small children, Ben and Teddy. He will be deeply missed. As my first act as President, I will be awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to Agent Johnston, and the Medal of Freedom to the heroes of the Alamo.”

“I am also proud to say that agents from the federal government caught this assassin shortly after the attack. He was killed in a shoot-out with law enforcement. What his intentions were I cannot say. Whether he was connected with the Cincinnati Bomber I cannot say. What I can say is that we will use every tool the federal government possesses to get to the bottom of these horrible crimes and find out how they occurred and how we can stop similar attacks from occurring again. We will find all the terrorists involved in these attacks, mark my word. We will hunt them, we will arrest them, and if they fight us back, we will most assuredly kill them. Because America does not give in to terrorists!”

The crowd erupted again in wild applause.

“This is a new day, America! A proud new day! This is the beginning of the end for the terrorists. There’s a new sheriff in town!”

The Republicans in the crowd liked that comment and cheered; the Democrats not so much. Anna Scall stood next to and just behind the President, and on the “sheriff” comment, she came forward, and beamed from the podium, holding the President’s hand upward in victory. Scall waved to the crowd like a beauty pageant winner. Woodson’s wife was seated ten feet behind them. Mrs. Woodson looked radiant in her pearls, but she smiled stiffly as she looked at Scall holding her husband’s hand. She could not wait to convince her husband to banish that woman from the wheels of power at the earliest opportunity.

“Now let me tell you, America, how we are going to get our economy moving again. My plan…” The President went on for another twenty minutes outlining his agenda.


Back at F.B.I. Headquarters, Ruddy Montana was in the conference room, getting briefed on both the Alamo situation and the events with the Chief Justice. A dozen men were around the table, each with his ear on a cell phone and his eye on a laptop. Agent Ahmad Mahmood came through the glass door of the conference room.

“Hey, Boss, I think you should see this.”

Montana left the conference room and came down to Mahmood’s office.

“I was running files to see what I could come up with on this Mohammed el Faya guy. Turns out he was in Abu Ghraib. He was in prison there about the same time that all those photos surfaced about abuse in the prison. His file says that he did not have any usable intel, so after a while, they let him go in Jordan.”

“OK, so?”

“So guess who his military interrogator was at the time?”

“I give up,” said Montana.

“Agent Gil Johnston.”

“You have got to be kidding me. So it is possible the Supreme Court Justice was not the target after all. Jeez, I had thought this was a home-grown one. I figured maybe this had something to do with that opinion on gay marriage that is coming up this term. Guess I was wrong. This was plain old revenge.”

“It looks that way,” said Mahmood. “Also, from what I can tell from his files, this guy was like an expert marksman. If he wanted to take out the Supreme Court Justice, he could have done it easily in one shot. He would not have missed. Johnston was shot four times. That sounds like an angry guy to me.”

“But one thing we don’t know,” said Montana. “How in the world did a guy with no money, left for dead in the streets of Jordan, manage to come to the United States, sneak through border patrol, obtain a sniper rifle, and figure out where to find his C.I.A. interrogator?”

“You raise a good point,” said Mahmood. “I wondered that myself. It almost sounds like he had inside help.”

“This was starting out as such a good day, Ahmad. Why did you have to ruin it for me?”


Back in the West Wing, the new staff had picked their new offices and were bringing in cardboard boxes, plants, and diplomas. Chance Bixby, the President’s new Chief of Staff, Bill Dominic, the new President’s foreign policy advisor, and Matt Suba, Vice President Scall’s Chief of Staff, were in a huddled meeting in Bixby’s office. Bixby had a cell phone cradled to his ear.

“I am hearing this Trujeo woman at the Alamo was a fucking illegal alien. Someone turn on CNN and see if they are saying anything about her. Jesus Fucking Christ, Woodson has probably done 100 speeches railing on illegal immigrants, and now he just announced he is going to pin the Medal of Freeedom on an illegal alien! God, how unlucky can you get!”

“That’s easy,” said Suba. “Call Immigration and tell them we are making her an American citizen as of last month. Someone lost her paperwork, whatever. We backdate the paperwork, talk to the lady, tell her this is a one-time deal making her a citizen, and to keep her mouth shut. She says nothing, and no one is the wiser. If we get it done fast, no one will ever know.”

Bixby really hated Suba. That guy seemed like he never wanted to follow the rules. On the other hand, this was going to be a disaster if they did not do something fast. The Trujeo woman was half of his Inauguration Speech, for Christ’s sake, he could not take that back!

“Listen,” said Suba. “We have to get on the funeral arrangements for the Secret Service guy right away. I will call the widow and get it all planned out, full military thing with the gun salute, flag, the works. I’ll see where she wants to do the funeral.”

“That would be fine,” said Bixby, barely listening. Bixby called a Deputy Director at Immigration to see if he could fix the Trujeo matter. Surely bumping up naturalization paperwork on one hotel maid could not be that difficult? The official was not in, so Bixby left an urgent message.

“Hey, Chance,” said Dominic, “I have some new info on the Chief Justice assassination. I talked to the guys over at the C.I.A. and the Secret Service. They tell me that before coming to the Secret Service, Gil Johnston was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib.”

“So?” said Bixby.

“So guess who was interrogated rather roughly at Abu Ghraib?”
“You have got to be kidding me.”

“Nope. Our shooter, Mohammed el Faya.” Dominic shoved the top secret file across Bixby’s desk. Bixby looked at it in disgust.

“Annie! Get the team in here now!”

Bixby scowled. If this was just a revenge killing for Abu Ghraib, Keith Olbermann was going to have a field day.