Monday, February 4, 2013. The White House. Washington, D.C.
John Morse was overjoyed to be back with his children. Today, they had been invited to the White House to have a long talk with the President of the United States. She was most anxious to meet them. The Morse family was waiting for their turn with the President in the Office of the Secret Service. Detective Jensen was their welcoming party, and he couldn’t have been more effusive with his praise. He told Morse he was sorry he never trusted him from the beginning, but any good detective has to follow all the leads and not assume any one person is innocent. Morse was magnanimous in return, and was happy to have played such a vital part in rescuing the President.
Jensen let it slip that the President had managed to obtain an orange longboard with orange wheels, even better than the one Zach had before, and this one was going to be signed by Tony Hawke, the world’s greatest skateboarder. And the President had promised that in all their photos with the President, her P.R. people would airbrush in Zach’s old hair. Zach thought that was very funny. Zoey would be receiving a brand new electric and acoustic guitar, each one signed by the Jonas Brothers. Zoey was jumping up and down with excitement. And the President this morning had negotiated with the French and Italian governments to allow Morse to keep the ancient scrolls he obtained in France and Italy for one year before returning them to French and Italian museums. The French and Italian governments had assured the President that Morse would be able to claim the academic credit for discovering the scrolls. All criminal charges, of course, would be dropped.
Jensen had brought over Chinese takeout to share with Morse and his teenagers. Jensen and Morse caught up on all of the details of the last few weeks. Jensen asked Morse if he put any stock in the notion that Vice President Suba was really the “spawn of the Devil,” as the scrolls had claimed.
“Well, it does seem rather preposterous, doesn’t it? But the scrolls have been right about everything else!” Morse laughed.
“Well, just about everything,” said Jensen.
“What do you mean?” asked Morse.
“Well, it says that this MABUS character is going to gain power by death or blackmail. The attack on the President’s life was stopped, so that rules out death, doesn’t it?”
“Well, for now anyway,” said Morse. It was an interesting point, though. Why did it say “death OR blackmail?” It was almost as if the Prophet wasn’t sure or couldn’t make up her mind.
Down the hall from the Secret Service office, in the Oval Office, President Anna Scall was alone with the Vice President, Matt Suba. Despite the great success of the previous afternoon, Suba was in a horrible, angry mood.
“Anna, you know you were just lucky yesterday. You should have shot down that plane. Everyone in that stadium could have died if that pilot couldn’t figure out how to work the controls.”
“You have to have a little more faith in people, Matt,” said the President, smiling.
“Anna, I don’t have faith in many people. Especially Arabs and Muslims. They came over here, blew up an elementary school, killing hundreds of school children, then they blew up a church, killing the President of the United States and half of our Government, and now they just tried to blow up a stadium filled with 60,000 people—oh, and, by the way, the President again. Anna, you have to take decisive action now. These terrorists need a lesson. Under the Bush and Woodson doctrine, anyone who helps a terrorist is the sworn enemy of the United States. You were part of the Woodson team, Anna. You only have one choice here, and that is nuclear.”
“What? I am not going to start firing off nuclear weapons!”
“Anna, with all due respect…”
“It’s Madame President!”
“OK, Madame President, then with all due respect, why do we have the nuclear arsenal if we are not going to use it during war? If you don’t bomb them, we are going to keep getting hit with attacks. You don’t want that, do you?”
“Well, who are you proposing that I bomb?”
“Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip. You can spare Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey. They have never done anything to hurt us as far as I know.”
“Matt, you are out of your mind!”
“Am I? That is where the terrorists come from. We know from Homeland Security that three of the terrorists involved in the Superbowl plot were born in Pakistan and are sons of Osama Bin Laden. They probably trained in camps in Afghanistan. The church bomber was from Iraq. The Cincinnatti bomber was from Iran. We know that the Christmas 2009 Detroit bomber was from Yemen. Of the 19 9-11 hijackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 were from the United Arab Emirates, and one was from Egypt. The U.S.S. Cole was attacked by terrorists who were freed by Yemeni officials and helped by the Sudanese government. In 1985, we were attacked by Palestinians. The Department of State says Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism. All of these countries are enemies of the United States.”
