OUR FOREIGN ENEMIES are drooling over the small chance that one of the Democrat Candidates might unseat me. Will never happen. Tweet by President Oscar Wellian
ON A STIFLING FRIDAY night, I sat in the chair as Mindy, the makeup artist, tried to take ten years off my face while Cynthia fanned me with a magazine in an effort to keep the makeup from running down into my shoes. Earlier in the week I had asked her to stay late on Friday night and make sure to keep me positive.
“You’re kidding, right? Is this one of your silly jokes about me being too upbeat and perky?”
“No, no, not at all,” I replied, now regretting all those jabs even though I really did find her too energetic especially on Monday mornings. “No, I have a big interview with Angeline Tarkington and...”
“Yeah, I heard about that. You really are crazy, aren’t you? A ten point upturn in the rating over one show. What were you on when you made that bet?”
I shrugged. “I like living on the edge sometimes. It helps keep me sharp, which is also why I need you there to keep me out of my head. You know, be my cheerleader of sorts?”
Cynthia stared at me for a long moment with a look of suspicion on her face. Finally, she asked, “And what’s in it for me?”
That’s my girl. I’d taught her well. I felt a wave of pride as I pretended to ponder the question, even though I was prepared to respond. “Time and a half for the hours after 5 PM.”
Cynthia shook her head. “I already get that from the network. No, what are you prepared to give me to spice up the deal a bit more?”
I resisted reaching out to hug here, my pride was so great. Instead, I replied, “Okay, all that plus a two-fifty bonus under the table so you don’t have to report it on your taxes. Deal?”
“Deal!” She replied, dancing around. “There’s a Louis Vuitton handbag I want and that should just about give me enough.”
“Really, how nice,” I replied. Of course I knew all about the handbag, having seen the ad for it sitting on her desk.
So, here we were, Mindy, Cynthia, and me preparing for the ‘fight of the century,’ and no lie, I was nervous. What if I blew this one again? Would Edward really hold me to my promise? I’d just as soon not find out.
“Fan harder,” I ordered and Cynthia responded.
“We had such a positive response last week from our next guest’s appearance, that we moved heaven and earth to have her back on the show, so welcome Angeline Tarkington to our show again.” This time I shut up and let her respond. Already an improvement, right?
“Thank you, Brasten, for inviting me back.”
“I understand that in another interview you’re quoted as having referred to the ‘the darker psychic forces at work in our country.’ Would you care to expand on that comment?”
“Certainly,” Angeline replied. She leaned forward for emphasis. “Our current president is fostering a deep part of our country’s collective consciousness, the darker side of fear and hate. It’s time for us to bring that phase to an end and replace it with a more caring and compassionate consciousness, one of Universal Love, brother and sisterhood.”
Good answer, I thought, but hardly one that will spike the ratings, so I decided I needed to go in deeper and see what gold I could mine. “I understand that you are a minister, is that correct?”
“I led a church for a time, though I’m not ordained,” Angeline replied.
“A Unity Church, if I’m not mistaken,” I countered pretending innocence.
“Well, we prefer calling them Unity Centers but yes, that’s correct.”
“Some say that Unity is a religious cult so would that make you a cult leader?”
Angeline sat there and blinked several times before replying. “I’m not sure to whom you are referring when you say ‘some’ but I would reply that they are misinformed. Unity is a Christian based organization who believes in the authentic spiritual inquiry of all religions and faiths.”
Darn, another perfectly acceptable answer, I thought. Oh well, on to the next question.
“Let’s take a few minutes to look at some of the policies and plans you advocate, like a Department of Peace and another one, Department for Children...”
“Yes, that’s correct,” Tarkington replied. “If we truly want peace and I believe all Americans do, we should devote as much time and money to fostering it as we do in preparing for war. I’m in favor of giving our military everything that they indicate that they need, but our government has bowed to the demands of the military-industrial complex and our budget reflects this.”
She paused to take a sip of water, and then was at it again. “As for my proposed Department for Children, for far too long we’ve given lip service to our children, claiming they are the future of our country, but then not delivering on what they truly need for that future to be bright. So, yes, that’s one very important part of my platform.”
The interview continued like that for several more minutes.
“I’m curious, and I imagine many of our viewers are as well, what made you decide to run for President? I mean, you’ve had a very successful career as an author and speaker. Why jump into the political arena, especially one that by your own admission is so broken and dysfunctional?”
Angeline gazed at me for several seconds with a serene look on her face. In that moment, she really did look the part of an angel. Finally, she replied, “It was a couple of years ago. I was in New York for a number of speaking engagements and book signings for my new book. It was a hectic schedule to say the least, but in the midst of it, I slipped away early one morning to visit the Statue of Liberty. As many times as I’d been in New York, I’d never taken the time to visit it. While I was there, I read the passage inscribed on it. The first line really spoke to me, almost like Lady Liberty was whispering the words in my ears. ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”
I realized she and I had much in common. I had been working tirelessly for decades for the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ That’s when I realized she was inviting me to play a bigger game. It simply took me a bit to realize what form that would take.”
Angeline smiled at me. “Thank you for the question.”
And just like that, it was time to thank Angeline for appearing on the show and to sign off.
“So, that’s another week in the madcap world of news and politics. Are you kidding me? Watch this space. Until next week, this is Brasten Gramarly, good night.”
I waited for the light on the camera to wink off before turning back to Angeline. “Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“No, it was fine. By comparison to last week, you were quite professional, all things considered.” She smiled and reached out to grasp my hands before asking, “How is your wife?”
“What?” I said, taken aback by the personal question. “Why, she’s dead. She died over two years ago.”
Instead of an “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know,” Angeline leaned in closer and strengthened her grip on my hands. “Yes, I know. How is she?”
I opened my mouth to reply even though I really didn’t know how to answer her question, but before I could do so, Cynthia was at my elbow saying, “Edward would like to see you in his office right away.”
I nodded to her and looked back at Angeline who just smiled again and patted my hand. “You have a good weekend. I’m sure Edward won’t hold you to your promise. It was made in a moment of desperation and fear. There’s a lot of that going around these days. Good night.”
Turns out she was right. The show did all right with a rating increase of about five points, only half way to what I’d promised, but Edward was pleased that I’d not made a fool of myself, even though he did harangue on me a bit about the Unity question. But overall he was satisfied, and I still had my job, as well as a new level of intrigue about Angeline Tarkington. What had she meant by that question about Dottie, and how in the hell did she know about my promise to Edward? So far, I had far more questions than answers.
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