“Matt, under your theory, the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was from England. Should we bomb England too?”
“But he trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are just looking for countries which sponsor radical Islam. England is not one of those.”
“Matt, this is a silly conversation. I am not going to shoot nuclear bombs and over a dozen Middle East countries. You have lost your mind.”
Suba grabbed her wrist roughly. “I am not being silly. I am trying to protect this country.”
“Matt, you better let go of me right now.”
“Madame President, I have taken the liberty of asking the Secret Service agent with the football to join us in the Oval Office.” He went to the door and let the agent in.
“Thank you, Agent Griggs. Leave that on the President’s desk and wait right outside the door, please.”
Anna Scall was so surprised by this last move that she was utterly speechless while the guard placed the silver suitcase on the desk of the President, and then left the room.
“Anna, I will need you to enter the codes.”
“Matt, I am bringing that Agent back in here. And if I hear one more word of this nonsense, I am going to have you arrested. Do you understand? She started to walk to the door.
Suba grabbed the President’s wrist again, this time harder than before and shoved her back into her chair. “Madame President, you need to see this.” Suba pulled out a laptop and hit a button. President Scall was troubled by what she saw on the screen.
Back in the Secret Service office, Detective Jensen was giving Professor John Morse a tour of the technology room. From this central room, the Secret Service could monitor anything going on in the White House. There were video screens everywhere. Morse and his kids were fascinated. Not many people got to come in here. Just then, one of the Secret Service agents yelled out in alarm.
“Detective Jensen, I think you need to see this.”
Jensen and Morse walked over to the screen. On the screen, there was a video of Matt Suba grabbing the President’s arm and roughly escorting her back to her chair.
“Boss, I don’t like this. What do you want to do? He is the Vice President and she has not hit the panic button yet.”
There was no audio coming from the room. An unwritten rule of the monitors in this room was that they were not supposed to listen into the President’s private conversations in the Oval Office unless there was a vital national security emergency for doing so. Only Jensen could give that kind of clearance.
Jensen looked on the desk of the President.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, I believe that is the football.”
“Turn on the audio.”
“Are you sure, sir? We could get in trouble for this.”
“I said, ‘Turn on the damn audio!’”
The Agent pressed a button and the audio came out.
Suba was speaking to the President. “Anna, do you remember when you and I snuck off in Las Vegas back in 2011? You remember that night at the Blue Dolphin?”
“What’s the Blue Dolphin?” asked Jensen.
The Agent typed in a Google search. He did not respond immediately.
“What?” asked Jensen.
“Umm, sir, it appears to be some kind of motel.”
“Matt, shut up about that this instant.”
“Here is a nice video of you getting it on with me. Of course, you cannot tell that it’s me, but we sure can tell it’s you. I think you look really good here, Anna. You should be proud of yourself. You are very fit.”
“How did you get a video of that?”
“That doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that there is this great website you may be familiar with called You Tube ®, which lets anybody upload any kind of video they want. I have typed in all the information here, as you can see. All I have to do is hit this SEND button, and the world sees a side to their President that they never saw before.”
“You wouldn’t do that.”
“I will do that, unless you either enter the nuclear codes, or resign as President, so that I can do it. I have a letter of resignation prepared for you, stating that the ordeal with the terrorist attacks have left you too drained emotionally to fulfill your duties. The American people will understand that. You have been through a lot.”
Scall sat there, speechless. “Matt, let’s talk about this.”
“Anna, I am sure you know, your Presidency will never survive a scandal like this. The American people have no problem with a female President, but they are not going to tolerate a slutty President.”
Jensen went into Emergency Mode. “I want the Internet node going out of the White House disabled immediately! Nothing gets in or out! We have seconds! Get it done NOW! I need five agents to come with me!”
Jensen ran out of the Secret Service office, sprinting towards the Oval Office, with five Agents in tow. Morse thought he could help, so he and his children ran right behind the Agents. They were so pumped with adrenaline to help the President, the Agents did not even see Morse and his teenagers racing behind them.
Suba looked towards the President, and then down at his laptop. He hovered his finger directly over the button.
“You have three seconds, Anna. One, two….”
“OK, stop!” said President Scall. “I will sign your resignation letter. Give it to me. She took out a pen and wrote a signature at the bottom. She handed the letter to Suba.
At that second, Jensen and five Secret Service Agents burst into the door with their guns drawn.
“Freeze, Mr. Vice President! You are under arrest! Do NOT MOVE or we will shoot you!”
“Arrest me?” laughed Suba. “For what crime?”
“Blackmailing the President of the United States.”
“Ahhh,” said Suba. “So you were listening in on us. That’s against an Executive Order, Tom. If anyone needs to be arrested, it is you.”
“Whether it violates regulations or not is another matter, sir. The relevant point is that you are blackmailing the President. And for that you will be arrested and charged.”
Suba started smiling condescendingly at Jensen. “I guess you are not a politician,” said Jensen. “Because if you were, you must know that there is no way in the world that Anna here is going to allow me to be prosecuted for blackmail, because if she does, then her little sex scandal will come out, and I will be shouting about it to the highest of rooftops. You need to trust me, Detective, that is never going to happen. In addition, none of that matters, because the sitting President of the United States cannot be arrested for a crime. He can only be impeached.”
“You are not the President,” said Jensen.
“Oh yes, I am. Take a look at that.”
Suba handed him the President’s resignation letter. “What do you think of that?”
“Not very much,” said Jensen.
“And why is that?” asked Suba.
“Because this resignation letter is signed, ‘THIS IS PREPOSTEROUS.’”
“WHAT?” Suba grabbed the resignation letter from Jensen. He looked at the President in a rage. “You bitch!”
Suba dove over to the laptop, which was directly in front of the President, in an attempt to hit the “SEND” button. Jensen shot him in the back as he made his lunge, but he managed to hit the “SEND” button anyway.
Suba fell down to the ground of the rug, grimacing and laughing. “Well, the last laugh is on you, Anna, when the world sees that.”
Jensen radioed his computer technician. “Did you shut down the node in time?”
“Yes, shut it down. Nothing got out. And we will make sure every one of the tapes is erased showing the President.”
“Good,” said Jensen. “And then I have a laptop you need to clean.”
Jensen deleted the photos from the laptop and deleted them again from the Recycle Bin. The analyst would remove all traces from the laptop.
“Your pictures did not get out, Suba.”
“You just shot the sitting Vice President, you moron!” said Suba. “You are going to get the electric chair.”
“No,” said Scall. “What I saw was a crazy person, who had a mental breakdown after the exhausting terrorist attacks, who made a lunge at the President of the United States. As my protectors, the Secret Service had no other choice but to shoot. Isn’t that what you all saw?”
All the agents nodded. “That’s what I saw,” they each said.
“That’s what I saw, too,” said Morse, in the doorway.
“And even if a prosecutor wanted to buck the President and arrest Detective Jensen,” said President Scall, “I would give him an immediate pardon. You may recall, Matt, that is one of the powers of the President of the United States.”
The life was going out of Suba. He had no other cards to play.
“One more thing I need to know,” asked Jensen. “Are you Mudabbir, the Planner?”
Suba laughed on the ground, blood pouring out of his wound. “I will see all of you in hell!” With that, Matt Suba closed his eyes. The Secret Service Agent felt Suba’s pulse. He was gone.
In the days that followed, Jensen met privately with the President. He explained that they would erase all the videotapes of what happened in the Oval Office, but that the media would go crazy when they heard that. The Vice President, shot by his own agents in the Oval Office? The public would want answers. When the tapes could not be produced, the media would scream cover-up. And no one could guarantee that every one of his agents as well as Morse would keep their mouths shut. But Jensen’s people were loyal and they agreed to help Scall weather the coming storm.
Scall shook John Morse’s hand and thanked him for his service to the country. Scall told Morse that she planned to award him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor which can be bestowed by the American government on a private citizen. Morse was flattered by the honor.